As the first two brigades to be equipped with “Capability Set 13” network components – the 3rd and 4th Brigades of 10th Mountain Division – prepare for their deployment to Afghanistan, the U.S. Army is feverishly preparing for the next milestone Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) event that will feed decision processes for a follow-on “Capability Set 14” architecture: Network Integration Evaluation 13.2.
The upcoming NIE 13.2 event will be conducted by the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD) April 7 – June 6, 2013, at Ft. Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
A recent visit to Ft. Bliss served to highlight myriad activities being performed in preparation for that event.
Some of the most obvious efforts are being conducted in a large motor pool, where Col. Gail Washington, U.S. Army Program Manager – Current, outlined how her team was integrating network elements into the platforms that will be participating in that event.
More than 350 Army vehicles are currently being integrated in the motor pool, with the expectation that a small number of additional vehicles will arrive shortly from both the Marine Corps and special operations elements. The additional vehicles will be used in test and evaluation of the Joint Battle Command Platform (JBCP) system.
The Army will conduct its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) on JBCP during NIE 13.2.
According to Washington, her team’s efforts are currently focused on integrating the network hardware into the vehicle platforms – including Abrams, Bradleys and Strykers – in preparation for handing everything over to 2/1 AD and the Army’s Brigade Modernization Command (BMC) on April 5.
“The vehicles initially stay here and we will hand over control of the network and monitoring the network to the Network Integration Division [within BMC] and at 2/1 AD, Col. Thomas Dorame [commander]. Then we sit back and watch them execute the same network threads that we are going to execute the 2nd through the 5th[of April],” she said.
Washington explained that the 17 “threads” being tested represent about 20-25 percent of the network, noting, “It gives us a level of confidence that if it can perform those 17 threads then the network is robust and stable enough to do everything they want to do. There’s no way I could do all of them, but the 17 gives me the ability to test the network in four or five days, and then repeat that if necessary.”
Some of the key threads identified by Washington include:
- call for fire;
- full motion video;
- position location information; and
- systems like CPOF [Command Post of the Future] and TIGR [Tactical Ground Reporting System].
She was careful to clarify that the NIE process involves much more than a new network. Highlighting the team efforts of all elements of the “modernization triad” – BMC, Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC), and the System of Systems Integration (SOSI) Directorate in the Office of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology – she observed, “Our mission supports the mission of SOSI, and obviously I want to make sure that the Soldiers have what they need to ‘take out the bad guys.’ That’s the whole intent of integrating the network: when they see ‘the bad guy’ they can tell someone about it; and then it can be used to coordinate efforts to ‘take them out.’”
Based on lessons learned from Washington’s experience at Ft. Bliss, similar network validation processes are also being performed with the brigades being fielded with the network hardware at Ft. Drum, N.Y. (3/10), and Ft. Polk, La. (4/10).