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Moving toward a joint acquisition process to support ISR.


In 2004, the U.S. Army issued a Critical Mission Needs Statement for a fleet of new unmanned aircraft Unmanned Aircraft (UA) is a term used in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) definition of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). UA refers to the aircraft portion of the system required to operate it, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.  systems (UAS). The Sky Warrior, as the platform was called, would be the Army's premier extended range, multipurpose UAS to support ground operations. The Army subsequently prepared an operational requirements document A formatted statement containing performance and related operational parameters for the proposed concept or system. Prepared by the user or user's representative at each milestone beginning with Milestone I, Concept Demonstration Approval of the Requirements Generation Process. Also called ORD.  to specify performance criteria for the Sky Warrior and submitted its request to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council Part of the United States Department of Defense acquisition process, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) reviews programs designated as JROC interest and supports the acquisition review process in accordance with law (10 U.S.C. 181).  (JROC JROC Joint Requirements Oversight Council
JROC James River Outdoor Coalition
JROC Joint Required Operational Capability
JROC Jeppesen Radiation Oncology Center (Michigan)
JROC Jacksonville Regional Operations Center
), an all-Service panel that conducts requirements analysis (project) requirements analysis - The process of reviewing a business's processes to determine the business needs and functional requirements that a system must meet. , validates mission needs, and recommends priorities for funding.

The request was immediately challenged by the council's Air Force representative. In the Air Force's opinion, its existing MQ--1 Predator UAS, operationally deployed since 1999 and a seasoned veteran of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, could meet all of the Army's requirements with minimal modification. (1) The Army countered that the Air Force's objection was actually a veiled attempt to retain operational control of the air space and be recognized as the "executive agent" for medium and high-altitude UAS across the entire Department of Defense (DOD (1) (Dial On Demand) A feature that allows a device to automatically dial a telephone number. For example, an ISDN router with dial on demand will automatically dial up the ISP when it senses IP traffic destined for the Internet. ). (2) After much debate, the JROC approved the Army's requirement for a new multipurpose UAS despite vigorous opposition from the panel's Air Force contingent.

By early 2007, the Sky Warrior disagreement had reached a boiling point boiling point, temperature at which a substance changes its state from liquid to gas. A stricter definition of boiling point is the temperature at which the liquid and vapor (gas) phases of a substance can exist in equilibrium. . On April 19, a congressional hearing Congressional hearings are the principal formal method by which committees collect and analyze information in the early stages of legislative policymaking. Whether confirmation hearings — a procedure unique to the Senate — legislative, oversight, investigative, or a  convened to review Service budget requests for UAS. The meeting quickly dissolved into a quagmire of questions and confusion. "Who is in charge?" and "Where is the authority?" asked Representative Neil Abercrombie Neil A. Abercrombie (born June 26, 1938) is an American politician and elder statesman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. He is most notable for his service in the United States House of Representatives representing the First Congressional District of Hawaii (map) since 1991.  (D-HI), Chairman of the House Armed Services Air and Land Forces Subcommittee. The answer from the Government Accountability Office The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress, and thus an agency in the Legislative Branch of the United States Government.  was that no one in DOD was exercising effective control over the Services' competing programs. (3)

Finally, after 3 years of bickering, the Office of the Secretary of Defense The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is part of the United States Department of Defense and includes the entire staff of the Secretary of Defense. It is the principal staff element of the Secretary of Defense in the exercise of policy development, planning, resource  had heard enough. On June 13, 2007, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England issued a memorandum upholding the Army's procurement rights for the Sky Warrior, but directing the two Services to form a "joint integrated product team" combining the Predator and Sky Warrior efforts into a single acquisition program. (4) The Army and Air Force have agreed to cooperate in fielding the next generation of medium-altitude, multirole UAS, but the contentious, stovepiped nature of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance An activity that synchronizes and integrates the planning and operation of sensors, assets, and processing, exploitation, and dissemination systems in direct support of current and future operations. This is an integrated intelligence and operations function. Also called ISR.  (ISR (Interrupt Service Routine) Software routine that is executed in response to an interrupt. ) acquisition process remains.

The Problem

The inter-Service rivalry over the medium-altitude UAS platform is symbolic of an antiquated funding and acquisition process that does not adequately coordinate, consolidate, and manage the rapidly expanding ISR enterprise. To put it succinctly, DOD does not have a joint, cohesive process to define and validate ISR requirements or efficiently acquire new systems to support warfighter needs.

