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DCGS-A supports CJTF-HOA's intelligence operations.


Through unified action with U.S. and international partners in East Africa, the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) conducts security force assistance, executes military engagement, provides force protection, and provides military support to regional counter-violent extremist organization operations in order to support aligned regional efforts, ensuring regional access and freedom of movement, and protecting U.S. interests. (1)

The CJTF-HOA Intelligence Directorate (J-2) has a dynamic mission in providing intelligence support and all source intelligence products focusing on ten countries within the area of operations (AO) and 11 countries within its area of interest (Al). These countries include: Burundi, Djibouti', Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, and South Sudan. The Distributed Common Ground Systems-Army (DCGS-A) plays a critical role in providing analysts a means to process, exploit, and disseminate actionable intelligence products.

DCGS-A Supporting Intelligence Operations

Due to the unique mission requirements, products focusing on political, military, economic, social, information and infrastructure (PMESII) are produced on a daily basis. CJTF-HOA intelligence analysts utilize DCGS-A to retrieve raw intelligence data to build all source intelligence products that are used to support the decision making process. Intelligence reports are routinely data-mined via Query Tree, analyzed, and then disseminated to both higher and lower echelons to maintain situational awareness within the area of responsibility. To support upcoming mission requirements, the DCGS-A team has requested additional data sources and recently obtained Combined Information Data Network Exchange information. Deep dive products focusing on historical significant activities (SIGACTS) within the AO/AI will use this information. The final deep dive product entails a graphical depiction of SIGACTS within the AO/AI on a map created via ArcMap. Additional spatial analysis is conducted by creating a density to identify known and unknown "hotspots" of violent extremist activity

Network Analysis of Violent Extremist Organizations

DCGS-A's Link Diagram program within the Multi-Function Workstation (MFWS) is used to depict the organizational structure and assessed linkages between key entities. Finished intelligence products produced by the J-2 often include network analysis products. They depict the organizational structure of violent extremist organizations, orders of battle, and political parties.

Due to the constant rotation of J-2 personnel, network analysis products created from Link Diagram are saved to the Tactical Entity Database (TED) within MFWS. The ability to save products to the TED has two significant advantages. Saving link diagrams and entities assists analysts with conducting a turnover with new analysts by providing a snapshot of key leaders, groups, and activities that the J-2 has focused on. Additionally, the TED enables analysts to continuously update the attributes of entities with current intelligence by appropriately tagging information obtained from sources such as intelligence information reports.

Sharing Information

The task organization of Camp Lemonnier/CJTF-HOA forces includes multiple Army and joint units, and national intelligence agency assets, each with a specific mission requirement that contributes to the J-2 mission. Geographic dispersion of units throughout the camp creates the requirement to share information. The current DCGS-A architecture involves each Portable MFWS "pointing" back to a local Intelligence Fusion Server. This allows analysts at their respective unit access to information created or updated by a separate unit.

Operations are positively impacted by allowing analysts to see the most current information saved within the TED. Analysts across all echelons--from CJTF-HOA to USAFRICOM--are able to view and update information providing a common operational picture of violent extremist activity within the AO/AI.

The Way Ahead

Continuous DCGS-A training and information technology support is necessary due to the steady rotation of analysts within the J-2 and supporting organizations--often 10 to 15 percent each month. Furthermore, continuous training is necessary to baseline and integrate the Active and Reserve Component joint Service members not familiar with DCGS-A. CJTF-HOA J-2 will meet this challenge by conducting thorough turnovers and by incorporating best practices that are a part of the J-2's standard operating procedures.

CJTF-HOA's operations prevent violent extremist organizations from threatening the U.S., ensuring the protection of the homeland, U.S. citizens, and U.S. interests. The processing, exploitation and dissemination cycle drives the intelligence mission. DCGS-A is the backbone of maintaining a continuous intelligence cycle and satisfying priority intelligence requirements.

by Mr. Douglas Harris

Doug Harris is currently the Distributed Common Ground Systems- Army (DCGS-A) Embedded Trainer attached to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa's J-2. He has provided DCGS-A training and support to several units deployed within CENTCOM, PACOM and AFRICOM's area of responsibility since joining the DCGS-A program in 2008. Prior to joining the DCGS-A program, he was an Intelligence Officer with the United States Marine Corps.


(1.), 15April 2016.
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Author:Harris, Douglas
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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