Pentagon: Counter-Battery System unneeded in Afghanistan

The Defense Department pushed back Friday against House Republican charges that U.S. troops in Afghanistan were being denied life-saving systems that were used to counter enemy rocket, artillery and mortar fire in Iraq.

“It’s altogether unclear that this system is a silver bullet,” George Little, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said of the C-RAM – the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar system that links advanced radars with what is essentially a land-based version of the Navy’s Phalanx rapid-fire CIWS (Close-In Weapons System.)

Little acknowledged that requests for deployment of C-RAM to Afghanistan came from the U.S. Central Command in 2009 but “operational conditions have changed since ’09” as U.S. troops have begun withdrawing with the goal of having all combat forces out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

If commanders in the field were to renew requests for C-RAM, “then they will get what they need,” Little said.

In a letter to President Obama on Thursday, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote: “If a C-RAM intercept capability would protect our troops against lethal threats without detraction from our mission in Afghanistan, please immediately order the deployment of these weapon systems.”

In July 2009, CENTCOM put in a Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement (JUONS) requesting C-RAM for Afghanistan that was supported by Gen. David Petraeus, then the overall commander in Afghanistan.

At the time, “the Army agreed that the systems were available for deployment and determined that approximately 80-100 additional forces per site would have to be deployed to support the C-RAM intercept capability,” McKeon said.

“The Chairman didn’t assert that this would be a silver bullet,” a spokesman for McKeon said, but he said the need for C-RAM system would grow as the Afghan withdrawal continues and the U.S. forces consolidate on larger bases that will become more inviting targets for the Taliban.

The C-RAMS “effectively protected installations in Iraq” but were being denied to troops in Iraq because of of a “force cap” imposed by the Obama administration during the withdrawal, the McKeon spokesman said.

“We’ve got other adequate measures in place” to detect enemy fire, Army Lt. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said without going into detail. With the C-RAM system, “you have to put a lot of fire into the air which, of course, threatens civilians,” Warren said.
The C-RAM system was deployed to Iraq in the summer of 2005 and was used to protect the “Green Zone” compound and Camp Victory in Baghdad.

The system’s radars are designed to pick up indirect fire and automatically fire a 20mm M61A1 Gatling gun, similar to the Navy’s Phalanx weapon against anti-ship missiles, to eliminate the threat. Unlike the sea-based system, the land-based system uses shells fused to self-destruct in the air to avoid civilian casualties.

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Richard Sisk
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  • Lance

    More political dribble from idiots like Buck McKeon. in some controlled situation this works fine. Iraq was flat territory and alot of open distances for radars to find incoming mortars and shells. Afghanistan not so much. Since the mountains can block radar and hid mortars very close by. This is more crap from Republicans fat with bribes from the companies who make this and are full of crap themselves. If they needed them in A-stain they would have asked the pentagon for one.

  • Nick

    Just leave now FFS, it’s not going to get better in the next 2 years, everyone knows it but no one wants to be the one who “lost Afghanistan”. They don’t call it the grave yard of empires for nothing.

  • tmb2

    Kandahar Airfield had a population of 25,000 troops and contractors last year. It is on a flat plain with open fields in all directions going out 10-20 miles before you get to any mountains. We received rocket and mortar fire a few times a month.

  • jack

    Here’s an idea, how about patrolling outside the walls so the bad guys can’t get within range of their mortars. I know this is a crazy idea…

    • Matt

      So Jack we should just have a patrol out hiking the mountains 24 hours a day?

    • Rational Rob

      Jack.. lol think before you speak.

    • Vaporhead

      You’re silly. You are talking like we are at war or something. Oh, wait……..

      I do agree with your comment.

    • Grahame

      The ROE combined with increased patrolling just gives the Taliban more targets. They don’t have to wait for approval from a politician/general before opening fire. Also an 82mm mortar as used by the Taliban has a 4,500 yard range. If you are talking about their 120mm rockets its over 7,000 yards range. The Mortar could be anywhere in an area of 6 million square yards and the rocket launcher somewhere in 16 million square yards. Since these things are small (particularly the mortar) and can be dismantled and buried in a cache until needed and then set up, fired a dozen times and then dismantled in about 10 minutes you are going to be damned lucky to catch them. They don’t wear uniforms and the locals are too terrified to point them out. By the time you arrive they are either long gone or sitting around a fire eating with the locals and blending in.

