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1. REPORT DATE (DD-MM-YYYY) 2. REPORT TYPE 3. DATES COVERED (From - To) 03-05-2010 FINAL
4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER 5b. GRANT NUMBER Joint Doctrine for Unmanned Aircraft Systems: The Air Force and the Army Hold the Key to Success 5c. PROGRAM ELEMENT NUMBER
6. AUTHOR(S) 5d. PROJECT NUMBER 5e. TASK NUMBER David R. Buchanan, Major, USAF 5f. WORK UNIT NUMBER
7. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES) 8. PERFOR
12. DISTRIBUTION / AVAILABILITY STATEMENTDISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
A paper submitted to the Naval War College faculty in partial satisfaction of the requirements of the Joint
13. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES Military Operations Department. The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the NWC or the Department of the Navy.
14. ABSTRACT Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have experienced explosive demand in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past few years due to their ability to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) over vast theaters of operations. This paper examines the differences between the Air Force‟s and Army‟s approach at meeting the demand for effective and efficient UAS operations. The first difference between the services is command and control (C2), with the analysis focusing on centralized versus decentralized C2. The second difference concerns operations locations and examines the benefits of remote operations over in-theater operations. The final difference is in UAS operators; the Air Force has historically insisted on pilots and officers, while the Army leaves UAS operations in the hands of its very capable non-commissioned officers. Each of these differences will be examined with respect to the current focus on counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. This paper concludes with recommendations for incorporating aspects of each service‟s practices and doctrine into joint doctrine that will remain flexible across the range of military operations.
15. SUBJECT TERMS Air Force, Army, ISR, joint doctrine, unmanned aircraft system (UAS)
A paper submitted to the Faculty of the Naval War College in partial satisfaction of the requirements of the Department of Joint Military Operations.
The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Naval War College or the Department of the Navy.
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have experienced explosive demand in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past few years due to their ability to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) over vast theaters of operations. This paper examines the differences between the Air Force‟s and Army‟s approach at meeting the demand for effective and efficient UAS operations. The first difference between the services is command and control (C2), with the analysis focusing on centralized versus decentralized C2. The second difference concerns operations locations and examines the benefits of remote operations over in-theater operations. The final difference is in UAS operators; the Air Force has historically insisted on pilots and officers, while the Army leaves UAS operations in the hands of its very capable non-commissioned officers. Each of these differences will be examined with respect to the current focus on counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. This paper concludes with recommendations for incorporating aspects of each service‟s practices and doctrine into joint doctrine that will remain flexible across the range of military operations.
On 15 June 2007, an Air Force F-16 providing close air support crashed at midnight near Balad Air Base in Iraq. Joint Publications, and common sense, dictate that “preserving the lives of those participating in a US-sponsored... mission is one of the highest priorities of the DOD.”1 Accordingly, the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) immediately redirected an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft collecting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data for an Army unit to the crash site to assist the personnel recovery team. The Joint Operations Center‟s Army liaison officer responsible for the area around the crash site objected, citing the criticality of the Predator‟s original mission, and explained that air support for the rescue operation was being provided by an Army unmanned aircraft, the MQ-5B Hunter. The Hunter, controlled by a non-commissioned officer in the field and lacking interoperability with the combined air operations center (CAOC), was not adequate for the search and rescue lead. The mission was not about tracking individual enemy combatants, 24/7 persistence, striking high-value targets, or even theater-wide intelligence: it was about rescuing a fellow warfighter.2 This vignette conveys powerful images for the value of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today‟s fight, but it also highlights three notable differences between Air Force and Army UAS doctrine. First, command and control constructs reflect the services‟ differing views of the role of airpower, with the Air Force having a centralized, theater-wide perspective, and the Army taking a more decentralized approach to support ground forces.
Second, Army UAS operators conduct operations from in-theater, while the Air Force flies its UASs from stateside locations, linking to the aircraft via satellite. Finally, the Army uses
1. Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Personnel Recovery, Joint Publication (JP) 3-50 (Washington, DC:
CJCS, 5 January 2007), I-1.
2. David M. Edgington, (Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, VA), interview by the author, 9 March 2010.
enlisted operators to control its UASs, whereas the Air Force uses rated pilots to control its UASs. These distinct doctrines for employing unmanned aircraft systems have sparked many debates on the most effective and efficient use of UASs in joint military operations.
To maximize the value of unmanned aircraft systems in counterinsurgency (COIN) operations, the joint community must establish joint UAS doctrine that draws on the merits of each service‟s current doctrine and is adaptable along the range of military operations.
Unmanned aircraft systems‟ characteristics of range, endurance, flexibility, persistence, and stealth effects have contributed to their becoming one of the most sought after capabilities in the Global War on Terror (GWOT).3 One of the most pressing needs is increasing combat air patrols to satisfy ground forces‟ demand for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). MQ-1 Predator combat air patrols have increased 520 percent since the beginning of the GWOT, as shown in Figure 1, but still cannot satisfy geographic combatant commanders‟ demands.4 Dramatic increases in flight hours, as shown in Figure 2, also indicate the demand. The Air Force UAS fleet flew 386,000 combat hours from October 2008 to March 2010, and, by mid-2008, all classes of Army UASs had accumulated 375,000 flight hours in support of 130,000 combat operations.5 Analyzing and understanding doctrinal differences will become increasingly important as UASs become more prevalent among joint forces.
