U.S. ARMY GEARS UP FOR NEXT NETWORK INTEGRATION EVALUATION
By Katie Cain, System of Systems Integration Directorate, Public Communications
18 Sep 12. As preparations for the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation 13.1 kick into high gear, Soldiers, engineers, combat developers and test officials have joined forces at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., to provide full-time support to what will be the fourth iteration in a series of semi-annual field exercises designed to further 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.
Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, 13.1 will take place in October and November 2012, and be conducted by the 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. As was done with the first three NIEs, NIE 13.1 will be managed by a group known as the NIE “TRIAD” — the Army Test and Evaluation Command, or ATEC, the Brigade Modernization Command, known as BMC, and the System of Systems Integration, or SoSI, Directorate.
NIE 13.1 will conduct several program tests for record, additional tests for record from distributed sites, and less formally evaluate more than 20 industry and government capabilities, called Systems Under Evaluation, or SUEs. The incorporation of theses SUEs in NIE 13.1 resulted from pairing down more than 140 capability submissions using formal white paper evaluations and assessing potential candidates in government laboratories prior to the start of NIE integration.
NIE 13.1 will help establish an early look at the Capability Set, or CS, 14 network baseline, building upon the CS 13 network architecture that was validated during NIE 12.2 in May and June 2012.
Key NIE 13.1 network-related goals include initial evaluations of the CS 14 network baseline; integration and assessment of CS 14 onto heavy vehicle platforms; evaluate Mid Tier Radio waveforms; continued Network Operations convergence; assessments of Operations-Intelligence application convergence; continue to establish the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, known as ISR, baseline; evaluate command post capabilities; and provide and integrate Mission Command capabilities.
To date, all 44 Golden Vehicles for NIE 13.1 have been built at the Integration Motor Pool, located at Fort Bliss. Golden Vehicle designs standardize the configuration of different combinations of network equipment on various platforms in preparation for configuring the entire fleet. In August, SoSI began building the fleet vehicles. All 375 fleet vehicles are slated for completion in early September.
“The pace of the NIEs is brisk,” said Col. Gail Washington, project manager Current, SoSI. “With one NIE executed every six months and others simultaneously in various stages of planning, risk reduction and follow-up, the coordination effort among multiple Army organizations, industry partners and Soldiers is truly monumental. Applying lessons learned from NIE 12.2 has allowed us to streamline our integration efforts going into NIE 13.1.”
While SoSI is building the vehicles to be utilized in NIE 13.1, 2/1 AD Soldiers have been simultaneously completing Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, refresher training courses, as well as New Equipment Training for Nett Warrior, which will undergo its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation as part of NIE 13.1.
“The biggest challenge is balancing brigade requirements aligned with the Army Force Generation process, along with brigade training requirements, while simultaneously building the vehicles utilized during each NIE,” said Lt. Col. Keith Taylor, SoSI Product Manager Capability Package Integration.
Currently, SoSI, with support from ATEC, BMC and 2/1 AD is participating in VALEX, a four-week-long exercise designed to “load” the network throughout the Brigade and set the stage for deve