North Has Plan

The air boss of Southwest Asia operations tells the New York Times that he has a “deliberate plan” that would position US and coalition airpower for the long haul in Iraq—the time after the major ground force redeployment. The Air Force has been contemplating just such a scenario for several years. One thing Air Force Lt. Gen. Gary North, head of the Air Forces Central component of US Central Command, says he wants to do it to incorporate more unmanned aerial platforms, especially the new larger, more lethal MQ-9 Reaper (see below), into operations “to complement our manned airplanes … so that I get persistence overhead at a lower overall cost.” Right now, the Air Force says it is on track to ramp up the Predator and Reaper availability in Southwest Asia to meet current demands.