Costly field service support of your battle management software is not the way to ‘train as you fight’
Software-driven situational awareness requires more than advanced systems. You also need quality training that does not rely on civilian FSRs in the field. Colonel Ros L. Gammon explains more below.
Monday, October 31, 2022
Proper training is the key to fielding any new tool, and software is no different. At Systematic Inc., USA, we have spent the last five years gathering real-world lessons. Here are my top sure-fire tactics to help ensure operational success.
The Systematic SitaWare software suite sits at the core of the U.S. Army’s Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE), providing critical support to overall mission command capabilities. SitaWare stands apart from other C4ISR software. For one, its usability and intuitive design enables rapid, yet thorough pre-deployment training which eliminates the need for costly field service representative (FSR) support during operational deployments.
While ease-of-use significantly lessens costs and operational complexity, it must be preceded by quality home-station training prior to deployment. From the individual troop to divisional and even brigade command levels, software-driven situational awareness requires purposeful integration—optimized for user and unit-specific needs. Otherwise, mission success will be at risk, and in a combat environment lives may be jeopardized.
For this reason, training must be tightly integrated into the software fielding– a step too many users fail to appreciate. Rudimentary ‘one-size-fits-all’ video training followed by on-the-fly learning is a recipe for failure. SitaWare is a highly customizable solution designed to conform to existing Mission Command Integration Systems (MCIS). It offers CPCE users myriad options not only to improve data collection and analysis, but to optimize situational awareness and capitalize on the often-fleeting opportunities that can mean the difference between success and failure.
A quick look at some of SitaWare’s key capabilities highlights the criticality of proper training. The CPCE software platform can leverage the current capabilities found inside SitaWare to execute “seven-minute drills” and battle drills to near perfection. It also offers a collaborative briefing tool giving commanders the ability to have real map dialogue from many different locations at once. Finally, it is joint and coalition-interoperable with advanced tools for staff training and multi-echelon training.
Mission success can only be maximized with a robust foundation. At Systematic, we believe this means investing the time and commitment to receive expert guidance from certified trainers. Our team consists of highly skilled subject matter experts who deliver critical shoulder-to-shoulder domain-specific instruction. Additionally, real-time reach-back to the solutions architects, software engineers, and testers with broad knowledge of CPCE products and systems ensures that any challenges that arise can be solved in the moment, before heading out into an operational environment.
This level of training also forms the basis of a knowledge management structure that allows a shared understanding throughout the chain of command. Regardless of the situation, a properly trained team has the wherewithal to adapt its usage to a wide range of circumstances which, as every soldier knows, can change dramatically once the shooting starts.
In this way, both forward and rear teams are assured to have complete knowledge of CPCE capabilities: friendly and hostile positions, operational plans and options, and a wide range of other critical data points. All this data can is ingested, analyzed, and shared in real-time—not just with a Common Operational Picture (COP), but with a common operational understanding – providing critical decision making, maximizing collaboration and mitigating confusion.
My recommendations to maximizing the utility of your battle management software in general—and CPCE in particular—include the following:
- After fielding, ensure collective training is conducted as early as possible. Focus on Digital Crew training (section level) prior to Command Post Exercises.
- Develop in depth knowledge management procedures and incorporate them into unit-specific SOPs/TTPs.
- Conduct collective training with staffs (CPXs) on unit equipment. Embed the skills learned from digital crew training and knowledge management SOPs.
- Invest in training server technicians. Develop their skills focusing on diagnosing and fixing problems related to connectivity and data maintenance.
With this level of training in hand, military leaders know that soldiers are prepared to be sent into harm’s way. Users up and down the command chain are fully equipped with the skills they need to maintain situational awareness and battle readiness – without a civilian FSR in tow.
As a cost-saving measure, proper training offers significant value. In terms of overall mission success, it is immeasurable.
Ros L. Gammon
Colonel US Army, Retired
Manager, C4I Operational Experts