Monday, November 29, 2010

Borders for real-or is the plan full of Holes?

Recent developments in finding the tunnels in San Diego, increased presence in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona and heavy traffic between Brownsville and El Paso elevates the importance of the Border Patrol as an asset for National Security.

Shifting focus of sensor packages to the border of the United States to combat drug cartels trafficking their wares is a plan of action the government could take to effectively tackle a vital aspect of national security that is currently being neglected.

The Department of the Army, G-2 (Intelligence) is currently fielding the Integrated Sensor Coverage Area for Intelligence (ISCA), Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms for use in Afghanistan. Its mission is to integrate all ISR collection (space, aerial, and terrestrial) to conduct persistent area Assessment (PAA), situation development (SID), and/or Mission Overwatch (MO) in support of a maneuver unit’s mission. Sensor and platforms combinations are tailored by each echelon to perform these ISR missions synchronized with the unit’s operational cycle.

What this means is that for National Guard combat arms and combat support units operating along the border between the U.S. and Mexico assisting Border Patrol, the ISCA expands capability to route drug trafficking.

PAA establishes an area of interest – finding the enemy. This is radar-pixelated dots, similar to JSTARS, and provides the widest coverage area to track personnel and vehicles. PAA develops and defines patterns of life, enabling the Border Patrol to monitor and establish patterns of movement. Think of this as a binocular. SID establishes an area of influence – fixing on the enemy. More narrow in scope, similar to looking through a straw, it helps units look at specific areas and developing intelligence for future missions. High resolution, high confidence full motion video is used to locate and track the enemy. MO is the final part of the cycle – targeting the enemy once he has been identified. Using aircraft is essential in this phase, and MO provides interdiction support, direct action targeting, and pursuit/exploitation cuing.

The sensor platforms exist, but the ISCA is still in the design process. Once this is fielded, it will pull together the platforms and provide unlimited access to sensors to aid in drug interdiction. As we wind down in Afghanistan, we can utilize these capabilities and integrate National Guard and Active Army units to prosecute the war on the borders.

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