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INSCOM's transformation of the aerial layer--the 2020 vision.


During the last fifteen years the Army's aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (A-ISR) platforms produced an abundance of actionable intelligence in response to Combatant Commanders' intelligence requirements. This ongoing effort has saved the lives of many Soldiers and civilians thanks to the professionalism and dedication of thousands of Military Intelligence (MI) Soldiers, government civilians, and contractors. As new A-ISR challenges presented themselves within the battle space, the Department of the Army and the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) were quick to provide new Quick Reaction Capabilities (QRC) solutions to outpace the enemy. New ISR tactics, techniques, and procedures were continuously developed and updated to adapt to constantly changing enemy tactics. Today's A-ISR capabilities are highly accurate and use the full range of complex networks to deliver real time ground truth intelligence and analysis to senior leaders and local commanders.

However, as INSCOM moved forward delivering new A-ISR solutions to the Combatant Commanders, INSCOM's Commanding General (CG) noticed that the current A-ISR layer was not organized, equipped, or stationed properly to best support global joint A-ISR operations. Fundamental changes needed to be made to ensure that the appropriate A-ISR capability was deployed and controlled by the correct level of command. The CG stated that INSCOM must reorganize, re-equip, and re-station to best support global A-ISR requirements in a Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational environment. Under that banner the INSCOM A-ISR 2020 vision was developed and a new concept was born: the Aerial Intelligence Brigade (AIB).

The Aerial Intelligence Brigade Concept

INSCOM's CG established his intent and focused his staff to transform Army A-ISR early in 2013. His end state was a brigade structure that would greatly increase the operational adaptability of the Army's low density, high demand A-ISR capabilities. This new brigade will also enhance A-ISR efficiencies by consolidating like A-ISR assets under one command as an integrated element of the intelligence enterprise. Additionally, this new brigade will manage the allocation of capabilities as part of the National Reconnaissance Program and execute the Joint-Enabled Distribution of the Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination (PED) of all data collected by leveraging the capabilities of both National and Joint locations (Multi-Service/Multi-INT solutions). The AIB was created and structured to provide flexibility to meet enduring and emerging requirements while achieving efficient economy of force operations in the future operational environment. Currently, the Provisional AIB has assumed limited mission command and management of Distributed PED in preparation for the planned Fiscal Year 2016 AIB activation.

The AIB will provide the appropriate level of mission command for the resourcing, managing, and training of the Army's A-ISR assets and units to support commanders at all echelons and across all operational phases. The AIB's central task is to exercise mission command of assigned capabilities for the purpose of enabling operations in support of multiple, simultaneous regional contingency operations. By building tailored A-ISR force packages, the AIB meets Combatant Commander (CCDR) requirements in accordance with the Global Force Management Allocation Plan. CCDRs should not be limited to the use of A-ISR capabilities resident in their regionally aligned aerial exploitation battalion (AEB). Each A-ISR force package will be optimized to meet specific tactical, operational, and/or strategic requirements-thus dramatically increasing both the effectiveness and efficiency of A-ISR support to forward deployed troops.

The unity of command provided by the AIB enables optimal management of low density, high demand A-ISR assets while sustaining timely PED integration and synchronization. The ability to rapidly reconfigure and dynamically manage both collection platforms and supporting PED enables the aggressive maneuvering of A-ISR capabilities in response to CCDR requirements. This design agility and flexibility also postures the AIB to support Special Operations Forces (SOF). The ability to precisely tailor and rapidly deploy capabilities is a critical mission requirement to support SOF and other potential contingency missions. For major contingency missions, elements of the AIB headquarters will deploy to provide forward intelligence coordination, mission command, and expert management of multiple A-ISR task forces operating in the same theater or region.

In addition to mission command and expeditionary deployment management, the AIB's unity of command enables a level of operational oversight perfectly calibrated to meet mission demands. Flight safety and standardization are centralized at the brigade headquarters level-leveraging the successful management model used by the Army's combat aviation brigades (CAB) and better aligning INSCOM's oversight responsibilities. Risk management is enhanced across the A-ISR fleet via consolidation of capabilities under a single O-6 Commander chosen because of his/her background in both the intelligence and Special Electronics Mission Aircraft (SEMA) aviation communities. The Brigade Commander will be an AOC 15C35, with a wide breadth of experience in intelligence and SEMA aviation assignments.

