October 11, 2011
US Army's Network Integration Evaluation
References: US Army (1), RP Defense (2), DefenseNews (3), Digital Battlespace (4)
As reported by many sources, US Army officials speaking at the AUSA 2011 conference have expressed their enthusiasm and "absolute belief" in the Network Integration Evaluation process (NIE), and described the the associated tests as being "the right path", although they pointed out that there was a long way to go as well as alterations that needed to be considered.
The Network Integration Evaluations (NIE) are a serie of semi-annual evaluations designed to integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network. NIE represents for the US Army a new way of doing business – a fundamental change in how capabilities are delevered to the Soldiers. The US Army has in fact adopted a strategy that will align the tactical network to the Army Force Generation process (ARFORGEN) through Capability Sets that will enhance vertical and horizontal connectivity and provide an integrated network baseline from the static tactical Operations Center (TOC) to the dismounted Soldier. Network Integration Evaluations are key enablers to executing this strategy.
In July 2011 the US Army concluded the first Network Integration Evaluation (NIE). The evaluation was a six-week effort conducted at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., involving the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD). Its primary purpose was to conduct formal tests of 6 Army Programs of Record, with a secondary purpose is to less formally evaluate 29 developmental and emerging networked and non-networked capabilities. The 2011 exercise was the first of this type of combined test and evaluation – a new process that demonstrated the US Army’s holistic focus to integrate network components simultaneously in one operational venue.
In the first NIE, the US Army combined and synchronized formal testing using one Brigade Combat Team – a unit dedicated to performing operationally relevant tests and evaluations. The US Army no longer has to tap into many different units for the tests – it has a single brigade dedicated to the effort. Consolidating the network evaluation allowed the network to be tested & evaluated as a whole, vice individual programs and systems.
The US Army is now preparing for the upcoming NIE 12.2 round of testing. A TRIAD (the US Army Brigade Modernization Command, the US Army Test and Evaluation Command and the Program Executive Office ) will assess networked and non-networked capabilities and determine their implications across DOTMLPF.
The exercise will be conducted in October and November 2011 and will involve nearly 3,800 Soldiers and 1,000 vehicles.
The overarching purpose of the US Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) is to provide combatant commanders and civil authorities with a steady supply of trained and ready units that are task organized in modular expeditionary force packages and tailored to joint mission requirements. These operational requirements focus the prioritization and synchronization of institutional functions to recruit, organize, man, equip, train, sustain, mobilize, and deploy units on a cyclic basis. ARFORGEN’s adaptability addresses both emerging and enduring requirements. Simultaneously, Army institutional adaptations to ARFORGEN maximize potential efficiencies while ensuring effective capabilities are built to support operational requirements.
Implementing ARFORGEN has allowed the US Army to reduce strategic risk as compared to the previous Cold-War, linear, force generation construct. When the US Army requires additional capability, ARFORGEN hedges strategic risk by providing the flexibility to pull additional forces forward from the Train-Ready force pool.
NIE consitute a building block of the ARFORGEN implementation plan.
"Today, less than half of all Army units report critical Equipment On Hand (EOH) shortages and we expect Army EOH to continue to improve. To help mitigate equipping challenges and synchronize the delivery of equipment, the Army implemented the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) process, which focused intensive equipment management to provide units with the equipment needed for training and deployment as they progress through the ARFORGEN process," said Lieutenant General Robert Lennox, Deputy Chief of Staff of the US Army.