By: 1st Lt. Natalie Herbert
Bravo Company, 303rd Military Intelligence Brigade
FORT HOOD, Texas–While units on Fort Hood are brandishing the latest model of weapons, the intelligence community is receiving the latest model of intelligence equipment and software. On January 26, Bravo Company, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade became the first unit in the Army to field the Tactical Intelligence Ground System (TGS-Lot E). The TGS is a vehicle-mounted system that processes near-real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information to intelligence analysts and commanders. The TGS extracts information from different intelligence feeds as it occurs on the ground, providing data for quick battlefield decisions.
Staff Sgt. Marquis Fuse, who is the platoon sergeant for the TGS processing, exploitation, and dissemination platoon, and other geospatial analysts have conducted two FORSCOM level assessments of the new system over the past year. He said that the system allows intelligence analysts to weed through intelligence information all at one time instead of going to multiple locations to feed their commanders information for decision making.
“Our unit’s feedback was critical to the fielding of the equipment in the Army, the operability of the system, and assisting other units in understanding their need for training.”
He said in the beginning, information in the manual was complex and information was not located in the correct spot. Now, the end user has a color coded detail on exactly how the system works and how to get the information they need for operations. In addition, the startup script was complex, now, the end user has a red and green status of operations.
Various units supported the most recent assessment in December, including 15th Military Intelligence Battalion, Field Office Fort Hood, United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, 62nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, and Developmental Test and Support Detachment from Hunter Air Force Base.
“The TGS is a near-real-time system that helps commanders identify the composition and disposition of our enemy forces,” said Fuse. “The TGS-Lot E is different from previous models in that most of its interior configuration makes the system more comprehensive for the end-user. The system’s programming is more integrated. The operator can log into fewer programs to execute the various functions of the TGS-Lot E system.”
Before the assessment, geospatial analysts took a two-week course on the new TGS-Lot E variant. Spc. Polasek one of the operators during the assessment, recommended that Soldiers training on the unit should take individual courses after the initial group introduction for the new equipment.
“The training will go more in depth on a personal level to assess Soldiers’ analytical skills and software knowledge,” said Polasek. “The architecture of the TGS is complex, and a Soldier could cause system errors that reduce the system’s effectiveness without proper training.”
Fuse said the training walked through the setup, operation, and tear down of the system. Soldiers learned how to set up all the components, time start to finish, and learn the software internal to the intelligence field.
In addition to the impact of the coursework, the assessment provided an important perspective to its developers.
“The assessment is significant because the unit was able to conduct and practice the 99 tasks,” said Fuse. “The designers and leadership were able to get the proper feedback needed from the end-users who would be using it in the field. It also allowed the operators to test their skills and provide their observations of the system.”
Fuse said that when other units start receiving the new version of the TGS, they should be able to open the book and know exactly what to expect when using the equipment.
The operators also had the opportunity to train on the previous model, the TGS-Lot D, during an NTC rotation last September. Fuse said that there are several differences between the old version and the new version. The older version did not have the end user in mind, such as having a laptop toward the floor of the vehicle. Now users have laptop that is eye level. In addition, the software has been updated and is quicker.
Fuse reflected on both systems stating that of the two, the Lot E is the stallion he’d choose to ride in on to battle.
The 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion will conduct further training and assist in future exercises to demonstrate the unit’s full potential in providing near-real-time information for commanders in combat environments.