ASLO - Simulation Progress UpdateBy Nitin Biswas April 16, 2021
This article seeks to recognise that tactical training for logisticians is often overlooked and examines how ASLO has used simulation as a potential tool to overcome this. Tactical training is largely overlooked due to the heavy focus on logistical elements conducting work in real time to enable the successful running of exercises and activities. This is something former ASLO instructor, WO2 Rob Cuttler, discussed in his article, 'Are Logistics and Health Elements enabled to be future ready?' Through the use of the Protected Mobility Tactical Trainer (PMTT) and Battle Simulation Sites (BSS), ASLO has been able to expose students on courses to a simulated tactical environment. Simulation has been an under utilised asset that holds great potential and we encourage others to start using it to address shortfalls.
Throughout 2020, ASLO completely restructured the Subject 2 Logistics continuum as part of Army’s Training Transformation Program Strategy. These changes were outlined in a Cove article by CO ASLO, LTCOL Brendan Robinson, where he also discussed the incorporation of simulation to test Subject 2 Corporal RAEME (S2 CPL RAEME) students’ command and control (C2) of a Forward Repair Team (FRT).
The new S2 CPL RAEME course package has students first complete an ADELE package of online theory, in their home unit locations, before relocating to Puckapunyal to apply their newly obtained C2 knowledge to a virtual tactical environment. Using Army School of Transport’s fleet of five connected PMTTs to form a virtual FRT, we test the students’ C2 skills to plan, prepare and deliver orders for their FRT, and then command that FRT on the move within a simulated tactical environment. Quick decision exercises (QDE), such as contacts, IEDs and protestors, are incorporated into the tactical scenario to challenge the students.
In using the PMTT for the S2 CPL RAEME course, we recognised an opportunity to scale this training tool across more ASLO courses. Following the format we developed for the CPL course, we next sought to emulate a challenging tactical environment for students on the Logistics Basic Officer Course (LOBC). Similar to the old S2 CPL RAEME course, this used to be achieved through a resource-heavy tactical deployment to a local state forest in North East Victoria. Realism was always difficult to achieve especially if the resources supplied were civilian vehicles and the tactical environment was a network of plantation pine.
The first activity for LOBC students (a concurrent activity whilst others were completing BCCC) utilised the scenarios developed for the CPL course and exposed the recent Duntroon graduates to the differences of commanding a convoy versus an infantry platoon. Students were provided a quick scenario brief and were then required to deliver snap orders to their team prior to commencing their scenario in the PMTT. The scenarios are designed to expose the students to the range of pressures and difficulties a convoy commander may experience. Post activity involved discussions on how training in the PMTT can be beneficial to logistic trades. Also how as commanders they could not only train their troops but maintain skills for themselves and their peers.
The second activity for the students was conducted at the Puckapunyal BSS.[i] Similar training was delivered but we designed a scenario that allowed students to operate dismounted, with the students split into BLUFOR and OPFOR teams. A BLUFOR commander was selected to plan and coordinate common tasks for CSST commanders. The OPFOR members were given tasks in three phases; Phase 1 was ISR to identify routes used, convoy sizes, weapons carried etc. Phase 2 used this information to harass and disrupt BLUFOR operations, culminating into OPFOR leading coordinated attacks on BLUFOR in Phase 3. Rarely are our logistic officers tactically challenged like this in training, individually or collectively.
The BSS activity was focused on tactical scenarios and considerations to highlight that simulation can be used to achieve sets and reps training in the tactical space, but without the huge resource bill that accompanies live training. The exposure to simulation was well received by the students on LOBC and created positive discussions on how it can be used to better train soldiers with minimal risk, cost and resources. We are striving to maintain this activity to further promote the versatility of simulation and have it more widely used within and external to ASLO.
Using both the PMTT and BSS at Puckapunyal demonstrated the significant potential to achieve enhanced and realistic tactical training for logistics soldiers and officers. Whilst logisticians are exposed to some forms of tactical training this is generally focused on individual soldier skills. Utilising simulation allows us to create muscle memory for CSS roles in a tactical environment and allows soldiers of all ranks to gain a better understanding of what is occurring around them and why.
[i] The BSS was intentionally used as not all Brigade locations have a PMTT but many have a BSS to enable simulated training.