Air Force to reorganize intell community

The Air Force plans to realign all programs and personnel related to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) by taking them out of the operations community and consolidating them under one command structure, Federal Computer Week has learned. The move is a first step towards creating a freestanding command for ISR.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley alerted service intelligence personnel to the changes in a memo issued this week. The memo included a draft Program Action Directive that detailed the plan, according to several sources who received the document.

According to the document, the intelligence directorate (A2) under Lt. Gen. David Deptula, deputy chief of staff for intelligence at Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C., will control all ISR programs, including many programs that the service’s operations directorate (A3) now manages.

“Air force A2 will become the owner and control for all ISR program, platforms, and program elements,” said Maj. Shannon Bouvier, chief of the ISR Plans and Force Modernization Branch at Langley Air Force Base, Va. Bouvier spoke Jan. 10 at an industry forum hosted by Langley’s command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C2ISR) center.

The Air Intelligence Agency (AIA), based at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, will be disestablished, and its infrastructure will form the headquarters of a new ISR command, Bouvier said.

Consolidating intelligence resources under one command structure is the right move, said Dade Phillips, business systems analyst for BAE Systems. ISR program elements—120 or more -- are now spread across the Air Combat Command, Air Space Command, Special Operations Command, and elsewhere. “We’ve never been able to manage them as cohesive unit,” he said.

WIth this consolidation, the Air Force intelligence community will be better able to manage acquisitions, Phillips said.

The intelligence community will benefit from the advocacy of a three star general, Gen. Deptula, when competing for attention and funding, he said. In a recent war game assessment, the Air Force determined that the investment in ISR was not balanced against other Air Force needs, such as strike capabilities.

“There’s an imbalance there, and our toughest challenges right now are in C2 and ISR,” Phillips said.

However, the consolidation brings some risks, some experts say.  A freestanding ISR could lead to the isolation of an intelligence community that is cut off from operational needs. “But that problem is outweighed by the benefits of doing this,” Phillips said.

An Air Force spokesperson confirmed the substance of Moseley’s memo but declined to comment on specifics because it is still in draft form.

In November, the Air Force announced it would create a Cyber Command to consolidate resources for fighting in cyberspace and defending Defense Department networks. Cyber Command headquarters will be formed out of the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.  The command will begin operations sometime in 2007.

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