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FAS Project on Intelligence Reform

Linked Operations-Intelligence Centers Europe [LOCE]

LOCE (an acronym currently expanded as Linked Operations-Intelligence Centers Europe but initially formed from Limited Operational Capability Europe) is a US-developed system utilized several hundred NATO locations, but with limited bandwidth capability. There has been a significant expansion in the number of LOCE sites in the course of recent years, with most of these terminals deployed in support of theatre operations, including Operation Joint Guard in the former Yugoslavia. LOCE started as a US system and was adopted by US allies because it was further along in development and offered better capability than what was available to them at the time. The system consists of web-enabled PCs (clients), a centralized set of servers, and dedicated communications circuits, providing multimedia E-mail, bulletin board, TACELINT, secondary imagery, order of battle databases, network services, and a secure voice capability.

The LOCE system supports combined intelligence operations by connecting users at all echelons, from the national ministry of defense to the tactical level. LOCE is a SECRET REL NATO intelligence system that serves as USEUCOMís intelligence system for coalition warfare. It is also the declared US gateway to NATOís Battlefield Information Collection and Exploitation System (BICES). LOCE provides users with connectivity among NATO and US operational units and decision-makers in the form of gateways such as BICES, SHAPE's CRONOS network and SACLANT's Maritime Command and Control Information System (MCCIS). This gives each user access to near-real-time (NRT), all-source, correlated air, ground and naval intelligence analysis and products. It supports I&W, current intelligence, collection management, and most aspects of the targeting cycle including nominations, air tasking orders, and battle damage assessments. It also provides the TBM data architecture supporting shared early warning among NATO and theater components. LOCE is the designated US injection system for the sharing of theater missile defense data under the Shared Early Warning Program.

USEUCOM has the responsibility for maintaining (LOCE). Originally designed as a NATO-only information dissemination system, LOCE has greatly aided the dissemination of US intelligence to coalition partners in the Balkans. The LOCE Correlation Center, located at the Joint Analysis Center, RAF Molesworth, UK, functions as the US gateway for exchange of operations intelligence with NATO. LOCE remains a top priority for continued support and funding for needed enhancements as NATO expands and combined operations increase.

LOCE is the backbone intelligence system for NATO, and remains a top priority for continued support and funding for needed enhancements as NATO expands and coalition missions increase in intensity and frequency. While NATO coalition partners now are fully using LOCE and sharing information among themselves, there are many cases where US forces are not taking full advantage of the information in LOCE. Electronic transfer of LOCE information to US systems, e.g., Warlord, is not currently available. And LOCE utility is still limited in many locations because of severely constricted bandwidth and/or air gaps. LOCE is definitely not a user-friendly system, as it has difficult operating instructions.

Initially, information entered into LOCE was "fat-fingered in," meaning that an operator physically typed the relevant information into the LOCE system which created an opportunity for error in translations. The current process is to copy the US information to disk or some other media and then transfer it to LOCE, which still requires manual intervention but with less errors and risk.

The 1996 Defense Science Board Task Force concluded that use of an electronic gateway with the appropriate "guard" technology would not significantly increase the risk over today's methodology and may even improve it. The cycle time for transfer would be faster because less effort is required on the part of the operator(s), who would simply "send" it to LOCE rather then first copying it. The net benefit to the warfighter would come from being able to better operate inside the enemy's information cycle.

The Task Force concluded that the philosophy that "We must maintain an air gap" is not the right solution to security concerns in this environment. DIA has several less than perfect, multilevel security solutions available now, and the Task Force recommended that DIA pick one, install it at the Joint Analysis Center (JAC) as well as other locations operating to the same constraints and not wait for the 100% solution, given that the benefits of doing so appear to outweigh the risk in this circumstance.

While significant progress has been made in strengthening the LOCE system by extending the a range of information that can be carried on it and encouraging allies and coalition partners to make their own contributions of information, US forces are not exploiting LOCE as they could. Continuing limitations with the LOCE system that contribute to its under utilization by US forces include: LOCE bandwidth is far too low at major nodes (only 19.2 kbps and often is less than that depending on how a site is configured) and does not allow for effective information push to the brigade level; US forces cannot easily move between LOCE and US databases; the ACE is reacting rather than pushing information; and there is no electronic connectivity between the Army's Warlord system and LOCE.

Integrating LOCE with the Joint Broadcast System [JBS] delivery system would allow LOCE users much faster access to larger product files on a routine basis and free up some of its very limited bandwidth for other important uses. At the same time, the LOCE concept could be migrated into the DISN architecture to provide a seamless flow of information into and out of LOCE and US systems consistent with the security guidelines and the previous discussion relative to electronic interfaces. In addition, LOCE utility would be increased if it were made compatible with 5D and Netscape, thereby allowing the use of standard web browsers for access to information and accelerating LOCE's compliance with the standard architecture for Intelink.

Efforts are currently funded under the Joint Military Intelligence Program to use the best functionality from LOCE and develop the system into the Joint Deployable Intelligence Support Systems (JDISS) common intelligence baseline, thereby eliminating different systems with near duplicate functionality and centering on JDISS as the DoD common intelligence workstation baseline. RDT&E funding is being used to work on the development of LOCE functionality onto JDISS, develop LOCE tools as a model of intelligence services for a JDISS coalition system, develop all functionality to the Defense Information Infrastructure (DII), development of JDISS segments in the Global Command and Control System and the serviced systems Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) systems, and adopt new technology as it becomes available into the JDISS intelligence environment.

The JDISS/LOCE development will ensure interoperability with the Navy's Joint Maritime Command Information System, Army's All Source Analysis System Warlord system, Air Force's Combat Information System, and USMC's Interactive Analysis System, while all systems continue to evolve to a common DII.

Upgrades are currently being tested to allow sharing of intelligence data between NATO and US systems. New software developed and successfully tested at USAFE to interface the Combat Intelligence System (CIS) and the LOCE system was loaded and successfully tested at the 1996 Fort Franklin Battle Lab demonstration. Previously to this fix only 83% of the data being sent from LOCE to CIS was successfully passed, and it took about five hours to complete. This latest upgrade produced a 100% successful download and is now takes only 15 minutes to load the LOCE database into the CIS workstation and updated the CIS database with this information.

During Operation ALLIED FORCE LOCE's primary benefit was that it provided access to the NATO Air Tasking Order. LOCE was deployed to Rhein Main Air Base, Germany; JTF-SH at Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany; and Mont de Marsan, France. Once a long haul circuit connection was made to the appropriate LOCE Remote Communications Server, the user required several pieces of equipment. There was some confusion over the responsibility for the implementation of LOCE requirements, and therefore many responsibilities were never addressed during the air campaign. One source of confusion was the transfer of office of primary responsibility early on in the operation.

As of early 2000 the LOCE network had expanded to approximately 400 remote sites, and was expected to grow to 500 by the end of 2000. Various communications technology upgrades underway should be FOC by the end of FY2000.

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Updated Monday, May 08, 2000 7:54:58 AM