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ISR Transformation Necessary, But Not Simple

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

DENVER, Sept. 29, 2004 – The United States, in the face of new threats, is transforming its military. It is moving from a force designed to fight the Cold War to one ready to face a new enemy that is agile and mobile.

This military transformation includes enhancing the Defense Department's Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or ISR, capabilities. And that has brought senior military officials and government agency directors here this week for a symposium on transforming ISR.

Because America's current ISR model was designed during the Cold War and is no longer efficient in fighting "asymmetrical" warfare, officials said, it must transform. The focus of ISR is horizontal integration or, more simply put, the sharing of information among intelligence agencies. Traditionally taboo, it is an idea whose time has come, according to symposium speakers.

"It's hard to break down the barriers or the walls between our various cultures. And we're different for a good reason. All of our agencies and organizations have different missions," said Letitia A. Long, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, requirements and resources. However, she added, "if we're going to fight a joint fight and win, we need to understand the various principals across the organizations. And I think the same is true for the intelligence community."

There is an ongoing effort being made to break down those barriers. For example, employees across the defense intelligence community are being encouraged to take an assignment or detail with another agency to promote cross-agency understanding. In fact, Long said, the rotational assignment is required for promotion to the senior executive service or the senior intelligence service.

Information sharing would allow for quicker access to needed information needed by one agency and possessed by another. It also would allow for more complete analysis of collected data.

Another key to ISR transformation is technological. Information can be collected and moved nearly instantaneously. To capitalize on intelligence, the infrastructure must be in place, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The Global Information Grid will allow transmission of that ISR data to appropriate users in a timely fashion with the right protection, Raduege said, adding that bandwidth and security needs are increasing.

Experts are predicting an eight-fold increase in the bandwidth requirement between 2006 and 2015. And Raduege noted that such projected estimates usually fall short.

ISR transformation is an undertaking of enormous proportion. In the end however, the goal is simple: collect the right data, analyze it better and faster, and see that it gets to the right people in a timely fashion so they can best use it to complete the mission. It's what needs to be done to achieve that goal that's going be difficult, officials said.

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Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., Director, Defense Information Systems Agency

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