With no foreseeable relief in sight for an already stretched defence budget, the cost advantages of making more use of simulation tools for training are one way of making the defence Rand go further.
This will come under the microscope in October when the second Training and Simulation Conference takes place in Irene, Centurion.
“Apart from the fact that simulation exercises currently utilised to train the military have major cost advantages when compared to live exercises, the Defence Review (now approved by Cabinet) identifies modelling and simulation as a key technology domain,” conference organiser James Erlank said.
“This should surely compel the military to make more use of this value-added capacity,” he said, pointing out the more than 400 page document created by Roelf Meyer and his Defence Review committee also makes mention of “support for the acquisition of South African defence and security equipment by means of offsets and industrial participation within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the wider African continent.
“The Review also notes that subject to the determinations of the (yet to be appointed) Chief Defence Scientist, the defence focus will initially rest in the technology domain”.
These indicators added to the over-arching need for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to get “more bang for its buck” point strongly to simulation training coming more and more to the fore as a training tool. Development of simulation training equipment, with the potential for sales both in and outside South Africa, can boost the defence industry as well. This at a time when it is heavily reliant on exports to stay alive.
“It is common wisdom that soldiers must train like they will fight. The more realistic the training, the more likely soldiers are to fight like they are trained – effectively and without hesitation.
“The biggest problem in providing operationally realistic training is cost. Major field exercises are prohibitively expensive but the trade-off between realism and cost has been substantially altered by the rise of ICT technologies. Cutting-edge military simulations provide impressive realism and immersion at a fraction of the cost of field exercises,” he said.
Apart from showcasing the latest in technology development, Erlank is confident speakers at the conference, to be held at Denel Land Systems, will add value to existing simulation training documentation.
This means the two-day conference will give SANDF simulation training practitioners the opportunity to improve their knowledge while the modelling and simulation sector of the South African defence industry will also benefit.
“The first call for papers has been issued and, if the high-powered speakers present at last year’s conference is any indication, the 2014 conference is going to be bigger and better,” he said.