- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Army is redesigning a major component of its battlefield intelligence network in Afghanistan that has been criticized by soldiers, weapons testers and lawmakers.

An Army solicitation to industry on Wednesday states that the network’s “current” intelligence fusion server “is insufficient.” The server is a hardware component of the Distributed Common Ground System, commonly known as “D-Sigs,” which processes data that helps analysts identify links between insurgents and uncover improvised explosive devices, the No. 1 killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

An Army spokesman said the solicitation is for a “next generation” version of D-Sigs.

Its hardware, including “servers, switches and hard drives, fully meets the Army’s current requirements. These components are regularly upgraded to keep pace with hardware and software development cycles and expanding user requirements,” the spokesman said in a statement. “The Army’s current industry solicitations address needs for emerging geospatial information processing and consolidated software architecture requirements.”

The office of Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, has taken issue with the Army. Mr. Hunter and the Senate Armed Services Committee have pushed the Army to let soldiers use commercially available processors rather than D-Sigs.

A Hunter spokesman said the solicitation clearly states that the problems are with the current system. The document says D-Sigs “engineers have determined the current [fusion server] configuration is insufficient to handle all requirements.”

It does not have the capability to adequately handle transmission of satellite images or the demands of a command post communicating with other echelons, the document says.

“The solicitation is intended to create confusion,” Mr. Hunter’s spokesman said. “The hardware in the solicitation that the Army admits doesn’t work is the same hardware that’s in theater right now.

“And the idea that there’s some next generation under development is especially strange since they are talking about redesigning hardware that’s fielded now but doesn’t work the way it should. This is the game that’s often played. They are moving the goal posts.”

In addition, an Army intelligence analyst who has worked with D-Sigs for years said the current intelligence fusion server has problems handling the flow of satellite images and distributing data from command posts.

“These are problems now and problems for the last five years,” said the analyst, who requested anonymity to freely discuss D-Sigs’ performance. “They are trying to fix for the future because they don’t meet the requirements now.”

Last year, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester called the $28 billion D-Sigs “not operationally effective” because of a fusion server issue. Its report said D-Sigs is “not suitable” because of frequent crashes and reboots that destroy work products.

The Army analyst said crashes occur because of flaws in the fusion server.

In an earlier report, the Army’s top operational tester said: “The intelligence fusion process is technically met, but is operationally cumbersome due to inefficient internal workflows.”

The Pentagon’s testing office also found that D-Sigs “is not survivable against cyberthreats and does not provide adequate protection and detection against them.”

Story Continues →