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Comparing aerial warfare with and without drones

This is a discussion on Comparing aerial warfare with and without drones within the Military Strategy and Tactics forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Hey there, I am looking for some advise and input from knowledgeable people. I am currently writing my thesis in ...


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Old July 22nd, 2014   #1
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Comparing aerial warfare with and without drones

Hey there,

I am looking for some advise and input from knowledgeable people. I am currently writing my thesis in political theory on the evolution of warfare and factors that strengthen offensive or defensive warfare. One chapter is about drones and how they basically make fighting easier and less costly.

So besides all the theoretical stuff of the use of UAVs I intend to compare the US drone war in Pakistan to prior US bombing campaigns. I think the 1999 Kosovo war might fit nicely because it was the last big air war without the involvement of drones (well, I know there were some but they didn't really make a difference afaik) or ground troops.

I know a bit about military technology and how wars are actually fought, but not enough. I am an IR guy after all.

So, what I need are exact figures of what a traditional air campaign like the one in Kosovo required. How was reconnaissance done? what kind of logistical support was needed? which aircraft did which kind of missions? Alternatively how would that be accomplish today if drones were out of the picture.

But I do limit my analysis to wars with huge power asymmetries, otherwise the whole thing just gets too complicated.

My idea is to basically get a ratio of units/planes/soldiers needed per bomb dropped. just to show how drones combine many different elements and make others obsolete.

In my understanding an air assault like on Serbia would require reconnaissance by satellite or plane, aerial refueling (done by KC-767s?), protection for those tanker, possibly an other plane to mark the target and finally a jet to deliver the payload (F16, F/A18). (I neglect the fact of first having to establish dominance of the skies, because that is also needed in the case of the drones)

Thats a lot of effort just to deliver one bomb - I know the cost per bomb is diminishing and that this stacks the numbers in favor of the drones, but I need some way to actually measure the difference.

So then, if anyone wants to correct me or expand my basic knowledge or give me advice on good sources, you are quite welcome!

Thanks guys

Last edited by OPSSG; September 13th, 2014 at 11:48 PM.
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Old September 12th, 2014   #2
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C'mon people, there has to be someone out there willing to help me
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Old September 13th, 2014   #3
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See my 16 point reply, spread over 2 posts below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MQ-9 View Post
C'mon people, there has to be someone out there willing to help me
1. It is clear that there are some problems with your approach as it does not reflect current reality in joint operations. The current strategic operating environment in which US military forces operate has changed significantly in the past 20 years.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MQ-9 View Post
I am currently writing my thesis in political theory on the evolution of warfare and factors that strengthen offensive or defensive warfare.
2. There are four points to note about your thesis framework:
One, as Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) noted: "War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means."

Two, it is nonsensical in international relations to think in terms of offensive or defensive warfare, in the manner set out. If war is a continuation of politics by other means, then surely, a decision of an offensive action or a defensive action, are but mere tactics and not deserving of more though, in a term paper. Maneuver warfare as a school of thought, is well established since World War II and it is pointless to think of static defenses alone. The Battle of Fort Eben-Emael took place between 10 -11 May 1940, with airborne German troops landing via the use of gliders and were able to disable the defences of the fortress. Simultaneously, the rest of the German assault force had landed near the three bridges over the Albert Canal and brought them under German control. German forces were then able to utilize the bridges to aid in the invasion of Belgium. This battle demonstrated that:
(i) the era of static fixed defences had ended; and