Unity of command extends to collection management of these capabilities as well. The AIB Collection Manager retains approval authority for subordinate units and coordinates with requesting units to ensure competing priority intelligence requirements are satisfied based on the appropriate level of command guidance. This centralized collection management authority is particularly important in managing consolidated PED operations during simultaneous support of multiple CCDRs.

The AIB-level consolidated asset management will significantly accelerate the integration of QRC fielding initiatives. It is not unrealistic to expect that QRC integration timelines could be significantly reduced as A-ISR assets are transitioned into military operated, sustainable programs of record (POR) and consolidated under the AIB. Efficiencies in mission management, force generation, training, and sustainment will be realized as a direct result of consolidation while effectiveness is sustained or enhanced. Future plug-and-play sensor capabilities will increase the need for centralized AIB management as it continues developing and strengthening the dynamic relationship between collection platform, sensor, and PED.

The AIB will be the nucleus for managing both Multi-INT and Multi-Mode collection intelligence capabilities. Multi-INT collection is defined as a separate collection stream from any combination of two or more intelligence disciplines. Multi-Mode collection is the generation of data and information for use by source specific and all-source analytic personnel by a variety of sensors focused on a single target set. Multi-INT/Multi-Mode collection is the use of multiple disciplines and dynamic combinations of terrestrial, aerial, and space based capabilities to generate data and information for use by all-source fusion analysts focused on discrete target sets. Multi-INT/Multi-Mode collection includes Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT), and Human Intelligence, which populate a variety of single source and all-source data bases from which fused intelligence products are generated. The AIB will be the Army's principal focal point for injecting aerial layer data and information into the Multi-INT/Multi-Mode architecture.

The PED Battalion

The AIB's PED battalion is a fixed site-based unit with a headquarters element and subordinate PED unit structure. Staffing for the battalion requires reorganizing and realigning PED personnel (currently scattered across INSCOM's AEBs) under a common command and control structure. The battalion headquarters and the majority of GEOINT personnel will operate from a central facility at Fort Gordon, Georgia. The battalion will also include distributed GEOINT detachments integrated at key intelligence nodes such as the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Florida; the U.S. Air Force's Distributed Ground Station (DGS-1) at Langley, Virginia; and Joint Surveillance Target Acquisition Radar System at Robins AFB, Georgia. The battalion's SIGINT personnel will be distributed and employed at detachments co-located with Army Strategic SIGINT MI battalions and working targets appropriate to their regional language sets and mission demands. Each of the AIB's subordinate battalions, except the PED battalion, will maintain appropriately sized expeditionary PED and liaison capabilities to enhance agility and responsiveness. The 3rd MI Battalion's current organic PED capability is not included in this restructuring effort.

The AIB PED battalion will increase INSCOM's ability to reinforce and support regionally aligned forces. Additionally, it refocuses A-ISR PED from today's AEB regional alignment to strategic reinforcement of the Army Service Component Command. A core PED requirement is the ability to leverage data and information drawn from across the Intelligence Community (IC) to include the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Fulltime access to a wide-range of IC capabilities, foreign intelligence data, and information is key to sustaining mission readiness of the Army's Intelligence force. A commitment to "keep the force up and active" serves as both a means to achieve high order training and readiness and to meet supported commander requirements. This commitment applies across all echelons. This persistent engagement with IC capabilities cultivates relationships that ensure readiness to meet unforecasted and emerging requirements.

