US : Air Force is finalizing a high-tech “flight plan” for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance investments


National security is an afterthought in the FY 2018 President’s Budget request, playing fourth fiddle to tax cuts, cutting non-defense discretionary spending by 30 percent over a decade to a record low of 1.4 percent of GDP, and balancing the federal budget within ten years.[5]

Instead of repealing the Budget Control Act caps on defense, as both Congressional Democrats and Republicans have called for, this budget would extend them six years through 2027. It does call for raising the defense caps by 2 percent annually, which would yield an additional $489 billion for national defense spending—but it offsets these raises with $1.6 trillion of deep cuts to non-defense discretionary spending that are unlikely to be enacted (see Figure 2-2 and Figure 2-3).

Many of the cuts have drawn criticism from conservative Republicans like long-time appropriator Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), who said that he is “deeply concerned about the severity of the domestic cuts,” and the current chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), who emphasized that Congress retains “the power of the purse.”[6]

Many other Republican legislators whose votes the Trump administration would need have offered dim prospects for the budget’s survival in Congress and emphasized Congressional primacy in appropriations. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that “almost every president’s budget proposal that I know of is basically dead on arrival,” while Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) characterized the PB 2018 request as “like a press release. I don’t think anyone is going to focus on the president’s budget to decide how we create our own budget.”[7]

Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) enjoined people from panicking: “They’re just suggestions.”[8]

Figure 2-2: Current and Proposed Caps in Defense and Non-Defense Discretionary Spending

Source: OMB, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2018, “Summary Tables,” Table S-7, “Proposed Discretionary Caps for 2018 Budget,” in current-year dollars.


Figure 2-3: Proposed Changes to Defense and Non-Defense Discretionary Spending in PB18



Source: OMB, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2018, “Summary Tables,” Table S-7, “Proposed Discretionary Caps for 2018 Budget,” in current-year dollars.


The FY 2018 President’s Budget also suggests phasing out the overseas contingency operations account, the “emergency supplemental” that has provided a substantial portion of the military’s recent funding. OCO funding would decline from $60 billion in FY 2018 to $10 billion in FY 2022.

By giving with one hand and taking away with the other, the Trump administration’s PB 2018 budget would actually depress the overall level of national defense spending by $3 billion over five years—from $668 billion in 2018 to $665 billion in 2022 in current dollars.

After adjusting for inflation, total national defense spending would fall by 2 percent annually in real terms over the next five years—from $668 billion in FY 2018 to $614.4 billion in FY 2022. Between FY 2022 and FY 2027, national defense spending would rise by 1 percent annually.[9]

By FY 2027, national defense spending would be $640.6 billion in FY 2018 dollars—$27.4 billion lower than the $668 billion requested in FY 2018 and equal to just 2.4 percent of GDP (see Figure 2-4).[10]

 Figure 2-4: Proposed National Defense Base and Oco Spending FY18–FY22

Source: Office of Management and Budget, President’s Budget FY 2018, “Summary Budget Tables, Table S-7. Proposed Discretionary Caps for 2018 Budget.”

Note: in FY 2018 dollars.

Small-print footnotes in the 2018 budget request allow for a glimmer of hope, noting that the prospective defense budget numbers don’t reflect a policy judgment about the right level of defense spending.[11]

In a July 7 memo, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney directed federal agencies to submit proposed additional investments for up to a 5 percent overall budget increase.[12]

Unfortunately, the deficit-hawk orthodoxies embraced in the request are incompatible with a real-world–driven approach to defense spending.

Any increases to defense spending above the flat levels penciled into the budget would require either further discretionary cuts or abandoning a balanced budget within ten years and embracing at least some measure of deficit spending—anathema to OMB Director Mulvaney and other GOP deficit hawks.

A major decision point for President Trump looms: will his administration pursue higher levels of national defense spending in FY 2019 and beyond, even if it is not offset by non-defense discretionary cuts?

 Where’s the CAGR?

The absence of any real defense buildup in the Trump administration’s PB 2018 is clear. After adjusting for inflation, the PB 2018 plan through FY 2022 grows base national defense spending to $605.2 billion—just $2.2 billion over the base budget request for $603 billion in FY 2018.

This is a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 1.2 percent above the $562.2 billion in base national defense funding requested by President Obama for FY 2017.

If base national defense spending were to grow by 3–5 percent annually in real terms between FY 2017 and FY 2022, it would reach $670 to $755 billion in FY 2022 (in FY 2018 dollars).

This is at or over the McCain–Thornberry proposed level of $684 billion in FY 2022, which would represent real growth of 3.3 percent annually.

Factoring in OCO funding, total national defense funding would have to increase from President Obama’s FY 2017 level of $622.1 billion to between $740 billion and $835 billion in FY 2022 to reach a CAGR of 3–5 percent annually (see Table 2-1 and Figure 2-5).

