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NGIC: Penetrating the fog of war.

The National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, and constitutes the Department of Defense's primary producer of ground forces intelligence. The NGIC is in Charlottesville, Virginia, housed in a new 260,000-square-foot facility specifically designed for the organization's mission needs. We dedicated this facility to the memory of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur D. Nicholson, Jr., the U.S. Military Liaison Mission member killed in the line of duty in February 1982 in Pottsdam, East Germany.

The NGIC's capabilities primarily lie in the skills and corporate knowledge of its unusually well-educated and experienced work force, normally numbering around 850 full-time scientists, engineers, intelligence analysts, and soldiers. (Since September 11, our work force and our mission have expanded, as you will see later in the article.) Formed in July 1994 from two highly respected Army organizations, the U.S. Army Intelligence Threat Analysis Center and the U.S. Army Foreign Science and Technology Center, the NGIC constitutes a true synthesis of general Military Intelligence (GMI) and scientific and technical intelligence (S&TI), a one-stop shopping experience for the ground forces intelligence consumer, including those in echelons above corps (EAC).

NGIC's Mission

"Produce and disseminate all-source integrated intelligence on foreign ground forces and supporting combat technologies to ensure that U.S. forces have a decisive edge on any battlefield." Think of this twenty seven-word mission statement as a "burst transmission," not encoded but radically compressed. Nevertheless, we can unfold this message to provide an accurate roadmap of what we do, where we are going, and how we do business. Take for example the phrase "produce and disseminate all-source integrated intelligence"; this says a lot about us. It means that when you get an NGIC product, you can rest assured the analysts responsible have searched the U.S. Government's intelligence holdings from top to bottom, from open source to the most sensitive classified information, brought that data together, weighed it, cross-checked it, considered it in light of their own professional competence and experience, and then put it together in a product that makes sense in a military context readily accessible by those wit h a need to know. That is the NGIC guarantee, one we stand behind with an audit trail and analysts ready to collaborate with customers and provide follow-up material.

The second portion of the statement, particularly the terms "forces," "technologies," and "on any battlefield," also provides important cues to the NGIC organization and how we approach our mission. Armies take a long time to build. Because the NGIC plays a unique and critical role in the application of U.S. Code: Title 10, Armed Forces, the responsibility to organize, train, and equip the nation's primary ground component, we must address the threat not only in terms of its human and weap ons capabilities on the contemporary battlefield but also on battlefields stretching across the future.

Inside NGIC

If you were to dissect the organization, you would not only find that we have an unusually high "tooth-to-tail ratio" but also the guts of NGIC relate directly to the words and "technologies." This is captured in the roles of our two main production directorates, the Forces Directorate and the Ground Systems Directorate. Additionally, NGIC has a large foreign materiel exploitation program and an Imagery Assessments Directorate.

The Forces Directorate represents the human element with civilian and uniformed staff members; a combination primarily made up of area and military specialists studying foreign ground forces from the operational level down through the small unit level. They maintain detailed knowledge of current foreign ground force capabilities as well as a future focus on a time horizon with niches at 5,10, and 20 years into the future. They examine foreign armies in the context of demographic and budgetary constraints to generate indepth portraits of the ground forces threat in both conventional and unconventional combat environments from a perspective that includes:

* Battlefield operating systems (BOSs).

* Doctrine.

* Tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP).

* Training.

* Maintenance.

* Logistics.

* Order of battle (OB).

This work is in collections of modules that comprise comprehensive battlefield development plans, conceptual portraits of foreign armies that focus on current and future doctrinal, operational, and tactical planning for combat. Additionally, in the more numerically oriented country force assessments, these modules' orientation is on specific tables of organization and equipment (TO&Es) and modified TO&Es as well as modernization projections tailored to support wargamers, modelers, and force developers. In addition to these very comprehensive roll-ups of ground forces of major interest, forces analysts maintain a regional perspective and are continually conducting research and producing products on a variety of topics, states, and transnational players. By inclination, they are generalists, analytic "Swiss Army knives" packed with practical tools enabling them to size up any ground force and project its fighting capabilities in ways that are eminently usable to those plotting the course of future U.S. ground f orces development.

