Directorate tests Army's Nett Warrior

Nett Warrior


FORT RILEY, Kan. Although most people have never heard of Joe Bailey, almost everyone knows who Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are.

They do the same kind of work. Well, almost. They all produce and direct major epic events, only Spielberg and Lucas do it for Hollywood and Bailey does it for the United States Army Operational Test Command.

Bailey, branch chief for the command's Maneuver Test Directorate at West Fort Hood, is a military test plans analyst, more commonly known as a test officer. Just like a Hollywood producer-director, a test officer must write test plans (script); obtain funds and plan the budget (get financial backers); hire data collectors, analysts, player unit, support staff (cast and crew); report progress to the commanding general (chairman of the board of directors for the studio); keep the test on schedule (film the movie); collect data for analysis and evaluation (edit the film); and write a report (distribute the final product).

"I really have a lot of fun," said Bailey, who was the directorate's senior noncommissioned officer when he retired as a master sergeant after 27 years in the Army. "I'm just an old infantry guy who is lucky to be able to keep doing what I really love doing."

The production Bailey is working on now is a limited user test on Nett Warrior, the Army's wearable computer system prototype comprised of hands-free display, headset, secure radio network, power source and software.

Sound like Star Wars?

Starting out 20 years ago as Land Warrior. Nett Warrior evolved, through the Ground Soldier System to the current incarnation named after Col. Robert Nett, World War II Medal of Honor recipient.

"Nett Warrior is 5 pounds lighter than Land Warrior was," Bailey said, who has conducted tests on three versions of Land Warrior. "This time we're looking at different hardware for Nett Warrior."

Bailey said the command will look at three vendors during the test: Rockwell Collins, Raytheon and General Dynamics.

"Each system will run through 96-hour scenarios in three different types of terrain," he said. "Each vendor will see restricted, unrestricted and urban terrains, and we will segregate the vendors so we can assure this will be a fair test.

"About the only thing I can't control is the weather."

This is where Spielberg and Lucas would have a special-effects department.

Bailey, who has been at Fort Riley since Aug. 30, started planning the test more than a year ago. He is joined by 157 of the command's soldiers, Department of the Army civilian employees and contractors and 636 soldiers from a 1st Infantry Division battalion.

"We actually started out scheduling the test for here (Fort Riley) in February 2009," he said. "But then the player unit (soldiers who participate in the test) got orders to deploy. We looked at Fort Knox (Kentucky), Fort Hood, Fort Campbell (Kentucky), Alaska, Hawaii, Korea and finally we ended up back here at Fort Riley."

Prior to the record test, Bailey must conduct two weeks of collective training to familiarize soldiers with the equipment. He also conducts a pilot test for one week and then another week of collective training. Finally, the team goes into three weeks of the record test.

Sprinkled through that are excursion exercises with the program manager.

Source:  Fort Hood Herald, November 16, 2010

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