Getting ISR on the Same Page

The Air Force oversaw the explosion of investment in intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platforms, like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, over the last decade to feed the appetites for full-motion video and other sensor data to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But more not enough attention has been given to how those assets are integrated and leveraged, asserts a new paper from AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies. Unveiling Layering ISR Forces (caution, large-sized file) during a presentation on Monday in Arlington, Va., author Michael Isherwood said the future holds the prospect for a far broader range of operations spanning from low-intensity conflicts to countering high-end adversaries with advanced cyber capabilities and with no guarantee that the Air Force will rule the skies unchallenged. Accordingly, Isherwood called for the better integration and exploitation of a wide range of intelligence products—from human intelligence to signals and electronic intelligence. He also advocated finding new tools and organizational concepts to exploit the “layered” intelligence picture as a whole in a combat environment. Isherwood is a Northrop Grumman analyst and retired USAF colonel.