Navy Prepares for Launch of Its
Distributed Common Ground System
The Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) is a Web-based network that will function as a
single enterprise system for receiving, processing,
exploiting and disseminating multiservice and national intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)
data. The Defense Department effort was launched in
late 2003, when the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and
intelligence organizations such as the National
Reconnaissance Office were directed to adopt the Air
Force-developed DCGS Integration Backbone, the system’s core infrastructure that features common interface standards and network tools and services.
Though sharing a common backbone, each service’s
DCGS system is being tailored to meet specific requirements. The Navy’s system will bolster afloat intelligence
collection and analysis and precision-strike capabilities,
and allow naval assets to reach back to the DCGS family
of systems in support of signals and communications
intelligence, intelligence preparation of the battlespace,
special operations and precision-guided engagement
missions. The DCGS-N is being designed to leverage off-the-shelf software, tools and standards to provide a scalable, modular and extensible multisource capability.
After initial testing, the DCGS-N has been retooled
since it came under the aegis in 2006 of the Navy’s
Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I),
based at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command
(SPAWAR) in San Diego. The aircraft carrier USS Harry S.
Truman became the first ship to receive the DCGS-N in
January. Training on the system began in February, with
additional training taking place at SPAWAR System Center
Atlantic’s Charleston, S.C., facility.
PEO C4I’s Battlespace Awareness and Information
Operations Program Office is managing the program
and training Truman’s intelligence team in preparation
for an operational evaluation in August. Truman will
deploy overseas in the fall as the first operational unit
to feature DCGS-N.
At the same time, PEO C4I is anticipating permission for a limited deployment of DCGS-N, for which it
will be procuring six systems. The next major installation will be on the carrier USS Ronald Reagan early
next fiscal year. A contract is expected to be awarded
in fiscal 2010 to a vendor that will be PEO C4I’s primary mission provider.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Christopher A. Miller, program executive officer for C4I,
and Navy Capt. Robert E. Parker Jr., program manager
for Battlespace Awareness and Information Operations,
at PEO C4I.
MILLER: “Originally, the program was managed as a
DRPM, or Direct Reporting Program Management, by my
boss at the ASN RDA [Office of the Assistant Secretary of
the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition)] and
in 2006 they transitioned the DRPM to me. Since 2006,
it’s been under us. During the past few years we have gone
through an extensive re-baselining and refocusing of the
program to get it where it is today.”
PARKER: “Developmental testing of the old baseline
demonstrated that it really wasn’t going to get us where
we needed to go. There were three factors [that went into
the re-baselining]. It was a very complex system, it would
have required more development effort and it would have
taken a lot longer to deliver the system. The other aspect
was it had a very large footprint. Depending on the configuration, it required five to seven racks, which on a
shipboard environment is very difficult to squeeze in.
And the third aspect of it was the cost. We managed to cut
the price of the system by more than half.
The system we have today doesn’t look anything
like the system we had in 2007. We’ve got a much
smaller, tailored system. ... When the program was re-baselined, the solution we came up with was to only
use government, off-the-shelf software and integrate it
into Navy-specific hardware. You could call this an in-house effort, but we have had a contracting team
behind us. Our big three right now are SAIC, BAE
[Systems] and L- 3 [Communications].”
PARKER: “The environments for all of the services
are different, we focus on different things. [For exam-ple,] the Army is looking at the tactical battlefield
environment. They do a lot more with HUMINT
[human intelligence] and things like that than we do.”
MILLER: “Ours has to work on a ship, and be integrated with all of the other combat systems and C4I
components onboard, whereas the other services largely build their ground station as a standalone entity that
SEAPOWER / AUGUST 2009