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Old 03-21-2008   #1
Tom Odom
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Default ISR and business as usual

This one is really interesting when you place it against the Army/USMC versus USAF debate on COIN

Quote:
Pentagon battle breaks out over a spy plane

Defense Secretary Gates wants more unmanned Predator aircraft in Iraq. But the Air Force worries about the long-term viability of the spy plane program.
By Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 21, 2008
WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered the Air Force to put nearly all of its unmanned Predator aircraft into the skies over the Middle East, forcing the service to take steps that officers worry could hobble already-stressed drone squadrons.

Pressure from the Defense secretary in recent months has nearly doubled the number of Predators available to help hunt insurgents and find roadside bombs in Iraq. But it has forced air commanders into a scramble for crews that officers said could hurt morale and harm the long-term viability of the Predator program.

Some officers said pressure from Gates resulted in one plan that could have taken the Air Force down a path similar to the German Luftwaffe, which cut back training in World War II to get more pilots in the air.

"That was the end of their air force," said Col. Chris Chambliss, commander of the Air Force's Predator wing. The Air Force plan, presented to the military leadership in January, eventually was scaled back.
and this last tidbit is just priceless:

Quote:
In the debate over control of the fast-growing fleet, the Air Force argues that only qualified pilots should fly airplanes that drop bombs and fire missiles. But Army ground commanders maintain they most need and use the streaming video to plan and execute their ground operations.

Last edited by Tom Odom; 03-21-2008 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 03-22-2008   #2
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Give pred to the army. It's a land component tool. Let the airforce do air force things.

This is not a market place for competitors to struggle for influence. A functional approach to problem solving...hang on...sorry, my mistake. Jobs at stake. Which is why the RAF flies the UK support helicopter fleet....
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Old 03-22-2008   #3
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Default Heh. Once upon a time, I got tasked to

develop a series of options to modify a unit Table of Organization and Equipment. Did that; prepared four options, change nothing (which won; fancy that...) plus three others. One was far smaller than the current version, causing my boss to say "...you're suggesting to a General in the US Army that he should give up flags and spaces in peacetime? Ain't gonna happen!"

Some things appear to be universal...
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Old 03-22-2008   #4
Entropy
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Well, this is a common problem with any HDLD capability and from my experience in theater fights over predator are not new. The question of who gets priority over limited assets is an enduring one.

I do think, however, the basic argument the AF is making here is legitimate - is it worth it to sacrifice future capabilities to get more capabilities sooner? Maybe, but the AF leadership would be shirking its duty to not make the leadership aware of the consequences of proposed courses of action.

And there are the cultural issues which are not all that different from those the Army has been dealing with for the past several years. For example, Predator is not yet considered a "primary" aircraft, IOW one that a pilot can spend a career in, so it's viewed as a diversion from a the "real" job of flying a manned aircraft. This will be a big cultural change for the Air Force and one that will not be made quickly or easily unfortunately. I can see the writing on the wall, but I fear many bag-wearers do not.

Coldstreamer,

It's never as simple as "giving" predator to the Army. Predator is not simply an aircraft, but a system and a capability that's been under development for a decade. One could not "give" predator to the Army without giving the Army all the pilots, maintainers, DCGS, interpreters, contracts, R&D staff, etc. which is simply not possible, even assuming your assertion that predator is land component tool is true.

Consider an opposite example - give the Air Force the Patriot missile system. How ya gonna do that? Hand the systems over and say, "here ya go?" Make everyone in Patriot MOS' change uniforms? No, that's not possible and furthermore it would be stupid, even though ADA might be argued a better fit with the AF mission.

And let's keep in mind that the long-endurance ISR capability provided by predator and other AF UAV's that is now blithely judged a "land component tool" would not be available at all were it not for the AF. As Bill Sweetman puts it:

Quote:
It's worth noting that the most recent roles-and-missions spat between the Air Force and the Army centers on the latter's Warrior UAV... which would not exist were it not for the USAF's initiative in adopting a CIA-developed system, equipping it first with a laser designator and then with missiles, and integrating it into large-scale air-land operations.

