Cover: A New Framework and Logic Model for Using Live, Virtual, and Constructive Training in the United States Air Force

A New Framework and Logic Model for Using Live, Virtual, and Constructive Training in the United States Air Force

Published Feb 2, 2023

by Timothy Marler, Susan G. Straus, Mark Toukan, Ajay K. Kochhar, Monica Rico, Christine Kistler LaCoste, Matt Strawn, Brian P. Donnelly

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Research Question

  1. How can the U.S. Air Force identify the most effective mixes of live, virtual, and constructive simulation capabilities for aircrew continuation training?

The U.S. Air Force uses live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) capabilities to help enhance training and improve readiness. However, it is not always clear what combinations of LVC capabilities are most effective and how they map to training goals. The authors of this report analyze the use of LVC for aircrew continuation training and develop a framework for aligning LVC capabilities with training needs for collective, complex, cognitive tasks.

The framework involves (1) mapping missions to underlying tasks and skills, (2) parsing skills into skill factors, (3) parsing training technologies according to how users interface with technology, and (4) integrating the results of steps (2) and (3) to identify appropriate training tools. The authors also built a prototype interactive software application that allows users to explore this mapping. However, selecting technologies for training depends on many factors beyond skills requirements. Thus, the authors developed a logic model that illustrates how inputs, such as policy, training goals, and resources, influence selection of training technologies; how those technologies contribute to aircrew proficiency and readiness; how these outcomes influence the inputs; and the need for robust measures of aircrew performance to support the process. The authors describe how to apply the model to guide research on appropriate mixes of LVC.

This approach can enhance quality of training development and implementation, support research efforts on new capabilities, inform acquisition decisions about resource needs, and identify needs for possible changes in training policy.

Key Findings

  • As capabilities for LVC training advance, decisions about which technologies are most appropriate for which aircrew training activities become more complex.
  • Current Air Force policy bases decisions about the use of live or virtual equipment for continuation training on the mission level only for each mission design series. However, identifying the underlying task and skill requirements can support more efficient and effective decisionmaking about appropriate use of training technologies. The Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL's) Mission Essential Competencies (MECs) provide a valuable foundation for distilling missions into tasks and skills.
  • Decisions about using LVC for training have been binary in nature—that is, either "live" or "virtual." Understanding the attributes of the myriad virtual technologies and tools can allow for a more effective match between skill requirements and training technologies.
  • A common framework for parsing missions into tasks and skills and for associating those tasks and skills with appropriate training technologies could help (1) improve training development and implementation and (2) identify appropriate areas of investment.
  • Selection technologies for training depends on more than tasks and skills. The appropriate use of LVC depends on a range of contextual factors, such as access to training ranges, operational security considerations, and availability of personnel to conduct training.
  • The Air Force needs a comprehensive, ongoing, strategic program of research on appropriate uses of LVC for continuation training to include development of valid and reliable measures of aircrew performance, systematic experimentation, and ongoing data collection from the field.

Recommendations

  • The Air Force should adopt and expand on the mapping tool described in this report, including use of MECs.
  • The Air Force should develop robust measures of aircrew performance to assess the relative value of different mixes of LVC and for use in operational settings.
  • AF/A3T (Air Force Headquarters, Office of Training and Readiness) and the Air Force Agency of Modeling and Simulation should continue to provide centralized coordination across the Air Force's major commands, track the availability of LVC training capabilities, and advocate for acquisition efforts where gaps exist.
  • AF/A3T should oversee and implement the use of the mapping tool and logic model as a roadmap for continuous experimentation, and oversee and support a corresponding program of research.
  • The Air Force major commands (MAJCOMs) should use and help sustain the mapping framework to update continuous training (and the Ready Aircrew Program) by distinguishing among virtual technologies and developing an expanded portfolio of training tools.
  • The Air Force MAJCOMs should transition sustainment of MECs from AFRL to MAJCOMs and adopt standard terminology to aid in application across missions and mission design series.

Research conducted by

This research was commissioned by Major General James A. Jacobson and Mr. Steven Ruehl, Air Force Headquarters, Office of Training and Readiness (AF/A3T), and conducted within the Workforce, Development, and Health Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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