Magazine article Army

Network Integration Evaluation 14.1

Magazine article Army

Network Integration Evaluation 14.1

Article excerpt

During an overview on the fielding of the Army's tactical network presented at the 2013 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition, LTG Keith Walker, director of the U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center, likened the semiannual Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) process to "hydraulics."

"It's a bit like putting the network under pressure," he said. "When you put hydraulics under pressure, you can look for leaks. The Network Integration Evaluations, by putting all of this equipment in an operational context, serve as a 'forcing function' so that we can see where the leaks are and fix them."

Building on an early foundation of limited user testing by the Army's former Enhanced Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss, Texas, the Army has conducted six sequential NIE forcing functions. The most recent of these events, NIE 14.1 (the first NIE of fiscal year 2014), was held in October and November 2013 at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

Like previous NIEs, 14.1 encompassed a combination of three systems under test (SUTs), 18 systems under evaluation (SUEs), a handful of carryover activities and more than a dozen demonstration efforts. In addition, a first unit equipped element from the U.S. Marine Corps participated with the Joint Battle Command Platform (JBCP).

The three SUTs included AN/PRC-117G (operational testing), Command Post of the Future (limited user testing) and Joint Warning and Reporting Network (follow-on testing).

The 18 SUEs, selected for evaluation against specifically identified operational capability gaps, were: Efficient Mobile Support Infrastructure; Secure Wireless Distribution System; MaxxPro Mobile Integrated Command Post with On Board Vehicle Power; JBCP Advanced Networking Capabilities; Airspace Management Environment; Winch Aerostat Small Platform; Networked Air-Ground Integration; Aerial Layer Network Extension; aerial command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance Payload Suite; Roamer Net; Integrated Soldier Power and Data System-Tactical Engagement Simulation System; Intelligent Power Technology; One Man Flex Fuel Portable one- and two-kilowatt (kW) generators; and five different tactical routers.

Roamer Net, for example, is an initiative from the Program Executive Office for Aviation to look at utilizing the existing platoon AN/PRC-155 Manpack Radio and its technical capability to perform cross-banding of Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System and Soldier Radio Waveform nets in the communications integration of air and ground forces.

Another SUE example, Intelligent Power Technology, consists of five trailers designed to power an entire brigade combat team. Four of the trailers carry dual generator sets: two with pairs of 60-kW generators and two with pairs of 33-kW generators. The fifth trailer carries a 20-kW variablespeed generator and battery storage system.

According to Dave Hampton, synchronized communications and engagements officer at Brigade Modernization Command (BMC), one of the many benefits of the NIE process is the Army's opportunity to "learn as it goes, in terms of how to add value to the evaluations so that the return on investment seems to improve and increase every time."

Hampton emphasized the critical importance of the "Network Integration Triad"-BMC/U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) System of Systems Integration; and U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command/ Operational Test Command-as well as support by G-3/5/7 LandWarNet Mission Command in the success of the NIE process.

"Although each organization approaches the NIE from a different perspective, we do this together," he said. "Otherwise, we couldn't pull this thing off."

Shifting to the operational perspective of BMC, he said, "NIE 14.1 continues to reinforce some things that we have done in the past. The whole idea behind these integration evaluations is to reduce the burden on the operators, and as we begin to draw down in Afghanistan, we will lose that in-theater ability whereby units could [look at] equipment. …

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