Sunday, August 7, 2011

Learning lessons from tragedies

In 2003, the threats to military helicopters in previous and current wars were highlighted here.  Recent advances have been encouraging, though most work seems to be focused on protecting the primary targets of RPG launchers, i.e., tanks, armored personnel carriers and other military vehicles.  Thus far reporting remains consistent that this week's Chinook was brought down by RPG fire, which is likely given the circumstances (reports conflict as to whether the copter was landing or taking off, but either way it was seemingly not in a position and was possibly overloaded for evasive maneuvers) and the size and shape of the CH-47.  Indeed,  in a lesser reported event due to the low casualties (2 injured) as compared to this week's unprecedented death toll, a  Chinook was taken down by RPG fire on July 28, 201l in eastern Afghanistan.

So what is to be done? Three tracks come to mind, at least for the short term -- (1) continue capturing and destroying caches as well as getting control of illicit trafficking and the black market in weapons; (2) adopt proven anti-RPG technology as it becomes available; and (3) derive lessons from the July 28 and August 6 attacks toward preventing future similar attacks.  Over the longer term, I do not expect night raids and other capture/kill exercises to lessen due these Taliban mission successes, which is not to say nothing will change -- first we need more information as we await further news on the investigation into the attack. 

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