JELC-Lite: Unconventional Instructional Design for Special Operations Training


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Abstract. Current special operations staff training is based on the Joint Event Life Cycle (JELC). It addresses operational level tasks in multi-week, live military exercises which are planned over a 12 to 18 month timeframe. As the military experiences changing global mission sets, shorter training events using distributed technologies will increasingly be needed to augment traditional training. JELC-Lite is a new approach for providing relevant training between large scale exercises. This new streamlined, responsive training model uses distributed and virtualized training technologies to establish simulated scenarios. It keeps proficiency levels closer to optimal levels – thereby reducing the performance degradation inherent in periodic training. It can be delivered to military as well as under-reached interagency groups to facilitate agile, repetitive training events. JELC-Lite is described by four phases paralleling the JELC, differing mostly in scope and scale. It has been successfully used with a Theater Special Operations Command and fits well within the current environment of reduced personnel and financial resources.

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JELC-Lite: Unconventional Instructional Design for Special Operations Training

  1. 1. JELC-LITE: Unconventional Instructional Design for Special Operations Training Gerald “Jay” Gendron Mark Friedman, CKMP Concurrent Technologies Corporation friedmam@ctc.comAbstract. Current special operations staff training is based on the Joint Event Life Cycle (JELC). It addresses operational leveltasks in multi-week, live military exercises which are planned over a 12 to 18 month timeframe. As the military experienceschanging global mission sets, shorter training events using distributed technologies will increasingly be needed to augmenttraditional training. JELC-Lite is a new approach for providing relevant training between large scale exercises. This newstreamlined, responsive training model uses distributed and virtualized training technologies to establish simulated scenarios. Itkeeps proficiency levels closer to optimal levels – thereby reducing the performance degradation inherent in periodic training. It canbe delivered to military as well as under-reached interagency groups to facilitate agile, repetitive training events. JELC-Lite isdescribed by four phases paralleling the JELC, differing mostly in scope and scale. It has been successfully used with a TheaterSpecial Operations Command and fits well within the current environment of reduced personnel and financial resources.1.0 INTRODUCTION delivered by the Joint Staff and military Services. Unconventional Personnel constraints are perhaps the mostThe term unconventional not only describes challenging hurdle in training development.a classic mission set of special operations Joint military training is inherently aforces – it also describes the manner in humanistic endeavor. It relies on a verywhich special operations trainers are particular and special subset of theapproaching training development in this profession of arms – the ability to discerntime of constrained resources and changing training needs of operational, uniformedmissions. Special operations trainers have members and then translate those needsbegun to use rapidly developed, distance into specific, achievable, and timely trainingtraining ways and means to surmount the events. These events often include severalresource challenges and achieve their hundred live players, not to mention themission goals. virtual players linked from distributed locations and synthetic forces generatedAs special operations and conventional through constructive simulations. Peopleforces continue to realize the changing and their specialized training skills continueglobal environment – and the resultant to serve as the most important element ofrevision in their global mission sets – the joint military training enterprise spreadenabling functions like mission support, across the globe – the art and science ofacquisition, and training should likewise war. As a support function, they have takenchange to keep in step with the needs of the resource cuts in order to bolster operationalmen and women in uniform. From the forces engaged in our nation’s wars. Yetperspective of joint military training, the the operational forces need even morerevised mission sets will drive a requirement training than in past years to deal with forcefor increases of relatively short training surges, increased uncertainty, and changingevents which augment the traditional joint mission currently designed, planned, and