The significance of this shortfall is immense. Without a unified investment management approach, each Service has aggressively pursued independent ISR capabilities that are tailored to their own unique missions. The Services are not required to jointly develop new ISR systems, (5) and there are vast discrepancies in the way Service requirements are vetted, prioritized, and funded. Efforts to integrate ISR capabilities across DOD are hampered by diverse organizational cultures, independent requirements processes, and different funding mechanisms. As a result, the complex acquisition process through which DOD identifies, procures, and implements advanced ISR systems is characterized by gaps in capabilities, growing competition for assets, and systems that do not fully complement one another. (6)

While the symptoms and impacts of the ISR acquisition process are easy to identify, the exact causes are somewhat harder to determine. Without question, the current process is rife with inefficiencies at virtually every level. Based on the research outlined in this article, the challenges facing the ISR acquisition community manifest themselves in three broad problem areas:

* DOD does not have a comprehensive vision or strategy for the ISR enterprise.

* There is no unified ISR management mechanism to weigh the relative costs, benefits, and risks of proposed investments.

* The current ISR acquisition process promotes requirements definition by individual Service components, which may not have insight into enterprise-level priorities or viable alternatives to acquire the needed intelligence.

The purpose of this article, then, is to assess and verify these three challenges facing the ISR acquisition community and to recommend changes to improve the integration of ISR capabilities across DOD and national intelligence agencies. The objective is to advocate a joint DOD acquisition process that ensures future ISR investments reflect enterprise-level priorities and strategic goals, while providing a cost-effective baseline of advanced ISR tools, platforms, and capabilities to support tactical operations.

Many organizations play a role in identifying ISR requirements, managing assets, and developing new capabilities. National intelligence agencies such as the National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency play a vital role in supporting the DOD combat mission and are aligned under both the Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence (DNI See Do Not Increase. ). Although the scope of this article is limited to the DOD ISR acquisition process, the national assets are a key component of this examination due to their potential to substitute for or supplement portions of the tactical ISR mission.

ISR Requirements

DOD and the DNI have separate processes to identify future requirements. In the Defense Department, proposals for new ISR capabilities are developed by either the combatant commands or by the individual Services and then submitted to the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS JCIDS Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (US DoD; replaces Requirements Generation System, RGS) ) for vetting. (7) Within the DNI, proposals for new capabilities are developed by the national intelligence agencies and vetted through the Mission Requirements Board (MRB MRB Malaysian Rubber Board
MRB Material Review Board
MRB Maintenance Review Board (Commercial Aircraft Industry and FAA)
MRB Medical Review Board
MRB Mortgage Revenue Bonds (secondary mortgage financial instrument) 
). Although there is rudimentary coordination between JCIDS and MRB, no standard process exists to determine which DOD proposals will be reviewed by MRB or what criteria will be used to conduct such reviews. (8) The lack of protocol in vetting coincident requirements often puts DOD and DNI at odds. For example, in 2008, JCIDS reviewed a U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM USCENTCOM United States Central Command ) requirement for increased surveillance capabilities and determined that the shortfall would be best met by increasing the number of UAS available to the USCENTCOM Service components. MRB determined the exact same requirement could be addressed by efficiency gains in other surveillance methods. (9)

Despite DNI willingness to support tactical missions with national assets, many DOD requirements sponsors are reluctant to consider national systems as an alternative. (10) There are a variety of reasons why DOD insists on acquiring inhouse ISR capabilities when national agencies offer a viable alternative. For one, no single source of information exists that specifies the capability and availability of national assets, and even if there were, many in the DOD community lack the security clearance needed to evaluate and select national systems. (11) Trust and control are also an issue, as many within the DOD community are apprehensive about dependence on other system owners. (12)

Defense Acquisition Structure

The DOD defense acquisition structure consists of three interrelated systems that can be described in broad terms as requirements generation, resource allocation resource allocation Managed care The constellation of activities and decisions which form the basis for prioritizing health care needs , and acquisition management. As mentioned previously, the requirements component is known as JCIDS. Created in 2003, JCIDS is a DOD-level collaborative process for identifying, assessing, and prioritizing warfighter requirements. (13) Resource allocation is determined through the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution System, which is the framework through which JCIDS-vetted requirements are evaluated relative to other DOD needs and budgeted in accordance with strategic guidance and fiscal constraints. (14) The third component of the DOD defense acquisition structure is the Defense Acquisition System. As the name implies, this system is the management process by which DOD initiates and oversees the actual procurement of new technologies and programs. The complexity of this three-step process combined with the magnitude of personnel, activities, and funding involved in its operation can result in problems such as redundancy, inefficient operations, fraud/waste/abuse, and inadequate enforcement of laws and regulations. (15)