 Table 2-1: National Defense Funding CAGR From FY17 Request, Compared

Figure 2-5: Notional National Defense Spending Growth Rates

Across the FY 2018–FY 2022 FYDP, after adjusting for inflation, President Trump’s proposed base national defense funding is not only substantially below that proposed by Sen. McCain and Rep. Thornberry but also lower than the national defense funding levels agreed to by the House and Senate Republican caucus in the FY 2017 budget resolution as passed in January 2017.

Across the five years of the PB18 FYDP, after adjusting for inflation, the Trump administration’s proposed base spending on national defense would total $3.02 trillion, some $291 billion lower than the $3.31 trillion total proposed by Sen. McCain and Rep. Thornberry.

However, the Trump administration’s proposal for $3.02 trillion would be a cumulative $125.4 billion over the planned national defense funding levels from the Obama administration’s PB 2017 (see Figure 2-6).

After factoring in projected OCO spending, the Trump administration’s total national defense funding for FY 2018–FY 2022 would total $3.21 trillion in FY 2018 dollars, creating a gulf of $395 billion below the total of $3.6 trillion in overall national defense funding called for by Sen. McCain and Rep. Thornberry (see Figure 2-7).


Figure 2-6: FY18–FY22 Base National Defense Funding Plans

Figure 2-7: FY18–FY22 Total National Defense Funding Plans

Note: The FY 2012 FYDP includes a notional $50 billion OCO placeholder. The FY 2017 FYDP does not include any OCO placeholder. The second FY 2017 Budget Resolution includes zero OCO funding past FY 2017.

The Air Force is finalizing a high-tech “flight plan” for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance investments, the deputy chief of staff for ISR said .

The service can’t keep buying more and more drones to collect more and more data and then hiring more and more human analysts to plow through it, Lt. Gen. Veralinn “Dash” Jamieson told a small group.

Risultati immagini per F-35

So the new strategy will make better use of satellites, cyberspace, advanced aircraft like the F-35 and B-21, and even publicly available information on the Internet, as well as artificial intelligence to help analyze the vast amounts of incoming data.

Risultati immagini per B-21

Air Force photo

Lt. Gen. Veralinn “Dash” Jamieson

The plan will focus on investments for the upcoming Five-Year Defense Plan (FYDP) but projects out to 2035, Jamieson said.

The document should be done this spring, but she’ll preview it at a Feb. 2 industry day.

(We can’t go. It’s Top Secret/SCI. Let us know if there are any good unclass bits you can discuss).

“My ISR flight plan looks at how do we actually look at intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance from space, air, cyber,” Jamieson elaborated to reporters after she spoke at the event, sponsored by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute.

“What is our architecture?

What’s the human capital?

How do I get to AI and machine learning?”

“Most important to me is, what are other assets we can use besides DoD exquisite?” Jamieson said, referring to the “exquisitely” specialized and expensive systems developed by the ponderous Pentagon acquisition system.

“We have not really tapped into the vast array of things you all tap into every single day with publicly available information,” she told reporters.

Armed MQ-9 Reaper drone.


Jamieson said she’s working closely with Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, on how to field new technology as fast as possible. Holmes’s headquarters oversees both fighter and ISR forces, but Jamieson wants to blur the line between the two, ensuring that both kinds of aircraft do both missions.

The Air Force can’t afford to buy and maintain single-purpose platforms, Jamieson said, nor can it afford to use its multi-role aircraft for just one mission at a time.

Part of the new approach is new equipment.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter now entering service, and the B-21 Raider bomber now in development may spend more of their time as stealthy spies in hostile airspace, spotting threats and targets for the rest of the force, than they will launching missiles and dropping bombs.

“We call the next generation long-range sensor-shooter a ‘bomber,’” said David Deptula, the retired Air Force three-star who heads the Mitchell Institute.

“We still talk about the F-35 and the F-22, as if they were just fighters.

They’re not.”

At the same time, Jamieson said, the Air Force can do a lot with new ways of using old equipment.

Risultati immagini per MQ-9 Reaper drones

For years now, she said, the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones have been capable of conducting either reconnaissance missions or Hellfire missile strikes.

Risultati immagini per MQ-1 Predator

But the military’s Air Tasking Order (ATO) process still designates any given drone sortie as either ISR or CAS (close air support).

The drones can and should do both.

Army TRADOC graphic

The latest, revised battlefield framework for Multi-Domain Battle. It adds a seventh zone for “strategic deep fires,” areas beyond the Army’s reach, but not the Air Force’s. And it superimposes far-ranging “fires” — from airstrikes and rocket artillery to cyber attacks — over the geographically bounded zones



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