WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. military needs more drones and equipment to collect intelligence and conduct surveillance in Iraq despite a big boost in those capabilities since 2001, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday.
But Gates said he has hit resistance inside the Pentagon and indicated that the Air Force’s desire to use pilots for its missions has kept the Defense Department from employing more effective and lower cost unmanned aircraft.
“I’ve been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets into the theater,” Gates told officers at the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base.
“Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it’s been like pulling teeth,” he said. “While we’ve doubled this capability in recent months, it is still not good enough.”
Gates said he formed a task force last week to quickly find new ways to get those capabilities to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the group’s findings may force the Air Force to replace pilots with unmanned aircraft on some missions.