Showing posts from December 2, 2012

Sea-Based Drones & the Future of Counterterrorism

In a recent Washington Post editorial , Kimberly and Frederick Kagan take a solid position on why the U.S. should maintain a troop presence to support counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan post-2014. The bulk of their argument for continued U.S. ground deployments revolves around the tyranny of distance’s impact on future counterterrorism (CT) operations against the al Qaeda (AQ) network: North Waziristan is more than 600 miles from the nearest coastline; the other sanctuaries are farther. The U.S. Air Force reports that armed Predator drones have a range of about 1,150 miles - not enough to get to Waziristan and back again from the coast, much less to orbit and observe a target. Special mission units would have to parachute from transport aircraft because no helicopter in the U.S. inventory can fly that far. But they could not return because aircraft cannot land in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan or in Pakistan. Manned aircraft can drop precision weapons on targets in Afg