Transforming Canada’s Naval Training System

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By Commander Bradley White, Program Manager of Naval Training System Transformation

The Navy is quietly transforming almost every aspect of Canada’s naval training system, and people should know about it. It is no secret to anyone that the Navy, starting with HMCS HARRY DEWOLF, has embarked on one of the most ambitious, recapitalized programs ever undertaken, but there is more than steel that makes a Navy. In fact, as the old adage goes, it is the sailors who make the navy and not the ships. In order to operate these new ships, and maintain the high standard of sailors and officers that we already have, we must do everything we can to enable good training. Sure, the new ships will come with new training packages in order to conduct initial cadre training (ICT – the kind of training already qualified sailors take to learn new systems), but we also aim to modernize all aspects of training, from Basic Military Training for naval reservists, to trades training, to combat training, and all the way to command and leadership training programs. If the goal is to ensure that our people are able to do their jobs to the best of their ability, in new ships, then the right question to ask is how…

How?

Since 2013, the naval training system (NTS) has been researching and planning this change. What’s more, a number of modernization changes have already taken place in accordance with our initial plans. All of this is encompassed in the Naval Training System Transformation (NTST) Program being led by the Commander of Naval Personnel and Training Group (NPTG), Capt(N) Martin Drews. Employing an approach that uses ever maturing spirals of activity, we first defined the problem (spiral I), then restructured the NTS in order to accept modernized training methods and new training systems.  The bulk of the effort actually takes place during the final spiral, where we will engage industry and other partners to execute a comprehensive plan that will deliver the Navy: modernized training technologies, methods, and practices. June 2019 is when we start rolling out the work, and projects to affect most of the major changes. 

What is coming?

Students and trainees can look forward to streamlined training courses; delivery when you need it, and more realistic training. A move away from classroom lecture methods is needed, and is already being implemented in many training programs. The rollout of new MAR TECH training is a great example of the blended solutions we will adopt. This includes lectures when you need them, individual online and in-class (group) online portions, advanced trainers and training tools that feature greater detail, and graphics that approach reality.  However, this transformation goes way beyond what we have seen before. We are going to introduce smaller training modules which sailors can access on mobile devices, so they can learn or refresh learning from any location, even at sea. We are going to continue to link more and more systems and trainers together so that training can become as realistic as possible. We are going to adopt cloud technology, and ensure we use all available means to deliver training, including AR and VR. We want to achieve our goal of ensuring training is no longer simply tied to a course – we want to make training accessible, ever present, and responsive to the learning needs of sailors.

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Leaders can expect better management and progression of their sailors. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a course, only to have it postponed or cancelled. Through the introduction of modern personnel management, and facilities management tools we are going to make sure sailors get their training when they need it, in a way that is aligned to their career and rank progression.

The system, by design, will be linked and responsive to operational needs. Let’s face it, we need sailors to get to sea, and we need them to maintain their high standards, and to improve upon those standards as well. The only way we can do this is to make the NTST program successful. The NTST Program is not only looking at new methods and tools but it is also ensuring that our changes are lock-step with other plans. In terms of buildings and learning spaces, we are working alongside ADM (IE) to ensure our future requirements are melded with their real property plans. It is our modernized training requirements that will form the basis for training infrastructure builds on both coasts. The Common Support Training Facility (CSTF) that will soon be opened in Halifax is the first of the new training buildings. Those same requirements will be fed into recapitalization plans for Naval Reserve Divisions, to ensure all investments improve their training capabilities. Crucially, NTST is working hand-in-hand with all new ship projects, including the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) project, to ensure that the launch of those ships is dovetailed with the launch of new training technologies and infrastructure. 

One of the key components of the modernization effort is the System of Training and Operational Readiness Modernization (STORM) project that is being managed by Director of Naval Requirements and is based on NTST requirements. Taking needs that originate from NTST, this unique project will deliver Technology Enabled Learning (TEL) tools and simulators to the training system of the future. In conjunction with NTST derived new training methods, new tools, new training management process, and new infrastructure, STORM will deliver most of the new technology we will employ in the NTS

In summary, the future looks bright. Through the execution of a solid plan, in conjunction with new ship projects, and projects like STORM, NTST will deliver the training system of the future. Sailors can expect to see modernized components roll out over time as technology and investment enables this transformation. Ultimately, starting around the mid-2020s sailors can expect to see new buildings being constructed, and even newer TEL being implemented. 

Expect more information and communications as we implement our plan. Readers are encouraged to read the Future Naval Training System Strategy (2015), and the Naval Training System “Concept of Training” (2019) for more information. 

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