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Synopsis

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have experienced explosive demand in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past few years due to their ability to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) over vast theaters of operations. This paper examines the differences between the Air Force's and Army's approach at meeting the demand for effective and efficient UAS operations. The first difference between the services is command and control (C2), with the analysis focusing on centralized versus decentralized C2. The second difference concerns operations locations and examines the benefits of remote operations over in-theater operations. The final difference is in UAS operators; the Air Force has historically insisted on pilots and officers, while the Army leaves UAS operations in the hands of its very capable non-commissioned officers. Each of these differences will be examined with respect to the current focus on counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. This paper concludes with recommendations for incorporating aspects of each service's practices and doctrine into joint doctrine that will remain flexible across the range of military operations.

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