Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP)
The United States has national satellite systems which are
capable of performing worldwide reconnaissance and
surveillance. Many of the systems have been designed to
support strategic requirements. They are, however, capable of
providing useful information to tactical commanders if the
information can be provided in a timely manner. Classified
information on the capabilities of the satellites is available in the
Joint Tactical Exploitation of National Systems (JTENS)
manual available in many Special Security Offices (SSO).
The Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) program seeks to integrate current and emerging national capabilities into tactical decision-making process. In 1973, the Army took
the lead in DoD by establishing the Army Space Program Office
(ASPO) to execute the Army Tactical Exploitation of National
Capabilities Program (TENCAP), serve as the unique technical
and fiscal interface with the national program offices, and manage
the TENCAP material acquisition.
The TENCAP program is based on exploiting current and
future tactical potential of national capabilities and integrating
these capabilities into the tactical decision making process
as rapidly as possible. This approach was so successful that
Congress ordered all services to establish a TENCAP program based
on the Army's model in 1977.
National systems are designed to support strategic requirements.
TENCAP leverages the national technology to provide downlinking
of these strategic systems to tactical levels. Initially, ground processing terminals were
developed for use at corps and echelons above corps (EAC)
headquarters. Technology and applications have evolved so
that certain systems are now employed at division level and
below. This data provides
an accurate and current picture of the enemy and the terrain
during planning and execution.
National data combined with data
form from other sources significantly enhances the Intelligence
Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB). For Haiti, TENCAP systems
provided the primary source of imagery directly to the JTF Commander's
analysts for planning the operation and executing the initial
assault. For Desert Storm TENCAP systems provided the majority
of targeting support for deep operations and imagery for IPB
support of operation planning/maneuver for both XVIII and VII
TENCAP systems are also a significant
source of support to humanitarian efforts. For Hurricane Andrew
TENCAP systems provided the quickest and most detailed damage
assessment to the task force commander. TENCAP secondary dissemination
and intelligence broadcast capabilities provide continuing awareness
through all phases of operations. They provide the tactical commander
the ability to see and hear deep in today's battlefield
and then to assess the impact of shooting deep.
The Army Space Program Office has developed and fielded over
sixty systems to both Army and Air Force tactical units. After
twenty years the ASPO charter was revalidated in 1993. Today
the Army TENCAP program is the largest and most successful of
the individual services programs.
Sources and Methods
Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Updated Tuesday, November 24, 1998 5:55:56 PM