In DOD, ISR requirements and need statements can be developed by defense agencies, combatant commands, or individual Services in accordance with Title 10 responsibilities to train and equip forces. (16) Prior to its submission into JCIDS, a new ISR requirement must be reviewed and approved by the JROC, a department-level panel chaired by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The position of Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was created by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. The Vice Chairman is a four-star general or admiral and by law the second highest ranking member of the U.S. Armed Forces (after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).  and including the Vice Chiefs of the Army, Air Force, and Navy, and the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps is the highest ranking officer of the United States Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reporting to the Secretary of the Navy but not to the Chief of Naval Operations. . (17) The charter of the JROC is to assist the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking overall military officer of the United States military, and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States.  in identifying and prioritizing new requirements, consider alternatives to the stated need, and ensure that the priority assigned to the new requirement reflects established strategic guidance. (18) To assist in vetting ISR requirements, the JROC has a special subpanel known as the Battlespace Awareness Knowledge and understanding of the operational area's environment, factors, and conditions, to include the status of friendly and adversary forces, neutrals and noncombatants, weather and terrain, that enables timely, relevant, comprehensive, and accurate assessments, in order to  Functional Capabilities Board. (19) But the JROC does not have any insight into the budgeting process to ensure that JROC-validated programs are adequately funded, nor is there an oversight mechanism to ensure that the Services spend appropriated funds the way the JROC intended. (20)

It is important to note that requirements definition, submission, and vetting comprise a "capabilities-based" process, meaning the combatant command or requirements originator submits the capability shortfall it wishes to address along with the minimum performance criteria needed for the eventual solution. The actual material solution for the submitted requirement is determined by a Functional Solution Analysis, (21) which is the final output of the JCIDS process. In a capabilities-based system, requirements originated by the combatant commands or Service components must be as descriptive and accurate as possible, and baseline performance criteria should be articulated in standard terms and common frames of reference.

Funding Requirements

For budgeting purposes, the various systems that collect, process, and disseminate intelligence are grouped into two major categories of programs, the National Intelligence Program (NIP) and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP MIP

See: Monthly income preferred security
). The categories are based on the customer being served, different management arrangements, and different oversight entities in Congress. (22) The NIP encompasses those strategic intelligence programs that specifically support national-level decision-making. (23) NIPs are allocated among national intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency Noun 1. Defense Intelligence Agency - an intelligence agency of the United States in the Department of Defense; is responsible for providing intelligence in support of military planning and operations and weapons acquisition
, National Reconnaissance Office, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Security Agency. (24) The MIP includes those programs that serve the ISR needs of DOD. Some MIP programs are the responsibility of a single defense agency while others are managed by one Service as an "executive agent" for DOD. (25)


The DNI has overall responsibility for preparing NIP budget submissions based on priorities established by the President and with input from the national intelligence agencies. (26) The DNI also participates in the development of the MIP by the Secretary of Defense. Conversely, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD USD

In currencies, this is the abbreviation for the U.S. Dollar.

The currency market, also known as the Foreign Exchange market, is the largest financial market in the world, with a daily average volume of over US $1 trillion.
[I]) serves as the MIP Program Executive and also ensures the NIP budget is compliant with DOD strategic objectives. (27) Thus, the DNI and USD(I) play an essential role in the development of both the NIP and MIP. Yet these organizations have limited time and resources and have difficulty reviewing budget requests thoroughly. (28)

As ISR technologies continue to evolve, the distinctions between the National and the Military Intelligence Programs become increasingly blurred. Some missions, such as space-based radar Space-based radar refers to space-borne radar systems that may have any of a variety of purposes. A number of earth-observing radar satellites, such as RadarSat, have employed synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to obtain terrain and land-cover information about the earth. , are already shared by national and military process owners. (29) Although these mission interdependencies offer substantial opportunities for increased fiscal efficiency, the current budget process presents a number of significant challenges. One is the unintended consequences of budget adjustments. For example, the elimination of a MIP-funded reconnaissance platform might require a new reliance on a national sensor, which would now be underfunded to perform the additional tasking. (30) Shared funding arrangements present fiscal opportunities, but they have also caused rifts and schedule delays as one entity protests the percentage of funding that it has to provide relative to the other. (31) Also, requirements that are uniquely joint are slow to be identified and filled when no specific Service has the responsibility to initiate a needs statement. (32) Even when potential efficiencies are identified, determining a consolidated plan for funding and operations can be a challenge. For example, space platforms are budgeted under NIP and operated by the national intelligence agencies. The Global Hawk UAS, on the other hand, is budgeted under MIP and operated by the Air Force. These separate paths make it difficult to assess overlaps in capabilities, study tradeoffs, and synchronize operations. (33)

To further complicate the management and coordination of ISR programs, some elements within DOD have turned to supplemental appropriations to obtain intelligence assets that they did not get through the established budget and planning process. (34) One such appropriation vehicle is the Defense Emergency Resource Fund, an initiative that allows DOD to shift funds from a generic counterterrorism coun·ter·ter·ror  
Intended to prevent or counteract terrorism: counterterror measures; counterterror weapons.

