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FAS Project on Intelligence Reform

Distributed Common Ground Systems (DCGS)

Distributed Common Ground Systems (DCGS) was the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO) vision for the integrated architecture of all ground/surface systems. The DARO strategy was for DCGS to integrate the Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) ground/surface systems in the Common Imagery Ground/Surface System (CIGSS) architecture, and the Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) ground/surface systems are integrated in the Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA), and then to combine the CIGSS and JASA architectures into DCGS. DCGS will be completed by the addition of IMINT, SIGINT, and MASINT specific functions and components to the common infrastructure.

Ground- and surface-based systems (GSS) have been developed to process, analyze, and disseminate the data generated by airborne and national collection sensors of imagery and signals. Currently, there are development programs for specialized Measurements and Signatures Intelligence (MASINT) ground or surface processing and analysis systems. These systems have been developed to satisfy the reconnaissance imagery collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination needs of individual services. The experience of Desert Storm showed that these systems need to become more versatile in order to provide the support that the Joint Task Force (JTF) Commander needs under unforeseen operational conditions.

The imagery GSS comprise a family of specialized, integrated, fixed, and deployable systems that have been and are being developed to satisfy the reconnaissance imagery collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination needs of individual Services. Each existing GSS operates on image data from specific sensors and was not originally developed to handle image data from the sensors of another GSS. A similar situation exists with GSS specialized for processing and analyzing signals. One GSS handles both imaging and signals data.

The DCGS Handbook provides insight into the overall objectives, responsibilities and purpose of the DCGS. Handbook efforts are currently vocused on version 1, with an intended audience of executive decision-makers. Once the CONOPS and Handbook v.1 are approved, version 2 focuses on programmatic issues.

The DCGS testbed's employment vision is to accomplish air-ground interoperability testing, support sensor development, evaluate CIGSS components, and support CIGSS architecture standards development. There are significant advantages to a mobile lab for sensor development, co-locating with contractors to develop ICD and risk reduction, co-locating with airframe contractors to verify sensor-to-ground station connectivity, and co-locating with government/contractors for final flight test ICD verification. The testbed has an expanding role in SIGINT and MASINT disciplines and the testbed's involvement in CIGSS level one and two certification programs.

The standing down of DARO and it's replacement organization, DASC4I, have a DCGS funding line in the FY '99 POM. NSA has recently reassignd the DCGS effort from K4 section to PI (operations).

Sources and Methods

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood

Updated Saturday, November 21, 1998 12:16:38 PM