I apologize for linking to Mother Jones. Really. At least it’s an article on the war that makes it almost a third of the way through before using the word “Vietnam”.
Anyway, here’s something that merits consideration:
In his recent article and interview, [the New Yorker’s Seymour] Hersh rightly reflects the concern of American military men that, in any proposed draw-down plan for American forces, Iraqi security forces are likely to be given some responsibility for Air Force targeting operations. After all, they’ll be the ones left on the ground. It’s an idea, he reports, that is “driving the Air Force crazy,” because they fear it may involve them in a future revenge war of ethnic and religious groups in Iraq.
Even Pentagon figures indicate that 10-15% of laser-guided munitions don’t land where intended, but having those munitions land (or not land) where “the Iranians” intend doesn’t please U.S. officials. Senior intelligence personnel complained to Hersh that “Iran will be targeting our bombers.”
On the surface, this is troubling. Below the surface, it’s probably even more so.
The Iraqi Air Force is years from being ready to anything meaningful, at least in a combat role. I’d say that, until then, US forward air controllers remain the ones to call in the coordinates.
Maybe an accelerated Iraqi Air Force program based on something like the Super Tucano COIN aircraft? That sort of prop-driven light attack plane is just what the situation in Iraq will be calling for in a year or two. The expense would be relatively small, the training simplified, and the utility of the platform fits the bill. And it would get Iraqi bombers dropping the bombs called in by Iraqi forward air controllers, a politically important point.
Heck, maybe the USAF should order a couple squadrons for themselves, while they’re at it. (Or the Army, if someone could overcome the fixed-wing restrictions…) Don’t tell me that they wouldn’t come in handy in certain spots.