Central Command is piloting a new approach for processing the ocean of data collected by the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in theater.

CENTCOM’s deputy commander, Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, described how in his previous role as the air component commander for CENTCOM, he was having difficulty finding ISIS targets to strike.

Instead, he told an audience at the annual GEOINT symposium April 25 in Tampa, Florida, that his team struggled to assign the processing, exploitation and dissemination (PED) of the data and that directly led to the lack of targets identified to strike.

The air component then began to look at its processing procedures to specifically prioritize requirements for commanders. While this was done on an ad hoc basis, Brown, now the deputy commander at CENTCOM, explained the combatant command is taking this a step further.

The command has formalized a framework to prioritize the data processing and assigned that responsibility to the air component commander. The air component commander now has the authority for theater exploitation operations, management and direction of how the command processes the data.

The air component commander then matches the processing capabilities to the requirements from either a joint task force commander or the combatant command commander.

Brown said staff at Central Command are now working processing task orders just as air forces do work through tasking orders that dictate where airplanes go on what missions.

Brown suggested the audience to think about what is more important: ISR collection or the data processing. While a lot of money and time is spent on ISR on the front end, he said less time is spend talking about the processing on the back end.

The eventual goal is to get CENTCOM’s processing system into doctrine so it can be the standard across the entire enterprise for all combatant commands.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

More In ISR