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Training & Simulation Forum

BLOG: Quo Vadis?

06 May 11

As this is written, the ‘soft launch’ of the TSF website is just a few hours old and the Senior Officers’ Panel at ITEC 2011 in Köln – always a thought-provoking and stimulating couple of hours – is less than five days away. Pausing amid the preparations for ITEC, I wonder what we have learned in the last year, since the close of ITEC 2010 in London.

Nothing startlingly new, it has to be said. But the last twelve months have provided us with evidence in droves that the themes of the last few years – interoperability, agility, deployability, cost-effectiveness and increasing reliance on service provision – remain critical for suppliers and users of military training and simulation alike.

The continuing evolution of requirements informed by bitter and hard-won experience on the plains of Mesopotamia and in the shadows of the Hindu Kush means that suppliers are having to become infinitely more flexible and responsive. It also means that commanders in theatre are having to become infinitely more realistic in their expectations and therefore more precise in their specifications of what is wanted.

Budget austerity and procurement system bottlenecks often make a rush to fruition difficult if not impossible to achieve, the emergence of the ‘urgent operational requirement’ as a get-around notwithstanding. Companies – particularly those at the top end of the spectrum as well as the traditionally more innovative and flexible small and medium sized enterprises – have had to contemplate different methods of doing business. I hesitate to use the overheated phrase “paradigm shift,” but that is, in fact, the scale and scope of the shift in emphasis the situation demands.

A prominent and frequent speaker on training and simulation issues recently said to me “Technology, on the whole, is relatively easy; it’s intelligent contracting that we need to pay more attention to.”  It will be interesting to see at ITEC next week whether the community agrees with him, and what evidence there is to suggest it is taking steps to address the issue.

Companies like Lockheed Martin, for example, have undergone significant organizational transformation and revamped their traditional ITEC offering for the event in Köln (see Lockheed Martin shows fresh face at ITEC 2011 under the Articles/Interviews tab – which will be live on 7th May). Other companies are showcasing their capabilities in combination with partner organisations – both commercial and military – addressing the issues of solution interoperability and portability.

Our community is on the cusp of a period of radical transformation. The commercial and technological drivers that govern our evolution are changing rapidly and – as I have often argued in print – it is industry that has it in its power to be innovative and empathic in its efforts to ensure the available resources are well used in ensuring the ultimate objective of providing effective, persistent and sustainable training services to our men and women in uniform – and, increasingly, to the emergency services, security and medical communities.

The team at Training and Simulation Forum has worked hard over the last few months to generate a user-friendly, comprehensive and content-rich website for the military training and simulation community. It will be fascinating to be able to report from Köln next week what the community itself is doing in driving and managing the change process, as it accelerates towards an uncertain but potentially vibrant future.

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