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Army Intelligence Software Fails Repeatedly During Joint Military Exercise

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AGAIN?
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UPDATE: Robert Mosier, Director of Business Development for Northrop Grumman's ISR Systems Division, tells Minyanville that the DCGS-A system was developed by Northrop Grumman and SAIC, but that the system that failed in Korea was "modified" without input from Northrop Grumman. "In the Army’s defense, they are integrating literally hundreds of data sources from satellites to aircraft to ground systems, the complexity is mindblowing. It is more complex as a software system than anything else the DoD has tried to accomplish."

The Distributed Common Ground System-Army, or DCGS-A, was originally developed by Northrop Grumman that, in the company's words, to "[allow] analysts to gather intelligence data from ACS* and multiple other sources and distribute it to the network of Army battle command applications."

* ACS is "the Army's next-generation intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition aircraft"

Popular Science
describes the system in simpler terms, calling it "a means of parsing the reams of intelligence reports, drone data, and other battlefield reportage and delivering to commanders the intelligence they need right when they need it -- even during actual combat activities."

Reporter Clay Dillow:

So, for instance, if a unit is tracking an insurgent the system would allow a commander to pull up all the recent intelligence reports generated about that individual, and plot his activities or known whereabouts on a map for simpler geographical tracking. The commander could also quickly draw connections between that subject and others in the region, helping him to connect the dots and perhaps close in on the subject through his or her associations.

It all seems to work extremely well on paper. It's the battlefield where it seems to run into some trouble.

Defense News i
s now reporting that the DCGS-A software "froze up repeatedly during a joint military exercise in South Korea in August, hampering the ability of U.S. and South Korean commanders to watch the movements of simulated enemy forces," according to a senior intelligence official.

The same official tells DN's Ben Iannotta, "All told, the DCGS-A system spent 10 out of 96 hours of planned operations locked up or being rebooted."

"The volume of information essentially crashed the software," he explained.

"Initial analysis indicates that the use of legacy hardware was likely the primary cause of the system reliability issues," a spokesman for the DCGS-A office told Defense News in an email. "Personnel running current DCGS-A hardware during the same exercise in Yongin reported no major interruptions, issues, or outages. The issues identified during this exercise are currently being evaluated/corrected as needed."

POLITICO
exposed problems with DCGS-A back in June, when reporter Charles Hoskinson pointed out that the "system’s search tool made finding the reports difficult, and the software used to map the information was not compatible with the search software."

“Analysts cannot provide their commanders a full understanding of the operational environment. Without the full understanding of the enemy and human terrain, our operations are not as successful as they could be,” Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn wrote in a memo obtained by POLITICO. “This shortfall translates into operational opportunities missed and lives lost.”

One former intelligence officer told Hoskinson, "Almost any commercial solution out there would be better."

But Iannotta of Defense News quotes one senior intelligence official as saying "the exercise should not be viewed as an indictment of the multibillion-dollar DCGS-A initiative."

"I'm going to make DCGS-A work," he said.

Well, the Pentagon has spent $2.7 billion on DCGS-A so far. Surely someone thought to purchase an extended warranty?
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