ComNavOps occasionally will use non-Navy events to illustrate lessons that can be applied to the Navy. Such an occurrence was described in a Navy Times website article (1) describing a British aerial attack on
ISIS targets in northwest . From the article, Iraq
“RAF Akrotiri station commander, Group Captain Chaz Kennett said that two Tornado GR4 aircraft used bombs and precision missiles to destroy a “heavy weapon position” and an armed pick-up truck.”
A quick check of a map shows that the distance from the base to the target would have been on the order of 400 miles, assuming a straight line flight. That’s 800 miles round trip with the attendant risk of pilot’s lives and wear and tear on the airframes, all to plink a machine gun, or some such, and an armed pick-up truck. That’s just stunningly poor allocation of military assets.
Note that I’m not picking on the British. The
is doing the same type of thing. US
While combat is not an exercise in business principles, there is still an element of cost effectiveness that must be considered and this mission, as described in the article, did not even remotely meet that criteria. This mission was the equivalent of using a carrier group to enforce fishing regulations. Oh wait … The USN actually did that. Still, you get the idea.
What lesson is there in this? Well, there’s several possible takeaways from this.
It illustrates the trap that a military that is excessively focused on high tech can fall prey to. When a low tech task needs to be performed and all you have is high tech assets the result is bound to be a mismatch between target value and resources. The Navy (and US military, in general) needs to keep an awareness of low tech necessities firmly in mind. The days of cavalierly throwing million dollar solutions at thousand dollar problems are gone. Budget considerations demands a better use of resources.
It illustrates the need for boots on the ground and forces in closer proximity. Of course, there’s a political element at play, here. The nation is war-weary and boots on the ground would be an unpopular option. However, there are certain tasks that boots are a much better choice for and we can’t rule out good options because of poor politics.
It illustrates the need for logical and coherent geopolitical strategies. The
ISIS problem arose from our poor strategic handling of the entire episode. Iraq
It illustrates the potential value of area bombardment as opposed to the current obsession with precision. A B-52/1/2 aircraft performing area bombardment might be a more cost effective solution than trying to plink individual pick-up trucks.
It illustrates the pitfalls inherent in trying to get involved in every dispute around the world. Whether this particular involvement makes sense or not is not the point. The
must exercise restraint when contemplating leaps into regional conflicts that have no good outcome and may not involve core US strategic interests. I’m not specifically passing judgment on this case because that’s a political consideration and outside the scope of this blog. US
This may illustrate the perfect scenario for drone usage. Drones have a high loiter capability, carry sufficient firepower to plink trucks, don’t put pilots at risk, and, in this case, would operate in a permissive environment.
As I said, the
is doing the same thing. The Navy is tasking carrier groups with plinking pick-up trucks. There has to be a better alternative. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from this simple example. US