FORT BLISS, Texas (August 7, 2014) — Keen expertise in the utilization and maintenance of systems during Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 15.1 is essential to the exercise. At Fort Bliss, Texas, New Equipment Training, also known as NET, is currently in its most robust stage with several classes being taught on Systems Under Evaluation and Systems Under Test, known as SUEs and SUTs respectively.
With technology making strides all over the world, Soldiers have to be prepared to face various, unimaginable threats. During NIE, the most innovative technologies available are tested to determine if its capabilities will meet the Warfighters demands of today and tomorrow’s threat environments.
Training supports the evaluations of networked Brigade Combat Teams to facilitate fielding of high-payoff systems and technologies to operational forces. Col. Terrece Harris, Director, Capability Package for System of Systems Integration (SoSI), firmly believes that getting the right Soldiers trained, on the right equipment is key to a successful Operational Test. Harris has been visiting various training events to personally acquire feedback from Soldiers and is learning more about what NET for NIE entails.
“It all starts with training and from what I have seen, the training piece is working extremely well. It’s imperative to support the proper MOS skill levels with the right training,” said Harris. “Proper NET training is the basis for successful test events that yield valuable data, which will inform modernization decisions.”
Preparation for training begins months prior to the start of classes, Mario Hernandez, lead training specialist for Director, Capability Package, SoSI conducts training package reviews. His team also creates instruction evaluations to ensure that Soldiers are carefully aligned with equipment training that is compatible to their skill set, optimizing in-field efficiencies.
“The Network will give the Soldier more situational awareness of what’s happening in the battlefield and in turn will make the Soldier more lethal,” said Hernandez. “This is possible only with cutting-edge technology that most people are not familiar with, and that is where the training comes into play.”
Cpl. Crystal Dominguez, TCN operator, gains practical experience working directly on a Tactical Communication Node, with guidance from Alan Hall, TCN lead instructor, during New Equipment Training. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
Not only do the training package reviews help in determining what Military Occupational Specialty needs to be trained, but it also provides insight into the systems, helping the Army decide what to evaluate during each NIE.
Being technologically advanced, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division go through intensive training that is roughly 70 percent hands-on and 30 percent instructional. The accumulation of the past five evaluations account for over 266,000 hours of training, with NIE 15.1 expecting to log in an additional 25,000 hours.
Through the joint efforts of Directorate, Capability Package and the Brigade Modernization Command — Industry is able to bring in their experts to conduct the training. They are tasked to maximize the Soldier’s abilities of proficiency with the in-field equipment during the evaluation. Training standards are high and Industry must go through multiple steps in order for Directorate, Capability Package to approve their training plans.
“We provide Industry a very thorough training package to help them develop their class; we have them rehearse in front of us; we evaluate them during their training; and we get Soldier feedback on each class,” explained Hernandez. “We take all of these measures to ensure training is of adequate quality and the Soldiers will be prepared during their missions.”
While preparedness of the Soldiers conducting the exercises streamlines the process, the training also gives them a glimpse into the potential future since the equipment may be procured. Soldier feedback also helps shape the equipment by giving Industry a better idea of possible limitations their devices may have during deployment.
With a wide array of SUTs and SUEs being operated, the classes have three different levels, leader, maintainer and operator. Each class aligns with the Soldier’s knowledge requirements. Maj. Stephen Dail, brigade communications officer at 2/1 AD is currently attending a six week training on Network Operations where he is learning how to operate the WIN-T Network. Dail had previously trained on this type of equipment before deploying to Iraq.
“I’ve been gone about 15 months. I came back and it’s amazing what I still know, that’s a testament that I did learn,” said Dail. “The systems are simple to use, everything on the interface is in one place and what you don’t know you get training for it.”
The WIN-T equipment that Dail and his fellow Soldiers are learning how to operate are communication systems that will be integrated onto the vehicles, basically creating a mobile command post. Thus, equipping our Warfighters with technologies that will facilitate with mitigating required capability gaps in order to ensure our Soldiers are better equipped for the current and future battlefield environment.