We and Our Shadows

The Army plans to retain the remotely piloted aircraft it bought to use in Iraq and Afghanistan, even after the drawdown in Southwest Asia, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno on Tuesday. The RPAs “are part of our tactical formations,” Odierno told defense reporters in Washington, D.C. “All of our unmanned systems are integral; to a battalion, to a brigade, to a division. And that will remain the case. That’s part of our tactical and operational capability,” he said. Among the inventory, the Army operates Shadow and Sky Warrior RPAs. The latter is a variant of the Air Force’s own Predator, and Odierno said he is “really comfortable” with the joint effort with the Air Force on buying the two variants from manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. However, for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms, “an echelon above the division level,” he said, “we’ll do a joint review with the Air Force, to see what is needed for the future. And then we’ll make some decisions.” He said the Army would review ISR in light of the land service’s future budgets, “because I think we’ll have to divest some.” This review will take place “in the next few months,” he said during the May 7 media event.