Lawmakers at the House Armed Services air and land forces panel hearing last week were not pleased when repeated attempts to elicit straightforward and compelling arguments to establishing an unmanned aerial vehicle executive agent. Among the comments from the Congressmen: these are the same basic arguments from a generation ago, and the services’ apparent reluctance to work together means the lawmakers may be forced to order integration. In his opening remarks, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), panel chairman, noted that US Strategic Command “recently concluded that there is no authoritative ISR baseline to determine requirements,” and then went on to cite the need for “significant progress” in acquisition coordination as UAV programs proliferate. At the hearing, the Government Accountability Office representatives, who have just begun assessing the UAV situation, declared that the Pentagon’s present approach to ISR management, including the use of UAVs, “limits its ability to optimize the use of these assets.” The GAO also pointed out: “During ongoing operations, the commander responsible for planning, coordinating, and monitoring joint air operations does not currently have visibility over how tactical assets are being tasked, which could result in unnecessary duplicative taskings and limit DOD’s ability to leverage all available ISR assets.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.