Action or strategy intended to counteract or suppress terrorism.
 fund to specific subaccounts. (35) Although the supplemental appropriation mechanism often results in a Service obtaining a much-needed capability, the practice undercuts the established budgeting and oversight process, making it difficult to weigh tradeoffs and adjust priorities. It also impedes long-term planning and has an erosive e·ro·sive
Causing erosion.
 effect on efforts to consolidate resources. (36)

The total fiscal budget for ISR programs is difficult to assess due to the classified nature of programs, but the 2008 funding for the national intelligence systems alone exceeded $47 billion. (37) With that type of massive expenditure, the need for operational efficiency and sound decisionmaking is critical. Unfortunately, the current system provides little opportunity to compare costs or make efficiency tradeoffs.

Acquisition Challenges

The unparalleled complexity of the DOD defense acquisition structure lends itself to an abundance of problematic issues. (38) In general terms, the challenges facing the ISR acquisition community can be consolidated into three basic problem statements.

DOD does not have a comprehensive vision or strategy for the ISR enterprise. The lack of a clearly defined, cohesive strategy to guide ISR investments has been a highly visible area of concern for many years. In 1995, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recommended a joint review by the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI (Display Control Interface) An Intel/Microsoft programming interface for full-motion video and games in Windows. It allowed applications to take advantage of video accelerator features built into the display adapter. ) and Deputy Secretary of Defense to ensure both DOD and the Intelligence Community were being equally served in the planning, programming, and management of intelligence activities. (39) The 1997 Intelligence Authorization Act The United States Central Intelligence Agency’s Intelligence Authorization Act was implemented in order to enforce an article of the Constitution which has not been followed since Washington’s presidency.  included provisions that strengthened the ability of the DCI to participate in budget development for defense-wide and tactical intelligence Noun 1. tactical intelligence - intelligence that is required for the planning and conduct of tactical operations
combat intelligence

intelligence activity, intelligence operation, intelligence - the operation of gathering information about an enemy
. (40) As part of the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed the Office of the USD(I) to develop a comprehensive "roadmap" to guide development and integration of DOD ISR capabilities for fiscal years 2004 through 2018. It also called for the creation of an ISR Integration Council to address ISR integration and coordination issues in conjunction with DCI and to contribute to the design of the ISR Roadmap. (41)

Released in 2005, the ISR Roadmap has provided a multitude of benefits to DOD and the Intelligence Community. First, it has provided a catalogue of both existing and planned ISR systems to help guide investment decisions. It also outlined six specific strategic goals for the future ISR enterprise:

* converge DOD capabilities

* attain persistent surveillance A collection strategy that emphasizes the ability of some collection systems to linger on demand in an area to detect, locate, characterize, identify, track, target, and possibly provide battle damage assessment and re-targeting in near or real-time.  

* achieve horizontal integration Horizontal Integration

When a company expands its business into different products that are similar to current lines.

For example, a hot dog vendor expanding into selling hamburgers. Compare this to vertical integration.
See also: Vertical Integration
 of intelligence information

* achieve a collaborative network-centric distributed operations Distributed Operations (DO) is a new warfighting concept being adopted by the United States Marine Corps and is being developed by their Warfighting Laboratory as a response to the changing environment of the Global War on Terror.  infrastructure

* transform ISR management capabilities

* operationalize intelligence. (42)

Although the ISR Roadmap defines strategic objectives in broad terms, it does not specify future ISR requirements, identify funding priorities, or define a vetting mechanism to ensure Service ISR investments reflect the overall strategy. (43) In short, DOD still lacks a clearly defined vision of the future ISR enterprise to guide its ISR investments. (44)

