Saturday, June 22, 2019

The loss of our RQ-4...Combatant Commander failure, not understanding enemy intent or a misuse of an asset for a mission it wasn't designed for?

The title might be seen as a bit of click bait to some but we really need to talk about the failure here.  Let's knock down the two items off the top and see what the RQ-4 BAMS was designed to do...

* via Wikipedia...
Together with its associated ground control station, it is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, the system is intended to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions, continuous maritime surveillance, conduct search and rescue missions, and to complement the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.[3][4][5] Triton builds on elements of the RQ-4 Global Hawk; changes include reinforcements to the air frame and wing, de-icing systems, and lightning protection systems. These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed. The sensor suites allow ships to be tracked by gathering information on their speed, location, and classification.[6]
Ok.  We have our overview in a matchbox.

We can assume that the Combatant Commander wanted to get eyes on the sea lane in an attempt to protect the global commons.  Additionally we can see that this airplane was doing what the Navy intended.  Ocean and coastal maritime surveillance.

So with about 5 seconds into a Google search we can see that the Combatant Commander is "on his way" to being vindicated AND we know that the asset was conducting a mission IT WAS designed to do.

That leaves us with enemy intent...or rather anticipating enemy action.  I'm not a fan of the Combatant Commander concept, but check this out...
 "Intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB). IPB must include likely enemy courses of action once the attack is initiated or discovered, and we must employ both human and electronic intelligence to gather the data we need."
Look.  I'm dancing in hindsight here.

None of us sitting on the outside have visibility on what the CC had as marching orders and we don't know if he was preparing the battlefield for future offensive options to be presented to the President.

But I think that's exactly what he was doing.

If that's the case (and I believe it is) then whoever this bubba is, he can't be blamed.

So where does that leave us.

1.  The asset being used was used properly.  BAMS is built to do this.  I'm reasonably sure the thought was to gather intel along the Iranian shoreline AND to maintain coverage of shipping thru the Persian Gulf.  Additionally these are long endurance, high flying missions over water.  There is no other platform that we could use that would fulfill this mission better than the

2.  Who would have thought that the Iranians would shoot down a drone over INTERNATIONAL waters!  I didn't see it coming and neither did any of you.  There just wasn't a way to properly anticipate this development.  Trump almost gave away (well he actually did) the thinking inside the Pentagon. Check this out. via Fox News (story here).
“They made a very big mistake,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional, and it could have been someone who was loose and stupid,” he added.
I continue to marvel at how we avoided serious incidents (meaning the start of hostilities) when we were nose to nose with the USSR on borders across Europe.

All it takes for one trigger happy Company Commander to lose his shit and suddenly you're in a massive war because someone got cocky, nervous, or both.

So in summary?

Murphy always wins.  Mistakes happen, enemy activity often can't be predicted and losing high dollar hardware is just part of the price to playing in the big leagues.

1.  The Combatant Commander DID NOT fail.

2.  No way we could anticipate tactical enemy activity on this type of battlefield...the strategic calculation was spot on...the tactical calculation was foggy as hell and no one is to blame for that. 

3.  We used the right tool for the right job.

Our boys did it right.  Perfection is what we strive for even though it isn't possible.  In this situation it shouldn't be expected.  Sometimes shit happens, you say "fuck me", you take your lumps and you move on.  This is one of those times.

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