The Government Accountability Office basically has just confirmed what the Air Force has been saying for years: Unmanned aerial vehicles should be under joint air operations control. Granted this new GAO report discusses the issue couched within the larger employment of all intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance assets. Basically, the report states that DOD’s current approach to the employment of its ISR assets, including UAVs, “hinders its ability to optimize the use of these assets.” GAO notes, too, that the lack of coordination between the joint air boss and tactical units flying small UAVs results in “duplicative taskings” and could “exacerbate” bandwidth problems. The Congressional watchdog says there is no mechanism for “DOD-wide advance coordination” for employment of UAVs and other ISR assets. And, GAO says that US Central Command has called such advance coordination “a critical factor” in the integration of UAVs into combat operations. DOD “generally concurred” with GAO’s recommendations. DOD may be poised to render limited executive agent status for UAVs to the Air Force.
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.