There is no unified ISR management mechanism to weigh the relative costs, benefits, and risks of proposed investments. The JROC is the current enterprise-level entity for vetting requirements and addressing capability shortfalls across DOD. The agencies, combatant commands, and Services present their mission need statements to the JROC, which then evaluates each candidate requirement on a case-by-case basis. The JROC focus is on Service need and shortfall, however, rather than the capabilities needed to fulfill the mission. (45) Neither the JROC nor its subpanels have the time or technical expertise to fully explore potential options for addressing the ISR capability shortfalls. Also, there is no mechanism in place to identify options, capability gaps, or duplication of effort. (46)

To provide decisionmakers with a mechanism to compare and contrast Service requirements, DOD is compiling an inventory of functional activities known as the Joint Capability Areas (JCAs). Initiated in 2005, the JCAs are a set of standardized definitions of DOD capabilities that are divided into manageable categories. (47) The intent of the JCAs is to establish a common doctrinal language to define needs, analyze gaps in capability, and identify areas where there may be an excess of capabilities. (48) The JCAs have provided a basic framework to evaluate competing Service requirements on a comparable basis.

The JROC and JCAs provide positive momentum toward managing ISR investments from a joint enterprise-level perspective rather than from a single Service point of view. However, DOD as a whole has not established the criteria and methods to identify the best return on investment in light of strategic goals.

The current ISR acquisition process promotes requirements definition by individual Service components that may not have insight into enterprise-level priorities or viable options to acquire the needed intelligence. Since the Goldwater-Nichols Act The Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 Pub.L. 99-433 reworked the command structure of the United States military. It increased the powers of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. , the Armed Forces have made extraordinary progress in moving toward a joint and seamless force. Yet this synergy has not extended into the areas of ISR acquisition and management. Entities such as JROC review and validate funding priorities but have little input into the definition of requirements. Nor does JROC have any oversight of the budgeting process to ensure that its own validated requirements are adequately funded. (49) The Services are ultimately responsible for justifying funding priorities before Congress and maintain both ownership and budgetary control over the resulting ISR assets.

Service ownership of ISR assets presents a number of inherent challenges. First, Service-oriented planning does not consider the full range of solutions available to fulfill operational requirements (programming) operational requirements - Qualitative and quantitative parameters that specify the desired capabilities of a system and serve as a basis for determining the operational effectiveness and suitability of a system prior to deployment. . At the Service level, requirements managers often lack knowledge about national systems and can even lack the security clearance needed to review and evaluate capability options using national assets. (50) Some process owners have had prior difficulty in tasking national satellites and have complained of poor quality imagery. (51) There is also reluctance on the part of some DOD requirements sponsors to consider national ISR systems as an alternative because they simply do not want to be dependent on another system owner. (52)

At times, Service-based requirements managers have also demonstrated unrealistic expectations of new ISR capabilities and have submitted requirements not consistent with technical levels of maturity. (53) Requirement managers who incorporate ISR technologies that are in the early stages of development increase both the risk and cost of the program, often without any significant enhancement in capability. (54)


A third issue involving Service-oriented ISR planning can be loosely described as "unintended consequences." Many Service-level ISR assets began development without a long-term plan to manage and sustain their programs. As a result, funding and resources are directed toward short-term needs or "gluing" ill-suited and disparate components together in an attempt to force jointness. Also, schedule delays in some programs have forced the Services to make unplanned investments in legacy systems to keep them active longer than expected. (55)

Perhaps the best example of a troubled acquisition program's cascading effect on legacy systems is the Air Force Global Hawk high-altitude UAS. At a cost of $10 million per copy, the Global Hawk was intended to provide cost-effective reconnaissance capabilities similar to the aging U--2 manned platform. The Global Hawk provides an operational advantage over national satellite assets in that it can be tasked by local commanders and launched on demand. (56) Unfortunately, the initial acquisition program had significant shortcomings, as the platform proved to be underpowered and lacked a signals intelligence capability. (57) The Air Force has now funded a $75-million-per-copy upgrade of the initial Global Hawk that includes greater payload and a more robust signals collection capability, but the resulting schedule delay has forced the Air Force to maintain the U--2 program far beyond its projected retirement. (58)


The current DOD acquisition process discourages the consolidation and integration of capabilities across the ISR enterprise. Since requirement and budget definitions are based on stovepiped applications, ISR system developers are forced to integrate capabilities after the fact rather than design efficient and holistic systems from the start. Congress has recognized this deficiency and authorized several significant enhancements to the acquisition process. In 2003, the capabilities-based JCIDS was implemented to submit, review, and validate requirements. The 2004 National Defense Authorization Act directed the USD(I) to develop the ISR Roadmap and created the ISR Integration Council to integrate and coordinate programs across the ISR enterprise. Congress has also restructured the intelligence appropriations process to ensure coordination by the DNI and USD(I).

