FORT BLISS, Texas -- A 13-day exercise checking the Army's battlefield network capabilities of hardware and mission command applications wrapped up here Saturday, and test data is still being collected to evaluate those systems.

Network Integration Evaluation Exercise 16.2 -- the 11th iteration since 2011 -- evaluated seven systems, to include the latest version of the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE) version 2, which aims to provide a mission command application experience while also simplifying software and hardware command post infrastructure.

"NIE is the Army's largest operational exercise that tests and evaluates battlefield communication systems and capabilities, and is our most critical modernization effort," said Brig. Gen. Kenneth L. Kamper, commander of U.S. Army Operational Test Command, the Army's only independent operational test organization.

The NIE experience places Soldiers in a desert landscape, 40 miles by 183 miles, wrapping together enormous training areas of Fort Bliss Texas; McGregor Range and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico's Tularosa Basin between the Sacramento and San Andreas mountain ranges.

NIE 16.2 also allows the Army to test two core capabilities: a Command Initiated Munition Weapon System (Spider), and Network Operations with a Network Centric Waveform as an advancement to the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T). The exercise also provides the environment for the operational assessment of the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR).

Kamper said NIE essentially provides capabilities that translate information superiority into combat power by interconnecting Soldiers and systems -- no matter where they are on the battlefield -- to achieve improved situational awareness, access to knowledge sources and shortened decision cycles on the battlefield.

"NIE tests systems that enable commanders with the information they need to exercise mission command," Kamper said.

"Our Army continually modernizes equipment because of what Soldiers learn during combat," Kamper continued. "Our enemies are also advancing their technologies and procedures, so through Soldier feedback and lessons learned, we improve our capabilities."

Along with equipment improvement, Kamper also said improvements are also made in doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership education systems, personnel support systems, and even in Army facilities used to supply and maintain its equipment.

"This modernization effort throughout our Army is critical to Soldiers taking the fight to our enemies, and returning safely back home," Kamper said. "Test data is collected from Soldiers and their feedback is provided to improve upon existing and future systems they will ultimately use to train and fight with."

All of the equipment tested during NIE is part of a coordinated and controlled realistic operational environment scenario by over 2,000 Soldiers of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division here.

NIE is a collaborative effort between the Brigade Modernization Command -- a subordinate unit of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Army Capabilities Integration Center, the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command and the System of Systems, Engineering and Integration Directorate, under the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.