FORT HOOD, Texas -- For almost a decade, the Army's concept of a combined multifarious training exercise is now being tested for the first time here.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Black Jack," 1st Cavalry Division, is first to be given the opportunity to utilize a new training concept called Live, Virtual and Constructive -- Integrated Architecture, during a training exercise titled "Operation Black Jack Saddle Up."

Through the month of September, Black Jack will conduct, in stages, a First Use Assessment to determine the strength, capabilities and changes needed of the LVC-IA.

The LVC-IA is a training system designed to integrate multiple separate training concepts Army units utilize to prepare them for combat operations, into one larger exercise, said Lt. Col. Shane Cipolla, director of TRADOC project office integrated architecture, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

"In the past units would use 'Blended Training' -- exercises using simulators, virtual trainers and live-fire exercises but at different times and stages, and with added costs," Cipolla explained. "The LVC-IA will allow units, such as a brigade, to incorporate all those training concepts into one exercise simultaneously with less costs."

With most training in the Army utilizing a lot of time and materials on multiple events, cost and personnel support can be a difficulty.

"As units use the LVC-IA and train at a true multi-level echelon, you save on additional costs, materials and time," Cipolla added.

Black Jack Commander, Col. Robert Whittle Jr., said in addition to cost effectiveness, he was thankful his brigade has first opportunity to use the system and assess its effectiveness.

"We are very fortunate for this incredible training opportunity. We will have a chance to combine training events with mission command operations," Whittle said.

As with blended training, brigades won't normally get to enhance their command operations and Soldiers their individual skills testing until later exercises, said Maj. Mark Huhtanen, Black Jack's Operation Officer

"LVC-IA will allow the brigade to train on things it normally wouldn't train on during the same exercise, such as planning, and command and control," he added. "It will afford Soldiers throughout eight of the brigade's companies to train simultaneously for high intensity conflicts."

"LVC-IA does offer more Soldier involvement. All units can be involved with linking data from other training environments, which offers better training and communication," Cipolla explained.

Cipolla said thus far, Black Jack has offered good feedback on the strengths and limitations of LVC-IA, in what he calls a "true user assessment."

Whittle agreed by adding that he has full confidence in his staff to objectively and accurately assess the system. "I am fully confident in (staff) to ensure the basic components work and areas of improvement will be identified thoroughly."

Exercises are scheduled for completion the first week in October with other versions of LVC-IA to be added in the future, Cipolla said.