Defense Media Network

Newest Defense Media Network Promotion

Enterprise Challenge ’13: Highlighting Intel Technologies

Part 1 of 2

The proliferation of new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems and technologies on modern battlefields has brought with it the challenge of ensuring interoperability across intelligence systems. For several years, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) explored the emerging interoperability issues during a series of annual exercises dubbed Empire Challenge. The exercises – which were held at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. before their transition to Ft. Huachuca, Ariz. in 2010 – focused on interoperability of data streams across U.S. DoD intelligence platforms as well as integration of data with coalition partner nations.

Recently concluded at Ft. Huachuca, Enterprise Challenge ’13 (EC’13) was designed to allow agencies within the DoD and international partners to demonstrate new and existing technologies as well as the integration of some of those technologies across intelligence platforms.

Empire Challenge was initially sponsored by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) before that role transitioned to U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) [See “Empire Challenge: Forging Joint and Allied ISR Interoperability,” Year in Defense, Winter 2011].

Enterprise Challenge 2013

Sgt. Troy Thatcher, imagery analyst, Geospatial Intelligence Integration Support Test and Training Detachment, troubleshoots the wireless network in the Tactical Intelligence Ground System, during the Enterprise Challenge ’13 exercise, at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., July 19, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kristine Smedley

While the subsequent closure of USJFCOM placed the future of the Empire Challenge series in question, the continuing advancement of ISR technologies exacerbated the need for that type of integration/experimentation event.

That need is now being met through Enterprise Challenge. Recently concluded at Ft. Huachuca, Enterprise Challenge ’13 (EC’13) was designed to allow agencies within the DoD and international partners to demonstrate new and existing technologies as well as the integration of some of those technologies across intelligence platforms. Reflective of some previous iterations, this year’s technical demonstration event was managed by the NGA, with sponsorship by the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

A key focus of EC ’13 was the Distributed Common Ground System – Army (DCGS-A). Each service has its interoperable version of the overarching DCGS program, and DCGS-A is the system currently fielded to U.S. Army warfighters to provide a unified intelligence picture at levels from company to corps, and to provide intelligence interoperability with sister services and other government agencies.

Along with demonstrating the capabilities highlighted less than two months earlier by Odierno, additional aspects of DCGS-A participation at EC ’13 ranged from exercising the system utilizing a common network to interoperability assessments for the DCGS-A enterprise.

DCGS-A recently gained additional attention following late April Congressional hearings that included a “shouting match” about the program between Congressman Duncan Hunter and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno. The heated exchange included the Army Chief’s strong objections to what he dubbed “anecdotal” incidents raised by the Congressman and Odierno going on to credit “a company commander today with DCGS-A [as having] 20 times the capability I had as a division commander in 2003.”

Enterprise Challenge 2013

Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley (center), commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and fellow senior leaders listen to Maj. Shermoan Daiyaan, Product Manager, Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) explain how the system has the ability to collect intelligence while on the move with the latest technology from industry during Enterprise Challenge ’13, at Fort Huachuca, July 24, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kristine Smedley

Along with demonstrating the capabilities highlighted less than two months earlier by Odierno, additional aspects of DCGS-A participation at EC ’13 ranged from exercising the system utilizing a common network to interoperability assessments for the DCGS-A enterprise.

Specific exercise objectives included:

  • Sharing access to DCGS-A web portal and widgets via the coalition network;
  • Receiving and transmitting data between new “X-5 Glasses” and DCGS-A;
  • Receiving video downlink from Gray Eagle at night and view on X-5 Glasses while on the move;
  • Transmitting full motion video from the DCGS-A Tactical-Intelligence Ground Station (TGS) to the Tactical Operations Center via radio while on the move;
  • Processing and correctly displaying broadcast alert data in the TGS and Tactical Operations Center;
  • Connecting Pursuit & Exploitation (Human Intelligence systems) team to the Tactical Operations Center via tactical radio network; and
  • Limited testing for “Hunte” software release on the DCGS-A TGS as a “risk reduction” effort prior to planned testing during Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) program in FY’14.

By

Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...