DOD changing face of urban warfare

Military operations in urban environments are more than just the last 300 yards to a target, kicking in doors and clearing a building.

The Defense Department is working to ensure that its personnel are ready for the whole gamut of potential operations and adversaries.

Army Lt. Col. Stephen Iwicki, senior intelligence officer on the Objective Force Task Force, said that with about 60 percent of the world's population expected to be living in cities by 2015, DOD must focus on enhancing its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities during peacetime to better prepare for future battles.

Dave Dilegge, a consultant at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Va., said operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom have shown that troops can be firing on the enemy or performing peacekeeping and peacemaking duties — all within a three-block radius.

There are "pockets of excellence" in the defense intelligence community, but because urban warfare doesn't fit neatly into air, ground or naval operations, there has been a leadership void in this area, said Dilegge, a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who has worked this issue since 1997. He was speaking May 20 on panel at an urban ISR conference sponsored by Defense Week in Washington, D.C.

The intelligence preparation of the battlefield must now include subterranean features, such as sewer systems and subways, as well as more traditional tools such as satellite imagery and human intelligence, Iwicki said.

U.S. forces have recently fought battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, but before that it was Haiti, Somalia and Kosovo. All of those places required the military services to start at different positions because of an assortment of variables, including the availability of critical infrastructure for communications and transportation. That fact usually doesn't get much attention except for logistics requirements, "but we need to look at that from an ISR standpoint," Iwicki said.

Col. Allen Roby, director of the intelligence directorate at the Air Force Command and Control and ISR center, Langley Air Force Base, agreed and said DOD's joint force commanders were using ISR lessons learned from Operation Enduring Freedom and applying them to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"It's a building block effect," Roby said, adding that includes exploiting all possible assets, including tactical battlefield tools, national systems, fixed sensors and coalition contributions. Machine-to-machine communication and fusion is needed to function in that "extremely rich data environment."

Iwicki and Roby agreed that the foundation of future success is the Distributed Common Ground-Surface System (DCGS), which will be an overarching family of interconnected systems that receives, processes, stores, correlates and disseminates reconnaissance intelligence. Each military service will have its own version of the system that will feed into the main DOD version.

Bids are due next month on a request for proposals the Air Force released called DCGS Block 10.2 Multi-Intelligence Core. The Air Force intends to consolidate the current system of four workstations into one multi-intelligence workstation on an integrated backbone and allow air operations centers to work with ground components, which has never been done before, Roby said. He added that the integrated backbone will also enable the service specific DCGS systems to talk to one another.

"If you're doing something in ISR and it's not connected to DCGS-A," there won't be any funding for it, Iwicki told the industry members of the audience. "ISR in the Army is DCGS."

The DOD officials said that other technology needs include:

* Beyond-line-of-sight sensors, including some that can see through walls.

* Acoustic sensors for gunshot detection.

* Robotics.

* Precision target designation, with unmanned aerial vehicles the most likely candidate to fill that role.

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