Fort Bliss, White Sands range be­come hub to test equip­ment

Sol­diers from around na­tion head to El Paso area to put equip­ment through real-world test.

Austin American-Statesman - - B METRO & STATE - By David Burge El Paso Times Fort Bliss B

FORT BLISS — El Paso’s Fort Bliss is play­ing a vi­tal role in the Army’s on­go­ing ef­forts to keep up with tech­nol­ogy and con­tin­u­ally mod­ern­ize it­self.

The large-scale Net­work In­te­gra­tion Eval­u­a­tion is held twice a year at Fort Bliss, at its sur­round­ing train­ing ranges and at White Sands Mis­sile Range. The NIE, as it’s com­monly called, in­volves thou­sands of per­son­nel and eval­u­ates ra­dios, com­put­ers, bat­ter­ies, soft­ware, an­ten­nas and other equip­ment for pos­si­ble use in the field.

“It runs the gamut,” said Lt. Col. Andy Mor­gado, op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer in charge of plan­ning for the NIE.

The main pur­pose of the ex­er­cise is to put equip­ment into the hands of real sol­diers in real­is­tic war­like sce­nar­ios, Mor­gado said. “We’re now de­vel­op­ing fu­ture con­cepts,” he said. “The Army is fo­cus­ing its time, en­ergy and re­sources into this, and that’s keep­ing Fort Bliss rel­e­vant as an in­stal­la­tion to the Army and the na­tion.”

The 2nd Bri­gade Com­bat Team, 1st Ar­mored Di­vi­sion, is at­tached to the Bri­gade Mod­ern­iza­tion Com­mand, which is head­quar­tered at Fort Bliss. The Bri­gade Mod­ern­iza­tion Com­mand is one of three Army agen­cies that man­age the NIE.

More than 3,000 sol­diers from the 2nd Bri­gade and an ad­di­tional 1,000 sol­diers, civil­ians and con­trac­tors from the rest of the coun­try par­tic­i­pated in the most re­cent ex­er­cise, which ended in midNovem­ber.

“We are quickly be­com­ing the hub for test­ing and eval­u­at­ing most of the Army’s fu­ture com­bat sys­tems,” said Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pit­tard, com­man­der of the 1st Ar­mored Di­vi­sion and Fort Bliss. “For new equip­ment and in­no­va­tion, the fu­ture is right here at Fort Bliss and White Sands.”

El Paso Mayor John Cook said that it’s easy to see the im­pact of this large-scale ex­er­cise. It helps pro­tect Fort Bliss against pos­si­ble clo­sure and makes it at­trac­tive for other

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