Army May Expand Network Integration Evaluation Exercises

By Valerie Insinna

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In order to get the technologies it will need by 2025, the Army needs a bigger exercise with broader troop participation than the current Network Integration Evaluation, said the commander in charge of forming doctrine for the service. 

The NIE events seek to test out new tactical equipment and rapidly deliver it to soldiers. The next set of exercises — held twice yearly at Fort Bliss, Texas — are scheduled for spring. 

The service is still working out what the objectives of a new exercise — currently called Force 2025 Maneuvers — would be, which units would be involved and where it could take place, said Gen.

Robert Cone, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. TRADOC is working with Army Materiel Command and U.S. Army Forces Command in order to define some of those specifics, he said.

Cone would like to see at least one exercise a year, but "everything is on the table in terms of doing this the best way that we can,” he said during a speech at the Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium and Exposition. Cone is set to retire from the service this spring after serving at his post since April 2011.

The NIE is “really compartmentalized. It was focused on some limited tech that focuses on the network. We really need a vehicle that is much bigger than that to do the kinds of exercises and experimentation that we will need to for this 2025 timeframe,” Cone said.

Most soldiers don’t know what the Army is doing in the NIE, even if they are familiar with or use products that came from the exercises, Cone said. “As you think about where our Army is today with the reduced [operational] tempo that we’re looking at, we want to involve … a broader slice of our Army in the experimentation and exercise visits. Bring more people, invite our greatest young talent … to help us think about the future.”

The NIE exercises have been a good way to meet technology objectives while bringing together industry, soldiers and Army officials from the science and technology and testing communities, he said.

"We've learned from that.”

Most of the technologies that can be fielded or developed by 2025 will only be interim solutions, Cone said. He listed developments in lightweight protection, cyber space, robotics and long-range precision fires as some of the Army’s needs.

“We see great opportunities with the digital generation” with immersive training that includes live, virtual, constructed and gaming elements, he said.

Topics: Defense Department, Science and Engineering Technology

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