- Apr 18, 2013
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
The Army, for one, is considering creating a special-operations drone specialty.
U.S. special operators are taking at least two lessons from Russia’s two-month-old war in Ukraine. First, the international partnerships the U.S. has been fostering for the past 20 years are playing a huge role. And drones are playing an even bigger one. The leaders of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps special operations commands all testified before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on Wednesday. While the focus of the hearing was on general readiness and the shortfalls of the 2023 budget request, many of the questions focused on Ukraine. “What are the follow-on risks of the invasion?” asked Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. “Where do we need to expand our footprint and presence in EUCOM”—that is, U.S. European Command. The Army’s Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga said Russia’s invasion has “added emphasis” to the need to continue to expand “longstanding generational relationships” across eastern Europe. "With the scale and scope of the threat of Russia and China, we won't be able to do this alone,” Braga said. “That's why I talked about our international partners and how increasing their capacities and their capabilities is so critical.” The impact of international partnerships with special operations forces of a “multitude of different countries” in Ukraine is an “untold story,” he said.
On the homefront, U.S. special operations is at an “inflection point,” Naval Special Warfare Commander Rear Adm. Hugh Howard said. Ukraine represents a “fifth modern era for special operations,” Howard said, one that shifts away from the counterterrorism capabilities that U.S. special operations have so heavily focused on for the past two decades. Special operators are learning in Ukraine what this future, non-counterterrorism battleground will look like—and a lot of it isn’t on the ground.“It’s impressive to see the impact that manned and unmanned drones are having,” the Army’s Braga said. While drones were already part of the Army’s modernization effort, he said, their impact in Ukraine have led USASOC to consider creating a military occupational speciality or branch within special operations dedicated to manned and unmanned drones so that it’s “not just an additional duty, it’s an actual specialty.” “I cannot envision a future battlefield without ever-increasing manned and unmanned robotics and the application of AI to maximize their effect and impact across all warfighting functions,” Braga told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Drones have allowed Ukraine to chew up Russian armored and logistics columns and arty positions.