The U.S. Army is expanding its outreach to industry in support of its ongoing modernization process and Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) events [See DMN: “Q&A: Brig. Gen. Randal A. Dragon, Commanding General, Brigade Modernization Command,” posted Nov. 20, 2011].
The NIEs, semi-annual events conducted at Ft. Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., by the Army’s 2nd Brigade/1st Armored Division, are designed to integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network. The most recently completed event in the series was NIE 12.1, which was conducted from late-October to mid-November 2011 [NIE 12.1 designated the first NIE of fiscal year ‘12].
However, even before the start of NIE 12.1, the Army, through the Systems of Systems Integration (SoSI) Directorate, released a second “sources sought” request to garner industry system participation for the follow-on NIE 12.2, scheduled to occur in the April/May 2012 timeframe.
The October 2011 announcement called for industry representatives with mature technologies to offer additional candidate systems under evaluation (SUEs) to go to the field with 2/1 AD for the spring 2012 NIE.
Systems were sought “against a narrow set of specific, identified gaps in the current and evolving networked equipment solution set.”
The identified NIE 12.2 gaps included:
- Multichannel Radio;
- Low-Cost- Low-SWaP Tactical Cross Domain Solution;
- Small Form Factor, Modular Transit Case Based Company Command Post;
- Tactical Router, and;
- Improved Operational Energy.
The most recent announcement, released in early January, repeats the call for industry participation for the follow-on NIE 13.1, which is currently planned for the October/November 2012 timeframe.
Specific gaps identified in the current and evolving networked equipment solution set for NIE 13.2 include:
- Multi-Channel Tactical Radio;
- Mission Command on the Move (MCOTM);
- Low-Cost-Low-SWaP Tactical Cross Domain Solution;
- Joint Participation Capability (US & Allies);
- Aviation Extension;
- Small Form Factor, Modular Transit Case SATCOM Terminal and Baseband;
- Mission Command In-Garrison Training; and
- Improved Operational Energy.
For example, it is likely that the identified gap for a Multi-Channel Tactical Radio, at least in part, is related to the “graceful termination” of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Ground Mobile Radio (GMR).
“This sources sought notice seeks candidates against a specific set of gaps, rather than the broader areas of specific interest released in the previous two notices,” said Erin Deronghe, division chief of portfolio integration management, System of Systems Integration (SoSI) Directorate. “In the first two NIEs [NIE 11.2 and 12.1], the Army established a network baseline and is now building upon it – these specific gaps will seek mature material solutions to enhance that baseline. In addition, we are soliciting industry for more non-networked solutions to contribute to more rapid acquisition and fielding of the best of these key technologies to the warfighter.”
The recent announcement also highlights the implementation of fundamental changes in the way that the Army develops, evaluates, tests, and delivers networked capability to its operating forces. The objective of the new Agile Process is to improve efficiency and effectiveness, reducing the amount of time and resources necessary to respond to the rapid changes in soldier requirements associated with current operations, emergent information technology and modifications to the Army force structure.
“By employing the NIE and agile process, we are providing industry the network framework and architectural concept to develop their systems and capabilities. This new acquisition approach is an aggressive effort seeking mature technology from both large and small industry partners to fill hardware and software need,” said Col. Dan Hughes, director, System of Systems Integration Directorate.
Interested candidates must respond to the solicitation by Feb. 3, 2012, in order to be considered for participation in NIE 13.1.