Defense Media Network

Army Looks Out to NIE 14.1

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In a continuation of its modernization processes established through the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) events, the Army has identified a number of “capability gaps” to be addressed during NIE 14.1, to be held at Fort Bliss, Texas and the adjacent White Sands Missile Range during October – November 2013. The NIEs are held twice each year to help define the Capability Sets subsequently fielded to a set number of brigade combat teams.

NIE 14.1

The U.S. Army hosted an industry day on July 19, 2012, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to discuss opportunities to collaborate on the future tactical communications network. U.S. Army photo

The NIEs are Army-hosted events conducted twice a year. The “.1” October-November events (the first event of each fiscal year) tend to focus on smaller unit operations of battalions and below while the “.2” events in the May-June time frame tend to be more extensive in terms of time, operational areas, and employment of a full strength brigade combat team.

Under the recent “sources sought” announcement, the U.S. Army’s Directorate for System of Systems Integration (SoSI) announced interest in “mature solutions to enhance existing network systems capabilities” during NIE 14.1.

“The purpose of this notice is to identify emerging capabilities to be evaluated against a set of entrance criteria for an opportunity to participate in an NIE,” it stated, adding that solutions were being sought “with a narrow focus on specific identified gaps in the current and evolving networked equipment solution set.”

Initially identified capability gaps for NIE 14.1 include:

  • brigade/battalion command post (CP) mobility and scalability;
  • network visualization on the common operational picture (COP);
  • aerial layer network extension – provide assured access for terrestrial network;
  • integrated network assurance – network access control;
  • operational energy – energy sources with extended duration and power;
  • operational energy – monitor and manage system power, supply and demand; and
  • operational energy – reduce reliance on petroleum based energy.

Many of the identified gaps further expand on areas that will be explored during NIE 13.2, which will be held this spring.

NIE 14.1

A U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, operates a generator mounted on a tactical vehicle, one of several operational energy capabilities submitted by government and private industry for evaluation at the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation 13.1 event, conducted in October/November 2012. U.S. Army photo by Claire Heininger, ASA (ALT)

SoSI originally released its “sources sought” for 13.2 on July 20, 2012, noting that the 13.2 event “will focus on solidifying the network baseline that will make up the foundation of Capability Set 14, the Army’s second integrated set of network capability, which will be fielded starting in 2014.”

Specifically identified gaps to be explored in 13.2 included:

  • commander’s applications for mobile and handheld platform;
  • enhanced command post collaboration and visualization;
  • company information architecture;
  • network operations visualized in the command post;
  • aerial layer network – air ground integration; and
  • integrated employment of LandWarNet installation & training resources and WIN-T interoperable SATCOM and ground to ground capability on heavy brigade combat team maneuver platforms.

Subsequent to the initial release, SoSI issued a “supplemental” 13.2 announcement on August 24, 2012, which highlighted the operational energy gap and called for “mature capability solutions to reduce operational energy consumption for mounted and dismounted soldiers, and to improve operational energy utilization efficiency.”

The most recent NIE 14.1 announcement starts a process that could include submission of industry white papers, industry briefings to government, industry attendance and oral presentations at the NIE System Under Evaluation (SUE) Technical Interchange Meeting, submitting solution candidates for government laboratory testing, undergoing integration and lab based risk reduction at Aberdeen Proving Ground, participating in pre-NIE integration activities, training soldiers to operate the candidate solution, supporting the candidate solution in the NIE event at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, and post-NIE de-installation and recovery activities.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...