Officials ponder adding drones, not troops

TheWookie

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I think this is the perfect terrain, and opportunity, to "change the game" with the increased use of drones.

What do the rest of you think? :D

Officials ponder adding drones, not troops

By Anne Gearan and Lara Jakes - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Sep 22, 2009 19:11:51 EDT

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama may change course again as the war worsens in Afghanistan, steering away from the comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy he laid out this spring and toward a narrower focus on counterterror operations aimed at al-Qaida.

The White House is looking at expanding counterterror operations in Pakistan as an alternative to a major military escalation in Afghanistan.

Two senior administration officials said Monday that the renewed fight against al-Qaida could lead to more missile attacks on Pakistan terrorist havens by unmanned U.S. spy planes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made.

The armed drones could contain al-Qaida in a smaller, if more remote, area and keep its leaders from retreating back into Afghanistan, the officials said.

The prospect of a White House alternative to a deepening involvement in Afghanistan comes as administration officials debate whether to send more troops — as urged in a blunt assessment of the deteriorating conflict by the top U.S. commander there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

The president thus far has not endorsed the McChrystal approach, saying in television interviews over the weekend that he needs to be convinced that sending more troops would make Americans safer from al-Qaida.

Tellingly, Obama reiterated in those interviews that his core goal is to destroy al-Qaida, which is not present in significant numbers in Afghanistan. He did not focus on saving Afghanistan.

“I’m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face,” Obama told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Top aides to Obama said he still has questions and wants more time to decide.

The officials said the administration aims to push ahead with the ground mission in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, still leaving the door open for sending more U.S. troops. But Obama’s top advisers, including Vice President Joe Biden, have indicated they are reluctant to send many more troops — if any at all — in the immediate future.

The proposed shift would bolster U.S. action on Obama’s long-stated goal of dismantling terrorist havens, but it could also complicate American relations with Pakistan, long wary of the growing use of aerial drones to target militants along the porous border with Afghanistan.

Most U.S. military officials have preferred a classic counterinsurgency mission to keep al-Qaida out of Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban and securing the local population.

However, one senior White House official said it’s not clear that the Taliban would welcome al-Qaida back into Afghanistan. The official noted that it was only after the 9/11 attacks that the United States invaded Afghanistan and deposed the Taliban in pursuit of al-Qaida.

Pakistan will not allow the United States to deploy a large-scale military troop buildup on its soil. However, its military and intelligence services are believed to have assisted the U.S. with airstrikes, even while the government has publicly condemned them.

Wider use of missile strikes and less reliance on ground troops would mark Obama’s second shift in strategy and tactics since taking office last January.

But stepping up attacks on the remnants of al-Qaida also would dovetail with Obama’s presidential campaign promise of directly going after the terrorist network that spawned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Over the past few weeks, White House and Pentagon officials have debated the best way to defeat al-Qaida — and whether to send more troops to Afghanistan to battle the extremist Taliban elements that hosted Osama bin Laden and his operatives in the 1990s and have continued to aid the terrorist group.

McChrystal has argued that without more troops the United States could lose the war against the Taliban and allied insurgents.

“Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it,” McChrystal wrote in a five-page Commander’s Summary that was unveiled late Sunday by The Washington Post. His 66-page report, which was also made public by the Post in a partly classified version after appeals from Pentagon officials, was sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Aug. 30 and is now under review at the White House.

In an interview Monday with CNN, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, “Where General McChrystal is asking for more resources, in all aspects, to boost the effort against terrorism, he has our support there.”

But Karzai added that the U.S. and its allies also need to “concentrate on the sanctuaries for terrorists outside of Afghanistan.”

White House officials have made clear that Pakistan, where the U.S. cannot send troops, should be the top concern since that is where top al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden himself, are believed to be hiding. Very few al-Qaida extremists are believed to still be in Afghanistan, according to military and White House officials.

There have been more than 50 missile strikes against Pakistan targets since August 2008, according to an Associated Press count. Two weeks ago, a U.S. drone killed a key suspected al-Qaida recruiter and trainer, Pakistani national Ilyas Kashmiri.

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2009/09/ap_afghanistan_pakistan_drones_092109/
 

DA SWO

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Eyewash.
We video tape the Taliban, then what? They are gone before troops move into the area. We gonna launch a hellfire? doubt it, not with the ROE (unless a RPV launched hellfire is deniable).
RPV's supporting troops helps, but we have to flood the place with troops for a few years,otherwise the Taliban just move from province to province.
We bothced this one long time ago (Anaconda) and it will take a longer time to unscrew this goat.
 

Viper1

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Drones have a tendency to be used as "command platforms" by the people who watch the feeds. Personally, as the man on the ground, I would rather be radioed with actionable and timely information from the drone (it's intent), instead of being asked why I'm not doing a, b, or c (what actually happens).

Personal experience as a battle captain in a BDE TOC who was told to call down to units to ask WTF during ops while the command team watched the feed. Not fun.
 
J

JJ sloan

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Drones are becoming the favorite tool of risk averse commanders. We don't need more drones on the battlefield. We need forward observers, manned aircraft and forces who can assess battle damage, conduct sensitive site exploitation, analyze intelligence recovered and forward information to those who can use it. I addition we need commanders with the balls to prosecute the war on terror.
 

car

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This is a slippery slope. I agree with SOWT, V1 and JJ. Also consider the comparison of how the Carter administration, on the advice of CIA director Stansfield Turner, literally gutted HUMINT assets worldwide to go with more sexy non-air breathing SIGINT platforms. I'm a SIGINTer, but if you don't have "boots on the ground" to at least put eyes on, and at best, to help understand local nuance, you can't draw a complete intel picture.

