‘Switchblade’? Cut it out
Published: October 21, 2011
I just read with disbelief the Oct. 20 article “Army: New drone proven ‘effective’ ” about the flying shotgun, the “Switchblade.” To say that I was shocked that the Army made the decision to purchase this system would be an understatement. When I was with a unit that employed these in theater (the system was under a different name then), we were initially hopeful and positive about the program. After seeing it “not in action” — and the disappointing results — we declined to write an endorsement recommending purchase or further testing of this system. It was disappointing and did not deliver, not one time.
I hope no unit seriously relies on this to help troops in harm’s way. From my experience, it is not a viable option; it is a costly novelty.
Switchblade is a perfect name for this system, as a switchblade looks intimidating but, in a real fight, it’s not the weapon you really want or need.
To make it worse, in the same issue, you tell us that we decide to spend millions on this novelty while our Congress looks for ways to gut our health care and retirement system all in the name of efficiency in Department of Defense budgeting (“VFW issues a ‘call to action’: 2 million veterans are being urged to fight congressional changes to benefits,” article). These cuts in retirement and health care will do more to hurt our war-weary but supremely professional, all-volunteer force than Switchblade could ever do to enhance it.
Maj. Mark S. Leslie