WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. – Representatives from numerous companies in the network and intelligence industries descended on the Network Integration Evaluation’s Industry Day, June 1, for an up-close look at how the Army tests and evaluates new equipment and systems.
Industry Day is a crucial component for planning future evaluations, as companies see how the process works and how their products would be tested.
“It allows the Army and industry to make the right points of contacts to keep the process moving forward,” said Col. Curtis Hudson, spokesman for Brigade Modernization Command. “Without this kind of involvement with industry, you would rely on fewer partners which means fewer options to choose from.”
The Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, is designed to test network and non-network systems through hands-on participation of soldiers conducting combat-related scenarios at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The expansive and mountainous terrain simulates conditions a deployed soldier would encounter.
For companies like El Paso-based ReadyOne Industries, getting a product tested at NIE is a key step toward earning the Army as a customer.
“First of all it’s my first time and I’m just very curious as to exactly what an NIE is, and then to see how the equipment is tested,” said Tom Ahmann, president of ReadyOne Industries, which specializes in military uniforms. “It’s one thing to sell it to people, but to see the training involved and how they use it is incredible.”
Industry representatives arrived throughout the day by the bus-full at Oro Grande Base Camp, near White Sands Missile Range, where they were greeted by Lt. Col. Donovan Rickel, deputy commander of 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat team, 1st Armored Division. Groups of industry representatives were led on tours through the brigade tactical operations center, and a nearby company command post where they could observe the brigade’s soldiers in action.
“The brigade’s participation in this Industry Day is vitally important,” said Paul Mehney, chief of public communications for System of Systems Integration. “This is the first time the industry will see an operational NIE and not only see how the brigade is structure but how the soldiers of (2nd HBCT) conduct evaluations and use network equipment to aid in their operations as part of NIE.”
While many companies will vie to have their products included in the next NIE, only a select group will be chosen by the Army.
“What we’re focusing on is the outcome,” said Hudson. “We want to keep it from being a very broad, ‘come-as-you-are, bring-what-you-want’ approach, to a systems-based or a war fighting functions based approach.”
The current iteration of NIE is focused on evaluating the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2, or WIN-T Inc 2, which allows command and control capabilities while on the move. The next NIE, scheduled for Fall 2012, will be focused on surveillance and reconnaissance technologies.