The USMC Works Ground-Air Innovation at WTI and TALONEX

By Defense.Info Media Team

As the Aviation aspect of Marine Corps capabilities are transformed over time, first Osprey, then the F-35 and then the CH-53K and onwards, working how the Ground Combat Element benefits from and contributes to the kind of innovations in operations that are possible is a major challenge.

One way the Marines are addressing this is running a GCE exercise interactively in conjunction with the MAWTS-1 WTI course. This video from 2017 describes the approach.

Credit Video: U.S. Marines and Sailors with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, participate in Talon Exercise (TalonEx) 2-17, U.S. Army Yuma Proving Grounds, Yuma, A.Z., March 20 – May 1, 2017. The purpose of TalonEx was for ground combat units to conduct integrated training in support of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 2-17 hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1). (U.S. Marine Corps video by Cpl. Dani A. Zunun)

And in an article written by Lance Cpl. Isaac Cantrell, and published on March 30, 2018, innovations from the Ground Command Element working with the Aviation Command Element side by side to leverage simulation in the innovation process is highlighted,.

Twentynine Palms — Marines with various aviation units completed Command Post Exercise 2 at the Battle Simulation Center aboard the Combat Center, March 29, 2018.

CPX-2 is a two-part training event that focuses on training battalion staff and is a part of TALONEX 2-18, a pre-deployment training event that coincides with Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course.

Throughout CPX-2, Marines at the Battle Simulation Center utilized multiple simulations in conjunction with other units at Camp Wilson aboard the Combat Center, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. According to Maj. Jesse Attig, modeling and simulations officer, Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, this is all part of an effort called Marine Air Ground Task Force Tactical Integrated Training Environment.

“The idea behind the MAGTF TITE effort is to create a persistent capability which permits collective training in a distributed and constructive environment in order to enhance integrated training,” Attig said. “During TALONEX 2-18, Marine pilots, Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, the Direct Air Support Center and Fire Support Coordination Center/Fire Direction Center will train in conjunction with battalion staff using distributed simulation.”

CPX-2 utilized a constructive simulation called MAGTF Tactical Warfare Simulation, which served as the hub for the training. To run their high-fidelity cockpit trainers and to fly a virtual unmanned aircraft system, the Battle Simulation Center used a virtual simulation called Virtual Battle Space 3.

“Using multiple simulations together does create a lot of challenges and issues, such as making sure that one model that comes up in one simulation will appear the same way in another and making sure that the terrain is the same across all platforms,” Attig said. “We continue to work through these issues to try to refine the simulations and make them more realistic.”

Another goal of the MAGTF TITE initiative is to provide more realistic training for Marines. According to the Ground Training Simulation Implementation Plan of June 2017, using simulations allows Marines and units to replicate situations and conditions that are more difficult to enact in certain on-the-ground training environments.

“This training helps to emphasize operational cohesion by providing more realism in an exercise where you’re relying on the proficiency of other Marines, as well as the realistic nature of the uncertainty and miscommunication that can occur when it’s real individuals participating instead of a role player,” Attig said. “It allows for more development on critical thinking and exposure to non-standard events and increased integration with external factors.”

“I’m very appreciative of the support and flexibility that we’re getting from the Marines who are participating because they understand that there are challenges associated with experimental training exercises,” Attig said. “The feedback we get from them helps to shape the way we move forward with setting up future simulation-based exercises. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Marines and agencies participating.”