A number of research teams are actively involved in research efforts that indirectly or directly benefit the military training domain. Many of these efforts are focused on computer supported training solutions, most specifically different types of simulators, simulations and game-based systems, as well as sensor technologies and systems on instrumented training ranges. Any engagement in the military domain requires a level of understanding of the domain that goes beyond the information found in military documents and manuals. Due to limited funding and infrequent opportunities for the research teams to visit military bases and spend time observing current training practices extensively, some teams’ knowledge about the subjects of their investigations are not at the level that is optimal for their research. Even when teams are able to make those visits, they are very often of a short duration with few opportunities to conduct long interviews and have repeated visits and access to the same units. The ability to fully understand the needs of users and then to make critical connections with the current or future technologies is paramount if a desire is to design and develop the best solutions. Additionally, it is equally important to understand the underlying conditions under which the military acts in the training domain, and learn more about actual experiences and system of values they hold in given domain .
Similarly, a good number of user studies that are focused on evaluating the effectiveness of proposed training solutions are done using ‘convenience subjects’ (typically colleague students) instead of having actual domain users, i.e. active duty military, who have the type and level of expertise needed in user studies. Even when domain users do get engaged in the studies, their number is usually very small (studies with a large number of subjects are quite rare), the exposure time to novel training treatments that are being tested is also not long enough to draw highly reliable conclusions, and even time when they are exposed to training (study) conditions may not be the optimal one (users exposed to training situations that do not correspond to their proficiency level). We have also observed a tendency to have a large number of small studies, where each study focuses on a fragment of the larger issue or system; at the same time there are very few efforts focused on providing tested advice on how all those results should be integrated in a coherent system that would ensure comprehensive support of a full spectrum of user needs exhibited in some operational environment.