By Lt. Col. Deanna BagueMay 28, 2014
FORT BLISS, Texas (May 28, 2014) -- Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno thanked joint and coalition partners for their contributions that made Network Integration Evaluation 14.2 a success.
"I want to thank each and every one of you," said Odierno. "You allowed us to evaluate our systems. That's one of the reasons we wanted you to come out here. And in addition, I know you had the opportunity to do some incredible training."
The Army continues to use Network Integration Evaluations, known as NIEs, to evaluate and integrate improved networked systems by putting them in the hands of Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. These Soldiers assess the operational effectiveness of the equipment here and at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., an environment that replicates tough and realistic tactical conditions similar to current areas of conflict.
NIEs continue to push forward to deliver a dependable, secure and integrated network and achieve its key objectives that include extending the network to support dismounted forces, enhancing agile expeditionary command posts, developing Mission Command-on-the-move capability for brigade and battalion mobile command posts and identifying joint and multi-national interoperability gaps.
NIE 14.2 marked a major milestone as the first truly joint and multi-national NIE by incorporating a United Kingdom mechanized brigade headquarters, and a Marine Infantry Battalion, in execution of operations during the NIE.
Col. Paul Cravey, the lead Operations, Plans and Training Officer with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Brigade Modernization Command, said NIE 14.2 used a world class, robust OPFOR that was equipped with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability, unmanned aircraft systems, and significant electronic warfare and threat computer network operations capability.
During the NIE 14.2, Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, employed and assessed equipment and systems in order to provide feedback to the Army regarding its use and interoperability capabilities.
In addition to NIE 14.2, the Army teamed with the Joint staff Bold Quest multinational exercise that was occurring concurrently at White Sands Missile Range. The NIE14.2 transitioned to the Joint Training Exercise, in which the 1st Armored Division headquarters executed operations as a Combined Joint Task Force headquarters with the attached UK fighting its brigade in simulation, live forces executing operations throughout Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, and support from other multi-national and Joint elements from Bold Quest, in order to assess interoperability between the U.S. and Joint and multi-national forces.
Lt. Col. Jeff Stevenson, the battalion commander of 2-8 Marines, said the NIE and Fort Bliss were great training venues for the Marine Corps in general. It is the first time that a battalion-size USMC unit executed live operations in the NIE. The amount of training that the Marines have been able to do at Fort Bliss during the NIE is more than his unit could have possibly done in a month's time back at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, said Stevenson.
"The ranges here, the open space, the terrain -- to be able to employ our systems in an environment like this -- we just do not get those opportunities at Camp Lejeune," said Stevenson.
Operating with Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, has been a positive experience for the Marines, added Stevenson. This is not the first time he has worked with the Army. He said he has personal experience working with Soldiers in Iraq.
"We've learned a lot of good lessons on how to work with each other," said Stevenson, "and I think to discount those and move back to just strictly service oriented training, I think would be a step backwards."
Odierno said this NIE presented the opportunity for Marines and Soldiers to work together, get familiar with each other, and assess the interoperability of each other's systems.
"We have to be prepared to go at a moment's notice and that's what this training is about," said Odierno. "So that we're ready to go and accomplish any mission that we are called upon to do."