Monday, May 9, 2011

'STALLION' replaces the 'COLT' - Cryptologic On Line Trainer

Stallion was developed by the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center, San Diego. Stallion replaces COLT, the Cryptologic On-Line Trainer. 

Stallion is designed to be quicker and easier to use than COLT. It allows users to edit scenarios on the fly, while the simulation is running. Being Web-enabled is also a big plus. “COLT resided on a hard drive on a server and couldn’t touch the outside closed LAN,” said Kevin Quinn, Stallion project manager at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. “Stallion can be distributed through any browser-enabled interface.”

So far, so good, though nothing particularly cutting-edge in terms of simulation. However, things became more interesting when CID saw Stallion demonstrated last year to stimulate COBLU, the Cooperative Outboard Logistics Update.

That’s when CID had its “ah-ha“ moment. If Stallion could be used for COBLU, why couldn’t it be used for other information operations systems, which could desperately use a capability to quickly modify training scenarios? “With the old scenario generation capability, it cost me half a million dollars to add one event, because, oops, I forgot to put it in,” Dickinson said. “Now, we just go in, put it in there, load it up and we’re running.”
Instead of just training shipboard cryptologic operators, Dickinson said he sees Stallion being used for all levels of information operations training. “We were able to take a capability built for onboard training and say, ‘Wait a minute, we can use this across the entire spectrum of training,” he said.
The Navy is also struggling to create sufficient cyber training capacity. “There is clearly a need for more trainers and simulators,” said Rich Voter, training and education director for Navy Cyber Forces, which oversees the service’s cyber training, personnel and equipment. At the same time, the feedback from the fleet is that “they want more realistic scenarios for our cryptologic and cyber training,” Voter said. 

Captain Kevin R. Hooley, assistant chief of staff for readiness, training, maintenance and modernization for Navy Cyber Forces adds:

“I would say the jewels in the crown of this course are the Sailors achieving the skills associated with these certifications.  Training must evolve rapidly to keep with changing cyber threats.  Threats that pose the highest risk to our systems are the ones that we have to rapidly develop new technology and any attendant training for.  Some of them we have to do on the fly. For example, a new software patch has to be developed to ward off that threat, and at the same time we have to put a new training package out over the Web because we know we can’t get everyone together in a classroom.  Some threats we can offset with better personal practices and security practices.  Some, the risk is lower so we can incorporate it into schoolhouse training. Some we have to respond to in a day and put out a training scheme overnight.”
Training in cyberwarfare encompasses both defensive and offensive operations, though the Navy is far more skittish about discussing offensive ops. Hooley said the current training emphasis is on network defense.
The biggest challenge remains the modern Navy’s perpetual headache: trying to stuff enough data through an antenna with limited bandwidth. Even cyber warriors can’t defeat the laws of physics.

Hooley, who started his career in cryptology in the 1970s, said cyber training has evolved over the last 10 years. Early training had to focus on Cyber 101 basics such as the fundamentals of computers and networks. Today’s sailors enter the service with much more computer savvy, so training can focus on applications.  
“Sometimes the good-old-fashioned, podium-based instructor-led training is what you have to do for certain curriculum, such as radio wave propagation and signal characteristics. When you get into networks and routers, often the best way to train that is with simulated computer-based training that shows how you work your way around routers and networks.”

The full article is HERE.


Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to utilizing Stallion. More training=better operational Sailors. . .

Anonymous said...

By Dickinson I assume you mean John at CID.

Anonymous said...

A retired Cryptologic Master Chief named Jack Kaye was the father of COLT.

Anonymous said...

What will v.3 be called? STUD?

Anonymous said...

What the Navy really needs is an investment in Serious Games. Serious games are designed for the purpose of solving a problem (the core of cryptology). Although serious games can be entertaining, their main purpose is to train and investigate (network/traffic analysis perhaps). Sometimes a serious game will deliberately sacrifice fun and entertainment in order to make a serious point (why is this process or step important to the CTN?). Whereas video game genres are classified by gameplay, serious games are not a game genre but a category of games with different purposes to include educational games. Serious games can be used to teach RF propagation - much easier to understand if you can see it! CID has a serious game called GeoCommander (winner of the 2008 Serious Games Showcase and Challenge Best Government Game that teaches concepts and theory of geolocation. How are they using this now?


CWO4 Brian Ashpole, USN-Retired said...

LCDRLDO / 6440:
I remember when you gave me a demo of GEOCOMMANDER and the positive feedback from the Bluejackets. Concur on RF Propagation as a serious game - I deal with this daily - there appears (my observation) to be a serious lack of RF propagation knowledge at both the Enlisted and Officer levels. Won't go into specifics, but I have lots of knots on my head.
CWO4 Brian Ashpole, USN-Retired

Winston Smith said...

Bravo PMW120, continuing to fulfull your own requirements with no fleet input and a decade or so late. It still doesn't interface with BFTT or whatever its replacement is going to be. What we need is an afloat integrated trainer/simulator/stimulator for our systems, not this. This will only lock the green door even tighter and let the SSES gang continue to play with themselves.

CDR Mike Elliot said...

WRT the above comment on a lack of Fleet requirements, check out some of the recent (2009/2010) joint C3F-C2F and joint C3F-C2F-C7F-C5F requirements messages issued that speak to the need for a SIGINT Stimlation System for FRTP Events (e.g. C2X, JTFEX, SSES Team Trainer and SUPPLOT Team Trainer) and the need for Threat/SOI training for SSES (like EW Threat Recognition for the EW MOD). If you want those specific msgs (which are classified), get hold of the C3F cryptologic staff, they can provide to you. SPAWAR and CID are using these messages (and were even involved in the writting of these msgs) to fix what was long been broken, unfunded and lacking attention. The real issue is getting these requirements approved by FFC and then into OPNAV where they compete against multi-million and multi-billion dollat PORs, these smaller, but very importat requirements often fall below the noise floor of the larger PORs.

Mike said...

Thanks CDR Elliot.