However Inzpire has delivered well over 300 air-land integration training exercises to the British Army.
Just over 2 years ago, I left the military and joined Inzpire as part of an embedded joint training team based at the Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC), RAF Waddington. The team consists of expert instructors who are experienced in delivering not only air-focused synthetic training but also joint fires synthetic training solutions to the UK MoD.
I decided to join Inzpire as some of the things that I loved doing whilst serving in the Army were managing, designing and delivering training so I jumped at the chance to work for a company that excels in training delivery. In my early years, whilst serving, synthetic training was not really utilised and most of the training was delivered either via PowerPoint in the classroom or through using the actual equipment in live exercises. It wasn’t until I graduated from the gunnery careers course and became a qualified gunnery instructor that I realised how powerful and cost-effective synthetic training could be. One of the first things I did when taking up post as an instructor within the Army was to introduce synthetic training to the courses I delivered. This saved a huge amount of money as we didn’t have to use as much ammunition to deliver the same training output that simulation could provide. This is particularly true with the complexity of delivering battle group, brigade and divisional level collective training which can be both challenging and expensive to deliver. However, with an expertly crafted blend of synthetic and live training the impact on capability is huge. 15 years later the technology we use today is impressive and powerful. Indeed, I personally believe that we are only on the cusp of realising a paradigm change in the effectiveness of synthetic training solutions. Nevertheless, it should never be overlooked that the tech is there to support human actions. Although the advances in augmented and virtual reality are alluring, the design, delivery and assessment of training still requires experienced human input. To quote my boss: “whether you buy a Fiat 500 or a Ferrari, if you can’t drive it, you only have a useless piece of equipment – the car plus an experienced and competent driver equals capability”. Inzpire are the expert drivers and our expertise turns brilliant equipment into unrivalled capability.
Shortly after joining Inzpire, I was asked to provide a demonstrator exercise to allow land-based personnel to practice procedural drills as part of their training progression. Naturally being asked to lead on this initiative so soon after joining Inzpire was a little daunting but demonstrated a great faith and trust afforded to me by the company to deliver such an important exercise. Having relished challenges such as this throughout most of my service career, I grabbed the opportunity.
With only 3 months between saying yes to the opportunity and trainees walking through the door, I initially focused entirely on understanding the training objectives and how they could be fully realised in a synthetic exercise. This proved invaluable insight and enabled me to develop something that was user-centric, complex and demanding whilst fully extracting every ounce of technical capability from the equipment in the ABTC.
From there, designing the exercise really involved being sat with a wet towel on my head. I was trying to be creative whilst developing vignettes that would challenge the training audience in their processes and procedures whilst providing a blended stepping stone into their live training exercise delivered via a coalition exercise. I then spent more hours than I can remember using the various simulation systems to build, test and adjust the scenario. This is where most of the work happened as I had to allow time to rehearse the exercise and train the full delivery team of over 40 people – both permanent staff and military augmentees. For me, this really demonstrated the enormous benefit that a well applied, resourced, trained and enabled team can deliver under the Whole Force Approach.
For the actual exercise, delivery was split into a rehearsal week for the Training Management Team and an execute period dedicated to achieving the agreed training objectives. Inzpire provided the majority of the subject matter experts who have the expertise and knowledge to fill all required training roles, however this exercise required an additional 40+ military augmentees which presented a not-inconsiderable training, management and coordination task even before the 80+ trainees arrived! It was very gratifying to get senior leadership feedback that our willingness to go the extra mile to achieve the task was deeply appreciated and refreshing.
The execute itself saw a mix of UK and American personnel training together with various visits from our NATO partners. With over 120 personnel and up to 10 different specialisations within the training audience, flexibility, coordination and strong leadership were key requirements to ensuring this exercise met all of the desired outcomes. The first day incorporated a reception staging onward movement and integration package, followed by four days of execute. A hugely in-depth after-action review (AAR), focusing on root-cause analysis was built and delivered after each execute. When the senior trainee is a Brigadier, it certainly focuses one’s analytical skills!
I believe that the most powerful part of what Inzpire does in the ABTC is to build and deliver an incredibly focused debrief. Without this function there is a risk that trainees gain experience but do not turn that into enduring knowledge and battle-winning capability. The AAR is used as a vehicle to allow the senior military training owner to highlight areas that were either a success or have room for improvement. This is achieved by focused and agreed debrief points that highlight all contributing factors, ultimately identifying the root cause or causes of success or failure. Crucially, Inzpire’s deep understanding and well developed process generally allows us to extract from the training audience themselves their own insights not only into the root causes of what happened during the exercise but also their own suggestions for dealing with the challenge more efficiently in future events. Given that weaker areas will be rerun and reassessed, hugely effective team and collective training benefit can be realised. In this particular exercise, having elements of the US Army – who were also role-playing the higher echelons at Corp level – involved in the AAR process, provided additional value and insight into this process. It was very reassuring that our US participants commented favourably on both the quality and depth of Inzpire’s debrief methodology!
Although hugely challenging and occasionally a little stressful, it was an absolute pleasure to run this new and unique exercise. Knowing that our training will be instrumental to the way our forces will fight – and keep safe – in future operations and receiving positive feedback from the customer is why we do what we do! Our customers said that this exercise ultimately exceeded their expectations, and testament to that feedback is the fact that this exercise has now turned in to an annual training event. Hopefully, in the near future we can further improve this exercise by connecting to other synthetic training systems thus delivering distributed, joint and coalition exercises with a variety of capability options. As an exercise owner, designer, and deliverer, this is a hugely exciting prospect. That said, without a qualified and experienced driver, the car ain’t going anywhere!
All images in this blog are for illustrative purposes only and are not indicative of the particular Exercise Daz is discussing during his blog.