Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
SOCOM Is Urgently Seeking Kamikaze Drones To Bomb The Hell Out Of ISIS
To deal with the ridiculous but deadly rise of DIY weapons and bombs in ISIS’s arsenal, U.S. special operators plan on fighting fire with fire — or, in this case, kamikaze drones with kamikaze drones.
In a Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement submitted to the Department of Defense in 2016 (and first reported by Defense One this month), U.S. Special Operations Command put in a request for $24 million in funding for 325 Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile Systems (LMAMS), precision-guided munitions intended to loiter above a battlefield before dive-bombing their targets below.
According to Defense One, drone manufacturer AeroVironment has already delivered 350 Switchblade drones, a bazooka-launched “miniature flying lethal missile [that] can be operated manually or autonomously” for up to 15 minutes at speeds of nearly 100 mph, to SOCOM for battlefield deployments.
LMAMS aren’t totally new: The U.S. Army has been exploring the potential battlefield applications of drone-mounted bombs since 2012, when it solicited the weapons industry for a guided munition that would enable “unprecedented engagement of enemy combatants without exposing the warfighter to direct enemy fires.” Here’s how they function in a given operation area, per Defense Media Network’s excellent 2012 rundown:
Once positive identification of the target is obtained, the operator would perform mission preparation with the operator control unit, allowing autonomous flight to the area of interest. LMAMS would be capable of loitering once the fly out phase was accomplished. In the terminal engagement phase, LMAMS would have the ability to automatically track a target designated by the operator or allow the operator to manually control the system as needed to focus on a specific area or point of interest.
But while SOCOM made a similar request for 360 units through the DoD’s Rapid Acquisition Authority back in August 2013, the new reprogramming action and its $88.7 million price tag explicitly reflects “unforeseen military requirements … determined to be necessary for the national interest” — namely, the continued development of increasingly dangerous weaponized UAVs by ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.
While the terror group has reportedly not yet deployed so-called “suicide drones” against U.S.-led coalition forces downrange just yet, recent technological developments — from the handheld jamming devices like the DroneDefender electromagnetic rifle and the radar gun-esque “Dronebuster” to the vehicle-mounted Mobile High Energy Laser (MEHEL) anti-drone laser system — have focused on countering these swarms of aerial suicide bombers.
The Pentagon isn’t just countering the new threat, but learning from it, as well. ISIS’s deadly ingenuity, fostered by scarce resources and panicked desperation, may have inadvertently given DoD weapons planners a blueprint for the future of unmanned aerial bombardments. SOCOM’s Warrior program chief, Army Col. John Reim, put it nicely to Defense One: Sometimes, instead of schlepping a big ol’ MQ-9 Reaper, “you need to be able to throw it on a truck.”
SOCOM’s efforts likely won’t stop with its increasingly expensive orders of the handy tube-launched Switchblades: The command even plans on opening a drone hacker lab in Tampa (“at an unspecified point in the future,” per Engadget) to imagine more murderously efficient applications of drone tech, from the kamikaze drone to the terrifying automated drone swarm. The Pentagon can’t just counter new threats — it must become them.
“The threat is really changing — this explosion of commercial technology, of super-empowered commercial technology, of each individual technology path on an accelerated schedule,” SOCOM acquisition chief James Geurts told the assembled crowd at a National Defense Industry Association conference in Tampa, Florida, on May 16. “When you start stacking accelerations on top of each other, pretty soon you’ve got autonomous swarms of drones with facial recognition attacking you on the battlefield. And so how do you get out in front of that?”
Given that SOCOM’s Switchblade request envisions deployments through fiscal year 2019, it’s likely that kamikaze drones may become a staple of Operation Inherent Resolve — though, not in the way that ISIS tinkerers probably hoped.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.
A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.
R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.
Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.
The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.
These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.