Iraqi airforce buzzes the troops

Asymmetric warfare, anyone? From Army Times:

CENTRAL IRAQ � At least two Iraqi ultralight aircraft flew over a patch of desert Friday where thousands of U.S. soldiers and several command and control facilities are located. The appearance of enemy aircraft over U.S. positions is especially alarming because the military believes ultralight aircraft of the type spotted Friday may be used to deliver chemical or biological weapons.
There is one other alarming possibility, according to briefings given intelligence officers here: Craft like that might be used in kamikaze suicide attacks, a possibility driven home Saturday morning when an apparent suicide bomber blew up a car at a checkpoint manned by soldiers from this same outfit, the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized).
The appearance of the aircraft caught the Central Command off guard. Saturday afternoon, 24 hours after the craft had flown over the U.S. position, Renuart told a press briefing that the Iraqis have �not flown an airplane, they have not had the capability to fly an airplane, they�ve not shown any inclination to fly an airplane.�
�If I had authority to shoot it myself, we would have engaged it,� he said. But [Smith] added that he understood why he was required to seek approval from a three-star headquarters before shooting at an enemy aircraft that was virtually overhead. �A lot of it has to do with cluttered skies,� Smith said. �There are a lot of friendly aircraft in these skies.�

The crowd of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft flying through this airspace probably accounted for the ultralight pilots� ability to fly over such a sensitive assembly area before being detected, according to Smith. The mass of aircraft showing up on radar screens makes it difficult for soldiers watching those screens to distinguish, for instance, an Iraqi ultralight aircraft from a small U.S. Army helicopter, he said.
Although none could be certain, officers here believe this is the first time an enemy aircraft has flown over American ground forces since the Korean War.

The Army Times piece has a LOT more information and details, and is essential reading. What bothers me the most is the jujitsu-style use of our own strengths against us. The article explicitly cites the heavy air traffic of US forces over Iraq as the main reason that the ultralight plane was able to sneak in. And because of the heavy traffic, that was also why hig-level authorization was needed to shoot it down - leading it to escape. Imagine what kind of information and inteelligence that the ultralight planes were able to collect on our troops before it vanished.

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