U.S. commander says more work is needed to counter small drones

Baghdad (AP) — A month after an explosive-laden drone targeted US troops at an Iraqi base, the best US commanders in the Middle East had a better way to counter such attacks. Finding is a top priority and the US says it’s still behind the curve of the solution.

Marine Corps General Frank Mackenzie told reporters traveling with him that Iran-backed militia use of small drones will increase in the coming years. He spent the day in Iraq on Thursday, but for safety reasons, the media accompanying him was not allowed to report on his visit until he left the area.

Cheap and easy-to-buy drones are often difficult to detect and difficult to defeat. McKenzie said the United States must find more ways to counter their use by American enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“We are working very hard to find the technical fixes that will allow us to be more effective against drones,” said Mackenzie. Find ways to break the command and control link between the drone and its operators, improve radar sensors to identify threats as they approach, find effective electronic and dynamic ways to stop them Efforts are underway. He added that fencing and hi-net can also be used as protective measures.

“We are open to all sorts of things,” he said. “The Army is working very hard. Still, I don’t think we’re where we want to be.”

In mid-April, a drone targeted a US-led coalition near an airport in northern Iraq, causing a major fire and damage to buildings. There were no casualties.

No one claims responsibility for the attack. The United States has accused Iran-backed militia groups in previous attacks, most of which are rockets targeting the presence of the United States in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and military bases.

Since the killing of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani near Bagdad Airport in a US-led drone strike last year, there have been frequent general attacks on the coalition forces. Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack. The strike angered mainly Shiite Iraqi lawmakers, forced parliament to pass non-binding resolutions, and pressured the Iraqi government to expel foreign troops from the country.

The Biden administration has resumed strategic talks with Baghdad, which began under President Donald Trump. There, the future of the US military presence in Iraq is central to the debate.Mackenzie and colleagues are optimistic that the United States will maintain its military presence in the country

According to Mackenzie, the militia group is dissatisfied with the hope that US troops will leave Iraq, especially after being attacked by Soleimani.

“They believe they can carry out the attack at a fairly low level that doesn’t provoke a reaction, but they eventually create enough friction to leave us,” Mackenzie is traveling with him. I told reporters. “I think it’s a dangerous situation.”

He said he believes there is still work to be done in Iraq to help the U.S.-led coalition defeat Islamic State groups that maintain some presence in western and northern Iraq. .. But he said Iraqi security forces did a good job in the fight against IS.

After spending Thursday in Iraq, Mackenzie was in Syria on Friday and met with the US and partner commanders and troops at four different bases.