Brigadier General William Cole
Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation
Q: You’ve been responsible for the PEO Charter for about six months now. What are your goals and priorities?
A: It is certainly a major highlight of my career to be entrusted with leading such a storied organization that helps ensure we have the best trained fighting force in the world. Our goals and priorities at PEO STRI mirror that of the Army Chief of Staff who has stated that “Readiness to fight and win in ground combat is, and will remain, the United States Army’s number one priority and there will be no other number one.” He added that increasing the quality of home-station training and providing much-needed realistic training at combat training centers is crucial in meeting that readiness goal.
Moving forward on that commitment, we will continue to work closely with our triad partners, the Training and Doctrine Command’s Combined Arms Center – Training and the Department of the Army Military Operations – Training, part of the Army headquarters staff, to ensure our soldiers have the high-fidelity, realistic training and testing products needed to ensure they are second to none on the battlefield. PEO STRI’s priorities in that objective are to raise Army readiness, optimize soldier performance, sustain and modernize training support systems for the future Army and transforming for the future.
Q: What are your thoughts on efforts you can undertake to have an impact on the acquisition process that would benefit the Army and industry in quickly fielding those needed training assets?
A: When I first assumed the PEO STRI charter, I shared with industry that In fulfilling our mission to develop, acquire and sustain simulation, training, testing and modeling solutions to achieve Army readiness, I am committed to the following four guiding principles:
- (1) Satisfy the Army’s readiness needs in terms of cost, quality and timeliness of the delivered product or service by, for example –
- (i) Maximizing the use of commercial products and services,
- (ii) Using contractors who have a track record of successful past performance or who demonstrate a current superior ability to perform and
- (iii) Promoting competition
- (2) Minimize administrative operating costs
- (3) Conduct business with integrity, fairness and openness; and
- (4) Fulfill public policy objectives.
Q: Can you share with our readers some specific areas you are working on to enhance training solutions within the PEO STRI portfolio?
A: Absolutely. With the Army faced with both a limited training budget and limited training land at our home stations, enhancing the live, virtual and constructive integrated architecture (LVC-IA) is a major focus. As well, medical simulation and cyber training are major areas of concentration for technology innovations in the complex challenges we face moving forward.
Q: What, specifically, are you looking at doing in the future in the area of LVC-IA?
A: We are working closely with our Army partners, academia and the modeling and simulation industry to take LVC to the next level to achieve the breakthrough technology to meet future needs. Our desire is to make the training environment more realistic by simulating the environmental attributes in which our soldiers will be fighting.
We see opportunities for the training environment on the horizon to provide, among others, a potential convergence of virtual, gaming and constructive environments with augmented reality into a single synthetic environment to link with live training. This will increase the realism of live training and reduce dependency on brick-and-mortar training sites. We also envision providing an accessible, low-overhead capability worldwide at home stations, combat training centers and locations where units are deployed, allowing the training to be provided at the point of need.
Q: Medical training has always been a very high priority for the Army. What modeling and simulation technology are you looking at in this area?
A: One recent advancement in the medical modeling and simulation field is the Tactical Combat Casualty Care-Exportable, called the TC3X, which is a capability soldiers can use at home stations and also deploy with. TC3X combines live and virtual training to prepare soldiers to quickly and correctly treat wounded soldiers. The three-day training will include soldiers practicing applying tourniquets and other life-saving procedures on mannequins that simulate battlefield wounds; training on a video game designed to improve their skills recognizing wounds and treating them in simulated combat conditions to increase the tension soldiers feel on the battlefield; and a field exercise where they will treat soldiers and civilians while maintaining the fight. The TC3X is expected to reach thousands of soldiers each year, with forward deployed units expected to begin training in the first quarter of 2017.
Q: You said another priority is cyber training. What steps are you taking to enhance that training?
A: The Army was recently tasked by the Department of Defense to be the lead for the joint services to develop the persistent cyber training environment, or PCTE, and PEO STRI will play a large part in the development of the training program. The PCTE allows cyber mission forces to train in emulated network environments using current cyber tool suites. PCTE will support both individual certification and team training in addition to large-scale exercises and experimentation.
In October, a request for information was issued requesting white papers for possible technical solutions, capabilities and critical cost and schedule drivers related to the PCTE. Last month the Association for Enterprise Information (AFEI) hosted a PCTE Industry Day at PEO STRI. It included participation from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), Army Cyber Command and Second Army, U.S. Cyber Command and interested industry and academia partners.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: Our Army faces a multitude of challenges presented by an ongoing austere fiscal environment coupled with unknown readiness requirements brought about by an ever-changing dangerous and complex world. At PEO STRI, we stand ready with our Army partners, other government agencies, academia and industry to ensure we meet those challenges. At PEO STRI “we work for our soldiers. It’s the best job we’ve ever had!”
Brigadier General William Cole is the Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI). PEO STRI executes a multi-billion dollar program annually, and is staffed by more than 1,200 military, government civilian, and service support contractors. The organization also manages Foreign Military Sales’ programs which support more than 40 countries.
Prior to this assignment, Cole was the Deputy Program Executive Officer, Missiles and Space, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. He was responsible for the development, production, fielding, and life cycle management of the Army’s missile and space related systems.
A native of Churchville, Md., he received his commission in 1987 from the United States Military Academy. His initial operational assignments were with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he first served as the fire support officer for Company C, 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He later served as battery fire direction officer and DIVARTY counter-fire officer. He served as executive officer of Battery C, 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment during
Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Following his assignment in Germany Cole was the commanding general of the Natick Soldier Systems Center, Natick, Mass., and was dual-hatted as the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
The general served as the fire support officer for 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, and then as the DIVARTY fire direction officer for the 3rd Infantry Division. His last operational assignment was as commander, Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment in Bamberg, Germany.
The general joined the Acquisition Corps in 1996 and was assigned to the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. He later moved to the Joint Program Management Office, Lightweight 155mm Howitzer, where he served as the assistant program manager for the digital fire control system.
Following assignments on the TRADOC and Department of the Army staffs, he returned to Picatinny Arsenal in 2004 and served as the product manager for the Excalibur 155mm GPS-guided artillery projectile. Cole then served in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, where he was a program analyst and military deputy of the Acquisition Management Office.
He served as project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment from July 2009 to June 2012. He then deployed to Afghanistan for 11 months as the director of forward operations for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology, and also for RDECOM. After redeployment, Cole spent four months as the Chief of Staff at ASA(ALT) before moving to Natick.
He has earned a bachelor of science degree in Human Factors Psychology (Ergonomics) from USMA, a master of science degree in Systems Acquisition Management from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a master of science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
His awards and decorations include the Master Parachutist Badge, the Ranger Tab, the Army Staff Badge, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, the Bronze Star Medal (with oak leaf cluster), the Legion of Merit (with two oak leaf clusters) and the Defense Superior Service Medal.