The Army quite literally never thought of that. Army people are not trained to think in those terms. The Army's home-developed UAVs are broadly comparable to Israeli technology. As in Israeli technology of 20 years ago.
With that, however, I fully support the Army developing their own comparable UAVs for their specific needs as long as there is commonality in the supporting architectures and subsystems.
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Old 03-23-2008   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
Consider an opposite example - give the Air Force the Patriot missile system. How ya gonna do that? Hand the systems over and say, "here ya go?" Make everyone in Patriot MOS' change uniforms? No, that's not possible and furthermore it would be stupid, even though ADA might be argued a better fit with the AF mission.
Nah I don't think so....like everything it was stolen from the Army. I posted an article a while back about Sky Cavalry operations where the Army first used mannded and unmannded drones with a new capability called Televsion in the late 1950's. The article gives some pretty choice words about how the Air Force was blocking Army aircraft development to. About 90% of what the Air Force is calling new I saw being developed as a kid during the space program in the 1960's. Things have been developed and refined since then but they sure ain't new.
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Old 03-23-2008   #6
Ken White
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Default Not to mention that Bill Sweetman misses the mark.

The Army was playing with UAVs thirty years ago -- and has been since. the USAF didn't want anything to do with them for many years...

Yep, the Air Force did pick up the Predator from the CIA -- but Entropy apparently missed the fact that that the Army was the initial uniformed buyer of the Predator -- and DoD made them give it to the AF(LINK)...

The Army also took it a step further (LINK) --
note the buy is for 132 of the birds...

Oh and the Army operates its Predators with non-rated NCOs...
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Old 03-23-2008   #7
Entropy
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Slapout, of course UAV's are not new - that is not the point. The point is that until a few years ago, UAV's were more of a gimmick within the Army than a real capability. The Air Force not only developed a successful platform, but also the doctrine and technology to integrate that platform with the rest of the force.
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Old 03-23-2008   #8
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Ken,

Predator was a joint program under DARO until it reached LRIP and the program was managed by the Navy, not the Army. Your link is incorrect. I'll troll my link archive for sourcing tomorrow if you wish.

As for the Warrior, it and the USAF Predator will be merged and managed as a joint program starting this October.

The rated / non-rated pilot debate will be an interesting one to watch. Each side has some good and not-so-good arguments but I think better technology will eventually favor the Army viewpoint. This actually has bearing on the topic of this thread - had the USAF gone with non-rated pilots back in the 1990's, there likely wouldn't be a shortage now. This is the primary reason the Army has chosen to use NCO's - they simply don't have enough pilots to fly the 500 Predator/Warriors they want to buy. If the Army had a pilot surplus, they'd probably be using them instead.

Oh, and during Vietnam the Air Force ran a quite large and secret UAV program called Firefly that flew almost 3500 missions of various types including real-time data-link video. Unfortunately, the program died after the war from the hostility of the pilot mafia as well as the program's extreme secrecy. Still, what the Air Force has historically done with UAV's goes way beyond the "playing" done by the Army.

Last edited by Entropy; 03-23-2008 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 03-23-2008   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
Slapout, of course UAV's are not new - that is not the point. The point is that until a few years ago, UAV's were more of a gimmick within the Army than a real capability. The Air Force not only developed a successful platform, but also the doctrine and technology to integrate that platform with the rest of the force.
Horse hooey.

UAV's have been at use in the Army since the late 90's integrated into the (now defunct) Force XXI development. They got extensive use in the Balkans when I was there, way before 9/11 made them famous.

I'm rather familiar with this issue. In Ramadi, my job was to oversee all the operations in our sector, ground, riverine, and air. We usually had three UAV's aloft at any given time - BN (Raven), BDE (Shadow or Scaneagle), and ocassionally a Predator, Hunter, or higher level UAV. I loved the BN/BDE UAV's, they were completely under our control (from a remote base in country) and the (enlisted) operators responsive to anything we needed them for. (besides their collection plan, such as "troops in contact" events)

I distinctly remember supporting a unit in a very heavy firefight in downtown Ramadi. A high-level UAV was overhead and offered to assist. I decided to accept and tap into their feed rather than re-task another bird. Imagine my frustration in trying to get the remote USAF operators to look at what we needed to observe. Instead the "pilot" did whatever he thought was best to observe, not what the unit wanted. As a result we lost PID on enemy we were trying to engage. (cooking up a strike) I called the UAV operators to register a "WTF?" and I was unceremonously told they were a strategic asset and didn't respond to BCT's, even with troops in contact. They were highly trained pilots and analyists and would decide what to observe. The downright arrogance still gets me worked up to this day.

