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Battlespace visualization and the All-Source Analysis System (ASAS).

For though the rise of industry has enormously enhanced the power which states can deploy against each other in war, and the improvement of weapons has almost in finitely extended the range of a general's reach...Men can only stand so what needs to be established for our purposes is not the factor to which mechanization of battle has multiplied the cost of waging war to the states involved but the degree to which it has increased the strain thrown on the human participants.

John Keegan, The Face of Battle, 1976 (1)

When military historian John Keegan wrote these words more than 25 years ago, it was in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The mechanization age was peaking and the speed and power exhibited on that modern battlefield were indicative of the progressive evolution of warfare during the century. Keegan could not have suspected that within a relatively short period, the advent of the information age would dictate yet another shift in the conduct of warfare. Not only would the means of directing and massing firepower have exponentially increased, but also the strain on today's leaders to comprehend the "battlespace" quickly would likewise increase. Ray Kurzweil challenged decision making in the digital age when he admonished:

We don't have time, therefore, to think many new thoughts when we are pressed to make a decision. The human brain relies on pre-computing its analyses and storing the in formation for future reference. We then use our pattern-recognition capability to recognize a situation as comparable to one we have thought about and draw upon previously considered conclusions. We are unable to think about matters that we have not thought through many times before. (2)

The Army is indeed attempting to come to grips with the need to provide commanders with the tools they require to visualize and react rapidly to the battlespace. FM 6-0, Command and Control, defines commander's visualization (formerly known as battlefield visualization) as:

the process of achieving a clear understanding of the force's current state with relation to the enemy and environment (situational understanding based upon the common operational picture), developing a desired end state which represents mission accomplishment (commander's intent), and determining the sequence of activity that moves the force from its current state to the end state (commander's intent and concept of the operation). (3)

In this article, we want to look at the integral part the All-Source Analysis System (ASAS) Remote Workstation (RWS) plays in facilitating this visualization process and to examine briefly how integration of weather and terrain analysis significantly enhances the process.

Migrating Down the Digital Path

Prior to the dawn of computer technology and the emergence of the Army Battle Command System (ABCS), Army intelligence officers and staffs produced intelligence manually. The Intelligence cycle began when the soldiers performed intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) using a hardcopy 1:50,000-scale map. On completion of PB, intelligence sections developed hardcopy intelligence products such as the event matrix and template, reconnaissance and surveillance overlay, high-value target list, etc. Moreover, processing messages was a manual process-receiving hardcopy text, posting the message to the situation map, conducting analysis, and writing an intelligence summary.

Aside from the fact that intelligence teams had to produce nearly every product "by hand," the days before automation had other hugely limiting factors. How many maps would you need to bring if your unit was conducting an extensive screening mission? How could you dynamically update situation and targeting templates and overlays? How many hardcopy messages could you save before you reached "enough"?

The ASAS RWS--fielded to the Army in support of G2s and 52s for more than ten years--has made great strides in adding flexibility to supporting intelligence missions worldwide by automating the intelligence "business." This workstation consists of intelligence analytical software applications and tools that focus on the intelligence processes within Army corps, divisions, and brigades. Two versions are currently in use or under study. Version 4, or "V4 series," is Block II within the RWS development cycle, and is the current fielded version. Version 6, the latest series software, and also part of the software Block II, is currently under development by the ASAS Program Manager and under evaluation by the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs) at Fort Hood, Texas. Version 6 greatly advances interoperability among the other battlefield functional areas within the ABCS community.

Today's ASAS RWS continues to deliver a valuable and ever-improving suite of analyst-support tools to the Army's tactical intelligence soldiers. Within the ABCS environment, the ASAS RWS handles 23 separate messages, is programmable to process threat alerts, uses digital maps, provides formats for intelligence products, and provides a means to visualize the enemy portion of the common operational picture (COP).

The concept of the COP is an important one. The displays and other systems supporting acquisition of the COP have proven again and again to be crucial aids in avoiding information overload. Leaders see familiar threat patterns, which allow them to act rapidly upon expected or unexpected changes or outcomes. Commanders, who inherently tend to compose a view of the battlespace within their "mind's eye," can now validate or correct that view by measuring their previous perceptions against a detailed threat analysis. The ASAS-RWS provides an integrated visual representation of a combination of "Red" forces, nonaligned and neutral elements, and the environment. The job of the S2 is to understand the synergy of these combined factors, assess the potential impact on the friendly commander's mission, and convey that insight to the commander.

It is no coincidence that ASAS, to date, has focused a great deal of effort on having a system capable of evaluating the threat. The ASAS RWS Block I, sometimes called the "collateral workstation," remains operational and focuses primarily on processing and correlating threat entities. While the V4 and V6 versions have enhanced threat analysis capabilities, the ability of the ASAS RWS to facilitate visualization has broadened to include a more robust suite of weather and terrain products.

