WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -The soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, participated in pilot week Oct. 23 through Oct. 27 during the Network Integration Evaluation 13.1 at Doña Ana Range Complex, N.M.
It wasn’t the first NIE for many troops, like Maj. Matthew B. Garner, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, who participated in his fourth training event.
“This week there was a great balance of time used– between meeting requirements for systems under evaluation and annual individual unit training,” said Garner. “Pilot week is not a new NIE event, but this year we want to made most of the time used.”
According to Garner, Pilot week is a rehearsal to prepare for the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation week of NIE, which follows Pilot week. Some units participate in the evaluation and data collection. Rehearsals or Pilot week ensures soldiers are familiar with the data collection process so that the IOT & E data collection will be transparent and fluid.
An entire package of network components are installed into a combat scenario during pilot week to provide an integrated network capability across the brigade combat team – from the static tactical operations center, to the commander on-the-move, to the dismounted soldiers.
“Pilot week is a crucial part of the overall evaluation – it’s almost like preparing for a big game. We make sure all the parts used during the exercise are up-to-speed before we began the [IOT & E],” said Pfc. James Phillips III, of Warner Robins, Ga.
“Next week we will perform the exercise at full intensity,” said Phillips, an intelligence analyst with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, during data analysis in the TOC for the 2nd BCT.
Network Integration Evaluation 13.1 is a calculated, deliberate process devised to produce maximum feedback.
After week one of establishing communications, all systems were operational, and this week we incorporate scenarios to analyze the systems as the scenario develops, Maj. Eric Morton, executive officer with the Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT, stated.
“[Iron Brigade soldiers] train hard and do everything that is asked of them,” stated Morton. “It is important to use pilot week in order to set the scene for integration during the exercise.”
Communication is key during wartime. Surrounded in concertina wire, Infantrymen in the tactical operation center communicate with radio-telephone operators and the Joint Common Receiver; devices used to deliver a unique network solution to support mission command requirements for the full range of Army operations.
According to Garner, a large touch-screen monitor device made the Command Post of the Future more intuitive for commanders. Today it is reassessed by Soldiers for improvements.
Pfc. Daniel B. Sanders, infantryman in the HHC, 2nd BCT, uses surveillance and reconnaissance technologies that may improve the Army’s battlefield networks. The soldier-driven evaluation helps mature the Army’s technology and increase battlefield capabilities.
“We made sure all the intelligence equipment was communicating properly from troops on ground to battle captains in the TOC,” said Pfc. Daniel B. Sanders, while he monitored the Command Post of the Future for effectiveness, suitability, and survivability.
“Last year during NIE 12.2 we tested Capability Set 13, which is being fielded in the Army today, therefore things we test here could be used by our soldiers within the current fiscal year,” said Garner. “Several pieces of equipment were not new to the command here; nevertheless they were reassessed for the modern soldier.”
Without the enemy threat that accompanies war, 2nd BCT soldiers can assess products – new and old; the evolution process of modern warfare began here.