A Fully Integrated Intelligence Simulation Architecture

Roger Smith
Mystech Associates
7900 Sudley Road, Suite 500
Manassas, Virginia 22110
[email protected]

I. Introduction

Tactical Army intelligence exists in a dynamic environment in which threats and targets of intelligence collection vary continually. Situations like those faced in Southwest Asia, North Korea, Somalia, and the many new Nuclear Republics are likely to continue throughout the 21st Century. In order to cope with these the US intelligence community has been refocusing its efforts and reinventing its operational tactics. Similarly, intelligence simulation must grow and change to be able to train soldiers and commanders to perform at peak levels in this environment. This paper is an effort to describe what can be accomplished in this area beginning with the technologies and theories available today. It will address the issues of simulation fidelity, interoperability, and the beginnings of a technical architecture for the entire field of intelligence simulation.

Legacy intelligence simulations such as TACSIM, BICM, JIM, and the embedded components of AWSIM and RESA form a foundation from which to build a fully integrated intelligence simulation architecture. The lessons learned in developing and operating these can and will serve as a launching point for the next century's simulations. Dedicated simulation interfaces will be replaced with universal interfaces based upon the Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) program, proprietary hardware will be replaced with open systems, and functional software models will give way to object oriented designs and implementations. The new architecture should provide unparalleled flexibility and maintainability by creating simulations that match the structure found in the real-world processes and systems being modeled.

An integrated intelligence simulation architecture has the potential to greatly improve the operational capabilities of the trained unit. From Echelons Above Corps down to individual reconnaissance platoons, a consistent type and level of training will create an environment in which everyone has already experienced the same intensity of combat stimulation. A fully deployed DIS network has the potential to redirect training dollars away from TDY and transportation expenses and back into the training experience placed before each soldier and commander. Simulations that connect to units through their operational equipment will have lost most of the training artifacts created by computer models. Instead, soldiers and commanders will have been immersed in operations identical to those they will face on a real battlefield.

II. Integration

In 1992 the Defense Science Board (DSB) clearly separated simulation into three categories: Constructive, Virtual, and Live. These represent the very real and disjoined character of current training simulations. This is an inditement of the past, not a prescription for the future. We must be able to bring these three methods together in a natural and realistic manner. The United States Army intelligence community must be able to train soldiers using the appropriate type of simulation, but still enable him/her to interact with all external units, commands, and officers just as they do in the real-world.

A. Erasing the Boundary

The first step in erasing the boundaries between the three categories of simulations is to recognize their existence and understand the environment and missions that have created them. The DSB description greatly simplifies the actual state of the simulation community. Today, there is actually a chaotic continuum of models, representing forces in all combinations of the three levels. In the past, the simulation community has attempted to bridge these gaps with contrived interfaces which do not solve the big problem, but create operational systems useful for solving specific problems. To create a fully integrated solution they must begin by creating a standard framework which can represent forces at any level. This will extend from Echelons Above Corps down to the individual soldier. It will consider all operations, from high-intensity conflict to operations other than war. It must not encode current operations or unit structures into the framework itself, as has been done in the past when creating a threat structure based on the Soviet model. It will contain transformation algorithms for all types of changes, to include aggregation, reporting, communications, and many other patterns. This will provide the standard techniques needed to get from any one representation to any other.

STRICOM is currently planning the development of the Warfighter Simulation 2000 (WARSIM 2000) to replace CBS and BBS. This system requires the use of interoperability standards. Though this will provide excellent connectivity with other DIS compliant systems, it does not aid in the integration of existing models like TACSIM and BICM. The next-generation intelligence simulation must be developed according to the DIS standards and use the same military unit framework as WARSIM 2000. The DIS standards make simulations "plug compatible", but a truly integrated architecture requires the addition of a standard modeling and unit representation framework. In the absence of this guiding framework, the simulations must be developed in close coordination to insure complete compatibility. This is not a practical solution when joining hundreds of different systems.

B. The Exercise Experience

The interfaces between the simulation and the training audience must not be via the traditional simulation specific computer terminal. 21st Century simulations must take advantage of advances in the digitization of the battlefield. As units perform more of their operations and communications through computerized systems like the All Source Analysis System (ASAS), Maneuver Control System (MCS), and Combat Service Support / Combat Service System (CSSCS), simulations must be designed to interface directly with these. The interfaces must be identical to the real system interfaces in order to create a training environment which is indistinguishable from real-world operations. Commanders who expect to view the battlefield on computer maps with icons and annotations describing the situation will experience the same interface whether they are receiving data from an actual trouble spot or a simulation of it. An interface with the simulation that is anything other than a real operational system (like ASAS or its off-spring) is inviting the opportunity to corrupt the reality of the training event. Future battle command systems will contain all of the map display and command input capabilities needed to connect it directly to the simulation engine. The internet of command systems will join the internet of simulation systems.

