Live vs. Simulation

Live vs. Simulation: The Air Force Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev., is founded on the principle of offering a live-fly training environment to the airmen and sister service personnel who attend, said Col. Robert Garland, Air Force Weapons School commandant. Simulations cannot replace that “seat-of-the-pants air sense,” and the type of situational awareness that this experience provides, he said Sept. 17 at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. However, there is a place for simulation at the weapons school, asserted retired Gen. Ronald Keys, former Air Combat Command boss, during the same discussion. Keys agreed that airmen need that air sense and mission sense for dealing with the heat of the battle. But, he said it’s actually better today to simulate some aspects of combat missions, such as operating with long-range weapons, than to attempt to do that live. The school should look at what is a “smart way” to go forward as far as a potential mix of both, he said. Retired Gen. Richard Myers, former Joint Chiefs Chairman, agreed that “a thoughtful analysis would be appropriate” to see what role simulation can play at the school. Both Keys and Myers led the school at various points in the 1980s.