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Colonel had 'best of both worlds' serving Army modernization mission at Fort Bliss

Col. Terrece B. Harris meets with members of the Board of Army Science and Technology (BAST) at Fort Bliss, Texas, on Oct. 13, 2016.

CASHMERE JEFFERSON/U.S. ARMY PHOTO

By DAVID BURGE | El Paso Times, Texas (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 20, 2017

A colonel with strong ties to El Paso has played an important behind-the-scenes role with the Army's modernization mission at Fort Bliss during the past three years.

Col. Terrece "T" Harris served as the director of Capability Package with the System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss since June 2014. He relinquished the position on July 13.

In this role, Harris and his team of soldiers and civilians worked several months ahead of the start of Army modernization exercises known as the Network Integration Evaluation and the Joint Warfighting Assessment, formerly the Army Warfighting Assessment.

They did advance planning and installed new communication and network equipment on Army vehicles. They then made sure that the equipment was in working condition so it could be tested during these exercises.

"It has definitely been rewarding work," said Harris, a 49-year-old from DeLand Fla.

Harris is married to an El Pasoan, the former Monica Ferrufino. She is a graduate of Irvin High School.

"It's been the best of both words," Harris said. "It's been really great. I got to serve in a capacity in which I know is beneficial for the Army and the warfighters -- that is, working on Army modernization."

This assignment also represented a chance for Harris and his immediate family to be close to relatives here in El Paso. Relatives of all stripes were out in force at his recent change of command ceremony.

"Family is really important to us," he said. "For all practical purposes, El Paso is home."

The most recent NIE, which is taking place at Fort Bliss this month, has been particularly challenging for Harris and his team at Capability Package.

The Joint Modernization Command and its partners are using a visiting or rotational unit for the first time as the test unit during the exercise.

About 2,000 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from Fort Campbell, Ky., are here at Fort Bliss serving in that test role.

That meant Harris and his team spent lots of time leading up to the exercise traveling back and forth between Fort Bliss and Kentucky getting vehicles ready for the exercise, he said.

The idea behind the NIE is to have a large-scale training event in which new systems and capabilities can be tested and evaluated to see if they are effective and suitable to be fielded by the rest of the Army, Harris said.

Harris had been stationed in the Borderland area one previous time from 2004-10.

He served as the lead military officer with the Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate with the Army Research Laboratory at White Sands Missile Range for the first three years of that assignment.

He then served as an executive officer with the Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss. That organization was a precursor for what is now known as the Joint Modernization Command, which plans and runs Army modernization exercises with its partners.

Next, Harris will go to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., where he will serve as the chief of staff at the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors. He was succeeded at Capability Package Directorate by Col. J. Ward Roberts.

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©2017 El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

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