JTRS and Army's NIE

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What is the NIE?

The Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) is a series of semiannual evaluations designed to integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network, to include JTRS, which serves as the the core of the Army’s modernization efforts. The endstate is to incrementally establish the Objective Integrated Network Baseline, common connectivity across the Brigade Combat Team structure, and introduce industry participation into the NIE evaluation cycle. The primary purpose is to conduct parallel operational tests of several Army programs of record and further advance the integration and understanding of the objective and bridge network architectures. The secondary purpose is to less formally evaluate developmental and emerging network capabilities. These exercises also assess non-networked capabilities through various additional testing events taking place in conjunction with the NIE.

JTRS 2012 Three Tiers

The Army is making significant changes to how we evaluate capabilities across the network. These evaluations are more of the integrated variety rather than discrete. We achieve a higher frequency feedback loop with executing these events twice per year. With the full Brigade Combat Team 2/1 AD (3,800 Soldiers and 1,000 vehicles) serving as the Army's test unit, we have the ability to reach all user echelons throughout the brigade in order to funnel more usable test data and direct user feedback to the acquisition community. The area of Operations is 12,000 km2 of complex and challenging terrain at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico and Fort Bliss, Texas. Consolidating the network evaluation at Fort Bliss/WSMR enabled testing and evaluating the Army network as a whole versus individual programs. The Army measures success by what is learned when it puts these networked capabilities in the hands of Soldiers in the field for the evaluations.

Each NIE event builds off lessons learned from the previous event in order to support the Army’s holistic focus to integrate network components simultaneously in one operational venue.

Why is the NIE important to the Army?

The NIE is a new way of doing business. By conducting developmental and operational testing in an integrated environment such as this, we are setting the standard for the future of tactical communications testing. It is a fundamental change in how we deliver JTRS and all other capabilities to our Soldiers. Establishing the NIE helped the Army employ a new agile acquisition process; the Army is now able to keep pace with industry and technological advances and accelerate the pace of network modernization to a rate unachievable by traditional acquisition strategies.

JTRS 2012

This unprecedented approach is a major leap for refining the Army’s network. The network is the Army’s number one modernization priority; to meet that challenge, we are the current mindset. Rapid technological progress means we cannot afford to view networked systems as individual devices, with their own distinct requirements and acquisition timelines. Instead, the NIE also has enabled JPEO JTRS and others the ability to integrate and deploy networked capabilities up front prior to deployment as they become mature and are proven operationally relevant to the Soldier. This, in turn, will lessen the integration challenges faced by deployed units.

What is the process for a candidate system to be selected for evaluation?

The government intends to use a three-step process to seek sources that may be appropriate to include in the NIE:

Step 1: The government Candidate Selection Committee will solicit White Papers and evaluate each solution described.

Step 2: Sources assessed in Step 1 may be invited by the Government to conduct a Candidate Solution Demonstration at an appropriate facility and may additionally be invited to submit the candidate solution hardware or software for laboratory testing.

Step 3: Following the demonstration and any laboratory testing, sources may be invited to participate with their product solution in the NIE.

The Candidate Selection Committee will use the following selection criteria, in descending order of importance, when conducting White Paper evaluations: addresses the Areas of Special Interest, integration potential, technical merit, burdens, operational merit, maturity, demonstration unit availability, field support, functional maturity, interface potential, cost, and the source’s capabilities.

JTRS 2012

Once the source’s White Paper has been evaluated, it will either be selected for a Candidate Solution Demonstration, recommended to reapply for a future NIE event cycle, or determined that the Candidate Solution does not meet the desired need. The source will receive a PRIVATE assessment report on the perceived merits and findings, or shortfalls, of its Candidate Solution. Sources will be notified by formal correspondence. Upon completion of a favorable White Paper review and Solution Demonstration, a source may be invited by the Government to participate in an upcoming NIE event.

What is the operational value of the NIE and JTRS network integration?

The NIE encompasses all three functional tiers of the operation: dismounted operations in complex, restrictive terrain, mounted operations in wheeled or tracked vehicles, and the fixed infrastructure support operations. JTRS supplies the network management tools and waveforms that will provide the critical services required to achieve network interoperability across all tiers. These capabilities extend the network to the individual Soldier and advance mission command on the move.

The importance of the NIE as an opportunity for JTRS network integration and testing led the JPEO to implement an NIE 12.1 JPEO JTRS Task Force (JJTF) to support the NIE 12.1 and accomplish its mission by providing comprehensive and integrated services and support for all JTRS systems involved in the NIE to all ASA (ALT) and industry participants and by serving as the JPEO JTRS single interface to Director System of Systems Integration (SoSI), ATEC and the user community (TRADOC, BMC, and 2/1 AD). The JJTF coordinated multiple PM efforts to ensure seamless integration of JTRS networks into the overall NIE network. The JJTF is tasked to continue this mission for future NIEs through all phases of the NIE agile process.

Understanding the importance of interoperability during the NIE, what preparation methods does JTRS utilize prior to the event in order to ensure connectivity throughout the network?

In preparation for an NIE event, several smaller lead-up tests are completed in order to ensure all involved systems can work together and handle the JTRS waveforms. For example, the JTRS team conducted a Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) Interoperability Quicklook (SIQ) last September at the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in San Diego. This test allowed the team to improve risk management and troubleshoot any issues prior to the NIE for the purpose of seeing how the radios interoperate before moving onto the rigorous NIE held at WSMR and Fort Bliss.

The primary intent behind the SIQ was to see how well vendors have integrated the JTRS waveforms onto their radios and how well they interoperate with other military and vendor-provided radios. There were some tweaks and modifications made on the waveforms used on the test radios to see how well they interoperated, but the event was a success because all of the systems worked without any major problems or surprises.

JTRS also provides New Equipment Training (NET), in addition to the SIQ, for members of the testing units. Most recently, the JTRS team completed a round of NET for the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss. The training centered on JTRS capabilities (hardware and software) that were a part of the Army’s NIE 12.1 and ensured that the users were well acclimated to the operation of our hardware and software being used in the field.

What general feedback have you been receiving from the users up to senior Army leadership?

Generally, JTRS has received positive feedback across the board. For example, commenting on the NET they received, participants from 2/1 AD noted that the JTRS instructors were flexible, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and that JTRS software course instructional material was taught in clear steps that would be easy to remember in the upcoming field exercise.

JTRS has been receiving especially great feedback on the WNW software, which has overcome serious snags that surfaced a year ago during an Army network test. Throughout the NIE, WNW has been regarded as a “must have” technology for future tactical networks because it allows high-speed high-volume data transmissions up and down the chain of command. The Army Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, observed the interior of the company commander’s mobile tactical command post during a visit during NIE 11.2. The General mentioned that he is encouraged by the improvements that he has seen in WNW since a year ago.

General Chiarelli’s vehement endorsement of WNW appears to be sending a message to contractors to get on board. He has been very clear that WNW and SRW are the waveforms that he wants to see used on the battlefield.


About this Report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors arenot guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at GIGCustomMedia@1105govinfo.com