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Troops or Predators?

7

7point62

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#1
California Republican Rep Duncan Hunter, a former Marine officer with two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq says even with the upcoming "surge" in OEF we will never have enough troops sufficient for Afghanistan...so his take on it is to increase the number of Predators and similar remote aircraft.

Freefalling among others has suggested that what we really need in OEF is more infantry, and I agree. But is Hunter's suggestion a good one? Can Predator aircraft fill the gap?
 

AWP

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#2
Good question.

I don't think so. I'm not an intel professional, but the legacy of ADM Turner and his desire for sensors over people has me gun-shy when someone mentions that they can replace people with gizmos. That said, Preds and Reapers are awesome enablers and an asset on the battlefield but they don't interact with the people of this country unless they are dropping explosive hate down on them.

I hope I'm not coming across as lecturing, but we need boots on the ground and not these damned fobbits. I am a fobbit and there are too many of us now.

Preds and other platforms have revolutionized warfare. The bad guys know that things can fall out of the sky without a sound and kill them. The bad guys know that they could be watched at any point in time. But an ISR platform can't do civil affairs and while lethal it isn't nearly as lethal as young men with machine guns.

As an aside: fobbits need to work on an infantry mentality. 11 series spend x number of days doing the deed and then come back for a rest period, working endless days and nights. If fobbits adopted the same mentality and work ethic we could trim a lot of fat off of our pig. Not getting a day off or being able to go to the gym stresses their poor little bodies....I'm thinking living in a COP up in Nagarhar or Kunar or elsewhere is a bit harder on one's condition.

But, that's my view. I could be wrong.
 

car

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#3
"Intel drives operations" is a truism that tactical commanders have re-learned in the last seven years, but intel is the reason to conduct ops, not the op itself. I agree with everything that FF says.

There are people who deploy for a year and never leave the FOB/COP, take days off, work eight hour days, etc. To them it's a garrison environment with the occasional "bother" of having to run to the bunkers.......you wouldn't believe the whining I heard when I insisted that the Soldiers in our headquarters carried their weapons out to the plastic shitters...and everywhere else :rolleyes:

Even though I worked on Camp Victory, I jumped at every opportunity to get "outside the wire," and certainly worked more than eight hours a day. If you can't see it, smell it and taste it, how are you gonna know what's really going on? Interaction with the locals is a must! How can you make decisions that effect them if you don't know them? And how do you know them if you don't interact with them.

Mr. Hunter's idea of using gadgets instead of people is the same mistake the intel community made back when Stansfield Turner was director of the CIA. A mistake we're still trying to fix.

Edit -- FF, I missed your initial reference to ADM Turner. Didn't mean to repeat something already said.
 

racing_kitty

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#4
I agree with Free as well. Also, you can have all kinds of ELINT, but without a good dose of HUMINT to tie it together, it just doesn't help as much. That feeds rather well into supporting having more boots on the ground as opposed to eyes in the sky.

One other thing to look at, with an impending "surge" coming soon, the grunts outside the wire might very well run into a problem with their fobbit counterparts trying to "armchair QB" their ops just from watching the live feed from said Pred that's flying over their AO (don't laugh, it's happened to a couple of teams in my company). The last thing we need is to further enable these garrison-minded fobbits in their delusions of Patton-esque grandeur as they try to call all the shots for the poor bastard who's humping all over the hills and dodging all the bullets.

Although this is not a major component of the argument of troops-vs-Predators, it's happened before, and even the smallest cog breaking can fuck up a good machine in the long run. The few grunts that we have out there don't need that kind of bullshit, they need more grunts to work with them.
 

DA SWO

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#5
I still am undecided on the Afghan surge. I don't think Iraq Surge Tactics will necessarily transfer to Afghanistan. AQ learned a lot from the losses in IZ, and will change tactics. The operating environment is different in AFG. AQ and Taliban ARE part of the structure, and won't be forcing themselves into the tribal structures.

Commanders want more ISR so they can watch every hillside, but do we need all the conventional units, or would additional CA/SOF be more productive?

Time will tell.

Another question, the IZ surge was always reported "as the so called surge in Iraq"; I wonder how the Obama medis will call it in A-stan?
 

RetPara

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#6
Predators have their place. But it takes a grunt to kick a grunts ass. Predators are like any other aerial platform, they can observe, have some limited control, but NOT dominate and hold terrain. It has been proven time and again from the days of Bomber Harris running the ETO bombing campaign against Germany; aerial bombardment cannot win wars by themselves.

As a collection platform they are only of one of the disciplines; it has also been proven by history that a single discipline approach to intelligence collection will fail.
 

Marauder06

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#7
Predators are great- we definitely need more of them. What I'd also like to see is some of the smaller UAVs in the hands of the lower-echelon troops. I don't think there is any reason why there can't be UAVs down to the platoon level. We're not talking Preds here- a lot of folks don't realize how big a Predator really is, and how expensive it is to purchase and operate. But there are plenty of smaller UAVs out there that Joe could use to increase his SA.
 

Teufel

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#11
I would love to have more predator coverage. Or Reaper. We could use some more ISR. Predators don't replace grunts but they have helped cover defilade etc. The enemy has the tendency to manuever on friendly forces in large groups and the UAVs have come in handy.
 

AWP

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#13
What I'd also like to see is some of the smaller UAVs in the hands of the lower-echelon troops. I don't think there is any reason why there can't be UAVs down to the platoon level.
An excellent point and one I'd overlooked. With much of Afghanistan's population in rural areas and the nature of our operations, a unit with more control over the ISR platform supporting them would be a great thing.

I just hope the powers that be don't think that an OIF model will work in this place.
 

Teufel

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#14
The Marine Corps pushes UAVs down to the platoon level all the time. You request coverage for a certain time frame and you can control it locally or relay instructions back to the controller. There aren't enough to go around right now though.
 
7

7point62

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#15
The Marine Corps pushes UAVs down to the platoon level all the time. You request coverage for a certain time frame and you can control it locally or relay instructions back to the controller. There aren't enough to go around right now though.

That may be the gist of what Hunter is saying. He was a junior officer, so I suspect he's more tuned into the platoon-level tactical situation.

I do agree that nothing quite equals grunts kicking grunt ass, and that we need many more trigger pullers and door kickers, infantry and SOF, heart & mind winners, more guys to counter AQ and TB influence in the villes.

(And lots more covert raids into freakin S Waziristan to find and ice the Sheik. :D)
 

Teufel

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#16
You can't win without grunts but there is a lot of deadspace in Afghanistan. UAV ISR coverage helps to control the lines of communication and lines of operation. They assist in targeting enemy forces and providing overwatch for infantry units. They can maintain security on egress routes and warn infantry units if their routes are being IEded. Big money.
 

Ranger Psych

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#17
it would be nice to have more, but to have more means more money...

Cheaper to have a Predator/Reaper/whatever the flavor is today covering a patrol than a spectre... and although I'd prefer a spectre, if you could directly comm with the operator ie "wtf is over that hill" to where they were an integral albeit remotely operated PART of the patrol rather than just bebopping on their own wherever someone else thinks is important... that would be cash money.

given that they're easy to feed the coords to, run a dispatch... each company gets one, the CO picks who needs it the most, PL's hand it off when they don't particularily need it anymore... if one's rounds complete, swap out standard observation duties with an armed one, and put the bullets where the joes are but keep the eyes in the air all the way around.

basically like PD dispatch... someone's rolling out on a mission, they get assigned a cover reaper. Need more pain? call for it... don't need it? downgrade..