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Vice CNO calls for holodeck-like training tech at I/ITSEC

Dec 1, 2017

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ORLANDO, Fla.–Walking the show floor of the 2017 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran saw a lot of fast-developing technology that impressed him.

But he didn’t see the one thing he wants, even though it’s a technology that first appeared in 1974, “where you walk into a room and you were in a virtual environment and you could do almost anything,” Moran said Wednesday during a panel discussion at the conference, known by the acronym I/ITSEC.

Never mind that this virtual room made its debut on “Star Trek: The Animated Series.”

“I want a holodeck,” Moran said, referring to the room where Star Trek characters are able to interact with virtual, holographic environments, people and objects. “And we’re kind of getting there. You put on some [virtual reality] goggles downstairs [on the show floor], I tried on a few of those, and since I was here a couple years ago, it is fascinating how quickly that is becoming a reality.

“Now, if we could just get rid of the goggles and just have a room. A torpedo room, engine room, bridge room,” he said. “It knows when you were there last, it knows how effective you were, what you’re performance levels were, how much experience you have, and it starts to test you.”

“That same box could take a team–bridge team, combat team, maintenance team–that has to do a project together, and it could set up the scenario virtually,” Moran continued. “That’s the holodeck of the future, that’s what we need. I challenged some folks in here two years ago, and everybody ran off and wanted to get there. I’ve only been on maybe 10 percent of that floor, but I haven’t found a holodeck or the Conex box yet.”

Still, Moran was encouraged by the progress he found on the floor of the convention.

“It’s just amazing how fast things are moving,” he said.

We get pretty juiced up on high-end video and the ability to connect weapons systems at great ranges, and we need to do that as a warfighting outfit, but in terms of basics, the fundamental blocking and tackling, how we operate our gear at sea, we also need to do a better job of that basic training,” he said.

“We can build a bigger Navy, we can build a much more capable and sophisticated Navy, but it fails on its merits without properly trained Sailors, period,” Moran said. “In my 35 years in this business, more often than not we’re terribly good at delivering capability well ahead of the training. That’s not a recipe for success in a world that is moving so fast that you don’t have the time to recover the training if it’s not in advance of capability.”

Those comments echoed similar sentiments shared by Naval Air Systems Commander Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, who during a Tuesday panel endorsed capabilities-based acquisition as the key to delivering systems that are, among other things, fully trainable upon delivery to the fleet.

Grosklags reemphasized his position Wednesday following Moran’s comments.

“I believe if we truly implement a capabilities-based acquisition system, which revolves around a model-based systems engineering process, at the end of that design and development phase, we will have the constructive models that are needed to create that live-virtual-constructive training environment,” he said.

Technology will not only improve training but enable its delivery to Sailors when it will be most useful to them, facilitating a “lifelong learning continuum as opposed to a one-and-done-type event” like current Navy schoolhouse curricula, which results in a lot of forgotten information, said Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, commander, Naval Education and Training Command.

Naval Aviation took “the baby step into this world of live-virtual-constructive” last year with the opening of the Air Defense Strike Group Facility at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, said Re­ar Adm. Daniel Cheever, commander, Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center.

The ADSGF currently houses integrated simulators for the F/A-18E-F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, E-2 Hawkeye and AEGIS air defense system, but Cheever said it will eventually comprise all Navy aviation simulators, integrated and connected so that they can communicate securely with outside locations.

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