ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 29, 2015) -- U.S. Army researchers joined other Defense Department agencies, Army contractors and coalition partners to further develop, integrate and test architectures and technologies for intelligence systems throughout July at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
The Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, or ICoE, hosted its annual Enterprise Challenge, or EC-15, to address how Soldiers can collect intelligence information and get it to the tactical edge.
EC-15 satisfied enterprise objectives such as emerging sensors interoperability, enhancing international partners' interoperability, advancing DOD's cloud computing strategy, supporting the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise, and conducting Distributed Common Ground System-Army, or DCGS-A, enterprise interoperability assessments.
The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, is the Army's lead for the research and development of intelligence systems.
"CERDEC maintains close ties to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's centers of excellence -- to include the Intelligence Center of Excellence and operational units to stay in touch with the evolving realities of the Soldier environment, anticipate challenges, refine requirements and inform operational tactics, techniques and procedures. Enterprise Challenge provides an operationally realistic environment for these capabilities to be assessed," said Gene Frantz, CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate liaison officer to ICoE.
CERDEC participates in events like the Enterprise Challenge as a way of helping to inform military requirements to include the need to move to smaller, multi-mission, multi-application enabled systems.
"Events like EC-15 allow us to develop, test and demonstrate systems that are intuitive for our younger Soldiers who grew up in the era of video games and smartphones," said Dr. Paul Zablocky, CERDEC I2WD director. "They expect that ease of use and systems that are capable of handling more than one application at a time."
Military, civilian and contract personnel recreated multiple scenarios that a Soldier might see in an area of operation, allowing Soldiers to test intelligence systems in a similar manner to how they could be used in the field.
"With these systems, we can train Soldiers as if they were at war, but there aren't any of the threats associated with war. Training the tactics, techniques and procedures greatly reduces their learning on the fly," said Tom Somers, I2WD TROJAN branch chief.
CERDEC I2WD oversaw a variety of intelligence technologies at EC-15 and brought their command and control trailer to Fort Huachuca to support the event.
The C2 trailer allowed CERDEC I2WD to see essential data being transmitted throughout the exercises, allowing engineers to trouble shoot remotely if they saw problems such as a loss of radio frequency data.
"This trailer reduces the time it takes to troubleshoot, it is more repeatable than a set-up in the field, helps with lessons learned, and better allows Soldiers to train on the systems before being sent to hostile environments," Somers said.
One scenario included Soldiers at a Forward Operating Base using the mobile, tactical-sized Winch Aerostat Small Platform, or WASP, and Full Motion Video, or FMV, to conduct video surveillance and provide reports to their teammates on patrol.
If information or a person of interest came about, the WASP team could direct the ground team to a specific location so they could address the situation, whether it be biometric data collection, media forensics, document exploitation, or mission over watch and route reconnaissance.
"We were trying to get different information to one location so the analysts have a better chance of being able to use it - making it actionable," said Sgt. 1st Class Ian Watterson, a Soldier with the 111th MI Brigade under 305th MI Battalion who was operating WASP and FMV from the scenario's Forward Operating Base.
"In particular to this type of system, I think the biggest thing is simplicity. They want to use MI Soldiers, but realistically when this gets pushed out to the force, it could come down to anybody, any Soldier. They wanted to have it as a simple as possible, easy to pick up," Watterson said. "The controller is something you can find with computer games. Anyone can really pick it up, kind of play with it and use it effectively."
CERDEC has emphasized developing functional technologies and systems, such as the controllers used by the Soldiers at EC-15, to decrease the time it takes to train Soldiers on specific systems.
"We are moving towards equipment and systems that are smaller for Soldiers to use. They're used to smaller, hand-held device, and that's what we are moving to," Somers said.
The Army intends to move forward with its interoperability in subsequent years.
"ICoE may work towards continuing efforts to inform the SENSOR-CE [Sensor Computing Environment] CDD [Capability Development Document]. There may be more collaboration on risk reduction mission threads with PM DCGS-A," said Marnie Vance, ICoE's Intelligence Experimentation Analysis Element Modeling and Simulation branch chief.
ICoE is also considering introducing the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, into next year's Enterprise Challenge digital architecture since it is representative of the Brigade Combat Team tactical network, Vance said.
The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.