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Tasking, Processing, Exploitation & Dissemination (TPED)
TPED Analysis Process (TAP)

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and the National Reconnaissance Office [NRO] are embarking on a state-of-the-art initiative to develop the capability to exploit a greatly enhanced imagery load with respect to imagery intelligence and geospatial information, including the increased availability of Commercial Imagery and the National Enhanced Imagery System. This effort is under the umbrella of the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA), and NIMA is engaged in modernizing its efforts in tasking, processing, exploitation, and dissemination (TPED). TPED is at least a $2.7 billion dollar effort, with requirements, architectures and resources defined through the annual TPED Assessment Process (TAP).

One lesson of the 1999 Kosovo operationa was the intelligence community did not have enough capability to analyze the images and the other raw material was collected. The DOD FY2000 budget request proposed a $1.5 billion increase in those programs from FY2001 to FY2005, largely focused around the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. Although it was a "lesson" of Kosovo, it was a lesson that had been learned prior to Kosovo, and DOD was already moving in that direction before the Kosovo operation. The $1.5 billion is a lot of money, even for the Defense Department, but it is not the full requirement.

Late in the fall of 1999, Congress requested the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) to form a Commission to review the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), a new agency perceived by some to be struggling toward coherency as the national security environment and US doctrine--e.g., Joint Vision 2010--evolved mercilessly around it. A proximal event was the disappointing realization that design and acquisition of the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) had sorely neglected the value-adding systems and processes known collectively as "TPED"--the tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination of the imagery collected by reconnaissance satellites.

The Nation's future imagery and geospatial architecture will deliver unmatched capability--but inadequate ability to use the information collected. Focused attention is needed to ensure modern Tasking, Processing, Exploitation, & Dissemination (TPED) capabilities, commensurate with new collection capabilities, are developed and fielded. TPED modernization must encompass all collectors; national, airborne and commercial - end to end, and Services and Agencies must properly program for TPED. The implications for the intelligence community are huge. The recent Intelligence Program Decision Memorandum (IPDM) applied significant dollars to TPED, but this only amounted to a down payment. Many requirements remain unfunded, and the funding requirements for TPED associated with other intelligence disciplines are yet to come.

The Tasking, Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination (TPED) Modernization Plan justifies a set of TPED recommendations needed to provide the infrastructure to execute the full spectrum of operations, from national pursuits through to the tactical level. The TPED infrastructure will permit commander to leverage an incredible explosion in the volume of collected imagery and geospatial data, emanating from the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) and robust airborne and commercial imaging assets. This modernization plan provides the basis for a robust United States Imagery and Geospatial Information Systems Architecture [USIGS] that will provide reliable and timely imagery and geospatial information from a coherent process.

In late 1999 the NRO announced the award of a contract to produce the next generation of imagery satellites. This Future Imagery Architecture will vastly increase the amount of imagery which can be collected. Collection, however, is not the only element of imagery intelligence. Equally important in the production of imagery intelligence are the elements of tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination. The Congressional conferees on the FY2000 intelligence authorization agreed to report language which stipulated that, if the administration cannot budget appropriately for TPED, the scale of the collection system should be modified.

NIMA is responsible for the United States Imagery and Geospatial Information System (USIGS) Architecture and Standards products, which are varied in scope and detail, ranging from a general view of the entire architecture (depicted in the USIGS Architecture Framework) to products with very specific detail (such as the Geospatial and Imagery Exploitation Service Specification). Certain USIGS Architecture products will undergo revision after the completion of the current TPED Analysis Process (TAP).

The intent of the NIMA TPED (Tasking, Processing, Exploitation, Dissemination) initiative is to streamline the imagery request cycle, utilize commercial imagery, and use alternative means to transmit imagery derived information and primary (unexploited) imagery. The focus is to shorten the time for receipt of imagery and derived information to operational users, especially for support to attack operations and TCT prosecution. It will allow the Collection Managers to get collection requirement to the appropriate location faster and to establish prior conditions for collection based on "rules" and Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB).

Existing continuous surveillance requirements are specified in the Consolidated Imagery Needs Forecast (CINF), which include:

  • DDB (Dynamic Data Base)
  • AIM (Advanced ISR Management)
  • SAIP (Semi-Automatic IMINT Processing)
  • MTE (Moving Target Exploitation)
  • BADD (Battlefield Awareness and Data Dissemination)

Present intelligence collection requirements are "stove piped" along discipline lines and are characterized by data attributes rather than information content. The Tasking, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination (TPED) process has been identified by the USAF as its #1 ISR deficiency, notably within the Air Force Contingency Airborne Reconnaissance System (CARS). The FY-97 Joint C4ISR Decision Support Center Study, "C4ISR Impacts on Strike Warfare", indicated that improvements to Battle Damage Assessment [BDA] would have the largest single impact (C4ISR specific) on improving Strike efficiency. The FY99 HPSCI Authorization Bill tasked ASD (C3I) to conduct a study [and report results by March 1, 1999] concerning the impact of fused moving target indicator (MTI) and Imagery Intelligence (IMINT). The hypothesis put forward by the Committee was that such fusion will allow a decrease in the requirements for revisit by IMINT systems and at the same time improve overall situational awareness and battlefield effectiveness. The committee has called for an examination of the "system mix".

Congress was skeptical that TPED funding is adequate. NRO decisions on the Future Imagery Architecture led to a focus on the inadequacy of IMINT TPED. Consequently in 1999 NRO funds for acquisition were frozen until the NIMA TPED Modernization plan was approved. The TPED Modernization Plan was submitted in May 1999, with a $4.7 billion projected budget. This became an Intelligence Program Review Group (IPRG) major issue, and OSD/DCI approved $1.5 billion in funding. However, the Director of NIMA briefed Congress that the $1.5 billion was a "down payment" and that the minimum required was $2.7 billion.