Armed drones are good, and drones as collection platforms are good, but we already learned in Iraq that FOBing up and not "gettin' out amongst 'em" is couunter-productive, or at least brings incomplete results that we end up paying for later. :2c:
 

AWP

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Personal experience as a battle captain in a BDE TOC who was told to call down to units to ask WTF during ops while the command team watched the feed. Not fun.

A slight hijack if I may.

A few years ago there was a program, now cancelled to my knowledge, wherein pods were placed on aircraft (A-10's, F-15's, F-16's), pods that allowed anyone with a DSN line to call the pod. The call would then be broadcast on a flight's frequency so that every aircraft near it could communicate with the caller back at the JOC/ FOB/ Pentagon/ etc. Bottom line: if you had a DSN phone and the flight's phone number you could talk to them during the mission.

The technology wasn't there and the program underperformed. But the seed is planted and once the technology catches up to the idea I wouldn't be surprised to see it revived.
 

DA SWO

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The Viet Nam era UH-1 Comand and Control bird is now a UAV.
Same results, committed by people who resented the UH-1 C&C birds, how ironic.
 

car

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The Viet Nam era UH-1 Comand and Control bird is now a UAV.
Same results, committed by people who resented the UH-1 C&C birds, how ironic.

I would never presume to speak for your personal experience - I have no idea what or how commanders are doing what you say they're doing. But I know this - we're putting eyes and steel on target with these drones. And we're providing overwatch when the shooters "stack up" and take down a bad guy. You can't bitch about those results. That's just a fact.

But the way the Army is using them is, I'm sure, different from the way the guys at xxx AFB are using them - in other words. The AF's culture is being challenged - flying war machines without dashing men in scarves driving them? OMG! :eek: So maybe those guyz are trying to find a new niche....:uhh:
 
J

JJ sloan

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I would never presume to speak for your personal experience - I have no idea what or how commanders are doing what you say they're doing. But I know this - we're putting eyes and steel on target with these drones. And we're providing overwatch when the shooters "stack up" and take down a bad guy. You can't bitch about those results. That's just a fact.

But the way the Army is using them is, I'm sure, different from the way the guys at xxx AFB are using them - in other words. The AF's culture is being challenged - flying war machines without dashing men in scarves driving them? OMG! :eek: So maybe those guyz are trying to find a new niche....:uhh:

I agree that UAV's have their purpose and have been quite successful for the most part. Countless targets have been destroyed using this platform. It just seems like commanders are more than ready to replace operator/pilot experience and decisiveness with technology. It will not work, nothing will replace the ethos and tactical decisiveness of professionals on the ground or in the air. That being said, I have been blessed with UAV support on the OBJ... it's a luxury for sure. Then there are times when it seems as if we are being looked after by mother goose back in the rear. Two sides to that coin.
 

DA SWO

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I would never presume to speak for your personal experience - I have no idea what or how commanders are doing what you say they're doing. But I know this - we're putting eyes and steel on target with these drones. And we're providing overwatch when the shooters "stack up" and take down a bad guy. You can't bitch about those results. That's just a fact.

But the way the Army is using them is, I'm sure, different from the way the guys at xxx AFB are using them - in other words. The AF's culture is being challenged - flying war machines without dashing men in scarves driving them? OMG! :eek: So maybe those guyz are trying to find a new niche....:uhh:

I agree, the problem happens when Commanders start asking questions/making tactical decisions while the mission is in progress. Give relevent tactical data (i.e. bad guys are massing behind the next wall), as opposed to "did you guys just drive up in ATV's?". I was on a non-GWOT deployment (long ago) where the CJTF Commander put UAV's OVER the AC-130, then started asking questions while the crew was trying to keep alive. Let the on-scene guy/gal do their job, be a spectator, or a facilitator, not an examiner. You can examine the tactics/conop later.
 

Manolito

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I can't speak to UAV operations they weren't around when I was playing in the game.

Spotter aircraft often reported to the boss what was going on and often directed action back from the boss. Nothing says love like a spotter aircraft (Air Force) calling in Army arty for a patrol boat operation and have the rounds drop behind you.
I prefer a human manned gun ship over head supporting and then let the boss monday morning the decisions later. I also prefer single pilots that come back with palm fronds stuck in the skids over the pilot that needs more magnification to see the target.:D
 
0

08steeda

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I was watching Blackhawk Down again the other day and it brought to mind how poor timely coordination is for the boots on the ground.

Sometimes those delays could be deadly! But sometimes the immediate real-time analysis from afar can be just as bad. It seems like it would cause hesitation from the combat leaders if they have to worry about the eyes in the sky critiquing them during an op in the hot zone!

Seems to me that if the voices from afar are not helping then then should remain silent. It is important to apply lessons learned and how might it have been done differently (Better???) but only as an after action briefing. These are the things to be used in training and development.

I would hate to be a combat leader in today's day and age with the constant eyes looking over your shoulder. It has to be a huge distraction when the feces is hitting the proverbial fan.

But then I am and never have been an operator. This is just my observation! There are experts here who may feel differently than I do.
 
7

7point62

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BITD I worked with OV-10s and greatly appreciated the view from above but ended up having to answer a lot of "phone calls" from upstairs when I was busy trying to do my job. I think UAVs are cool...but I don't think I'd ever want some General back in the rear second guessing me just because he's watching the show on TV.
 
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