FORT BLISS, Texas (May 18, 2015) -- The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics & Technology, also known as ASA(ALT), Hon. Heidi Shyu, touched down at Fort Bliss, Texas, this past week to obtain Soldier feedback on the systems being evaluated during Network Integration Evaluation 15.2 or NIE.

This being the ninth evaluation, NIEs have become the venue for Soldiers to provide their opinions on potential future Army capabilities. Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, base their feedback on simulated combat missions.

Shyu spent her morning in the combat operational environment gathering as much feedback as she could from Soldiers at all levels. With Shyu's experience she is able to gauge the progression of the evaluations and question the Soldiers in a relevant manner in regards to system improvements and ease of use.

"The systems are providing great intelligence information to the commanders," said Shyu. "The commanders are so impressed, (saying) 'here is what I am able to do against the enemy, I have never had this capability before,' that's huge feedback."

Shyu describes the acquisition process as the entire life cycle of a product from design until it is sustained. For the Army, this encompasses everything, including uniforms, weaponry and the modernized network being developed during NIE.

"Acquisition plays a critical role, even the MREs you eat, the uniform you are wearing, the guns that you shoot with, the bullets, the boots, everything has a piece of acquisition," Shyu explained to a Soldier. "Acquisition buys the products that you use."

The importance of current modernization and acquisition go hand-in-hand to enhance Soldier capabilities. Some of the strides in modernization are incremental, while others are being developed from the ground up.

"We are looking at the new capabilities that Soldiers need, that they currently don't have," said Shyu. "Those are the capabilities we are developing for the next generation."

As for those on the ground during NIE, feedback from Shyu is just as important. Col. Terrece Harris, director, Capability Package, whose team is in charge of on-site design, engineering, and integration of systems for NIE, escorted Shyu during her visit to gain insight on where the Army needs to go in regards to acquisition.

"As you listen to feedback from the Soldiers, you can quickly assess if the anticipated performance of the capabilities align with their current experiences with that same system," said Harris. "This allows you the opportunity to gain a better perspective as to what their view of the future is and what modernization means to them."

"This personal interaction gives you confirmation that you are doing what needs to be done or drive you towards additional modifications of that capability," continued Harris.

Harris explained, what his team does on the ground during NIE represents Shyu and the other leaders within the ASA(ALT) community. What has come to fruition is based off of their intent and vision of ensuring that NIE's materiel development properly aligns with current modernization efforts.

"This is a critical place in terms of all of our testing. We have learned a lot from NIE exercises in the last several years," said Shyu. "The Army has benefited tremendously, from getting direct feedback from the Soldier on how to improve our products. This is a great exercise that we do and we are going to continue to do this."