Tip of the spear? Maybe. This helium filled surveillance blimp carries the latest in camera technology allowing bases to see clearly for up to ten miles. Tethered to the ground by powerful winches, aerostats hover for up to a month at a time keeping a watchful eye out for insurgents planting IEDs as well as potential ambush situations. The ability to read the brand on the filter end of a cigarette from a mile away also means that the images taken of suspected Taliban and Haqqani network are crystal clear and saved for future reference. Banks of computers catalog faces and vehicles for future reference, one way to connect insurgent dots. Tracking insurgents from Pakistan to Kabul helps the military understand movement and origins of these little rascals. A billion dollar game of cat and mouse, this cat uses facial recognition. Dozens of these are deployed throughout Afghanistan and the latest generation, as long as a football field have DOD procurment scrambling to find helium to keep them in the air.
Nine US soldiers killed in action since January 1 2012 including four young Indiana National Guard killed when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Total US service member killed since the 2001 invasion, 1,750.