ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Army News Service, Dec. 2, 2011) -- Soldiers recently finished evaluation of three variants of the "Company Command Post Node" as part of Network Integration Evaluation 12.1.

The three-week evaluation, which ended Nov. 19, helped demonstrate the ability of each of the systems to deliver communications capability to those in the lowest echelons of the Army -- the Soldiers who physically execute the Army's mission "at the tactical edge."

"I see the company as a massive intelligence and information-gathering point," said Capt. Scott DeWitt, who previously served as a company commander with 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. The 2/1 AD was the unit involved in the Network Integration Evaluations, or NIEs. "It is the point where you are going to disseminate your orders, and they are going to get executed at the final tip of the spear -- the squad level."

Among the key priorities evaluated during the various NIEs is the role of the Company Command Post Nodes, or CoCPs, in "mission command on-the-move." Extending the network to the individual Soldier is also a priority.

"Extending the network down to the individual Soldier is a priority in the Army," said Maj. Brian Mack, CoCP trail boss at NIE 12.1. He said the CoCP is an important part of providing Soldiers at the tactical edge the ability to both send and receive data.

One of the three primary variants of the CoCP evaluated during NIE 12.1 was the Caiman mine-resistant, ambush-protected, or MRAP, tent-based CoCP. That variant provides Soldiers mission-critical command capabilities onboard the MRAP vehicle. When the mission becomes more stationary, Soldiers can employ the system's tent to maximize the CoCP capabilities.

A second variant is called the "Trailer Mounted Support System-Medium." This tent-based system is mounted in a trailer, and includes an 18-kilowatt generator and an environmental control unit. The system is integrated with critical mission command systems that take advantage of a SIPR/NIPR Access Point, or SNAP, terminal to provide satellite connectivity.

The third variant system evaluated was an industry-provided option that may provide possible solutions to current mission requirements.

Inside the CoCP, company commanders can utilize critical collaborative mission command applications that were previously only available at levels above battalion. Included among those applications is Tactical Ground Reporting, which gives Soldiers the ability to collect, share and analyze patrol data in a central database.

"Synthesizing all of these things together into one element gives you the ability to have company-level situational awareness in a unified package," said Capt. Joseph D. Perry, a company commander within 2/1 AD evaluating a prototype Company Command Post during the current NIE.

"With this I can interact and provide feedback to my battalion commander, my battalion staff on the move, and command my company on the move, utilizing real-time SA (situational awareness) and providing real-time intelligence up and down the chain," Perry said.

During the next evaluation, NIE 12.2, which will happen in the spring of 2012, the Army will be evaluating two new variants of the CoCP, based on solutions chosen by the Department of the Army.

The ultimate command post variant fielded in the Army's future capability sets must be scalable to support the many different operations executed by a dismounted, airborne, or mechanized company element.

"The company command post solution is evolving and 12.1 is just another iteration of that evolution," said Lt. Col. Carl Hollister, product manager for Command Post Systems and Integration. "We don't yet know what the 100-percent answer will be. But whatever the final solution may be, it is key, particularly to a company, to provide a fully-integrated command post package that is sustainable with a training package that goes along with it."