Spy planes diverted to Afghanistan war

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Comment#1: Why does the press insist on using the term "Spy Planes"? Like we are doing something sinister.

Comment #2: Interesting (to me) how quickly we shifted assets from Iraq to Afghanistan. Wonder if the Iraqi's have noticed? I just hope it's not a case of too little;too late.

By Tom Vanden Brook - USA Today
Posted : Monday Aug 24, 2009 5:23:55 EDT

The U.S. military has sent more spy planes to Afghanistan and moved others there from Iraq, reflecting President Obama’s emphasis on Afghanistan and the difficult fight there.

In July 2008, 75 percent of spy planes, including drones such as Predators and Reapers, were devoted to Iraq and 25 percent to Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures. As of this month, 66 percent are in Afghanistan compared with 33 percent in Iraq.

Spy planes provide video of insurgent movements and intercept their communications. They also can show how soil has been disturbed, an indication that makeshift bombs have been buried.

Besides drones, several other aircraft perform reconnaissance missions, including high-flying U-2 planes and new, twin-engine propeller-driven aircraft called Project Liberty planes.

“It’s very clear from these reconnaissance numbers that the war effort has shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan,” said Loren Thompson, a military analyst with the Lexington Institute.

Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, said the shift reflects decisions made by Army Gen. David Petraeus, who leads U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The overall number of spy planes has increased in Iraq and Afghanistan, allowing for a slight decrease in the number of Iraq flights and an expansion in Afghanistan, said Army Col. Erik Gunhus, a spokesman for Petraeus. The Air Force conducts 36 patrols daily with armed Predator and Reaper drones in Afghanistan and Iraq — up from 27 last year.

Gunhus said the increase in violence in Afghanistan, where roadside bomb attacks are at record levels, requires more spy planes. Meanwhile, attacks in Iraq have dropped to their lowest levels since 2003.

The change comes after complaints from Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and others that the war in Iraq had devoured resources, such as spy planes, that are needed to fight Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
 
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