The Future Fight, From Garrison

The Air Force’s ISR and cyber airmen are increasingly critical to what Air Combat Command boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle called “in garrison combat operations.” Speaking during an AFA Mitchell Institute-Rand Corporation forum, Carlisle said such operations are going to be critical to enabling dynamic and responsive theater-level combat power in the future. Connectivity, from the tactical level up to national leadership, will be driven by the airmen performing these tasks, as will enabling a networked “combat cloud” capability, so USAF should think hard about how it will support and manage these forces going forward, Carlisle said. Today’s air operations centers are no longer about stacking bomb loads and matching ordnance to pre-selected targets, but “managing information and timeliness and getting it to the right place at the right time,” Carlisle said. For example, airmen are improving how digital technology can be used to speed the close air support request process. Using machine learning and new technologies used in smart phone applications, for example, the ATO could be an even more responsive, constant product, with the help of its distributed network of ISR and cyber airmen. Inputs and targets would be constantly updated, with threat analysis and signals intelligence, disseminating and receiving data via nodes such as the F-22 and ISR aircraft.