FORT BLISS, Texas — Prior to the conclusion of Network Integration Evaluation 15.1, Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), visited Fort Bliss, Texas and the surrounding areas to observe the Soldier evaluation process in action. Shyu’s dedication in supporting and overseeing the NIE is directly aligned with her organization’s initiative in developing and equipping the Army with the most advanced systems and technologies.
NIE is a priority Army event that is integrating the Network for the current force, as well as setting Network conditions for Force 2025. Planning and execution of the NIEs are created through three entities that form a TRIAD. Under the ASA(ALT) organization is the System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate component who works alongside the Brigade Modernization Command and the Army Test and Evaluation Command.
Network assessments were in full swing during Shyu’s visit where she interacted with Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division to learn about the progress of Warfighter Increment Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, and to obtain their feedback on the operational test environment.
Raleigh Matthews, deputy product manager, Capability Package Integration, briefs Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology, the Hon. Heidi Shyu, Oct. 31, during her visit to the Network Integration Evaluation 15.1 (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
With NIE’s focus on facilitating equipment for the Army and Shyu’s integral involvement, her feedback and reaction to NIE 15.1 versus past NIEs is critical.
“What I have seen is unbelievable. It is a night and day difference. Everything is so much more efficient and the systems are performing well,” said Shyu.
Having the systems perform well is vital to the evaluations. The Network’s main function is to connect forces and empower Soldier’s decisions while on the battlefield, where resources are limited and time is a commodity. This simultaneously ensures that systems being fielded are aligned with the mission and will enable expeditionary operations.
In addition to visiting all the testing sites within the desert, Shyu also visited her System of Systems Engineering and Integration, Capability Package Directorate, field based system support team located at McGregor Range, New Mexico. In doing so, she was briefed on the integration and system support processes of NIE and the trouble ticketing system that keeps things moving forward during evaluations.
Now that NIE 15.1 has come to an end, Col. Terrece Harris, director, Capability Package and his team will be taking on another significant effort, the de-modification of the Army Tactical Vehicles. The agile process keeps Harris’ team continuously working; shortly after the de-modification they will rebuild and begin another round of evaluations.
“It is a tremendous opportunity to have Ms. Shyu’s presence here at the conclusion of such an important event,” said Harris. “Her attendance, aligned with various reports that will be gathered will serve as critical underpinning data for important Army modernization decisions.”
In terms of NIE facilitating the acquisition process, Shyu stated that there have been huge improvements and stressed the importance of getting feedback from the Soldiers as a part of the process.
“There are times when senior leadership has to depend solely on reports and associated documents from NIE events, with Ms. Shyu being able to actually see the capabilities and really interact with the Soldiers who are at the forefront of this mission, she is now empowered with knowledge that one simply can’t gain from a report,” explained Harris.
Evaluations are Soldier-centric, in order to ensure what comes out are user friendly systems that require minimal training. Over the course of several NIEs, there have been lessons learned for major systems and the process that goes into acquiring them, including risk reduction.
As NIE 15.1 came to a close on Nov. 2, project managers and Army senior leadership will gather data and make decisions on how to move forward. There may have been a variety of capabilities that were tested and evaluated, along with intricate planning, but the objective remains the same each NIE, to ensure that life-saving technologies are fielded to our Soldiers, sooner rather than later.