HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — If the U.S. Army’s future warfare planners have their way, “Motor Pool Mondays” may never look the same.
Army Futures Command leader Gen. James Rainey and the director of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team, Brig. Gen. William Glaser, have said the service wants to integrate the simulation environment directly into its combat vehicles.
“I don’t think we need to have [both] the combat vehicle and the simulator,” Rainey said Wednesday morning at an Association of the U.S. Army event. “I believe the technology exists that we should be able to train on platform.”
Later that day, Glaser described the onboard simulators as a “panacea.”
“A platoon leader can wake up in the morning, do [physical training], go to the motor pool to do command maintenance, [go] to lunch, [and] they can come back and actually train on the same piece of equipment he has been maintaining,” the simulations officer hypothesized.
Harnessing the capabilities under development at his Orlando, Florida-based center, Glaser detailed a potential future where units in garrison can perform collective simulated training “right there in the motor pool.”
Combing the Synthetic Training Environment’s One World Terrain project with onboard simulators could revolutionize pre-combat rehearsals for deployed soldiers on a virtual version of the ground they’re preparing to fight over, Glaser suggested.
One World Terrain, one of the cross-functional team’s most heralded capabilities, has already helped commanders plan real-world missions.
“When it gets to the point where commanders are demanding this tech capability while they’re deployed so they can actually use it as a rehearsal capability before putting soldiers in harm’s way — [that] is really what we’re trying to look for as we move out to 2040,” Glaser said.
But both generals cautioned that onboard simulations in the motor pool, no matter how large or integrated with other capabilities, will never replace live training events.
“That only gets you so far,” Rainey said. “You’ve got to get out in the dirt and do the combined arms maneuver.”
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.