Modernising defence - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, June 2004
The Training Imperative
Sqn Ldr Stuart Stirrat, OC Joint School of Photographic Interpretation, Defence Intelligence and Security Centre, profiles the future of UK imagery analysis training.
In his address to the IQPC Air Reconnaissance and Surveillance Conference in March 2003, Chief of Staff at the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre Chicksands, Gp Capt John Gimblett, gave a wide ranging overview of imagery intelligence, and the new challenges facing the imagery analyst. In March 2004, Sqn Ldr Stuart Stirrat, OC Joint School of Photographic Interpretation at the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre, continued the story, focusing on the Training Imperative. The article below is drawn from his presentation.
In 2003, Gp Capt Gimblett stated: "whatever the individual or collective solutions to the training needs in your technical developments, it is essential that they are reflected in the programmes that develop ISTAR. The analyst is a major element of the critical path to achieving success in ISTAR. Without the appropriate training, we will be wasting this highly exciting opportunity.
The planning ahead through 2004 has been very successful at JSPI, but there is still much to be done with some new systems coming online.
B>The Joint School of Photographic Interpretation
The current roles of JSPI are:
&bull To train all UK services in the principles and practices of imagery analysis – to a training performance standard. The operational workplace then takes the raw recruit up to the operational performance standard through on the job training;
&bull For defence diplomacy purposes, provide courses for overseas students. Currently Jordan, Oman, Spain, Italy, Denmark and Sweden are represented at the school;
&bull To provide training in the employment of IMINT;
&bull To provide recognition training materials – the old books with hundreds of armoured vehicles have changed to CD-ROMs for use on any PC, and these are distributed throughout defence.
Tri-service recognition training systems are currently being investigated, again representing advances in joined-up UK defence.
The provision of a recognition training system for a human analyst to refer to is interesting. Great technological advances are being made in the Automated Target Recognition sphere, where the human element is removed from the process; however, the thrust of technological developments is more technical imagery, faster, and the imagery analyst is still very much required, in ever increasing numbers. Imagery analysts with imagery keys will play a vital role for many years to come.
So to supply the imagery analysts that the UK requires, JSPI delivers four main courses:
&bull UK Imagery Analysis Course (UKIAC) (15 weeks);
&bull International Imagery Analysis Course (IIAC) (nine weeks);
&bull Reserve Forces Imagery Analysis Course (RFIAC) (four weeks + 12 w/e);
&bull Basic Intelligence Analyst (Imagery) Course (10 weeks).
The top three are variations on a theme for their respective audiences – UK Services, internationals and reservists, and the fourth supplies the imagery analysis assistants, or plotters in old terminology, that the RAF still employs.
These courses are teaching the new imagery analysts how to exploit the imagery being captured from the various sensor types: optical, electro-optical, infrared and radar. There is also input to other courses, including the Joint Staff Intelligence Course, training the new intelligence officers in the Army Intelligence Corps and Royal Air Force, as well as Int Corps soldiers.
The theme in these courses is not just what IMINT is, but what IMINT can do for the commander, focusing on advising the commander on capabilities, collection parameters, advantages and disadvantages of sensor types, and how to get the IMINT effects required.
The types of capabilities outlined are well-known, and include dead ground studies, close target reconnaissance, analysing enemy logistics supplies and road-route reconnaissance – without putting a friendly boot on the area of interest.
Imagery analysis training
The imagery exploitation courses listed above are delivered in three phases.
Fundamentals: the basic skills, the science behind the art, with black and white answers. From stereoscopy to scaling and measurement to sensor studies, the students must achieve an 80% pass mark in the fundamentals exams. This is simple classroom teaching, including PowerPoint lessons reinforced with practical exercises.
From then into the analytical phase, with detailed analysis and report writing throughout the infrastructure and military capabilities phase. The pass mark during exams here is set at 70%, reflecting the less precise nature of the testing, and the analyst's freedom to report the analysis and document it. Here, the instructor takes the students through the theory or science, with reference to hard copy or soft copy imagery, before the theory is reinforced with detailed imagery analytical studies and report writing. Each phase is progress tested and then finally examined, reinforcing the education.
The courses are supplemented by visits in and out of the classroom, allowing the analyst to see, on the ground, many of the facilities viewed from above.
The final exercise, over three days, is a scenario based on the Kosovo conflict, with everything from the 15 week course being tested in the final three days. Although dated, this scenario includes all the elements taught during the course in one manageable package.
The primary UK sponsor requires a complete analyst, who can move from one specialist area to the next whenever the situation requires – either on move of the analyst, or on receipt of new tasking, probably during crisis. This makes the course very demanding and requires a very capable student.
In the USA, the biggest IA trainer in the West, the single services focus on their particular needs and don’t try to cover joint requirements. At the strategic level, the National Geospatial Agency provides tiered training and has recently introduced a geospatial course, combining the skills of the imagery analyst with the geographic surveyor.
This is an avenue that the UK is currently investigating; at the present time, geo analysts are collocated with IAs to achieve a similar effect. There is already a fundamental overlap between JSPI and the Royal School of Military Survey. The geo analysts have a requirement for basic imagery analysis skills from the sensors JSPI specialises in, and the imagery analysts have a requirement for an understanding of basic terrain analysis to assist with intelligence preparation of the battlespace. The combination of the two is an interesting avenue of exploration.
