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Army Sticks With ‘NIE’ Designation – For Now

Interview with Brig. Gen. Dan Hughes, military deputy to the commander of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM)

With his reassignment from the director of System of Systems Integration (SOSI) within the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology (ASA [ALT]) to the military deputy to the commander of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) [effective Nov. 1, 2012], Brig. Gen. Dan Hughes recently provided DMN with a status update on several factors surrounding the Army’s increasingly important Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) events [See Defense: Fall 2012 Edition – “Army Evaluations Wind Their Way to Equipment Fielding”].

One of the issues Hughes addressed involved clarifying public statements by service leadership that, now that the baseline network is being fielded to the first eight of the Army’s Brigade Combat Teams, the semi-annual “NIE” would soon transition to a “CIE” [Capabilities Integration Evaluation] designation with the evaluation focus shifting to more joint service and coalition involvement.

“We have ‘branded’ this thing as a Network Integration Evaluation for a long time,” Hughes began. “So a lot of folks have looked at it and said, ‘That’s what we’re going to call it.’ Now, we are going to morph it a little bit eventually and add more joint and coalition into it. So eventually we will change the name to something that says ‘joint’ or ‘coalition.’ But as of right now we are going to continue to have a Network Integration Evaluation.”

NIE BFT

A soldier from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, works with the future iteration of Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below/Blue Force Tracking, known as a Joint Capabilities Release, during a previous Network Integration Evaluation at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Photo by Claire Heininger Schwerin, PEO C3T, U.S. Army

“That said, we have many other things that are not ‘network,’” he offered. “For example, inside the NIE right now we have about eight things that involve operational energy and additional vehicle systems. It’s more than just the network. And I think I think there’s a natural tendency to want to change the name to something. But we’re going to leave it as it is for at least the foreseeable future and eventually have it reflect joint and coalition.

“[Lt.] Gen. Walker and the TRADOC [U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command] folks want to bring in the joint guys in the ’14 series,’ either 14.1 [October-November 2013] or 14.2 [May-June 2014]. But it will be here pretty soon,” he said.

“We did have some Air Force and Marine Corps representatives at the Multiservice Operational Test [and Evaluation] for the Manpack [radio] last time [NIE 12.2],” he added. “So it’s not as if the joint guys haven’t been out. And by the way, we brought coalition into the lab this time. We had the Australians, the U.K. and the Canadians in, and did interoperability explorations inside the lab. We just didn’t bring it out to the field this time. So we have done a lot of different things – but I think we’ll stick with ‘NIE’ for a couple more.”

With his movement to RDECOM, Hughes was asked if he expected that command’s already significant involvement in the NIE process to increase further in coming evaluations.

“I will look at how to link what we are doing on the S&T [Science and Technology] side to exactly what the NIE is doing, and maybe that’s something I can bring forward,” he said, “keeping in mind that RDECOM does a tremendous amount of work on the NIE already.”

Pointing to synergies behind those command efforts as well as the Army’s emerging “30 Year Plan,” he added, “It would be great to see a plan where you could go from the beginning of S&T all the way through to ‘programmatics’ with a tangible result. That really will be something. I’m looking forward to it and I’ll try to help as much as I can.”

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