Air Force takes hard look at structure as budget crunch looms

The Air Force must overcome a number of challenges it faces in ISR, including data processing and training.

As the Air Force prepares for impending budget cuts and reductions in personnel that are already underway, the service is finding it must fine-tune focus on core capabilities, including training and technology related to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Besides the same budget struggles everyone else is facing, the Air Force is shedding jobs and must juggle financial pressure with urgent mission needs, according to a panel of Air Force officials. That challenges the ability to move forward with advanced  technology and ISR capabilities.


Related coverage:

Panetta's vision of DOD of the future: Lean, mean military machine


Speaking at a Feb. 6 lunch briefing held by AFCEA DC, the officials outlined some of their biggest concerns: finding intelligence in the data deluge pouring in from sensors and UAVs, training a new generation of airmen and securing cyberspace.

“The tactics that allow us to do very sophisticated surveillance, specifically to find targets within the [counter-insurgency operations], that pattern of life analysis – it’s driven us to collect lots of data within which there may be one nugget we need,” said Maj. Gen. Brett Williams, director of operations, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, Air Force headquarters.“In the future we need to put the real onus on the operators to help us figure out how to deal with this. Our resources – time, people and money – are all limited.”

The calls for better automated tools to sift through ISR data echoed similar statements made by Defense Department officials over the past few years, which at least one member of the panel acknowledged.

“We’re probably not doing as much as we should be doing,” admitted Randall Walden, director for information dominance programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.

But Brig. Gen. Scott Bethel, vice commander of the Air Force ISR Agency, said new tools and technologies are being developed and implemented.

“We are working on tools in several lanes – cross-cuing tools where sensors [communicate with each other] automatically. We’re working on using processes that are similar to systems already available in the commercial market; for example, facial recognition,” Bethel said. “We’re trying to take these processes up a notch or two…and allow machines do these basic analytical processes. The notion is to maximize the place where we apply human brain power.”

The Air Force is also adjusting its approach to training incoming classes of airmen. Hailing from the digital generation, these students have different technical requirements and inherently learn differently than the smaller classes preceding them, according to Bethel.

“We are trying to figure out how to prepare our young men and women in a way that works for them, not a way that works for us,” Bethel said. “It’s important that training gets accomplished because as the force grows smaller, those expectations of what those young people are doing will grow.”

Beyond training, Air Force officials also need to change their thinking about cyber threats, according to Williams.

“Our mindset needs to be that we are going to be attacked, that there is going to be information that goes out the door and we need to prioritize our resources. The way to do that is to understand what they use and what happens [to the information] so we can decide what are the most dear things to protect,” Williams said. “We’ve got old think in cyber and we need to figure out new ways to think about it.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.