WASHINGTON – The Air Force released the Next Generation Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Dominance Flight Plan, an encompassing strategy about how the service maintains and enhances decisive advantage amidst the reemergence of great power competition and rapid technological change in the digital era.
“We’re the best in the world,” said Lt. Gen. Dash Jamieson, Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR. “And in this realm, if you’re not first, you’re last. This flight plan informs how we continue to be the best.”
Driving the strategy are three pathways: pursuing disruptive technologies and opportunities; using multi-role, cross-domain ISR collection capabilities to bolster readiness and lethality; and investing in the foundational capabilities of people and partnerships to drive culture change.
Supporting these pathways are ten lines of effort, each with an associated annex. The pathway to disruptive technologies and opportunities, for instance, is supported by advancements in Machine Intelligence (MI), new approaches to leveraging data, and agile capability development.
Each line of effort has an implementation plan with goals and corresponding benchmarks. Some of the goals include: operating a data-centric enterprise, fielding new technology development from idea to execution via DevOps, and transitioning industrial-age constructs into digital-age approaches. The associated benchmarks will shape implementation over the course of the next decade.
“We need to balance our ISR portfolio to meet the challenges of a highly contested environment,” said Jamieson. “The future will consist of a multi-domain, multi-intelligence, government/commercial-partnered collaborative sensing grid. It will be resilient, persistent, and penetrating to support a range of options across the spectrum of conflict.”
Because of the scope of the Flight Plan, such collaboration and partnership is essential. Strengthening partnerships with allies, industry, academia and the other military services will be required to fully realize the plan. It will come down to people.
“Airmen will always be our asymmetric advantage,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Allen, senior enlisted advisor to the Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR. “Empowering them with next-generation technologies to repurpose, retool, and automate is crucial to evolving our capabilities and our culture for future conflicts.”
Such a culture will be more collaborative, enable rapid acquisition and fielding of capabilities, and embrace MI to create decision advantage and inject chaos into adversaries’ decision-making.
“We will match the innovative spirit of our Airmen with new ways of doing business,” said Jamieson, “And that business is winning our nation’s wars.”
The Next Generation ISR Dominance flight plan pathways and their lines of effort are:
1. Pursuing disruptive technologies/opportunities
- Machine Intelligence
- Data Strategy
- Agile Capability Development
2. Using multi-role/cross-domain ISR collection to bolster readiness/lethality
- High Altitude assets
- Penetrating, Persistent, Multi-role capabilities
- ISR from/for Space Operations
- Publically Available Information
- ISR from/for Cyberspace
3. Investing in foundational capabilities to drive culture change
- Human Capital
The unclassified version of the flight plan and annex summaries may be found here: https://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/5/isrflightplan.pdf.