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Confessions of a drone warrior

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Confessions of a Drone Warrior

He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. who's still utterly, terrifyingly human

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More at link

“It’s like playing Dungeons & Dragons,” says Bryant. “Roll a d20 to see if you hit your target.” His training inspector, watching over his shoulder, would count down to impact and say, “Splash! You killed everyone.”

Within a few months he “went off” to war, flying missions over Iraq at the height of the conflict’s deadliest period, even though he never left Nevada.

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There's a level of cognitive dissonance there that is ... staggering in it's implications.

“I kind of finished the night numb,” Bryant says. “Then you just go home. No one talked about it. No one talked about how they felt after anything. It was like an unspoken agreement that you wouldn’t talk about your experiences.”

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Other members of his squadron had different reactions to their work. One sensor operator, whenever he made a kill, went home and chugged an entire bottle of whiskey. A female operator, after her first shot, refused to fire again even under the threat of court martial. Another pilot had nightmares after watching two headless bodies float down the Tigris. Bryant himself would have bizarre dreams where the characters from his favorite game, World of Warcraft, appeared in infrared.

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What really strikes me from the recollections is that PTSD doesn't seem to require you to be on the ground, and this has a real effect on the so-called drone warriors also; one that's not being front and center.  Like executioners or anyone who deals in push button death.

He constructed a darkly appropriate syllabus for his occupation. He read the dystopian sci-fi classic Ender’s Game, about children whose violent simulated games turn out to be actual warfare. Then came Asimov, Bryant pondering his Three Laws of Robotics in an age of Predators and Hellfires. A robot may not injure a human being….

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The future of authors' dark imaginations on stage today in our military.  Where has technology taken us?

That was a strikingly human perspective on drone warfare. It didn't really change my opinions of drones at all, but goddamn. It was a pretty emotional explanation of what the operators go through and their thought processes.

That was a strikingly human perspective on drone warfare. It didn't really change my opinions of drones at all, but goddamn. It was a pretty emotional explanation of what the operators go through and their thought processes.
-p3lb0x (October 28, 2013, 12:41 PM)
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The fusion of technology and human as an extension of firepower- we see the modern warrior on the ground and all of the equipment and technology making him into the techno-warrior.  But this... it seems more the definition of the warrior of a technological age.

An additional article that further highlights the almost amoral detachment of one these military "don't call them drones - they're RPAs" operators can be found here.

Apparently many veterans, as well as those still in the US military, were somewhat less than enthusiastic about our new "Nintendo" and "cyber" warriors. Especially when it came to awarding decorations for combat service.

The proposed Distinguished Warfare Medal which was to be awarded for cyber and drone combat has since been canceled by the Pentagon. Dubbed as a "participation ribbon" by some who were against it, it's now completely off the table as a separate medal.

The national commander of the American Legion went so far as to say:

"Cyber and drone warfare have become part of the equation for 21st-century combat, and those who fight such battles with distinction certainly deserve to be recognized. But the American Legion still believes there's a fundamental difference between those who fight remotely, or via computer, and those fighting against an enemy who is trying to kill them."

Hmm...looks like the real soldiers see a fundamental difference between 'remote' and actual combat engagements. Maybe the politicos in power should listen a bit more closely to those who actually do know what war is.

It's the pig vs chicken scenario.  But to be fair, war, no matter if you're not directly in harms way, is hell.  Different people have differing contributions to the effort, but to denigrate these particular warriors seems unfair, and more leaning towards the old service rivalries, when without the drone intel (taking the assassinations off the table) their hazard levels would be much higher.


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