Let the Machine do It

The Air Force has been lucky to operate in a relatively benign environment in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 10 years, but in the future, it must be able to operate in anti-access, area-denial environments that might be ripe with jamming systems, said Lt. Gen. Larry James, deputy chief of staff for intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance. That was one of the key findings from a recent study that looked at the service’s ISR enterprise out to 2025, said James March 23 at AFA’s CyberFutures Conference in National Harbor, Md. The study also uncovered that the Air Force has a capacity problem in terms of processing the data collected by its overhead information-gathering platforms, he said. “The amount of data flowing into the ISR enterprise is absolutely staggering,” said James. He also cited a RAND study that found that by 2016, the Air Force would need more than 100,000 analysts to process all the information flowing from its ISR platforms. “Obviously, we can’t do that, so we have to create the tools that will allow us to handle all this data so humans are not looking at full-motion video 24/7. We have to let the machine do all that.”