  • Menzie

    Actually jack, it is kindo of crazy because the level of threat is extremely high once you leave the base. In the case of some of the deployment bases no troops leave thru the wire at all. They are bases used to ferry in supplies and then out to FOB’s. The safest thing for them to do is stay inside the wire.

  • Big-Dean

    The “stan is getting to be a bit Vietnam-ized with large bases and fixed positions.

    We had the same hunker down mentality in Khe Sahn, and lots of other places. We should definitely be patrolling outside the gate, that’s what our talented recon teams train for, concealment, observation, and reporting.

    There shouldn’t be any excuse for bad guy to penetrate the base-that is un-excusabe. If we had teams out there we’d know if they were coming or not. Lastly, where is all of our fancy surveillance, night vision, FLIR, etc, are they being used to protect the bases?

    • blight_

      The “perimeter” is only useful against night attacks by guys with small arms and sappers with explosives. If they hang back and use rockets, you’d need a perimeter and an electronic frontier so big there would be no money left for Congressional healthcare.

      Besides, wars aren’t won by hunkering down, as the Taliban know. Take the fight to the enemy. Unfortunately, we can’t do much when they hide in Cambodia…whoops, Pakistan.

      Makes you wonder if it would be appropriate to recruit Border Troops from the Tajiks and move them to the AfPak frontier. They’d be less able to tell who is who (being from different ethnic group) but they should be reliable and trustworthy…?

    • howard

      what they SHOULD do is to say that in places of known risk anyone venturing there will be killed and then do it. I agree…this let the bad guys get close and deadly had a bad run every time it has been tried.
      if the local police can find a terrorist in a boat hull at a Boston neighborhood manhunt, then the Army and AF can find them in the dark or where ever.

  • NGF

    The Australian base at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province in Afghanistan is protected by CRAM.

  • c-low

    “At the time, “the Army agreed that the systems were available for deployment and determined that approximately 80–100 additional forces per site would have to be deployed to support the C-RAM intercept capability,”

    Team O since day one is locked on withdrawal not victory, with of course enough support to hold plausible deniability. ala surge short full request but just enough to impression, and see above.

    war based on craven personal political ambitions.

  • Sarek

    All of these marvelous technology and NATO still losing the war!!

    • Skyepapa

      We could win. We could win every war. It’s because we prefer to avoid genocide and salting the earth that we don’t. So go fuck yourself.

      • Sarek

        Sorry Skyepapa.
        You cant win, bad guys never win.

        USA are the evil!

    • ltfunk3

      You have to remember that we dont have a professional military.

      Instead of patroling and basic tactics we have people who prefer to cower in bunkers crying for C-RAM while claiming they could win if only somebody would nuke the enemy.

      • Rob

        Wow. Just wow. Ltfunk3, walk a mile in the solider/airman/marine/saliors shoes before you say crap like that.

        • ltfunk3

          Serivice is a previlage not some sort of sympathy inspiring disability.

      • Lexington NC

        Funk u, troll.

        Do not say that in front of my son, graduate of USMC 3/3. He’s been places and done things that officially never happened because he wasn’t supposed to be in that country at the time. Lots of our ground troops can say the same thing. They carry a rifle and leave behind a last letter home. Then they go off to war and hope the resupply will keep up with them.

        There are “Garrett Troopers” in every war (Channeling SSGT. Barry Sadler). They are the 9 guys it takes to keep one guy alive on patrol. They are the reason the M1 Garand carbine was made while the guys in the field were carrying the M1 Garand rifle.

        On another note …

        I’ve fired an M1 Garand carbine … it’s a sweet weapon — if I just look at a man-sized target and pull the M1 to shoulder, I can squeeze off immediately — I’m already on the target. It probably won’t be a CNS shot, but it’s going to leave a mark. Except for its rate of fire (bolt action), it’d still be a good carry weapon.

  • Brenden

    If the brass thinks they don’t need them then they dont need them. Who here was stationed in Balad, Baghdad or Basrah? Then you might know how intense IDF can be.

