Tactical and Technical

'Beer and Strawberry Pop-Tarts' - Understanding the Combat Training Centre 2025 Concept

By Jason Long May 14, 2019


The mission of the Combat Training Centre (CTC) is to deliver advanced collective combat training to deploying and high readiness forces in order to prepare them for specific operations and contingencies. This mission is highly likely to remain extant for the foreseeable future and is therefore fundamental to CTC’s concept for future advanced collective combat training known as “The CTC 2025 Concept”. Under “The CTC 2025 Concept” advanced collective combat training will continue to be planned, executed, assessed and analysed through the Army Training Continuum and a systems approach to defence learning. This will allow CTC to continue to accommodate Training Unit’s (TU) in the force generation cycle through specifically tailored exercises designed to improve collective performance. Since its inception in 2005, CTC has focussed on providing commanders with the ability to have the collective combat performance of formations, units and sub-units independently observed in order to generate facts-based feedback. The intent of feedback has always been to identify the cause-and-effect of actions and decisions in a way that leads to improved performance. In the past, collective combat performance was only ever observed by subject matter expert Observer Trainers (OT). OTs did their jobs by making systematic observations through the lens of experience referenced to doctrine, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP). Digital capability to support OTs was non-existent. Now, under the “The 2025 Concept”, CTC OT’s will have extensive digital capability to support them in identifying, recording and transmitting factual observations on a scale, and with levels of detail and accuracy, that “analogue era” OTs could only dream of. The lens of OT experience will remain, as will the requirement for OT to reference TU performance to doctrine, SOP and TTP. However, innovation and modernisation brought about by CTC 2025 will ensure that Australia remains a world leader in determining the strengths and weakness of its high readiness combat and support forces. Critically, this in turn will facilitate rapid improvement of TU collective performance in advanced collective warfighting.  

The Future of the Integrated Training Environment

The CTC 2025 Concept” envisions developing an Integrated Training Environment (ITE) that is focused on rapidly improving the performance of the TU as a force element. The ITE will create realistic and measurable training situations enabled by maximisation of Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) simulation. Importantly the ITE will offer multi-echelon exercises that achieve both enhanced realism and greater efficiencies. While CTC 2025 and its ITE ‘digitise the trainer’, they also produce a complex, scalable and realistic training environment that is underpinned by a rigorous collective training methodology. This will tailor advanced collective combat training to the force element and is all done with TU learning and improved collective performance in mind. The CTC 2025 Concept is dynamic and deliverable, but it does acknowledge that further development is required, especially around a set of approved collective performance measures that are needed to provide effective feedback. The foundation on which CTC 2025 is based is Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD) 7-0, and will incorporate the tactical tasks detailed in FORCOMD Foundation Warfighting Training Management Framework (FWF TMF). The dynamic nature of CTC 2025 and its doctrinal foundation ensures that high readiness and deploying forces are well prepared for Joint Land Combat in fast paced, dynamic and competitive environments. CTC 2025 and its ITE create a setting that accommodates the concurrent collective combat training of a brigade/Joint Task Force (JTF) and its subordinate echelons. Equally, CTC 2025 will allow a Brigade and JTF Headquarters to be live in the field or operate as a headquarters in a constructive simulation through a CPX. In this setting one Battle Group (BG) will be able to operate fully instrumented in a live environment with the remainder of the Brigade replicated in a constructive or virtual environment.


Fig 1: Advanced Collective Combat Training delivered in a Joint, Multi-Echelon, Live, Virtual and Constructive Integrated Training Environment.


This joint, multi-echelon, LVC integrated training environment will be driven by a flexible, comprehensive and realistic scenario. The scenario will be facilitated by a capable Higher and Lower Control (HICON/LOCON) which can take the form of either Joint Operations Command (JOC), or a unit specifically designed and assembled for the exercise. The opposing force will replicate future threats through the coherent application of the Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE). This construct for the future operating environment and Standard Adversary Framework (SAF) will facilitate coherent advanced collective combat training that improves performance.  

Big Data - Why Walmart always stocks up on beer and Strawberry Pop-tarts before a hurricane.

Experience and the naked eye cannot always identify subtle indicators with potentially big organisational payoffs or costs, especially over multiple exercises spanning years. Consequently, a more systemic approach is required.

Vignette: After beginning to use Big Data in 2004, Walmart determined that counter-intuitively the sales of certain items, not obvious to experienced managers and suppliers, increased significantly before and after a hurricane:

“Strawberry Pop-tart sales increased by seven times their normal rate….with beer being the top selling item….The company sent extra truck loads to stores in the hurricanes path. The move paid off in profit when additional inventory sold quickly.”

