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Paul Scharre: DoD Should Invest in Manpower-Reducing Tech, Not Cut Drone Numbers

droneA fellow at the Center for a New American Security has urged the Defense Department to address its current shortfall in drones as terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda are “morphing and metastasizing,”

Paul Scharre, director of the center’s 20YY Warfare Initiative, writes in a Defense One piece published Monday that instead of reducing its fleet of Predator and Reaper drones, DoD should invest in technology that optimizes resources and reduces the manpower that operates the drones.

Technology such as multi-aircraft control systems, wide-area sensors and automated video processing tools “could dramatically reduce operational costs, conceivably even allowing a greater amount of intelligence to be collected at lower cost,” he says.

According to Scharre, DoD has been cutting back on drones due to what former defense secretary Robert Gates calls “next war-itis” or the tendency to prioritize contingencies or potential threats over the current ones.

Scharre says the current need is to sustain ISR technology like drones to understand homeland threats as many accounts have indicated an increase or re-emergence of global terrorist threats.

“If the United States is going to be prepared to keep tabs on an evolving terrorist threat and be poised to act when needed, whether in Iraq or elsewhere, urgent senior leader attention and involvement at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the White House, and Congress is needed,” concludes Scharre.

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