U.S. Army labs prepare systems for Network Integration Evaluation

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — In advance of this spring’s major field exer­cise for the Army’s new tac­ti­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work, engi­neers are putting sys­tems through their paces to ensure a smooth hand­off to the troops con­duct­ing the eva­lu­tions.

 -
In prepa­ra­tion for the Net­work Inte­gra­tion Eval­u­a­tion 12.2, Sol­diers trained on-the-move at Fort Bliss, Texas, March 13, 2012. The con­voys includ­ed Warfight­er Infor­ma­tion Net­work-Tac­ti­cal Incre­ment 2 Sol­dier Net­work Exten­sions, as shown here.
Click to enlarge
 -
The Army is prepar­ing for the Ini­tial Oper­a­tional Test and Eval­u­a­tion, or IOT&E, for Warfight­er Infor­ma­tion Net­work-Tac­ti­cal Incre­ment 2 through risk reduc­tion efforts at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground, Md. Pic­tured is a Tac­ti­cal Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Node run­ning real­is­tic mis­sion threads in prepa­ra­tion for the IOT&E, which will take place in May at White Sands Mis­sile Range, N.M., in con­junc­tion with the Net­work Inte­gra­tion Eval­u­a­tion 12.2.
Click to enlarge

This will be the first Net­work Inte­gra­tion Eval­u­a­tion, or NIE, for which the Army has used new lab­o­ra­to­ries at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground to con­duct assess­ments and mit­i­gate risk pri­or to an NIE start. Over the last sev­er­al months, that activ­i­ty has nar­rowed the list of gov­ern­ment and indus­try prod­ucts par­tic­i­pat­ing in the field exer­cise, and light­ened the inte­gra­tion bur­den for the Sol­diers and engi­neers who exe­cute the NIE at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Mis­sile Range, N.M.

The lab-based risk reduc­tion rep­re­sents a key step as the Army imple­ments its new Agile Process for devel­op­ing, test­ing and buy­ing the net­work gear that will con­nect all ech­e­lons of a brigade com­bat team with real-time voice and data, even while mov­ing across the bat­tle­field.

“We’ve got to share infor­ma­tion no mat­ter where we’re at, and it’s got to be rel­e­vant and it’s got to be time­ly,” said Col. John Mor­ri­son, direc­tor of the Army G‑3/5/7 Land­War­Net-Bat­tle Com­mand Direc­torate.

“This is a fun­da­men­tal change in the way we are acquir­ing, test­ing, eval­u­at­ing and then field­ing net­work capa­bil­i­ties to our oper­a­tional for­ma­tions,” he added. “This is a change in how we do busi­ness. And like any big change in how you do busi­ness, there are things that are chal­leng­ing to us as we work our way through.”

NIE 12.2, which will take place in May and June, is the third and most sig­nif­i­cant such exer­cise the Army has con­duct­ed. It will equip the 3,800 Sol­diers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Divi­sion, with the entire net­work archi­tec­ture of Capa­bil­i­ty Set 13, an inte­grat­ed pack­age of vehi­cles, net­work com­po­nents, and asso­ci­at­ed equip­ment and soft­ware that will be field­ed to Army brigade com­bat teams begin­ning in fis­cal year 2013.

The real­is­tic on-the-move mis­sions con­duct­ed by 2/1 AD, along with a high­er head­quar­ters ele­ment of the 101st Air­borne Divi­sion oper­at­ing out of Fort Camp­bell, Ky., will serve to val­i­date and final­ize the com­po­nents of Capa­bil­i­ty Set 13. A bat­tal­ion-sized oppo­si­tion force will be employed in dynam­ic sce­nar­ios with hybrid threats, includ­ing con­ven­tion­al forces, insur­gents and mem­bers of the local pop­u­la­tion.

“We will test the holis­tic net­work in a real­is­tic oper­a­tional envi­ron­ment, the way it’s going to be field­ed,” said Maj. Gen. N. Lee S. Price, pro­gram exec­u­tive offi­cer for Com­mand, Con­trol and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-Tac­ti­cal, known as PEO C3T. “We will be able to see the oper­a­tional effects of that con­nec­tiv­i­ty.”

Pri­or to receiv­ing a field try­out with Sol­diers, net­work capa­bil­i­ties must pass through the lab­o­ra­to­ries at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground for tech­nol­o­gy eval­u­a­tion, assess­ment and inte­gra­tion. Sys­tems are test­ed indi­vid­u­al­ly and as an inte­grat­ed net­work that repli­cates the struc­ture of what will be field­ed to the 2/1 AD, allow­ing engi­neers to resolve inter­op­er­abil­i­ty issues so Sol­diers can focus on per­for­mance once the equip­ment is deliv­ered for the exer­cise. At pre­vi­ous NIEs, many of these issues had to be worked out on the ground at Fort Bliss and White Sands.

The lab assess­ments are intend­ed to inform the Army’s choic­es on what sys­tems will par­tic­i­pate in the NIE and pro­vide detailed “score cards” to indus­try on how their tech­nolo­gies per­formed and what could be improved in the future. The Agile Process and Capa­bil­i­ty Set Man­age­ment rely on indus­try to pro­pose solu­tions to capa­bil­i­ty gaps, which the Army defines and updates on a reg­u­lar basis to keep up with the pace of tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ment. The Army is also using the NIEs to estab­lish an inte­grat­ed net­work base­line to ensure com­mon stan­dards for inter­op­er­abil­i­ty.

“We’re not build­ing a radio, but we’re telling indus­try, ‘This is what the radio needs to do, and this is how it fits into the archi­tec­ture, so this is what we need you to go build,’ ” said Jen­nifer Zbozny, chief engi­neer for PEO C3T. “So indus­try brings that piece of equip­ment. and the gov­ern­ment is tak­ing all those prod­ucts and build­ing the glue to make those things work togeth­er.”

Built as part of the recent Base Realign­ment and Clo­sure move of Com­mand, Con­trol, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Com­put­ers, Intel­li­gence, Sur­veil­lance and Recon­nais­sance, known as C4ISR, orga­ni­za­tions to Mary­land, the lab­o­ra­to­ries are linked through direct fiber optic con­nec­tiv­i­ty — cre­at­ing an inte­grat­ed envi­ron­ment for gov­ern­ment and indus­try to mea­sure sys­tem per­for­mance and inter­op­er­abil­i­ty. The facil­i­ties that sup­port the NIE, Agile Process and capa­bil­i­ty set field­ing include set­tings focused on tac­ti­cal radios, satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions, intel­li­gence, mis­sion com­mand appli­ca­tions and the inte­gra­tion of C4ISR equip­ment onto var­i­ous vehi­cle plat­forms.

For NIE 12.2, for exam­ple, more than 100 sys­tem can­di­date white papers were sub­mit­ted to APG labs oper­at­ed by the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-Elec­tron­ics Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter, or CERDEC, dur­ing Phase 1 of the Agile Process. Of those, less than half were select­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the lab tests in Phase 2. Fol­low­ing these eval­u­a­tions, anoth­er small­er sub­set of ven­dor sys­tems were approved to par­tic­i­pate in the actu­al NIE, offi­cials said.

“We’re now spend­ing a lot more time on the ear­li­er phas­es of that Agile Process, doing the can­di­date assess­ments and inte­gra­tion before it actu­al­ly goes out to NIE,” said Seth Spoen­lein, lab direc­tor for CERDEC. “The cam­pus here at APG pro­vides an inte­grat­ed look at what that net­work will be not just for NIE, but also for capa­bil­i­ty set field­ing.”

Some of the lab resources will con­tin­ue to be built out and improve for future NIEs, includ­ing 13.1 this fall, Mor­ri­son said.

“We are nine months into exe­cut­ing the NIE con­struct, and it is a matur­ing process,” he said. “We have turned this ship very quick­ly.”

Source:
U.S. Army

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →