AFNORTH simulation team competes for Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award
By Tech. Sgt. Scott Farley, 1st Air Force (AFNORTH/CONR)
/ Published August 08, 2008
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Innovative simulation advances have led the National Guard Bureau to tag Air Forces Northern' s (AFNORTH) Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) team as their sole competitor for the 2008 Air Force Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award.
NGB nominated the DMO team for pioneering the use of networked simulation technology to train war fighters in the complex role of homeland defense.
"We didn't invent the (training) simulator; we made it better," said Steve Boe, DMO Program Manager. "This technology allows for incredibly realistic training at all levels. DMO allows our war fighters to train in a safe environment that realistically replicates the complex missions they need to prepare for. "
The technology creates connectivity between geographically separated simulators through a high bandwidth network, which allows for the rehearsal of homeland defense scenarios that can't be flown live due to flight safety issues and flight hour costs.
These can include worst case scenarios requiring secretary of defense authorization to shoot down aircraft.
The DMO team built a robust, cost-effective simulation network three years quicker and $8.3 million cheaper than customary war fighter networks, with nodes at 15 military and civilian joint force units. On an annual budget of $2.5 million, the team executed six major joint force exercises that generated an equivalent live-fly value of $20 million annually.
The cost of DMO's annual budget is less than the $3 - $4 million price tag for one real-world training event.
Training in real environments inherently means conforming to the limitations of the real world, said Larry Christie, an operations planner on the DMO team. This includes the conceptual stages and planning to the actual execution of the exercise.
"To train for situations in Washington, D.C., several major airports would have to close," said Mr. Christie. "The airspace would have to be entirely shut down and the real world dangers of air defense missions would be place over the nation's capitol."
Mr. Christie added that practicing in open ranges is a real-world alternative that can ease some of the limiting factors, but at the same time sacrificing situation complexities, such as civilian air traffic and low-altitude obstacles.
"This technology allows incredibly realistic training at all levels, from the pilot in the air, to the Soldier on the ground, to the secretary of defense," he said. "The training is not only safe, but realistic."
Mr. Boe said the benefits of DMO go far beyond the considerable money saved by the government.
"DMO is a great training capability. It allows us to train like we are really going to defend the homeland," he said. Every way you look at it, everybody wins with DMO."
The Chief of Staff Team Excellence award recognizes teams that use a systematic approach to enhance mission capability, improve operational performance, and create sustained results. The Air Force Manpower Agency administers the award program that selects five winning teams annually, and recognizes best practices that are shared throughout the service.
Ms. Audrey Tudky of AFMA's Innovation Programs Branch said 20 teams will compete before a board of five flag officers and senior executive civilians, hopefully to be judged as one of five winners. The completion takes place Sept. 13 - 15 at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C.
"Teams will make a 15-minute presentation before the board and then take questions from the panel," said Ms. Tudky. "They will also display their programs at the Air Force Association's Air & Space Exposition in Washington, which also occurs during the competition period."
The Air Force Chief of Staff will recognize the winner at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., Sept. 16.