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ISR official urges looking to history to face future challenges

Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto speaks about the beginnings of Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Response in the Air Force and where ISR is headed now Sept. 17, 2013, at the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, Washington, D.C. Looking at the historical events, Otto showed the ways the Air Force can move forward in current times. Otto is Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)

Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto speaks about the beginnings of Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the Air Force and where ISR is headed now Sept. 17, 2013, at the Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C. Looking at the historical events, Otto showed the ways the Air Force can move forward in current times. Otto is Air Force's deputy chief of staff for ISR. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)

Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto discusses the current state of Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Response and where it is headed for the force and the Nation as a whole, Sept. 17, 2013, at the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, Washington, D.C. The Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, D.C., explained to the attendees ISR is focused on three things: full spectrum awareness, world-class expertise and delivering decision advantage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)

Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto discusses the current state of Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and where it is headed for the force and the nation as a whole, Sept. 17, 2013, at the Air Force Association's 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C. Otto explained to the attendees that ISR is focused on three things: full spectrum awareness, world-class expertise and delivering decision advantage. Otto is Air Force's deputy chief of staff for ISR. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- At the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 17, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto discussed the current state and way ahead for Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, and the role Airmen play in its planning and impact.
 
As the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for ISR, Otto urged taking lessons from history to help navigate future challenges.
 
“While some things change in ISR, some things stay the same,” Otto said. “Lost in some of these stories is the in-depth work that goes on in order to bring them to reality.”
 
Otto cited Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, an airborne ISR pioneer who used aero balloons, a technique mirrored during Operation Enduring Freedom with the Aerostats.
 
“History is a conversation with the past about the future,” the general said, adding that ISR will focus on three things: full spectrum awareness, world-class expertise, and delivery of decision advantage. “Our vision for 2023 is an Air Force enterprise that seamlessly digests the data from an even wider expanse of sensors and sources, and swiftly conducts analysis so that we can deliver that decision advantage.”
 
The Air Force will collaborate with other services to strengthen its capabilities, Otto said, but ultimately, Airmen are the power behind Air Force ISR. 

“We can have the most exquisite and technologically advanced sensors and platforms, but if we can’t interpret the data (by an Airman), or make sense of what they are providing in a time frame that is responsive, the joint warfighter is not effective,” Otto explained.

Otto leads more than 20,000 officers, enlisted personnel and civilian who are responsible for the intelligence and security of the Air Force. Otto is a 1982 distinguished graduate of the Air Force Academy and pilot with more than 2,800 hours in several aircraft.

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