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Persistent Air and Ground Surveillance to Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

What is it?
Insurgent employment of IEDs required the Army's quick reaction capabilities process to rapidly develop and deploy sensors and weapons to defeat the IED threat. Persistent air and ground surveillance requires the synchronization and integration of networked sensors and analysts across the total force to counter IED threats in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maneuver forces must be able to detect, identify, locate, and track targets in near-real-time to warn friendly forces, develop the situation prior to contact, and take advantage of fleeting opportunities. This requires fielding of advanced reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition/intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (RSTA/ISR) capabilities, many of which can be merged into acquisition programs for the Future Force.

What has the Army done?
The Army is expanding its persistent surveillance capability with both manned and unmanned systems. These include: the Shadow tactical unmanned aerial systems (TUAS) and MQ-1C Sky Warrior extended range/multi-purpose (ER/MP) unmanned aerial system (UAS), modernized Guardrail common sensor and a variety of manned and unmanned aircraft dedicated to counter-IED operations. These aircraft are complemented by aerostat and tower-based long endurance continuous ISR systems, advanced ground-based systems such as the Prophet family of signals intelligence systems, advanced measurement and signatures intelligence (MASINT) systems, and sophisticated biometrics capabilities.

Task Force (TF) Odin was created in Iraq to observe, detect, identify, neutralize, and attack IED networks and currently fields 26 manned and unmanned air platforms dedicated to counter IED surveillance. The TF's success led to the decision to create a similar organization for Afghanistan; the manpower and equipment are now forming for that element.

The Army's Shadow TUAS program provides dedicated, responsive surveillance and targeting support to Brigade Combat Teams and battalions out to a range of 125 kilometers. The MQ-1C Sky Warrior ER/MP UAS fielding began in 2007 to provide long-dwell, day/night, multi-sensor reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition support to maneuver commanders out to 300 kilometers.

Additionally, the Army has fielded five different types of ground MASINT sensors in Afghanistan and Iraq to enhance Soldier situational awareness and cue other RSTA/ISR systems to enemy presence and activity for positive identification and action.

Biometric systems are assisting in efforts to separate the enemy from the population by establishing positive identification of individuals. The Army currently has fielded more than 2,000 biometric automated toolsets and more than 5,000 handheld interagency identification detection equipment devices in Iraq and Afghanistan, in response to Soldier requirements. Together, these systems provide dedicated, downward-focused, and responsive RSTA/ISR capability to combat units.

What continued efforts does Army have planned for the future?

The Army will continue to integrate lessons learned from our operational experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, and elsewhere into this critical intelligence transformation initiative. Aerial Common Sensor is the Army's next-generation manned, multidiscipline, multi-sensor airborne RSTA/ISR collection system capable of fusing data collected by ER/MP UAS and other RSTA/ISR. Proven technologies from TF ODIN will be incorporated into the Future Force.

Why is this important to the Army?
The IED continues to be our adversary's weapon of choice in our current fights in Iraq and Afghanistan and it is expected to remain a staple of irregular warfare (IW) tactics in this era of persistent conflict. Persistent RSTA/ISR is a vital tool for countering the IED threat and identifying the threat networks conducting IW. The RSTA/ISR terminology is an Army core competency as identified in the Army Campaign Plan and listed within the Army's roles and missions in the FY08 Quadrennial Defense Review. The RSTA/ISR capability enhances Army intelligence readiness, leverages Joint/national capabilities, and integrates with battle command at all levels to generate actionable intelligence. Persistent air and ground surveillance are essential RSTA/ISR weapons in the Army's arsenal during this era of persistent conflict.

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