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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Obama’s Weapon Of Choice In War: The Drone

A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan in June 2010. (AP)

A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan in June 2010. (AP)

For the Obama administration, the essential weapon of war has become the drone. More than 1,000 pilots control them with joysticks from offices here in this country, using them over Libya last year, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan. The CIA has also used them to kill militants in Pakistan and Yemen, where a CIA drone killed American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last year, on what some critics call an illegal mission.

The thinking is drones reduce the cost of war and the risk to troops on the ground, but there’s a growing debate in military circles about the consequences. Will enemies use them against us? It’s thought that China and Russia may have the latest U.S. drone technology, after a drone crashed or was brought down in Iran. And military psychologists say flying drones can provoke an “existential conflict” in pilots because they’re torn over whether they’re doing the right thing.

It’s a conflict that just might be a new mental disorder for a new kind of warfare.

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  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    It is extremely scary to hear a specialist in this area state that movies like Terminator could actually come true. Anyone putting money into developing anything like machines that make the decision to kill should be immediately terminated. 

    If the pilots are having a problem with what they are required to do, then it doesn’t mean that they should be engineered out of the equation. If you are designing humans out of your strategy, you are wrong. There is no money or prize worth winning that would require excluding the opinions and emotions of your own society. Perhaps the reactions of the pilots shows the unfair nature of remote drones as a tool of war, especially when contrasted that it is being used against people whose most advanced weapon is a suicide bomb.

  • john

    my cousin, was bomber pilot over Korea b29, he resigned a comisson at the pentagon when he was a bird col.,  he realized fully  later in life that the bombs killed everyone near them. As a vet, from the Vietnam era, with a son in the service now, it is important to realize that you are killing people, they are not things, the drones are pin point and effect a small area,  dropping dozens of 500 pounders, as in the past, sucks the life out of anything near it. there is a benefit to the drone strikes and a limiting of what we call collateral damage, aka non combatant civilians. yes, the world is changing fast, you can’t back up. These drone pilots hold life in their hands, and an awsome responsibility that is where the stress comes from,  you either deal with it now, or later, but you will have to deal with it.

  • Carol LUntz

    It is strange to hear you state that drones are only 10-15 years old.  I was in the 2215th Drone Sq. at Eglin AFB Field 3, in Crestview, FL. in 1955.  We were running drones over the Gulf of Mexico.  The mother ship controlling them was a B-29 and there were T-33 jets.  I was administrative, but I took Space-A training flights in both aircraft.  There was a Joint Firepower Demonstration then which showed what we could do to lots of visiting brass. I’ve never heard anyone discuss this. 

  • Brethors

    Ever watch the “Terminator” movies? This is not good and the government can use these any way they like, especially since we the people do not control our government anymore, corporations, banks and the “crazies” do….doe not give one a feeling of confidence, but the idea that we can be the targets also if we don’t “behave”. Also, at about $1million each, if they have 7000 or more, that is where our money has gone….Military Industrial complex getting rich at our expense

  • Linda hakim

    Good topic – We need to hear more about drones and how they are changing warfare.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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