Intelligence: The Swarm Moves East


August 25, 2009: The U.S. military has shifted most of its reconnaissance aircraft and UAVs from Iraq to Afghanistan in the last year. Other NATO nations have also increased the number of UAVs they have with their troops in Afghanistan.

On June 30th, Iraq basically took over security responsibilities throughout the country. Most U.S. troops now spend nearly all their time on American bases, which are now nearly all in rural areas. While the U.S. has offered to continue supplying the Iraqis with intel gathered by UAVs and electronic reconnaissance aircraft, the demand from the Iraqis has not been as great as anticipated. Part of this is because most senior Iraqi commanders take it as a point of pride to do their jobs "without the Americans." But there is also the sharp drop in terrorist activity over the last two years. There has been a bit of a car bomb spike since June 30th, but this has been in the form of a few spectacular attacks. There is no longer much need for constant UAV patrols on key roads, to keep them clear of roadside bombs. There are some Islamic terrorists still around in Iraq, but not a lot of them.

Meanwhile, U.S. and NATO forces have busted open a hornets in Afghanistan's Helmand province, where most of the world's heroin comes forces. The foreign and Afghan troops have now gone after the heroin gangs, and not just the Taliban. The drug gang gunmen are more numerous than the Taliban ones, and determined to hang on to their drug wealth. Lots of activity, lots of stuff to be seen, or detected, from the air. This is where all the UAVs and recon aircraft are swarming to.




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