The key role of training in the dynamic evolution of capabilities for high-end combat and crisis management

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By Robbin Laird

Training is one of the words that is changing meaning as liberal democracies face the military dimension posed by authoritarian powers in the 21st century. Rather than just training to prepare, which is obviously crucial, advanced training capabilities drive the strength adaptation that is crucial to prevailing in high-end combat.

Learning to adapt force in a dynamic combat environment is always crucial, but especially so when the United States and its allies must operate closely together in crises where the concepts of operations and forces of authoritarian powers of the 21st century are designed. to divide and conquer through the multiplayer. -domain spectrum of war.

And the art of war focuses on the need to understand the ends being pursued in a dynamic crisis or combat situation and to match those ends with the appropriate means understood as the conditioning of force.

As my colleague from the Williams Foundation, John Conway, said in a recent interview I had with him: “We have demonstrated in Afghanistan and Iraq that we are good at war, but we are not so good at war. And I think we have a generation of generals and politicians who only know war. They do not understand that there is a significant difference between war and war.

While we are indeed focusing on the art of war, the focus is on how to achieve the crisis management effect we need; not just engage in ongoing fights and position themselves for fights.

And that in turn means that the goal for the ADF or its allies is not simply to provide balanced funding for the joint force, but to prioritize investments and training to shape a force with the deadliest effect and with the most useful impact on the advancement of the art of warfare for liberal democracies.

As the ADF progresses, Conway discussed the “trade-off triangle” for force development, namely lethality, survivability, and affordability. It’s not about investing in balanced strength development for the sake of it; rather, investments should be directed to those elements of the ADF that can provide lethality and survivability at the most affordable cost.

In such a context, advanced training is essential and as such will provide a key focus of discussion during the September seminar. As he said, “With a limited budget, you now have to really, really think about survivability. And you have to think very seriously about preparation and this is related to training.

“And now we have an adversary that makes us spend more and more money on survivability. We’d rather spend money on lethality, but they’re making us spend money on survivability because they’re getting more and more sophisticated, because it’s getting harder and harder to survive.

“And that drives up the cost of survivability. But one way to mitigate this risk is to get your training systems right. And being able to fight the best fight with what you have and investing in war instead of war.

In other words, how do you use US and allied military capabilities to have the right kind of crisis management and combat effects?

And how to train to concentrate on such a process?

This is how Paul Averna of Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions took up the challenge in an interview I did with him in December 2021: “For effective training, we need to discover how to work our different platform capabilities to produce decisive effects.

“And it’s not just the high end kinetic end game of a conventional fight between us and an even competitor. It is up to the lower echelons of the conflict to manage the escalation points. We need to be able to use asymmetric advantages to shape escalation options, and we need to train to do so.

Training in the changing combat environment is a way forward to shape not only the skill sets needed to operate the force, but to provide important domain knowledge to drive force development or, in In other words, training when considered in terms of leveraging the virtual world as well as the live training piece can determine how the force can be continually redesigned.

A key driver of change is the proliferation of fifth-generation systems, with the F-35 becoming a key component for both US joint forces and allies.

Fifth-generation systems are multi-mission systems that drive further changes in training requirements, which will become more important over time as multi-domain operating capabilities are emphasized in the acquisition of defense.

In a recent discussion with Paul Averna, he outlined how he sees the impact of F-35 and fifth-generation systems on task force and training. According to Averna: “Historically, we have operated and trained to unique mission threads, such as counter-air or counter-surface warfare and we have used either a purpose-built system or operated with a pre-planned and interconnected group of synchronized capacities. to provide a unique domain effect. With the F-35, we have a multi-domain machine that can support multiple mission threads at the same time.

How do you train to take advantage of this ability?

Or as Averna puts it, “How do you create an authentic training environment for multi-domain effects?”

Doing this requires being able to combine simulation or the virtual world with live training, but this requires a short-term focus on funding these capabilities and getting operators to operate in a more integrated way.

Averna argued that “we are ready to continue on the path of fielding such capabilities on the ranges over the next three years. We can leverage what we learn in the joint simulation environment in terms of TTP and can take those effects and model them in the live firing range training environment.

And driving the change in training systems associated with the F-35 would see a shift in focus from in-plane built-in learning systems to the ability to work dynamic LVC training. With today’s integrated learning systems, operators learn to work in a wolf pack environment with four ship formations.

With the transition to dynamic LVC learning, the focus would be on working force sets in a fluid battlespace and using a multi-domain system – the F-35 more completely – which, in turn, would lay the groundwork for the introduction of new multi-domain systems. going forward with a very clear idea of ​​how to use them to achieve the kind of combat and crisis management effects desired from the combat force.

For the United States and our allies, training to provide greater integrated capabilities will be essential to deal with the 21st authoritarian powers of the century, both to gain the desired combat mass as well as the operational cohesion of the coalition that can ensure crisis management dominance.

Again, the F-35 global enterprise can be a driver of innovation in improving interoperability.

As Averna put it: “The whole concept of the F-35 global enterprise is rooted in partner nations having a common capability so that you could replace a British asset with an American asset or a Finnish asset or a Canadian assets, because they have a common operational capability. Training to take advantage of these commonalities is crucial, which then builds around this idea that “anyone who shows up with their F-35, the rest of the coalition knows what can be done with this asset from the point of view of the coalition war”.

By forging an authentic training environment, one can help address Conway’s triangle of challenges – survivability, lethality and affordability.

Averna added two other dimensions to this triad. Averna noted that survivability, lethality, and affordability are a design constraint for creating effects. “But the other two dimensions are time and interoperability. If you only design a single siled solution that works for your specific country, it reduces interoperability and creates vulnerability.

“And the type of peer adversaries that we face require not only rapid decision-making, but also timely evolution or adaptation of the force in terms of acquisition. The overall goal now to design a force for 2030 is simply too distant to deal with the threats we have now.We must be able to quickly shape force sets to fit the effects we need now and not some abstract distant future.

And while training for such effects, software can be re-engineered for specific platforms to enable greater integrability and capability as well as learn to adapt more quickly to changing opportunities.

For example, I recently spoke with a senior US Navy admiral about how he was using the findings of Task Force 59 – the autonomous systems task force in 6e fleet – to improve the ability of its strike force. He noted that they were embracing the capability and trying it out and adopting what worked for them and providing feedback to other elements of the fleet regarding particular systems that could now contribute to the task force.

In short, training isn’t just about preparing to perform the strength you think you have; it’s about generating the force consolidation and operational capabilities you need in joint and coalition operations, now and in the near term.

And in doing so, one is able to establish requirements for acquisition in the future.

But this requires a significant shift in understanding the central role of training and in providing the funding to also accelerate LVC elements in the training environment.

The graphic is credited to Paul Averna.

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