Summary: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are used with increasing regularity to more effectively prosecute the war on terror. Here is an interesting personal success story.
On a regular basis, we take with us an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV-a remote- controlled airplane) on our mounted patrols. From various points in our area of operations, we launch the UAV in an attempt to keep the insurgents off guard as they try to place improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along an important supply route that we patrol. On several occasions we have used the UAV to thwart what appear on camera to be very suspicious circumstances. On one occasion we caught someone ‘in the act’.
A few days prior to this, we had noticed a suspicious vehicle driving in our AO (area of operations). Shortly thereafter, an IED exploded just out of our surveillance vision between two trucks on a supply convoy, causing no damage.
A couple of days later, we noticed the same car in the vicinity. We happened to have the UAV in the air at the time, so the UAV operator decided to bring the plane around and follow the car. What surprised us is that the vehicle had actually stopped along the side of the road. The UAV circled the area for several minutes and watched the insurgents at work. The insurgents then got in the car and drove away, with the UAV in hot pursuit.
In the meantime, we dispatched a fleet of our humvee crews to secure and cordon off the IED site. Just after our humvee teams sealed off the site, another supply convoy approached. The frustration they experienced in waiting for the route to be cleared was more than offset by what the demolition team robot discovered. This particular device was unusually lethal because rather than being hidden below ground (where the effects of the blast would be somewhat muted by the earth) the IED was placed on top of the ground and camouflaged very well by various debris along the road.
For various reasons the getaway car got away that day. But we did, though, perhaps save lives through the use of our unmanned aerial vehicle. Interestingly as well, the incidence of roadside bombs in our AO went down dramatically thereafter. The UAV is only one of many means of technology that helps improve Coalition Forces’ success on the battlefield and in bringing liberty to the people of Iraq.