“We all saw it coming,” Lt. Gen. David Deptula, deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Resonnaissance, said Tuesday about the hard choices confronting Air Force leaders because of constrained funding. “We all knew that in 2010 the boomers would retire, and the draw on Social Security and Medicare would go up,” and reminded attendees at AFA’s Air & Space Conference that those programs are mandatory, while Defense is discretionary. “We’ve seen the high water mark for defense spending,” he observed. That doesn’t get USAF off the hook for keeping the nation safe, though, and he argued that ISR will be the great force multiplier that allows the nation to select where it can or should apply its capabilities selectively. “ISR is an area that people are recognizing requires more attention, not less.” He noted that there will be an “ISR summit” of top Air Force leaders on Sept. 29 to discuss, among other things, whether ISR should have its own major command. Deptula said that forming a major command is one of a range of options to highlight ISR and give it the resources it needs.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.