Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bill Sweetman Misses The Point...

At the risk of becoming a USAF bashing machine, I am going to devote some electrons to discussing the UAS/SECDEF/USAF dust-up that happened the other day.

From this post by author Bill Sweetman over at Ares Homepage we get this info...

Sec Def Misses The Point
Posted by Bill Sweetman at 4/22/2008 4:25 AM CDT

Starting a sentence with "Where the SecDef got it wrong..." is not career-enhancing, but as the good Doctor himself said, you have to decide sometimes whether to be somebody or do something.

Dr. Gates' criticisms of the USAF overlooked a crucial issue. Ironically, the limiting factor on Predator operations is not that "the air force doesn't like them because they don't have pilots", to summarize the viewpoint of service and media know-nothings. The problem is that they use too many pilots.

If you talk to anyone at the coal-face of UAV deployment, particularly where the Predator is concerned, you discover that most of these operations are throttle-to-the-firewall. The limiting factor is not the ability of GA-ASI to push airplanes out the door, but training.

If you've ever spent five minutes talking to GA-ASI president Tom Cassidy, you know that the Predator has to be flown by a pilot. The ground control system (GCS) is cockpit-like, with stick and rudder pedals - this is not a mouse-commanded automaton. The backseater needs skills, too, because the Predator is designed to direct lethal force even when it is not using its own weapons; and despite the seeming "war by video game" simplicity of the system, retaining situational awareness despite the soda-straw view through the turreted sensors is not easy...

Yes it isn't easy. Neither is kicking in doors looking for bad guys. Neither is driving on a supply convoy down RT Tampa.

The point the SECDEF was making (the way I understood it) is that the current way of doing things isn't cutting it. Someone needs to come up with a way to get more UAS and their crews up and running.

If that requires changing things then maybe they need to get on with it...there is a war on after all. In WWII somehow or another SGTs flew P-51s and by all accounts did a pretty good job (Some guy named Chuck Yeager was one of them)...I think we might be able to come up with a way to make UAS operators without stealing F-16/A-10/B-52/C-17 pilots away from their day jobs. The USAF could probably do it too, if they wanted to and that is the real problem right there.

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