The Department of Defense's (DOD) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities-such as satellites and unmanned aircraft systems-are crucial to military operations, and demand for ISR capabilities has increased. For example, DOD plans to invest $28 billion over the next 7 years in 20 airborne ISR systems alone. Congress directed DOD to fully integrate its ISR capabilities, also known as the ISR enterprise, as it works to meet current and future ISR needs. GAO was asked to (1) describe the challenges, if any, that DOD faces in integrating its ISR enterprise, (2) assess DOD's management approach for improving integration of its future ISR investments, and (3) evaluate the extent to which DOD has implemented key activities to ensure proposed new ISR capabilities fill gaps, are not duplicative, and use a joint approach to meeting warfighters' needs. GAO assessed DOD's integration initiatives and 19 proposals for new ISR capabilities. We supplemented this analysis with discussions with DOD officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence to develop a vision of a future ISR architecture that addresses a longer period of time than the 5-year ISR budget and is based on an independent analysis of expected future requirements and strategic goals. This architecture should be sufficiently detailed to inform a comprehensive assessment and prioritization of capability gaps and overlaps, to allow decision makers to evaluate tradeoffs between competing needs, and to assess progress in addressing capability gaps and overlaps in order to achieve ISR strategic goals.|
|Department of Defense||2. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence to collaborate, with one of these organizations assigned as the lead, in developing a comprehensive source of information, which augments the ISR Integration Roadmap, on all existing and developmental ISR capabilities throughout the ISR enterprise for sponsors to use in conducting capabilities-based assessments and for the Battlespace Awareness Functional Capabilities Board to use in evaluating them.|
|Department of Defense||3. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a supervisory review or other monitoring mechanism to ensure that (1) the Battlespace Awareness Functional Capabilities Board and the sponsors engage in early coordination to facilitate sponsors' consideration of existing and developmental ISR capabilities in developing their capabilities-based assessments, (2) capabilities-based assessments are completed, and (3) the Battlespace Awareness Functional Capabilities Board uses systematic procedures for reviewing the assessments.|
|Department of Defense||4. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to (1) review the Battlespace Awareness Functional Capabilities Board's staffing levels and expertise and workload to engage in early coordination with sponsors and review capabilities-based assessments, and (2) if shortfalls are identified, develop a plan that addresses any identified shortfalls of personnel, resources, or training, assigns responsibility for actions, and establishes time frames for implementing the plan.|