(ii) victory had been secured by using an elite but smaller force to take on a larger force in a heavily defended position.
Three, the net effect of the tactical successes over time was to give rise to the idea of manoeuvre theory in land warfare that existed even prior to that period (as exemplified by the writings of by Basil Liddell-Hart and others). The concept of manoeuvre in warfare is, in its simplest form, to employ movement to apply one’s own strength against enemy weakness while avoiding the reverse. The theories of Hart emphasized the importance of maneuver, surprise, and technology in combat. These concepts were developed by Hart into a concept of war fighting termed the indirect approach. His theories were inspired by the devastation of the World War I (which was mostly fought in a static manner that was enormously costly in manpower and equipment), which led to a rethinking of military strategy in an attempt to circumvent the carnage of the frontal attack. Like all good ideas, it gets refined in current doctrine as follows:
'Combined arms maneuver is the application of the elements of combat power in a complementary and reinforcing manner to achieve physical, temporal, or psychological advantages over the enemy, preserve freedom of action and exploit success.'
Four, there are two other relevant observations from Clausewitz: “The defensive form of warfare is intrinsically stronger than the offense” and “to defeat ‘the stronger form of warfare’ an army’s best weapon is superior numbers” (McRaven, 1995, p. 3). Given these two principles, McRaven poses the question, how do special operations forces defeat numerically superior forces in the execution of their mission? McRaven’s answer is the Theory of Special Operations (see point 8 below), which posits that numerically inferior forces can obtain relative superiority for short durations through the use of the six principles of special operations:
(1) Simplicity
(2) Security
(3) Repetition
(4) Surprise
(5) Speed
(6) Purpose
Quote:
Originally Posted by MQ-9 View Post
One chapter is about drones and how they basically make fighting easier and less costly.

So besides all the theoretical stuff of the use of UAVs I intend to compare the US drone war in Pakistan to prior US bombing campaigns. I think the 1999 Kosovo war might fit nicely because it was the last big air war without the involvement of drones (well, I know there were some but they didn't really make a difference afaik) or ground troops.

I know a bit about military technology and how wars are actually fought, but not enough. I am an IR guy after all.
3. When a situation arises to which the US considers deploying military forces, the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and President (POTUS) require a range of options from which to address the situation. The joint operation planning process or JOPP provides a framework for the war fighter to gain a better understanding of the nature of the problems and objectives (see also this article on 'Design and Joint Operation Planning'). The purpose of military planning is to provide military options to the SECDEF and POTUS. These military options are considered a long with other options like economic sanctions. However, military options are the most responsive and visible. The purpose of military planning is to provide options to the SECDEF and POTUS. Design thinking represents a cognitive approach to the subsequent development of potential solutions. Therefore, plans that contain multiple options are necessary in today’s world. In particular, plans that integrate design thinking concepts better and make the plan more responsive.The JOPP 7 Steps include:-
(1) Initiation
(2) Mission analysis
(3) Course of action development
(4) Course of action analysis & war-gaming
(5) Course of action comparison
(6) Course of action approval
(7) Plan or order development
4. Further, if you had bothered to do some research, you would know that in Dec 2013, the US Department of Defense (DOD) released an Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap (2013 to 2038), that establishes a technological vision for the next 25 years and outlines the actions and technologies for DOD and industry to pursue to intelligently and affordably align with this vision.

5. It is also clear from your two posts that you have not read any airpower doctrine; and have not understood the pinned Air Power 101 for New Members thread, which deals with the basics (and includes a link to British doctrine on Air Power). This thread for newbies also contains some conceptual information (including the 10 principles of war and the 4 roles of air power) and a few simple survival tips that may be useful for new members like you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MQ-9 View Post
My idea is to basically get a ratio of units/planes/soldiers needed per bomb dropped. just to show how drones combine many different elements and make others obsolete.
6. Air power does not quite work the way you think - air power has 4 conceptual roles, namely:
No. 1 of 4 air power roles — Control of the air
No. 2 of 4 air power roles — Attack
No. 3 of 4 air power roles — Air mobility
No. 4 of 4 air power roles — ISTAR
7. The problem is that you are not demonstrating an understanding of these 4 conceptual roles and getting confused by the different platforms and their different intended roles - a fighter like the F-35 can perform 3 roles (one, fight for control of the air; two, attack; and three, the conduct of ISTAR or ISR). ISTAR stands for Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting And Reconnaissance. Current UAVs do not have the ability to fight for control of the air due to their inherent lack of situational awareness. The current trend is towards manned systems and unmanned systems teaming, rather than an either or approach (which I note you have taken). Further, there are three points to note about the limits of air power.
One, if the enemy cannot be identified from the air, it is difficult to effectively to attack him from the air (eg. insurgent groups, whose goal is to hide within the population).

Two, if the enemy is prepared for an attack from the air, he can take effective measures to mitigate against air surveillance or the effects of air delivered weapons (i.e. a ground presence is needed).

