Simulations to help Marines think on their feet

ONR puts out a call for simulation systems that help teach decision-making at the squad level, an area that has been overlooked by researchers.

The military is making ever-expanding use of simulations in large-scale training exercises, tying together air and ground forces in scattered locations to create an overall operational picture. The Office of Naval Research, however, also wants to think small, particularly with regard to decision-making at the small unit infantry level.

ONR has issued a solicitation calling for white papers and full proposals for developing Small Unit Decision Making (SUDM) training systems that focus on the infantry squad personnel and operations of dismounted Marines.

The science of decision-making gets plenty of attention from the military, of course, but the small unit level has mostly been overlooked by researchers, especially with regard to tactical thinking and other “higher order SUDM skills,” ONR said. What is taught comes via a classroom setting or in limited—and manpower-intensive—field exercises. So ONR wants to develop simulations that will accelerate and improve that training.

The solicitation asks for proposals that address SUDM learning management; are capable of delivering simulation-based training and assessments that can be situated, tailored, and automated; and develop tactical simulations. For a guide, the program will draw on the Marine Corps Maneuver Squad Leader Mastery Model published in 2012.

ONR is looking for proposals in three scientific and technology areas:

Decision Making-Learning Management System, which will be based on mastery models ranging from novice to expert, and be able to measure effectiveness and performance. DM-LMS will include an open, machine-readable knowledge base, and be able to track and plan Marine SUDM skills development and readiness.

Simulation Tailored Training and Assessment, or ST2A, which will augment current Marine simulation-based training such as Virtual Battlespace with automated best practices in instruction based on mastery model requirements (novice to expert) and dynamically assessed Marine proficiency.

Digital Integrated Representation of Tactical Environment, or DIRTE,  which will provide tools for rapidly modeling, editing and adding contextual elements, such as buildings and content in various states, to geographic terrain databases.

Responses to the solicitation are due by March 31.

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