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The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative

Robert “Gene” Cowherd iFest Presentation

Core U.S. Military Doctrine: Training to the Sixth Dimension

Robert “Gene” Cowherd

U.S military doctrine lists five core dimensions of the operational environment: Land, Sea, Air, Space and Cyberspace. However, the need to understand a sixth dimension - The Human Domain – has emerged with increasing urgency. At the same time, trends in training technologies aggressively exploit evolving capabilities of immersive, experiential learning environments where, “immersive experience” is often interpreted to mean more data, detail, and complexity. This presentation will discuss methods for integrating the Human Domain into an immersive training experience while meeting the fundamental requirement that training tasks be achievable, that the training audience’s actions be observable, and that proficiency-to-standard be measurable. Regarding achievability, we will address how training technologies allow trainers to augment or reduce complexity on the fly in response to training audience performance by injecting battlefield effects that target training tasks and adjusting the level of detail directly into data stores that feed exercise environment simulators. Regarding observability, we will address techniques for capturing and recording the interactions between members of the training audience, scenario role players, and digital sources of information. Regarding measurability, we will address methods for assessing training performance and effectiveness – both qualitatively and quantitatively – based on micro-level assessments of proficiency in specific tasks, as well as the contribution of that ability to collective or strategic objectives.


Mr. Cowherd serves as the Research and Development Manager for VATC’s EPIC Division. Mr. Cowherd has an MA in applied Biocultural anthropology from the University of South Florida and is currently ABD for his doctoral degree in neuroanthropology for his work on occupational stress and cognition among cybersecurity professionals. Mr. Cowherd has contributed to research on improving human/machine interactions by contributing to the development of cognitive mapping theory for computer learning initiatives, and gamification approaches to PTSD treatment utilizing augmented and virtual reality platforms. Mr. Cowherd has also worked with civilian and military personnel designing interactive intelligence analysis databases for the United States Special Operations Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency.


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