Dan Allen


Multisource intelligence empowers battlefield superiority

Timely intelligence is key to supporting the front line

The warfighter’s receipt of timely multisource intelligence (multi-int) is not only critical to success in today’s battles but will be vital to winning tomorrow’s wars. Persistent and accurate intelligence is directly responsible for saving the lives of warfighters and civilians in conflict. The next generation of fused multi-int must enable action before the boom —the identification of insurgent attacks before they happen — and will be vital to victories today and in the future.

Today’s demands in an ever-changing battlefield with an evolving enemy dictate that the capabilities supplied to the warfighter are capable of meeting those challenges. Industry is — and must continue to do so — constantly challenging itself to develop and field the most accurate sensors and capabilities possible. It is essential that these multi-int capabilities be agile and easily adaptable to rapidly changing enemies and missions.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems must deliver an unprecedented level of sensor-centric capability and performance in today’s irregular warfare and tomorrow’s unknown conflicts. Sensors should enable accurate, persistent geolocation of targets, which is key to shortening the sensor-to-shooter timeline. The sensors in the field need to be able to find the enemy where they hide, regardless of terrain, signal type, ground cover and other obstacles. Finding the needle in the haystack should be the norm, not the exception. These sensors and the data they produce need to be integrated quickly to deliver true multi-int to the warfighter.

True multi-int will break down traditional organizational constructs so that warfighters will have access to data when they need it. Ensuring access to multi-int is as imperative as the data itself — and it must be almost instantaneous, as today’s warfighter is constantly chasing an ever-mobile target. Direct access to multi-int data enables fused intelligence products that can be acted upon in near real time. Technology being developed today will allow all types of multi-int data to be collected together and synthesized to ensure that the actionable multi-int is accurate.

Although concentrating on high-value targets is important, experience shows that this might not be the best focus for our intelligence assets. To be successful, multi-int solutions, both sensors and the fused data, should be aligned with winning the war, not just focusing on high-value targets. True multi-int transcends sensors and platforms. Each soldier, sailor, airman and Marine must be viewed not only as a user but also as a sensor to feed the intelligence enterprise.

This type of soldier-as-a-sensor architecture has the potential to act as a force multiplier in the intelligence battle space, specifically to improve the understanding of today’s irregular battlefield environment. Our intelligence must focus on understanding the population, economy and government of our enemies. Having a better understanding of this environment than our enemies and having the ability to leverage that understanding are critical to upending an insurgency on its home turf to win the fight today and ensuring success in the battles of tomorrow.

Developing these multi-int capabilities is a priority for all stakeholders. We in industry need to continue to ensure our warfighter has the capability to meet our enemies head on, on their own turf, and overcome all adversities. 

About the Author

Dan Allen is vice president and general manager, Intelligence Systems Division, Northrop Grumman Information Systems

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