In the aftermath of the 2006 war between Iran/Syria proxies Hezbollah and Israel, after action reviews and assessments began to trickle in. While war is inseparable in practice from political strategy, and the Olmert government’s interference in military planning & operations was significant and negative, DID has searched for analyses that offer more of a techno-tactical assessment. A picture has begun to emerge, as independent evaluations were made of the 2 forces’ effectiveness.
Hezbollah can safely be characterized as a state within a state and was aided by Iranian forces. Accordingly, this conflict featured most of the accoutrements of full state conflicts: Armed UAVs (apparently used by both sides), air and missile strikes with corresponding air defense activity, anti-ship cruise missiles, tanks vs. advanced anti-armor missiles (incl. AT-13s and Milans), etc. As such the performance of the two forces and their equipment is of serious interest to defense observers around the world. The fact that public assessments are still being published in 2012 is solid evidence of that interest.
The Viper Strike began life as the BAT – a canceled munition option for ground-fired ATACMS missiles. After USAF Predator UAVs armed with Hellfire missiles began to show promise in the Global War on Terror, however, US Army planners began to examine their options. Could they place a similar capability in the hands of Army ground commanders? In July 2002, these examinations led to the award of a 90-day contract to demonstrate the possibility of BAT deployment on a modified U.S. Army RQ-5 Hunter UAV.
Those tests went well, and Viper Strikes are currently carried by MQ-5B Hunter UAVs – see this video [MPG, 13.2 MB] of a Viper Strike in testing. The weapon’s small size (3 feet long, 44 pounds) and special advantages in urban fights, mountainous terrain, etc. give it a chance of spreading to other platforms. Special Operations Command has shown interest, but front-line deployment has been limited. Is the Viper Strike a case of “the right weapon at the right time”? Or a case of “caught betwixt and between”? That’s now an important question for Europe’s MBDA, who bought the weapon and manufacturing from Northrop Grumman.
The RAND Corporation has a few interesting maps in its review of the US overseas military presence and the related strategic choices.
The latest Crosstalk [PDF] covers how to build resilient cyber ecosystems.
Maintream media coverage of the Palantir vs. DCGS-A controversy continues with an NPR article quoting representative Duncan Hunter [R-CA] pushing back against the US Army’s procurement procedures as “bureaucratic baloney.” Congressman, the services are not the entities in charge of writing Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). The Army is compelled by law to follow rules set by Congress and the Department of Defense, and even urgent operational needs are anything but process-free. This does not excuse “stonewalling” if an inferior solution has indeed doggedly been pursued in-house, but they have to follow the rules.