JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (July 23, 2013) -- Analysts at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center participated in the 2013 Network Integration Evaluation 13.2, held at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., April - May, to help the Army assess how new systems might help Army units fight better.

The Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center, or TRAC, plays a key role in providing direct analytic support to the Brigade Modernization Command at Fort Bliss, and has participated in the planning, execution and analysis of each network integration evaluation, or NIE, to date. TRAC's primary role in NIE is to analyze and provide findings as part of the TRADOC Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel and Facilities assessment report and to develop the analysis annex to the TRADOC report submitted after each NIE.

In addition, TRAC, at the request of Lt. Gen. Keith C. Walker, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, is assessing the value of NIE as a venue to inform how new systems might impact a unit's ability to complete its mission.

During this NIE, TRAC focused on the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, as an example system to evaluate formation effectiveness, a measure of how well a military unit, or formation, performs its mission. In particular, TRAC focused on developing techniques to measure changes in situational awareness affected by a system like WIN-T and assessed the impact of those changes on formation effectiveness.

Evaluating tactics, techniques and procedures and developing training programs for new systems has always been a part of the NIE process. The added focus on measurement of formation effectiveness is anticipated to expand the applicability of NIE beyond the particular systems being evaluated, to answer how the interaction of various systems enables units and Soldiers to be more effective.

"The NIEs have always been focused on a holistic approach to how we are modernizing our force," said Col. Dave Miller, deputy commander of Brigade Modernization Command. "So from a doctrine, organization, leadership and materiel standpoint, that's what we are trying to evaluate; not just a piece of equipment."

The WIN-T network, a wireless Internet connection already being used by deployed units, allows Soldiers to communicate with their commanders using tools they are familiar with from civilian life, such as the ability to send status updates, photos and video. A key function of WIN-T is to improve Soldiers' situational awareness so they can fight better and enable their leaders to make more informed decisions.

The network also uses a combination of radio-based systems and satellite uplinks to allow Soldiers to access the network in the field, even while on the move. This increased mobility can have diverse impacts on how a formation operates, changing everything from how they fight, to what's needed to keep them resupplied and combat effective.

"If a vehicle breaks down, how hard is it for sustainment units to go out and recover that vehicle based on how far out they are and what equipment they need to bring it back to the rear and fix the vehicle?" asked Maj. Tekeithia Brown, TRAC combat operations analyst.

Measures of formation effectiveness must be sensitive to such impacts on a formation's operations, including unexpected second- or third-order effects.

TRAC regularly uses computer models and simulations to conduct its analysis, but with an element located at White Sands Missle Range, TRAC was in a position to leverage the NIE and collect data from Soldiers in the field.

"We hope to see what data collection methods are most effective in the NIE venue to inform measures similar to those we would use with combat models," said Kirstin Smead,TRAC operations research analyst.

TRAC executed a significant data collection effort to provide a strong basis for the analysis.

"We are examining logs, trying to keep out of the way of the Soldiers and (watching) the current actions being taken in the tactical operations center," said Eachan Landreth, a TRAC operations research analyst.

A combination of WIN-T instrumented data, Soldier surveys, after-action reviews from the field and reports from observers of formation activity in the field will support TRAC's evaluation of the networked systems' impact on formation effectiveness.

TRAC's NIE analysis will play an integral part in a larger effort to refine methods for measuring the impacts of integrating new networked systems into the Army.

"Our analytical team provides full time support to the NIE, is very active in the report writing and supporting the Brigade Modernization Command," said Col. Doug Hersh, deputy director and commander of troops at TRAC's WSMR element. "Those reports help influence Army procurement decisions."