Best Defense

Underestimating the enemy

Turns out that Iraq insurgents were able to watch live feeds from American drone aircraft. Reminds me of Japanese hubris about their codes during World War II. If anything, I think the enemy, being smaller and less bureaucratic, tends to be more technologically agile than us. I remember after the Anaconda battle in Afghanistan in ...

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TALLIL AIR BASE, IRAQ - UNDATED: In this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, airmen with the 64th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron move an RQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at Tallil Air Base in Iraq. A fully operational Predator system consists of four Predator airframes, a ground control station, a satellite link, and about 55 people to support continuous 24-hour operations. (Photo by Deb Smith/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images)

Turns out that Iraq insurgents were able to watch live feeds from American drone aircraft. Reminds me of Japanese hubris about their codes during World War II.

If anything, I think the enemy, being smaller and less bureaucratic, tends to be more technologically agile than us. I remember after the Anaconda battle in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 seeing solar collectors in an al Qaeda command and control bunker high atop “Roberts Ridge.” From the wires I could see it looked to me like they used it to power their communications. (I didn’t want to climb down into it because I was worried it was boobytrapped, and also because there were unused RPGs and all sorts of other stuff cluttering the ground.) Anyway, solar power sure beats carry hauling batteries up the pathways along those 10,000-foot-high razorback ridges. 

Deb Smith/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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