News: Vice Chief of Staff of the Army visits 2nd BCT, 1st AD Soldiers
Story by Spc. Jennifer Spradlin
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -- Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli met with soldiers and key leadership of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at White Sands Missile Range, Nov. 15, to get an update on the Network Integration Evaluation and first-hand feedback on some of the Army’s newest communication technology.
The second iteration of the NIE or NIE 12.1 is designed to test networking systems through hands-on participation of Soldiers conducting mock operations at WSMR. The expansive and mountainous terrain simulates conditions a deployed soldier would encounter while using the equipment.
The Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 (WIN-T Inc 2), an upgrade to the Joint Network Node used to communicate at the brigade level and below, was one of the systems briefed to the general during his visit.
“[The WIN-T Inc 2] is important because the JNN, which we fought with before, is a very big satellite dish and it requires anywhere between three or more hours to set up, and it forces you to be in a stationary place when you’re fighting. At the brigade level that’s not a good thing,” said Maj. Stephen Dail, brigade communications officer, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. Dail is an Erie, Penn., native with more than 18 years in the Army. “The replacement for the JNN allows us to do mission command on the move. The idea behind it is that it allows us to set up rapidly, when needed, in thirty minutes or less, but more importantly, it allows you to do that mission while you are moving and take the fight to wherever it’s needed.”
The mobility and smaller size of the WIN-T Inc 2 fits in with the Army’s overall goal of pushing high quality resolution images and information from assets in the sky and soldiers in the battlefield to the right people for faster analysis and decision making.
“It’s not just having the information but what you do once it gets there, so the faster we can get it up to a level where it needs to be analyzed and to the right people who can do it -- the better it’s going to be for those soldiers on the ground,” said Dail. “Soldiers will be safer and be able to engage the enemy quicker.”
One of the chief concerns of Gen. Chiarelli’s visit was to get the soldiers’ opinions of the equipment being evaluated and learn how well it functioned within the context of their mission.
“We’ve been out here using it every day for the past five or six weeks -- again in an environment where we’re using it operationally -- so he can come and ask us what we really think, and it’s great to see that. It’s obviously the soldier who is going to have to use it in the end, and their opinion is what really matters,” Dail said.
Findings from the NIE directly contribute to the Army’s decision to acquire equipment, and similar exercises have greatly reduced the testing to fielding time of new equipment. A process which used to take four or five years has been reduced to one year, Dail said.