Leadership: July 31, 2002

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Navy Learns Lessons Of Afghan War- The Navy is compiling its own list of lessons learned from the Afghan War. High on the list are the need for more precision-guided weapons and special operations forces. They also want to add two destroyers and a submarine packed with missiles to each Marine Expeditionary Unit (a battalion of troops, a squadron of helicopters, a support group, and about four amphibious landing ships) to improve firepower. The use of a carrier (Kitty Hawk) without its battle group as a base for special operations forces worked out so well that the Navy is considering plans to either lease a big cargo ship or bring one of the old carriers out of mothballs for this role. A study has been done on CV-64 Constellation, which could be used for this role with a much smaller crew and with only half of its engines and propellers in use. The Navy wants not just more SEALS but better ways to deploy them. At one point, SEALS were the most numerous US ground troops in Afghanistan. The Navy notes that because they had precision-guided weapons, over 80 percent of the strike missions took off before their targets had been selected, and this data was provided by hordes of recon aircraft while the bombers approached the target area. It was noted that the Navy flew 75 percent of the sorties in Afghanistan, while the Air Force dropped 75 percent of the bomb tonnage. The Navy was able to employ its P-3 Orion maritime patrol planes for recon duty over the Afghan mountains because those planes had already been refitted with a wide array of sensors.--Stephen V Cole

 


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