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Confessions of a drone warrior

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^I think it's more a matter of too great a separation between an act of war and it's consequences.

Technology, by its very existence, begs to be used.

Abd this type of warfare without consequences is all too easy to initiate.

^ What about the fact that he *was* diagnosed with PTSD?  And the new studies quoted in the article, i.e.

It was an unexpected diagnosis. For decades the model for understanding PTSD has been “fear conditioning”: quite literally the lasting psychological ramifications of mortal terror. But a term now gaining wider acceptance is “moral injury.” It represents a tectonic realignment, a shift from a focusing on the violence that has been done to a person in wartime toward his feelings about what he has done to others—or what he’s failed to do for them. The concept is attributed to the clinical psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who in his book Achilles in Vietnam traces the idea back as far as the Trojan War. The mechanisms of death may change—as intimate as a bayonet or as removed as a Hellfire—but the bloody facts, and their weight on the human conscience, remain the same. Bryant’s diagnosis of PTSD fits neatly into this new understanding. It certainly made sense to Bryant. “I really have no fear,” he says now. “It’s more like I’ve had a soul-crushing experience. An experience that I thought I’d never have. I was never prepared to take a life.”

In 2011, Air Force psychologists completed a mental-health survey of 600 combat drone operators. Forty-two percent of drone crews reported moderate to high stress, and 20 percent reported emotional exhaustion or burnout. The study’s authors attributed their dire results, in part, to “existential conflict.” A later study found that drone operators suffered from the same levels of depression, anxiety, PTSD, alcohol abuse, and suicidal ideation as traditional combat aircrews. These effects appeared to spike at the exact time of Bryant’s deployment, during the surge in Iraq. (Chillingly, to mitigate these effects, researchers have proposed creating a Siri-like user interface, a virtual copilot that anthropomorphizes the drone and lets crews shunt off the blame for whatever happens. Siri, have those people killed.)

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What if it has less to do with mortality than it does morality?

^ What about the fact that he *was* diagnosed with PTSD?  And the new studies quoted in the article, i.e.


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What if it has less to do with mortality than it does morality?
-wraith808 (October 28, 2013, 04:18 PM)
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I agree, but would not use the world 'morality' - morality is, by definition, an intellectual thing. This is not an intellectual response....

Stoic Joker:
I think it's more a matter of too great a separation between an act of war and it's consequences.
-40hz (October 28, 2013, 03:43 PM)
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And I would say you nailed it perfectly right there.

  Years ago I spent a great deal of time with a group of Vietnam vets, who were part of my security staff. When the bar closed we frequently sat around and talked shop about the events of the evening. And many times one of the staff would go back to then and the discussion would turn into stories about the war.

  One of the guys on my staff was ex black ops for an agency that he never specified. He stated one night, that the only act one can commit that is more intimate than sex (e.g. bringing a life into this world), was taking a life out of this world in hand-to-hand combat. Because there is a level of tactile/visceral understanding that just cannot be experienced by pushing a button. The audience for the discussion was made up of retired Green Burette, Airborne Rangers, Marines, and a Navy Seal. All present agreed with him wearing expressions of understanding that I will simply describe as a bit chilling.

   So Cognitive Dissonance Indeed .. Because while you can be bothered by the act of pushing a button, if you truly grok the implications of its function, it is still not the same thing as being there. And maybe on some level it helps to know that your own life was indeed in danger when one thinks back about taking the life of another. But the distinction regarding the level of personal exposure is a truly critical one. Because a metal for bravery does not IMO belong on the chest of someone who was never at that would only serve as an insult to those that earned it and were.

While I will agree that the introduction of mortality and the visceral nature of being there is different, that still doesn't excuse IMO the denigration of any that serve in any capacity.  I'll just never get that.  There are also those that are in the conflict that are there for different reasons- they aren't all heroes, no matter what acts they perform.  Then there are those that are heroes, but are in the capacity of execution of the wrong thing.

There's also the fact that some of these people who are being denigrated for their part are preventing very real casualties on the ground.  For instance, if there wasn't the jamming screw up in the example in the article and they'd been able to tell the soldiers, "hey, there's an IED on the ground there", that would have saved real casualties.  And I'm sure that has happened in other cases.  Is that contribution to be denigrated?  And once you start making these sorts of distinctions... where do you draw the line?  What about sailors on a battleship giving offshore support?  What about pilots of a bomber?  Soldiers manning missile stations?


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