Three, even if an enemy is physically vulnerable, he may not be politically vulnerable to air attack. Translating physical vulnerability into political vulnerability from the air, as a tool of coercive state-craft is not an easy task.
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Last edited by OPSSG; September 19th, 2014 at 11:08 PM.
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Old September 19th, 2014   #4
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Originally Posted by MQ-9 View Post
But I do limit my analysis to wars with huge power asymmetries, otherwise the whole thing just gets too complicated.
8. With regard to power asymmetries, there are three other points you should note:
One, the US SOF have developed a targeting process that you need to read up on. It is Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, Analyze, and Disseminate or F3EAD. F3EAD is a natural evolution of targeting, combining aspects of the conventional intelligence cycle and doctrinal operational planning with best practices and emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures forged in worldwide overseas contingency operations. Please read up on the basics of F3EAD and you can start, here.

Two, if you want to be comprehensive in your literature review, William H. McRaven’s book Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice is highly influential in the special operations community. In his book, McRaven describes a theory of Special Operations based on a concept he refers to as Relative Superiority and the six principles related to it (McRaven 1995).

Three, McRaven's theory of Special Operations is inadequate to explain why insurgencies can succeed. The principles by which insurgents achieve relative superiority against the state are Security, Networking, Purpose, Indoctrination, Influence, and Agility. And Relative Superiority is a condition whereby two parties measure the relative strength of three key components; (1) intelligence, (2) resources, and (3) political opportunity structures. According to William Driver and Bruce DeFeyter (in their Dec 2008 NPS Thesis: The theory of unconventional warfare: Win, Lose, and Draw), these three conditions are necessary in order to conduct any successful insurgency or counter insurgency. If any one of the components is missing, operations will be at best, ineffective — at worse, counterproductive.
9. As I have mentioned in other threads, and despite the fact that the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are not as ready for war as they like, due to existing capability gaps, they still understand the value of special forces and amphibious forces. Listed below are naval assets and relevant amphibious capabilities of the four countries:-
(i) the Indonesian Navy operates five LPDs (including four 11,000 ton Makassar class LPDs, namely, Makassar, Surabaya, Banjarmasin, Banda Aceh), six LSTs (Teluk Semangka), 14 LSMs (comprising of 12 Teluk Gilimanuk and 2 Teluk Sirebon) and two Cakra class (or Type 209) submarines — giving Indonesia's 20,000 strong Korps Marinir (equipped with BMP-3F amphibious IFVs) and Denjaka (navy special operations), a capability come from the sea, in a lightly or unopposed landings;

(ii) the Malaysian Navy operates two multi-role support ships (with a displacement 4,300 tons, each), the KD Mahawangsa and KD Sri Indera Sakti (with an unfulfilled requirement to replace the KD Inderapura which was lost through a fire in October 2009) and two Scorpène class submarines — giving the Malaysian Navy's Pasukan Khas Laut and army units a niche capability to come from the sea, in an administrative landing;

(iii) the Singaporean Navy operates four Endurance class LPDs (with a displacement 8.500 tons, each), four Challenger class and two Archer class submarines — giving the SAF's Guards from the 21st Division (supported by Terrex ICVs) and the NDU, a basic capability to come from the sea, in unopposed landings; and

(iv) the Thai Navy operates HTMS Angthong (LPD 791 - an Endurance Class vessel) and HTMS Chakri Naruebet, as a helicopter carrier. Kindly note that the Thai Navy does not maintain a current submarine capability and this capability was lost when the Matchanu class of submarines was decommissioned in 1951 (and the submarine group dissolved) — at 36,000 troops, the Royal Thai Marine Corps (RTMC) is one of the largest in the region. The RTMC once operated the LVT-4 before changing to the AAVP-7A1, AAVR-7A1 (Recovery), AAVC-7A1 (Command). Currently, the RTMC has 36 of AAVP and 48 BTR-3E1s. Along with the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit, the various service arms of the Royal Thai Armed Forces have a basic capability come from the sea, in a lightly or unopposed landing.
10. According to the UN, half the world's population lives within 60 km of the sea, and three-quarters of all large cities are located on the coast. Therefore, the armed forces of a number of ASEAN countries understand that if they are to shape events on land, they need the ability to project power into the connected coastal urban areas (i.e. people using cell-phones for data access in coastal cities) and in the littoral domain surrounding growing ASEAN cities. The November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack and the September 2013 Zamboanga City Crisis in the urban littoral will be the new normal for future terrorist attacks and full scale counter-insurgency wars; where the modern internet-connected insurgent is using the less governed spaces and slums in the urban littoral to their advantage, so as to stage their attacks. According to David Kilcullen, the future environment will be urban, littoral, and connected. The data suggest that this is the environment in which future conflict will occur. This is not a futuristic prediction, but rather a projection of trends that are evident now, and an assessment of their effects on cities as they exist today. The future is hybrid and irregular conflict combining elements of crime, urban unrest, insurgency, terrorism, and state-sponsored asymmetric warfare — more Mumbai in India, Mogadishu in Somalia, Zamboanga in Philippines, and Tivoli Gardens in Jamaica.