  2. 2. The complexity of the current and Most often, operational-level training resultsforeseeable defense and security operating in the military Services working in concertenvironments call for adaptive individuals, with the Joint Staff to establish a trainingleaders, and units at all levels. While environment satisfying the trainingacknowledging that these characteristics requirements. These are highly complexalready exist in the armed forces (to some events, but the Joint Staff has promulgateddegree), it is clear that the severity of the policy and instructions in order to maintainchallenges imply an urgent need to effectiveness of the resultant training whilesignificantly reinforce and extend them. We striving for efficiencies. A key process inhave entered a time when the uniformed joint training is the Joint Event Life Cycleservices must be able to train more (JELC). The Joint Training Manual for theefficiently and with greater agility than ever Armed Forces of the United States [2]before. defines JELC as:2.0 MILITARY TRAINING A flexible sequential set of processesDEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENTS that can be modified to apply to various levels of joint event intensity. Although,2.1 Key Terms and Concepts nominally, a 12-18 month undertaking for major collective exercises, the JELCEach year, the Department of Defense can be utilized for any training event andembarks upon a very challenging and the planning team needed to accomplishbroad-reaching joint training mission. the JELC is directly related to the scaleFortunately for our men and women in and complexity of the training eventuniform, the Department continues to itself ([2], p. E-6).perform well in this mission. It hascontinued to enhance its operational-level This is a foundational concept of the jointtraining events through new methods and military training system and serves as thetechnologies. This paper focuses on primary construct for this at the operational level of war whichencompasses the forces supporting the 2.2 Joint Event Life Cycle in Militarycombatant commanders around the globe. Training EventsFrom the Department of Defense Dictionary Special operations training is not unlikeof Military and Associated Terms [1], conventional training from a processoperational level of war means “the level of perspective. In fact, special operationswar at which campaigns and major trainers utilize the same JELC principlesoperations are planned, conducted, and and timelines. At the operational level, thesustained to achieve strategic objectives JELC specifically addresses operational-within theaters or other operational areas” level tasks and results in exercises which([1], p. 271). From the same source, the typically last one week, though some areterm combatant commander is defined as two weeks in duration. These exercisesthe “commander established and so (i.e., training events) prepare thousands ofdesignated by the President, through the members of the Armed Forces and theSecretary of Defense and with the advice Department of Defense for the challenges ofand assistance of the Chairman of the Joint fulfilling its national security strategy aroundChiefs of Staff. Combatant commands the globe. These exercises typically requiretypically have geographic or functional a 12 to 18 month JELC to design, staff, andresponsibilities” ([1], p. 60). build the final event. As a result, most combatant commands have one, or possibly
  3. 3. two, full-scale training events each year. Knowledge Online for anyone in theThis flows from the personnel and schedule Department of Defense to use for theirconstraints of a Joint Staff required to training needs. Immersive learningsupport all the combatant commands. environments are a step beyond computer based training. Rather than focusing on an2.3 Recent Occurrences individual, the technologies allow smallUnderpinning Change teams to train on staff processes similar to those found at the operational level of war.Continued themes surrounding nationalsecurity and the Department of Defense 3.0 ADAPTING PEOPLE ANDinclude uncertainty and change. In August PROCESSES2010, Defense Secretary Robert Gatesannounced his intent for an efficiencies The human aspects of quality traininginitiative to review the fiscal and personnel preclude a total solution derived solely fromlevels of the Department. The stated goal technologies alone. A truly effective trainingwas to shift resources – approximately $100 solution requires not only the technologies,billion – to units and commands more but also the right people and processes.directly supporting the war fighting missions.The shift would come from reductions in 3.1 New Approach: More in Lesscommand staffs which grew, according to TimeSecretary Gates, during the war years since2001. The JELC-Lite model proposed offers two major benefits which make it ideal toAs these efficiency measures have been supplement the traditional JELC process:executed, the Obama Administration has reduced development time for trainingnoted the need to go further in an effort to events, and reduced regression of staffreduce national debt. Efficiencies once skills.focused on a shift of resources hastransformed into a call for a reduction in Traditional joint training events haveDefense Department budgets by durations lasting approximately one week.approximately $400 billion through 2023 [3]. In contrast, collaborative staff planningConsider the situation highlighted in the events have an average duration of fourintroductory comments of this paper: hours when using immersive learning environments. These shorter events allow  changing global missions operational commanders and training demanding training support; officers to increase the frequency of events.  constrained training personnel face Typical outcomes of these four-hour events increased demand for support; and include: rehearsing existing staff knowledge,  training is an inherently humanistic expanding the knowledge base from endeavor. veteran staff to new team members, and building (nurturing) relationships amongThe Joint Staff has foreseen these future collaborative teams.challenges and has supported thedevelopment of new training technologies JELC-Lite also reduces the amount of timeand methods to surmount them. These new to develop training events on a per training-technologies have been in immersive hour basis. As noted, the JELC operateslearning environments. They have been over a 12 to 18 month timeframe to designdeveloped and are hosted on Joint and build a one week training event. This typical situation results in a development-
