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All-in-One Signals and Human Intelligence

August 21, 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Online Exclusive
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The U.S. Army is fielding its Vigilant Pursuit system to reduce the time necessary to combine data gathered from human intelligence (HUMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) assets. Forces and unit maneuver commanders on the battlefield will receive the joint information quickly, enabling more timely response to situations, especially those involving the detection and capture of high-value targets.

Current processes of dividing the two intelligence fields and sending information up and down chains of command often result in time gaps that give enemies the chance to evade capture by changing locations. Vigilant Pursuit—developed by the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center Intelligence and Information Warfare Division (CERDEC I2WD) in conjunction with other government agencies as well as private-sector partners SAIC and CACI International Incorporated—combines several HUMINT and SIGINT capabilities that soldiers historically have used separately. Through resources such as cross cues from both types of intelligence, tipping and multinode collaborative geolocation, users will experience enhanced situational awareness. However, due to the sensitive nature of the system, many details about it are not shared publicly.

Open information about the program includes its use of current and next-generation technology to locate and identify persons of interest to the U.S. and allied governments. "Vigilant Pursuit will provide soldiers and maneuver unit commanders deployed forward with near real-time intelligence on the battlefield, resulting in a more efficient and capable force," Adam Bogner, chief, Quick Reaction Capability Branch, CERDEC I2WD, says. Developers incorporated technologies developed by government and the private sector.

Personnel specializing in both types of intelligence facilitated by the system will use it in support of current contingency operations. The system is being fielded for operational evaluation to Army units, but as with most capabilities in current battles, information will be disseminated in support of joint missions.

Vigilant Pursuit supports the Army Multi-functional Team concept through the use of a two-vehicle system that can operate independently of support assets for missions of short or medium duration. Soldiers can employ it in conjunction with a fixed or mobile command post to transmit information and intelligence data for further processing and analysis. The system can function on any vehicle platform available to the Army without the need for additional dedicated support assets, according to Bogner. "The vehicle platform selected for the Vigilant Pursuit program was chosen based on current and anticipated near-future contingency and combat operations, based partly on current logistic and materiel support available to units operating areas," he adds. Army officials declined to identify the first specific platform designated to be fit with the system.

The operational Army units currently receiving Vigilant Pursuit will use it in near-term deployments. During those periods, program officials will monitor and evaluate the capability, refining the systems and technologies to improve their support of warfighter needs.

Bogner explains that program personnel will judge their work based on the number of missions successfully completed in support of larger-scale contingency operations. If units participating in the tests and evaluations in a deployed, operational environment complete more time-sensitive missions than possible when using legacy systems, officials will consider the system successful.