Sustainment is always at the top of the list for the various commands that make up USSOCOM, and training is a key component of that. Training for joint operations are difficult to coordinate, difficult to manage and difficult to assess. Training Directors have a difficult job; moreover, without the use of a software tool, they may not even gain near real time visibility of how a unit performed or what prevented them from performing.
VATC, a Florida Corporation, headquartered in Tampa has done some amazing work in the field of Joint Force Readiness. While at SOFIC, I had the opportunity to meet Tony Perez, VATC’s Director of EPIC and received a guided tour of what has to be the best thought out, comprehensive and robust training system in that space. Today, VATC employees are critical to the successful execution of USSOCOM Joint National Training Capability exercises (USASOC JADE HELM, MARSOC RAVEN, NSWC TRIDENT, and AFSOC EMERALD WARRIOR) and to providing Realistic Military Training coordination across the continental United States.
EPIC, or more correctly EPIC Ready™, is a cloud-based or appliance-delivered platform that was created to improve realism in training, and to distribute exercise performance analytics in both dashboards and map-based presentations. Using a combination of geospatial representation and analytics, replication of realistic human dynamics, and performance-driven metrics, EPIC delivers comprehensive analysis and quantifiable and actionable results available for sharing “Jointly” among defense, intelligence, partner nations and non-governmental organizations. EPIC Ready™ is comprised of three tools combining to generate the most realistic open and distributed enterprise platform ever created. System elements include:
Common Database Builder — The Common Database (CDB) Builder provides enhanced Command and Control and Commanders’ Readiness Assessment with geospatial visualization with selectable layers of information in the common operational picture displayed in the Joint Operations Center. The CDB standard is designed as an open, run-time capable simulation database data-store specification that supports multiple simulation systems, such as visual out-the-window, forward looking infrared, radar, and computer generated forces within a single simulator or across a family of simulators. It is a layered tiled approach to storing a worldwide synthetic environment. Initially developed to support the United States Special Operations Command, CDB is being adopted globally. Currently, the U.S. Joint Staff J7 is using CDB for the Cloud-Based Terrain Generation Service.
Digital Media Replicator — The Digital Media Replicator (DMR) fills a critical special operations training and exercise gap by simulating a holistic information environment. DMR presents training audiences with publicly available information (PAI) very similar to what they will encounter during a deployment. PAI data sources, from news media to social media, reflect population dynamics to inform intelligence and operations and enhance training and exercise effects. DMR fosters a complex information environment to challenge units against key training tasks. It feeds training audiences scenario data for analysis while also reflecting the second- and third-order effects of their operations.
DMR incorporates PAI data sources like news sites, blogs, and social media (e.g., Twitter) into a single web-based interface. These information sources are holistic and mutually supporting. For example, a simulated Twitter account may repost a simulated news story or a news media source may reference a Twitter account.
Planning and Analysis System —The Planning and Analysis System (PAS) supports and deepens the Commander’s combat readiness assessment. PAS fills a critical training and exercise gap by providing exercise planners and leadership at all levels the unit performance data required to ensure force readiness and increase the return on investment in training resources. PAS is a web-deployed, relational database management system that captures and correlates exercise and performance data with a focus on user-defined training objectives throughout the Joint Exercise Life Cycle. PAS’ ability to manage and visualize this information is essential to analyzing training effectiveness for the broadest range of stakeholders. PAS objectively measures the tasks, conditions, and standards assigned to the Joint Mission Essential Tasks (JMETs) associated with a unit’s combat readiness – from a GCC operational battle staff to a tactical unit. From a joint exercise program perspective, PAS provides an objective measurement of JMETs relevant to the overall joint exercise objectives (and specific training objectives) based on the GCC’s theater campaign plan or other Commander guidance.
I’ve seen quite a few training simulators but none were as comprehensive as the EPIC platform. The system supports resource allocation, costing, geospatial customization, financial tracking, analytics and command reporting near real-time. Since EPIC is a cloud based tool, there is no software to maintain or software licenses to manage, access is on a subscription basis. VATC also has consultants deployed around the world to assist the client in setting up and optimizing the EPIC READY Platform to meet a client’s specific needs. Eighty percent of VATC consultants are former SOF, and intimately familiar with the platform and joint training exercises.
Agencies desiring more detailed information or desiring to arrange a demonstration of this impressive platform, can contact Joseph A Perez SOCM (SEAL), Director of EPIC at firstname.lastname@example.org