23 March 2010

CAS on a Leash

The LA Times has an interesting look inside the implementation of the new rules on CAS in Afghanistan.

At the nightly "hot wash" debriefing on the Dwight D. Eisenhower, a pilot from the Pukin' Dogs squadron was explaining how he dropped a 500-pound bomb on a Taliban target in Afghanistan -- and why.
The pilot, a Naval Academy graduate with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, would face two such cross-examinations before he could get some sleep after his 12-hour mission.

"It's very professional but very gloves-off," said the 34-year-old lieutenant commander, who asked that he be identified only by his call-sign, Thurman.

Pilots have always undergone intense debriefings after combat missions, but the questions focus now on whether they were certain that no civilians were endangered before they dropped a bomb or launched a missile. One Super Hornet pilot aboard the Eisenhower off the Pakistani coast says the grilling is a bit like defending a master's thesis, with professors trying to poke holes in your explanations.

"They ask very pointed questions and you best have the answers," Thurman said.

It's hard to be a mud-mover -- slang for a pilot who aggressively supports ground troops -- when the bosses won't let you push the button.

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, says mission No. 1 is to avoid civilian casualties, even if it means letting suspected Taliban fighters escape. Civilian casualties, he said, are undermining Afghan support for the U.S.-led effort coalition.

By: Brant

No comments: