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The Trust Factor – Why trust is so critical in training to build future defence capability (sponsored)

3rd September 2021 - 10:30 GMT | by Industry Spotlight

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Trust is critical in training. But it takes time to win, and once lost, it is hard to recover.

This article is brought to you by QinetiQ.

QinetiQ and Inzpire have recently published a new report that explores the role of trust in training to build defence capability. QinetiQ operates within and across some of the most mission-critical activities for defence and security. Our work in integrating, assuring and operating complex military capability – the latter comprising people, equipment and readiness – involves managing significant operational risk.

How does the military build trust in the skills and judgment of their people, in the processes and technologies used, and in the partners they engage with? How do they overcome mistrust between government and industry, and how do they sustain and revitalise trust within a fast-changing environment?

In an effort to elicit more debate on the concept of trust as it relates to the generation and deployment of defence capability, QinetiQ has gathered together a panel of experts to explore the issue.

The report covers several key areas including defining what trust actually is, the importance of trust in teams, trust in action and the future of teams. The report ends with exploring the concept of the ‘Triangle of Trust’.

Defining trust and its importance in teams

In the report, Global Campaign Director for Training and Mission Rehearsal, Christina Balis describes trust as the beating heart of all healthy relationships, whether interpersonal, group, institutional or societal in nature. Trust is an essential human trait.  We expect it from others, and others in turn expect it of us. It can only be earned rather than taken or demanded. It takes time to win trust, and once lost, it is hard to recover it. It is critical, if not sufficient, for most forms of cooperation.

Principal Psychologist Raphael Pascual addresses how important trust is as a moderator of teamwork effectiveness and how it is recognised in many of the most prominent teamwork models. When there is a lack of trust in a team (for example when feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty are high), personal interests are much more likely to be a focus and a priority for individual team members. Conversely, when trust is high, teams are far more likely to share feelings of vulnerability and work through any differences they have – resulting in higher quality outputs.

The future of teams

Principal Human Factors Specialist and QinetiQ fellow, Caren Soper, explores the move towards human / machine teams and how this impacts on trust. The use of Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) is a significant growth area in defence as an Autonomous System (AS) is capable of understanding higher level intent and direction. 

It is capable of deciding a course of action, from a number of alternatives, without being dependent on human oversight and control, although humans may still be present. 

The development of trust and building the operator’s confidence in AS will become more relevant as they become orientated towards the higher end of the autonomy spectrum. With greater functionality and more frequent use, user acceptance and trust will increase. However, maintaining that trust will be dependent on the system functioning as expected.

The Triangle of Trust

The concept of the Triangle of Trust is addressed by Alan Whittle, Director of Strategy and Plans, Inzpire. He focuses on the importance of building trust among buyers, providers and users of defence training capability. He discusses how individual and team training objectives are being enhanced with an operational imperative in mind and how the synthetic environment is being designed to more closely replicate the real world. 

Across every domain, synthetic environments are now essential to all aspects of training, mission rehearsal, and debrief. Training, especially collective training, is wholly geared towards preparing war fighters and operators from all domains to conduct effective operations across the entire military spectrum of operations. 

In many instances, service personnel will be sent into harm’s way in order to achieve military objectives, using the knowledge, skills and experiences gained during training to achieve a successful outcome. To this end, the relationship between the trainers and the trainees transcends the transactional and becomes a shared enterprise, where both parties are professionally and emotionally attached to a common, positive outcome.

Trust is a vital facet of military training as well as military operations. It is gained through the nurturing of relationships over time and can be built through the actions of individuals or teams, but is owned by the parent organisations and shared across the entire training enterprise. 

This fragile yet important commodity can only survive when all of the stakeholders hold to a communal picture of success. At its best this can help to make what might seem impossible, possible.

To download the full report, please visit: Thought Paper: The Trust Factor (qinetiq.com).

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