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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default USAF and USN Comments on IED's and CAS

    UAVs, Other Aircraft Being Misused, ACC chief Says

    Jun 21, 2007

    Michael Fabey/Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
    Using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and pod-equipped combat jets to find improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is often a misuse of time and resources, said U.S. Air Force Gen. Ronald Keys, commander of Air Combat Command.

    Often, requests for airborne surveillance are based on the assumption that such aircraft help find IEDs and save ground forces from such attacks, he said. Certain military leaders feel they need the full-motion video feeds to locate the explosives. The truth, he said, is much different.

    Based on Air Force analysis, the number of IEDs found by UAVs, surveillance aircraft or combat jets outfitted with advanced targeting pods per 100,000 flight hours is very low, according to Keys. "It's a waste," Keys said June 20 during a morning keynote speech at the Transformation Warfare 07 conference and exhibit in Virginia Beach, Va.

    "People come to me and tell me they want a Predator," he said. "I ask, 'What are you looking for?' Tell me what you're looking for, don't just tell me you want a J-STARS."

    Unfortunately, the military is basing some of its decisions on anecdotes instead of real metrics, he said. Indeed, the only metric being used is whether the Air Force is meeting certain tasking orders, instead of making sure those assets and flights are effective and the best use of time and aircraft. "This is no way to fight a war," he said.

    Keys said ACC has developed a "concept of deployment" to help fight IEDs that is air-centric "to a certain point." Without going into specifics, he said, "We ought to be attacking the system - to the left of 'the bang,'" meaning the process before the IED is emplaced. What needs to be looked at is the network, "not the thing that's buried out there," he said.

    Flying pod-outfitted F-16s up and down streets no one will be on for another 12 hours will not help the IED fight, he said. Looking for buried IEDs in Iraq in that fashion is not the best way to stop attacks. "It's a junkyard out there," he said, adding there are too many false positives.

    and

    More News from Recent Precision Strike Assn. Symposium Aviation Week & Space Technology 07/23/2007, page 11
    Edited by Patricia Parmalee

    Printed headline: More From Virginia Beach

    U.S. Navy Capt. Scott Stearney, commander of Carrier Air Group Seven, which just returned from duty in the Middle East, says his recent deployment was the first in which nonkinetic effects were emphasized during operations. Kinetic and nonkinetic effects—such as electronic warfare—were “equally important” during recent ops, he said during the association’s symposium. On the kinetic side, use of the GBU-38, a 500-lb. GPS-guided bomb, was widespread but pilots are increasingly turning to strafing to kill targets in Iraq, he says. The Army’s systems, meanwhile, are becoming so precise and reliable that operators are using the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) in an air support role to help troops under fire. GMLRS is so reliable that during recent engagements 83% of them were fired in an urban environment—earlier rocket systems were typically not used in this role. And, 69% of the rockets fired were used to support troops under direct enemy fire.

    Two very interesting points of view.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 08-03-2007 at 05:08 PM. Reason: Added link.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Interesting viewpoint. I'd love to see how the AF envisions being able to attack IED networks from the air. I wonder what they'd do if the Army was able to go back to the old Pink Team system?
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    The most interesting thing about Gen. Keys' comments is he is saying, pretty bluntly, that they can't find IED's from the air. The effort should be on finding the people who emplace the IED's and stopping them. This is a most remarkable comment coming from an Air Force general.

    The Navy officers mentions the importance of strafing which relates to several ongoing discussions in the forum about CAS airplanes.

    Whatever happened to the VN era tactics? A Kiowa was shot down on July 3rd and it was a long time before help could get to the crew. I don't know what formation or tactics the Kiowa was using but help sure was a long way away.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Looking for hot spots from the air does seem to be a crap shoot at best. Even KWs and UAVs operating looking for suspicious activities that may be IED emplacers has a low probablity if its during the white noise of an urban environment - ex. a guy stringing a wire across the road could either be emplacing a CMD Det IED, or he could be just running one of a thousand lines to a local generator.

    Knowing where the generators are at (just one of many things), knowing where the MSRs and tier 1 IED sites are at (usually the tier 1s are on the MSRs), and tying that to who is out on the battlefield and a likely target can really help determine if what you see is a threat or just another thing that only makes sense in Iraq.

    Getting multiple eyeballs, people who can convey what they see and people who can reason out what that means into the area when operations are providing targets for IEDs increases the probability that we will defeat the IED emplacers and the networks that cue them. While the AIF are not stupid, they do rely on CF and ISF to provide the them the opportunity and to maximize that opportunity they go to likely spots and set IED ambushes at likely times. Understanding how the enemy is operating should drive our application of resources

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Agreed. USAF is really reaching on this one. Personally, the best way to deal with IEDs is with snipers. It also has a psychological impact. You're already a little nervous setting one of these things up and then to add the randomness of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in someone's scope. IED are personal and so should anti-IED tactics. Nevertheless, I have seen footage of inspiring or would-be IED planters running down the road and some smart bomb lands right in the middle of them. This had to hurt.
    "But suppose everybody on our side felt that way?"
    "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn't I?"


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    Quote Originally Posted by Culpeper View Post
    Agreed. USAF is really reaching on this one. Personally, the best way to deal with IEDs is with snipers.
    You are missing the point of what Gen Keys is saying...his point is that employing air assets to patrol highways (especially in a urban environment like Rob points out) to find IEDs is an inappropriate way for the joint force commander to employ his air assets....and he's right. There are far more effective ways to use limited air assets. He isn't saying that airpower can solve the problem, he's saying that we need to be smarter in how we employ them and recognize the inherit strengths and weaknesses.

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