11. Many forget that on 7 December 1975, Indonesian forces invaded East Timor and subsequently annexed it as its 27th province in 1976. Operasi Seroja (Operation Lotus) was an invasion of East Timor by Indonesia with about 20,000 to 30,000 troops. It involved naval bombardment of Dili, landing of troops from the sea and a paratrooper assault. In March 1981, they conducted the successful hostage rescue of the hijacked Garuda Indonesia Flight 206 at Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, Thailand in a joint operation with the Royal Thai Armed Forces. As mentioned earlier, in May 1996, Kopassus conducted an heli-borne operation to free the hostages held by the Free Papua Movement (or Organisasi Papua Merdeka) deep in the jungles of Irian Jaya, with the help of dogs, Irian Jayan trackers and a remotely piloted aircraft from Singapore. In ASEAN, Indonesia maintains the largest and most diverse special forces capability in all three services, with the TNI's Kopassus having a force of about 5,000 elite troops. In 2003, Indonesian special forces also conducted parachute operations in Sumatra in pursuit of insurgents.

12. The Malaysian Grup Gerak Khas (GGK) in particular deserve a special mention for their role in the extraction of the US Rangers and Delta Force in Operation Gothic Serpent back in October 1993. Since 2010, Malaysia has played an role in deploying troops to provide humanitarian and medical aid in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Seven Somali pirates are in jail in Malaysia because the Malaysian Navy's Paskal operators were were able to rescue their country's merchant ship on 20 January 2011. Further, in February 2011, to their credit the Malaysian Armed Forces was also able to evacuate over 10,000 of their citizens from Egypt under Operasi Piramid (or Operation Pyramid). Most recently, in 2013, the GGK and other security forces were mobilized to neutralise the threat presented by invading Filipino Tausug gunmen and killing at least 56 of these terrorists through the use of close air support and other means, in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

13. Beyond the examples cited above, it may be of interest to you that I live in Singapore and in terms of asymmetry, via the measurement of land size, Singapore is the smallest country in ASEAN. But in terms of air power, it is second to none within ASEAN. If a US or a PLA general was asked to defend Singapore, within Singapore, the hypothetical general may tell you that such a plan is foolish or that it cannot be done effectively. Hence the need to take the fight outside of Singapore (also called a pre-emptive strike in certain circumstances), as a defender confined to only within Singapore is at a tactical disadvantage. In geographic terms, the defence of Malaysia-Singapore is indivisible in any conventional war scenario. Looking at the list of armed conflicts below*, with a number of countries in Asia increasing their arms spending, we can never be absolutely certain that Asia will never be at war again. Both North-East and South Asia are the next most dangerous areas in the world after the Middle East.
Quote:
*Select List of Armed Conflicts in Asia Post-World War II

