The Other Air War Over Iraq (06/10/2005 entry)
Seems the Army and Air Force have differing opinions about UAVs, what they can do, and where they can do it:
Army UAV operators are increasingly getting the impression that they are not wanted, unless there’s a mission deemed too dangerous for air force UAVs. Army UAV operators also know that the air force is not happy with army sergeants operating UAVs, while the air force only allows officers to “fly” UAVs. Air force attempts to establish standards for army UAV operators was rebuffed by the army. Unhappy with the difficulty in getting UAV, or any other support, from the air force on a timely basis, the army has increasingly bought more of its own UAVs. Army Hunters and Shadows compete with air force Predators.
But the air space manager will often restrict the use of army UAVs, “for safety reasons.” The army UAV officers get steamed, because the only thing the see at risk is the current air force attempt to get control over development of all UAVs, and perhaps all the ones the army wants to use. Or at least the larger ones, like the Hunter and Shadow, that compete with the air force Predator. The army often takes UAV missions the air force refuses, as “too dangerous.” At the same time, the army UAV operators find themselves being kept out of air space over an army combat operation, so that an air force Predator can be sent in to make the air force look good.
I don’t really know the truth to this, but one thing I do know is that many times there are guys on the ground waiting (praying?) for something to make the enemy stop shooting at them. I don’t think they care all that much whether it’s a Army UAV, an Air Force UAV, or how the decision will affect UAV procurement down the road.
“Sarge! We need that shed taken out right now! At least six guys and a heavy weapon inside!”
“Look, private. If you knew what you were talking about you would be happy to take fire for a few extra minutes while the Colonel convinces that Air Force brat to let our bird hit the shed. Think about the big picture!”
I’m thinking that conversation never happens.