By Robert E. Dimichele, DCGS-A PAOJuly 13, 2016
New DCGS-A Capabilities Improve Intelligence Gathering Processes
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.-- Fielding efforts for the Army's Distributed Command Ground System's new capabilities are moving forward with the approval of a Conditional Software Materiel Release this June.
The Distributed Command Ground System-Army, called DCGS-A, is actually a family of systems that combines all intelligence software and hardware capabilities within the service into one program with the ability to process data and disseminate of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information about the threat, weather, and terrain to all echelons.
"DCGS-A helps the intelligence community analyst provide timely, actionable intelligence to the decision maker and provides vastly improved situational awareness," said Lt. Col. Donald L. Burton, the Product Manager for DCGS-A's fielding of Increment 1 Release 2. The intelligence analysis and fusion systems improve the Commanders' ability to visualize, describe, and direct actions on the battlefield, he explained. DCGS-A collects, processes, and exploits data and then disseminates intelligence across all echelons for Soldiers to develop situational awareness and strategies to accomplish their mission.
The Conditional Software Materiel Release is part of the process that allows the Program Management (PM) Office to field incremental improvements to the DCGS-A system, addressing Soldier feedback about ease of use, training, and reliability.
The PM has now fielded the new capabilities to and trained Soldiers of the 1st Armored Division's Analysis and Control Element, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and its Division Artillery, as well as elements of the 20th Support Command (CBRNE), and the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade of the XVIIIth Airborne Corps. The fielding priority is now shifting to units deploying to theater.
Lt. Col. Blue Huber, Division G-2 of the 1st Armored Division, said that as part of the fielding, "many of our hard drives and servers are replaced with bigger, faster, and more capable versions that accommodate the increased power and reach of the newer software."
He said the ease of use has gotten better with this iteration. "Everything has gotten much better. When you get comfortable with it, that's when the system starts to shine." Huber said it will be easier for his Soldiers to maintain proficiency with those enhancements to software and computing power. The upgrades also allow his Soldiers to gain access to additional databases at different classification levels and share information through different classification levels.
Training on it, he added, is only difficult when you simply put away the system after an exercise and don't use it again until the next exercise. "My Soldiers only use DCGS-A. So, we don't go through the periods of relearning capabilities over and over after each training event or exercise because we treat every day as training."
DCGS-A can provide tactical, operational, and theater-level Commanders with about 700 intelligence-related data sources. "The enhanced access, accuracy, and relevance of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data provides Commanders the information they need when they need it," Burton said.
"It's designed to go through all the intel sources available to the division without struggle," Huber said. "It helps us process data that we use to generate information and knowledge which allows us to anticipate enemy actions and commander decisions to help put him at the right place, at the right time, and in the right posture to ensure mission success. The new DCGS-A streamlines data management and helps us manage the data along the lines of our priorities."
Burton summarized the new DCGS-A fielding by saying, "Our emphasis is on providing Soldiers at brigade and below with a simpler, easier to use system that they can employ in austere, low-bandwidth and disconnected operating environments." We will field a tailorable DCGS-A solution that provides Soldiers the applications they need to quickly access and process actionable intelligence at the tactical level to impact the outcome of decisive engagements and enhance the rapid decision-making process."
Huber summed up his experiences with the new DCGS-A capabilities when he said, "It seems the Army has said 'we have heard the complaints from the users and here is our shot at fixing them.'"
"It really has improved," he emphasized.
DCCGS-A is the Army component of the larger Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise (DI2E), is interoperable with other service DCGS programs, and is capable of supporting full-spectrum operations across the full range of military missions from counter-insurgency to conventional warfare to humanitarian missions.