FORT BLISS, Texas (October 20, 2014) — Desert terrain, solitariness and the heat of the sun are the makings of an ideal test site for the Army’s modernization efforts as Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 15.1 begins at Fort Bliss, Texas and its surrounding area.
In order to gain a true understanding of NIE’s progression and accomplishments, senior Army leadership, government officials and thought leaders from across country received a firsthand look into the evolution and current stance of the operational network. These distinguished visitors visited NIE 15.1 at the start of the evaluations.
The evolution of NIE is an accumulation of eight previous evaluations that have become the baseline assessment of networking the Army. These evaluations are critical in ensuring that mission command and communication needs are met for Force 2025.
Col. Terrece Harris, director, Capability Package led the dialogue for the visitors by providing them an overview of the program from an integration perspective. This includes the accumulation of integrating 187 vehicles through the utilization of the Agile Process, a feat that would be difficult to duplicate elsewhere.
“It is important to provide an opportunity for senior leaders to see firsthand the capabilities that they are usually briefed on but rarely are able to see,” said Col. Harris. “This allows them to gain an on the ground perspective of what we are working on integrating and evaluating in regards to the technologies being reviewed in respect to Army modernization.”
The main differentiation between the ninth NIE and its predecessors is the fact that there is only one System Under Test (SUT). SUTs are pre-approved for formal operational evaluations and have met all requirements to fully participate in NIE. This NIE will focus on WIN-T Increment 2 in preparation for its upcoming full rate production decision.
“This is a Soldier driven evaluation, so it’s great when Soldiers come back and they see the improvements made on the systems that are based on their feedback” said Capt. Brian Ramirez, a trail boss for System of Systems, Engineering and Integration Directorate (SoSE&I).
As a trail boss, Ramirez is responsible for ensuring that the NIE network is sustained, he is also the link between the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Soldiers who evaluate the systems and industry vendors who develop and provide the systems. In addition, he was the guide for the distinguished visitors as they visited the SoSE&I System Under Test and System Under Evaluation Display.
One of the guests visiting the NIE was Brig. Gen. Timothy R. Coffin, who took over as the Commanding General of White Sands Missile Range in July. For the past 15 years he has been working within the Joint Space Community integrating space system capabilities into the way the Army operates in the battlefield.
“NIE is showing itself as a tremendous asset to the Army in developing the future way ahead,” said Coffin. “The synergy that happens here, where people are integrating various systems that we have wanted to integrate for many years – but haven’t been able to overcome the technical hurdles, I see NIE is starting to show the promise of being able to overcome those hurdles.”
The diversity of people who visit NIE include local community members and other Soldiers wanting to learn more about the implementation of the Agile Process and other aspects of the evaluation process. Maj. Kimberly Brooks came down to visit NIE from Fort Gordon from the Cyber Center of Excellence, Capabilities Development of Integration Directorate. Her mission was to learn about the capabilities NIE has put forward for Warfighters and their needs.
“It is good to see what NIE has to offer, I am very interested in learning about the tactical radios and to see the WIN-T capabilities,” said Brooks.
In addition, students from Nolan Richardson Middle School visited the display to learn about the science that goes into protecting our Soldiers. The students learned about the progression of the technology and future technologies. The engineer driven elements of the systems engaged the students as they were impressed by the communication capabilities that have been developed.