  4. 4. delivery ratio of 52:1 (52 weeks:40 hours). technology has afforded the learningExperience has shown that JELC-Lite industry. Learners can now focus on a veryevents can be designed and created in narrow and specific topic, instead of havingapproximately 2 weeks. This results in a to rely on large, broad, and generalizeddevelopment-delivery ratio of 20:1 (2 events. Not disparaging these larger,weeks:4 hours). The JELC-Lite aggregated training events – but theperformance ratio is 62 percent more opportunity to narrowly-focus and train onefficient as compared to the JELC (i.e. specific mission essential tasks provides therequires 62% less labor to create an hour of trainer flexibility to create and deliver manyteam training). This makes JELC-Lite times more training events which are muchtraining processes nearly three times more easily adaptable to the ever-changingquicker than traditional ones. set of requirements in today’s uncertain environment.Joint observer-trainers note staffperformance is heightened by its 3.2 Four Phases of Proposed JELC-participation in a one-week event on an Liteannual basis; however, the staffperformance level steadily declines over the Traditional JELC has five defined stages [2]:course of the intervening year until the nextevent. The need for long duration,  Designcomprehensive training events using JELC  Planningprocesses will persist, but JELC-Lite  Preparationprovides the opportunity to augment these  Executionyearly events with short duration training  Evaluation, Analysis, and Reportingopportunities. Fortunately, the guidancefrom the authoritative source on joint JELC-Lite has four phases, which closelytraining not only allows adaptation of the mirror the standard Joint Event Life Cycle:JELC but also encourages it to “fit the scaleand intensity of the training event itself” ([2],  Concept Developmentp. E-6).  Plan-Build  Pre-Execution PreparationAdapting JELC for JELC-Lite will allow the  Executionexecution of relevant training to learners,both before and between the large-scale The primary differences between JELC andexercises, in order to maintain higher levels JELC-Lite lay in the scope and scale, withof proficiency with greater consistency – the Lite version being more responsive andavoiding the bathtub effect of decreased agile. It has been expressly designed forperformance that often occurs between use with immersive learning environmentslarge-scale events. Not only are staffs more capable of rapid training scenariocapable, but training events are more development. The four phases arebeneficial when the regression of staff skills described below. A guide detailing theis lessened. JELC-Lite process is being written by the authors to provide training developers andJELC-Lite results in “a lot of a little” – an training audiences guidance on employingidea based on the book The Long Tail: Why JELC-Lite in their events.the Future of Business Is Selling Less ofMore by Chris Anderson. Anderson [4]describes how the Internet revolution hasbeen shaped by a specific nuance that
  5. 5. 3.2.1 Concept Development toolset capabilities like those in the Small Group Scenario Trainer (SGST), visualConcept Development has three main diagrams can be created, shared, edited,purposes: establish expectations, develop and finalized over web services [5].initial action items, and finalize the requests Aristotle said it best: “The soul does notfor support from customer to training think without a picture.”development team. Most important issetting proper expectations – especially 3.2.3 Pre-Execution Preparationwhen developing training under JELC-Lite.There is a longstanding understanding of Having drafted and constructed the trainingtraditional JELC processes. Users must event, this phase is designed to rehearseappreciate that a rapid development effort the event with the customers to ensurewill require a different approach to building expectations for players, controllers, andthe event under JELC-Lite. role players are satisfied. Pre-Execution Preparation can be accomplished in theThe focus needs to be on the training JELC-Lite model via simple email andaudience and their ability to play in the teleconferences. This phase is veryevent rather than the technologies used. An important in the distributed, lightweightexample of the checklist used during this JELC-Lite model, since face-to-facephase: the developers facilitate a session coordination may not be possible duringwherein customers determine event rapid development. A side benefit is that itobjectives, identify a geographical location reduces loads on personnel and fiscalfor the scenario, determine the number of resources as compared to traditionalhours for event execution, and scope the preparation under JELC.number of scenario injects the players willhave to manage. 