Warfighting

Defending the Aerial Threat with Small Arms

dronehunting“Technology is a product of human ingenuity. If one man can imagine something, I guarantee you that another man, somewhere, can imagine a way to f**k it up.”  –SSG John Mosby, U.S. Army Special Forces, northern Afghanistan, 2002

Perhaps the single most critical tactical advantage that conventional security forces hold over resistance guerrilla elements is the air threat. The ability to project force through close-air support (CAS) via ground-attack fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, as well as the growing application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)/”drones,” is a dangerous threat to irregular forces. The unavailability of traditional anti-aircraft weapons such as surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and anti-aircraft artillery, in any useful number, serves as a demoralizing impediment for potential future American guerrillas.

There is, however, a historically proven method for guerrilla forces to engage and counter airborne threats utilizing individual small-arms. During the Vietnam War, according to the U.S. Army historical record, we lost over 400 fixed-wing and over 2100 rotary-wing assets to enemy small-arms fire. The relatively common presence of special application, heavy sniper systems further facilitates this method of active air defense by potential future guerrillas as well. It is critical to understand, however, that while there is ample historical evidence of the validity of this method of air defense, any current U.S. military doctrine on the matter is strictly theoretical. The doctrinal emphasis and successful implementation of gaining immediate air superiority has rendered the requirement for this application by U.S. infantry forces irrelevant for most of the last three-quarters of a century (in point of fact, outside of some anecdotal stories from World War Two, I don’t know of a single example of this method being used by U.S. forces since.—J.M.) Read more

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