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Navy Modeling and Simulation Streamlining Execution in MBGIE Exercise

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050214-08
Release Date: 2/15/2005 12:39:00 AM

From Task Force SIM Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy made its largest ever use of simulated training with the successful completion of its second Multiple Battle Group Inport Exercise (MBGIE), Feb. 7-11.

Simulation (SIM) enables Sailors to train as they fight, using their combat systems aboard their ships. The SIMs provide a training environment that is indistinguishable from real-world operations.

The exercise marks the first time joint U.S. and coalition forces used the Navy Continuous Training Environment (NCTE) infrastructure and Joint Forces Command's Joint Training and Experimentation Network (JTEN). NCTE and JTEN enable real-time battle simulation aboard ships and with Air Force and Army training simulators.

"This is actually a very real scenario for us," said Capt. Edward Burfield, commodore, Amphibious Squadron 8. "It has a very underway feel for us. On the monitors, we really can't tell the difference as far as the watchstanding, from really being underway vice doing this."

Due to its size and scope, MBGIE is of particular interest to the CNO-directed Task Force SIM, the single voice for Navy simulation and stimulation requirements. Task Force (TF) SIM applies information gathered during exercises involving Modeling and Simulation (M&S) in an effort to develop an enterprise initiative fostering Navy-wide capability improvement. Key to the training is providing the scenario on the same equipment normally used aboard ships.

MBGIE utilized a combination of actual command and control systems with a federation of simulation systems, including Joint Semi-Automated Forces and Battle Force Tactical Training, realistically replicating at-sea warfighting conditions without pulling up anchor. The system created such realistic conditions for equipment aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) during MBGIE, Sailors trained as though they really were at war.

"[Our] warfighters get the same training they would underway," said Lt. Cmdr. Sean Anderson, Kearsarge's assistant operations officer and training officer. "The technical aspect is pretty impressive. When they set this scenario up, we actually see on our consoles radar video, so we're tracking other surface contacts. All those things that we would normally see underway and our ability to make decisions based on that raw input, that raw data is all simulated. We can't tell the difference. It's the exact same training level for us."

Other benefits of TF SIM's efforts are quality of service and quality of life. Rther than steaming for weeks at a time, far from home, Sailors meet training requirements while in port, as in the case of the recent MBGIE.

"We've got a month before we deploy, and this gives us, our watchstanding personnel, that much more time to be with family along with getting this vital training," said Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Chris O'Shields. "There's no sacrifice as we stand our normal watches, but then we can go home."

According to Capt. Mark Nesselrode, commander, Tactical Training Group Atlantic (TACTRAGRULANT), SIM training is an essential, ever-expanding tool that trainers are working hard to standardize.

"This strike group started in October, and this is their third graded exercise against the same set of metrics, with the same set of evaluators, so we have a very, very good feel for their strengths and weaknesses," said Nesselrode. "We've actually designed this game so that when we see what they've not done well, we actually stress those points."

From this constant refinement, TACTRAGRULANT can begin providing feedback to the MBGIE forces almost immediately, with the first round of reports coming the afternoon the training is completed.

"This is all part of the Fleet Response Plan, and we're really looking long-term to how we can accurately measure what they can and can't do," said Nesselrode. "Both coasts now have the same data templates so we are measuring our forces the same way...we would all be looking at the same source of metrics and we can now build a simulation - what metrics do we want and what do we emphasize? This is revolutionary."

While M&S capabilities will never fully replace the experience that comes from underway time, it does extend training dollars.

"As long as the people who deal with external behavior the way they would normally, I get the training value, whether it's [real] or it's simulation," said to Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group Chief Staff Officer , Capt. Alfred Nugent. "With simulators, you're freeing them to do what they normally do, and you increase the complexity of this thing and therefore the training."

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