Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The U-Boats Are Here To Save Us All

There is an interesting article over at Ares concerning USAF Gunships and their use in the GWOT.

Written by David Axe, the article features parts of another article written by USAF MAJ Robert Seifert. MAJ Seifert proposes that if his gunships were released to patrol around Iraq, instead of being teathered to specific operations (usually SOF missions/ which feature high risk and usually mean going after an HVT (high value target)), that they could change the dynamic of the conflict.

Here's a taste...

Gunships fly every night in Iraq but rarely identify a single insurgent due to the inefficient manner in which they are requested by the Army and employed by the Air Force. ... A simple yet fundamental change in AC–130 employment can kill or capture more insurgents, save friendly lives, and improve prospects for coalition success.

"I am convinced that if I was allowed to employ my gunship the way I propose, I would find and kill insurgents every single night," Seifert told me:

I would ask where the insurgents are most likely to be (although I would start figuring it out pretty quickly myself) and I would then fly over those areas as much as possible all the while being on a frequency that all of the ground forces in the triangle knew to call at the first sign of trouble. Sure a lot of insurgents would get away every night but you catch a dozen insurgents every night and you start demoralizing them pretty darn quickly. I've shot dozens of them and they don't even know what's shooting them. AC-130s against insurgents is a total and complete unfair fight. We've made it fair, though, by sitting the gunships in the same spot for hours at a time "defending" whatever ground force happens to be in that location.

My concept is no different than how police forces are used. Do cop cars sit in the same spot and defend a neighborhood? Or do they roam around looking for bad guys all the while being on call to EVERY citizen in their jurisdiction. Cops are the best weapon against bad guys and gunships are the best weapon against insurgents. Another example is F-15 employment. Do F-15s sit in the same spot defending a particular army unit against air attack or do they roam the skies looking for MiGs and waiting for AWACS to push them to the first indication of MiGs? The Air Force has perfected the art of air-to-air and is the reason the Iraqi Air Force wouldn't even take off. Put the same effort and expertise into gunship employment and you'd start seeing insurgents that didn't want to leave their houses.

What's interesting, to me at least is that US Army attack helicopters already roam the battlefield and are already minutes away from most troops in contact situations and don't require a JTAC to engage. Our 30mm cannon "danger close" distance is comparable to an AC-130 as well.

The AC-130 is an awesome weapon. It's sensors are second to none and the crews who fly them are nothing short of superb. But all the things being suggested by MAJ Seifert are already being done by Army attack helicopters. If the USAF wishes to use its Gunships like the MAJ proposes I am sure the firepower will be welcome and appreciated by all parties involved...but don't act like you're the Lone Ranger out there MAJ Seifert.

We are told by the ground forces that the one thing that insurgents fear is the Apache...and there is a reason for that. It's stories like this.

Also it's funny that Mr. Axe illustrated his post about USAF gunships with a still frame from an Apache gun tape...

Although it's obvious from the file name that he thinks this is from an AC-130...OOPS.

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