A reporter asked me whether Airpower could be effective in Libya operating at 30,000 feet. His implication was that it took risk-taking to adequately perform the mission of protecting civilians in Libya. My answer was simply to question why he thought projecting vulnerability would make it easier to accomplish the mission – especially given the accuracy of weapons. Why would we want to give away “not being seen?” Then, I proceeded to tell him some/all the things that were going on above 30,000 feet that had been basically ignored by the press (list is not inclusive):
- AWACs was flying off shore and providing an air picture to commanders and to crews of aircraft enforcing the No Fly Zone (NFZ)
- RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft were providing intelligence to commanders on the situation on the ground
- JSTARS was keeping track of objects on the ground and feeding that intelligence to the command chain
- Tankers built the air bridge and were providing fuel to fighters, bombers, and airlifters going to and from the AOR/Libya.
- Other ISR assets – probably Global Hawk/U2s – were providing near-real time intelligence to commanders
- AF Space Command most prominently “honed” its GPS satellite constellation to provide increased accuracy for GPS-guided weapons
- Space assets were tasked for key mission data – intelligence/communications to support the operation
- Operators of Remotely Piloted Aircraft flew their aircraft using satellite links in a reach-back operations.
And there were others (such as EC-130 Volant Solo aircraft [probably a bit below 30,000] broadcast in FM, AM, HF and TV bands to provide the Libyan people with the truth about what was going on).
General Dunn, AFA