How to Estimate the Costs of Changes in Army Individual Skill Training

by Susan Way-Smith

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This report describes a method to estimate costs of changes in Army courses that result from changes in training strategies. The methodology, called TRAM (Training Resource Analysis Method), employs a five-step procedure that begins with a baseline analysis, determines changes, estimates cost, and analyzes trade-offs and risks. Applying the methodology to four variations of the Army's Armor Officer Advanced Course that include different lengths, approaches (e.g., centralized vs. dispersed), and mediums (e.g., paper vs. computer-assisted) reveals potentially substantial savings. But the savings depend directly on the choice of media and how training is implemented in the field. Distributed training saves money only if capacity already exists, development and support costs remain low, and the course uses "low-tech" media. The analysis suggests three significant conclusions. First, savings normally result from trading off other factors such as effectiveness or capability. Detailing changes in activities allows decisionmakers to apply experience and judgment to determine if the savings justify the tradeoffs. Second, a significant part of training costs stems from support and base operations functions that are relatively insensitive to changes in course length and method. Without other major changes such as facilities consolidation, savings in training costs will only occur at the margin. Finally, distributing more training than field units can readily absorb drives training costs up significantly.

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