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Providing the soldier with integrated base defense capabilities: base expeditionary targeting and surveillance systems--combined.

On a summer day in a major metropolitan area in the Middle East, a Soldier scans a small thoroughfare with his Rapid Deployment Integrated Surveillance System (RDISS.) The street is fairly busy. From the left-hand side of the screen, the Soldier sees a little girl stumbling along, apparently weighed down by the backpack she is carrying. The little girl proceeds to a small carnival to his right field of view, and he follows her until she is out of view. Panning back to the same street, the Soldier now sees a man in a black coat walking the same path that the little girl walked The man seems to have something in his pocket. As a second man approaches him, the man waves him away. Then, reaching into his pocket, the man walks out of view. Seconds later debris flies across the Soldier's field of view, emanating from the carnival area. The street is now in chaos as people flee the area. The man has just detonated the backpack being carried by the little girl--his own daughter But this man would not escape justice. Several months later, he was tried in an Iraqi court, and the main evidence used against him was the data from the Soldier's RDISS. It was this incriminating data that would ultimately lead to the man's conviction and sentencing.


The BETSS-C Family of Systems

The RDISS is part of a family of integrated systems known as the Base Expeditionary Targeting and Surveillance Systems-Combined (BETSS-C). Fielded in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2008 by the Project Manager, Night Vision/ Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (PM NV/RSTA), BETSS-C consistently ranks among U.S. Central Command's top-five priority systems and provides Soldiers with reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting capabilities. BETSS-C includes five systems: the Force Protection Suite (FP Suite)--the Long Range Thermal Imager (LRTI), the Battlefield Anti-Intrusion System (an unattended ground sensor), and the Man-portable Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar (MSTAR); the Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) tower; the Cerberus Mobile Surveillance System; the Cerberus Scout (dismounted version ofthe Cerberus); and the RDISS.

While each of these systems brings its own RSTA and FP capabilities, what makes BETSS-C unique and powerful is the integration of three of the five systems that make up this family of systems. This integration is achieved by the "heart" of BETSS-C--the Standard Ground Station (SGS). The SGS (currently deployed on RAID towers) will provide a common graphical user interface (GUI) for the RAID, Cerberus, and FP Suite. This addition will extend the SGS's integration capability for targeting and surveillance systems and external sensors to enable multi-sensor cross-cueing on all BETSS-C systems. The SGS is also capable of linking to other systems on the Afghan Mission Network and is interoperable with key mission command networks, including the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2), the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), and the Distributed Common Ground System--Army (DCGS-A).


Originally conceived in response to a 2007 joint operational needs statement, each of BETSS-C's systems provides the most current RSTA and FP technologies. Fielded since 2005 and integrated into the BETSS-C in 2008, the RAID tower is available in two versions: an 80-foot or 107-foot tower on which a day and night sensor is mounted. RAID provides 360-degree, high-resolution, day/night capabilities and includes the same MSTAR Ground Surveillance Radar (GSR) as the FP Suite. The RAID tower is ideal for tracking population behavioral patterns and monitoring named areas of interest (NAIs) and target areas of interest (TAIs).

Like the RAID tower, the Cerberus Mobile Surveillance System also provides cooled infrared (IR) and day cameras as well as an Advanced Radar Surveillance System (ARSS). The Cerberus, with its lower sensor height and far smaller footprint when compared to the RAID, is ideal for use in smaller spaces (i.e., spaces that are not large enough to accommodate a RAID tower). Trailer-mounted, the Cerberus is unmanned and operated remotely. Additionally, the system can be sling-loaded to remote locations via rotary wing aircraft. As with RAID, the Cerberus enables tracking of population behavioral patterns and monitoring of NAIs and TAIs.

The Cerberus Scout is a dismounted version of the trailer-mounted Cerberus. The Cerberus Scout includes a cooled IR and daylight camera, ARSS, laser range finder (LRF), and an IR laser pointer. It is ideally suited for use at observation posts (OPs). Like the Cerberus and the RAID, the Cerberus Scout enables tracking of population behavioral patterns and monitoring of NAIs and TAIs.

The RDISS comprises a suite of fixed, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras; pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) cameras; and a midrange thermal imager (MRTI). As demonstrated in the carnival detonation case, the RDISS is also capable of storing video that may be used for a number of purposes, including forensics. Working together, the sensors comprising RDISS provide basic security monitoring and an "over-the-wall" capability, enabling robust force protection.

Like the RDISS, the FP Suite comprises several sensors that provide improved situational awareness of perimeter and entry control points, "over-the-wall" coverage of dead space, and forensic exploitation via recording capability. With its pan-tilt-zoom cameras, CCTV cameras, infrared illuminators, GSR, and unattended ground sensor, the FP Suite provides "close-in" video surveillance as well as detection of large vehicles at 36 kilometers, small vehicles at 24 kilometers, and personnel at 12 kilometers. All of the sensors within the FP Suite are tailored to the needs of a specific installation and can include up to 20 sensors in total.

