By Mr. Michael M Novogradac (Hood)July 31, 2017
FORT BLISS, Texas -- The equipment testing and evaluating chief of the Republic of Korea army caught a glimpse of how U.S. Army operational testing adds up to increased readiness through modernization.
Brig. Gen. In Hwang became acquainted with Network Evaluation Integration 17.2, the Soldier-led evaluation exercise designed to integrate and rapidly progress the Army's battlefield communications network.
"We are assessing network connectivity from the Soldier on the ground to their higher headquarters in a couple of ways," Dave Wellons told Hwang, of the evaluation that involves over 2,000 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne (Air Assault), from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Wellons, the deputy director for the Integrated Test and Evaluation Directorate (ITED), a subordinate element of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command at West Fort Hood, Texas, led Hwang through a graphic of NIE 17.2's geographical size.
"The training area is immense," explained Wellons. "The combined training area is 183 miles deep, all the way into New Mexico, where the White Sands Missile Range training area is 40 miles wide. Added to Fort Bliss, it becomes 70 miles wide."
In perspective, the NIE 17.2 training area is so big, it could contain the combined areas the most prominent Army installations, to include the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California; Forts Bragg in North Carolina; Stewart in Georgia; and Fort Hood in Texas, to name a few -- totaling more than 2,295,000 acres that can fit inside NIE 17.2's 3.3 million acres.
Through a translator, Hwang also learned about two systems OTC has under test at NIE 17.2: the high-capacity Terrestrial Transmission Line Of Sight (TRILOS) Radio; and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2.
TRILOS is an easy-to-transport radio that will improve the expeditious nature of Army units by being smaller, lighter.
It can be synchronized with Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, allowing point-to-multipoint communications.
The WIN-T Increment 2 is a lighter-weight version of its predecessor, mounted to a HMMWV that can be sling-loaded by helicopter to be rapidly mobile when needed when a unit jumps locations on the battlefield, offering better command communications while on the move.
After seeing operational testing in action, Hwang said he was impressed with the U.S. Army using an opposing force as a capable threat to test its equipment, while also noting how the OPFOR provides a realistic training environment for the test unit.
"This is what the ROK Army is trying to do; combine testing and training," he said.
Operational Test Command's mission is about making sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Test units and their Soldiers offer their feedback, which influences the future by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems that Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight with.