Equipment test event also boosts economy
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.