    • SGT Dillard

      I was in Speicher in 2004-2006, without any C Ram, I am a 13 R , Radar Operator for the Q36 and Q37, these are great and do the job, However in 2007 in Balad I had the pleasure to experience the good and bad, we had like 7 or 8 of them, I played liason between contractors, and navy on working to get parts and getting them fixed, the problem, not all ran once at the same time, but when they work they are great

  • ltfunk3

    There is no need for C-RAM our military has lost yet another war and all it thinks about now is saving thier own necks. Rather then deploy some elaborate pretence simply evacuate the bases.

    If we were serious about having a real military rather than an expensive horse and pony show we’d court-martial a generration of officiers and discharge the ranks without recomendation. Starting again from the bottom is the only way.

    • Big-Dean

      I tend to agree with you about our leadership-in all services. (The Marine Corp isn’t totally incompetent yet)

      For some reason the current crop of leadership, not everyone, but most are spinless, not very smart, politically correct, afraid to call “it” what “it” is, and don’t give a crap about the common soldier, sailor, or marine

      Here’s are the types of leaders, from best to worst

      Rate your leader

      1. War fighter
      2. Hard charger
      3. Smarter then Albert Einstein
      4. Good intentions but not a great leader
      5. Next chairman of xyz corp
      6. total jerk
      7. In over his/her head
      8. how in the hell did he/she get promoted
      9. tries hard but is useless
      10. should be fired today

    • IronV

      You have no clue what you’re talking about. None. Literally some of the most ignorant thinking I’ve seen in awhile. We haven’t “lost” anything. To the contrary, we have given the Afghan’s their best hope to stand on their own. If they refuse to step up and take the reins, there is nothing practical to be done. They have until 2014 to figure it out. If they don’t we will continue to prosecute violent warfare against our enemies via aircraft and special forces.

      But our conventional ground forces will come home AS THEY SHOULD.

  • William C.

    Learn how to spell before you try to discuss strategy ltfunk.

  • NeoconBrony

    Or, you know, we could just leave now. Then the rockets and mortars would be Afghanistan’s problem.

  • brok3n

    So many liberals and hippies posting in defense threads and videos these days. As for the system, they should be deployed to key bases in Afghanistan as IDF attacks occur on a daily basis.

    • Pharsalus

      What, maybe that’ll give the US a chance to win? ;)

  • TonyC

    the US Navy has stopped installing the Phalanx, it can’t discriminate targets.
    The Phalanx works too well, it will shoot at anything it detects in target range
    (friend or foe). The RAM is replacing the Phalanx on ships, not quite as good in some respects as the Phalanx.

  • Noha307

    I wonder what the 4 Apaches lost to mortar attack in 2007 would have to say about this? (And yes, I realize that 2007 occurs before 2009.)

  • guest

    Saudi Arabia: Jewish Bloodline, Jewish State



  • It’s like a race to the bottom, here in what was once America, land of the free and home of the brave. Which one will be the nail in the cffoin: the eco-catastrophe playing out all over the globe (including Peak Everything ), the military policy/corporate fiasco *********** or the insolvent bank (Wall Street/Fed) casino situation, practically guaranteed to default in our lifetime? i don’t think even Prozac will help, what we’re facing.

  • Jill Trotchie

    i cant believe that you would deny them what they ask for -if they say they need the equipment why would you even hesitate-they are the only ones at war and placing it all on the line for this nation they got bin laden and now the feds why even insult the expertise of the military ops in the middle east

  • Aviator_Guy

    I would support any system that would improve security for our troops and I totally support the Congressman’s recommendations.

  • Boru

    Spend a day taking incoming where your only defense is hitting the ground and hoping you don’t get hit. Give us the C-RAM and save lives and property.

  • knives

    heres the bottom line. i was a C-RAM operator in iraq. there are two parts of C-RAM, intercept (the phalanx) and sense and warn. and yes the C-RAM intercept does discriminate targets. C-RAM is in A-stan but only the sense and warn and its contracted. call it a money game if you want. all i know is i made a fraction of the pay as what contractors make in A-stan. as far as intrecept, they really dont need it. capabilities the phalanx cant cover the area you might think or hope. so only HIGH profile assets would be cover by the phalanx. army side of the house sense and warn would be 5 times cheaper than intercept. contractor side it would be pretty close to if they had a phalanx.