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Intel deputy highlights ISR transformation progress

by Staff Sgt. Kelly White
Global Air Chiefs Conference Public Affairs

9/26/2007 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The transformation of Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance was among the airpower topics highlighted during the Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here.

"We've spent the last 100 years figuring out how to hit any target anywhere on Earth -- day, night, all weather, with precision -- and rapidly," said Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, deputy chief of staff for Air Force ISR.

But now, the question is not only where to strike, but what effects are desired from this action. This is where the ISR domain emerges in importance and in need of transformation, he said.

The first phase of transformation started in February 2006 with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley moving A2 intelligence oversight from a two-star to a three-star general officer.

As the three-star deputy of AF ISR, General Deptula developed and presented proposals to General Moseley for the way ahead, based on a thee-pronged focus on ISR capabilities, organization and personnel.

"Then we went on a rapid track and put those into place," the general said. "Now we're on what I call phase 2 of our transformation ... longer-term actions."

The first priority of phase 2 is ISR management from a capability-based perspective, General Deptula said. "We need to consolidate all of our ISR enterprise to ensure we're looking at all the different pieces to bring together a coherent capability."

To do this, individuals will monitor all the activity in an ISR capability area to determine if there is a significant event going on in that area and how that change affects other areas, said the general. This will ensure the left hand understands what the right hand is doing, he added.

Organizationally, unity of capabilities has relevance as well, General Deptula said.

"ISR has to be viewed as an Air Force-wide enterprise. Otherwise, people get different messages depending on who they go to," he said. "So, we broke down our organizational challenges into to two pieces: inside the Air Staff and across the entire Air Force."

Inside the Air Staff we had ISR responsibilities split across multiple offices. General Moseley fixed that by making the A2 the single focal point for ISR on the Air Staff.

Another organizational change that has significant impact is the realignment of the Air Intelligence Agency from reporting to one of ten major commands, formerly Air Combat Command, to reporting to the deputy chief of staff of ISR, underlining that ISR is an Air Force-wide enterprise, not just specific to one MAJCOM. This change took place in June of this year.

Personnel challenges have been easy to identify, General Deptula said, but will take some time to fix.  Air Force leadership must increase the number of general officer positions with ISR-focused backgrounds in order to adequately compete for joint, national, or combatant commander ISR billets. To achieve this, Air Force officials are committed to building a career track for Airmen to follow to fill these positions, he added.

The longer-term actions of phase 2 also include transforming from battle damage assessments to effects-based assessments, General Deptula said.

Electricity is a good example of this, he said.

"During Desert Storm, we got a report that said we hadn't accomplished our objective in the electric target set because we had not achieved an 80-percent level of destruction against each of the 26 targets in that category," he said. "When we got that report, we just started laughing, because there hadn't been an electron flowing in the Iraqi power grid in the past 12 days."

The idea wasn't to blow stuff up, it was to stop them from using electricity, the general added. "That's what I mean by effects-based assessment." 

Another long-term action is to integrate non-traditional ISR and resolve ISR shortfalls.

"People think of the F-22 as an air-dominance fighter, and it is," General Deptula said. "But it's got other capabilities as well. It's not just an F-22, it's an F/A/B/E/EA/RC/AWACS(airborne warning and control system)-22" he said. Capitalizing on this non-traditional ISR capability resident on the Raptor will help solve the increasing demands for ISR.

The general said his hope is that within five to 10 years, the Air Force will have progressed to the point that people no longer make reference to non-traditional ISR, that ISR will be a product of all Air Force air and space platforms.

While there are challenges in the way ahead, the general said, "We have some of the world's most dedicated, motivated, just magnificent people working to accomplish the objectives of our combatant commanders around the world." 

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