The training environment reflects the operational world. The wet-film world has almost entirely disappeared, but is still used on the PR-9s at 39 Sqn at Marham. The majorityof operational imagery exploitation is now of the soft copy variety. This is replicated in the classroom, continuing to train on the light tables, which is entirely appropriate for teaching the basic principles, and which also comes in useful as training for UK analysts having to work with archive imagery. Many exercises are still based on historic imagery, but this is being updated continuously, and is anticipated to be fully soft copy in the next two years.
Every student seat is allocated to a prospective job, so the class cannot afford to lose people. The loss rate during 2003 was just 4%. To ensure there is the minimum loss rates on the course, all prospective students are aptitude tested and the failure rate is between 30-60% depending on the audience being tested. To date, student requirements have far exceeded supply; however, the challenge in the coming years of increased throughput is to maintain standards, whilst still filling every seat.
Future training requirements
The major course schedule completed in the 2003 training year was six UKIACs, four BIAICs, one Reserve Course and two Internationals, plus inputs to the other short courses.
However, technology doesn’t stand still, and due to the new systems coming in over the next three years, like ASTOR and WATCHKEEPER, training requirements have literally taken off.
From April 2004, twice as many UKIACs will be delivered, up from 81 students to 153, six BIAICs up to 72 students from 48, and possibly two Reserve courses. The loser is the defence diplomacy and the International course, due to the significantly increased UK requirements.
To handle the increased throughput, the school recently took delivery of two new classrooms and an aircraft hangar-sized student crewbar to cope with 80-plus students at once. These two new 12 seat classrooms, plus more instructors, are the obvious additional requirements, but there are a number of knock-on effects, like having to create new progress exams because, with more concurrent courses, the ingenious students seem to take their cross-course intelligence gathering very seriously; then there is more living accommodation and welfare facilities. The lead-in time for these developments is pretty extended and there have been benefits from good planning by the school’s predecessors over the past three years.
Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT)
The Defence Systems Approach to Training ensures that training is delivered effectively and efficiently to the customers’ requirements.
Job analysis, and the evaluation of an operational performance standard for an operator, results in a course designed around an individual's training performance standard, then delivery, and a sequence of quality assurance which, first of all, is internal, to ensure that the instructors are delivering what they are supposed to be delivering, to the required standards.
Finally, external validation, checking that the graduate is actually what the workplace requires, before any new or changed customer requirements are fed back into the cycle.
Applying the lessons of war and operational support to existing courses. The school's example is of the analysis of tactical defensive positions on land, and beach landing zones, as part of the Training Objective 'analyse terrain'. Operationally, the requirement for wider training in these skills became apparent not too long ago. Through the sponsor, these requirements were fed into the training environment, and the training objective developed with enabling objectives, leading to new course content, with the associated validation. Of course, there's no money for an increase in training time, so a compensating reduction had to be found. The result – the new requirements of expeditionary warfare – fed into a legacy training course.
Of course, it's difficult to do job analysis on a system which isn't yet in service. However, this must be overcome if there is to be the trained personnel available to operate the new systems from the time they come online. An operational performance standard for the operator must be derived from the user requirement document and the systems requirement document, a task which some prospective customers and pro- viders are struggling with at the moment.
An example of this is training in the analysis of Moving Target Indicator (MTI) data, which will be collected by a host of new systems coming online over the next few years. This is a brand new training requirement that the UK has not previously had. Discussions on the training requirement have been ongoing since early 2002, and by late 2003, a module had been designed to be delivered in the UKIAC, as well as a stand-alone MTI training package to deliver to analysts who have previously been through JSPI. The package has been delivered as part of the UKIAC since the start of this year, and the stand-alone courses begin in May, ready to feed the contractor's system conversion training – a two year lead-in to training delivery.
In terms of having the right number of people available for the new systems, they can't be generated clone-like over a few weeks. Manning authorities have to plan ahead to recruit, provide basic training and then specialist training, and then these people may have to be stock-piled to ensure that there are sufficient numbers available. In many ways, the manning equation is more complex than procuring the new systems themselves.
Aptitude testing identifies a trainable student. A form of voluntary psychometric testing has just been introduced, which allows a student's learning style to be identified (Kolb model – activist, theorist, reflector, pragmatist), not to label or compartmentalise, but to enable understanding of how the student might better absorb the new teaching being presented.
Ongoing internal validation, which the student is completing after every block of teaching, and then fine-tuning instructor performance, altering delivery style in any one-on-one revision, ensures the training of students, rather than just chopping them. This new approach is very much in its infancy, but the school hopes to benefit from these efforts and ensure that the training keeps going, rather than have empty seats in class – remember, there is no spare capacity.
Of course, all of this training effort costs money and therefore a great deal of time in the lead-in to an operational capability.
The defence systems approach to training, and our high level sponsorship through the customer executive boards for training, are linked into the financial short-term planning process. The short-term planning process ties down resources, and hence, training delivery, for the next five years plus. So rapid changes in training emphasis, or indeed, wholly new training directions, are now much more difficult to achieve.
The phrase 'the customer pays' applies just as equally to the training world as it does to the procurement world. The training deliverables can be flexed as long as the customer has factored into his project the requirements for personnel training, and of course, the necessary finance for resources is then transferred to the relevant budget.
So unless the customer and the system provider have really thought through their training requirement, allocated the necessary finance, and had this transferred early to the training and personnel world, a vital element of the equation is missing. Three years is not too soon a lead-in for trained manpower requirements.