Project Convergence 22: What is Sensor-Decider-Effector?
During October and November, 450 soldiers from the British Army, headed up by the 20th Armoured Brigade Combat Team (20 ACBT), are working with US and Australian partners conducting experimentation using innovative new systems and methods.
One of the key concepts of Project Convergence 22 in California is the ‘Sensor-Decider-Effector’ chain, which is the process by which enemy targets are dealt with by our forces, and how this can be sped up.
But how does this format actually work?
The Sensor-Decider-Effector chain is all about finding an enemy using a range of assets, deciding quickly supported by data and choosing the right effector for the job at hand.
As an example, what might happen is that reconnaissance, surveillance, or target acquisition assets, such as the Watchkeeper WK450 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or soldiers in hidden locations on the ground, might spot what they assess to be an isolated enemy tank.
If the tactical situation dictates it necessary, such as if friendly forces were under fire from this target and if doing so would not expose our troops to additional danger, this vehicle could be destroyed with delegated authority by an anti-tank guided missile such as the Javelin.
However, if there was a little bit more time to think about it, the asset with ‘eyes on’ the enemy would inform their chain of command back at a headquarters (HQ) location; often this is done automatically and is shared as widely as possible.
The information provided by those on the ground would then be ‘fused’ with other reports from the battlespace, and would form part of the wider current intelligence picture. Increasingly, this is being supported by Artificial Intelligence and Human-Machine teaming.
A ‘Decider’ in the HQ would then make a judgement call on what to do with the target based on a number of factors – for example: do we want to spare this enemy and see where it goes to expose further enemy locations? Or does destroying this one tank make tactical sense when there are perhaps four enemy targets a kilometre away that pose a more imminent threat to our forces?
If a decision is made to attack the target identified by the soldiers on the ground, then an asset with enough destructive capacity to do the job will be used – in the case of Project Convergence 22, this might be the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).
The platform receives the order to fire from HQ and then conducts its mission; the same troops who identified the enemy in the first place could then be tasked to do a battle damage assessment.
So, in the above example, the soldiers on the ground are the sensor, the HQ is the decider, and the MLRS is the effector. The process is sped up with the support of good networking, situational awareness and passage of data.
One of the experiments being performed on Project Convergence 22 is the use of automation and sensors on the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, which would communicate with the MLRS to strike without the need for HQ and therefore speed up the process.
Quicker decision-making using the ‘Sensor-Decider-Effector’ chain will make our forces, and those of our allies, more lethal on the battlefield.
More than a singular event, the Project is a sustained campaign of learning designed to advance and integrate our allied forces and ensure that we can rapidly and continuously ‘converge’ effects across the battlefield.
As it all progresses over the course of the next few weeks, the British Army will provide updates, using photos and videos, that you can track via our website and social media channels.