SOLDIERS USE TEST CHANGES TO ARMY’S MOBILE NETWORK THAT MAKE IT EASIER TO USE
By Amy Walker, PEO C3T staff writer
10 Jul 14. Covering over 1,250 miles a day in scorching desert heat, Soldiers successfully completed the second of two rigorous developmental tests to evaluate improvements to the Army’s high capacity, mobile tactical communications network backbone, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2.
“I deployed to Afghanistan for nine months with the system and I see definite changes,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Miller, who supports network operations for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), or 4/10 MTN. “It is a lot more user-friendly and intuitive, and it is lot easier for the average user to interface with this system.”
Soldier feedback from theater, Network Integration Evaluations, referred to as NIEs, and user juries helped the Army make WIN-T Increment 2 easier to operate and maintain. Among the many system enhancements are drastically reduced startup and shutdown times; a new, easy to use graphical interface; improved and simplified troubleshooting tools and faster, easier calls to extend radio networks.
“They also made a lot of great changes as far as the resiliency of the system; it’s self-correcting to a degree,” Miller said. “For example, if you lose your satellite communications links it will try and reestablish those on its own and take the proper steps that an operator or an S6 would take to get that back on line. It does all of that automatically.”
The new WIN-T Increment 2 enhancements, designed to improve system reliability, simplicity and usability, have now been assessed during two intensive developmental tests that were coordinated with multiple Department of Defense and Army organizations including the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Director, Operational Test and Evaluation; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Developmental Test and Evaluation; Training and Doctrine Command; and Army Test and Evaluation Command.
The first developmental test was completed at the Aberdeen Test Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in late February. The second more extensive developmental test, or DT2, was completed in late June in the deserts and mountains of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, where temperatures often exceeded 110 degrees.
The DT2 laid the foundation for the WIN-T Increment 2 Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation 2 scheduled to coincide with the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation 15.1 in the fall. NIE 15.1 will also be the first NIE to utilize new configurations of WIN-T Increment 2 that include network-equipped Stryker vehicles. DT2 provided the opportunity for technical verification of three WIN-T Increment 2 Stryker variants in advance of NIE 15.1.
To help capture data during the DT2, the Army installed a complete suite of instrumentation on each WIN-T Increment 2 equipped-vehicle that monitored the entire network and the performance of each system, including data throughput, software performance and network availability. Hundreds of gigabytes of data per day were collected and sent back within 48 hours to Aberdeen Proving Ground for analysis.
Army Test and Evaluation Command personnel rode in each WIN-T Increment 2 vehicle and noted all operations during mission threads, while the Network Operations and Security Center, which helps to manage the WIN-T Increment 2 network, recorded data from their end. While the instrumentation and various data collection methods monitored the performance on the back end, Soldiers provided continuous feedback on usability performance via daily after action reviews on the front end.
Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), supported the WIN-T Increment 2 DT2. While some Soldiers were training on and using the system for the first time, nearly a third of the Soldiers had previously deploy