Military Exercise Management, Military Experimentation, Military Lessons Management
Motivating individual soldiers with MyMIMIR
September 08, 2021
UK & Ireland
Military & Defence
Background: Since 2014, Exonaut® has been the British Army’s solution of choice for collective training management and more specifically for the design, delivery and assurance necessary to ensure the Army meets the training readiness requirements directed by UK Defence. The end-to-end Collective Training and Exercise Management System (CTEMS) is used at diverse training locations around the world to improve exercise performance and grow the capabilities of units and their Command. Recently, however, the British Army’s Collective Training Group (CTG) decided they wanted to involve individual soldiers more in their collective training performance.
Challenge: Extend the British Army’s use of the Exonaut data collection solution MIMIR, to be more inclusive for individual soldiers. Increase soldiers’ motivation to improve their performance by providing them with unique training insights that will ultimately grow their combat capabilities.
Solution: MyMIMIR is a mobile app with overviews and detailed visualisations of individual soldier performance as well as useful training information and tools. New activity lists, schedules and educational material can be easily imported prior to an exercise so soldiers can keep up to date with training.
Customer: The British Army maintains contingent forces at high readiness and deploys forces on operations across the globe; these must be appropriately trained through a directed, dynamic and assured training progression across a wide variety of training environments utilising a blend of Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) Training methods.
Best-in-class collective training management
Exonaut has been used by armed forces for over 20 years to effectively plan, manage and assess military training exercises. Today it’s used by NATO, as well as Swedish, Australian, US Army, and US Marine Corps among others, for everything from sub-unit training to large-scale interoperability exercises with thousands of troops, such as Warfighter in the US. Much of the focus has been on collective training as commanders look to exploit data and make evidence-based decisions in order to improve the capabilities of units and divisions. However, individual performance has not been assessed and logged using the software to date.
Individual soldier performance
The British Army’s Collective Training Group (CTG) decided they wanted to take the next step in collective training management by tracking this data and engage individual soldiers more in the process. This would provide them – along with their colleagues and Commanders – with a much better indication of their capabilities, while increasing their motivation levels during training. Together, CTG and 4C Strategies took on the challenge of developing a solution that could be integrated with MIMIR which is where the concept of extending the existing Exonaut mobile app came from.
“We took inspiration from commercial tracking apps, such as Strava and the like, but wanted it to be more than that. We wanted to engage soldiers through performance indicators, but also provide them with useful training and other relevant material.”
Josh Rice, 4C Technical Project and Business Development Manager
Overcoming technical challenges
When developing the app, 4C had to overcome some major challenges that come with the territory of working with high security military software. “Unlike many of today’s personalised tracking tools, which rely on the internet to gather and share data, we couldn’t do that,” continues Josh. “In many cases, the British Army’s collective training establishments are internet-free zones be it for security and/or geographical reasons, so we had to find smart ways to resolve this.”
The answer was to utilise different available data sources – such as the Army’s Tactical Engagement Simulation (TES) system – to provide the training progression picture. Both Commanders and soldiers can also log performance results during an exercise and follow the progression over the short- and long-term. This highlights in which areas a soldier excels and which areas they need to improve.
Broad feature set
Beyond tracking individual performance, MyMIMIR – as the solution has been named by the British Army – has a wide range of features. For instance, before an exercise, soldiers’ schedules and activity lists can be uploaded to the app so they know where they need to be and when. Questions sets, films and studies for viewing and completion during exercise downtime are also available, with more to come. Since it’s fully integrated with Exonaut, the performance data in MyMIMIR can be extracted to MIMIR to provide Commanders with aggregated views of their soldiers’ performance, with leadership boards and highlighted areas for attention. This aggerated data provides a more accurate status of training readiness or at the very least a more objective view of soldiers’ performance on an exercise.
“I sometimes see soldiers going through the motions and turning bullets to brass without worrying much about where the round goes. But any battlegroup is merely the sum of its parts. So, if every element is striving for betterment, you will ultimately end up with something that is more effective as a whole. It is good for personnel to have some objective feedback, rather than subjective. When they know they are being assessed we see a higher percentage of accuracy.”
Col Mark Ellwood, – oversees activities at British Army Training Unit Suffield (Soldier Magazine, July 2021)
Live field testing
MyMIMIR can be utilised across the entire Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) spectrum. Although only recently launched, it has already been put through its paces in exercises. Most recently by C Company, 1ST Battalion, Royal Welsh, during the live fire and tactical (TES) simulation phase of Exercise Tallin Dawn in Sennelager, Germany. During the seven-week exercise, data was recorded in MyMIMIR and soldiers could see their performance according to:
Move – fitness levels
Fighting – shooting accuracy and number of sustained hits
Think – military annual training tests (MATTS) and battlefield studies
First-class user experience
“The feedback we receive from users in these exercises is important for the future development of MyMIMIR,” continues Josh. “Our team of developers, designers and military consultants will assess it and share it with our contacts at CTG, from which an agile release plan will be created moving forward that will deliver the optimal solution with a first-class user experience at soldier and commander level. I can also look to my own experience in the military and consider what data would have motivated me during training and exercises.”
“…it can also show you that `grey man´ – the guy you don’t know anything about because he doesn’t speak much. He might be really good, but nobody notices because he doesn’t put himself in the limelight. So, with the app, not only can you see how well you’re doing but also your superiors can clearly see who’s an effective soldier.”
Fus Cunnington – 1 Royal Welsh, British Army (Soldier Magazine, July 2021)
A game-changer for collective training management
“It’s great to see soldiers engaging more with their training performance and becoming motivated to improve their results,” says Military Director for 4C Group, British Army, Brigadier (Ret’d) David Paterson. “Our team has worked hard to create a launch-ready solution and now it’s out there we’ve received a great response, both from soldiers and Commanders. I’m convinced that this technology can be a gamechanger for collective training management. Being able to combine individual performance with collective performance will deliver a competitive edge to all armed forces that utilise it.”
Data scientists at 4C are already exploring what is possible through machine learning as they look to grow the capabilities of MyMIMIR. Just as with the soldiers, the motivation is there to make it the best it can possibly be.
MyMimir, information on how the British Army uses it, and some of the quotes in this case study, were featured in the July 2021 edition of Soldier Magazine.
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