!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Training While at Sea

Friday, November 17, 2006

Training While at Sea

Every organization serious about fielding skilled employees takes steps to ensure that skills are kept fresh. The US Navy has recently instituted a new type of training that aims to maintain combat readiness while officers and sailors are deployed — generally for six months at a stretch. The program is described in an article by Lt. Cdrs. Mark Hendrickson and Seth Walthers, USN, in the November 2006 issue of the Proceedings of the US Naval Institute.

As a Navy brat, I'm always interested in reports of how the Navy handles training — previous posts on the subject are here and here — and this latest story is no exception. Not only do we have a case study of how to handle on-the-job training, but we are also provided with a rich example of how to use realistic scenarios as the basis for such training.

The scenarios are designed in a way that ensures they address three primary training objectives:
  • Resource allocation — E.g., how to use an aircraft carrier's jet fighters and helicopters in a scenario involving several simultaneous threats.

  • Warfare commander integration — The officers in charge of the various tactical operations centers in a strike group need to coordinate effectively.

  • Decision-making — Emphasis is on making sound decisions under pressure concerning use of resources and correct application of the rules of engagement.
There are five criteria for evaluating how well each objective is met:
  • situational awareness

  • warfare commander coordination

  • prioritization

  • decision/action

  • follow up
Officers are involved in a number of aspects of the training, not least intervening as needed to make appropriate inputs to the current exercise's scenario as it is unfolding. Officers also keep the exercise going when something unexpected happens, help participants recover from failure in a way that lets the exercise continue, and take notes for use in the debrief after the exercise.

Hendrickson and Walthers cite four keys to success:
  • A well-developed script for the exercise.

  • Giving staff and Tactical Action Officers — the people most familiar with details of the scenarios relevant for training — primacy in setting specific training objectives and in developing the scenarios

  • Active involvement by officers in managing the exercise while it is unfolding.

  • A comprehensive debrief. Ideally, a new exercise is held in about two weeks in order to build on lessons learned while they are still fresh.


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