You can't convince me that the USAF having control of the UAV's from Nellis is a good thing. The USAF may have developed some cool doctrine, but its UAV ops are anything BUT integrated with the ground force. I imagine this is the reason the army decided to get its own (rotary) air force, like the Marines - soldiers get left hanging to dry otherwise in the USAF priority scheme.
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Last edited by Cavguy; 03-23-2008 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 03-23-2008   #10
Coldstreamer
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Entropy,

Good points about capability development, which I must say a glossed over to get to the nexus; it is a Land Centric Capabilty, and therefore to be properly integrated within Land Componency should be owned by the Army. A great deal of the backup R&D and systems support is provided by contractor, so that it less of an issue as may first appear.

Personally, I wouldn't have a great issue with ADA going to the AF, my enduring point being that logic and need should drive, not territorial vanity.
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Old 03-23-2008   #11
Entropy
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Cavguy,

The "late 90's" wasn't that long ago and the Navy had the best UAV program before that which explains why they were the managers for Hunter, Pioneer and Predator under DARO.

The Air Force developed the Predator and turned it into a capable weapons and ISR platform that is integrated with other weapons systems. Yes the Army has UAV's and I'm sure you put them to good use, as you should. But unless I'm mistaken they are essentially just cameras in the sky. For example, can your mortar or arty teams use them to correct fire? Can they designate for your other weapons systems? Can your apaches get your video feed to develop SA when they're enroute to your tic? Unless I'm mistaken, the current crop of Army UAV's can do none of these things.

As for integration with the ground force, that is a two-way street. There is nothing preventing the Army from buying as many ROVERs as it wants or integrating the datalink technology more directly into its weapon systems as the Air Force is currently in the middle of doing. The technology and architecture are there for the Army to exploit if it chooses to do so.

In the meantime, the Army likes what the USAF made so much it wants to buy a bunch of its own predators (500!) which is fine by me.

And I'm genuinely sorry about your bad predator experience, there really is no excuse for that.

Coldstreamer,

One might argue that everything is ultimately land-centric

I postulated moving ADA to the AF in jest to simply make the point. Truth be told, however, a lot of pilots were more afraid of Patriot than the Iraqi air defenses - the capabilities of the system are such that the aircrew tends not to survive. As an intel guy I had to brief the location and status of the various Patriot batteries before each mission.
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Old 03-23-2008   #12
Paul Smyth
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Default UAVs

It seems there are some conflating issues here: historic precedence, inter-service rivalries, vested interests, budgeting issues, resource shortfalls, long-term force structures, near v far capability development, doctrine and operational effectiveness.

We should not be surprised that there is a genuine concern that if the 'Army' is given ownership/responsibility of a capability with theatre-wide utility it may not be employed optimally, especially in European countries with small armies with less vision than the USA. SFs demonstrate the point from the reverse angle - they are a Theatre asset but are quick to point out their strategic credentials - overwhelmingly manned by the Army but functionally separate. Troops should have their own ISTAR assets. Period. But Reaper must be able to operate across the entire battlespace, and if necessary in gorrillas. For that reason alone it needs to be operated by people who can integrate it anywhere in the AOR and who understand airspace and packaging issues. If we apportion ownership on the basis of 'customer' then the Army would own JSTARs/Nimrod R/Harrier et al.

Personally, I don't especially care who 'owns' a capability as long as it is used properly. We seem to forget that there should only be one campaign in theatre - the Joint Campaign, owned by the Joint Commander. The assets in his AOR are his and should be used in accordance with his priorities - compare the negative comments from Lt Gen Franks (VII Corps) about CENTAF in DESERT STORM with the positive ones from Gen Schwarzkopf. The case for LCC ownership of 'everything' is naturally fuelled by the ongoing COIN efforts, but the imperative for a truly Joint approach and the correct allocation of responsibility (for a capability) to component attributes is amplified by the potential for state v state war, which would seriously expose structural fudges made on the basis of current ops.
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Old 03-23-2008   #13
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I'd go with that.
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Old 03-23-2008   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
Oh, and during Vietnam the Air Force ran a quite large and secret UAV program called Firefly that flew almost 3500 missions of various types including real-time data-link video. Unfortunately, the program died after the war from the hostility of the pilot mafia as well as the program's extreme secrecy. Still, what the Air Force has historically done with UAV's goes way beyond the "playing" done by the Army.

