FORT BLISS, Texas (March 28, 2012) -- Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 35th Armor, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, are heavily involved in preparations for their third Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, 12.2, which culminates in the field phase at the end of April.

Last week they trained on the Company Command Post, which is the cell from which they will control combat scenarios for the exercise. During this NIE, the brigade will change its location twice, so it is extremely important that Soldiers working in the Company CP know their jobs and can perform them without hesitation.

During training at Brigade Modernization Command's Mission Command Center, Soldiers received instruction on several software systems that will be used during the NIE, including "Command Post of the Future," which, according to Spc. Jeremy Gomez of A Company, 1/35 Armor, is similar to Tactical Ground Reporting tool software, known as TIGR, and will be used at the company level for the first time. Gomez, from Fort Worth, Texas, explained that this software allows users to plot points on a map, which will be helpful in the CP.

Sgt. Dustin Beerbower from B Company, 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, at Fort Bliss said that his unit will be supplying one 25B and one 25Q Soldier to each of the 1/35 Armor's companies to run a SIPRNet/NIPRNet Access Point, or SNAP, terminal, which provides satellite communications on the battlefield. These Soldiers will be able to operate and troubleshoot the communication equipment in the CP during the NIE.

The company CP will also include a 35F Soldier and/or an intelligence analyst officer from the Company Intelligence Support Team, or COIST. According to 2nd Lt. Matthew Sumrow from Katy, Texas, these personnel will be able to "bridge the intelligence gap to ensure that information flows between the battalion and company level." He said they will be using DCGS-A and TIGR computer systems to evaluate the connections and use with other systems.

During the training, Fire Support Officer 1st Lt. David Galusha of A Company, 1/35 Armor, was using the Light-weight Forward Entry Device, which he said is a Forward Observer System.

All these systems were used in a combat scenario given to the company CP during the training, and their mission was to secure a foothold in an urban area.

At the end of the training, battalion commander Lt. Col. Matthew Fath conducted an after-action review to "focus on the execution of the day's command post" training. He asked participating Soldiers to discuss what things went well that they would want to "sustain," and what things did not go so well, that they would want to "improve."

Soldiers generally agreed that they needed more proficiency in using the systems, which they could get through more hands-on experience. They also agreed that more experience would help them speed up the process using the systems.

They also discussed the value of having a paper map, because it is reliable and easy to use and helps provide an accurate common operating picture. Conversations also included who is responsible for updating the map, which could include several players providing specific information on Fires and Intelligence, for example, as long as one Soldier is in charge.

Fath led a discussion on CP procedures, which all agreed had started off well, but after a time had become somewhat lax, especially when it came to CP alerts. He emphasized that when someone calls an alert, everyone in the CP must stop what they are doing, and "with pen and paper, turn to look at the person who has called the alert and execute what you are being told to do."

His final words to his Soldiers were, "Don't fight fair. Set the conditions."

Company Commander Capt. Benjamin Horner added, "Don't hold onto information. Share it. Anticipate [and] expect what will come up next."

If information is important, he advised, it should be stated loudly enough for others in the CP to hear it. He also mentioned interchangeability and cross training and told his Soldiers that they should learn to use many different systems, in case one is down.

A second iteration of this training will take place April 2 through 5. All companies from other 2/1 AD battalions, to include the 1/6 Infantry and 1/1 Cavalry, are going through the company CP training. In addition, the engineer company from the Special Troops Battalion is being trained in company CP. Plans are that this type of training will be completed prior to each NIE.

Col. Robert Menti, chief of BMC's Training and Evaluation Division, explained how important this unit training is.

"Our CP training in support of NIE 12.2 is a critical training gate in order to provide the best possible evaluation feedback on the CP equipment that will be under test. The 2/1 AD Soldiers are truly making important contributions to the Army's modernization efforts as we move to the Army 2020 concept."