Taking a Close Look at Army Air Assets

One of the persistent inter-service criticisms between the Army and Air Force over the last decade has stemmed from the proliferation of remotely piloted aircraft operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the command and control of those assets. But, today’s budget pressures will force the services to re-evaluate the roles they play in the joint fight. Intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platforms may be at the center of that debate, Army Secretary John McHugh told reporters Wednesday. “ISR is a good area for re-examination for all services, as all services have their own platforms,” McHugh said. “We need to harmonize and not duplicate those kinds of things.” For example, the Army procured its own variant of the MQ-1 Predator, known as the MQ-1C Gray Eagle. Though specific assets, such as the Task Force Odin counter-IED air unit, will likely not be going away any time soon, the emphasis on that organic Army capability will likely diminish as the service pulls back from Iraq and Afghanistan. “We have to rationalize every dollar we spend,” McHugh said, and this applies to air assets. But, he reiterated the Army has no desire to “take over” air missions from any service. (See also Deptula Makes UAV Case from the Daily Report archive)