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Author Topic: ATRAP - Asymmetric Threat Response Analysis Program -- Part 1: Overview  (Read 19661 times)
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Neil Garra
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« on: 26 Oct 09, 1842 hrs »

Asymmetric Threat Response Analysis Program (ATRAP)

In September 2007 I was asked by the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department of the University of Arizona if I could help them with the ATRAP project.  Having just finished two years of designing and prototyping Intelligence Analysis Wargames, I was interested in doing something different.  I agreed to look at their approach and let them know if I could make a valid contribution that did not involve coding:  I'm not a real programmer... I program to create rapid prototypes so that real programmers can turn them into final products.  Turns out that the models I developed for wargame design were the key, so I agreed to help.  That was  Phase One, where we built the concept demonstration platform.  We just finished demonstrating the Phase Two product, which is a full-function pre-Alpha application.  Phase Three has been funded, and will start shortly.  Garra 26-Oct-09

Part One - Overview

The Project

Project Lead: University of Arizona, Electrical & Computer Engineering Department

Software Engineers: Ephibian, Inc

Concept Architect / Subject Matter Expert: The S2 Company

Contract Managers: Battle Command Battle Laboratory, Fort Huachuca, AZ

Current Status:

Phase Two culminated with a successful demonstration on 9 September, 2009.  

Phase Three funding has been approved... we're just waiting for it to move through the system.


From the US Army Statement of Work:  Create a visualization and predictive analysis tool which will identify and display asymmetric trends within a Contemporary Operating Environment (COE) and use those trends in the development, refinement, and nomination of potential enemy courses of action (COA). ATRAP will include advanced graphic and analytic applications to determine and display asymmetric trends within a specified geographic area. ATRAP will display asymmetric activity and trends via a time sequenced video visualization tool providing analysts and decision-makers context and situational awareness within their area of interest/responsibility. Using ATRAP, commanders and staffs will be able to explore and predict potential enemy COA within the operational environment and, in turn, use ATRAP’s output to develop, refine, or confirm friendly COAs.  [1]

Mission Analysis:

predictive analysis - This means 'analysis that is done to determine future events'.  As opposed to 'historical analysis' (determine exactly what happened in the past), forensic analysis (who committed the crime), psychoanalysis (is this guy really that crazy?), etc.  We do it all the time in picking the winner of a football game.  Problem is determining the required specificity.  If I say that I'm going to predict the future, each person will have a different level of expectation.  

asymmetric trends -  We initially used this to mean 'to fight in a way that the enemy is unprepared for', but later it meant 'to fight the way our enemies have been fighting in the war on terror'.  However, this word means something totally different in the field manuals that describe the Contemporary Operating Environment.  I'm still not sure what an asymmetric trend is, except maybe another word for Enemy Course Of Action (ECOA).  

Contemporary Operating Environment (COE) - Everyone knew that the Soviet Union would attack us in a specific, lock-step, doctrinal manner.  When they dissolved, we developed the COE to describe a threat model that was more flexible in its execution, and not country-specific.  The COE is described in FM 7-100 OPFOR family of manuals.  These manuals are rather low resolution, don't contain anything called 'asymmetric trends', and don't define asymmetric.  It's called 'adaptive', and means 'they change what they do based on their perception of what we do'.  

explore and predict potential enemy COA - Finally... some meat!  ECOA prediction is the primary role of an S2, and there are numerous articles on The S2 Company that describe it.  And the S2's work is fed into the rest of the staff, where it is used to develop, refine, or confirm friendly COAs. This clears up the ambiguous precision required of predictive analysis.

The Essential Task:  Build a software application that is capable of predicting future enemy actions, with sufficient timeliness and specificity, that friendly forces can formulate and execute a response.

A few Implied Tasks: And it has to be written in the next few years, not next century ... and use PCs reasonably available then, not some projected quantum-dust Hyper-Calc 5000  ... and it must be used by US Army Intelligence Analysts, not psychics ... and these analysts should NOT need a Ph.D in Software Engineering... or the patience of Mother Theresa ... and it's capability list must not be accompanied by a lengthy document where caveats and quibbles are expressed in micro-font legalese.

ATRAP Description

ATRAP is a software application that will not replace Intelligence Analysts.  Instead, it is an analyst wielded cognitive amplifier[2] designed to accelerate the intelligence creation process.
It will do this by automating all or part of the low-complexity analytical tasks, allowing the analyst to focus his limited time and energy on the higher complexity tasks. The analyst has a suite of powerful tools for ingesting free-text information, for symbolically portraying Enemy Courses of Action, for extending ECOAs into combat information collection tools, and for bookmarking application views for later retrieval as live briefing aids.  

ATRAP selects and rank orders these Enemy Courses of Action, assigning each a numeric Confidence Level and a graphic symbol that indicates the degree to which it is Confirmed or Denied based on the available evidence, and the Certainty of the accuracy of this  assessment.  

The analyst can drill down into the components of each ECOA to see the fundamental combat information that ATRAP used to generate its score, and can replace any of ATRAP’s assessments with his own.

The analyst will use ATRAP’s visualization tools to confirm or deny ATRAPs calculations, create the required Intelligence, and present this to the Commander and Staff in order to influence battle planning and battle execution.  

Because a commander will be understandably reluctant to endanger his Soldiers based on the unverifiable answers spewed out of a dubious software application, ATRAP provides easily accessed data transparency, allowing decision makers to see the discrete information elements and battlefield reports that were used for every aspect of these calculations.  This accessible transparency is absolutely essential to making ATRAP useful and relevant on the battlefield.

News Releases

Compare what is said below to the description above.  I assure you they both refer to the same thing!

16 Oct 07 - $2.2 Million Grant Calls for Designing Computer Software to Predict the Unpredictable

23 Dec 07 - ATRAP- Predict Upredictable

26 Dec 07 - Researchers aim to predict the unpredictable

1 Jan 08 - Troops may get a boost from local technology

3 Mar 09 - Can a Computer Model Prevent a War?

Next in series: The Intelligence Theory behind ATRAP

 1. ATRAP initial Statement of Work, early 2007
 2. Cognitive Amplifier is a term conjured up by LTC Jerry Schlabach to describe a tool that amplifies the cognitive abilities of the brain.  In a similar vein, a hammer might be thought of as a 'fist-multiplier'.
« Last Edit: 26 Oct 09, 2129 hrs by Neil Garra » Logged

Neil Garra
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