By Lt. Col. Deanna Bague, Brigade Modernization CommandMay 1, 2013
FORT BLISS, Texas (May 2, 2013) -- Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, are preparing to conduct decisive action operations against an adaptive opposing force during Network Integration Evaluation 13.2, which is scheduled to start this month.
Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, 13.2 will continue the Army's goal of connecting the Soldier to the network and will simulate the complexities of an armored brigade combat team conducting contingency operations in a forward deployed environment. Operational focus areas include extending the network to Soldiers, enhancing the common operational picture and enabling collaborative decision making through mission command on the move.
NIE is the Army's most effective test and procurement system for networks and is critical to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's drive toward the best battlefield equipment and systems.
Snap-linked to the training is the evaluation of various integrated tactical network capabilities and combat technologies such as the Nett Warrior and the Joint Battle Command --Platform.
"We must get a mission-command-on-the-move capability and soon," said Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of TRADOC. "Mission command on the move is a central feature of any variety of contingencies we talk about. Our commanders and leaders must be able to seamlessly transition across the battlefield whether they are in a command post, platform or dismounted."
Lt. Col. Roman Cantu, battalion commander for 1-35 AR, said the training is paramount for him and his Soldiers.
"During the course of NIE 13.2, we will train on three of the four major mission sets within decisive action -- offense, defense and stability operations," said Cantu. "As we conduct these missions, we'll provide candid feedback as to whether or not that piece of equipment facilitated mission execution."
"The NIE is not only about testing and evaluation, more importantly, it's an outstanding training venue that allows our brigade to get better on our core mission set while simultaneously providing valuable feedback on future force fieldings," said Cantu.
Cantu said the network's ability to support the warfighter will be put to the test throughout the exercise. This may include deliberate attacks or breaching a complex obstacle, which would require assured voice and digital communications among breach, assault and support by fire elements.
"As a battalion commander, the network must be able to facilitate my ability to make an informed decision," said Cantu. "Additionally, the network should contribute to my ability to redirect combat power quickly on the battlefield as a threat emerges."
"Our feedback helps out units that might actually use this [equipment]," said Sgt. Mittchell Connally, with 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment.
Army officials have stated that evaluating equipment or capabilities during the NIE alleviates potential "discovery learning" for Soldiers who are forward-deployed conducting real-world operations, thus allowing them to focus on mission execution.
Connally said the last thing he wants to see is a fellow Soldier stuck in a combat situation with a piece of junk.
"[Our feedback helps determine] whether or not it works, if it's durable or not for the terrain out there in hot [or cold] climate or if you're still going to be able to have signal to send messages," he said.
"Certain things that we've evaluated [in the past four NIEs] will actually be used in Afghanistan," said Connally.
Connally is referring to two deploying Army brigade combat teams from 10th Mountain Division that will receive equipment designed to give them enhanced situational awareness on the battlefield through a handheld device that identifies the position location of a dismounted Soldier.
These brigades are scheduled to deploy and actively assist in the Army's drawdown in Afghanistan by conducting security forces advise and assist team missions.