In un articolo di Loren Thompson del Lexington Institute
U.S. INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT TO ISRAEL‘S MILITARY CAMPAIGN
Loren B. Thompson, Ph.D.
The New York Times reported on July 22 that the Pentagon is speeding delivery of smart bombs to Israel. The appearance, as David Cloud and Helene Cooper reported, is that "the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran‘s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah." That’s exactly right — U.S. aid to the Israeli campaign is one facet of the Bush Administration’s broader effort to destroy Middle Eastern terrorists, which among other things means countering Teheran’s support of such groups in the Levant. But expediting the shipment of laser-guided bombs is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how America is helping Israel.
As a military source told Michael Gordon of the Times on June 18, the hard part about hitting elusive targets isn’t building accurate bombs: "We can do the ‘how.’ It is getting the ‘what’ and ‘where’ that is the challenge." That’s why so much of Donald Rumsfeld’s tenure as defense secretary has been devoted to improving intelligence and surveillance capabilities. Without a precise idea of where the enemy is, the most accurate munitions aren’t much better than Hitler-era iron bombs. Israel probably relies heavily on human intelligence (spies) to find Hezbollah targets. But the U.S. brings a wealth of technical intelligence to the table that can be decisive in tracking terrorists. Here are some systems that could be used.
Manned Aircraft. The U.S. used nine RC-135 Rivet Joint jets in Operation Iraqi Freedom to monitor and target emitters across the radio-frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Because Beirut, Damascus and other areas of interest in the current campaign are all within the 240-mile listening radius of an RC-135, a single plane crammed with antennas, processors and linguists could monitor many different enemy transmissions as they were happening. The Navy operates a dozen slower, lower-flying EP-3 Aries II eavesdropping planes that have similar capabilities but less listening range. Also, the Air Force’s U-2S Dragon Lady can carry over 4,000 pounds of eavesdropping equipment and cameras for generating tactical imagery; its high operating ceiling permits the greatest listening range of any manned aircraft.
Unmanned Aircraft. Few people know what the Air Force’s high-altitude, long-endurance Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle has been doing since Operation Iraqi Freedom, but it has flown about 200 secret missions, some involving the collection of signals intelligence. The smaller Predator unmanned aircraft is much slower and does not collect signals intelligence, but like Global Hawk it can generate still and moving imagery potentially useful to targeters. The Air Force only has one Global Hawk currently available in-theater, but dozens of Predators could be deployed.
Sea & Space. Lebanon, Syria and Israel are all littoral countries within the listening range of eavesdropping equipment on the Navy’s Los Angeles-class attack submarines. Intelligence gathering is now the main mission of these warships, which are the stealthiest systems in the U.S. arsenal and offer the longest persistence on station. The subs probably can monitor signals as far away as Damascus (60 miles from the sea) with the aid of natural phenomena such as evaporative ducts that bend radio transmissions. The Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office also operate half a dozen constellations of satellites for collecting intelligence from across the spectrum — radio waves, infrared signatures and visible-light imagery. For instance, missile-warning satellites are linked to an already-operational processing architecture for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) that can detect and in some cases track tactical missile launches. Communications links to get such information to users quickly exist if the U.S. wants to share.