evolution of the use of Air Force ISR capabilities since September 11, 2001, have been focused largely on immediate requirements dictated by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Managing this enterprise intelligently has involved many challenges, including the following: (1) the diverse mission and information requirements in the military services and the intelligence community (IC)4; (2) the diverse domains in which ISR operates (space, air, ground, sea, undersea, and cyberspace); (3) the need to balance joint versus organic ISR assets, and command and control; (4) the need to balance rapid-acquisition capabilities that will satisfy urgent warfighter needs versus capabilities that will satisfy long-term strategic goals; and (5) the need to balance sensor data-collection capability against capabilities for planning and direction, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and production, and dissemination (PCPAD).

Recognizing these challenges, the Air Force undertook a series of organizational changes, beginning in 2006 with the establishment of the flag officer position of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force for ISR (AF/A2), followed in 2007 with the creation of the Air Force ISR Agency.5 In 2009, the Air Force developed and implemented the ISR Flight Plan process to focus Air Force needs on future ISR capabilities.6 The Air Force subsequently renamed this approach the Capability Planning and Analysis (CP&A) process “to align with [the] CFLI [Core Function Lead Integrator] construct.”7 The ISR CP&A process employs subject-matter experts from across the service who consider strategic guidance, analyze operational needs, determine operational gaps, conduct risk and solutions analysis, and produce a master plan to guide investment. The processes used are lengthy and personnel-intensive and cannot quickly respond to revisions in assumptions and requirements. There is considerable reason for and need to improve the present processes, especially to account for new ISR needs in the cyberspace and space domains.

In response to a request from AF/A2 and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology, and Engineering, the National Research Council (NRC), under the auspices of the Air Force Studies Board, formed the Committee on Examination of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance


4The IC is composed of 17 member organizations and includes the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. For more information, see http://www.intelligence.gov/about-the-intelligencecommunity/member-agencies/. Accessed May 24, 2012.

5Col Brian Johnson, Chief, ISR Plans and Integration Division (AF/A2DP), Headquarters, U.S. Air Force. “Air Force ISR CP&A Overview.” Presentation to the committee, October 6, 2011.

6Lt Gen David Deptula (USAF, Ret.), Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Mav6. “The Air Force ISR Flight Plan: Origin, Rational and Process.” Presentation to the committee, October 6, 2011.

7Col Brian Johnson, Chief, ISR Plans and Integration Division (AF/A2DP), Headquarters, U.S. Air Force. “Air Force ISR CP&A Overview.” Presentation to the committee, October 6, 2011.

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