A Strategies-to-Tasks Framework for Planning and Executing Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Operations
Apr 8, 2007
In recent conflicts, the U.S. Air Force has faced challenges dealing with fleeting targets such as individual terrorists that expose themselves to detection and attack for short periods of time—as brief as a few minutes. Rapid response to these targets requires an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) system that has the right sensors at the right locations to detect and track such targets or that can quickly redirect sensors from their original collection assignments when important new targets appear. The challenge is further complicated by the limited number of ISR assets (including aircraft and satellites) that may be available and the high demand for information needed to support combat operations and strategic objectives. A key portion of this rapid response is a tool to enable quick, informed decisions about retasking.
Under the current ISR planning and execution process, the Joint Task Force collection manager creates a prioritized list of collection tasks that integrates intelligence needs from various commanders; the air, land, and maritime components; and other users. However, there is no structured framework for quantifying and communicating how a given task satisfies the requests or how important it is compared with other tasks. The lack of a transparent, systematic framework makes ad hoc changes more difficult because intelligence officers may not know the relative importance of the tasks that are being traded off when new, time-sensitive targets emerge.
RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF) proposes three related frameworks that can help make the ISR planning and execution process better able to handle time-sensitive targets:
These new, more-capable frameworks will allow ISR planners and operators to make better use of limited intelligence capabilities on rapidly changing battlefields in the future.