1. Overview. This chapter focuses on the factors that affect the planning, tasking, coordination, and execution of RSTA operations. It concentrates on those considerations that involve how RSTA assets are tasked. RSTA doctrine is intended to assist the JFC in using assigned and supporting RSTA forces in the most efficient and effective ways possible, thereby providing combat forces with the means to achieve the JFC's objectives.

2. The Intelligence Cycle. The intelligence cycle is the process by which information is obtained, converted into intelligence, and made available to the requester. This section looks at the intelligence cycle as it relates to RSTA operations. (See Joint Test Pub 2-0, "Doctrine for Intelligence Support to Joint Operations," for greater detail on this subject.) The five steps in the cycle include planning and direction, collection, processing, production, and dissemination. Understanding the intelligence cycle enables the JFC to use RSTA assets more effectively. RSTA operations are linked to all five steps of the cycle and are particularly important to the planning and collection steps.

  1. Planning and Direction. The intelligence cycle is geared to support the commander directly in the formulation of an Estimate of the Situation, a Concept of Operations, and an Operation Plan (OPLAN) or a Campaign Plan. The process of planning RSTA operations must include identifying, prioritizing, and validating the need for the operation.

    OPSEC and OPDEC planning guidance must be examined to ensure RSTA operations do not compromise the commander's intentions and ongoing deception operations. This process requires close and effective coordination between the J-3 operations planner and the J-2 intelligence collection manager. The JFC operational concept and plan of operations establish baseline intelligence requirements.

  2. Collection. This step includes not only the actual physical collection of information, but also in some cases, the transfer of that information to processing and production facilities. This requires close coordination between operations planners and intelligence collection managers. The J-2 establishes collection requirements to meet the JFC's operational objectives, while the J-3 determines how to employ assigned RSTA systems available to satisfy the collection requirements. If assigned assets cannot meet the CINC's objectives, then external RSTA support may be required. Also, different types of collection capabilities may be needed to validate information acquired from another source. Furthermore, collection capabilities need redundancy so the loss or failure of one system can be compensated for by another collection capability. Collection capabilities (or systems) must also be interoperable so that the information collected can be integrated and correlated into an all-source analysis. The collection architecture must be in place and the procedures exercised during peacetime in order to implement a collection plan effectively at the beginning of hostilities.

  3. Processing and Production. Although past RSTA operations have not participated in the processing and production steps of the intelligence cycle, advances in modern technology are changing the way in which information is processed and produced into intelligence. Some RSTA assets possess an onboard data processing capability allowing the data to be processed into raw intelligence. Further processing may be necessary to produce a finished intelligence product. For example, Joint STARS can process the data it obtains either onboard and data link it to the requester or data link the data directly to specific ground stations where the processing is completed. In either case, the information can be sent directly to the user in NRT.

  4. Dissemination. This final step in the intelligence cycle also is being greatly affected by advances in technology. Some RSTA assets are capable of disseminating collected information to consumers on a real or near-real-time basis, vastly increasing their speed and responsiveness in meeting the commander's needs. This is especially critical for those RSTA operations supporting ongoing military operations, in which the situation may be evolving rapidly and perishable information could lose its usefulness within a matter of minutes or even seconds. This expanding capability of RSTA systems makes interoperability, commonality, and connectivity all the more important because a real-time planning and targeting system depends on these capabilities. The dissemination process requires continuous management. Without effective management, communications paths can become saturated by information from single sources being retransmitted by many intermediate collection agencies. This well-intentioned data flow can exceed the users' RSTA data processing capability.

3. Command Relationships. Command relationships delineate the degree of authority a JFC can exercise over RSTA units. Combatant commanders exercise combatant command (command authority)(COCOM) over assigned RSTA forces. Subordinate JFCs exercise operational control (OPCON) over assigned or attached RSTA forces through the commanders of subordinate organizations; normally this authority is exercised through Service component commanders. The JFC normally designates a joint force air component commander (JFACC). The JFACC's responsibilities normally include planning, coordinating, allocating, and tasking of appropriate airborne RSTA assets made available, based on the JFC's apportionment decision. Following the JFC's guidance, and in coordination with other Service component commanders and other assigned or supported commanders, the JFACC will recommend to the JFC apportionment of air sorties to various missions and geographical areas. For short-term arrangements, RSTA forces may also be attached to a subordinate command to which tactical control (TACON) authority has been delegated for local control and direction. Some national-level and other RSTA assets may not be placed under a JFC's OPCON. These assets may operate in direct support of the JFC, either full time or available on call, but may be shared with other commands. In cases where required assets are assigned to another (supporting) CINC, supported commanders will normally identify their RSTA requirements to the supporting commanders through their functionally related staff element. For unified command staffs, this is normally the J-3 Operations Directorate. The supporting CINC, upon request, will provide liaison teams to the supported CINC. These teams will normally be the point of contact for coordinating their specific RSTA resources and requirements. The JFC should be fully aware of all available RSTA assets and integrate their capabilities into the operational concept.