Consequently, Forces Directorate and its products serve a wide range of customers in the national arena and the upper echelons of the Army. For example, the country force assessments and concepts of operations for foreign ground forces are integral to the gaming of the Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) illustrative planning scenarios and excursions, which aid in analyzing the costs and benefits of billion-dollar defense programs. The Directorate's ground assessments have proven useful to Quadrennial Defense Reviews in their comprehensive examinations of the mid-term national defense horizon. Forces Directorate also plays a significant role at the commander in chief (CINC) level, where its nearterm data and analysis supportArmy Theater Command elements at the Joint Intelligence Centers (JICs) and the JointAnalysis Center (JAC).

At the Army level, the Directorate's detailed foreign ground force breakouts constitute the "gas" that keeps models from the Center for Army Analysis running, exploring notional combat at the corps level and above, including army-on-army and theater-on-theater combat. They also have a close relationship with the Army Staff, providing, among other things, regional assessments and in-depth analysis for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence (DCSINT) in support of its role in the national intelligence estimate (NIE) process. Among the Army's major commands, the Forces Directorate has its most direct relationship with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). We have always worked closely with the command's DSCINT to define the threat profile against which future force development transpired, and the Directorate and NGIC as a whole are now deeply engaged in supporting Army Transformation, meeting the challenge of providing meaningful validated intelligence for a force structure in trans ition. At a more detailed level, Forces Directorate provides OB, TO&Es, and equipment characteristics and performance data to support the excursions of TRADOC Analysis Command at Fort Leavenworth (TRAC Leavenworth) at the corps and division levels and TRAC White Sands' parallel efforts to model small units, functional systems, and analysis of alternatives.

In short, Forces Directorate has a role in support of virtually every level of Army force development. Yet it would be completely misleading to leave the impression that the Directorate somehow exists as an entity unto itself within the NGIC. Any GMI assessment of foreign ground forces must take full cognizance of science, technology, and weapons capabilities. This is probably NGIC's greatest strength. Perhaps more than any other member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, NGIC has succeeded in integrating GMI with S&TI; by the very nature of the process here, no military projection can go out the door without having full vetting through the technology and weapons departments. Even if this were not the rule of the road, GMI analysts would be crazy not to avail themselves of their services.

Ground Systems Directorate is the land of highly skilled specialists and advanced degrees. In parts of the NGIC's Nicholson Building, one sometimes gets the feeling someone hijacked an entire engineering school, compacted it, then wedged it into the NGIC. From the perspective of skills and subject matter, that is not far from the truth. We have physicists, chemists, computer scientists, mathematicians, and engineers galore-aeronautical, automotive, chemical, electronics, energetics, industrial, mechanical, nuclear, materials, robotics, structural, etc.--as well as assorted modelers, simulation experts, and other technical specialists evaluating virtually everything that could or might be used to threaten our soldiers.

The sheer volume of subject areas covered is extraordinary (tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery, rocket launchers, helicopters, gunbased air defense systems, chemical weapons, small arms, mines, trucks, military engineering equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), command and control systems, radios (every kind you can imagine), radars (battlefield surveillance, fire control, air defense, and more), electronic countermeasures, camouflage, concealment and deception equipment (CC&D) (smoke, decoys, sensor-defeating appliques), along with all associated munitions. Behind this "spear-tip" of military systems-oriented work, there stands a phalanx of in-depth backup focused on components and technologies, to include advanced armor, guidance, explosives, fusing, signals analysis, engines, transmissions, and virtually every other element that makes a vehicle roll or a helicopter hover, not to mention soldier support and ergonomics, microelectronics and information technologies, and many others. Because so much of this work relies on the latest techniques of modeling and simulation, NGIC has developed a series of unique and highly specialized facilities and capabilities to support its work including:

* A dedicated electronic intelligence (ELI NT) laboratory.

* The Compton Compact Radar Range.

* The Simulated Infrared Earth Environment Laboratory.

* The Joint Assessment of Catastrophic Events (JACE) modeling effort (a singular asset for Homeland Defense).

* The Geographical Information Systems initiative and the Digital Imagery Operations Center (of particular interest since they form the backbone of NGIC's imagery support to the Force) providing visual data in a geospatial context that is both convenient to use and maximizes a commander's situational awareness).