The creation of a subordinate PED battalion addresses the rapidly increasing importance of Multi-INT capabilities for meeting supported commander requirements. The battalion will have the resources necessary to sustain production of relevant, time sensitive reporting to meet the demands of the decision makers. These resources include trained and certified Information Technology (IT) specialists providing and sustaining access to the intelligence enterprise IT infrastructure required to store, access, transport, and prepare data and information for use by discipline specific and all-source analysts for dissemination to the end user. Additionally, the AIB will have the flexibility and agility to forward deploy small, expeditionary liaison and PED elements to ensure initial PED support capability in theaters of operation with mature or immature support infrastructure. The expert management and execution of reach operations will be a core AIB competency and will not preclude rapid deployment of appropriately sized PED packages forward as required by the supported command or as the AIB Commander deems appropriate.

Consolidation of existing AEB PED capabilities into an AIB assigned PED battalion reduces operating costs by eliminating multiple small, "designer" (i.e., expensive to operate; situationally and system unique) PED facilities. For example, TF ODIN's Aerial Reconnaissance Support Teams located in CONUS Reach facilities and the AEBs' Mission Operations facilities located in Germany, Texas, and Georgia, are all consolidated into a single facility optimized for immediate, on-demand access to the Army's Operational Intelligence Enterprise. The PED battalion standardizes Reach operations to give them the same level of support that forward deployed and multiple designer solution sets currently provide, but at a reduced cost in personnel and resources. "Reach" is an AIB, INSCOM, and Army Intelligence core competency.

The establishment of a consolidated PED battalion takes maximum advantage of existing, high capacity communications networks. By assuring access to data storage, handling, transport, and staging capabilities, the overall cost is reduced even as effectiveness and efficiency rise dramatically. Establishing a central GEOINT PED facility at Fort Gordon and virtually consolidating the tactical SIGINT PED architecture in partnership with national strategic SIGINT capabilities not only drives cost down, but provides a single integrated architecture from the strategic-national layer all the way down to individual brigade combat teams regardless of their location or operational phase.

The power of the enterprise is harnessed and worldwide access guaranteed via use of a standardized work station and a powerful set of management, collection, analytic, and fusion tools integrated into the Army's Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A). DCGS-A enables cross-domain solutions while providing ubiquitous, near-real-time access to A-ISR data and information. DCGS-A users can "touch the data," regardless of echelon of assignment or geographic location. The PED battalion concept nests perfectly within the DCGS-A POR; ensuring sustained funding in a post-OEF/ Overseas Contingency Operation funding environment.

Joint Enabled PED

The AIB's PED battalion is the Army's PED Center of Excellence and, as such, drives the Joint Enabled Distributed PED vision. Joint enabled PED delivers the ability to share and consume real-time full motion video (FMV) feeds as part of the PED solution set. This ability to work with FMV in an agile and responsive manner is particularly critical when Joint/Coalition services' assets operate in direct support of Army SOF. The PED battalion will be able to work FMV feeds from non-Army A-ISR capabilities tasked in response to Army SOF requirements.

It will also provide DCGS-A workstations and mission command for the U.S. Army Forces Command PED platoons that form the Expeditionary MI Brigade (EMIB) co-located at Fort Gordon. These platoons will conduct PED on the Army's CAB Gray Eagle unmanned aerial systems (UAS) sensors, and leverage the mission command capabilities organic within the PED Battalion to optimize PED effectiveness through Tactical Control of all PED functions. Furthermore, the EMIB PED includes integration and synchronization of both the traditional GEOINT mission with the embedded Cryptological Support Teams tactical SIGINT operations. Additionally, the AIB PED battalion will enable fusion of INSCOM's A-ISR capabilities with the Army's Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition capabilities available across the Gray Eagle UAS fleet.

The PED vision endstate foresees a time when the Army PED battalion personnel actually run nodes on joint/coalition services' ISR networks. For example, personnel may operate as a "node" on the Air Force's DGS Weapons System for inter-service support. Integral to understanding this expanded concept is that "ownership" of the collection asset is an irrelevant issue. The core issues of tomorrow will be the mutual leveraging of capabilities and the intelligent operation of satellite capabilities as nodes on joint/coalition services' systems that will convey the joint partnering fundamental to a "joint at birth environment" and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff's Capstone Concept of globally integrated operations.

