Soldier Touch Points Play Critical Role
by Donnie Ryan, U.S. Army PEO STRI
June 25, 2022
As the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) continues to field innovative products and software, Soldier Touch Points (STPs) are playing a key role in helping to maintain current readiness and modernize the Army for future operational challenges.
STPs are a key element of the Army’s Soldier-Centered Design concept, because they ensure the final product is one Soldiers like, one that will not slow them down, weigh them down, or interfere with other elements on the battlefield.
A U.S. Army solider takes part in the Synthetic Training Environment - Information System (STE-IS) Soldier Touch Point 2B in Orlando, Florida on March 30, 2022. The event was sponsored by the Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation and the Army's Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team. (U.S. Army photo by Donnie Ryan)
They also help to focus on the needs of the Soldier in respect to mission, maneuverability, situational awareness, and survivability, which contributes to individual readiness. In addition, STPs provide critical feedback from Soldiers early in the development, prototype and fielding process, which is an innovative part of overall modernization efforts.
During the past three months, PEO STRI has executed a number of STPs for programs including the Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer (RVCT) Generation 1 air and ground modules, as well as Synthetic Training Environment (STE) CO-level collective training capabilities.
PEO STRI officials and the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team conducted STP2B for the RVCT air and ground modules March 29-31 in Orlando, Fla. Soldiers from the Army’s Directorate of Simulation and Army National Guard units took part in the air simulations, while Army National Guard and Army Forces Command Soldiers participated in ground simulations.
According to PEO STRI’s Lt. Col. Charles Seaberry, product manager, common synthetic environment, the available RVCT platforms for STP2B included the Black Hawk, Chinook, M1 Abrams, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Stryker and the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle virtual trainers.
“On the first day, the participating Soldiers were immediately provided an overview of the capabilities and limitations of all available RVCT platforms,” Seaberry said. “Capabilities and limitations were established with the user community prior to obtaining feedback on RVCT air and ground platforms.”
Seaberry said the system’s stability allowed the team to accomplish all planned objectives.
“We were able to obtain useful feedback for both software and hardware,” he said. “Additionally, we were able to obtain early feedback from ATEC [U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command] on both capabilities and limitations they observed.”
PEO STRI’s STPs can take form of focus groups, surveys, shadowing Soldiers and observations to study how the systems and technology are used. During STPs, Soldiers can communicate directly with defense contractors who design and build products. This helps to reinforce that Soldier input is valuable in the development process.
U.S. Army soliders take part in the Synthetic Training Environment - Information System (STE-IS) Soldier Touch Point 2B in Orlando, Florida on March 30, 2022. The event was sponsored by the Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation and the Army's Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team. (U.S. Army photo by Donnie Ryan)
“From my perspective, the biggest benefit of properly conducting STPs is the feedback provided by the Soldiers,” said Sgt. Maj. Steven A. Brown, PEO STRI’s senior enlisted leader. “If the STP is conducted properly, this direct, honest feedback is fed back into the design process. This is important because the Soldier is the user.”
Brown said if the Soldier does not like the fielded equipment and were not afforded the opportunity to provide feedback during the development process, they might be less inclined to use the equipment.
“The new technology must also be better than the technology it is replacing and it must enhance, not hinder, Soldier and unit readiness,” Brown said. “Also, the new equipment training is a valuable tool in gaining Soldier buy in. The new equipment training must not only show the Soldier how to operate the technology, but it must demonstrate how this will improve or enhance a Soldier or unit’s readiness.”
Every Soldier in the U.S. Army, from E-1 to O-10 has trained on a PEO STRI system. While STPs may seem like a straightforward solution for tailoring novel equipment, their purposeful and regular incorporation into testing and development is helping to ensure a modern, stronger and more agile Army – one more capable than ever of proactively anticipating and addressing Soldier needs while remaining the world’s preeminent fighting force.
U.S. Army Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), headquartered in Orlando, Florida, leads a skilled and diverse workforce and works with high-caliber Army partners to enhance operational readiness and support the Army’s modernization efforts by fielding and sustaining the next generation of multi-domain operations testing, training and information operations capabilities.
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