Worse than Democrats and Republicans

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Sheesh - give someone a new shiny toy and everybody wants one. From London's Financial Times:
US military in dogfight over drones
While Predator and Global Hawk drones cross the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan looking for insurgents or hunting for Osama bin Laden, thousands of kilometres away in Washington they have been dragged into a vicious turf battle.

Resurrecting tensions over US airpower that have lingered since the Korean war, the air force is pushing to become �executive agent� for drones � unmanned aircraft � that fly above 3,500 feet. The army, navy and marines oppose the move, which would make the air force responsible for the acquisition and development of unmanned aerial vehicles such as the army�s Sky Warrior.

As Gordon England, the deputy defence secretary, prepares to make a decision, air force and army officers are furiously lobbying Congress in preparation for a possible legislative battle. The stakes have risen dramatically as the use of drones has ballooned. Central Command, which oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now operates about 1,000 UAVs.
A bit more:
Air force officers add that a compromise joint approach reached several years ago when it unsuccessfully pushed for executive agency has hurt UAV development.

�We can�t afford to compromise any longer, particularly when �compromise� comes at the cost of inefficiencies and with no benefit beyond assuaging ruffled parochial egos,� says Lieutenant General David Deptula, deputy air force chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

But the army counters by questioning the air force�s record on acquisitions, stressing that Global Hawk and Predator have seen cost overruns, while other programmes such as refuelling tankers and search and rescue helicopter have been embroiled in controversy. It points out that its Sky Warrior programme has so far met cost and schedule goals.

�The ruffled feathers and parochial egos belong to the air force ... the marine corps, navy, special forces and army are co-operating across acquisition programmes, common ground stations and future programme development,� says a senior army officer.

�It is the air force that refuses to join the joint team, preferring to criticise others, disseminate misleading statements and independently lobby Congress for support they do not have in the Pentagon.�
And two more paragraphs:
Peter Singer, an expert on contemporary warfare at the Brookings Institution, says the military is just starting to grapple with some of the key questions surrounding UAVs, including whether they should be operated by pilots as the air force does, or by trained specialists in the army.

�The people who really need to be making the decisions ... are the very senior leadership in both the civilian and the military world, and yet you are talking about people who needed their grandkids to programme their VCRs,� says Mr Singer.
The old "But it has wings and flies so I must control it" bullshit. With the advances of technology, these things can be piloted by a trained technician and they do not need a pilot. Air Force Pilot training is long, thorough and expensive -- better to use these assets in real airplanes and let the simple and cost-effective drones be used by the people that need them. The article mentioned that there was often a 24 to 48 hour lead-time between requesting a drone and actually getting it up in the air and on a mission. This is inexcusable -- if people have intel, they need to get a drone in the air as soon as possible.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on August 19, 2007 8:18 PM.

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