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Editor's corner.

As the United States rotates 250,000 troops in and out of Iraq, military planners continue to devise new "force-protection" plans to defend truck convoys against rocket-propelled grenade attacks and roadside bombs. Miles-long convoys of Humvees, wreckers and medium trucks--moving both troops and supplies--have become targets of choice in Iraq, forcing the Army to quickly crone up with new tactics and, when possible, new technologies to counter these threats. Soldiers, meanwhile, have created their own "skunk works" outfits in the field, strictly focused on hardening vehicles. They bolt armor plates and install machine guns on trucks, among other things. Proposed ways to improve vehicle survivability as well as the challenges of maintaining logistics vehicles in the desert, are some of the topics covered in a story package beginning on page 21.

The Army, meanwhile, has kicked off a new training program aimed at convoy operators. Using digital simulations and other training devices, the Army hopes to better prepare truck drivers and crews to deal with the hostile environment in Iraq. That story starts on page 32.

Since the onset of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and later Iraq, the Defense Department has touted the close cooperation between Special Operations Forces and conventional units as a linchpin in the Pentagon's strategy to wage war against unconventional enemies.

The reality on the ground, however, is that the integration of SOF and conventional forces is not always a smooth process, sometimes leading to confusion as to who does what, and who reports to whom. A more structured planning and training process needs to be in place to address the current gaps, according to an award-winning essay by Army Maj. William J. Carty, a student at the Naval Postgraduate School. Excerpts from his piece appear on page 18.

Our cover story this month sheds light on a nascent Air Force program designed to rapidly increase the availability of qualified cargo-aircraft crews that can operate at night. Learning how to fly with night-vision goggles gradually has become a prerequisite for airlift units participating in the U.S. war on terrorism. A skyrocketing demand for airlift services, particularly in support of U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, prompted the Air Force to expand its night-flying training program, which previously was restricted only to special-warfare units. To read our exclusive report on this program, turn to page 36.
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Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Previous Article:For future planning.
Next Article:War realities call for new approach to logistics.

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