Saturday, July 2, 2011

Air Force and Navy flying thousands of missions over Libya as Obama says U.S. is only playing a limited role

First, a correction. I've been referring to the air operation over Libya as "Odyssey Dawn" but since NATO has taken over the correct title is "OPERATION Unified Protector". Odd how after weeks of reading about Libya this was the first article (at least that I've read) that made a point of using the correct name.

According to the Mail Online, 'Since 31 March, the U.S. has flown a total of 3,475 sorties...Of those, 801 were strike sorties, 132 of which actually dropped ordnance.'

The Obama administration will take great pains to point out how few were actually strike sorties. What will get overlooked is the cost associated with maintaining that kind of OPSTEMPO (while still maintaining air operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan plus all of the air refueling missions to support aircraft transiting between the states and the AOR). The numbers also show that with the United States, NATO has some serious gaps in their ability to perform air suppression and ISR missions. Air suppression requires specialized aircraft and munitions so these relatively low numbers may in fact be much more expensive. The ISR or intelligence-surveillance-reconaissance missions are primarily flow by drones but the US has only a limited number of these aircraft. Most are deployed in Afghanistan. Being unmanned does not mean these are inexpensive to operate. The sensors and downlinks are quite expensive to operate and maintain. Having a drone auger into the ground is a very costly risk, especially for a non-US operation.

The taxpayer may never know the true cost of "Unified Protector" but as the old saying goes, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Mail Online

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