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get rid of DCGS


An Army general who reached the pinnacle of military intelligence says his service's war-deployed data analytical network is a flop and needs to be stopped, rebuilt and renamed.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who headed the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency until 2014 and held a number of terrorist-hunting jobs, is the most senior officer to publicly chastise the Army for how it has clung to the Distributed Common Ground System, or DCGS.

In doing so, Mr. Flynn sides with a number of field commanders who have written blistering internal criticisms of DCGS. Intelligence officers found it slow and susceptible to crashes. During the height of the Afghanistan War, some soldiers parked the hardware off to the side and relied on commercially available Web-linked computers.

When commanders made emergency requests to buy off the shelf, Army headquarters sometimes delayed decisions or simply said "no," according to internal memos.

"Here we are in 2016 and we are still forcing a capability down the throats of our military units, special and conventional forces, that requires way, way too much training and basically contract support," Mr. Flynn told The Washington Times. "The Army needs to move to a DCGS 2.0 quickly. Frankly, I would even change the name because it just has such a bad monicker right now.

"DCGS is hard to learn," said Mr. Flynn, a hard-charging officer who has bluntly criticized President Obama's approach to fighting radical Islam. "It takes a long time. You have to use it all the time, which means it's not a simple technology that people are used to and can buy off the shelf today. And frankly, it doesn't do what it's touted to do. That's why you see units out on the battlefield asking for very similar things."

An in-battle computing system may not carry the star quality of sleek jet fighters or supersonic missiles. But in the painstaking war on terrorism, there are few battlefield tools more important than an intelligence network of server and software. The system can produce the information that helps warriors locate buried bombs, identify terrorists and plan the next raid.

DCGS too often failed in being able to store and produce retrievable classified data, Mr. Flynn said.

"I can't sit here today and say in my nearly five years in combat over the last decade that I ever saw it applied on the battlefield the way it was touted," he said. "We found other, more capable technologies that were essentially off the shelf that performed far better for the needs for the soldiers. I saw other technologies that were wildly successful that our forces definitely used quite a bit more than what they can get out of DCGS."

He offered advice to the Army's top intelligence directorate (G-2) at the Pentagon.

"If I was going in as the G-2 of the Army today, what I would do is take a big step back, and I would analyze whether the system is doing what it's sold to do, and I would consider taking the best parts of it and sort of retooling given the new technology we have available to us today because the system was originally considered well over a decade ago," he said.

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