3.2.4 Execution3.2.2 Plan-Build Lastly, the Execution Phase includes scenario delivery, a hotwash with theWhere JELC typically has four planning training audience, and an internal lessonsconferences, the JELC-Lite Plan-Build learned session among the developers.Phase is performed only once, focusing on These are very similar to the activities in aa small target set of objectives. The primary traditional JELC process.objectives in this phase of JELC-Lite are forthe customer to decide on the player roles 4.0 A PROMISING VIEW OF THE(how many? how broad?); to define the FUTUREactivities within the event (one planningactivity? planning with a fast forward to JELC-Lite processes have beendeployment?); and to storyboard the successfully used at a few combatantactivities and roles against the desired commands from 2010 to the present. Threetraining injects and synchronize timing. The overarching benefits have been observedPlan-Build Phase co-exists with a series of among training developers and audiencesproduct reviews at 30 percent (review inject employing JELC-Lite.products), 70 percent (review overall eventflow), and 90 percent (review details and 4.1 Expand Training Reach andsynchronization). Recall that this phase Responsivenessmay last only a week, so these reviews helpdrive the process through the longest JELC-Lite supports the philosophy “a lot ofportion of development. By leveraging a little”. This means not only a greater
  6. 6. number of events, but with the correlating sustain the idea flow. In other words, theeffect resulting from more frequent events. shorter cycle time aids the addition ofCustomers can avoid having to wait for the innovation into the training. Without thenext large-scale exercise to rehearse or shortened cycle time for trainingtrain techniques, tactics, and procedures. In development, there would simply be lessfact, now operational commanders can have opportunity to achieve this level oftheir staffs go through those experiences as innovation.a build up for the large-scale event.Training can become not only more frequent 4.3 Evolutionary Approachbut also more penetrating in developing ourhuman capital. There exists a subtle (yet Finally, this new streamlined, responsive,significant) side benefit to this increased and agile training model called JELC-Litereach – increased responsiveness. affords trainers the opportunity to reachDevelopers and analysts involved with under-reached training audiences andtraining recognize that the 18 month time allows for agile, repetitive training events tospans needed to develop large-scale events take place where needed. This mimics aare more susceptible to obsolescence due popular paradigm found on the Internet into changes in global environments that alter the commercial sector – that being Apple’sthe mission focus. More frequent event iTunes delivery capability. Consider thedevelopment and training reduces risk in an iTunes inventory: it is a huge assortment ofuncertain operational environment. media which is instantly available to customers. Meanwhile, the iTunes process4.2 Agile Solution is highly repeatable, has very low transactional cost, and offers very efficientThe responsiveness inherent in reduced management overhead. Thus, theJELC-Lite development cycles fosters agility evolutionary adaption of JELC-Lite tofor the training audience. In today’s augment the JELC could be whimsicallyconstrained resource environment, there called iJELC.should be a shift in thinking that large andsituationally-specific scenarios will be Who are the under-reached and under-reused in the future to gain economies of served training audiences? There are fourscale. Rather, training developers can levels of penetration when expanding reachespouse the benefits of situationally-specific to users:scenarios that are smaller in scope andeasier to develop in order to remain agile to  Active Duty Military Forces;training needs – and ultimately cost less.  Reserve and National Guard Forces;  Interagency Partners; and"The need to learn quickly and adapt in a  Multinational Partners.dynamic environment is seminal for bothmilitary and civilian organizations" ([6], p. Among active duty users, consider newly165). arriving members of a joint, operational staff. A study [7] commissioned in 2008 byThe added benefit of this agility is that the the Joint Staff J7’s Joint Training andtrainers are able, and encouraged, to Exercise Division found officers serving onupdate, revise, and improve the training operational-level joint staffs were notcontent between each cycle of delivery. performing as well as senior leaders hadSince there is no end-state to the idea of expected. Reasons for this cited by the“better” and “continuous improvement” – study include the facts that these officersJELC-Lite provides the opportunity to were on their first joint tour, their first staff
