The rise of the People’s Republic of China has created enormous ripples in the Department of Defense ever since 2015, the first time the United States lost in the “Red on Blue” war simulation run by Rand Corporation. The simulation created an urgent need to understand exactly what China was doing with its time and resources over the last twenty years. The military learned the Chinese were creating an elaborate defense strategy designed to take on any current American military technology rooted in the intelligence of how the U.S. prosecuted the War on Terror and outright prevent it from operating anywhere near China or the South China Sea.
General Charles Q. Brown Jr., the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, became the standard-bearer for the military in creating a new vision to counter China. He aptly coined the phrase, “Accelerate change or lose.” Since that time, the Air Force has been laser-focused on investing in new technologies to ensure the United States deters China from making the decision to militarily take over the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Unfortunately, the way the government is structured, especially in military acquisitions, has been an extremely difficult path to modernizing the military. Not only are acquisitions decentralized among the Branches of the Armed Services and Combatant Commands (COCOM), but they are also decentralized within the Air Force’s Major Commands (MAJCOMs). This decentralized execution for a vision requiring unity of effort is hurting the U.S. military’s goal to keep up with its new pacing threat.
The problems with acquisitions do not stop there. In “The Kill Chain,” Christian Brose talks extensively about how the American military-industrial complex is great at creating large, expensive systems and how those technologies are not enough to defeat or deter China. We need to move beyond these weapons systems and think outside the box in low-cost, attainable technologies.
What is notably missing from all the current military modernization literature is the importance of high-fidelity training. This is a travesty considering one of the major advantages the U.S. military has over pacing threats is the quality of the Noncommissioned Officer corps. Additionally, as the U.S. military modernizes, it has created the requirement for Multi-Capable Airmen (MCA), exponentially increasing the need for relevant training at the speed of need.
AF Doctine Note 1-21 by General Brown, Chief of Staff of The Air Force - source
The Multi-Capable Airman construct was farmed out to the Air Forces’ wings to figure out and create requirements and map a path forward to achieving the goal. This decentralized process was a great way to leverage the experience and ingenuity of the Airmen. However, most of the “best practices” were frozen in place. Each wing came up with training plans to create qualified MCA. Those programs continue to lie in siloed locations at their respective bases. This is not a new problem for the tactical level leaders. In my 20 years as an Air Force pilot, training has always been base specific. Even the schoolhouse training materials developed by the top instructors of their weapons system resided at their training bases and never fully spread to the operational wings.
As an Air Force Reserve C-17 Squadron Commander, I waste a large amount of time reinventing the wheel. We have been tasked to come up with our own training requirements to operate in contested environments. There is no direction from higher headquarters and each wing came up with something a little different from the other wings. We discussed this at Combat Planning Council and began developing a singular training strategy based on accepted Reserve-wide standards. However, Air Mobility Command was already working on its own standard and AETC had already created a program to introduce aircrew to contested environment operations during initial qualification, pilot check-out program, and instructor programs. None of the training materials created reside in a single location nor has there been an established standard from any of those MAJCOMs.
On top of creating brand new training requirements and desired learning objectives, each unit is still responsible for tracking and training Airmen to the previous standards. The standards are universal and governed by the respective MAJCOM, but the materials, techniques, and procedures are still siloed in each wing and unit. There are no standard training products, no repository of knowledge, and no easy way to push down a standard of best practices to all wings. Additionally, there is no way to continuously update training at the speed of need and relevance.
Enter: Member-Operations-Training-Analysis-Reports (MOTAR). This new training ecosystem solves the Air Force’s training and tracking needs using future proof capability. As a squadron commander, I waste enormous amounts of time on readiness and training tracking each month. My squadron, Operations Group, and Airlift Wing spend numerous hours pulling statistics from various siloed sources to create a “snapshot-in-time” picture of how the wing is doing on training. This requires a multitude of spreadsheets and manhours to put together products. Couple this current training requirement with creating new programs for MCA and we have exceeded the capability of a wing.
MOTAR solves all these problems!
- Houses all training (legacy & new) in one platform only needing a CAC to login. Currently, Air Force units keep training products on iPads, share drives and SharePoint...not viewable by other units or wings. MOTAR can be the knowledge library AF-wide.
- Creates the entryway to all new training technologies including extended reality (XR) such as virtual reality and augmented reality. MOTAR can leverage the entire tech sector and create the unity of effort required to build MCA.
- Integrates with all legacy, siloed platforms to create a single location to track member readiness and training requirements.
- Houses Artificial Intelligence that can provide real-time readiness of Airmen. This enables leadership appropriate situational awareness of their wings and creates a capability to provide the right team at the right time for any operation.
- Future-proof training technology. Allows vendors, users, and experts continuous access to present the most up-to-date and relevant training at the speed of need.
- Allows cross-MAJCOM standardization and approval at the speed of need.
- Wings do not have the manpower or resources to absorb the new training requirements of MCA. Extended Reality (XR) training is an outstanding tool to reduce stress on wing resources.
- Adoption of MOTAR across MAJCOMs can spread costs evenly, reducing stress on acquisition finances.
- MOTAR is IL4-capable (June 2022) and will eventually be IL6+ and house DoD classified information.
Currently, Dynepic is working to cross the “Valley of Death” and senior leaders struggle with how to communicate the MOTAR value proposition. This essay was written to provide the 40,000-foot perspective of what is happening in the DoD at the strategic and tactical levels, why it is happening, and how important it is to create Multi-Capable Airmen.
MOTAR is not simply a platform to help AETC training programs, it is the future of all Air Force, and eventually DoD, training programs. It is the technology that will enhance our Airman’s advantage over our pacing threats. All the new war technologies in the world are useless unless the American service member is appropriately trained.
The Russians have already proven this theory and we must not make the same mistake.
“Accelerate change or lose.”