Overall, the sub-systems that comprise BETSS-C were specifically designed to be complementary, thereby achieving two related objectives: maximizing the strengths of each system, while simultaneously ensuring coverage of "dead spots" by employing the complementary sub-systems. When used in this fashion, BETSS-C provides an effective, 360-degree "surveillance umbrella." The RDISS and FP Suite enable "close-in" perimeter surveillance, and, when working in concert with the RAID and Cerberus, these sub-systems facilitate robust, holistic FP and RSTA operations. In light of this, most forward operating bases (FOBs) and combat outposts (COPs) employ at least two of the five BETSS-C sub-systems at any given time.

This powerful combination of the BETSS-C systems has led Soldiers and operators to refer to the system as a "one-stop shop" that, when employed correctly, "lets nothing get in" to a FOB or other secured area. In many instances, Soldiers have noted that BETSS-C has prevented ambushes and complex attacks and, thus, has often contributed to saving lives in theater. In fact, it has been noted that enemy activity in the vicinity of a FOB or COP decreases by approximately 60 percent when BETSS-C systems are installed and employed properly.

State-of-the-Art BETSS-C Training

No system, no matter how technologically advanced, can be used to its full potential without being linked to a larger battle strategy and without being operated by trained, knowledgeable personnel. Since early in the initial fielding of BETSS-C, PM NV/RSTA has invested in the development of best-in-class leadership awareness and understanding training for unit leaders and operator training for Soldier-operators. Through its Doctrine and Tactics Training (DTT) team, the BETSS-C program provides on-site guidance (home station, combat training center, or post-mobilization location) and training to help corps, division and brigade leaders, and their battle staffs understand how to effectively incorporate BETSS-C's full suite of capabilities into unit planning processes. Because the DTT focuses on system employment in accordance with current Army doctrine, a division or corps commander will develop a comprehensive understanding of the capabilities their brigade combat teams will gain when employing the BETSS-C system and will also understand how it fits into their overall strategy.

At the unit level, leaders will have developed an understanding of BETSS-C's capabilities and limitations, including how to leverage BETSS-C as a force multiplier, as well as how to incorporate BETSS-C into planning processes for force protection and information collection in accordance with FMs 3-37 and 3-55, respectively. Unit leaders will also develop an understanding of BETSS-C's potential for interoperability with other common battlefield systems as well as the myriad of opportunities for BETSS-C operator training. At the close of a session with the BETSS-C DTT, a unit leader will have a clear understanding of how to leverage BETSS-C to achieve larger, strategic objectives on the battlefield.

At the operational level, the BETSS-C training team, primarily located at the BETSS-C training facility in Fayetteville, N.C., provides comprehensive schoolhouse and on-site training (via its mobile training program) to units prior to their deployment and to field service representatives (FSRs), trainers/installers (T/Is). For FSRs and T/Is, the BETSS-C training team provides a 15-week curriculum at its schoolhouse in Fayetteville. This training includes hands-on work with actual BETSS-C systems to reinforce learning and skill development. T/Is may also access refresher training and associated materials via the training team's online training that leverages the popular, user-friendly Black Board application. For contractor-operators, the training team provides a 15-day training curriculum at its schoolhouses in Fayetteville or Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. For Soldier-operators, the training team brings the training to the units via its unique mobile training trailers (MTTs), which are fully customized and self-contained, retrofitted semi tractor-trailers fully equipped with system emulators to enable hands-on training. Like the contractor-operator training, the Soldier-operator training includes

a 15-day curriculum that combines classroom and hands-on training to reinforce learning and aid in enduring skill development. Contractor and Soldier-operators also have access to the training team's online training tool where they can access and take full courses, as well as download refresher materials.

BETSS-C: Looking Ahead

Since its initial fielding in the fall of 2008, the BETSS-C family of systems has been viewed as an absolutely essential capability for base defense and has made significant contributions to saving lives in both Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. Additionally, in recognition of its systems engineering excellence, particularly regarding the interoperability of three of its systems, BETSS-C won the 2009 Department of Defense Top 5 Program Award. As stated earlier, the system's SGS will enable intra-BETSS-C interoperability, which will facilitate a unit's ability to share BETSS-C data among numerous systems. Building on these successes, PM NV/RSTA is currently working to further integrate BETSS-C, via the SGS capability, with other key RSTA systems such as the Lightweight Counter-Mortar Radar, the Persistent Ground Surveillance Systems, the Persistent Threat Detection System, and the unmanned aerial systems. This integration will enable the passing of data among disparate systems, thereby strengthening a unit's ability to create an effective persistent surveillance capability. Anticipating the Soldier's continued need for integrated, actionable information, BETSS-C's proof of concept has set a firm foundation for future interoperability capability among numerous RSTA systems.

To learn more about PM NV/RSTA and the BETSS-C family of systems, please visit the NV/RSTA Web site at

To learn more about the BETSS-C DTT, contact Philip Thompson at To learn more about BETSS-C training, contact Steve Beltson at


Dr. Christina Bates is a strategy and strategic communications specialist for the Project Manager, Night Vision/Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (PM NV/RSTA). Bates holds an undergraduate degree in Communication and Sociology from Boston College, a J.D. and master's degree from Boston University, and a Ph.D in Communication from Arizona State University.
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Title Annotation:Professional Forum
Author:Bates, Christina
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 2012
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