Helping design the analysis-led experiment to meet the needs of our international partners.

"Being an analysis-led experiment meant we played a significant role."

  • The exercise involved over 150 military and scientific staff from all ABCA nations.
  • We provided the main scientist who led planning meetings to develop the experimental concept and data capture process.
  • We identified several analytical issues to help evaluate the SOPs.

The aim of Exercise Dark Raven 2016 was to test and validate a new set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for an ABCA Intelligence Fusion Cell (IFC) to enable each of the ABCA nations’ armies to have more effective interoperability, information and decision support.


The New Zealand Army conducted Exercise Dark Raven 2016 (Ex DR16) at Burnham Military Camp during September 2016 on behalf of ABCA, an interoperability programme for the five countries: United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was an analysis-led experiment designed to evaluate a new set of Concept of Employment and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for an ABCA Intelligence Fusion Cell (IFC) supporting an Army Headquarters.

The exercise involved over 150 military and scientific staff from all ABCA nations. It was facilitated by a Command Post Exercise environment and used conditions and a scenario previously used by the US Army’s 1st Armoured Division. This stimulated the IFC to test its procedures for supporting an ABCA Army Headquarters. It did not include any live activities.

An IFC supports a headquarters with intelligence and knowledge management services. It is an all source intelligence centre combining its own analysis, management, and communication and information systems (CIS) capabilities needed to support operational planning and execution.   

Our Role In Ex DR16

Being an analysis-led experiment meant the Defence Technology Agency (DTA) played a significant role in designing the experiment to meet the needs of our international partners. One of our scientists, assisted by scientists from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, led four planning meetings to develop the experimental concept and data capture process and then ran the analytical component of the exercise.

The Ex DR16 experimentation applied the principles of Soft Systems Methodology, Computer-Aided Qualitative Data Analysis, Interview Techniques, Statistical Data Analysis and Operational Analysis best-practices. The analysis was an evidence-based approach that answered complex topics on the intelligence function. The method was transparent, and the data is traceable.

Issues Identified

We identified analytical issues to evaluate the Concept of Employment and SOPs. These observations were mapped into five areas that formed the basis for analysing the efficacy of the IFC. These issues helped to evaluate the proposed command and control (C2), structures and processes of the IFC, and to identify areas requiring further development.

The five issue areas identified for Ex DR16 were:

  1. How does the IFC enable and improve situational awareness at the Army Headquarters?
  2. How does the IFC improve common understanding of joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational partners' intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities?
  3. What new capabilities are necessary to enable the IFC to support an Army Headquarters?
  4. How does the IFC improve the coordination of all intelligence components to work together to improve the overall ABCA targeting effort?
  5. How does an ABCA IFC integrate into a wider coalition ABCA-led exercise?


The conclusions from Ex DR16 were:

  • The IFC construct adds value to the intelligence functions of a 2-Star Headquarters.
  • The IFC SOPs and supporting documents require additional details and modifications.
  • The experiment provided a coherent evidence base upon which ABCA partners can further develop intelligence interoperability, and this must be integrated.