October 26, 2011

Getting network and radios into soldiers' hands to see if they are useful

An interesting report appeared recently on DefenseNews, which summarizes and correlates what has been already discussed in this blog concerning the fate of JTRS radios and US Network Integration Evaluations (NIE), i.e.
The DefenseNews article confirms that the U.S. Army continues to turn its IT acquisition strategy on its head, further distancing itself from the Future Combat Systems, with the Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) becoming the latest victim of the service's new strategy to buy more commercial, off-the-shelf solutions.

The Joint Tactical Radio System's GMR stands as the latest example, but it's only one of many changes rippling through Army plans to buy its next communications systems. It started with the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), which will launch its second iteration Oct. 31. Army acquisition officials have already heralded the exercise, stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., as "transformative" after its first run in May and June.

The inspiration for the exercise is simple: Get the network and radios into soldiers' hands earlier rather than later to see if they are useful. And soldiers test the communications network comprehensively rather than as separate parts. "It tells the Army how well it's fitting the soldiers' needs versus the engineers'," said Heidi Shyu, acting Army acquisition executive.

"We've proven that what these soldiers say matters, so it's extremely important we give them the training so they know how to use this equipment properly," said Brig. Gen. Michael Williamson, the JTRS program executive officer. "That's another benefit of the NIE. We can train them under realistic scenarios."

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