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Ejército de tierra
Ministerio de Defensa
Ejército de tierra

Ejército de Tierra


martes 25 de julio de 2017

Número: 49

The ‘Chameleon’ Capturing Information


At first sight it seems to be a normal object, it could be a water bottle or a lighter, but in its interior there is hidden information that could result in being very useful for Intelligence Services and other areas related to data search.

The “Chameleon” exercise takes and analyzes different media (paper, telephony, digital archives…) in order to find evidence which allows the capture of different clues that aid in resolving cases.  For the first time, since the series began in 2013, the complete cycle Document and Media Exploitation (DOMEX) has been developed, integrated with evidence collection, labeling, chain of custody, analysis and exploitation.  In earlier editions the different phases were considered separately.


Pictures: Miguel Alonso/División San Marcial

The DOMEX polygon was the setting for the development of the Chameleon, located in the “Diego Porcelos” base in Burgos, headquarters of the Division ‘San Marcial’, between the 5th – 9th of June.  The Division ‘San Marcial’ is the Unit of reference regarding this discipline in the scope of the Ground Forces (FUTER) and the “Chameleon” is the only exercise in Spain where they put into practice DOMEX procedures.  In addition, this year for the first time, the National Police and the Navy Infantry have participated.

As well, as a novelty, the Royal Guard were incorporated as observers of the exercise.

In Spain and in Europe the DOMEX polygon is a model in this discipline.  So much that the Joint Deployable Exploitation and Analysis Laboratory (JDEAL), from the European Defense Agency in Holland counts on support from Spain in order to cover the DOMEX area, contemplated in the NATO doctrine.  Spain participated as well in the “Bison Counter” exercise, carried out in Sweden in 2016.

Participants in the exercise



“San Marcial” Division
“Castillejos” Division
Ceuta General Command
Melilla General Command
1st Brigade “Aragón”
10th Brigade “Guzmán el Bueno”
11th Mechanized Infantry Brigade “Extremadura”
12th Brigade “Guadarrama”
Light Infantry Brigade ‘Rey Alfonso XIII’, 2nd of the Legion
6th Brigade ‘Almogávares’ of Paratroopers
64th Mountain Troops Infantry Regiment ‘Galicia’
16th Brigade ‘Canarias’
1st Engineer Regiment
31st Electronic Warfare Regiment
1st Intelligence Regiment 
Division “San Marcial” Headquarters Battalion



Navy Infantry



Civil Guard
National Police



Land Forces Headquarters (FUTER)
Army War College
Center of Excellence C-IED NATO
Center of Intelligence (Spanish Armed Forces – FAS)
Joint Command Cyberdefense
Royal Guard



The Objective, Teamwork

In 2013, FUTER designed the actual Division “San Marcial” as a reference to the DOMEX Unit, marking the path in this discipline, and materializes on an annual basis during the development of the “Chameleon” exercise, which already counts on five editions.

The objective is to train the participating units as teams in evidence collection, so that once they are conducting analysis the information obtained can be useful for the corresponding authorities when elaborating Intelligence.

Besides practical work, during the exercise, they have dedicated part of the theoretical formation to the revision of concepts and procedures.  In fact, a performance was realized in different scenarios where they had to manage in order to resolve different cases which were set out earlier.

Military management corresponds to the Chief G-2 of the Division “San Marcial” Headquarters, and the organization of the Intelligence Unit and the Division General Command Headquarters Battalion.  On his behalf, Commander González, part of the G-2 office, signals that the participants do not all correspond to the same unit, allowing them to exchange knowledge between the different units.  In this way, the soldiers that take part in the “Chameleon” are distributed in six different teams where it is fundamental that they work together in resolving the questions posed in each case.

The preparation of each exercise demands a great effort before the actual preparation and coordination carried out by the different components from the Battalion Headquarters Intelligence Unit, with support from the Battalion.  They have looked after the organization of the exercise and the composition of the six teams.

Observers also participating in the “Chameleon” have followed the activity´s development.  The qualities of the DOMEX polygon has been converted into an object of attention for international observers who have not lost the opportunity to attend earlier editions of the exercise.


