Army strives for 'understanding'

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—The Army is making solid progress toward its network-centric vision of "see first, understand first, act first and finish decisively," and information technology must continue to play a key role in overcoming obstacles along that path, according to a panel of Army leaders.

Lt. Gen. Robert Noonan Jr., the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, said there are more sensors on the battlefield than ever and the service is doing a better job of seeing first, "but the challenge is understanding...and we have to do that much quicker than we're doing it now."

Speaking Feb. 27 here at the Association of the U.S. Army's winter symposium, Noonan said the Defense Department and intelligence community need a bigger bang for their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) bucks. He added that numerous science and technology focus are areas aimed at making that happen, including:

* Sensor integration.

* Multilevel security.

* Urban characterization of friendly and enemy forces.

* Multiple intelligence fusion applications.

* Chemical and biological sensors.

* Automated language and voice translators.

Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello, the Army chief information officer, said all the technology areas that Noonan listed—as well as others such as bandwidth-efficient collaboration software tools and enterprise resource planning applications—already are included in operational requirements documents somewhere in the service.

Cuviello said that includes the various components of the Future Combat Systems, which will equip Army vehicles with information and communications systems to give soldiers capabilities for command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, direct and non-line-of-sight weapons firing, and personnel transport.

It also includes numerous complimentary systems to FCS, such as the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical and the Joint Tactical Radio System. WIN-T eventually will provide soldiers on the battlefield with modern, high-speed communications, and real-time voice, video and data services. The JTRS uses software-centric radios that can be programmed to patch users into various radio frequencies.

"We need to tie this all together in order for the Army to see and understand and then be able to do something about it," Cuviello said.

But the biggest intelligence obstacle, especially in joint and multinational operations, may not be technological at all, said Maj. Gen. Franklin "Buster" Hagenbeck, commander of the 10th Mountain Division (light infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

Hagenbeck led troops during Operation Anaconda last March in Afghanistan. Numerous American lives were lost, and Hagenbeck said that command and control decisions were complicated by geographic distances, a lack of interoperable equipment, and security requirements that prevented valuable ISR information from being shared quickly and openly.

When asked by an audience member whether the compartmentalized nature of the DOD and intelligence communities' ISR assets hindered that mission, Hagenbeck said that it had, and that he only received some intelligence about 10 days before launch, which he then shared with coalition partners, who still had not received it. "It's a long-term issue" that is best addressed by the intelligence community, he said.

RELATELINKS

"Army issues Future Combat RFPs" [FCW.com, Feb. 26, 200]

"Army making strides in intell" [FCW.com, Oct. 22, 2002]

"War hero shares IT lessons learned" [FCW.com, Sept. 17, 2002]

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