Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance

Summary

ISTAR stands for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance. In its macroscopic sense, ISTAR is a practice that links several battlefield functions together to assist a combat force in employing its sensors and managing the information they gather.

Information is collected on the battlefield through systematic observation by deployed soldiers and a variety of electronic sensors. Surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance are methods of obtaining this information. The information is then passed to intelligence personnel for analysis, and then to the commander and their staff for the formulation of battle plans. Intelligence is processed information that is relevant and contributes to an understanding of the ground, and of enemy dispositions and intents. Intelligence failures can happen.

ISR (Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance)Edit

 
USNS Sea Hunter, an unmanned ocean-going surface vessel[a] is suited for freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS)[5][6][7]

ISR is the coordinated and integrated acquisition, processing and provision of timely, accurate, relevant, coherent and assured information and intelligence to support commander's conduct of activities. Land, sea, air and space platforms have critical ISR roles in supporting operations in general. By massing ISR assets, an improved clarity and depth of knowledge can be established.[8] ISR encompasses multiple activities related to the planning and operation of systems that collect, process, and disseminate data in support of current and future military operations.[9][10]

On 28 July 2021 the NDAA budget markup by the House Armed Services Committee sought to retain ISR resources such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the E-8 Joint Surveillance Radar and Attack System (JSTARS) which the Air Force is seeking to divest.[11][12] Examples of ISR systems include surveillance and reconnaissance systems ranging from satellites, to crewed aircraft such as the U-2, to uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS)[13][14][15][16] such as the US Air Force's Global Hawk and Predator and the US Army's Hunter and PSST Aerostats, to unmanned ocean-going vessels,[3] to other ground-, air-, sea-, or space-based equipment, to human intelligence teams, or to AI-based ISR systems. The intelligence data provided by these ISR systems can take many forms, including optical, radar, or infrared images or electronic signals. Effective ISR data can provide early warning of enemy threats as well as enable military forces to increase effectiveness, coordination, and lethality, and demand for ISR capabilities to support ongoing military operations has increased.[9] In December 2021, the US Navy began testing the usefulness and effectiveness of unmanned "saildrones" at recognizing targets of interest on the high seas.[17]

For space-based targeting sensors, in a 2019 Broad Agency Announcement, the US government defined ISR in this case as "a capability for gathering data and information on an object or in an area of interest (AOI) on a persistent, event-driven, or scheduled basis using imagery, signals, and other collection methods. This includes warning (to include ballistic missile activity), targeting analysis, threat capability assessment, situational awareness, battle damage assessment (BDA), and characterization of the operational environment." Persistence was in turn described: "Persistent access provides predictable coverage of an area of interest (AOI). Most space-based intelligence collection capabilities consist of multiple satellites operating in concert, or supplemented by other sensors, when continuous surveillance of an area is desired. Persistent sensors must provide sufficient surveillance revisit timelines to support a weapon strike at any time."[18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

The United States Space Force, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) share the satellite-based ISR task as of 2021.[25][26][27][28] See Space Delta 7

NGA uses Data transformation services (DTS), a program begun in 2018, to convert raw sensor data into a format usable by its mission partners, who are government agencies whose names are classified.[29] In light of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, NGA has taken operational control of DoD's Project Maven, the AI ISR project for area defense, to identify point targets for ISR.[30]

NRO "has a proven track record in [ISR]",[31] insists one of the founders of the US Space Force, who defends the capability of the NRO over the ambition of the Space Force to take over the role of ISR.[31][32][33] GMTI (ground moving target indicator) data is an objective for Space Force, NGA, and NRO.[34]

ISR at platoon level

Junior (3rd year) and Senior (4th year) cadets at West Point had hands-on experience building and using drones with various tactical capabilities, guided by faculty from the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments in tactical applications during Cadet Leadership Development Training in July 2022.[35]

ISR concepts are also associated with certain intelligence units, for instance Task Force ODIN, ISR TF (Company+) in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. In the United States, the similar entity is used within their Marine Corps's Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Intelligence Group (SRIG). The SRIG modelled as a consolidated military intelligence collection agency, most of the gathered intelligence are collected from many sources (i.e. STA Sniper platoons, Marine reconnaissance assets, signal intelligence, etc.).

Commercial ISR

In light of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, commercial satellite imagery is being used to track troop movements, broadcast world events in real time, and conduct war.—NHK World-Japan[36][37]

ISTAREdit

ISTAR is the process of integrating the intelligence process with surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance tasks in order to improve a commander's situational awareness and consequently their decision making. The inclusion of the "I" is important as it recognizes the importance of taking the information from all the sensors and processing it into useful knowledge.

ISTAR can also refer to:

  • a unit or sub unit with ISTAR as a task (e.g.: an ISTAR squadron)
  • equipment required to support the task

Variations of ISTAREdit

There are several variations on the "ISTAR" acronym. Some variations reflect specific emphasis on certain aspects of ISTAR.

Surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (STAR)Edit

A term used when emphasis is to be placed on the sensing component of ISTAR.

Reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA)Edit

RSTA is used by the US Army in place of STAR or ISTAR. Also, a term used to identify certain US Army units: for instance, 3rd Squadron, 153rd RSTA. These units serve a similar role to the below mentioned US Marine Corps STA platoons, but on a larger scale.

Surveillance and target acquisition (STA)Edit

Used to designate one of the following:

ISTAR units and formationsEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ In 2022 Sea Hunter and three other unmanned surface vessels participated in RIMPAC, which caused requests for additional command and control capabilities for them in naval operations.[1][2][3][4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Justin Katz (2 Aug 2022) After RIMPAC, sailor feedback shows evolving view of unmanned vessels: Officials
  2. ^ Megan Eckstein (8 Aug 2022) US Navy injects first-of-kind unmanned experiments into multinational exercise 30 unmanned platforms in RIMPAC 2022
  3. ^ a b Joseph Trevithick (4 Feb 2019) Navy's Sea Hunter Drone Ship Has Sailed Autonomously To Hawaii And Back Amid Talk Of New Roles
  4. ^ Graham Jenkins (14 July 2021) SAILORS, SAILORS EVERYWHERE AND NOT A BERTH TO SLEEP: THE ILLUSION OF FORWARD POSTURE IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC
  5. ^ Trevor Prouty (2 July 2021) FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION OPERATIONS: A MISSION FOR UNMANNED SYSTEMS
  6. ^ StrategyPage Freedom Of Navigation Operations (21 Mar 2021) Strategy talk: Freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) audio clip, 38:10
  7. ^ Heather Mongilio (8 Aug 2022) U.S. Will Continue Taiwan Strait Transits, FONOPs in Western Pacific Despite Growing Tension with China In the wake of high-level visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
  8. ^ AJP-3.15(A) NATO Allied Joint Doctrine for Countering – Improvised Explosive Devices.
  9. ^ a b Report to the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives — General Accounting Office, 2008-03-15
  10. ^ THERESA HITCHENS and SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. (4 May 2021) Exclusive: Army Plan May Loosen IC Grip On Sat-Based ISR Tactical Satellite Layer (TSL) experiment
  11. ^ Theresa Hitchens Theresa Hitchens (28 Jul 2021) Lawmakers Throw Wrench Into Air Force ISR Divestment Plan
  12. ^ Theresa Hitchens (28 Jul 2021) Space Force Vice Argues Value Of Embattled Analysis Center
  13. ^ Frederik Pleitgen, CNN (7 Apr 2022) Drone video team turns the tables on hiding Russian vehicle a dedicated team of drone enthusiasts perform ISR, pass coordinates to the Army, who interdict Russian tank
  14. ^ Alia Shoaib (20 Mar 2022) An elite Ukrainian drone unit on quad bikes ambushed Russian forces, helping to defeat Putin's plan to capture Kyiv, report says
  15. ^ Jomana Karadsheh, CNN (8 Apr 2022) Turkish drone is so effective, Ukrainian troops are singing about it after ISR, Bayraktar drone documents strikes as Information operation for consumers
  16. ^ Sky News (10 Mar 2022) Ukraine War: Dramatic drone footage shows Russian convoy 'ambush' ISR sample
  17. ^ Ziezulewicz, Geoff (2021-12-13). "The Navy is testing this adorable sailboat drone". Defense News. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  18. ^ "Draft BAA, Time-Sensitive Target Mission Payloads Demonstration (TSTMPD) Solicitation Number: HQ0034-19-BAA-TSTMPD-0001".
  19. ^ Sandra Erwin (February 17, 2019). "Pentagon seeking proposals for how to use sensors in space to quickly target enemy missiles". SpaceNews.
  20. ^ (11 Feb 2021) SDA to launch several demonstration satellites in 2021
  21. ^ ESRI app, Satellite Map
  22. ^ Theresa Hitchens (1 Apr 2021) Theater Commands OK SDA’s Sat Plans: EXCLUSIVE
  23. ^ (8 Oct 2020) SATELLITE SYSTEMS, SATCOM AND SPACE SYSTEMS UPDATE
  24. ^ Nate Turkin (28 Apr 2021) What focus areas are key to America’s future space capabilities?
  25. ^ Theresa Hitchens (21 May 2021) Army Sat Ops Brigade Transfers To Space Force: Karbler
  26. ^ Theresa Hitchens (22 Oct 2021) EXCLUSIVE: Imagery Industry Seeking Direct DoD Sales In Wake Of Tiny NRO Bid FY2022 NRO bid
    • Theresa Hitchens (30 Jul 2021) EXCLUSIVE: NRO Space ‘Civil Reserve’ Includes Shutter Control Option
  27. ^ Colin Clark (24 Aug 2021) NRO, NGA, SPACECOM, Space Force Hammer Out Boundaries
  28. ^ Theresa Hitchens (29 Apr 2022) NATO considers buying commercial imagery, irking US spy sat agencies: Sources NGA, NRO, ...
  29. ^ Theresa Hitchens (14 Jun 2021) NGA Seeks Upgraded Software To Speed Analysis: Processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED) in support of the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) of the mission partners.
  30. ^ Patrick Tucker (25 Apr 2022) NGA Will Take Over Pentagon’s Flagship AI Program
  31. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (17 Jun 2021) Key Lawmaker Warns Off Space Force On Tactical ISR ' "I think before you hand off the ball, let's make sure there won't be a fumble -- and the Space Force has a lot on it's [sic] plate right now," Rep. Jim Cooper says. '
  32. ^ Theresa Hitchens (19 Jul 2021) Exclusive: NRO Erects Buy American Barriers Against Allied Satellite Data Authorities: conflicted
  33. ^ Theresa Hitchens (27 Apr 2022) After Ukraine success, NRO says electro-optical imagery contracts due this summer EO and SAR imagery
  34. ^ Theresa Hitchens (28 Apr 2022) Space Force team asks warfighters: What do you need from space ISR? GMTI (ground moving target indicator) data is an objective for Space Force, NGA, and NRO
  35. ^ Jorge Garcia, Pointer View Staff Writer (3 Aug 2022) Cadets enhance tactical skills through drone training
  36. ^ NHK World-Japan (15 Jul 2022) Ukraine: The New Satellite War - Digital Eye video clip, 49:06
  37. ^ KATERYNA TYSHCHENKO Ukrainska Pravda (20 Jul 2022) Russia stockpiles equipment near border with Kharkiv region media "The Russian military might use this equipment, and particularly on the Izium and Sloviansk fronts"
  38. ^ "Archived copy". www.mil.no. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ "Archived copy". www.rover08.ch. Archived from the original on 9 June 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit

  • INTELLIGENCE, SURVEILLANCE, and RECONNAISSANCE (ISR) PROGRAMS – ACSC Research Topic