Two more of our papers, authored by Jennifer K. Phillips and William A. Ross, have been accepted to present at 2009 I/ITSEC by the Education subcommittee. “The FCS Cognitive Landscape: Identifying and Training FCS Cognitive Requirements,” concerns the US Army’s Future Combat Systems.FCS include a host of advanced technologies designed to enable our forces to see first, understand first, act first, and finish decisively. The new technologies range from weapons and sensor platforms to networked communication and collaboration tools in support of battle command. To support Soldiers and leaders who will utilize these advanced tools and technologies in combat, it is critical to prepare them to successfully leverage the new systems to accomplish mission goals. We conducted a limited cognitive task analysis (CTA) in the envisioned FCS world to identify FCS cognitive requirements. We then conducted a content validation to determine the validity of the cognitive requirements produced by the CTA and identified the following eight FCS cognitive themes.
The second paper, “Insurgent Mindset Training: Perspective-taking in Support of IED Defeat,” reccommends training requirements to effectively defeat Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) because they remain the greatest threat to lives in the current operational environment where Marines and Soldiers conduct counterinsurgency missions. Insurgents operate with a great deal of agility and adaptability in selecting targets, exploiting opportunities, and employing IEDs in complex, unstructured urban and rural settings. At its core, the clash between the insurgents and ground forces is a battle of the minds. US forces boast superior weaponry, equipment, and technology, yet insurgents so rapidly develop and evolve tactics that our forces cannot rely on technologies and equipment alone to counter the threat. In this and future counterinsurgency operations, the most mentally agile and adaptable force will claim victory. To seize the initiative in combating the IED threat, Marines must be better cognitively equipped with enhanced abilities to prevent emplacements, predict locations of IEDs, recognize environmental indicators of potential threats, and rapidly decide on a course of action to avoid or neutralize the threat. These cognitive skills must be a focus for training. To identify the nature of expertise in IED defeat, a cognitive task analysis was conducted with junior Marines to specify decisions, judgments, and strategies that highly skilled Marines apply. One crucial component of expertise was the ability to think like the enemy. The results of the analysis thus guided the design of a cognitively authentic simulation-based training system to facilitate the development of insurgent perspective-taking skills in Marines.
This Insurgent Mindset Training (IMT) is a module within Virtual Battlespace-2 (VBS-2). Marine learners role-play insurgents and conduct IED attacks against convoys under conditions of increasing complexity. Mirror image convoy missions are then conducted to promote application of the insurgent perspective as a convoy commander. Initial pilot testing indicates high levels of learner engagement and satisfaction of the intended learning objectives. Development and assessment is ongoing.