The 2021 Training & Simulation Industry Symposium (TSIS) was a hybrid event with the vast majority attending in person at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida. In fact, this year’s symposium was the largest to date with over 1,000 attending either in-person or via virtual platform. The symposium provided attendees updated information on training and simulation procurement requirements from the Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines, DoD, and the Joint Medical simulation community. Additionally, the symposium hosted three industry panels that addressed challenges and opportunities faced by companies large and small. NDIA Central Florida chapter, along with NTSA, co-hosted the annual conference to facilitate transparency for the services and to indicate long-term business development and strategic directions for industry.
Following the welcome and opening comments by RADM (Ret) James Robb, president of NTSA, the morning of day one was dedicated to the Air Force which opened with the Senior Materiel Leader (SML), Simulators Division, Agile Combat Support Directorate, Colonel John Kurian. He was followed by Ms. Margaret Merkle who discussed Air Force Simulators Innovation & The Innovation Match Game. The Air Force then wrapped up with Mr. Kevin McFarland, who discussed their efforts with the Common Synthetic Environment.
The Navy followed on day one with the Keynote speaker, RADM Lorin Selby, Chief of Naval Research, who discussed some of the challenges and opportunities the Navy foresees in the future. He was followed by the outgoing Skipper of the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Captain Tim Hill, who talked about the organizations many accomplishments over the last half decade. Capt Hill was followed by ten key acquisition and R&D leaders from the Navy. They cover a broad waterfront of information that ranged from aviation to surface and subsurface training systems. There were also updates on Ready Relevant Learning Training System, International programs along with R&D efforts. The Navy leadership completed a busy day by answering all the questions submitted via two separate online platforms.
The Marine Corps and Army presented information about training systems from the ground force perspective on the second day. Highlights included a kick-off with Col Luis “Lou” Lara, Program Manager, Training Systems, Marine Corps Systems Command. He was joined by his team consisting of Ms. Koren Odermann, who discussed the Synthetic Training Systems. She was followed by Ms. Elizabeth Shirley, who presented Training Systems & Sustainment and Support Services. Finally, LtCol Jon Mohler concluded the USMC presentations with information about the Range Training Systems. Following the Marines, Dr. Laura Milham presented an update on the OSD’s Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative.
The Army started just before lunch first with Mr. Ian Martinez who discussed opportunities within the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center (CCDC SC) and Simulation and Training Technology Center (STTC). The highlight of the morning’s briefs was BG Charles (Chuck) Lombardo, Deputy Command General - Training at the Army Combined Arms Center. He was joined on stage by COL(P) William Glaser, Director of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team. COL(P) Glaser is only the second officer to lead the STE CFT and the first FA-57 (simulations operations officer) selected to the rank of brigadier general. The two officers laid out the training challenges faced by the Army and their approach to improving training capabilities. Mr. Tim Bishop, SES, Deputy PEO, Program Executive Office, Simulation, Training and Instrumentation started the afternoon session. He was followed by each of the PMs from Solder Training, TADSS Support Operations, Synthetic Environment, International Programs, and Cyber, Test & Training. Rounding out the Army’s briefings was Mr. Mike Harris, Executive Director of ACC-Orlando who provided insight to some of the Contracting Command’s on-going efforts.
Other notable briefings were presented by Mr. Jude Tomasello, Program Manager, Medical Simulation and Training, Defense Health Agency and Mr. William “Will” Roberts from the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). Mr. Roberts' open invitation to all of the services to leverage the JAIC to assist with any artificial intelligence related acquisition was well received.
Panel sessions during TSIS focused on The Pros and Cons of Forming a Joint Venture, Small Businesses on Large Opportunity Teams, and The Unintended Interpretations of Government Requests for Proposals (RFPs) by Industry.