After supporting the British Army’s Joint Horizon 21 Exercise, we meet with 4C Military Sales Manager Graeme Mackay to discuss integrated training using Exonaut and find about more about 4C’s work in Australia.
Hi Graeme, tell us a bit about your background?
I joined the British Army as an Officer in the Royal Tank Regiment, where I held a variety of roles. Over the years, I specialised in Main Battle Tanks, counter-CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defence) and Military Training – as the Senior Instructor and stand in Commander for a time, at the Army’s Reconnaissance and Armoured Tactics school I trained all new Tank and Armoured Infantry Commanders.
Are there any other standout activities you were involved in?
Many, but what comes to mind is my operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They taught me the critical importance of properly designed, assured and validated training as this is what enables you to deal with those most challenging, dangerous and unexpected situations when the plan invariably goes out of the window; particularly in my case as I was often operating in high threat environments, in roles outside of my core specialisations, and supporting other specialist organisations.
After 17 years you left the army. Why was that?
There comes a point in your military career when you know it’s time for a change. After 17 years I left to become a management consultant. However, after a chance encounter with a former colleague working at 4C, I was introduced to the company – which I subsequently joined as UK Military Business Development Manager. I’m now the Sales Manager for Australia and New Zealand, where I’m working together with our partner, Cubic Defence Australia, to grow our business.
How are things progressing in Australia for 4C?
A lot of exciting things are happening in Australia. We’ve been working with the Australian Army, through our partner Cubic Defence Australia, since 2013 when they first began utilising Exonaut to plan and manage military exercises. Most recently, we have begun working with the Royal Australian Navy and are working on some very exciting opportunities that we will share news about in the near future.
You recently represented 4C on a large-scale Joint Force exercise that involved a broad integration with the Exonaut system.
That’s right. I acted as the 4C embedded consultant for the British Army’s Joint Horizon 21 Exercise – an Operational level Command Post exercise (CPX) that tested the Joint Task Force Headquarters’ Extremely High Readiness contingent capability during a complex crisis. In my current role it’s extremely important that I interact with Exonaut users, to see how they utilise the software, ensure best practices are employed, and look at how the software can be developed to meet future needs. I spent two weeks out in the field, training users, supporting them during the exercise, and interacting with the other providers who were also introduced to Exonaut in the field. It’s a great way to share knowledge and learn more about the entire training and exercise ecosystem and see what can be achieved through successful integrations.
Which providers were involved in Exercise Joint Horizon 21?
As the prime, MASS were responsible for the planning, design, delivery and management of the exercise; this was done with the help of Exonaut. They also provided the Marine (Air Ground Task Force) Tactical Warfare Simulation (MTWAS). Conductrr created social media events – such as lifelike posts from local citizens commenting on an attack – during the exercise using their emulator engine, which were recorded in Exonaut. Vedette provided White and Grey Cell Subject Matter Expert (SMEs) players and we, 4C, provided the backbone to link it all together through our training and management software.
How easy is it to integrate with Exonaut?
It’s relatively simple, providing a system is designed to meet the high security requirements of the military. Any relevant system with the right API can be integrated with Exonaut, which opens up many opportunities for our military clients. For instance, on Joint Horizon 21, Exonaut was set up to integrate with the military email and JCHAT (chat room), among other things. At 4C we believe Integrations will be key moving forward so we are putting a lot of focus on this in upcoming releases.
How was Exonaut used in the Joint Horizon 21 exercise?
Exonaut was the exercise Planning & Management Tool. The exercise planners designed and visualised the content of the exercise – the Main Event and Inject Lists (MEL/MIL)– against specific training objectives in our software, along with the required resources involved in each part of the plan. During the exercise, Exonaut was used to actively manage and keep the exercise on track – to reflect the needs of the training audience or in response to their performance. For instance, as each day unfolded, observers followed users’ progress – in this instance Joint Forces Headquarters – as they worked towards their objectives. Incidents, such as an unexpected assault on a key asset, were injected directly from Exonaut to dial-up or down the complexity of the event. This supports capability building in areas where users are performing poorly and need to improve. Likewise, if they excel in certain areas focus can be changed.
What other key benefits does Exonaut deliver in an exercise?
The great thing about Exonaut is that it always delivers a single version of the truth. This means that even though dispersed users and observers are viewing different areas or alternate performance criteria of an exercise, it’s based on the same real-time data. The different views and exercise control capabilities of the different users are simple to configure and or adjust for any part of an exercise, based on strict user permissions.
Additionally, training data stored in Exonaut is used at the end of each day to steer how the exercise moves forward, i.e., if training needs to be altered to ensure objectives are achieved. At the end of an exercise, a full report is generated with key insights and recommendations for future training events.
Now the exercise is over, what will you be doing?
Following two weeks in the field, I’m back to the family and my day job at 4C. A lot of my focus is on our upcoming collaboration with the Royal Australian Navy’s forthcoming use of the software. I’m looking forward to working with them and the team at Cubic to help improve Navy training and build Australian Defence Force capabilities.
Finally, when you’re not at work, how do you spend your free time?
My house is very old so it constantly needs attention, and as I am lucky to live in the countryside, I spend a lot of time out on Salisbury Plain with my dog and young family. I’m also enjoying catching up with friends and family now that COVID restrictions are starting to lift.