By Lt. Col. Deanna Bague, Brigade Modernization CommandFebruary 26, 2013
FORT BLISS, Texas (Feb. 26, 2013) -- What does today's Soldier need? Still in its evolutionary state, the Network Integration Evaluation continues to make progress in achieving greater cost benefits and in streamlining the process of getting capabilities into the hands of Soldiers quicker.
Network Integration Evaluations, known as NIEs, were designed to integrate and mature the Army's tactical network through a series of semi-annual evaluations that brought a fundamental change in the rapid fielding of Army capabilities.
Brig. Gen. Randal A. Dragon, commanding general of the Brigade Modernization Command, Army Capabilities Integration Center, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, said operational assessments conducted in NIEs have enabled the Army to introduce industry network capabilities into an operational environment.
He pointed out some significant findings within the 21-month life cycle of the NIE during the Association of the United States Army's winter symposium and exposition.
"Just looking at [NIE] 11.2, we documented over six billion dollars in cost avoidance of programs that were reduced or killed based on results that we achieved [at NIE]," said Dragon.
Jeff Carpenter, chief executive officer of Ringtail Design, said addressing the capabilities of today's Soldier in an operational environment can be challenging. But the advantages of the NIE can overshadow these challenges, he added.
"One of the key benefits, really from a small business perspective, is the interaction that you get with some of these Soldiers," said Carpenter. "It's really unprecedented to stand next to them [and] really understand how they think. You're not going to get user adoption of whatever capability you're developing without their input."
"Four NIEs have been conducted since May 2011 in which 143 systems were reviewed. Thirty-six have been recommended for fielding and 24 of those 36 have been funded and are being fielded," said Dragon.
Considerable progress has been made in developing a tactically deployable digital network, maturing the ability to perform mission command on-the-move functions, extending the network to the Soldier level and developing procedures to quickly organize or reorganize. The past four NIEs have set the stage for future innovation and integration as the Agile Process moves forward, said Dragon.
"We're trying to set the stage for a joint and multinational effort in 14.2," Dragon said. "And so we're looking across functions -- intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, close air support, air ground integration, interoperability -- to progress from 13.2 to 14.1 to 14.2, with the major objectives focused on joint entry operations and the capabilities of the joint network."