Information Drives the Kill Chain

The Air Force has assured combat dominance of the skies by putting combat power where it is needed in largely uncontested environments, Air Combat Command boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle said Dec. 4 at AFA’s Mitchell Institute-RAND Corporation forum on aerospace power in Santa Monica, Calif. “But in the future we won’t always have that ability,” he noted. Combat power projection will hinge on finding the right information grid in a scenario, and working inside adversary decision-making. Situational awareness, he said, is the ability to “know what I need, when I need it, and nothing more.” This is why enabling better data sharing from USAF’s F-22 and F-35 fleet—?with each other and with fourth generation assets—is critical to completing a powerful find, fix, target, track, and assess chain to utilize in future conflicts, he said. Information exploitation also will aid better use of limited assets, he pointed out, using the MQ-1/MQ-9 fleet as an example. “We need to be better about predicting where they need to be,” Carlisle said. Rather than just sending one asset to fill a requirement in a given combatant command, USAF and the Defense Department should employ predictive intelligence to better “cross cue” ISR assets when demand surges, from the Middle East to the South China Sea, said Carlisle.