FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Representatives from across the installation and the Army lined the Joint Operations Center during a command post exercise July 31 at the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters.

Unlike many command post exercises designed to test the installation's emergency preparedness, this exercise was designed as a pilot test of the Department of the Army's Emergency Management Modernization Program, or EM2P, a new system slated to be fielded to the Army.

EM2P was devised to enhance emergency preparedness across three key areas: Common operating picture, mass warning and notification system, and enhanced 911.

"We're bringing capability to the Army that some installations have not had in the past," said Maj. Tim Ryan, Emergency Management Branch, Protection Directorate, Headquarters, Department of the Army, who came to Fort Riley for the pilot.

Fort Riley was one of two installations selected to conduct pilot testing on the new system.

"Fort Riley is honored to be selected by the Army as one of only two installations to field this new system. We're excited to test EM2P, and we're hoping that it will enhance our emergency management capabilities, improving the safety and welfare of our Soldiers, Families and the entire (Central) Flint Hills Region," said Steve Crusinberry, chief, Operations and Plans Division, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. "We have a very good emergency management program, and I'm very proud to say that because it's the entire Team Riley that makes it happen."

The strong Forces Command presence of the 1st Inf. Div., combined with the large and diverse population at Fort Riley, were key factors in determining Fort Riley's participation in the pilot, according to Ryan.

Select Fort Riley personnel were trained on the software package and participated in a walk-through leading up to the actual pilot test.

"Last week, we had about 30 people in daily training sessions to learn to use the new software they fielded to us … We talked through our process and how these new capabilities would help us do things differently," said Ward Philips, chief, Plans and Protection Branch, DPTMS.

The command post exercise provided a stress test of the system.

"We'll work through actually using this new system to communicate with each other throughout our (command and control) nodes as we deal with the exercise and as we brief our leadership," Philips said before the pilot. "We'll be briefing (leaders) using the tools in this new software package."

"We think there's value added to the system," Crusinberry added. "We've put our own kind of Fort Riley flair to it. We've tried to take our existing processes and procedures, and integrate them into this new information-sharing collaboration software suite that they've given us."

Representatives from the Army Test and Evaluation Command, Army Protection Program, Joint Project Manager Guardian, Installation Management Command and EM2P program management were available to observe the pilot and collect data.

Pilot testing enables ATEC, which acts as an independent agency, to assess how the system or capability -- as it's sometimes called -- performs across a checklist of requirements.

"We want to get a comprehensive evaluation of the capability that's being fielded to Fort Riley," Ryan said. "That gives ATEC the opportunity to have multiple observations, and they match that up against the Army requirements."

ATEC will compile the data collected during the pilot into a capabilities and limitations, or C and L, report that details item by item how the system delivers against the checklist during an emergency scenario.

Then the Protection Directorate will analyze those findings and make adjustments as necessary.

"Department of the Army Headquarters will use the C and L report issued through ATEC to make programmatic enhancements as we move forward with the EM2P program to the rest of the Army," Ryan explained.

"The final product may be different based on the lessons learned during the testing here and at Fort Belvoir … the other installation that's participating in this test," Philips added.

While EM2P is an expedited program, such due diligence is built into the process to ensure the best product is fielded in the quickest timeframe possible.

"EM2P is a rapid-fielding initiative, but at the same time, you have to do a bona fide pilot," Ryan said. "Using ATEC and their independent observation … that's the due diligence right there before you open a program Armywide."

For all of the intricacy involved in the planning and testing phases, the overarching goal is to further enhance preparedness.

"(EM2P) augments the overall Army emergency management program," Ryan said.