During an overview on the fielding of the
"It's a bit like putting the network under pressure," he said. "When you put hydraulics under pressure, you can look for leaks. The Network Integration Evaluations, by putting all of this equipment in an operational context, serve as a 'forcing function' so that we can see where the leaks are and fix them."
Building on an early foundation of limited user testing by the
Like previous NIEs, 14.1 encompassed a combination of three systems under test (SUTs), 18 systems under evaluation (SUEs), a handful of carryover activities and more than a dozen demonstration efforts. In addition, a first unit equipped element from the
The three SUTs included AN/PRC-117G (operational testing),
The 18 SUEs, selected for evaluation against specifically identified operational capability gaps, were: Efficient Mobile Support Infrastructure; Secure Wireless Distribution System;
Roamer Net, for example, is an initiative from the
Another SUE example, Intelligent Power Technology, consists of five trailers designed to power an entire brigade combat team. Four of the trailers carry dual generator sets: two with pairs of 60-kW generators and two with pairs of 33-kW generators. The fifth trailer carries a 20-kW variablespeed generator and battery storage system.
Hampton emphasized the critical importance of the "Network Integration Triad"-BMC/
"Although each organization approaches the NIE from a different perspective, we do this together," he said. "Otherwise, we couldn't pull this thing off."
Shifting to the operational perspective of BMC, he said, "NIE 14.1 continues to reinforce some things that we have done in the past. The whole idea behind these integration evaluations is to reduce the burden on the operators, and as we begin to draw down in
2/1 AD is a deployable brigade on assignment to support the
"There's always been a materiel focus on NIEs because we're trying to identify new technologies, capabilities and systems," Hampton said, "but we are also putting a full court press across DOTMLPF [doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities] domains because it's more than just the materiel solutions. We are looking at reducing the burden on the operating force."
Adding that 14.1 "also begins to set conditions for Capability Set (CS) 15 development and fielding," he said, "We're working [CS] 14 now, but as we finish up this year we are going to start looking at what 'Cape Set 15' might look like. And we are always looking at how we can make these NIEs more efficient, more effective and lower cost."
In addition to "setting the conditions" for CS 15, another critical focus of NIE 14.1 was to help set the conditions for NIE 14.2, planned for this spring. Significant milestones for NIE 14.2 will be its status as the first joint/multinational evaluation event. Aligned with the Bold Quest initiative, 14.2 is expected to include significantly expanded participation by the
Out in the field at the 2/1 AD tactical operations center (TOC),
One of the many ways that planners reduced costs for NIE 14.1 was through the expanded application of a live/virtual/constructive (L/V/C) environment that exploited the application of modeling and simulation technologies to reduce some unit field commitments,
NIE 14.1 also included "virtual participation" by elements of the
Just outside the TOC, SFC William Lawrence, one of COL Baine's leads on the SUE, explained that IPT served to "establish a power grid able to provide a total of 372 kilowatts of power with the main part of the system. Additionally, they have another trailer with a 20-kW variable-speed generator that has basically a giant battery pack on it. After it charges the battery, the generator shuts itself down and the system then runs offthat battery until it is down to a certain percent, when the generator turns itself back on.
"Before this, you just took a bunch of generators that ran stand-alone," he said. "So you might have a 20- or 30-kW generator that might have only had a coffeepot hooked up to it pulling one kW of power, but this way, the system actually 'looks at the load' and turns generators on or offas needed, saving fuel and saving wear and tear on the generators."
The system is also capable of "load shedding," whereby users can designate "priority items" that cannot lose power and others that can afford to lose power during certain situations.
SPC Daniel Sanders, who ran the IPT for 2/1 AD during NIE 14.1, said the system changed the way he traditionally did things "both work-wise and from a fuel efficiency standpoint. Instead of stringing about 15 generators all around the TOC to run certain items, this way we are actually able to power everything offof just two generators at this moment instead of those 15. We're not only saving fuel, but we are reducing the number of pintle tow requirements of trailering generators to the field."
Several miles north of the TOC, elements of the brigade's
"We won't clear the route, but we will mark it for the location of any IEDs [improvised explosive devices] that we encounter," said LTC Keith Pruitt, commander, 1-1 CAV. "Then we'll mark a bypass so that the follow-on units ... can get offthe route and go around the IED."
LTC Pruitt's squadron included a "virtual troop" supporting his live elements against a combination of live and virtual enemy forces. The squadron operations included one of the unique NIE demonstrations-a Stryker reconnaissance vehicle equipped with a Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Soldier Network Extension (SNE). The Stryker SNE prototype vehicle was assigned to one of 1-1 CAV's live elements-Apache Troop.
While both WIN-T SNE and related point-of-presence systems have previously been integrated onto NIE MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle platforms, NIE 14.1 marked an expansion of SNE capabilities to both Stryker and M113 platforms as well as installation of point of presence onto an M1068 command post vehicle.
CPT Phil Cerami commanded 1-1 CAV's Apache Troop at NIE 14.1 and was applying a variety of lessons learned in theater to his third NIE.
"We're able to either prove the systems out here to be capable systems for soldiers to use downrange or to show that they are not capable systems and the
"From my own personal experience of being a platoon leader down range in
Coupling the NIE "forcing function" analogy offered by LTG Walker with the blunt warfighter honesty that has become a hallmark of the NIEs, both officers agreed that "fighting the enemy and fighting the systems at the same time" was the biggest challenge of the process.
"In integrating the new systems, even with their faults, into the maneuver plan, many times the system itself dictates how we're going to maneuver versus the other way around. That can make it very difficult to do some of this stuff," CPT Cerami said.
Asked for an example, he pointed to the troop's current screen line operations, noting that some of the systems were placing significant limitations on the distances that he could "push dismounts out" from his vehicles while retaining required situational awareness.
Those sorts of experiential comments were incorporated with others in an after-action report process that provided an initial report summary to the commander of the
"We're trying to make sure that NIE 14.1 is more than just a test for this equipment," said COL
"We're getting more utility out of this 'laboratory' (so to speak) of a brigade combat team in motion conducting maneuvers in a joint environment, and soon with multinational partners," he added. "Yes, we do tests, but at the same time we help to set the stage for innovation for the future. How do we do that? We bring things on and give them the best litmus test: We give them to soldiers and they will put them into operation."
Scenes from Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 14.1, one of six sequential testing/proving exercises, held at
An M-ATV rests on the
Elements of 1-1 CAV, commanded by LTC Keith Pruitt, conducted screen line and route reconnaissance operations as part of the first phase of NIE 14.1. The squadron included a "virtual troop" supporting his live elements against a combination of virtual and live enemy forces.
Stryker medical vehicles played an integral role in the NIE 14.1 exercises.
A refrigerated international shipping container was tested during NIE 14.1.
The AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio, attached to a Nett Warrior end user device, was among the communications systems tested.
The ivory dome of a Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Soldier Network Extension protrudes from the midsection of a Stryker reconnaissance vehicle; the
The medical evacuation vehicle is the ambulance variant in the Stryker family of vehicles. NIE 14.1 marked an expansion of the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Soldier Network Extension to Stryker platforms.
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