In Iraq, U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft crews have found a
way to predict where the terrorists, who plant roadside bombs, are coming from.
the U.S. Army and Marines do most of the fighting in Iraq, the navy and air
force have sent specialized units that are able to contribute. For example, the
air force has surveillance aircraft, like the RC-135 Rivet Joint, that can
collect a wide variety of electronic signals in an area, and analyze them
quickly. The analysis effort is looking for patterns. The bomb teams leave
signs electronically (cell phones, walkie-talkies) or visually (images captured
on surveillance cameras). Using the right math and analytical tools (software
and computers) and you can quickly discover where the bad guys are coming from,
and have the ground troops promptly raid the location.
kind of work is popular with the RC-135 crews (about thirty aircrew and
techies), because they are getting a chance to do, in a combat zone, what they
have long trained for. Moreover, it's relatively risk free, as the aircraft fly
beyond the range of machine-gun or should fired anti-aircraft missiles. In
addition, the most productive work is done during night missions, when the bad
guys can't even see the RC-135's high above.