Distributed Common Ground System-Army: focused on the future
With the recent approval by the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC), the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) continues its march to the Milestone B decision in the third quarter fiscal year 2004 (FY04) and, ultimately, fielding as the Army’s capstone intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) processing system. Critical to the success of DCGS-A are the joint interoperability requirements mandated in the Department of Defense (DOD) Distributed Common Ground/Surface System (DCGS) Capstone Requirements Document (CRD). In order to ensure compliance with these requirements, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS) G2 participates in the ongoing Integrated Process Team (IPT) process within DOD through the Army Intelligence Master Plan (AIMP) program.
As the capstone ISR processing system for use by the Future Force, DCGS-A will provide access to information and intelligence collected by national, joint, other Services, coalition, and Army intelligence as well as non-intelligence sensors and systems. It is imperative that the Army identifies joint, interagency, and multinational (JIM) interoperability issues for both current systems and those planned for the future. This interoperability is not restricted to just intelligence systems; battle command, signals, fires, mobility, sustainment, and medical systems are also part of the discussion and planning. To be “expeditionary” demands a lighter, more lethal, scalable, and modular force with immediate access to information and intelligence that precludes the “stovepiped” systems in existence today. The Unit of Action (UA)–the combat force that will execute decisive operations in the Future Force–must have access, without latency, to information and intelligence regardless of the source or location of the collector that allows the commander to make fully informed decisions faster than his adversary.
The operational view shown in Figure 1 captures both the complexity and the essence of the environment in which DCGS-A will provide support to the warfighter. As depicted in the figure, the UA is the centerpiece of the combat organization ultimately charged with conducting decisive operations. It will have the ability to draw from multiple sources for various layers of both information and intelligence that will enable the UA commander to make timely decisions. No longer encumbered by stovepiped systems, but enhanced by interoperability and connectivity across the spectrum, the UA commander will be able to access information and intelligence regardless of the original source. This will not, however, be possible without a significant investment in a process that will vet such critical aspects as the–
* Various multilevel security policies.
* Intelligence domain-specific nuances.
* Force structure concerns.
* Personnel training issues.
* Assured communications.
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Within the Army alone, the entire Doctrine, Organization, Training, Leadership, Materiel, Personnel, and Facilities (DOTLMPF) process requires addressing and examination as it pertains to the Future Force with a specific focus on intelligence.
Three Integrated Process Teams
The IPTs provide the venue with which to explore the issues of JIM The IPTs formed to address the specific intelligence domain, as well as common issues and challenges. For example, during October 2003, the Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Measurement and Signatures Intelligence (MASINT), and Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) and Geospatial Information IPTs held meetings and addressed a number of these issues in joint interoperability.
The most recent SIGINT meeting included an update on horizontal fusion efforts; the discussion included the Joint National Tactical SIGINT Software to eliminate selected duplicative SIGINT software and tools among the Services and the National Security Agency (NSA). Additionally, the Services addressed issues that had joint and other Service impact. For example, the Air Force discussed the impact of software upgrades on the U-2 Dragon Lady and the ability of the other Services to receive U-2 collected data.
MASINT and IMINT subject matter experts (SMEs) attended the 8 October 2003 MASINT IPT. This wide-ranging meeting touched on a number of topics and areas of concern. Among other issues, it included an announcement that the Air Force has designated the Distributed Common Ground System-Air Force (DCGS-AF) as a weapon system. By virtue of this declaration, the other Services must adhere to specific rules and policies that will affect adjustments necessary to assure interoperability. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) MASINT message traffic will use a new U.S. Message Traffic Format (USMTF), the tactical MASINT report (TACMASINTREP) format. Additionally, the multidiscipline intelligence correlation of the MASINT electronic intelligence (ELINT) and ground moving target indicator (GMTI) effort has now received funding; the Joint Expeditionary Fires Experiment (JEFX) in the July-August 2004 time frame will demonstrate and test it.
The IMINT IPT on 9 October included Army G2 representation. In attendance were representatives from all of the DOD DCGS users as well as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) (formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency [NIMA]). Issues discussed dealt largely with the Common Imagery Processor (CIP), upcoming standards, and the development of the DCGS. The most notable discussion concerned the standardization of targeting physics; given today’s climate of wanting zero errors in targeting, it is understandable why this topic received much attention. Additionally, motion imagery compression and storage standards were subjects of in-depth technical discussion.
As demonstrated by the various and wide-ranging topics of the IPTs, the challenges associated with DCGS-A will cross Service and Intelligence domains and boundaries. The military must address the entire spectrum of DOTLMPF as each domain tackles the issues associated with joint interagency interoperability. If DCGS-A is to successfully serve as the ISR processing system of the Future Force, resolution of the myriad technical and policy issues is required to provide the commander timely and accurate information and intelligence. The Army G2 will stay engaged in this process to ensure success.
Glossary of Acronyms Used In Figure 1
ACS–Aerial Common Sensor
APG-73–Airborne radar system
ARIES II–Advanced Imagery Requirements and Exploitation System II
ARL–Airborne Reconnaissance Low
ASARS-2A–Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar-2A
C41–Command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence
CONUS–Continental United States
DCGS–Distributed Common Ground/Surface System
DCGS-A–Distributed Common Ground System-Army
DCGS-AF–Distributed Common Ground System-Air Force
DCGS-N–Distributed Common Ground System-Navy
DOD–Department of Defense
DGS–Distributed Ground System
DTSP–Defense Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Program
EP-3–Orion airframe, Navy land-based SIGINT collection aircraft
FCS–Future Combat System
FOS–Family of systems
FTTS–Future Tactical Truck System
GIG–Global Information Grid
GMTI–Ground moving target indicator
HSOC–Home Station Operations Center
JMOD–Joint SIGINT avionics modifications
JSTARS–Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS)
JTF–Joint task force
JTRS–Joint Tactical Radio System
LAEO–Low-altitude earth orbit
MAEO–Medium-altitude earth orbit
MAGIS–Marine Air Ground Intelligence System
MASINT–Measurement and signatures intelligence
MTI–Moving target indicator
NTM–National technical means (formerly national assets)
RAS-1R–Airborne sensor system (U-2)
RS-6B–Senior Span/Senior Spear, U-2 communications system
SAR–Synthetic aperture radar
SHARP–Shared Reconnaissance Pod, used on Navy F-18s
SOF–Special Operations Forces
SYERS-2–Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System 2
TPED–Tasking, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination
TSAR–Theater Simulation of Airbase Resources (Model)
TUAV–Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
UA–Unit of Action
UE–Unit of Employment
UGS–Unattended ground sensors
USAF–U.S. Air Force
USMC–U.S. Marine Corps
VT-UAV–Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
WIN-T–Warfighter Information Network-Tactical
Alfred “Ace” Burkhard (Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired) is currently the contract Senior Combat Arms Analyst in the Army Intelligence Master Plan (AIMP) office working in support of the DCS, G2. A Retired Colonel (Infantry), he served 27 years assigned throughout the continental United States, Europe, and Korea. His final active duty assignment was as Director, Executive Communications and Control, in the Office of the Secretary of the Army. Readers may contact the author via E-mail at alfred.burkhard @us.army.mil and telephoically at (703) 681-9553/9345 or DSN 761-9553/9345.
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