The need to extract soldiers from their operational units and train them to operate the simulation computers during an exercise will become a thing of the past. Units under training must remain as whole as they do during actual, life-threatening situations. They can not be expected to prepare themselves for the specific difficulties of working in an exercise using TACSIM, BICM, CBS, RESA, Intelligence Scripting, etc. The existence and characteristics of the simulation must not be allowed to continue to skew training exercises. Exercises must be bounded by the training objectives of the unit, not by the limitations imposed by the simulations available.

C. Interoperability and DIS

The DIS standards are the most advanced steps toward simulation integration currently available. Though originally conceived to serve the virtual community, they can and will be extended to cover the constructive and live systems. This extension will include techniques and algorithms for performing aggregation and disaggregation of forces, mediation between continuous and discrete time-steps, and communications between different levels of the training audience. Several aggregation/disaggregation experiments have been proposed and demonstrated to connect models such as:

       Constructive        The Bridge           Virtual
       BBS           to    OdinSAF       to     SIMNET,
       Eagle         to    IST SAF       to     SIMNET,
       AWSIM         to    ModSAF        to     DIS Network.

These and others (the JPL Alpha Project) are applicable to a fully integrated intelligence simulation architecture. Rather than selecting a single aggregation method for use by all simulations, we may wish to use the dynamic library approach implemented by DIS for its dead-reckoning algorithms. Each simulation is able to select the appropriate method for the units it controls. This method is communicated to other simulations on the network which then extract the appropriate algorithm from their local library and apply it. This provides consistency without dictating a single method that may not be appropriate for all complex/constructive unit representations.

The DIS designers are just beginning to wrestle with the problem of introducing communications and intelligence into their simulations. The first step is a radio message PDU to carry digitized live and simulated radio messages. The systematic tasking of assets to collect information and the use of standard message formats is an area in which expertise is lacking in the DIS organization.

The intelligence operating systems are also a natural place to bridge the Virtual/Constructive/Live gap. Since assets are unique items which collect large amounts of data, we are used to working with "virtual level" collectors, to produce "constructive level" reports, which are then transmitted to "live" analysis workstations.

D. Simulation Structure

Object Oriented Design and Object Oriented Modeling are powerful concepts which will change the character of the simulation community. They will provide a level of dependability, flexibility, and maintainability totally unknown today. This will be accomplished in conjunction with an increase in simulation realism and fidelity. Using a layered approach in connecting objects, it will be possible to create simulations which can operate at various levels of resolution - "Dial-A-Resolution" if you will. The same technique can be used to adjust the format of the output generated and the input accepted for different exercises, "Dial-A-Format". A single group of operators can be trained to drive the intelligence branch of a Corps level exercise or to stimulate a small number of MI Teams. In each case the soldiers will experience the simulation only through their real equipment (part of the digitized battlefield) which is connected to the simulation rather than to the real-world source of their data.

Though the integration of simulations and command workstations is a great step in training improvement, it still requires the availability of a simulation suite to coordinate and control the virtual environment. As the battlefield becomes fully digitized the opportunity for embedding training capabilities directly into the operational system increases dramatically. Intelligence systems may soon include embedded simulation software/hardware which allows them to switch into simulation mode and train independently or in concert with other similarly configured systems. This will greatly reduce the costs associated with exercise preparation and facilitation. Units will train according to their own schedules rather than those of the simulation centers.

III. Evolution

Dr. Anita Jones, Director of Defense Research and Engineering, has described simulation in terms of three plateau ages:

       Hunter/Gatherer Age               Independent, Stand-Alone, Stovepipe

       Industrial Age                    Brute Force Methods and
                                         Interoperability by Glued-Together

       Information Age                   Fully Interoperable and Reconfigurable 
                                         Modeling and Simulation Elements.

We are currently immersed in the Industrial Age and are just beginning to emerge into the Information Age. In order to make the transition to fully interoperable systems we will evolve through several different configurations of combat and simulation systems. These steps must include the following items at a minimum:

IV. Conclusion

In conclusion we would like to emphasize, that for a vision of this scale to become a reality we must create a consistent modeling concept which transcends artificial divisions like Constructive, Virtual, and Live. Simulations such as WARSIM 2000, JSIMS, NASM, INTEL 2000, CCTT, and the CATT family must begin to share a common representation of the military battle space. Creating such a concept opens the doors to a very different simulation environment in the 21st Century. This must be developed in cooperation with several of the Army's leading programs: digitization of the battlefield, DIS, object oriented design, and embedded training systems.