Language and Speech Exploitation Resources (LASER)
The Language and Speech Exploitation Resources (LASER) Advanced Concepts Technology Demonstration (ACTD) demonstrate the technologies, concepts and architecture paths to improve timeliness and accuracy of translation and document exploitation capabilities and products. Develop and implement the LASER ACTD as required by the Defense and Intelligence Communities (IC) and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), as follows:
- Reduce the foreign language barrier across the spectrum of transnational (civilian)/joint coalition (military) cooperation;
- Expedite access to foreign sources and accelerate processing;
- Integrate language translation into tactical and strategic warfare efforts and evidence gathering and processing;
- Develop and sustain language skills.
The US Military, the IC and our Allies focus on worldwide targets with widely diverse languages, often with an insufficient quantity of language qualified analysts/translators to support existing, much less anticipated mission requirements. The community faces several needs in foreign language translation for expanded coalition operations as well as in foreign language exploitation. These include:
- Volume. Collection far exceeds analysis capability due to lack of available human translators It is difficult to meet crisis demands for translation. The answer often lies in a backlog of already collected foreign language material.
- Access. Foreign language data is collected without preliminary categorization or evaluation and is archived, often without a mechanism other than human memory to retrieve it.
- Timeliness. Unsatisfactory turnaround time of translations due to the limited number of human linguists available.
- Technology gaps. Key processing technologies for Middle Eastern, Asian and African languages, such as automatic speech recognition (ASR) and optical character recognition (OCR) are not accurate enough for productive use.
- Rapid ramp-up. There are only limited experience, unproven methodologies and tools when developing tools for a new critical language.
The proposed LASER ACTD Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) will focus on the following technologies and systems:
- Text-to-text translation.
- Speech-to-speech translation
- Optical character recognition (OCR)
- Translingual information retrieval/Data Management. This will automate exploitation of captured documents with increasing speed and accuracy.
- Training tools. Users must know foreign languages essential to post-Cold War missions. They need tools that will help them develop and maintain their fluency.
- Integration. Move LASER products into real-world use.
In addition, the development of Automated Language Translation (ALT) and OCR technology will be an invaluable asset in breaking down existing obstacles to transnational military interaction both at the tactical and strategic levels, as well as in helping the IC and LEAs.
Schedule and Potential Follow-up Capability
This ACTD has a five-year time frame (FY 02-06) of integration and demonstration with three years (FY02-04) of testing and improvement followed by two years of residual field support. Critical events for the LASER ACTD will involve demonstrations, field experiments and/or exercises each year. Forums for testing and evaluating the proposed technology will include planned exercises, demonstrations, and real world events. A series of small-scale Military Utility Assessments (MUAs) of Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) and equipment inserted into already planned exercises will be ongoing during the first three years. MUAs of other ACTDs will also be leveraged.
Residual operational capabilities include: Text-to-text and speech-to-speech translation; OCR; Translingual info retrieval/data management; and language training tools, all packaged for field operations; and the associated Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) to execute the functionality on a day-to-day basis by relevant agency and organization personnel.
Program Managers will insert software residuals into appropriate migration systems. The Army, Lead Service, will oversee transition and disposition of residual items. When LASER ACTD products have application in special channels, that user may be the acquirer and will develop a transition plan.
Operational Parameters for Evaluation
The operational parameters by which effectiveness will be evaluated will include the degree to which LASER developed capabilities improve access to translated foreign language data, increase the volume of foreign language data translated in a timely fashion, provide new low-density language processing technologies and rapidly produce language tools for a totally new critical language. Detailed Measures of Effectiveness (MOEs), and Measures of Performance (MOPs) will be developed and incorporated as a part of the integrated assessment plans for each technology deliverable. Experiments will begin as small-scale operations of technology in 02 by various specialists (e.g. MPs, medical or civic action teams, etc) and increase in scope in 03/04 to include the integration of LASER products into the task force headquarters of a coalition exercise.
- Program Oversight. An oversight group, chaired by the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (DUSD) Advanced Systems and Concepts (AS&C) will convene at least annually and as needed to address proposed changes in program direction. Responsibilities of the group are to review goals and objectives, provide direction to the executing agent and ACTD managers, and review program status and progress towards objectives.
- User Sponsor. Commander-in-Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC) is the User Sponsor.
- Lead Service. The US Army is the Lead Service.
- Executing Agent. The Army's Battle Command Battle Lab (Ft. Huachuca) (BCBL-H) is the Executing Agent for the LASER ACTD and will discharge Program Director (PD) responsibilities including the provision of timely reports to the Oversight Group.
- Technical Manager (TM). The Army's Battle Command Battle Lab (Ft. Huachuca) (BCBL-H) is the TM for the LASER ACTD. The TM is responsible for overall program management, interagency coordination/agreement, and management of funding, schedule, site support, and data acquisition.
- Operational Manager (OM). US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) and US Army, Pacific (USARPAC) Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (DCSINT) will serve as co-Operational Managers responsible for providing the demonstration project active force participants and equipment and conducting the post-demonstration analysis including an assessment of military utility and a recommendation of follow-on action. The OMs will also be responsible for identifying demonstration participant training requirements and planning, coordination, and direction of all user community activities related to the demonstration project, quantifying the Measures of Performance (MOP) and managing the development and execution of the demonstration project evaluation program. The OMs in conjunction with the TM and major LASER participants, will develop system requirements, missions, scenarios, Measures of Effectiveness (MOE), Concepts of Operation (CONOPs), and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP).
- Transition Manager (XM). The XM is responsible for program transition and residual sustainment planning and supervision. Since LASER has a variety of technologies and users the exact platforms for transition will be identified as the program progresses. The transition approach will be further discussed in the Management Plan.
- Coalition Partners. The United Kingdom (UK), Singapore and Australia have indicated an interest in participating in the LASER ACTD. Their level of participation has not been defined.
- Management Integrated Product Team. Any issues, which may result in changes to schedule, funding, performance, or objectives of the LASER ACTD will be presented to the Management IPT, consisting of the TM, OM and XM, for resolution. Managers also retain functional authority and have accountability to the Oversight Group for any unresolved issues involving their direct area of program professional responsibility.
Funding is provided by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (AS&C and Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence), DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), INSCOM (Intelligence and Security Command), and the Foreign Language Committee (FLC). The LASER ACTD will continue to seek funding from additional organizations.
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