Missing Assets?:

The Pentagon has so far failed to capitalize on its “most powerful moving target sensor in the joint inventory” by not utilizing USAF’s E-8C Joint STARS for operations in Afghanistan, says defense analyst Loren Thompson. In a new Lexington Institute paper, Thompson writes that although there is “constant demand” from US commanders for ground-moving target intelligence, most of the 16 Joint STARS platforms sit at home in Georgia. As Thompson points out, Joint STARS can see far and wide and close in “like tracking insurgents who employ hit-and-run tactics,” including “small groups and individuals planting improvised explosive devices.” The Joint STARS, he argues, can “concentrate on small patches of ground, detecting details likely to be missed by other joint reconnaissance systems,” and hand off the information to Predator drones for closer inspection. Why, he asks, aren’t Joint STARS “helping to bridge the shortfall in friendly forces.”