Unmanned Aerial Systems: Quality As Well As Quantity
Journal article, Jul-Aug 2010
ARMY COMBINED ARMS CENTER FORT LEAVENWORTH KS MILITARY REVIEW
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IN APRIL 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates addressed the Air War College at Maxwell Air Base and lauded the introduction of unmanned aerial systems into the Air Force arsenal as a less risky and more versatile intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance asset. He prodded the Air Force to provide more unmanned aerial systems in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of operation and asked Air Force officers to rethink which missions unmanned aviation assets could gradually assume from manned aviation assets. At the time of the secretarys speech, I was a Shadow unmanned aerial systems platoon leader for a brigade combat team deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although I took pride in the Nations civilian military leader promoting the area for which my Soldiers deployed to combat, I wondered why the secretary felt we needed more unmanned aerial systems. I thought that rather than purchasing more systems, the Army and the Air Force should make more of an effort to improve the planning and execution of missions for unmanned aerial systems that already exist. Troubles with unmanned aerial systems employment have not gone unnoticed. Since 2005, the U.S. Government Accountability Office GAO has produced multiple reports recommending that the Department of Defense DOD improve various aspects of unmanned aerial systems operations. The GAO geared the majority of these reports toward improving joint interoperability of unmanned aerial systems, adjusting acquisition plans for future unmanned aerial systems, and ensuring safe expansion of unmanned aerial systems into national airspace. However, one report, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Advanced Coordination and Increased Visibility Needed to Optimize Capabilities, aimed to improve the planning and execution of combat operations.
- Pilotless Aircraft