GLOBAL BROADCAST SERVICES
By Ronald D. Elliott
Though intelligence information producers and users represent a subset of potential GBS user communities, the volume of their products, associated with their mission, makes them an especially significant segment of potential GBS service subscribers. However, to assess intelligence usage requires one to focus on discrete information exchange requirements (IER) as GBS reaches a fully operational capability.
Since GBS is but one of many telecommunications services existing, being fielded or planned for the Defense Information Infrastructure (DII), information managers of the next decade will determine the exact media, systems, or services by which IERs will be supported.
Future intelligence support operations will require high speed, multimedia communications and information flow to and among garrisoned forces and to in-transit and deployed mobile forces. In such situations, existing military satellite communications may be oversubscribed. This is the basis for the need for a high capacity global broadcast service, a capability needed to provide timely dissemination of information products, such as imagery, intelligence information, missile warning, weather, record message traffic, and/or other desired information. GBS will not replace existing MILSATCOM systems, but augment them by providing the capability to quickly distribute large information products to small-deployed user platforms. Information products will be developed and distributed using a "smart push/user pull" philosophy to avert saturating deployed forces with "information overload." CINC's theater information managers will tailor information services for field units to optimize the "Smart Push" aspect of the system. In order to accommodate smart "User Pull", theater information managers will also identify processes and procedures for accommodating on-demand requests.
To enable the design of a system capable of supporting the range of services to be required, a capability must be included to manage information profiles that enable knowledge of anticipated subscriber IERs. Theater information managers, following information dissemination policies of their commanders will determine the type and quantity of information that is best suited for transmission over the "global broadcast service."
GBS is expected to complement existing communications systems and become an integrated part of the DII deployed segment supporting our national security operations and those of our allies and coalition forces.
A key feature expected is CINC-responsive satellite broadcast management (SBM). CINCs are expected to have the ability to tailor broadcast services for field units to optimize the "smart push" aspect of the system. In order to accommodate smart "user pull," subscribers will request information through other information transport paths. Requested information would then be provided to users across the DII (using GBS where appropriate). Broadcast management functions will be accomplished through a satellite broadcast manager (SBM) and theater information manager (TIM) located in the CINC's operations center.
The SBM will manage broadcast resources regionally under direction of the regional CINC. The TIM will have primary control over "what" information, "when," and to "whom" is disseminated. The SBM will coordinate with TIMs to accept, package, and schedule the information to be broadcast. A receive broadcast manager (RBM) suite will be the subscriber's resource by which to process the broadcast so that information can be routed to local/tactical systems, such as networks, workstations, servers and display devices.
CINCs are also expected to have the ability to smartly broadcast (push) real-time and near real-time theater source information to in-theater users, based on needed information profiles maintained by them and advertised across the DII. This may be accomplished from either the theater injection point (TIP) or through "virtual injection." The TIP is transportable uplink equipment that directs telecommunications to the appropriate satellite broadcast transponder. "Virtual injection" is the ability to transmit in-theater source information back to the broadcast management segment by other telecommunications resources, ultimately to enter the GBS at a primary injection point (PIP).
On reaching its full operational capability, GBS is expected to provide broadcast services to selected echelons through a layered scaleable architecture. This architecture is expected to compensate for differences in security classification levels, classes of subscribers, and methods of receipt by subscribers. It is expected to be the subscriber's responsibility to process information addressed to them in a manner suiting their needs. Depending upon those needs, their receiver equipment is expected to support a variety of stand-alone and networked configurations.
Intelligence Information Exchange Requirements (EIR)
Hindering a clear understanding of the potential routing of intelligence information (particularly imagery and other geospatial information products) over GBS is the sparseness of data on future information requirements. Particularly important is to recognize that information flows across all transport services of the DII in all directions; (1) from national sources in CONUS to theater subscribers, (2) from theater information sources to GBS PIP and TIP uplinks (3) and among units within the theater. Much of this exchange (particularly that which is less time-sensitive) can use other transport services of the DOD Information Systems Network (DISN). Also, small inter-theater information exchange requirements are not yet fully understood nor are scenarios yet developed that show significant inter-theater information flows anticipated between, for example, a major conflict in one region and peacekeeping in an adjoining region.
CONUS-Theater "push" is expected to be a large principal imagery requirement generator. It seems logical, given at least one theater PIP and a large number of TIP up-links, that this "pushed" imagery volume would generate a far larger intra-theater GBS spin-off. Additionally, intra-theater sensor processing and dissemination by both processor operating facilities (OPFACs) and command and control (C2) or other OPFACs as users of imagery information, may well be via GBS. Thousands of IERs covering tactical units down to the lowest level can be found in various databases. Given the large number of planned Service TIPs (17 in the Army alone), it is logical to assume that intra-theater GBS requirements should be quite large. Comprehensive and coherent information will be needed to authoritatively define the future intra-theater imagery exchange requirements. The National Imagery Management Agency (NIMA) is working with the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Joint Staff to produce the needed information to guide future planning.
A factor in determining whether an IER is or is not a GBS candidate is the dynamically increasing throughput of other information transport media that interface with and are potential substitutes for the GBS. Other sources of telecommunications services must be considered in determining potential GBS requirements, including DISN Standard Tactical Entry Points (STEP), Deployed DISN and interconnected high-capacity Service component tactical networks. The issue of what goes over GBS and what can be handled by other means becomes critical to clarifying valid intelligence usage requirements.
A related issue, is that of theater-CONUS push and pull imagery flows. Though future requirements for this information exchange service are not well documented they must be considered in planning future DII information transport services (including GBS).
Subscriber equipment design is another factor influencing intelligence information exchange requirements for GBS. These will determine densities and information processing and management capabilities of GBS subscribers. Density and capability also impacts network management. Network management resources ultimately determine available GBS throughput and service/system costs. Decisions on alternatives for cost versus capabilities of subscriber equipment must be made before reliable insight to intelligence information usage requirements can be realized.
Information Dissemination Management (IDM)
As noted above, optimally managing the flow of information across the Global Broadcast Service can only be effectively accomplished through consistent and coherent information dissemination management policies and practices across the combined information transport services of the DII. Total information dissemination management of all of these resources is key to optimizing GBS utility to national security operations. Developing the management interfaces for both the terrestrial and space components of interfacing networks, establishing the inter-linking management protocols, migrating networks to provide ATM or ATM-interface compatibility, and linking both DOD-wide network and data management is a complex challenge.