FORT SILL, Okla. -- The Fires Battle Lab Modeling and Simulations branch here won two Department of the Army level awards which were presented Nov. 30 during a national training, simulation and education conference in Orlando, Fla.

The models and simulations team took top honors in the experimentation category; and individual honors went to Robin Sexton, a senior software engineer, for his work in the cross-functional category (see sidebar). The U.S. Army Modeling and Simulation Office sponsored the Armywide competition.

Chris Niederhauser, M&S branch chief, led the team which was recognized for its work in the functional concept integrating experiment.

Army Training and Doctrine Command had tasked the Fort Sill team to create simulation environments to review the Army's functional concept integrating experiment as they were being written, Niederhauser said. There were six concepts including fires, maneuver, mission command and intelligence.

For the Army Functional Concept Integrating Experiment 2010, the team created simulations with battles involving different types of brigades, such as Fires, Stryker, heavy brigade combat teams and aviation. Soldiers, civilians and contractors performed the simulations where they played critical roles, such as brigade commanders and operations officers, he said.

The July simulation involved about 400 people including service members from all DoD branches and 21 industry partners, at seven sites across the country including here, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Fort Rucker, Ala., Fort Benning, Ga., Langley Air Force Base, Va. and Hurlburt Field, Fla.

The large-scale joint concept experiment was the Army's most influential for restoring balance and setting the conditions for the future of the Army, according to the award recommendation.

The lessons learned from the simulations provided insights that were discussed and either implemented or removed from the functional concept, Niederhauser said.

The team had 90 days to prepare the simulations instead of the usual six months, so what did it take to win'

"Blood, sweat and tears," Niederhauser said. "It took an extraordinary effort because a lot of the best simulation practices were thrown out the window to execute this in the short timelines we had."

George Durham, Fires Battle Lab director, said he was proud of the team and that the recognition was long overdue.

"It was a team effort, they worked hard and pulled together all the modeling and sim support for experimentation," Durham said. "They've been forward thinkers."

In addition to Niederhauser and Sexton, the team included Maj. Brian McLaughlin, Burt Montague, William Green, Ron Laird, Johnny Horn, Melanie Prince, Brian Carney, Kay Bowen, Scott Fagan, Jeffrey Milam, Lee Abbott, Carl Armstrong, Tyrone Matheney and Samuel Saiz.