Targeting Atrophy

The Air Force has lost some of its targeting capability over the last 10 years, as last year’s air campaign over Libya demonstrated, said Lt. Gen. Larry James, who oversees intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance matters on the Air Staff. “As we conducted operations in Libya, we found that we were pretty much running out of targeting capacity in order to execute that mission,” said James April 26 during an Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Program speech in Arlington, Va. James said “a lot of targeting capabilities”—personnel with expertise—”were pushed out to the combatant commanders” over the years and then oftentimes tasked to execute different functions when operations did not require them for targeting purposes. “So, just over time, that capacity within the Air Force drew down,” he explained. Air Combat Command currently is studying the issue, trying to determine the way ahead, including the investments necessary to rebuild the capability, he said. This subject will be a topic of discussion as the Air Force deliberates its Fiscal 2014 program objective memorandum, he said. “Then, we’ll come back to the four stars, probably in the fall, with a follow-on report of what’s next,” said James. “It really is primarily the people resource and getting trained targeteers to do this work. That’s really where we are focusing right now.”