  7. 7. tour, and their first time working with a members than the rest of the interagency,diverse workforce such as other military but uniformed military members often fail toServices and the interagency. Experience realize this disparity in personnelwith operational joint staffs points to a lack resourcing. Again, these other members ofof process-oriented training on staff the interagency could benefit fromtechniques and skills. Newest members of collaborative staff training using distancea combatant command must seek on-the- training tools and techniques. It wouldjob training in preparation for the large- increase interaction among key missionscale, annual training exercise. Newly partners.assigned members of combatantcommands and the Joint Staff represent an Finally, the military supports the Departmentunder-served audience during their first four of State diplomatic mission by participatingto eight months of time on the staff. in Security Assistance activities like training and educating our multinational partners. ASecondly, consider the Reserve and key problem is a lack of persistence inNational Guard forces who volunteer to contact due to costs and distancesupport active duty units. Most frequently in challenges of working with multinationalthe special operations community, these partners. Additionally, not all our partnersgroups of warfighters augment the active are supported at similar levels. This is to beduty components by deploying on multi- expected. However, when it comes time formonth Joint Special Operations Task Force execution it is not desirable to expect less oftours. While they are often able to take long a less-served partner. Fiscal and personnelblocks of time from their civilian jobs to constraints make it difficult, if notsupport the military mission, they can have impossible, for the Department of Defensedifficulty getting additional, smaller blocks of trainers to travel and support thesetime away from work prior to the multinational partners frequently enough todeployment to support important training maintain the performance levels achievedworkup events as preparation for the after the live security assistance training.deployment. This results in a less than fully Distance training and a JELC-Lite processprepared group of staff members who could may bring recurring opportunities to smaller,benefit from collaborative staff training using lesser-served – but nonetheless important –distance training tools and techniques prior deployment. 5.0 CONCLUSIONBeyond the uniformed members, there hasbeen a notable increase in cooperation, Today’s operational-level training events areengagement, and mission execution among designed, constructed, and executed underthe entire interagency including Department a well-established process called the Jointof Defense, Department of State, law Event Life Cycle (JELC). Specialenforcement agencies, and more than a operations training events use the JELC asdozen other governmental agencies. One well. The JELC typically requires 12 to 18persistent problem cited by non-defense months to plan a one week joint trainingmembers of the interagency is the inability event. However, a changing landscape into train with uniformed staff members. national security, and tightening constraintsThere are just so much fewer personnel in on critical resources, such as people andnon-defense agencies and this leads to money, requires the Department of Defensedifficulties to engage in training with the to reconsider guidance in CJSCM 3500.03Cmilitary – especially when travel is required. stating it is appropriate to adapt the JELC toThe Department of Defense has many more
  8. 8. the scale and complexity of the desired [4] Anderson, C. (2006, July 11). The longevent. tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more. New York, NY:As the military realizes changing global Hyperion.mission sets, shorter training events usingdistributed technologies will increasingly [5] Joint Knowledge Development &augment traditional training. JELC-Lite is a Distribution Capability. (2009, Augustnew approach to provide relevant training 31). Small group scenario trainerbetween large scale exercises. This paper (SGST): Users guide. Suffolk, VA.articulates the four phases the authors havedefined for JELC-Lite and the benefits [6] Mains, S., & Ariely, G. A. (2011).JELC-Lite has for operational commands. Learning while fighting: OperationalOverall, a greater number of short training knowledge management that makes aevents points to a future where higher difference. PRISM, 2 (3).165-176.performance levels are maintained betweenlarge-scale training events. Maintaining [7] United States Special Operationsmore optimal proficiency levels reduces the Command. (2010, October). USperformance degradation inherent in special operations command joint staffperiodic training. This new streamlined, officer site visit. Tampa, FL.responsive training model uses distributedand virtualized training technologies toestablish simulated scenarios. It can bedelivered to military as well as under-reached interagency groups to facilitateagile, repetitive training events.6.0 REFERENCES[1] Department of Defense. (2011, May 15). Department of defense dictionary of military and associated terms (JP 1- 02). Washington, DC.[2] Department of Defense. (2011, January 15). Joint training manual for the armed forces of the united states (CJCSM 3500.03C). Washington, DC.[3] Winter, D.C. (2011, May 31). Defense planning for the twenty-first century: Lessons from the twentieth (Report of the Heritage Foundation). Retrieved from s/2011/05/defense-planning-for-the- twenty-first-century-lessons-from-the- twentieth.