|Critical Need for UAV Data in the Trenche|
Critical Need for UAV Data in the Trenches
Brigadier General Josef F. Weber, USMC, Commanding General, Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command (MAGTFTC), USA, spoke with European-Security’s Joël-François Dumont at the conclusion of the General’s remarks at the UAV USA 2001 Conference (Shephard's), Hyatt Regency, Crystal City, VA, December 11, 2001. His topic was the "UAV - Combat Multiplier for both Corps and Coalition ... Transformation in Progress."
European-Security: The Marine Corps is using UAVs. What importance do you assign to them and what outcome do you expect from their use?
General Weber: We are particularly interested in the use of UAVs at the tactical level. I am responsible for training 30,000 marines a year, to ensure they are prepared for combined arms close fighting.
We are very interested in three things:
- Accurate target location;
- Streamlined, clearance of fires; and
- Reduced sensor-to-shooter time;
All at the tactical level, down in the trenches. We are less interested in streaming video and that type of thing, than in accurate target location, to allow us to meet the various requirements for targeting and to kill something.
As the targeting cycle - which includes deciding, detecting, delivering, and assessing - gets quicker and quicker at the tactical level, we need UAVs to help us with this shortened process – it’s what we are primarily interested in the Marine Corps right now.
European-Security: Americans are now conducting operations in Afghanistan where they are using satellites, planes, UAVs and Special Forces on the ground -- all at the same time. Does this represent war in the 21st Century?
General Weber: Well, I think it's a new ‘art of war’, and that we are finally realizing that we can have all the systems we want, but unless they talk to each other, and unless they are linked, it does the forces on the ground no good.
We learned many lessons from South-West Asia, but for some reason we did not act and move as we should have, to be where we need to be right now with UAVS. In Afghanistan, we’ve had the opportunity to see the importance of these systems and link them together.
My concern is that at the theater and strategic levels we’re achieving linkage, and to some extent at operational level -- this is good. But don't forget that people like us, we are down in the trenches, with ‘the blood the mud, the guts and the beer’ and need these assets down there to win the close fight, the combined arms fight that we do and we are looking for whatever the UAVs can do to help us in that close fight.
European-Security: Thank you, General, for your insights.