The Setting


One of the settings of the exercise was in a habitat of a computer pirate

Segundo escenario

In the second case a cracked tactical command abandoned by the enemy

Following the teams distribution, the participants began the practical part of the exercise.  For this, they outlined two different cases in the setting of a fictional country named Cerasia, set in Africa.

The first of the cases came from the evidence seized from enemy forces in Tactical Command. Maintaining the perimeter from an attack by superior forces was not possible, even though the perimeter was secured by Mechanized Infantry Squad.  For this, it required DOMEX expertise for the collection of anything that could be exploited for Intelligences benefit.  In this case, since a bombardment from enemy artillery was considered probable, time was a critical factor.  “Our mission is the recuperate all the information possible before there is a bombardment or attack by the enemy”, explained Lieutenant Marín, located in the Military Police Section of the Light Infantry Brigade ‘ Rey Alfonso XIII’, 2nd of the Legion.

On the other hand, the second case concentrated on the detention of a suspect and the registration of their personal items at the Military Police checkpoint.  In this case, the Military Police secured the scene and initiated the chain of custody, maintaining governing principles at all times.

“We went to the scene where they delivered the different media that contained evidence.  This led us to continue the search for clues”, assured Officer Vergara, located in the Intelligence Unit in the Ceuta General Command.   These clues led to various scenarios which drove the resolution of the posed cases.  In this way, Sargent Sosa, specialist in MEDEX (Media exploitation), signaled that the objective is not to “evaluate capabilities, but to train units”.  In this case, if it´s necessary to orientate the teams at a specific time, they are provided the necessary assistance so that they can all solve the case.

The “Chameleon” action aims to adapt to new scenarios and media which the Information Field offers, including advances in digital technologies and cell phones.  With this objective they outlined the different scenarios where the teams had to work together in order to solve the two cases.  The coordination between the different components in the groups was very important as well.  “We take advantage of the opportunity to exchange procedures”, signals Second Lieutenant Llapart, specialist in CELLEX (Cellular Exploitation) located in the Division ‘San Marcial’ and one of the organizers of the “Chameleon” exercise.


Following Procedure

After accessing the scene, firstly, teams should signal objects of interest that could contain clues in order to proceed and afterward during evidence collection, label the evidence and keep it in a safe place. The material that could be gathered as evidence was harbored in different media and the teams should work in agreement and follow procedure in each one of the cases.

Once it came to the preservation and labeling, the material should pass through the chain of custody and the information transferred to a safe place where the content can be preserved.

It is from this point on that Intelligence agencies can use the material and exploit the information, converting it into an Intelligence object. With this finality, the teams conducted analysis reports allowing Command to decide how to continue in order to carry out the case in question.

Concluding the exercise, they formulated a critical judgment where the participants exchanged their opinions. “This allows us to understand how the development of the exercise has gone and see the vision of the participants for future editions”, commented Commander Gonzaléz.

En el Checkpoint la Policía Militar detuvo a un sospechoso

In the checkpoint scenario the Military Police detained a suspect and confiscated their personal items.

The DOMEX Polygon

The polygon is divided into three areas. One is fundamentally dedicated to teaching analysts and to the investigation of forensic hardware and software. A server is available communicating the 25 posts in the training room and also communicating to a part of the scenario.

The second is dedicated to a tactical environment. Within the tactical environment there is a Battalion Command Post type which serves together with exterior settings (checkpoint, vehicles, etc) to recreate all types of situations.

Lastly, a combination of settings can be found in which they have wanted to reflect in different places, that in any given moment there could be an intervention period for realizing military searches, fundamentally orientated to DOMEX. In this way, there are simple scenarios like an office, a change-room or a tea shop and there are more complex scenarios like a manufacturing workshop that produces explosive devices, a “hacker” room or an apartment full of various living spaces. It also provides a space for labeling and for the chain of custody. All of these scenarios are “alive”, signals Sargent Sosa, provided that in any given moment this can change, “and year after year they increase in order to adapt to the necessities of the units which they employ”. The spirit of the polygon is one that all units can use where they believe it is convenient for instruction. For this there is a polygon instruction guide publicized at the General Headquarters.