New Ways to Leverage Human Analytical Power

by Colonel Theodore G. Chopin

The current and future versions of the All-Source Analysis System (ASAS) may never contain all of the desired functionality identified by the Military Intelligence (MI) Corps as a necessary part of the ASAS. The course of MI doctrinal development, increasingly rapid advances in technology, and MI professionals' different ways of supporting commanders guarantee the continuing reality that we will always be catching up. Success, then, in building and fielding improvements to the current ASAS software and hardware must always be relative to the perception of whether the combat and materiel development communities are doing as well as they are able and expected to do.
This article will not attempt to force the reader to adopt a perception. Instead it will deal with some of the important principles that are emerging as the underpinning to the program's current and future focus and direction. An understanding of these principles should help guide the formulation of the perception. In other words, the ASAS program leadership ought to have some areas of mutual, continued focus in order that they might make the best prioritization decisions.


There are four major parts which comprise the ASAS system of systems
Of these, two are really more important components of this entire system and should take precedence in most resourcing considerations.
For overall ASAS operations, the most important part of the system is the ASAS RWS. This is the part of the total ASAS system that is the primary intelligence presentation device. It is also the tool that provides the majority of the intelligence workstation capability that many MI leaders and soldiers have at their immediate disposal. Also of critical importance is the fact that this is the MI battlefield functional area (BFA) plug into the Army Battle Command System (ABCS).
The "remote" designation in its name says that this combination of machine and software has been designed for operation outside the Analysis and Control Element (ACE). Whether located at echelons above corps, division, brigade, armored cavalry regiment, separate brigade or battalion, this intelligence workstation is key to successful ASAS operations.
At lower echelons, the need for the RWS to contain and manipulate large amounts of data decreases. So, at the battalion level, the paramount need is for the RWS to manage only the limited amount of information necessary to create and present the current relevant enemy picture. The RWS will also provide well-integrated and automatic tools which allow the intelligence operator to accomplish his mission. Both the current fielding of today's RWS (the RWS Version 1 with Warlord software), and the feverish development pace of the next generation RWS aim toward this end. Task Force XXI will receive that RWS. Its designation is ASAS RWS Version 3 (V3). Following discovery, experimentation, and testing of resident capabilities in this next generation workstation, the next generation fielded ASAS RWS, Version 4, will incorporate these lessons learned. Regardless of which version is in the field, the RWS will remain "the pointed edges of the spear" for the MI Corps' primary weapon system, the ASAS!

ASAS All-Source

The second important part of ASAS is the All-Source functionality in the ACE. This key element of the system is steering the developmental and operational effort to best leverage the power of the ASAS. Underlying resource allocation decisions at all levels should be the understanding that to leverage the current and future systems' power to the fullest extent possible, the focus must be on getting all available information into the All-Source Correlated Data Base (ASCDB). This is where the most powerful part of the ASAS software resides. The unit that focuses ACE operational effort on getting intelligence collection and preprocessing outputs into the ASCDB can realize the most complete, relevant, and timely intelligence production. The mechanisms and concepts associated with leveraging all this single database's fusion capability are new to our Corps. The principles are complex. The database is a single, multidimensional one.
  • Figure 1.
    We are asking all of our analysts and leaders to exercise new dynamic analytical methodology before the data arrives. They must establish inventive and complete normalization definitions, multiple alarm sets, desired coefficients of correlation, required output data-element compression ratios, and many more such seemingly esoteric values. This is becoming a new lexicon of the Army MI Corps. The often improved ASAS Block I all-source software and hardware has these capabilities today. Admittedly, they are not as user-friendly as we would like and as the software will become. This fact, however, is not a valid excuse to avoid its use. The fact is, it performs. The smartest leaders and operators are using its power today.
    As the Block II program progresses, additional functionality will be integrated and it will become easier to use. The facilitators for this part of the ASAS to become more useful have been the conversion of the ACE all-source platforms to the DEC Alpha reduced instruction set computing (RISC) machinery, and the outstanding post-deployment, software support work that has been done by the Communications and Electronics Command.
    In other words, the all-source capability that is in every ACE today is not the capability that was there a year ago. The speed and completeness with which the software can now operate has made it effective to invest the time and effort needed to really focus on the all-source functionality. MI commanders and G2s are now allowing their operators to get sufficient numbers of weekly hours on their machines working real and exercise traffic to be able to establish and maintain proficient operators. Given that opportunity, we can realize actual benefits.
    These two parts of the ASAS (the RWS and the ACE system) are key to leveraging its current power. But, of course, they cannot and do not stand alone. Without the single-source functionality and communications gateways in the ACE, the ASAS as a "system of systems" does not function. They are both vitally important too.

    Application of Lessons Learned

    We continue to move toward new single-source, all-source, remote workstation, and communications software packages, all integrated into a common hardware and software infrastructure. We are beginning to make some of the lessons we have learned in the last few years pay off more fully. The Program Manager Intelligence Fusion will deliver this new capability to all ASAS users. Human-computer interfaces will improve. Software throughout the ABCS will become much more common and intuitive to operate. We will establish new and powerful linkages between processes which will allow operators to make single entries and receive valuable, immediate feedback. allowing the analyst to spend time doing real analysis.
    Until now we have primarily focused on getting a capability to the field. Whether it was the original Block I hardware and software, the improved hardware and software, or the Block I software on the ASAS-Extended commercial hardware variant, the first priority was to get something in the hands of our MI Corps. It has provided a limited capability and helped us begin to learn from experience the priorities for the next generation systems. This has been done.

    Software Support

    A special word on software support is germane to this article. It takes the cooperation of all and considerable resources to continue to be successful. Key to our future success in making the ASAS better and more interoperable with the other systems on the battlefield, is the requirement to adequately support software after fielding. In many ways, the fielding of the ASAS across the force has defined the new paradigm in this vitally important area. This new paradigm is full-time, on-site software support led by a robust BFA software engineering structure. No central software laboratory will ever be able to replicate all the interoperability requirements of our force. It is a fact that each unit is different and has different software interoperability requirements. It is therefore absolutely essential that software support be available on-site for a "system of systems" as complicated as ABCS and the ASAS.
    Not all share this view! More than any other threat to our continued short-term success is the move to limit this software support function. It is this author's opinion that we must all understand and stay engaged in this important dialogue over the coming years if we are to maximize our success in digitizing our Army.


    Now, within resources provided, we will move on to provide more of the critical operational capability required by MI warriors to answer increasingly demanding questions. Using the established software development and support infrastructure, we can maintain and enhance the horizontal interoperability of the current ASAS while building interoperability within the ABCS and Global Command and Control System (GCCS) as they are fielded. It is and will continue to be the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) System Manager's job to coordinate all ASAS efforts to capture new requirements and drive improvements in the current system.
    There is no one magic solution for the intelligence soldier. ASAS will not do it all. The proficiency levels demanded of us and all our people in communications, collection, preprocessing, processing, and fusion are large and growing. The age of the information warrior is only beginning to be understood and dealt with in a meaningful way. With cooperation, maintenance of proficiency and training, and the provision of reasonable funding, we will continue to make great strides.
    Colonel Chopin has been the TRADOC System Manager, ASAS, since 1992. He has had a varied career including a number of command and staff positions at field stations in Europe and an assignment at the National Security Agency. Colonel Chopin is an Army War College graduate. He has a bachelor degree in Business Administration from Georgia State University and a master of science degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California. Readers can reach Colonel Chopin at (520) 533-3504 and DSN 821-3504. For additional information, visit TSM ASAS on the World Wide Web at