Defence training and simulation conference postponed


    Barely a month ahead of its scheduled start the third annual military training and simulation conference has been postponed for a year with “a lack of interest” cited as one reason.

    One of the organisers said while the late announcement of a postponement was “regretted” a decision had been taken to stage the event around the time of next year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition. The largest defence related exhibition on the African continent is set down for September 14 to 18 next year at AFB Waterkloof in Centurion. No dates have yet been announced for the simulation training conference but it is expected to take place the week following AAD.

    The conference was to have taken place on October 14 and 15 in Thaba Tshwane, South Africa’s military capital.

    The postponement has been attributed, among others, to the current poor economic climate which has seen sponsorship, the lifeblood of conferences and seminars, not as forthcoming as was expected.

    Disturbingly, a lack of interest is also given as a reason for postponing the event. This is worrying in that both previous events, the first held at the SA Army College in Thaba Tshwane and the second on the CSIR campus last year, were both reasonably well attended.

    With ever rising costs of real-time and live fire exercises curtailing these, the use of simulation is as seen a way of providing training that while realistic, is not as expensive as the real thing.

    An example of this came in April this year when what is believed to be the single largest training simulation exercise yet staged by the SA National Defence Force took place at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Northern Cape.

    About 180 students from three different military courses took part in a three week long constructive simulation exercise. The war gaming exercise replaced a live field training exercise and was conducted at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.
    “The practical value of constructive simulation, also known as war gaming, was well illustrated by the exercise,” said JC van Schalkwyk of BattleTek Constructive Simulation.

    The students, ranging in rank from staff sergeant to colonel, were on either the Junior Command and Staff Duties (Practical) Course, the Integrated Sub-unit Commanders Course or the Senior Operations Duties Course.

    The size of the group of students, saw them split into three with each spending a week getting to grips with the intricacies of simulation training.

    The first week saw the group take on peace support operations, via keyboard, with the second week spent on extensive training and the third and final week was taken up by conventional warfare, again through keyboards.

    The students also participated, on a rotational basis, in a peace support operation exercise followed by a conventional warfare operation exercise. This saw planning done at brigade level and executed at battalion level.