Space Systems Expertise for the 21st Century

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National Systems Development Program

by Mr. Alfred Smith and Captain Hermann G. Hasken, III  

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The Army's dependency on nonconventional, overhead broadcast intelligence systems is increasing. This has resulted in the need to build a cadre of "space smart" collection management (CM) officers with the ability to task national space-borne systems, pull data from national databases, and coordinate to have it fed to tactical user common systems.

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Major Donald Hodge accepts his NSDP graduation certificate from Major General John Thomas, INSCOM  Commander, in a ceremony on September 1997.

In 1991, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) tasked the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade to build a professional development program for officers designated to work in space systems intelligence collection, operations, and mission management. The result was creation of the National Systems Development Program (NSDP). This one-year intensive academic and site-orientation program is specifically designed to train officers in signals intelligence (SIGINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT) CM and site operations (see Figure2 1). The program also requires a subjective competency assessment at the end of the program to ensure that INSCOM is sending well-trained officers back to corps as collection managers.

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Figure 1. Program Outline.

NDSP Training Strategy

The NSDP's primary focus is to train officers to leverage non-conventional, overhead technologies in support of decisionmakers at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. It also provides Army and national elements with officers that are knowledgeable in the area of specific-source intelligence: in short, who to go to for what type of intelligence collected from what specific national asset. NSDP graduates report to their units with a wealth of useful sources and points of contact at different programs, offices, and activities. The training program also gives the NSDP graduate considerable knowledge in leading-edge digital communications, data feeds, and the communications architecture; CM principles and practical application; spacecraft orbitology; and also the Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) Program user orientation.

Specific training includes a variety of self-paced and formal classroom instruction at the National Cryptologic School at the National Security Agency (NSA) (see Figure 1), resident programs at several other national and Service-specific courses, and at various sites throughout the world. NSDP students are involved in extensive travel throughout the duration of the curriculum, visiting many of the sites conducting non-conventional SIGINT systems CM, reporting, and mission operations. The site orientations provide an in-depth understanding of the functions of various national intelligence organizations and facilities as well as building a host of contacts that can only be achieved through physical presence at these locations. The training and curriculum also have built-in flexibility based on the previous education and experience of each officer.

How to Apply

Officers interested in the NSDP can apply by sending an informal letter of application through their chains of command to MI Branch at the U.S. Total Army Personnel Command. Officers are selected by a board convened at PERSCOM and informed by MI Branch, with follow-on permanent change of station moves to the 743d MI Battalion at Fort Meade, Maryland. The 743d MI Battalion, the Army's "Space Exploitation" experts, is the NSDP administrator. Currently, three officers are selected annually.

The minimum selection prerequisites include the following elements:

Follow-on Assignments

Pending approval by PERSCOM, NSDP graduates will receive the additional skill identifier "3F" pending approval of PERSCOM. This will help assign NSDP graduates in specific space-related operations and CM positions at the corps G2 and higher levels. Headquarters INSCOM, PERSCOM and the Office of the Chief of MI, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (USAIC&FH) are coordinating with units in the field to revalidate or recommend additional positions for these officers. Currently, 42 have been identified in areas such as corps G2 CM sections, overhead systems operations offices, Regional SIGINT Operations Centers (RSOCs), and CM activities throughout the intelligence community.

The assignment possibilities range from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Hawaii, and to the Pentagon. Host commands include U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), INSCOM, and U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM). Due to their special skills and links to the national intelligence community, the program's two most recent graduates have deployed in support of Operation JOINT GUARD as the Senior Collection Manager in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and as the G2 to the National Support Element in Hungary.


Are you interested but you think that the course material might be a bit too technically intimidating? This course was specifically designed to assist both officers with considerable time "in the field" or away from purely SIGINT assignments so that they can return or support the combat commander with national-systems expertise. Most of the recent graduates of NSDP came from a variety of tactical assignments to include Fort Bragg, Germany, and Korea.

The course work is challenging, and the site visits are interesting. The NSDP provides a unique opportunity for officers who are interested in becoming systems smart on 21st century technology today. Recent SIGINT "End to End" studies supported by both USAIC&FH and INSCOM indicate that the skills necessary to ensure the future of the intelligence profession (especially in the area of CM) are staggering. Included in that set of skills is the ability to deliver relevant targetable information directly to the combat commander in near-real time. The NSDP will provide officers with an extraordinary set of skills that will enable them to exploit national space systems on behalf of U.S. forces. Come join the team that has its sights set like its motto, "Beyond All Boundaries." For further information, contact the S3, 743d MI Battalion, at (301) 677-0199 or DSN 923-0199, or S3 Operations at (301) 688-8536, E-mail haskenh

Mr. Smith has been reassigned. He was the S3 Operations Officer in Charge in the 743d MI Battalion, and also the Program Administrator of the NSDP. His expertise and in-depth knowledge in the communications architectures of the Intelligence battlefield functional area put him in a unique position to build on the NSDP program and prepare collection managers for the future. Mr. Smith received a bachelor of science in Psychology from Regents University. His previous assignments include positions at the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), U.S. Army Central Command staff, and 10th Mountain Division(Light), with whom he deployed to Saudi Arabia, Haiti, and Somalia.

Captain "Herm" Hasken currently serves as the Battalion S3 for the 743d MI Battalion. Before his assignment as Battalion S3 of the Army's Space Exploitation Battalion, he graduated from the National Security Agency's Junior Officer Cryptologic Career Program (JOCCP). CPT Hasken recently returned from his deployment in support of Operations JOINT ENDEAVOR and GUARD. His numerous assignments include Company Command and Assistant J3 at the Kunia RSOC, and G2 Staff, 82d Airborne Division during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. He received a bachelor of arts in International Relations from Texas A&M University, and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Information Systems Management from Central Michigan University.