Glad you brought that up. Drones (remote control aircraft) were developed by the Army which were used for Air Defense training and that was pretty much where the idea came from. Do research on White Sands, New Mexico or MICOM Army Missile Command and there are all kinds of examples.
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Old 03-23-2008   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Smyth View Post
It seems there are some conflating issues here: historic precedence, inter-service rivalries, vested interests, budgeting issues, resource shortfalls, long-term force structures, near v far capability development, doctrine and operational effectiveness.

We should not be surprised that there is a genuine concern that if the 'Army' is given ownership/responsibility of a capability with theatre-wide utility it may not be employed optimally, especially in European countries with small armies with less vision than the USA. SFs demonstrate the point from the reverse angle - they are a Theatre asset but are quick to point out their strategic credentials - overwhelmingly manned by the Army but functionally separate. Troops should have their own ISTAR assets. Period. But Reaper must be able to operate across the entire battlespace, and if necessary in gorrillas. For that reason alone it needs to be operated by people who can integrate it anywhere in the AOR and who understand airspace and packaging issues. If we apportion ownership on the basis of 'customer' then the Army would own JSTARs/Nimrod R/Harrier et al.

Personally, I don't especially care who 'owns' a capability as long as it is used properly. We seem to forget that there should only be one campaign in theatre - the Joint Campaign, owned by the Joint Commander. The assets in his AOR are his and should be used in accordance with his priorities - compare the negative comments from Lt Gen Franks (VII Corps) about CENTAF in DESERT STORM with the positive ones from Gen Schwarzkopf. The case for LCC ownership of 'everything' is naturally fuelled by the ongoing COIN efforts, but the imperative for a truly Joint approach and the correct allocation of responsibility (for a capability) to component attributes is amplified by the potential for state v state war, which would seriously expose structural fudges made on the basis of current ops.

Hi Paul, this is truly the issue and a truly Joint Approach is the only real solution or you will keep having the turf battles. In the Air, on the Land, in the Sea, Services responsibilities divided up that way is bound to lead to internal conflicts.
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Old 03-23-2008   #16
Entropy
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Well said Paul. It's one reason I'm glad the predator and warrior programs are being combined into a joint program. Commonality in key systems is a good thing.
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Old 03-23-2008   #17
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Default Sort of academic, isn't it?

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Ken,
Predator was a joint program under DARO until it reached LRIP and the program was managed by the Navy, not the Army. Your link is incorrect. I'll troll my link archive for sourcing tomorrow if you wish.
Any DoD program is rife with misapprehensions and confusion not to mention a convoluted development history -- we can over-engineer anything -- but it's sort of irrelevant, we are where we are. Let's just leave it at the CIA saw the promise, weaponized the bird and the services, plural, came after while acknowledging that the Warrior is a Predator clone.
Quote:
As for the Warrior, it and the USAF Predator will be merged and managed as a joint program starting this October.
Pity if true and I don't doubt that it is. Whether it should be is another story because Joint Programs with wings seem to have a tendency to come under USAF control -- to the detriment of guys on the ground...
Quote:
...If the Army had a pilot surplus, they'd probably be using them instead.
Possibly but probably not. Still, admittedly state of the art dependent.
Quote:
Oh, and during Vietnam the Air Force ran a quite large and secret UAV program called Firefly that flew almost 3500 missions of various types including real-time data-link video. Unfortunately, the program died after the war from the hostility of the pilot mafia as well as the program's extreme secrecy. Still, what the Air Force has historically done with UAV's goes way beyond the "playing" done by the Army.
It wasn't that secret, pictures abounded at the time. I had to take a team to go recover one that fell off a DC130 northwest of Hue. We got to it before Clyde and sling loaded it out with a Chinook. That was not a good day...

