The Army is readying a solicitation worth up to $8 billion to provide training services, from distance learning course work to instructional applications for smartphones.

The program, called TEACH for Train, Educate and Coach, will be run by the Army’s program office for simulation, training and instrumentation and is meant to inject competition into the way the Army purchases those services.

The Army is buying training services now off a contract called Warfighter Focus, held by Raytheon.

“These types of services ... lend themselves to competition,” said Jeff Simons, the Army office’s program lead for TEACH. “We want to be responsive” to the federal agencies that employ this contract vehicle.

The previous contract vehicle was heavily used, particularly as military units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and required quick training, said Simons.

The new vehicle is set to cover a seven-year period, but may actually cover about 10 years once task orders are awarded with additional option years, he said.

He said the Army’s program office would like to pick about a handful of awardees (“single digits,” Simons said), and is still working on a strategy for how to include small businesses.

The Army’s simulation and training office was planning to host small businesses last week to get their input.

The large program is attracting significant interest from contractors. Simons said the Army has heard from about 80 companies interested in the opportunity, while Herndon-based Deltek, which analyzes the government contracting market, has about 700 members who have marked the opportunity as one they might pursue.

“Because of ... the $8 billion tentative value, it’s definitely of interest to a lot of members,” said Stephani Antona, a research analyst at Deltek.

Simons said the Army plans to release a draft solicitation no later than November, which would put it on track to make an award about a year later.