Equip­ment test event also boosts econ­omy

Fort Bliss

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - Con­tin­ued from B Contributed by u.s. army

mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions to lo­cate at the post in the fu­ture, he said.

“It brings sol­diers from all over the coun­try to prac­tice and do mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions here that they can’t do other places,” Cook said. “Some stay in our ho­tels, eat in our restau­rants and en­joy the things that El Paso has to of­fer.”

What the NIE seeks to do is put equip­ment into the hands of a real Bri­gade Com­bat Team that is trained to de­ploy any­where in the world at a moment’s no­tice, Mor­gado said. Real­is­tic sce­nar­ios that they might en­counter in the field are then cre­ated to test and eval­u­ate the equip­ment.

The Bri­gade Mod­ern­iza­tion Com­mand comes to­gether with two other Army or­ga­ni­za­tions to man­age the NIE — the Army Test and Eval­u­a­tion Com­mand and the Sys­tem of Sys­tems In­te­gra­tion Di­rec­torate. Mor­gado said the Bri­gade Mod­ern­iza­tion Com­mand takes con­cepts and puts “them in the dirt and take them for a roll.”

Up to 40 dif­fer­ent sys­tems or pieces of equip­ment are tested ev­ery six months dur­ing the NIE, he said. The Army takes a look at present-day ca­pa­bil­i­ties, where the ser­vice needs to be in the fu­ture and then looks to fill those gaps.

It seeks pos­si­ble so­lu­tions Army-wide and from pri­vate in­dus­try, he said. The NIE then tests those pos­si­ble so­lu­tions with no pre­con­ceived no­tions, Mor­gado added. “A neg­a­tive out­come is just as good as a pos­i­tive out­come.”

If sol­diers don’t like the way a par­tic­u­lar piece of equip­ment per­forms, “we’ll say, ‘Don’t spend a dime of government money on it,’ ” Mor­gado said.

Fort Bliss and White Sands are ideal for this type of ex­er­cise be­cause of their vast land mass, he added. Fort Bliss, for ex­am­ple, has 1.2 mil­lion acres of train­ing ranges that ex­tend into New Mex­ico. White Sands has an ad­di­tional 2.2 mil­lion acres in New Mex­ico.

Com­bined, that’s an area al­most the size of Con­necti­cut.

The desert train­ing ground also al­lows the Army to use its com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems with­out in­ter­fer­ing with civil­ian func­tions, Mor­gado said.

A key part of the NIE is get­ting feed­back on the equip­ment be­ing tested. Ob­jec­tive data are col­lected from sen­sors on the equip­ment, but pri­vates to com­man­ders are also asked for their in­put, Mor­gado said. “The ques­tion we want an­swered is ‘Would you take this into com­bat with you?’ ” Mor­gado said.

Sol­diers test weapons in Net­work In­te­gra­tion Eval­u­a­tion 13.1 at Dona Ana Range, N.M., near Fort Bliss. The NIE is held twice a year at the fort and sur­round­ing train­ing ranges and at White Sands Mis­sile Range.

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