and two other organizations of the Network Integration Partners--the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) and the System of Systems, Engineering and Integration Directorate (SoSE&I), under the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASALT)—have been conducting semiannual Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) since the spring of 2011. During these NIEs, the Partners assess networked and non-networked concepts and capabilities to determine their implications across Army Doctrine, Organization, Training, Material, Leadership and Education, Personnel, and Facilities–Policy (DOTMLPF-P). Unlike other exercises, NIEs facilitate an integrated evaluation of emerging concepts and capabilities rather than a discrete assessment. In addition, Soldiers provide critical uncensored feedback throughout the two week exercise that according to former Secretary of the Army John McHugh, “…takes their [Soldier] feedback and tries to make sure we’re not just fielding something that looks good, but also operationally works well.”
NIE 16.2 takes place at Fort Bliss, Texas, from 2-14 May with Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division participating. The exercise facilitates the Army’s operational test of two core capabilities: a Command Initiated Munition Weapon System (Spider), and Network Operations with a Network Centric Waveform as an advancement to the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T). NIE 16.2 also provides the environment for the operational assessment of the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR).
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The Army-wide commitment to command posts, combat vehicles and the dismounted Soldier has enabled the Army to synchronize efforts from multiple organizations and stakeholders to obtain insights, recommendations and implementation strategies which provides better information to decision-makers to meet the needs of the Army within budget constraints. Nowhere in the Army is there a larger operational exercise that tests and evaluates systems and capabilities; it is the Army’s centerpiece for modernization.
Beginning in May 2017 with NIE 17, the exercise will only be held annually in the spring and serve as an enabler for the Army’s Mission Command 2020 by integrating warfighting functions. BMC and its Partners, ATEC and ASALT, will continue their efforts to conduct integrated and paralleled operational tests of select Army Program of Records (PORs).
As the Army transforms and sustains its readiness, modernization of forces and doctrine will remain a key factor. In his Army’s Readiness Guidance, Chief of Staff of the Army stated that ‘…modernization of mission command capabilities is critical and facilitates the decision-making of leaders and Soldiers across all tactical echelons for Unified Land Operations in support of the Joint Force and allies. To support this effort, the Army will develop and field a robust, integrated tactical mission command network linking command posts across platforms at each echelon.” NIEs remain a critical component in the modernization process by providing critical feedback on potential solutions to integrated network capabilities. Simultaneously, NIEs provide an environment that facilitates a “…smart multi-echelon training and integrating live, virtual, constructive and gaming training environments….” According to the CSA, this environment allows commanders to “…creatively generate the highest possible training readiness.”