Update on joint STARS CGS and DCGS-A

Update on joint STARS CGS and DCGS-A

Stephen J. Bond

Reflecting back on 2003, it is still difficult to imagine all the “moving parts and pieces” that occurred with the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) Common Ground Station (CGS) and the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A). For example, last year we saw the largest Joint STARS deployment to date: with 9 Joint STARS aircraft and 36 supporting CGS ground units during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), the deployed CGS crews proved to be “winners” during the ground offensive. Meanwhile, we worked the concepts and requirements for the future intelligence ground processing system, DCGS-A, ultimately obtaining the Army Requirements Oversight Council approval for the Operational Requirements Document (ORD) on 2 December 2003. Both of these events will have a profound impact on the way we “fight” intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)in the future.

Joint STARS and the CGS

As we continue to support units deploying for ongoing operations, the Army is upgrading the CGSs with new software, and new Joint Tactical Terminals (JTTs) are replacing the aging Commanders Tactical Terminals (CTTs). Furthermore, CGS will reach an important milestone in 2004: the last of the CGS fieldings will occur when the final three U.S. Army National Guard units–32d Infantry Brigade (Wisconsin ARNG), 147th Field Artillery Brigade (South Dakota ARNG), and 56th Infantry Brigade (Pennsylvania ARNG)–receive their systems. This will complete the fielding of all 96 CGSs to designated Active and Reserve Component Army units. As a mature system, CGS maintenance and software development has transitioned from the Program Manager to U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM). Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania now has responsibility for depot-level CGS maintenance.

CGS User Conference. To capture and cross-level recent operational experiences from the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) System Manager (TSM) will host a CGS User Conference for all CGS-equipped units and associated organizations in March 2004 at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The conference will focus on Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and OIF lessons learned, the status of the system training, and refinement of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP).

Joint STARS Aircraft. The 116th Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base (AFB), Georgia, currently has 15 Joint STARS E-8C aircraft. They will accept delivery of the final two aircraft programmed for operational use by 2005, bringing the total number to 17.

Joint Distributed Virtual Combar Range (JD VCR). The JD VCR provides a superb training opportunity for CGS crews, MI units, and battle staffs. It offers units the opportunity to refine and practice TTP for ISR operations in a realistic joint operating environment. These exercises normally occur quarterly. The JD VCR uses the synthetic battlespace built and managed by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Distributed Missions Operation Center (DMOC) at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. (For further information on the DMOC, see www.dmoc.kirtland.af.mil.) This state-of-the-art facility hosts the Virtual Flag Exercises (formerly Desert Pivot), a warfighter-in-the-loop simulation-based joint exercise focusing on ISR battle management and targeting.

The main users of the facility have been Air Force units but the DMOC is eagerly expanding to integrate the training needs of the other Services to create unique joint training opportunities. CGS crews from Fort Lewis (Washington), Fort Sill (Oklahoma), Fort Huachuca, and the Tennessee ARNG have participated in these exercises from their home stations. The network is currently expanding to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, during fiscal year 2004.

The battlespace provides tactically relevant training scenarios and allows CGS crews to send radar service requests to a Joint STARS E-8C simulator operated by 116th Air Control Wing Joint STARS crews. The CGS crews receive moving target indicator (MTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data and are able to receive unmanned aerial vehicle telemetry and video simultaneously from a UAV “flying” within the battlespace, further allowing cross-cueing of sensors. The crews also interface with the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) to support targeting and other battle management tasks. The next exercise will occur from 29 April through 6 May 2004. For more information on future training opportunities, contact Mr. Mark Kroona at TSM Joint STARS/DCGS-A via E-mail at kroonam@hua.army.mil and by telephone at (520) 533-8938 or DSN 821-8938.

CAESAR Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD)

The TSM is the Operational Manager for the Coalition Aerial Surveillance and Reconnaissance (CAESAR) project. CAESAR is a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)-sponsored ACTD working with seven North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, United Kingdom, and the United States) to improve ISR operational and technical interoperability for ground MTI (GMTI) and SAR systems. The systems include the CGS, Joint STARS, and related U.S. and participating membernations’ GMTI and SAR systems and workstations. The ACTD is developing joint and multinational concepts of operations, TTP, and standards and protocols for ISR interoperability. For its efforts to date, the CAESAR project received the USAF Materiel Command’s International Award for Armaments Cooperation in June 2003.

Capabilities Demonstration. CAESAR demonstrated progress and capabilities in an October 2003 exercise at the NATO Consultation, Command, and Control Agency in The Hague, Kingdom of the Netherlands. More than 140 national military, NATO, and industry representatives participated in and observed the event. The U.S. military participants were from TSM Joint STARS; 116th Air Control Wing; Joint STARS Program Office; Joint STARS Test Force (Air Force and Army representatives); Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, space-based radar test team; Air Land Sea Application (ALSA) Center; and the Air Force Command and Control ISR Center. Other national participants included systems and personnel from the French HORIZON (Helicoptere d’Observation Radar et d’Investigation sur Zone) Squadron, United Kingdom ASTOR (Airborne StandOff Radar) program, Italian CRESO (Complesso Radar Eliportato perla Sorveglianza) project, Canadian RADARSAT (Radar Satellite) program, as well as Norwegian and German workstation projects. The Joint Interoperability Test Command at Fort Huachuca validated the military utility of the project during this demonstration.

Transition to the Multisensor Aerospace-Ground Joint ISR Interoperability Coalition (MAJIIC). CAESAR is currently in its ACTD transition year, and multinational ISR interoperability efforts will continue with the MAJIIC ACTD in 2005 to 2009. The TSM is the designated “Transition Manager” for this follow-on project.

Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A)

As stated in the opening paragraph, the Army senior leadership approved the DCGS-A ORD on 2 December 2003. The projected initial operating capability for the system is 2010, with the full operating capability projected for 2012. However, one of the frequently asked questions during senior level staffing and approval of the ORD was “How fast can this capability reach the Current Force?” Together with Project Manager DCGS-A, we are working plans to “spiral out” capabilities, networking, reshaping, and improving the existing ground systems to meet the immediate needs for the Current Force in the next few years.

System Description. DCGS-A is the ISR fusion and processing system for the Future Force, part of the overarching DOD-directed Distributed Common Ground/ Surface System (DCGS) family of systems (see Figure 1 for a depiction of DCGS Interoperability). It will bring national and joint ISR capabilities down to joint task force level, units of Employment (corps and division levels), and units of Action (brigade and below) to provide leaders with near-real-time information and visualization of threat, weather, and terrain information and intelligence. DCGS-A is also a “complementary system” of the Army’s Future Combat System. DCGS-A consolidates the capabilities found in the following current-force ground processing systems:

* All-Source Analysis System (ASAS).

* Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence (CI/HUMINT) Single-Source Workstation.

* Tactical Exploitation System (TES).

* Guardrail Information Node (GRIFN).

* Guardrail Common Sensor(GRCS) Intelligence Processing Facility (IPF).

* Prophet Control.

* Joint STARS CGS.

Colonel Steve Bond is the TRADOC System Manager (TSM) for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), Common Ground Station (CGS), Joint Tactical Terminal (JTT), and the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A). Readers may contact hito via E-mail at bonds@hua.army.mil and telephonically at (520) 533-3605/2480 or DSN 821-3605/2480. Readers may also contact Mr. Chris Friend, Deputy TRADOC System Manager, at friendc@hua.army.mil.

COPYRIGHT 2004 U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group