Current and Projected INSCOM A-ISR Structure

Currently, INSCOM A-ISR is structured under six AEBs with each battalion subordinate to a separate INSCOM brigade. Each AEB is assigned to support a specific CCDR. Under the new AIB concept, three AEBs are re-organized with like A-ISR assets (the 204th MI BN, the 224th MI BN, and 15th MI BN) to enable global availability. The fourth (3rd MI BN) will directly support the U.S. Forces Korea and the last two will be deactivated. The A-ISR assets that will be assigned to the three reorganized battalions are: the Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL), the Guardrail Common Sensor (GRCS), the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System (E-MARSS), and the Gray Eagle UAS. Each battalion will have its own Expeditionary A-ISR Task Force (except for the 3rd MI BN) with organic PED capabilities (GEOINT, Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT), ELINT, or SIGINT) respective to their supported command.

The INSCOM's A-ISR 2020 Vision reflects the 204th MI BN inheriting the ARL (and future ARL-Enhanced (ARL-E)) aircraft, as well as half of the GRCS (RC-12X) fleet. The 224th MI BN will inherit the MC-12S E-MARSS, and the 15th MI BN will receive all of the Gray Eagle UAS. The 3rd MI BN will also have ARL (and the ARL-E when available) and the remainder of the GRCS fleet. As part of this construct, the Joint Enabled Distributed PED Vision will integrate GEOINT PED at Fort Gordon, Georgia, with outstations at Langley AFB, Robins AFB, and Hurlburt AFB. The SIGINT Distributed PED will be co-located with NSA Georgia (707th MI BN), NSA Hawaii (715th MI BN), and NSA Texas (717th MI BN).

The current UAS fleet will be replaced with the new Gray Eagle UAS. Two UAS companies with six aircraft each will be fielded in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and the remaining company in FY 2018. The current proposal is for two companies to be stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, under the 15th MI BN, and a third at Hunter Army Air Field under the 224th MI BN, Savannah, Georgia. However, the 2020 INSCOM Vision reflects all of the UAS companies under the 15th MI BN at Fort Hood, Texas. The new Gray Eagle can be configured for a variety of SIGINT, GEOINT, and MASINT pods and sensors to support various mission requirements. The Warrior Alpha UAS currently used in Afghanistan will be retired once that mission ends due to force structure reductions and non-compatibility issues.

For manned assets, INSCOM's 2020 Vision calls for 24 MC12S series aircraft. This aircraft is inheriting the best of breed systems (SIGINT; ground moving target indicator/dismount moving target indicator; hyper-spectral imagery; electrooptical/infrared; high definition FMV; foliage penetration, and light detection and ranging sensors) for maximum capability in a wide variety of missions. The 24 MC-12S will be divided into four categories: SIGINT-Imagery Intelligence (8), MASINT (8), vehicle and dismount exploitation radar (4), and SIGINT (4). The current ARL DHC-7s will be retired and replaced with DHC-8s in all of the ARL formations. The new DHC-8 (which will be known as ARL-E) will also incorporate the best of breed A-ISR sensors. A total of nine ARL-E aircraft are planned with three going to the 3rd MI BN and six to the 204th MI BN. The RC-12X fleet will grow to 14 aircraft and will leverage state of the art SIGINT capabilities and Multi-INT configurations to conduct full spectrum collection operations and support PED distribution.


As we move forward to 2020, INSCOM is on a deliberate path to make this vision a reality. Thousands of Soldiers, civilians, and contractors are part of a coordinated effort to accomplish the goal of evolving the Command in a complex, challenging, and ever changing combat environment. As we continue to tackle the 21st century's intelligence challenges, INSCOM remains engaged in providing the necessary tools and personnel for success on the battlefields of this century. To achieve the operational adaptability mandated by the Army Capstone Concept, INSCOM and the AIB must be an adaptive organization that prioritizes, balances, and integrates subordinate capabilities to satisfy current operational requirements while posturing for success in the future. The Army must respond effectively to changing threats and situations with appropriate, flexible, and timely actions and operate as part of a joint/combined/coalition force to prevent, shape, and win military operations. To that end, no INSCOM Soldier is, or will be, at rest.

by Major Eric S. Dober
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Author:Dober, Eric S.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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