ISR official urges looking to history to face future challenges

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tabitha N. Haynes
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
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.