3. Robert Spalding, “America's Two Air Forces,” Air & Space Power Journal 23, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 53.
4. U.S. Air Force, United States Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047 (Washington, DC: USAF, 18 May 2009), 28, 64.
5. U.S Air Force, ―Air Force Key Talking Points,” March 2010 Vol. 5, ed. 3, http://aimpoints.hq.af.mil/uploads/ March%202010%20AF%20Key%20Talking%20Points.pdf (accessed 14 March 2010).
Jeffrey Kappenman, “Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Decisive in Battle,” Joint Forces Quarterly 49 (2nd Quarter 2008): 20.
Figure 1. Historic MQ-1B/MQ-9A Operational Growth (reprinted from: U.
Force, United States Air Force FY 2011 Budget Overview, [Washington, DC:
USAF], 40.) Figure 2. DOD UAS Flight Hours (reprinted from: Ed Wolski, “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” Powerpoint, 9 January 2009, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom /files/Wolski.pdf [accessed 14 March 2010].)
COMMAND AND CONTROL: CENTRALIZED OR DECENTRALIZED?
A foundation of Air Force command and control (C2) doctrine is centralization and unity of command under an airman.6 This approach reflects the airman‟s perspective that airpower, including UASs, encompasses the entire theater and must remain flexible in order
6. U.S Air Force, Command and Control, Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-8 (Washington, DC:
Department of the Air Force, 1 June 2007), 7.
to mass its effects “whenever and wherever the joint strategy requires.”7 The focus on centralized control is founded on conventional threats, with targets such as fixed C2 facilities, fixed and mobile surface-to-air missile sites, tanks, troop formations, and opposing aircraft.8 This method of planning, controlling, and executing air operations has been developed and proven over decades, and ultimately results in the combined air operations center (CAOC) developing an air tasking order (ATO) to both command and control air operations.
Unity of command is accomplished through the joint force air component commander (JFACC), whose role is to plan, coordinate, and allocate resources for conducting joint air operations in support of the joint force commander (JFC).9 Establishing unity of command at the operational level through the JFACC has proven to be quite effective in a conventional scenario, where the ground forces‟ scheme of maneuver is broad and usually known in advance. This process is also efficient since the JFACC is typically selected from the service with the preponderance of aircraft and the ability to both command and control them.10 Centralized C2 and unity of command also allow the most efficient and effective means of gaining air superiority. Having unity of command under the JFACC and centralized C2 across the theater of operations mitigates the risk of an air threat in conventional operations. The CAOC builds the ATO on a 96-hour timeline with a focus on gaining and maintaining air superiority. This theater-wide view ensures freedom of maneuver, freedom from attack and freedom to attack—all prerequisites for operational
7. U.S Air Force, Operations and Organization, AFDD 2 (Washington, DC: Department of the Air Force, 3 April 2007), 3.
8. Michael L. Downs, “Rethinking the Combined Force Air Component Commander's Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Approach to Counterinsurgency,” Air & Space Power Journal 22, no. 3 (Fall 2008): 68.
9. Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Command and Control for Joint Air Operations, JP 3-30 (Washington, DC: CJCS, 12 January 2010), xi.
10. JP 3-30, Command and Control for Joint Air Operations, xi.
success. However, further down the range of military operations, such as an insurgency, there is less need to gain and maintain air superiority or to confront conventional threats.11 Army doctrine takes a more decentralized approach to commanding and controlling unmanned aircraft systems by dedicating UAS assets at the division-level rather than the theater-level. The Army Field Manual for Counterinsurgency views decentralized C2 as the most effective means of employing unmanned aircraft systems in COIN operations, and characterizes UASs as “force multipliers” meant to provide ground commanders “immediate access to... combat air assets and... information.”12 The Army typically establishes restricted operating zones (ROZ) to command, control, and deconflict its UASs with the JFACC‟s theater-wide air coverage. These restricted zones are essentially columns of air above the unit‟s maneuver space that allow division-controlled UASs to operate freely, but restrict access for other (JFACC-controlled) assets.13 The ROZ allows effective and continuous sensor coverage over the Army unit‟s maneuver space, but impinges on the joint concept of unity of command for air assets. The Army views the loss of unity of command as necessary in counterinsurgency operations and seeks to continue operating a discrete portion of UASs for dedicated requirements.14 Joint doctrine supports the Army‟s viewpoint by recognizing the importance of operational integrity within service organizations, and indicating “operational groupings [be allowed] to.
.. function as... designed.”15
11. Spalding, “America's Two Air Forces,” 54.
12. U.S. Army, Counterinsurgency, Field Manual (FM) 3-24 (Washington, DC: Headquarters Department of the Army, December 2006), 1-26, E-2.
13. Travis A. Burdine, “The Army's ‟Organic‟ Unmanned Aircraft Systems: An Unhealthy Choice for the Joint Operational Environment,” Air & Space Power Journal 23, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 95.
14. U.S. Naval War College, Joint Military Operations Department, Reference Guide: Forces/Capabilities Handbook (Newport, RI: Naval War College, July 2009), 70.
15. JP 3-30, Command and Control for Joint Air Operations, I-2.