Integration of Weather and Terrain Products

The Intelligence battlefield operating system (BOS) has responsibility for integrating weather, terrain, and enemy information. The ASAS RWS is the Intelligence processing system that provides this integration. ASAS RWS integrates weather products from the Integrated Meteorological System (IMETS) and terrain products from Digital Topographic Support System (DTSS). Figure 1 graphically depicts ASAS integration of imagery, weather effects, terrain effects, and the moving target indicator (MTI) feed from the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) Common Ground Station (CGS).

Editor's note: please also see the articles on pages 9 and 12, respectively, for more on IMETS and DTSS.

The level of interoperability between ASAS, IMETS, and DTSS varies based on whether they use non-ABCS-compatible or ABCS-compatible software versions. Figure 2 depicts the configuration of ASAS, IMETS, and DTSS as arrayed across the battlespace.

ASAS RWS Block I and IMETS primarily exchange information through United States Message Text Format (USMTF) messages; however, ASAS RWS II (ABCS Version 6.X) may access IMETS data various ways.

* The ASAS RWS has direct access to IMETS built into its graphical user interface (GUI) and can access the weather intelligence maintained in the METS database. To facilitate the IMETS-ASAS data exchange, the ASAS operator uses a "weather tab" on the ASAS GUI. The ASAS operator can use this tab to request an overlay of winds on the ASAS COP (see Figure 1).

* The ASAS operator might request a terrain map from the DTSS and the precipitation forecast from the IMETS database (see Figure 2).

* The IMETS provides COP overlays produced by client applications, such as the Integrated Weather Effects Decision Aid (IWEDA), or statically built by the METS weather team. The ASAS operator may query METS' IWEDA to assist in the prediction of when and where a given weapon system will be effective, marginally effective, or not effective, based on the weather. (See Figure 3 for an example of an IMETS IWEDA overlay.)

* ASAS may receive data from METS through USMTF messages.

* ASAS may pull IMETS weather products posted to the IMETS weather homepage on the tactical operations center (TOC) local area network (LAN).

ASAS RWS Block II and DTSS can exchange data along lines similar to those of ASAS and IMETs through a client application (DTSS Overlay Provider or DOP) and USMTF messages. ASAS RWS Block II can pull DTSS products from the DOP; however, ASAS RWS I V2.5.1 does not have this capability. Both ASAS RWS I and II can exchange information via USMTF messages with DTSS. ASAS RWS I V2.5.1 also supports opening and viewing large computer graphics metafile (CGM) formatted files from DTSS and supports compressed arc digitized raster graphics (CADRG) maps.

Near Term

In the near term, the following activities will likely influence and enhance ASAS, IMETS, and DTSS interoperability:

* Interoperability will improve as a result of the recently awarded National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) Commercial! Joint Mapping Toolkit (C/JMTK) contract for the development and life cycle support of the equipment. The two corporations involved are the developers of digital mapping and terrain visualization products currently incorporated into DTSS; having the same developers for ABCS C/JMTK as for DTSS, should greatly enhance the digital mapping and terrain products and interoperability between DTSS and all ABCS facets.

* An integrated product team (IPT) formed by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) will assess METS V6.2.0.8, RWS Block II V4.3.5 and 4.5.1, and ASAS-Light interoperability during the 4th quarter of fiscal year 2002 for the Program Director, IMETS.

* Joint consideration of incorporating Joint Terrain Analysis Tools (JTAT) application segments into ASAS to enhance and improve digital PB interoperability with DTSS as well as Global Command and Control System Integrated Imagery and Intelligence (GCCS-13) and Air Force systems.

* Army development of the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) will impact on all the Army Intelligence systems.

Long Term

In the longer term, ASAS shall incorporate intelligence products into a geo-rectified database environment that can combine with terrain analysis, map imagery, or other geospatial information system products. This will occur in two- or three-dimensional display and gives the intelligence analyst the ability to view and portray situations based upon time, topography, location, enemy situation, or any combination.

Final Thoughts

Battlespace visualization has become a critical capability in the information age. Bombarded by information, combatant commanders need a reliable, coherent picture that preserves familiar patterns, yet effectively presents decision-centric insight. As the analysis system for the Intelligence BOS, ASAS has the vital mission of facilitating visualization and will continue to provide the combatant commander with an ever-improving integrated picture depicting the effects of weather and terrain as well as the enemy situation.


(1.) Keegan, John, The Face of Battle (New York, NY: Viking Press, 1976), page 299.

(2.) Kurzweil, Ray, The Age of Spiritual Machines (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1999), page 77.

(3.) FM 6-0, Command and Control (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, August 2000).

Lieutenant Colonel Vic Fink is the Deputy TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command) System Manager-All-Source Analysis System (TSM ASAS). You may contact LTC Fink via E-mail at and telephonically at (520) 533-5145 or DSN 821-5145.

Genie Kelly is an Assistant TSM in the Futures Directorate Integration Center, U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. in her current position, Mrs. Kelley documents ASAS user interface requirements with other ABCS systems. Readers may contact her via E-mail at edwina. and by telephone at (520) 533-3526 or DSN 821-3526.
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Author:Lieutenant Colonel Fink, James V.; Kelly, Edwina E.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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