FORT BLISS, Texas -- Engineer Soldiers here are ready to dig in to operational testing of the Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) after learning how the new system operates.Operational testers say one of the most important elements of the test is Soldier feedback, with primary data focusing on daily Soldier surveys."We are also collecting data on the reliability, availability, and maintainability of the JAB vehicle, 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 the Fort Hood Texas-based U.S. Army Operational Test Command's Maneuver Support Test Division.During the test, Engineers from Alpha and Bravo Company, 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB), 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division will deploy the JAB vehicle in a realistic tactical scenario, to see how well the new system supports their mission."The importance of collecting data on the JAB vehicle is to verify its usability by Soldiers in an operational context," said Sandy Laywell, the test's Operational Research and Systems Analyst (ORSA) and data project manager."The IOT uses operationally realistic scenarios to allow for the test unit Soldiers to tell the Army how well the system supports their mission execution," said Laywell."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 JAB operations, which equates to providing the most realistic missions and threats," she said.Data collectors collect vehicle performance data, and most of the information will come directly from the Soldiers using the bridge system."By allowing Soldiers to test the vehicle in a realistic environment," explained Laywell, "they share their real-time feedback that may allow for easier operation for the user." Data collected from Soldiers on the integration of the bridge launching vehicle will be used to inform senior Army leaders on how effective, suitable and reliable the JAB will be during combat operations.~~About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:Operational testing began Oct. 1, 1969, and as the Army's only independent operational tester, OTC is celebrating "50 Years of Operational Testing." The unit enlists the "Total Army" (Active, National Guard, and Reserve) when testing Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer - the American Soldier.The Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate based at Fort Hood, Texas, conducts operational tests of combat engineer, chemical, transportation, military police, quartermaster, ordnance and medical service systems to provide Army senior leaders with the necessary information to field the highest quality equipment for the warfighter. Poised, ready, and always able, MS2TD will remain the "go to" test directorate to provide the Army Futures Command and senior U.S. Army Leadership with the truthful test feedback required to make informed decisions as to what capabilities will be brought to bear against future adversaries.