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Thursday, April 30, 2009
This article reminded me of my experience in Iraq. Yes, airborne intelligence is great, but how often does the military use it for anything other than information gathering? Unless procedures have changed from 2005-2006 when I was there, this intelligence is almost never used for kinetic strikes despite what Air Force Col. Eric Holdaway describes as a willingness to do so. During my rotation in Iraq, I saw insurgents get away unscathed on numerous occasions despite having definitive proof that they fired mortars and there would be no collateral damage whatsover if the direct support artillery battalion in the brigade AO executed a counter-fire mission. Once there was a radar acquisition showing the point of origin of the mortar fire and a UAV feed showing video of insurgents putting the smoking mortar tube away in the back of a pick-up truck and covering it with a sheet in the middle of the desert. No schools in the area, no civilians in the area, just insurgents, a white low-riding pick-up truck, and a smoking mortar tube. Did we fire back? No, because it took the brigade commander, a full colonel, to authorize a counter-fire missions. Why did we need such clearance? Because colonels want to trade in their birds for stars one day and instead of trusting their subordinates with clear guidance [e.g. insurgents in open in the desert and two forms of positive identification (radar and UAV) = blow them up to smitherines/one-way ticket to meet Allah] , they just keep the decision at their level. One more example of how technology is making the U.S. military into an indecisive, top-down military ala the Soviet Union.