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STRATCOM General Says Satellite Data Overwhelming Pentagon

Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler

The rising amount of data collected by U.S. satellites and other aerial platforms is overwhelming the Pentagon’s ability to process it, Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler said Tuesday.

Kehler, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, told attendees at the GEOINT symposium the problem cannot be corrected by hiring new analysts. It would take thousands of more analysts to process the data, a prospect that Kehler said is “not realistic.”

The amount of data has skyrocketed 1,500 percent in the past five years, Kehler said, while the government’s ability to process it has improved only 30 percent.

One possible solution would be to remove the emphasis on an analyst’s geographic location and surveillance platform used. Currently, analysts are assigned by region and are not available to the Pentagon’s other regional commands.

“Let’s bring the information to the analyst, not the analyst to the information,” Kehler said.

The other part of the problem is assigning an organization to coordinate image analysis, and Kehler said Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance could provide the answer.

“There may be other and better solutions,” Kehler said. “I’m not looking for more duties but I encourage and welcome a dialog on this.”

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