Test unit completes Network Integration Evaluation
by Eloise Lundgren
engineers and combat
developers completed the
fourth iteration of a
series of semiannual
field exercises called
Evaluations at Fort
Bliss and White Sands
Missile Range, N.M.,
just in time to get
everyone home for the
Testers, soldiers, engineers and combat developers completed the fourth iteration of a series of semiannual field exercises called Network Integration Evaluations at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., just in time to get everyone home for the holidays.
Managed by a group known as the “TRIAD” — Army Test and Evaluation Command, System of Systems Integration Directorate and Brigade Modernization Command — NIE 13.1 included several program tests and less formal assessments called systems under evaluation.
NIEs are designed to integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network and accelerate the way network technologies are delivered to soldiers through integrated “capability sets” of communications gear.
“The pace of NIEs is fast,” said Col. Joseph Martin, commander of U.S. Army Operational Test Command. “With one NIE executed every six months and others simultaneously in various stages of planning, the coordination of effort among the multiple Army organizations and industry partners is monumental.
“But with this iteration being the fourth in the series, we were able to apply lessons learned from the three previous NIEs and streamline our integration efforts on this one,” Martin said.
The Army applied several lessons learned from NIE 12.2, such as system of systems training for soldiers, streamlined testing, upfront integration of hardware and instrumentation, increased industry participation and reduced individual system, re-engineering and infrastructure costs, he said.
With the command’s Integrated Test and Evaluation Directorate, led by Col. Dave Wellons, taking the lead on NIE 13.1 for the test command, nearly 5,000 soldiers, Department of the Army civilian employees and contractors converged in the desert along the borders of West Texas and eastern New Mexico, joined by the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade.
Brigade soldiers, as the test player unit, executed training scenarios that helped determine whether systems and equipment were effective, suitable and survivable, Martin said.
Some of the equipment, systems and technology operational testers looked at included Nett Warrior (ground soldier communication system), M109 Paladin artillery system, Spider networked munitions system, Joint Battle Command-Platform communication system, and the RAM Warn (counter rocket, artillery, mortar system), Wellons said.
Col. Quinton Arnold, director of the command’s Maneuver Test Directorate, led the efforts of managing systems under test.
“It’s all about the data and operational realism,” Arnold said. “Our test teams, working with (Brigade Modernization Command) and the player unit, did a lot of excellent work to ensure these two elements were maintained, resulting in a successful operational test.”
The final report will help Army leaders make acquisition decisions, according to Robin Boggs, test command’s public affairs officer.
NIE 13.1 was Martin’s first experience with the semiannual series since taking command in July, and it was truly a team effort, he said.
“Everyone involved in this effort makes each NIE successful because they are willing to put aside their organizational allegiances for the sake of a better-integrated solution for the soldier,” Martin said. “Everyone realizes the importance of remaining flexible as the NIE process continues to evolve.”