One issue with worldwide allies is that distance can be a serious problem for continued training, but this month, the DoD announced the latest effort to sharpen lethality, reform business practices, and strengthen partnerships in cyberspace. The United States and Australia have launched the first agreement to develop a virtual cyber training range.

On Nov. 3, the two nations signed the Cyber Training Capabilities Project Arrangement, which is a bilateral, international agreement that will enable the U.S. Cyber Command to incorporate Australian Defense Force feedback into Cybercom’s Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE).

This simulated training domain was developed as a platform for real-world defensive missions across boundaries and networks, and its shared use and development will reportedly evolve constantly and sharpen its readiness. This will include cyber tactics, techniques, and procedures employed by the U.S. Cyber Command as well as its Australian counterparts.

“This project arrangement is a milestone for U.S.-Australian cooperation,” said Elizabeth Wilson, the U.S. signatory and deputy assistant secretary of the Army for defense exports and cooperation.

This is the first cyber-only arrangement established between the U.S. Army and an allied nation, and it highlights the value of Australia’s partnership in the simulated training domain explained Wilson.

“To counter known and potential adversarial threats, the Army has recalibrated our strategic thinking; we’ve made smart decisions to refocus our efforts to invest in the new, emerging and smart technologies that will strengthen our ability to fight and win our nation’s wars,” she added.

Collaborative Training Environment

The PCTE training platform, which is one component of the U.S. military’s Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture, delivered its first production version in February 2020. It was designed as a distributed, secure, reconfigurable environment where numerous independent cyber operations training activities can occur simultaneously. 

It has been used to showcase training opportunities with the United States’ cyber equities, and will offer ongoing progression and engagement with America’s partners.

“Australia and the U.S. have a strong history of working together to develop our cyber capabilities and train our people to fight and win in cyberspace,” added Australian Army Maj. Gen. Marcus Thompson, the Australian signatory and head of information warfare for the ADF. “This arrangement will be an important part of the ADF’s training program, and we look forward to the mutual benefits it will bring.”

The DoD has stressed that partnerships in cyberspace are key to generating and sharing insights of threat vectors, enabling mutual defense against cyberattacks and conducting the operational training necessary to hold adversaries accountable in cyberspace. Such training platforms enable lethal cyber mission forces in defense of U.S. and allied interests.

Virtual Battlespace

In addition to cyberspace, the battlespace is also getting a boost from simulation technology. Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim), a developer of advanced military simulation and training software, has been working with the military with its virtual battlespace technology, VBS4.

This whole-earth and constructive simulation platform is the first of its kind that allows for collaborative editing among missions, terrains, tools and more. This makes it faster and easier for soldiers to join and train together, while altering the training scenario as needed.

According to the company currently, more than 25 customers are now using VBS4 to collaborate and train. This includes the U.S. Marine Corps and the Swedish Armed Forces.

It has allowed militaries across the globe to collaborate, and remain combat ready, even during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Covid restrictions are motivating military organizations like the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard units to look more to distributed training and simulation as an option,” Pete Morrison, BISim chief commercial officer told ClearanceJobs via an email.

“We expect this trend will continue throughout early 2021,” Morrison added. “Distributed training capabilities will likely become an enduring training approach for many military organizations, even after the Covid crisis has resolved. BISim, like many other simulation training providers, is actively developing cloud-enabled technologies to facilitate this need.”

Earlier this month BISm announced that it has signed on to continue working with the British Army for the second phase of the Virtual Reality In-Land Training (VRLT2) pilot program, a pathfinder project for the Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP). VR is already being used to train 40 or more military personnel and can scale for 90 trainees using the company’s technology, and VR headsets.

Technology continues to change and improve the way soldiers can train.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com.