FORT BLISS, Texas (September 22, 2016) -- Unlike your home wireless internet, a brigade's operational network can't just start with the flip of a switch.

Integration of specialty communications systems on various platforms allows for the tactical network to participate in operational exercises to support Army modernization. It is a unique package that requires a systematic process to ensure functionality and security before Soldiers begin their missions. This stable operational network is achieved through the Validation Exercise (VALEX) process, developed through the continuous cycle of Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) and Army Warfighting Assessment (AWA) events that take place twice a year at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The Army executed VALEX in preparation for AWA 17.1, the latest in the series of events that will take place in October. This will be the Army's first official AWA, which aims to assess early concepts and prototypes that will provide possible solutions to the Army Warfighting Challenges. In addition, this event affords and opportunity for U.S. and coalition forces to work together and determine multinational interoperability.

"The VALEX process is a, 'How to bring up the network' type of event, and since our team does this every NIE and AWA, there is a significant level of proficiency in supporting and establishing the network," said Col. Terrece Harris, director, Capability Package Directorate.

VALEX is accomplished within four weeks, encompassing four different phases: Load, Establish, Integrate, and Validate. VALEX is event driven with specific end states to be met prior to the transition of network responsibilities to the brigade.

"You can't logically stand up a network this advanced unless you do it sequentially," Harris said. "Because each NIE or AWA includes a different mix of network and mission command capabilities and equipment, VALEX ensures all the pieces connect properly before the event kicks off."

Capability Package Directorate, or CPD, is the NIE and AWA team that makes VALEX happen, with Trail Bosses taking the lead. The Trail Bosses are officers who coordinate efforts between program managers, field service representatives and Soldiers to ensure they have the proper equipment to accomplish their tasks and stay on schedule to accomplish each phase of VALEX.

Trail Bosses also collaborate closely with industry partners, who develop the systems that Soldiers will be utilizing during AWAs. As the liaisons between Soldiers, industry, and many other entities that come together to make AWAs happen, Trail Bosses ensure communication flow and time management remains constant to accomplish the mission.

"For Trail Bosses, synchronizing efforts, preparation, and the ability to accomplish each phase is crucial during VALEX," said Maj. Carlito Flores, CPD Trail Boss. "For AWAs, our responsibilities expand since we have to ensure that the multinational units can communicate to the multinational division, as well as the brigades to the left and right."

As the Soldiers aggressively continue their efforts to successfully execute VALEX, many processes are constantly being implemented and refined. As with all of the exercises, these modifications will lead to increased proficiencies and increased network readiness for the Brigade.