(p. A13) Compared with, say, a B-2 Bomber, drones are simple things. An empty B-2 weighs 158,000 pounds. The largest version of the Predator–the unmanned aerial vehicle now playing a critical role in every theater where the American military is engaged–weighs just under 5,000. Yet these small aircraft are revolutionizing warfare. Given the simplicity of drones, why did it take so long to put them into operation?
. . .
The most alarming take-away from Mr. Whittle’s history is the persistent opposition of officials in the Pentagon who, for bureaucratic reasons, hindered progress at every step of the way.
A case in point: Two months after 9/11, the Predator was employed to incinerate one of al Qaeda’s senior operatives, Mohammed Atef. The same blast also incinerated–metaphorically–a study released two weeks earlier by the Pentagon’s office of operational testing and evaluation. The study had declared Predator “not operationally effective or suitable” for combat. If one seeks to understand why the drone revolution was late in coming–too late to help avert 9/11–the hidebound mentality behind that Pentagon document is one place to start.
For the full review, see:
Gabriel Schoenfeld. “BOOKSHELF; Building Birds of Prey; Red tape at the Pentagon prevented the development of a drone that could have helped avert the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Sept. 16, 2014): A13.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 15, 2014, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; Book Review: ‘Predator’ by Richard Whittle; Red tape at the Pentagon prevented the development of a drone that could have helped avert the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”)
The book under review is:
Whittle, Richard. Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co., 2014.