4. Planning RSTA Operations. Planning requires the integration of several complex elements.

  1. Force Disposition. The JFC must determine the best way to employ RSTA forces that allows maximum effectiveness while weighing the risks. The JFC must determine if it is better to deploy the assets near the area of primary interest where the C3 facilities and processing facilities are located, or in the case of aerial assets, near the maintenance facilities. Both have advantages and disadvantages that must be considered before executing the mission. For example, if the joint force is primarily conducting land operations, the JFC may wish to position aerial reconnaissance systems at an optimum location to ensure maximum responsiveness in support of ground operations. If the enemy poses a significant threat to the forces, the JFC may need to disperse the assets to improve overall force survivability. If the threat increases while the RSTA operation is ongoing, it may be necessary to fall back to positions out of the threat's range. RSTA planners must consider the tradeoffs of survivability and information acquisition. The intelligence information may not become available if the RSTA asset is destroyed, captured, or isolated and unable to exploit, process, and disseminate the acquired information. If the campaign is conducted in a maritime environment, the JFC may position land-based RSTA forces to operate beyond the range of sea-based reconnaissance forces.

  2. Force Composition. The JFC must determine information requirements and then identify available RSTA capabilities. This analysis begins by defining command relationships to determine what assets are assigned to the JFC. RSTA assets may be tasked directly (if assigned) or indirectly through other supporting commanders or agencies. The JFC's staff must then assess the operational parameters of available RSTA assets--range, endurance, survivability, and their collection, processing, and dissemination capabilities. The blend of objectives and guidance, threats, force capabilities, and system availability is exceedingly complicated and requires thorough analysis and effective coordination among all elements of RSTA planning to meet the JFC's needs.

  3. Prioritization. The JFC should establish priorities for RSTA operations before the onset of hostilities, knowing these priorities may change as the situation develops. The priorities should generally conform to the military objectives; for example, the most capable RSTA assets support the most critical objectives. The JFC must determine the enemy's centers of gravity and may employ RSTA assets to monitor these centers of gravity. Experience has shown that combat operations seldom go as planned, with the fog and friction of war causing operations to evolve in unanticipated directions. Therefore, prioritization of RSTA requirements is critical. RSTA planners must be prepared to adjust priorities to support new requirements. Also, the JFC's requirements may conflict with other requirements, such as MC&G requirements. Although it is important to attempt to satisfy all user requests, the reality of many requests against limited resources dictates judicious and prudent use of RSTA assets.

5. Tasking RSTA Operations. RSTA assets are tasked in essentially the same manner during peacetime and combat operations, except for tailoring the approval and execution process in accordance with the scope of the operations. As operations transition from routine peacetime operations toward combat operations, additional RSTA forces may be reassigned to, or placed in support of, the JFC as validated intelligence requirements dictate the transition from reconnaissance, to surveillance, to the inclusion of additional dedicated target acquisition support assets and operations.

  1. During peacetime, certain RSTA operations and procedures against designated sensitive areas are covered by SM 401-87, "Peacetime Application of Reconnaissance Programs (PARPRO)." RSTA requests undergo a coordination and final approval process providing a monthly schedule of routine worldwide PARPRO missions and activities. Out-of-cycle and urgent requests per SM 401-87 can be accommodated within approximately 48 hours.

  2. In combat, the JFC will very likely have assigned, attached, or dedicated support RSTA forces for tasking. Once a requirement has been identified, validated, prioritized, and coordinated between J-2, J-3, joint force components, and other appropriate agencies (if required), a RSTA unit is tasked to carry out the mission. This is normally done through a tasking order or tasking message (varies from component to component) and contains information to plan and execute the mission. It also contains the requester's identification so that the information acquired can be made available to him.

6. RSTA Coordination. The J-2 and J-3 will normally work with the components and the JFACC, if assigned, to coordinate national and theater reconnaissance objectives effectively.

  1. The Service or functional component commanders manage their assigned collection assets. Each component commander will seek to satisfy his own requirements by using these assets. Based on the JFC's objectives, they prioritize and submit outstanding collection requirements for collection by theater and national assets to the J-2 collection management staff. The J-2 reviews, validates, and prioritizes the outstanding intelligence requirements. The J-3 coordinates and tasks assigned theater collection assets to ensure maximum use of these critical resources. The J-2 also submits outstanding priorities for use of nonassigned or national-level RSTA assets.

  2. The joint reconnaissance center (JRC) is within the J-3. The JRC's function is to monitor the assigned RSTA assets that are available to conduct operations, establish priorities among them to support current or new requirements, assign missions to available RSTA systems, coordinate and deconflict RSTA missions with other operations within the AOR, assess the risks versus intelligence gain, and monitor ongoing operations. Outstanding requirements that exceed the capabilities of assigned RSTA assets will be identified to the J-2 for satisfaction by other means.

  3. In some cases, the assigned assets are not sufficient to accomplish the mission because of target type, threats, technical capabilities, or distance to the objective. In such cases, the JFC may request national or other external support capable of accomplishing the mission. Requests for national collection systems from the J-2 collection management office are forwarded to the Defense Collection Coordination Center (DCCC). The DCCC will validate and prioritize the requests and determine if they can be met. Competing priorities, physical status of the assets, and desired response time of the JFC's requests are considered in processing the collection requirement.

7. RSTA Execution. Tactical-level commanders normally have the responsibility to accomplish the mission. They must evaluate the risks (tactics, weather, safety, logistics, etc.) involved to complete the mission successfully. The JFC is the final authority on whether or not mission needs outweigh the risks involved. The executing unit's commander normally provides inputs in the decisionmaking process as to what these risks are.
12-26-1996; 11:40:52