It's not unusual to find Soldiers taking advantage of downtime during a field training exercise by playing a game of cards, but it often does not involve Soldiers playing cards with Marines.

If you go to McGregor Range and visit the tactical assembly area for 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, from Fort Bliss, Texas, you may find a small detachment of Marines sitting around a cot, in the open desert, with a deck of cards enjoying downtime with Army Soldiers.

These Marines are deployed out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., to support the 1-1 Cav. mission of evaluating new equipment during the Network Integration Evaluation 12.2 capability assessment being conducted in the Ft. Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., area.

While supporting the 1-1 Cav., the Marines will be carrying a new type of transmission radio and communication equipment for possible use by the Army and the Marine Corps.

"The Marine Corps brought us out here to make sure these radios perform up to their standard," said Marine Cpl. Richard P. Legans, an Infantryman with 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Albuquerque, N.M., native added that the Marine Corps chose to send Marines from various jobs to make sure that if they bought the equipment it would work for all Marines no matter where they are on the battlefield.

To support 1-1 Cav., the Marines are tasked with conducting reconnaissance missions and then using the new radios to report information on the simulated battlefield back to the 1-1 Cavalry Tactical Operations Center.

The Soldiers usually enjoying downtime with the Marines, were chosen from the Fort Bliss area to be data collectors during NIE 12.2. They were trained prior to the start of the NIE on how to collect data while observing servicemembers using the new radios and communications equipment.

Army Spc. Andrew Moffit, an early warning systems operator with 2-43 Air Defense Artillery, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Ft. Bliss, who is tasked to be a data collector for the Marines during NIE 12.2, said that being with the Marines using the equipment at all times is important because he can collect data in real time rather than hearing about it second hand.

"The data we collect is used to evaluate the reliability, availability and maintainability of the radio," added the Charlotte, N.C. native. "We collect it so that people above us can determine if this radio can do its intended purpose."

The overall goal of NIE, which is held semi-annually, is to expedite the process used by the military to evaluate new equipment and then get it to deployed servicemembers.

"For those of us that have served for a while, we have noticed that the acquisition process does take a while," said Gunnery Sgt. Charles B. Coffman, a cyber systems chief with the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, Camp Pendleton, who is leading the small group of Marines supporting 1-1 Cav.

The Alexandria, Va., Native added that by dedicating an event to evaluating new equipment on a semi-annual basis, the right equipment can be fielded to the right people faster.

Page last updated Fri May 18th, 2012 at 15:54