ABERDEED PROVING GROUND, Md. (August 19, 2015) -- When specially trained teams from the Army's 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Command step into realistic threat scenarios during the next Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), they will not be alone.

Multiple defense, government and civilian agencies will back them virtually via a portable satellite communication package smaller than a piece of carry-on luggage.

"The Global Rapid Response Information Package (GRRIP) provides early entry reach-back from an event site anywhere in the world," said Lt. Col. Dirk Barber, task force chief of Nuclear Disablement Team (NDT) 3, 20th CBRNE Command. "It enables us to move forward more quickly and confirm the severity of a target faster than in the past, possibly preventing the enemy from using capability against us."

The 20th CBRNE Command is working closely with the Army and Training and Doctrine Command to identify the requirements for reach-back communication from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives event sites. In support of this effort, Soldiers from the 20th CBRNE will use the Army's GRRIP and the larger Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR/NIPR) Access Point satellite terminal (SNAP), to demonstrate early entry capabilities during NIE 16.1 in October.

Soldiers from the unit trained on GRRIP systems earlier this month at the Edgewood location of Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md., in preparation for their support to NIE 16.1 at Fort Bliss, Texas, where units will be faced with realistic scenarios involving a variety of different threats.

The Army has been conducting NIEs twice a year since 2011 to build, test and field the Army's tactical network. Beginning in fiscal year 2017, the Service will only conduct one NIE annually and will replace one NIE with a new exercise - the Army Warfighting Assessment (AWA). These new Army, Joint and multinational exercises will not involve any formal testing but will serve as a proving ground for warfighting concepts and interim solutions, and as a complementary platform for building readiness. NIE 16.1 is the final AWA proof of concept prior to its initial start in fiscal year 2017.

During operations as the CBRNE teams confront dangerous event sites, the GRRIP will provide them with unclassified NIPR and classified SIPR voice, video, data communications from inside a hand-held transit case, so Soldiers can easily carry it along with their other forensic equipment. It can even be "jumped" with a paratrooper for air assault missions.

The CBRNE teams will be able to use the GRRIP to send forensic information that they have gathered, such as nuclear spectra data and photos of potential chemical sites, to enable outside experts, including the APG-based CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity labs, to rapidly confirm targets and dangers on site.

"Using GRRIP we can reach-back from an event site in real-time instead of going all the way back to the TOC," Barber said.

The same applies to the CBRNE chemical units, who in the past would refer to reference manuals upon initial entry of an event site. They would collect samples and forensic information and have to wait until they got back to the TOC to obtain needed network and communication reach-back to the proper organizations, said Staff Sgt. Arrie Thomas, CBRNE operations Non-Commissioned Officer for 68th Chemical Company, 22nd Chemical Battalion.

"The GRRIP enables us to send the data and pictures back to the experts directly from the site," Thomas said. "They may tell us to stay away from the site, or that there should be something else that goes along with what we found because this is not all of it; so we would keep searching."

Additionally, the CBRNE teams will be able to provide situational awareness back to the battalion task force headquarters and brigade command posts in the area of operations to enable Joint and coalition commanders to make informed decisions on targets that may have strategic implications. Both military and civilian counterparts get the situational awareness they need to understand what the teams are seeing on the ground and to confirm and immediately act on any information that is gathered. This dual-communication mission helps attack the problem from two different directions at the same time for greater operational efficiency and tempo, Barber said.

"With GRRIP we can paint a picture of the battleground, a common operating picture for the commanders, so they can make informed decisions as to what needs to be done for those particular threats," Barber said. "Do we need to place the site on security; do we need to bring in more Soldiers; do we need to abandon it; is it going to pose a threat to those individuals that are there?"

Going forward Army units will be using reset GRRIPs and SNAPs as bridging solutions until the respective lite and heavy variations of the Army's more advanced program of record (PoR) capability, Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2), is ready to be fielded.

As the Army transitions to a regionally aligned force that responds to unexpected contingencies at a moment's notice in accordance with the new Army operating concept (AOC), units will require mobile, scalable and expeditionary capabilities that support all phases of tactical operations, forms of maneuver and the doctrine. The T2C2 bridging solutions provide immediate capability, while the T2C2 PoR will help to fill emerging requirements.

Additionally, these capabilities support the Army's push to locate larger command posts and other entities, the "brains" of operations, out of the fight zone or even back in the States, such as the CBRNE reach-back organizations, enabling the service to support multiple contingencies safely and effectively.

"GRRIP improves operational tempo, battle rhythm, and maximizes the effectiveness of these small forward teams by pulling in all the subject matter experts who can't be there, and it minimizes time in hazardous areas," said John Nicolo, who supports 20th CBRNE Operations Headquarters; G6 (communications) liaison officer. "This capability allows us to leverage the full breadth of CBRNE expertise."