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Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Decisive in Battle
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Throughout the last 6 years of the war on terror, which has seen U.S. Army units deploy two and three times for year-long or more combat operations, the joint community has been unable to provide the coverage of unmanned aircraft systems UAS required to support tactical operations. Commanders plan operations based on known reliable resources. Joint UAS are frequently not allocated to division and brigade combat team BCT operations due to a lack of sufficient numbers of systems and higher priority theater, joint task force, joint force air component command JFACC, or other government agency support mission requirements. When divisions and BCTs do receive joint UAS coverage based upon an allocation model, the support is frequently cut short, the supported tactical commander is unable to dynamically redirect the platformsensor, or the unmanned aircraft system breaks station just as ground forces have begun to develop the situation. It is imperative that units in physical contact with the enemy have the continuous sensor coverage needed to dominate and win the engagement. Army commanders at all tactical levels division and below have identified a requirement for organic UAS to support their operations. The single largest gap in UAS support to tactical maneuver forces today resides at the division level. Army UAS continue to provide unprecedented support in the Nations war on terror, and the demand for these systems is increasing at an extraordinary rate. From the platoon to division levels, UAS are providing ground maneuver commanders with critical and timely combat information for outstanding results. The Soldiers who operate Army UAS are extremely capable in counterinsurgency missions and maintain the ability to prevail in conventional combat operations. To date, Army UAS have flown over 375,000 hours and nearly 130,000 sorties in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE