[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]

  November 25, 2011

Armywide News

Army concludes second Network Integration Evaluation

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. (Army News Service ) — The Army has concluded its second Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), moving closer to deploying an integrated battlefield network after collecting valuable Soldier feedback on the latest tactical communications technologies.

The three-week event, known as NIE 12.1, represented the first time that all of the components of the Army network to be fielded in fiscal year 2013 were united and evaluated in a realistic operational environment.

Soldiers at the lowest echelons were brought into the network, communicating through text messages, digital photos and chat rooms.

Company commanders made quick decisions using information received in real time while moving around the battlefield. New hardware and software was integrated for the first time outside of a lab, and put to the test in mountainous desert terrain that mirrors the communications challenges of Afghanistan.

“We are getting a great look at connecting the Soldier to the network, and a fantastic look at mission command on the move — for the first time in an operational setting,” said Col. John Morrison, director of the Army G-3/5/7 LandWarNet-Battle Command Directorate. “For the first time we’ve got everything talking together, so now we can establish an integrated network baseline. It’s just been phenomenal.”

The second in a series of semi-annual field exercises designed to rapidly integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network, NIE 12.1 involved 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD) evaluating dozens of systems in operational scenarios. Soldier feedback and test results from the NIEs are directly shaping the makeup of the Army’s network Capability Set 13, which will begin fielding to up to eight brigade combat teams in fiscal year 2013. Additional brigades will receive the latest network assets as part of Capability. Those capability sets will include greater bandwidth to transmit voice, video and data across the battlefield, as well as the ability to bring situational awareness and mission command information down to the dismounted Soldier.

NIE 12.1 also was host to the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Rifleman Radio program of record test. This radio, which is carried by platoon, squad and team-level Soldiers for voice communications, can connect with handheld devices to transmit text messages, Global Positioning System (GPS) locations and other data. 2/1 AD Soldiers also informally evaluated more than 45 other systems, including solutions proposed by industry to meet the Army’s identified network capability gaps.

“Getting information technology to the field in a rapid fashion is what we’re trying to do here,” said Col. Dan Hughes, the Army’s system of systems integration director. “Some of the systems that are here are systems that industry paid their money for, that they built, that they brought out, and are in the hands of Soldiers probably five to six years before they would be in the hands of Soldiers if we had gone through the regular (process).”

[ Top of Page ]

[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]