FORT BLISS, Texas -- "All American" Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 82nd Airborne Division, the first Army unit to exercise mission command and control utilizing the Mounted Computing Environment (MCE), put systems to test during Network Integration Event (NIE) 18.2 here Nov. 1 to 12.

In an operationally realistic environment during a 15-day combined test executed by the U.S. Army Operational Test Command (USAOTC) of Fort Hood, Texas, NIE 18.2 included the 3rd BCT's 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment (5-73 CAV) from Fort Bragg, N.C.

The unit assisted USAOTC with testing two systems, the Mounted Mission Command (MMC) and the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), both components of MCE, comprising the Army's Common Operating Environment (COE).

MCE employs the same infrastructure as the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE). The infrastructure and the Android operating system framework are integrated onto the Mounted Family of Computer Systems (MFoCS) for applications hosting and simplifying the user experience.

1st Lt. Terrence P. Wright, 5-73 CAV Headquarters and Headquarters Troop's Executive Officer, said that only weeks before departing to Fort Bliss, his unit was prepping test vehicles, making sure hardware was ready and the unit had the equipment and components they needed for the operational test.

Following the unit's arrival here, USAOTC and the 5-73 CAV executed the head-to-head MMC and the ATAK comparison Customer Test, where one of them has the potential to succeed the Army's Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P), a friendly force tracking system that was fielded to the first unit equipped in May 2015.

"The NIE is the optimal place to test the interoperability of the systems under test (Mounted Mission Command and Tactical Assault Kit)," said Maj. Tessha L. Giammona, U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) System Chair for MCE.

"This test will help to inform Program Manager Mission Command on the effectiveness, suitability and survivability of their systems."

Approximately 25 Soldiers from 5-73 CAV with previous JBC-P, or other mission command experience, were hand-selected and trained to take part in the test.

"The Army's done a good job introducing and providing products [MMC and ATAK] to the Soldiers that allow for an enhanced mission command experience," said Capt. David Hernandez, Director of Requirements for MCE, and one of the Training and Doctrine Command's capability managers supporting the Customer Test.

Cpt. Phillip J. Anklin, CPCE Project Officer said, "Regardless of the outcome of the product selection, the selected system will deliver indispensable mission command capabilities for leadership at brigade and below."

During Focus Groups and via surveys, Soldiers and test units provide USAOTC responses on their training and tested equipment, so advances can be made on current and planned systems they will employ to defend our Nation.

The Army's NIE assists the Army in supporting readiness by delivering integrated network and mission command capabilities and by keeping pace with advances in communications technologies.

Note: Maj. Joe Brown is USAOTC's MCE Test Officer, and Mrs. Meverden is USAOTC's MCE Operations Research Analyst.

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About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

As the Army's only independent operational tester, USAOTC tests Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. USAOTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer -- the American Soldier.

USAOTC's Mission Command Test Directorate tests systems for a net-centric environment that will process and transmit voice, data, messaging and video information through networks at the tactical, operational, strategic and sustaining base levels.