An Evolution in Intelligence Doctrine:
The Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Mission Type Order
Over the past several years, the Department of Defense rapidly expanded intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, responding to a directive from former secretary of defense Robert Gates that established the department’s ISR Task Force. Secretary Gates commissioned the task force to provide resources to keep US forces safe worldwide. Although quick to field ISR platforms, the task force does little to address inadequate collection-management processes that hinder timely and relevant ISR operations. This article highlights the ISR mission type order (MTO) as a means of overcoming impractical and constrictive tasking procedures rooted in doctrine, and inflexible theater guidelines that detract from the gains in hardware. The ISR MTO, a more flexible alternative to the traditional ISR tasking method, is a proven and effective corollary to the traditional process. This article argues that the Air Force must ensure that both service doctrine and joint doctrine, as well as current tactics, techniques, and procedures, continue to reflect the benefits of undiluted, layered, and responsive ISR operations offered by MTOs.