Reach-back

The committee is heartened by the Navy’s embrace of reach-back, a core requirement for DCGS scalability. The Combined Fleet Forces Command reported to the committee on studies it has recently completed which show that reach-back can reduce costs to the Navy and maintain competencies of imagery analysts. Reach-back can also enable the Navy to participate in distributed, multi-Service efforts to support theater commanders in coping with the flood of information available from current sensors and systems under development. Nevertheless, the committee believes that it can attribute differences seen between USAF and Navy implementations of DCGS to a much greater USAF reliance on reach-back. In addition, while reach-back can greatly improve the efficiency of manual exploitation and fusion, improved automation is still needed to cope with all of the information becoming available.

A key issue in the integration and interpretation of ISR information is the placement of the intelligence staff personnel, that is, local centers versus reach-back. This issue deserves serious trade-off studies for a variety of applications from carriers to Marine Corps platoons. Critical requirements for the delivery of ISR information to commanders are completeness, timeliness, accuracy, and robustness. In architectural trade-off studies, some important factors are the following:

  • Communications capacity. Can reach-back transfer the data needed in a timely manner via the GIG or other methods?

  • Risk of connection loss. Reach-back fails if the communications link fails.

  • Effective transfer of a commander’s intent. This is needed both in reach-back queries and in response to the request.

  • Possible loss of forward personnel owing to enemy action.

  • Cost-effectiveness.

Personnel factors play an important role in the reach-back versus local staff trade-off. It is essential that personnel involved in ISR information integration and interpretation be fully and personally engaged. Local ownership of intelligent resources promotes responsibility in the band-of-brothers tradition. This commitment and teamwork must be maintained in reach-back situations.

The naval forces have a long tradition of not relying on reach-back. Thus, the committee suggests as an initial architectural design approach that reach-back be the default method: that is, that proponents of on-site analysis have the burden of proving that on-site analysis is superior to reach-back for a particular ISR product.

7.5 FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENHANCING ISR

This section identifies some promising emerging opportunities for improving the ISR capabilities of future naval strike groups, either through Navy devel-



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