Murphy Speech at Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC)
Good morning and welcome to Orlando. It’s great to be back here with all of you, and wonderful to be meeting in person after participating remotely last year.
Admiral Robb, thank you for that kind introduction. And thank you for organizing this event and for all the work you do as president of the National Training and Simulation Association.
It’s always a treat to welcome my congressional colleagues—representatives Bobby Scott, Jack Bergman, and Rob Wittman—to the Sunshine State. They’re all great members whom I really respect.
I want to give a shout-out to Team Orlando, the lifeblood of the MS&T community in central Florida. I’d especially like to recognize Brigadier General William Glaser, who leads the Army’s Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team.
I’d also like to welcome Tim Bishop, the Deputy Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation.
As many of you are aware, our current Program Executive Officer, Karen Saunders, is now serving as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Army Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. Her selection is a testament to her stellar reputation in DOD’s acquisition community and we look forward to her return.
Finally, I’d like to recognize George Cheros, who serves as the CEO of the National Center for Simulation and who leads my MS&T advisory board. George and his fellow board members are an invaluable asset to my office, giving us legislative ideas and making sure we are briefed on the challenges and opportunities facing the MS&T community.
You know, I’ve attended this conference every year I’ve served in Congress, and I’m always amazed at how great a gathering it is. It’s simply the nation’s premier event for the MS&T community. It showcases the cutting-edge advances that are being made by the industry, and provides a venue to create new professional connections and to rekindle old ones.
Since this is a congressional panel, let me just offer a few thoughts about how I and other interested Members of Congress are working to sustain and strengthen the MS&T community from our perch on Capitol Hill.
As you probably know, Congress recently passed—and the President signed into law—a bipartisan bill to modernize our physical infrastructure, including our roads, bridges, public transit systems, and air and seaports.
Congress is also working on separate legislation, this time on a partisan basis, called the Build Back Better Act. I still have concerns about the size and scope of this bill, but I strongly support its proposed investments in efforts to combat climate change and extreme weather events, which pose an existential threat to our planet, our country, our economy, our national security, and the Florida way of life.
MS&T can play an essential role in both of these areas. For example, modeling and simulation advances like “digital twin” technology will enable us to model roads and ports before we break ground. As detailed in a recent Forbes magazine article entitled “How Orlando’s Work With Digital Twins May Change How We Engineer Everything,” companies are developing digital twin technology in Central Florida because we are a modeling and simulation knowledge hub. Our expertise results from our longstanding connection to the defense and aerospace industries, but these technologies have application across many industries. By creating a simulated, digital model of proposed roads or ports, we can analyze the economic and social benefits and costs of competing proposals before we begin construction, allowing us to build in a more efficient and effective way.
Likewise, modeling technology can replicate the effects of climate change and help train local, state and federal leaders to mitigate and respond to its effects. When we have the ability to more accurately predict the impact of rising sea levels or other extreme weather events on places like the Florida coastline, we can better prepare ourselves. For example, MS&T enables us to identify the best locations to store lifesaving equipment, to rehearse realistic disaster scenarios, and to properly train first responders. MS&T has the added benefit of lowering training costs and reducing training accidents.
Apart from helping our nation enhance its physical infrastructure and combat climate change, MS&T plays a key role in helping the United States counter both existing and emerging national security threats, whether they come from nation-states or non-state actors.
I serve on the House Armed Services Committee. During our markup of the National Defense Authorization Act this year, I offered a successful amendment to establish a DOD modeling and simulation innovation competition. The competition would award up to $5 million dollars to help develop technological solutions to emerging national security challenges, like cyber threats, climate change, or even the next global pandemic. Small businesses that participate in this competition will not only give themselves a competitive edge, but will also help the DOD more quickly bring innovative ideas to market.
I am currently working to include this MS&T competition funding in both the final NDAA, which is being negotiated by the House and Senate as we speak, and in the final defense appropriations bill—perhaps as part of the newly-created Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve fund, known as the RAIDER Fund. I believe that MS&T innovation is essential to defense experimentation, and I want to ensure that our community has a seat at the table and receives its fair share of government funding.
As someone who used to work in the Pentagon, I’m particularly committed to supporting the application of MS&T to empower American service members, to modernize the equipment they use, and to prepare and protect them as they work to keep our nation safe. That’s why I also included report language in this year’s NDAA that directs the DOD to brief Congress on the Department’s efforts to use MS&T to increase speed to market, reduce risk, and foster interoperability in the industrial base.
I’m also an advocate of using MS&T to meet current challenges and invest in emerging opportunities. To that end, I secured report language in the NDAA directing DOD to brief Congress on its efforts to invest in and improve Gaming, Exercising, Modeling, and Simulation innovation. This language supports the 2021 Defense Science Board recommendations to improve GEMS across the DOD enterprise. This idea of paring gaming and exercising with modeling and simulation is a potential game-changer, bad pun intended, for the MS&T community.
As many of you know, a number of leading technology companies are working on what they call the metaverse, which is an immersive virtual environment capable of replicating the physical world. Gaming, exercising, modeling, and simulation are the foundation for commercial applications like the metaverse.
Our MS&T community is well positioned to lead the future. GEMS immersive technologies have broad application, ranging from enhancing warfighter training, to improving our physical infrastructure, to responding to climate change, to expanding the metaverse. I’m excited to champion these diverse efforts and to represent you on Capitol Hill.
Thank you for being here, thank you for listening, and thank you again for all that you do for our security and our quality of life.