CTC 2025 provides the means and opportunity to modernise the collection of data in order to both improve the performance of force elements in the shorter term, and identify ‘Big/Rich Data’ trends over the longer term. CTC 2025 can do this through the capture, and subsequent examination, of facts produced by the performance of TUs in areas such as: decision-making under pressure; survivability in contested terrain; and use of imagination and communications in complex environments. This data is rich pickings for further comprehensive analysis. At a base level within a CTC exercise, a big data networked system can augment analysis and identify trends not obvious to the experienced “human eye”. Ideally big data would be harvested from a data cloud that is fed thousands of inputs per second, from sensors positioned all across the networked environment. As force elements gain capabilities of increasing sophistication, assessing how well their effects are being synchronised and exploited will become harder to determine. Big/rich data will help.  


Like many innovative performance driven industry world leaders, CTC is looking to employ expedient training tools and provide a resource that can support near real time feedback, long term learning, and also incorporate big/rich data analysis.

“Big data has become a big game changer in most, if not all types of modern industries….with the primary goal being to enhance customer experience, reduce cost and make existing processes more efficient”.

Qualitative data also matters and will continue to matter. Currently, CTC employs a range of systems and tools that can provide feedback to the force element undertaking a rotation in accordance with their position in the force generation cycle. Essential to this process is that OTs establish an understanding of the unit’s culture and ability to make appropriate performance judgements within a timed and high pressured environment (i.e. qualitative data assessment). This understanding provides contextualised feedback. The CTC 2025 construct will enhance its capability to compliment the collection of ‘Big/Rich data’ quantitative data assessment with qualitative data from training iterations, both of which can contribute to exploration, investigation and modernisation of future equipment and concepts within the ADF. To support CTC in providing the best advanced collective combat training ‘atmospherics’ in a coherent environment, the CTC 2025 concept will employ a system that will, through the use of different variables, determine the likelihood of success for a mission. By analysing quantitative data retrospectively from multiple mission rotations and determining combat potential vs. combat effectiveness over a period of time, CTC staff will be able to qualitatively compare the transition of force elements through the battlespace and be able to determine the likelihood of success. This information will then contribute to developing future training design, policy and doctrine.

As more mission data is stored and analysed, a predictive diagnosis on patterns, trends and indicators of Australian force elements will provide insight into phases of operational risk and the potential for operational failure. Understanding assimilated risk to the mission, and being able to identify failure indicators before a risk or threat emerges, will allow the force element to focus their efforts in ways that reduce risk and weight their action towards mission success.

Fig 2: Tactical Observation Matrix Enhancer (TOME) chart showing maintenance of momentum of both friendly and enemy call signs.



The CTC 2025 concept for generating a realistic and integrated training environment for the conduct of advanced collective combat training will ensure that high readiness and deploying forces are fully prepared for joint land combat. Big quantitative data is a game changer, and an OT's qualitative understanding of a unit’s culture, and their ability to make appropriate performance judgments, will see an increase in mission success. CTC 2025 will enhance our emerging capabilities and will meet the need for a unified and empowered operational strength well into the future.  

  Reference List:

  1. Combat Training Centre, 2017 - CTC 2025 – Concept paper for the future;
  2. McLennan, Benjamin LTCOL, Oct 2018 - Commanding Officer 1 RAR Diary;
  3. LWD 7-0 Training and Education, 2018;
  4. Concept of Operations, 2018 - HQJOC J7 Briefing note Joint Collective Training in the ADF;
  5. Langford, Ian COL, 2018 - Accelerated Warfare – The future joint operating environment(DRAFT);
  6. Carter, Maria, 2017 - Why Walmart always stocks up on strawberry pop-tarts before a hurricane;
  7. Gaitho, Maryanne, 2018 - How applications of big data drive industry;
  8. Terry Costelo, 2014 - How Big data is paying off DoD;
  9. Bill Holford, 2017 - Big Data on the battlefield – an introduction.



Jason Long

James Long is an Australian Infantry Warrant Officer currently posted to 1 RAR. In 2018, he was a member of the Design / Develop and Exercise Control (DEXCON) team within the headquarters of the Combat Training Centre.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.


In an article about using data volumes, types and architectures more complex than anything we currently use, someone has printed a digital picture onto a poster and then taken a photograph of it to make a digital file so that it can be included. Right now big data in Army means someone sending a 5mb uncompressed PDF to 10 recipients, filling their inbox so they can't send emails. Rich data means someone accidentally saving a document in RTF format that no one else can open. I'm currently seconded to CIOG and I'm looking at analytical and business intelligence tools. Everyone wants them, but I'm not at all convinced that many of the potential users have any idea how to use them or for what they can be used beyond the vaguest notions. What training do we need to start thinking about including in all-corps continuums to prepare us to generate and exploit big data effectively?

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