1. Indo-Pakistan War of 1947
2. The Korean War (1950–1953)
3. The Vietnam War (1955 to 1975) - the 2nd Indochina War
4. Sino-Indian War of 1962
5. The Konfrontasi (1963 to 1966)
6. Indo-Pakistan War of 1965
7. The Cambodian Civil War (1967–1975)
8. Indo-Pakistan War of 1971
9. Cambodian–Vietnamese War (May 1975 to December 1989)
10. Indonesia invaded East Timor in Dec 1975 following the Carnation Revolution
11. Sino-Vietnamese War (February-March 1979) - the 3rd Indochina War
12. Indo-Pakistani War of 1999
14. Likewise in South Asia (see this April 2013 CSIS report on "Trends in Militancy across South Asia" for details), India (defence spending of US$44.3 billion in 2011) and Pakistan (defence spending of US$5.7 billion in 2011) continue to invest and modernise their air forces, as they strive to acquire first generation tertiary capabilities. It is clear that the North East Asian nations and some South Asian nations have taken a wider view and preparing for a range of contingencies. Border disputes and flashpoints are sources of tension, and sometimes threats can mutate and arise from an unexpected direction. These threats in Asia include:
(i) the Mumbai terrorist attack (from 26 to 29 November 2008) by members of Lashkar-eTayyiba, that killed 164 people and wounded at least 308 others;

(ii) the sinking of the Republic of Korea Navy, corvette Cheonan on 26 March 2010, in the Yellow Sea just south of the disputed Northern Limit Line, killing 46 South Korean seamen;

(iii) the killing of 76 Indian para-military policemen and the wounding 50 others, in Chattisgarh's Dantewada district in India on 6 April 2010, by the Naxalites (a Maoist terrorist movement located in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha);

(iv) the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island on 23 November 2010, where, a North Korean artillery attack killed four South Koreans and injured 19 others;

(v) the Thai-Cambodian conflict at the Preah Vihear temple re-ignited in February 2011 and April to May 2011; that saw a number killed, and the evacuation of thousands of residents on both sides of the border to safe-zones (because of artillery shelling and skirmishes);

(vi) the February/March 2011 non-combatant evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya involving the dispatch of a Jiangkai-II class frigate and the deployment of four PLA Air Force Il-76 transport aircraft to the south of Libya (via Khartoum as a stopover on both the inbound and outbound legs of the trip) to extract Chinese citizens was unprecedented;

(vii) the January 2013 India–Pakistan border incidents, where a series of armed skirmishes occurred along the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir area, that resulted in a number of deaths on both sides; and

(viii) the invasion of Lahad Datu, Sabah by over a hundred armed Filipino gunmen (from the Tausug community) on 12 February 2013. The killing of Malaysian police by these gunmen resulted in the Malaysian Armed Forces having to conduct clearing operations with armour supported by artillery and close air support that continued till April 2013.
15. As you seem to be interested in learning more about the military of other countries, may I suggest that you have a look at the thread: "ASEAN (and ADMM Plus) Military Exercises", which has some pictures and videos embedded on regional military exercises. For context on some of the latest developments in Asia, you can take a look at the discussion in this thread: "US, Japan to establish military bases in the Philippines." If you read the links provided, they can help you understand the more complex issues on air power and joint operations that are discussed.

16. For those who are interested in details, please read my post on 'Singapore Air Power Summary in 7 Points' (Part 1 of 3) (Part 2 of 3) and (Part 3 of 3).

Have fun reading and posting. Cheers.
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Old September 19th, 2014   #5
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MQ9. you can't deconstruct this into some magical formula - the basic premise that you are approaching this from is as a kinetic driven solution.

The greatest benefit that has come from the increasing use of UAS is that the CONOPs and basic ideas have changed. The original foundation for UAS kinetic operations was driven out of early Israeli work and experiences

Everyone has evolved since then - UAS is multi dimensional, but the emphasis has morphed into a greater focus on situational appreciation via C4ISR at the holistic systems level (note that situational appreciation is not the same as situational awareness in C4ISR terms)

A quality action is driven by quality information and UAS provides an extension to the information cycle because it provides another layer to the sensing "onion layer" model
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Old February 8th, 2016   #6
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This is a question, whose answer vary with time to time.

If you will ask the question prior to development of drone technologies, it would be big leap forward as many things were nexus with each other. Drone was the worst technology, without anything proved in the form of a practical model.

From 2007 to 2012, this technology was majorly used. You have to realize, it was extremely worst technology. As 95% of killing belong to civilians during(only in Afghanistan and Pakistan).

Right now, it is matured with testing with different models and multiple technologies. So, it is the perfect answer today.
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