NTISR: Making the Most of Airborne Assets
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is exactly what happened when the 2011 Budget Control Authority BCA mandated 487 billion in cuts across the Department of Defense DoD over the next ten years. The desperate measures call for an equally massive audit of strategy, force structure, readiness and modernization across all services. Though at a 60 year low in personnel strength, the Air Force plans to trade size for quality in an effort to become a more agile and responsive force. Part of this trade requires a migration from traditional niche platforms to ones that support multi-role capabilities. Fortunately, the Air Force has an excellent case study it can use to truly attain these goals non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance NTISR. NTISR is a combat-proven capability that epitomizes agility and flexibility. For the last decade strike aircraft adapted to meet the increasing demands placed on niche ISR aircraft, modifying their tactics to fill increasing gaps in ISR capacity. Unfortunately, NTISR is far from perfect because it employs relatively narrow capabilities, the data gathered is fleeting and it suffers from organizational and ownership issues that only hinder its usage. In order to become more flexible and agile and migrate from niche to true multi-role capabilities, the Air Force must learn from and address these issues with NTISR. Despite its flaws, NTISR is an overlooked and frequently untapped capability that could change future operations across nearly every flying platform.