A platoon of route clearance engineer Soldiers began testing a new Multi-Functional Video Display, or MVD, for the Medium Mine Protected Vehicle Type II Wednesday at Fort Leonard Wood.

The new monitors will give vehicle commanders and crew complete visibility around the vehicle, keeping them buttoned up and safe from potential explosives outside.

Soldiers from the 509th Engineer Company, 5th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, performed the operational test so the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, or USAOTC, based at Fort Hood, Texas, could collect data on the integration of the video displays with the MMPV Type II to inform senior Army leaders on how effective, suitable and reliable the MVD will be during combat.

Video input to the MVD is provided by an array of on-board enablers, which provide crewmembers with all information needed to detect and defeat roadside explosives.

Operational testers say one of the most important elements of the test is Soldier feedback, with primary data focus on Soldier surveys.

"We are also collecting data on the reliability, availability, and maintainability of the MVD, so that we can identify any issues causing malfunctions of hardware failure now, rather than after fielding of the equipment," said Heidi Watts, chief of USAOTC's Maneuver Support Test Division.

During the test, the 509th Engineers deploy the MMPV and new video display in a realistic tactical scenario to see how well the new system supports their mission.

"The importance of collecting data on the MVD is to verify the usability of the MVD by Soldiers in an operational context," said Maj. Michael Fleischmann, the test's Operational Research and Systems analyst and data project manager.

"The operationally realistic scenarios allow for the test unit Soldiers to tell the Army how well the system supports their mission execution," Fleischmann said. "We want to ensure that any issues the Soldiers have with the system are discovered now, rather than in the middle of combat."

Watts explained how the USAOTC test team typically organizes and plans for equipment testing a year in advance.

"Planning so far out ensures the test includes exercises composed of both day and night mine clearing operations, which equates to providing the most realistic missions and threats," she said.

Data collectors collect MVD performance data, and most of the information will come directly from the users.

"By allowing Soldiers to test the monitor in a realistic environment," explained Fleischmann, "they share their real-time feedback that may allow for easier operation for the user."

The 509th's 3rd Platoon sergeant said being involved in an operational test is valuable for his Soldiers and the Army.

"This effort is definitely worthwhile because it allows Soldiers to have input into the MVD monitor system and possibly make it better," said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Campbell.

Staff Sgt. Bobby Ray, a junior leader with 3rd Platoon, also said the equipment test will be good for his platoon because it allows them to train on their tactics, technique and procedures for route clearance.

One USAOTC test officer familiar with combat vehicles similar to the MMVP, recalled his experiences in Afghanistan.

"I spent two years in Afghanistan conducting the same missions that these engineers are executing and encountering a threat nearly identical to what they face here," said Capt. James Wakeland, U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command test officer.

"I understand the need for the equipment in the Engineer Corps, and I understand that the lives of future engineers depend on the results of this test," he continued. "This vehicle brings a capability to the Engineer Corps that has not previously existed as a program of record, but is badly needed."

(Editor's note: Carney is a test officer for the U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs in Fort Hood, Texas.)