A Draft Intelligence Program Decision Memorandum [IPDM] was released for comment on 16 December 1999, and IPDM-II was signed on 03 January 2000. The TPED-related aspects included:

  • Benefit to Community
    • OET/WFM
    • Image Quality Assessment
    • FIA Era Compression
    • Image Standards
    • NIL/CIL/IPL Upgrades
    • Film & Bulk Media
    • Global Imagery Catalog
    • Motion Imagery Library
    • Exploitation Tools
    • Command Imagery Analysts
    • Advanced Training
    • SAR/MSI data extraction
    • MSI/HSI Exploitation tools
  • Benefit to Army
    • Army Command Information Library
    • Secret National Information Library
    • Dual Data Link for U-2 platforms
    • Comms between CIL & stationary IPLs
    • Comms for CILs
    • Enhanced Processing Segment Functionality in the NIL
    • NIMA Layered Geospatial Information Library
    • FIA Triangulation
  • Benefit to USAF
    • AF Mobster
    • AF WAN
    • Common Imagery Processor
  • Benefit to NIMA
    • IEC Workstations
    • Acquisition Workforce
    • Acquisition Infrastructure
    • Facilities Consolidation
    • Support Personnel
    • IA Training and Infrastructure

United States Space Command [USSPACECOM] is working with the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) to ensure that tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination (TPED) capabilities stay apace of the collection assets. This includes NIMA's Commercial Imagery Strategy and TPED Modernization Plan. These efforts, along with the NRO's Future Imagery Architecture, will be essential to the transparent battlespace envisioned in Joint Vision 2010 plans.

Especially important in the development of new sensor systems is the provision of a Tasking, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination (TPED) architecture to support each combat deployment, or the successful integration into an effective, community-wide TPED battle management system. Otherwise, the addition of new sensor platforms will merely over-saturate an already saturated Theater and CONUS TPED infrastructure.

Multi-INT TPED Systems

Present intelligence collection requirements are "stove piped" along discipline lines and are characterized by data attributes rather than information content. Collection requirements must be articulated in terms of the information needed and in terms for which satisfaction can be measured by the warfighter.

The Government is interested in developing, fielding and sustaining Multi-INT Tasking, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination (TPED) Ground Systems compliant with the DoD Joint Technical Architecture, the ESC Command and Control System Target Architecture, and approved IMINT, SIGINT, and MASINT standards and architectures. As of mid-2000 the Government intended to develop, deliver, integrate, upgrade, and sustain new and existing ground multi-intelligence exploitation systems. This includes but is not limited to: AF Distributed Common Ground System, Navy Tactical Input Segment, USMC Tactical Exploitation Group, and USMC Squadron Ground Station. These activities will encompass at least the following areas: 1) Design solutions integrating COTS/GOTS products in accordance with approved standards and architectures, 2) Prototyping, testing, and fielding of Multi-INT ground systems, 3) Perform quick reaction modifications, 4) Site surveys and site integration, 5) Evaluation of interface changes, 6) Integration with Command and Control air operations centers and systems. The Government is also interested in purchasing system integration support consisting of the technical, system engineering, security engineering, and management expertise necessary to assure the coherent development, integration, and fielding of the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (AF DCGS). The system integration effort will include systems planning, acquisition, development, integration, and support for the AF DCGS. A primary objective is to ensure current and future interoperability between AF DCGS and C2 systems.

The Government requires a TPED architecture that is a "system of systems" which are integrated and interoperable covering the end-to-end process for all ISR assets. The requirement for an Automated All-Source Intelligence Fusion Capability stems from the lack of one system that can fuse multi-source data in a useable format required to support and sustain combat operations. Existing shortfalls include: limited satellite access/communications bandwidth, stove pipe workstations and/or exploitation ground stations, lack of automated fusion tools and computer systems, as well as the lack of interoperability with coalition partners. Information intensive operations and new generation of collectors require TPED modernization and upgrade. The imbalance between collection capability and TPED increases the risk that data valuable to the warfighter not exploited, evaluated, or disseminated will "fall on the floor" and thus risk an intelligence failure.

Finally, effective Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) must be developed to ensure the administrative organizations responsible for operating and maintaining the UAVs, as well as those performing TPED functions are responsive and accountable to warfighting commanders in the field during contingency operations. Development of TTP must include the structure of command relationships, system architecture, and reporting process.



The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has no stated requirement to generate hard copy products for the Intelligence Community as part of the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA), nor does the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) plan to produce these products. By 2000 the transition to soft copy image display and archiving systems had been slower than planned, potentially creating a situation where current hard copy imagery users will not be able to receive soft copy images when the FIA becomes operational.

The NGA Test Organization (NTO) Test Director for all Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) effectivities. represents the NTO in planning FIA test schedules in coordination with FIA Joint Enterprise planners. The Director participates, hands-on, in test planning and execution, and reports and briefs status and progress to senior NGA and mission partner management forums. The Director acts as the Government expert on NGA FIA testing tracks and reports significant activity regarding system development, including schedule, and readiness milestone reviews/results (e.g., requirements/design/test readiness reviews) and issues for the Chief, Project and Segment Test (AEITT). The Director represents the NTO as advisor to NGA product work managers in ensuring adherence of the project to the NSG Enterprise Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) and the NGA Test and Evaluation (T&E) Process. The NTO tests and validates the integration of NGA projects and segments into the FIA architecture, and directs the validation of operability of interfaces, and satisfaction of integrated architecture-level requirements. The NTO reviews Requests for Change (RFCs) for test impacts and provides required inputs. The Director represents the NTO at technical meetings regarding systems issues and project and effectivity schedules, including meetings with the Mission Partner and users.



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