intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR). The other two elements are supporting mission command for warfighters and decision
makers on the battlefield; and effective
transport and operation of the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical
The Army is working toward a modular and open-systems architecture that
ensures seamless interoperability across
joint operations, the colonel points out.
This effort extends toward coalition
forces, he adds, noting that the DCGS-A
currently supports global operations.
All told, the DCGS-A is a system
of systems fielded at Intelligence and
Security Command (INSCOM) units
and deployed to every corps, division
and brigade around the world. Each
intelligence anchor point at every combatant command has the DCGS-A,
Col. Collins offers. System units are
connected when deployed as well as
at their home stations in the United
States. Roughly 96 percent of the force
is using the DCGS-A. This collaboration between the technical community
and the operational force must continue to move forward, he declares.
The DCGS-A program comprises
two increments, each of which contains two releases. Increment 1’s first
release is the version currently fielded
to the force. Its fielding has not proceeded without criticism, particularly
from operators citing difficulty of use.
However, the Army has learned from its
operational test in 2012 and subsequent
deployments. The service has addressed
these issues, which ranged from system stability to ease of use, and it has
improved subsequent iterations.
Among the issues operators raised
was sluggish performance. The Army
enhanced the DCGS-A speed and per-
formance by turning to brokers for
some of the services as well as optimiz-
ing the ability to move the intelligence
over the transport, the colonel reports.
Another area of concern involved
the user interface. The Army worked to
ensure it had a “common tile, common
display look and feel” on the screen layout for ease of use, Col. Collins relates.
Cyber also came into play, as the Army
learned how to harden systems better and close unnecessary ports while
improving cyber hygiene across the
The service improved extension of
the Top Secret enclave as well. Describing this move as “a game changer,” the
colonel says the second release extends
the enclave down to the brigade formation. “A brigade combat team has
the ability to have three-letter-agency,
high-degree-of-clarity intelligence to
speed up the decision cycle and allow
them to engage the enemy in the deep
fight a lot before they get into the close
fight,” he explains.
The Army also added a cross-domain
solution that enabled moving intelligence, where appropriate, between
the Top Secret enclave and the secret
Internet protocol router enclave. This
extended collaboration provides “an
unprecedented clarity of intelligence picture on the enemy,” along with increased
speed of decision, the colonel says.
With these upgrades came improvements in how the Army trains soldiers
to use the system. Col. Collins notes
that the DCGS-A is a collective system
across the intelligence sector, and the
operational sector must be brought in
on how it feeds into the mission command. Then, the DCGS-A in the intelligence and operations sectors must work
in conjunction with the communications sector across the network.
The colonel notes that the first release
of the DCGS-A tended to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, but this did not
work effectively at different echelons.
Lower echelons, for example, do not
move as much intelligence and have less
A soldier uses the
Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) in a
center. Feedback from
users, combined with
is fueling upgrades that
offer vast improvement
in system performance.
to manipulate up to 700 unique intelligence feeds and data sources. Analysts
can perform nontraditional functions,
such as assessing weather and terrain
and processing human and geospatial
intelligence, and then feed their products
to decision makers.
The convergence of operations and
intelligence is a key driver for the
DCGS-A, explains Col. Robert M. Collins, USA, DCGS-A project manager.
In particular, the system can handle the
high-intensity and decisive operations
that may define Army operations in the
next decade, he says.
A signal officer, Col. Collins
views the DCGS-A as one part of a
“big three” in Army command, control, communications, computers,
“A brigade combat team has the ability to have three-letter-agency,
high-degree-of-clarity intelligence to speed up the decision cycle and
allow them to engage the enemy before they get into the close fight.”
—Col. Robert M. Collins, USA, DCGS-A project manager