Less drastic modifications could also improve the integration and coordination issues that are at the heart of the ISR acquisition dilemma. The following recommendations outline three initiatives that the DOD acquisition community could implement to mitigate shortfalls in the current ISR procurement environment. These suggestions are not without controversy, since implementation would inevitably require coordination, resource-sharing, and potential loss of decision authority by select DOD elements. The recommendations are not mutually dependent, however, and can be considered in aggregate to address portions of the ISR acquisition conundrum.

Define an Overall Enterprise Architecture for ISR. A critical shortfall in the current ISR acquisition environment is the absence of a comprehensive and clearly defined enterprise architecture. Without a documented enterprise architecture model, Service requirements managers are essentially making decisions based on their personal perception of the ISR enterprise, which is often not in alignment with the other Service components or the overall strategic direction of DOD.

Within the DOD ISR community, a physical enterprise architecture for interoperability is provided by the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS DCGS Distributed Common Ground System
DCGS Distributed Common Ground Station
DCGS Distributed Common Ground/Surface System (US DoD)
DCGS Delaware County Genealogical Society (Ohio and Pennsylvania) 
), which is a Web-based global intelligence-sharing network that spans the military Services and defense intelligence agencies. (59) Included in the DCGS model is a set of open interface standards known as the DCGS Integration Backbone, which provides a common framework to ensure interoperability, data-sharing, and collaboration among all elements. (60) Although the DCGS outlines a conceptual framework For the concept in aesthetics and art criticism, see .

A conceptual framework is used in research to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to a system analysis project.
 to ensure new ISR capabilities can interact, it does not provide the holistic enterprise architecture in the systems engineering sense needed to assess requirements for new capabilities and make sound investment decisions.

In the systems engineering discipline, an enterprise architecture is simply a documented model of an organization's current (as is) state, its target (to be) state, and a sequencing plan for moving between the two. (61) In addition to a thorough inventory of strategic assets, an ISR enterprise architecture would define organizational components of the ISR enterprise and the interrelationships and interdependencies of those organizations. It would define the ISR mission of each component and document the information needed to achieve that mission. An enterprise architecture would also document a transition process for implementing new technologies in response to changing mission needs. (62)

A managed ISR enterprise architecture would offer benefits to planners, decisionmakers, and those responsible for defining ISR requirements at the Service level. An enterprise architecture would improve communication by providing a standardized vocabulary throughout the ISR community of users. It would provide a mechanism to weigh the benefits and impact of new requirements and support analysis of alternatives, risks, and tradeoffs. It could also help planners discover opportunities to share ISR assets across the enterprise and identify gaps in the current infrastructure that prohibit the sharing of resources. (63)

An enterprise architecture is a living document, so one organization would be tasked with development, implementation, and maintenance of the enterprise architecture lifecycle. A key provision, however, would be full participation and investment by the Service components to document their mission and operations, describe their vision of the future, and help outline an investment and technology strategy for accomplishing their objectives. It is also essential that the ISR enterprise architecture be coordinated and endorsed by the Service chiefs, USD(I), and DNI to ensure ISR acquisition activities are consistent with the strategic vision of DOD and the Intelligence Community.

Establish Standards and Baseline Capabilities for Sensor Development. At one time, the U.S. defense establishment only acquired systems and equipment that adhered to rigid military specifications and standards. In order to incorporate the rapid expansion of technology over the past quarter century, the defense acquisition community has now adopted an open systems development approach based on commercial specifications and standards. Although the open systems approach has enhanced the performance and capabilities of individual systems, it has also shifted the burden of specification adherence from the acquirer to the developer. (64) This, coupled with fairly loose definitions of open systems standards, has allowed vendors to deliver their own proprietary solutions to performance requirements that are not as open as they appear to be on the surface. The development and documentation of baseline standards specific to the ISR enterprise would dramatically enhance the affordability and interoperability of ISR systems across the enterprise.

