Jennifer McArdle is an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and a Product Strategist at Improbable LLC, an emerging global leader in distributed simulation technology for military planning, training, and decision support. Her research focuses on military innovation, readiness, and synthetic training. She currently serves as an expert member of a NATO technical working group that is developing cyber effects for the military alliance’s mission and campaign simulations. Her work has been featured in Real Clear World, The Cyber Defense Review, National Defense Magazine, and War on the Rocks, among others. Ms. McArdle previously served as an Assistant Professor of Cyber Defense at Salve Regina University, where she lectured on the relationship between national security and disruptive technologies.

In our interview with Ms. McArdle, we discuss the future of the Synthetic Training Environment, flexibility and scalability in training systems, and the critical need for a new agile approach to training that can keep pace with the dynamic character of warfare.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview:

Synthetic training will be instrumental in providing the next generation of Soldiers with the tools they need to succeed in a new era of warfare. The adoption of synthetic training and simulation will empower realistic individual and collective multi-echelon and multi-domain training and mission rehearsal, advanced wargaming, and enhanced decision-making.

The New American Way of Training Initiative at CNAS examines how the military will be required to train and fight in the future, using the Cold War as a model. During the Cold War, intense tension and sporadic ‘hot’ proxy conflicts spurred a series of innovations that required radical changes to military training and organization. This new CNAS initiative will help ensure that our future individual and collective training programs meet the needs of our warfighters, today and in the future.

The DoD should focus on developing modular synthetic training architectures, enabling it to adapt training and simulations more readily as warfare evolves. This method differs from current synthetic simulators, which are monolithic in nature (i.e., large, complicated, and un-editable platforms). Modular training simulations will give future Soldiers ‘degradation dominance,’ or the ability to maintain high levels of performance under duress.

The DoD should require modular components of training platforms in future acquisition contracts. Such contracts will also reduce cost for the DoD, as updating platforms will require less overhaul than monolithic platforms.

Synthetic training is particularly important for success in

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