The specialists at NGIC provided all of this and more to technical intelligence (TECHINT) consumers. Not surprisingly, many of their customers are from EAC. The weapons developers are significant TECH INT customers of the Ground Systems Directorate. In the Army, they comprise a chain leading from the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics and Technology, to the Program Executive Officers (PEOs), and to the specific systems' Project and Program Managers (PMs) and Army laboratories. We feed specific and detailed projections of adversary systems capabilities in the appropriate future timeframe to the Army weapons developers and the parallel organizations in the other Services. Getting this right is an awesomely difficult task, but repeatedly Ground Systems Directorate and the NGIC have demonstrated the capacity to generate timely and accurate technical threat projections for the Army's arsenal of the future.

Demonstrating the confidence we have earned in this sphere is "Tech Watch," a project undertaken by NGIC at the direct request of the Army DCSINT to analyze whether the Army will have the necessary overmatch against all opponents when the Army Transformation is complete. If there was ever an effort dedicated to bringing it all together, this is it. The NGIC plays an important role within the Intelligence Community's technical arena, with a ground systems member acting as the Army's representative to the Weapons Systems and Space Intelligence Committee, our Chief Scientist chairing the Scientific and Technical Intelligence Committee, and NGIC Ground Systems analysts at all levels making vital contributions to national defense intelligence projections of the technical threat.

Amidst this sea of conceptualizers, we also have our "hands on" personnel, the "hunter-gatherers" of military intelligence, characteristically found on recent battlefields or other places foreign materiel may be available, looking down hatches, and kicking tires. Under the auspices of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), the NGIC is the primary agency within DOD responsible for the acquisition-requirements management and exploitation of foreign ground systems materiel and helicopters. If the members of the NGIC's Foreign Materiel (FM) program had a motto, it would be "bring 'em back intact." This is an extremely complex process that involves the adept juggling of factors such as materiel availability, prioritized customer requirements, funding, and test-site availability and scheduling before the "take"--in the form of a foreign tank or helicopter or radar, or systems upgrade--even arrives.

Upon receipt of the item, the first thing done is a safety inspection; nothing gets driven, flown, or shot unless the FM Office is certain it does not pose a hazard to those working with it or to the environment. Once they certify it is safe, they prepare an initial report informing senior Army and government officials of the acquisition, its condition, a preliminary threat assessment, and the anticipated gains from its exploitation. Detailed analysis and testing then goes forward, and at each stage the test agencies prepare reports for review by NGIC to ensure that they satisfy all technical requirements. The results go to the PEOs, PMs, and commands with immediate need for the information; they also integrate these results into other all-source analysis products.

Finally, upon completion of the project, the Directorate prepares a final report for the DOD that is composed of significant test data, observations, and assessments. No statistics are available on how many U.S. soldiers' lives or helicopters and tanks they saved because of the NGIC's FM programs. To an Army that depends on decisive overmatch, knowing as much as possible about the weapons in foreign arsenals is and will continue to be a significant advantage leading to decisive victories. So you can bank on our FM programs to continue hunting and gathering what you need.

While phrases like "seeing is believing" and "a picture is worth a thousand words" have been around a long time, they still "cut to the bone." Visualization is critical to military intelligence, and NGIC's Imagery Assessments Directorate (IAD), headquartered at the Washington Naval Yard, is singularly capable of providing the pictures the Army and combatant commanders need. Due to its unique talent pool combining highly experienced imagery analysts and imagery scientists specializing in physics, chemistry, and mechanical and electrical engineering, [AD is able to develop and produce a range of sophisticated imagery intelligence (IMINT) products simply unmatched elsewhere.

Within the NGIC, IAD provides synergy, leveraging the Center's technical strengths with precise visualization and imagery-based modeling tools, exemplified by the Integrated Assessment of Chemical Production Facilities, a program with customers at the highest levels of government. Similarly, IAD has proven a valued partner within the Intelligence Community, teaming with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) on programs as varied as embassy studies and the Joint Digital Keys program (an electronic visual reference--and NIMA's most visited website--providing analysts with multiple angles and views of a wide range of military equipment).