The term standards development is generally applied to computer systems and network protocols. In actuality, all systems have structures that allow their components and subsystems to work together to achieve the required functionality. Adherence to a well-documented set of baseline standards during the design phase of ISR systems development allows these structures to interact and results in substantial cost savings, interoperability, and efficiency benefits over the life cycle of the program. Although the main goal of baseline standards is interoperability, a standards-based systems development approach could also be applied to database format, data schemas, operating systems, and graphic user interface See GUI.  models. Standardization of this nature reduces development costs, encourages higher levels of performance, provides greater adaptability to evolving requirements, and lowers the risk of technology obsolescence. (65)

Establish a Joint ISR Requirements Agent for DOD. The Intelligence Reform Act of 2003 consolidated ISR program evaluation Program evaluation is a formalized approach to studying and assessing projects, policies and program and determining if they 'work'. Program evaluation is used in government and the private sector and it's taught in numerous universities. , assessment, and recommendations under the USD(I). (66) Although this effort reflects a more centralized and coordinated approach to ISR acquisition, actual requirements for ISR capabilities are still originated and defined in accordance with DOD legacy procedures. The establishment of a joint requirements agent to help validate capability gaps and oversee the definition and preparation of requirements would substantially enhance USD(I) oversight of ISR acquisition programs.

A viable candidate for a joint ISR requirements agent is U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM USSTRATCOM United States Strategic Command ). In 2003, USSTRATCOM was given the responsibility to plan, integrate, and coordinate ISR in support of DOD operations. To execute this responsibility, the command established the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (JFCC--ISR), (67) whose current role is to match customer mission requirements with existing ISR assets and synchronize DOD, national, and allied ISR collection efforts. (68) Expanding its role to include the validation and preparation of new operational and functional requirements would utilize USSTRATCOM's knowledge of existing ISR assets.

A second option for a joint ISR requirements agent is U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM USJFCOM United States Joint Forces Command ). Under this proposal, combatant commands and Service components would be tasked to define requirements and compile mission need statements in conjunction with ISR subject matter experts at USJFCOM. By channeling all new ISR requirements through the command, DOD would take advantage of USJFCOM's established infrastructure for developing, evaluating, and prioritizing interoperable systems. (69) As the existing DOD authority for joint concept and capabilities development, USJFCOM would provide the USD(I) with a ready mechanism to ensure future ISR requirements are defined in accordance with enterprise-level priorities rather than Service-specific opinions.

This article provides a cursory overview of a DOD acquisition environment that struggles to coordinate, consolidate, and manage the rapidly expanding ISR enterprise. It reviews the complex defense acquisition structure, outlines the challenges facing the acquisition process, and recommends changes to improve the integration of new capabilities across the ISR community. None of these suggestions, however, is as important to the goal of an improved joint ISR acquisition process as leadership and the will to implement change. Both DOD and the Intelligence Community have a vested interest Vested Interest

A financial or personal stake one entity has in an asset, security, or transaction.

For example, if you have a mortgage, your bank has a vested interest on the sale of your house.
See also: Right
 in securing a holistic acquisition process that ensures ISR investments reflect enterprise-level priorities. Together, they need to communicate their strategic goals for the acquisition and distribution of ISR resources, clearly map out a plan to achieve these goals, and hold people accountable for meeting them. These are essential ingredients to implementing change and taking full advantage of new and incredibly advanced ISR capabilities.


(1) Air Force Association, "The Sky Warrior Program: Building a House of Cards house of cards
n. pl. houses of cards
A flimsy structure, arrangement, or situation that is in danger of collapsing or failing: "The collapse of the rupiah . . .
," available at <>.

(2) Andrea Shalal-Esa, "Pentagon to Army, Air Force: Work Together on UAVs," Hanscom AFB AFB
acid-fast bacillus

AFB Acid-fast bacillus, also 1. Aflatoxin B 2. Aorto-femoral bypass
 Integrator, June 26, 2007, 1.

(3) Bruce Rolfson, "Air Force Draws Fire in Bid to Control UAVs," Army Times, April 24, 2007.

(4) Shalal-Esa, 1.

(5) U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance may refer to:
  • the US Joint Command see'' Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
  • the military term, see'' Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance.
: Preliminary Observations on DoD's Approach to Managing Requirements for New Systems, Existing Assets, and Systems Development, GAO--07-596T (Washington, DC: GAO, April 2007), 5.

(6) Ibid., 1.

(7) Ibid., 20.

(8) Ibid.

(9) Ibid., 32.

(10) Ibid., 38.

(11) Ibid., 39.

(12) Air Command and Staff College The Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) is located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama and is the United States Air Force's intermediate professional military education (PME) school.  lecture, September 24, 2008.

(13) Stephen Howard Stephen Howard may refer to:
  • Stephen Howard (basketball)
  • Stephen Howard (cricketer)
 Chadwick, Defense Acquisition: Overview, Issues and Options for Congress (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a branch of the Library of Congress that provides objective, nonpartisan research, analysis, and information to assist Congress in its legislative, oversight, and representative functions. U.S. , 2007), 4.