As Slapout pointed out they all sprang from ADA drone targets; Firefly was derived from the Firebee which was both an Air Force and Navy bird. That too is academic. The issue is providing support to troops on the ground; as you also said:
Quote:
One might argue that everything is ultimately land-centric
True dat.
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Old 03-23-2008   #18
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Default Yes and no

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Smyth View Post
It seems there are some conflating issues here: historic precedence, inter-service rivalries, vested interests, budgeting issues, resource shortfalls, long-term force structures, near v far capability development, doctrine and operational effectiveness.
Yes to that.
Quote:
We should not be surprised that there is a genuine concern that if the 'Army' is given ownership/responsibility of a capability with theatre-wide utility it may not be employed optimally...
Yes to that -- if you mean concern by the USAF. The flip side of that is a resounding 'no.' The Army will have genuine and historically merited concern that theater wide use will not be optimal for support of troops in contact.
Quote:
...Troops should have their own ISTAR assets. Period. But Reaper must be able to operate across the entire battlespace, and if necessary in gorrillas. For that reason alone it needs to be operated by people who can integrate it anywhere in the AOR and who understand airspace and packaging issues.
Agree and disagree. I have no quarrel with the USAF owning and deploying Reaper as it sees fit -- but I also strongly believe the Army should own and deploy Warrior as it sees fit and you did not add that caveat.
Quote:
If we apportion ownership on the basis of 'customer' then the Army would own JSTARs/Nimrod R/Harrier et al.
True -- and an idea with some merit...
Quote:
Personally, I don't especially care who 'owns' a capability as long as it is used properly.
I agree with that; the issue I believe is precisely who determines 'properly?'
Quote:
...We seem to forget that there should only be one campaign in theatre - the Joint Campaign, owned by the Joint Commander. The assets in his AOR are his and should be used in accordance with his priorities - compare the negative comments from Lt Gen Franks (VII Corps) about CENTAF in DESERT STORM with the positive ones from Gen Schwarzkopf. The case for LCC ownership of 'everything' is naturally fuelled by the ongoing COIN efforts, but the imperative for a truly Joint approach and the correct allocation of responsibility (for a capability) to component attributes is amplified by the potential for state v state war, which would seriously expose structural fudges made on the basis of current ops.
Admirably 'joint.' However, as is true of any generalization, subject to caveats. Having experience with close air support with and without an overarching 'joint' air effort, I am in no doubt that the CAS is better without total consolidation and a Theater ATO. No doubt what so ever...

As to Frank's and Schwarzkopf's experience, that has much to do with the Air Component Commander. Some folks just do a better job than others...

On the entire topic of who owns and who uses what, Entropy also said:
Quote:
As for integration with the ground force, that is a two-way street. There is nothing preventing the Army from buying as many ROVERs as it wants or integrating the datalink technology more directly into its weapon systems as the Air Force is currently in the middle of doing. The technology and architecture are there for the Army to exploit if it chooses to do so.
True statement -- it also, as does your opinion, neatlyelides the fact that all those ROVERs may not need a video of an area 200 km away while the boys in blue search for 'strategic' targets; that is no guarantee of coverage when and where needed, merely access to what ever the ACC or JFACC deems important to them at the time. Which may or may not be the pressing concern of the Theater Commander, much less the Ground Component Commander...
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Old 03-23-2008   #19
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Hi Ken, also the Air Force already has Global Hawk for their Strategic Stuff so why do they need to control the predator which has a good old Army missile on it. Hellfire-fire and forget


Link to how the Army figured it out a long time ago..enjoy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpFg9JVvyEE

And you damn right that's a Real Army Sergeant hosting the show!!

Last edited by slapout9; 03-23-2008 at 06:06 PM. Reason: add link
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Old 03-23-2008   #20
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Default Predator missions

Most air Force missions are transient, i.e. they go from point A to Point B and back and sometimes spend a short time over a target. That is one reason why air power is a poor substitute for boots on the ground in an interdiction mission.

The Predator breaks that mold. It can lurk over a specific area without have to take a leak for several hours or days. For interdiction missions and for watching the MSR the Predator is an ideal compliment to the forces on the ground and it seems logical to me that those forces should be calling the shots.

There are probably other missions where it fits the Air Force MO better.

Another factor that fits into this debate is the Air Force's natural desire to control the air space. It does not want surprises for other air craft that are in that space. That is an area where the ground troops, with help from technology, need to find a way to cooperate. There has already been a heated debate on this with the smaller UAV's.

I am not sure I buy the Air Force argument about pilots. I think some experienced gamers would feel right at home with the joystick, in pretty short order. Give them some time in the simulator to make sure they are not going to crash and burn and I think they would have an abundance of pilots.
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