MD Deep Sensing, Analysis, and PED to Target Threat A2AD

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MD Deep Sensing, Analysis, and PED to Target Threat A2AD

WO1 Grindstaff, Jared M

Closing the Gap


For years, the world regarded the U.S. military as the strongest and most technologically advanced military force in history.  While this still holds true in most aspects, there are gaps to fill if they wish to maintain that status. The potential for large-scale ground combat continues to shift from possible to probable. Enemies, or potential adversaries, of the United States, are no longer running a losing race toward a multi-domain advantage.  They are now in line with or, in some cases, ahead of the U.S. in shaping the operational environment through cyber operations, information operations, and the electromagnetic spectrum. 

The U.S. is in the competition phase of conflict with multiple countries – Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. To gain and maintain a strategic advantage over these potential threats, the U.S. must close multiple organizational gaps. What follows will address the lack of organic capabilities in brigades to locate and target enemy IADS, provide timely indications and warning, and efficiently execute theater multi-domain intelligence preparation of the environment in competition or conflict.

The Brigade Combat Team

The maneuver battalion commander depends on his brigade to shape what he views as his ‘deep fight.’ The brigade combat team (BCT) commander depends on his division to do the same. This reliance continues up every echelon, even into a joint level. While battalions and brigades do not doctrinally have a deep fight, the outlook on what is beyond his organic reach and what is tomorrow’s close fight will remain the same for that commander. 

The BCT commander has limited organic sensing assets to paint a picture of the battlefield. His cavalry squadron serves as the brigade’s terrestrial observers. In the brigade’s military intelligence company, there are typically four RQ-7 Shadow UAVs. These are the BCT level, aerial observers. In his field artillery battalion, there are multiple Q-50 and Q-53 weapons locating radars. At best, these radars can sense out to 60 kilometers. Finally, the AN/MLQ-44 Prophet is the BCTs primary signal intelligence platform. While a BCT is allocated additional enablers, as necessary, the assets above are what that commander will always rely on. 

The solution to the BCT commander’s ability to sense beyond his reach is to request aid from the higher headquarters. This happens in many forms. However, most common to sensing, the request comes from a variation of ISR platform requests. The request hinges on timing. If submitted too late for a cycle, it is then at risk of disapproval. While that is an extreme oversimplification of the process, the purpose is to paint a picture of the dependence a commander has on non-organic assets.    

The Military Intelligence Brigade

The function of a Military Intelligence Brigade (MIB) is fluid, at best. To paint a picture, let us focus on the mission of the 501st MIB out of Camp Humphreys, South Korea. “Under the peninsula’s current political climate, the brigade’s mission focuses on supporting the warfighters by providing indications and early warning of actions by opposing forces who could threaten a tense, but stable, peace. If hostilities begin, the brigade’s mission shifts providing combined, multi-discipline intelligence and force protection support to the United Nations Command / Combined Forces Command, the CFC Ground Component Command and their subordinate units (primarily the 8th U.S. Army and the forces of the Republic of Korea).”

This ambiguous mission statement places a significant weight on the shoulders of the 501st MIB. To provide early warning and multi-disciplined intelligence, the unit must possess the ability to gather that intelligence. Set aside the risk of unreliable human intelligence, and ever-changing technical intelligence. How does the 501st MIB gather reliable intelligence against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)? The answer is just as complex, and as simple, as the BCTs ability to sense beyond his organic reach – request help from higher. 

The U.S. Army’s force management system online, or FMSweb, lists the assigned personnel and equipment for every unit. The 501st MIB does not have any organic assets to achieve its mission statement. This does not mean they cannot accomplish the mission. It simply means the 501st will constantly depend on support from higher headquarters, up to the joint level, to receive near-real-time information and intelligence for analysis and PED.              

Closing the Gap

In large-scale ground combat, a major threat will be the enemy integrated air defense system (IADS). This system is a form of enemy anti-access and area denial (A2AD). Commanders will focus on targeting these systems to reduce the risk of losing an aviation asset. However, these systems must be located first. Every targeting process relies on intelligence support. Intelligence relies on the support of higher headquarters. For the intelligence community to accurately locate and identify enemy IADS more efficiently, the chain of dependence must be shortened. 

A solution to this problem is already in the works. The Army expects the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Node or TITAN to close this gap. The TITAN is an expeditionary ground station that will enable mission command through multi-domain operations. It provides intelligence support to targeting by processing space, aerial, and terrestrial sensors simultaneously. 

To paint the picture, the Q-53 from the BCT is radiating, the Prophet is sensing, Division has a Gray Eagle flying, and CJFLCC has a JSTARS processing GMTI. The TITAN can compile the information and intelligence from all of these sensors. TITAN will process and analyze this data and support targeting by delivering it directly to Army systems such as the Joint Automated Deep Operations Coordination System (JADOCS) and the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS). The Army uses these systems for digital target processing.  The TITAN is currently in the testing phase of the Army’s acquisitions process. The newly formed Multi-Domain Task Forces will be the first to utilize the TITAN platform. 

Additionally, the Army is fielding the new Terrestrial Layer System (TLS). It is an integrated electronic warfare (EW) and signals intelligence system. This system “integrates signals intelligence, EW, and cyber capabilities, which will be adaptable and tailored for Army tactical formations and continues technology innovation over the system’s lifecycle, securing an enduring competitive advantage.”             


Both the TITAN and the TLS face multiple challenges in fielding. The issue for both begins with money. The Department of Defense acquisitions process does not align with the desires of the creator of the product, or with those who wish to utilize it. As a protective measure, the Army requires trial periods for every product. During the trials, the operators identify faults or other issues. This leads to the creators having to modify or fix the product. That is currently the issue with the TLS. There have been multiple issues identified within the TLS software that has delayed an already expanded timeline. 

Training the operators of TITAN and the TLS is the next challenge. There are already technical intelligence and electronic warfare trained soldiers in the force. However, the TITAN and the TLS will require specialized training through professional military education and self-development. 

The DOD addresses these challenges, among others, in the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System, or JCIDS process. JCIDS is the process the Department of Defense uses for acquiring and evaluating new systems. This process involves consideration of doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership and education, personnel and facilities. From acquiring the required number of TITAN and TLS platforms, training the leaders to employ them, structuring the appropriate organizations that will utilize them, and developing the doctrine to support; every function of DOTMLPF will guide the focus for fielding the TITAN and TLS.  



TLS and TITAN are both part of the Army’s force modernization structure to compete with near-peer threats. If conflict were to arise, the Army would possess the ability to penetrate beyond line of sight to detect threat systems, along with the composition and disposition of each. This, in turn, will allow the Army to target threat A2AD systems and create a more desirable force ratio. If the BCT or MIB could utilize these systems at echelon, the Army could expedite the targeting of the enemy systems and more rapidly, gain the tactical advantage.