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The U.S. military has been studying the drone threat from the Islamic State group in Iraq for some time now. The U.S. Army’s Combined Arms Center (CAC) and the Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Asymmetric Warfare Group are both in Mosul at the tactical and operational level reporting back on observations from the fight, the CAC’s commander, Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, explained recently. He said: “The use of small UAS in Mosul by ISIS, has risen to an almost swarm-level capability in a couple of cases. That is a big area that we are learning.”
While some capabilities and procedures of the Islamic State observed in the fight are seen as one-offs and unique to the specific fight, Gary Phillips, a senior intelligence advisor within TRADOC, said UAS threat capabilities are seen as worth incorporating in training as well as technology and capability development within the U.S. military.
Brig. Gen. William Cole, the program executive officer for simulation, training and instrumentation, told defencenews.com that his shop is introducing new enemy drone threats into Combat Training Center rotations as a direct result of what has been observed in the Middle East from Islamic State. The organization has rapidly developed an inexpensive drone, the Outlaw, normally used to simulate a target threat for air defense units and outfitted it with commercial cameras and sensors, quickly incorporating it into a National Training Center rotation, Cole said. “What really got me excited was to see how quickly the rotational units learned to react to this type of threat,” he said. The first time the drone flew overhead, “the first unit just stood there and they kind of looked at it and, of course, they paid the price in the simulated battlefield,” Cole said.
But it didn’t take long, he added, before the units started providing better camouflage and shooting back. Finally, a unit saw the drone, tracked it back to its base where the unit destroyed the base and took out the drone for the rest of the rotation.