IAD is among NGIC's most direct links to the Army and the warfighter. In addition to serving as the Army's voice for imagery collection management, IAD's readiness training (REDTRAIN) program is critical to the training of Army imagery analysts, providing hands-on experience with our sophisticated equipment and giving them the opportunity to pursue tasks while at the NGIC that are relevant to the daily work of their own units. That isjust one aspect of IAD's support to Army training; lAD's imagery can help to develop problem sets and add reality to exercises at the National Training Center (NTC), the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), and at theater level. Yet of all the things IAD does, the most critical is its support to soldiers actually engaged in operations. Whether it is supplying commercial imagery for force protection, pre-deployment area studies, analysis of specialized in-country facilities such as hospitals, the best way to get from PointAto Point B, three dimensional (3D) visualizations, and fly-throughs, or longer-term analysis unavailable elsewhere, NGIC's IAD is dedicated to backing up the CINCs and their intelligence arms with the imagery support they need to orient our Army forces and help them perform their missions.

No article this length can capture the full breadth of what is done at the NGIC, except to say we do a great deal more. NGIC--

* Develops intelligence analysis tools like Pathfinder.

* Manages the transition to digital production.

* Leverages world-class expertise under our University Expert Program.

* Improves intelligence access and visualization in urban terrain.

* Monitors threat mines and antimine technology, creates Minefield Geospatial Digital products, and provides aid to worldwide de-mining efforts.

* Supports DOD databases and builds our own such as SPIRIT (Systems Parametric Information Relational Intelligence Tool) and FIRES (Facilities, Infrastructure, and Engineering Systems).

* Enhances productivity through our close relationships with sixteen U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) Military Intelligence Detachments.

Yet nothing is certain except change, and because of that there is one area that demands detailed explanation.

Since September 11

Like all U.S. citizens, we have adjusted our priorities. NGIC has always supplied integrated all-source intelligence to our warriors, traditionally around 35 percent of our customer base. That has now intensified. On September 12, the NGIC Commander presented a new vision to help focus our efforts. NGIC's primary mission for the duration of the crisis is support of U.S. and Coalition forces engaged in the worldwide campaign against terrorism.

The campaign against terrorists may prove to be a marathon and not a sprint, but we have already covered a lot of ground. NGIC is a relatively small organization, so we have the flexibility to task-organize to address operational requirements directly, it has also helped that we have been able to activate more than 140 reservists who are now an integral part of our team. Production of actionable intelligence has surged. In the first three months since September 11, the augmented NGIC workforce generated nearly 500 products; while they are short and to the point, they also constitute nearly three years' worth of normal production. These are available on our Crisis Home page. Available on both the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET) and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) by the middle of December, the Crisis Homepage had received more than 80,000 hits. In another example of NGIC's support to Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, our Geographic Information System (GIS) program has accelerated to the point that in three weeks, we were producing material originally targeted for two years. It has not been easy. Long hours have become the norm for many. All of us have surged at one point or another. However, our morale remains high, and so does our determination to do all we can to help end the scourge of terrorism.

Getting in Touch

Because we are in the business of serving your ground forces intelligence needs, we can be reached on many levels. For example, you can call us at (434) 980-7000, our main telephone number. For more sensitive information, the NGIC is part of SIPRNET ( Finally, on JWICS we are on INTELINK at If you have an intelligence production requirement, you should submit it through the Community On-line Intelligence System for End Users and Managers (COLISEUM).

Although we are busy, we still welcome visitors (we had 1,100 in October alone). To visit NGIC, you will need a point of contact (POC) here at the Center. NGIC's entire facility is a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF). To have unescorted access, you must pass the appropriate clearances and accesses with a need to know. We accept Intelligence Community badges for Top Secret with some special access. If additional accesses are necessary for a meeting or conference, have your security officer pass your clearance and the appropriate accesses. If you are attending a meeting that does not require special access, then pass just the appropriate level of clearance. You can send collateral clearances to Commander, U.S. Army National Ground Intelligence Center, 2055 Boulders Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22911. Gaining entrance to the parking lot and building requires that you follow the instructions provided by your POC. Welcome to NGIC!

Robert O'Connell, Ph.D., is an Intelligence Analyst at the National Guard Intelligence Center. Readers may contact him via E-mail at or by telephone: 434-980-7274 or DSN 521-7274.
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Title Annotation:National Ground Intelligence Center
Author:O'Connell, Robert; White, John Steven
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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