(14) Ibid., 7.

(15) Ibid., 1.

(16) GAO, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance: DoD Can Better Assess and Integrate ISR Capabilities and Oversee Development of Future ISR Requirements, GAO--08-374 (Washington, DC: GAO, March 2008), 19.

(17) Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Instruction 5123.01B, Charter of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, April 15, 2004, 1.

(18) Ibid., 1.

(19) GAO, ISR: DoD Can Better Assess, 3.

(20) Ibid., 8.

(21) Chadwick, 6.

(22) Richard A. Best, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Programs: Issues for Congress (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2005), 12.

(23) Richard A. Best and Elizabeth B. Bazen, Intelligence Spending: Public Disclosure Issues (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2007), 3.

(24) Best, 13.

(25) Ibid., 19.

(26) Ibid., 13.

(27) Best and Bazen, 4.

(28) Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, "Information Sharing See data conferencing.  and Collaboration: Planning, Budgeting and Execution," White Paper, Washington, DC, October 2007, 4.

(29) GAO, ISR: DoD Can Better Assess, 19.

(30) Best, 21.

(31) GAO, ISR: DoD Can Better Assess, 19.

(32) Ibid., 2-4.

(33) Best, 27.

(34) Ibid., 8.

(35) Ibid.

(36) Ibid.

(37) "US Intelligence Agencies Spend 47.5 Billion in FY08," National Journal, October 28, 2008.

(38) Chadwick, 1.

(39) GAO, ISR: DoD Can Better Assess, 2.

(40) Best, 2.

(41) GAO, ISR: Preliminary Observations, 7.

(42) Maryann Lawlor, "Defense Intelligence Charts Course," SIGNAL Magazine, August 2005, available at < anmviewer.asp?a=1007&print=yes>.

(43) GAO, ISR: Preliminary Observations, 3.

(44) GAO, ISR: DoD Can Better Assess, 7.

(45) Department of Defense, Joint Defense Capabilities Study, Final Report (Washington, DC: Office of the Secretary of Defense, December 2003), 2--4.

(46) GAO, ISR: DoD Can Better Assess, 26.

(47) Jason Sherman Jason Sherman (born 1962 in Montreal) is a Canadian playwright.

After graduating from the Creative Writing Program of York University in 1985, Sherman co-founded What Publishing with Kevin Connolly, which produced what, a literary magazine that he edited from 1985 to 1990.
, "Pace Calls for Rapid Adoption of New Joint Capabilities Areas," Inside the Pentagon, May 5, 2005, 1.

(48) Ibid., 1.

(49) GAO, ISR: DoD Can Better Assess, 8.

(50) Ibid., 38.

(51) Ibid., 39.

(52) Air Command and Staff College lecture.

(53) U.S. House of Representatives, Report on Challenges and Recommendations for United States Overhead Architecture, H.R. 110--914, 110th Cong., 2d sess. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008), 11.

(54) Ibid., 11.

(55) GAO, ISR: Preliminary Observations, 18.

(56) Best, 26.

(57) GAO, ISR: Preliminary Observations, 21.

(58) Ibid., 21.

(59) Glen W. Goodman, "Intel Internet," ISR Journal 3, no. 7 (August 2004), 1.

(60) Ibid., 1.

(61) GAO, ISR: DoD Can Better Assess, 23.

(62) Chief Information Officer Council, A Practical Guide to Federal Enterprise Architecture The Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) is an initiative of the US Office of Management and Budget that aims to comply with the Clinger-Cohen Act and provide a common methodology for information technology (IT) acquisition in the United States federal government. , Version 1.0, February 2001, 5, available at <www.>.

(63) Ibid., 6.

(64) ITT Corporation, Defense Acquisition Commercial Specifications--Gold Practice, 2008, 1, available at < index.php>.

(65) Ibid., 1.

(66) Best, 18.

(67) GAO, ISR: Preliminary Observations, 6.

(68) Ibid., 6.

(69) Bryon E. Greenwald, "Joint Capability Development," Joint Forces course book, ed. Sharon McBride (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, July 2008), 125.

Del C. Kostka is Technical Executive for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's U.S. Transportation Command Support Team, Scott Air Force Base Scott Air Force Base (IATA: BLV, ICAO: KBLV, FAA LID: BLV) is a base of the United States Air Force in St. Clair County, Illinois near Belleville which are in the St. Louis metropolitan area. , Illinois.
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Title Annotation:SPECIAL FEATURE; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
Author:Kostka, Del C.
Publication:Joint Force Quarterly
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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