The vast sums of intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance information utilized by the US military and national security apparatus have transformed how the nation prosecutes wars in the 21st century, said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, former head of the ISR on the Air Staff. ISR is a critical mission in and of itself, he asserted in his address at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles last week. Accordingly, the time is now to change and update the organizational models to reflect this reality, “There’s no better time for organizational change than today. No longer can we treat [ISR] as support to operations,” Deptula told the symposium attendees. In fact, he said it’s time to establish a major command within the Air Force for ISR. The nature of ISR is knowledge, regardless of where it is from or who produces it, said Deptula. “The nature of [ISR] hasn’t changed, but its character has,” he observed. “From the beginning of time to 2003, there were five exobytes of information created,” he explained. Since then, the world creates five exobytes of data every two days, he noted during his Nov. 18 speech.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.