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Confessions of a drone warrior

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40hz:
So, the big question here is about medals.... :down:

[edit] about my fifth edit here :-[
Maybe I shouldnt even mention morality here, but, just to be clear: I'm not at all saying that we should be discussing the morality of different aspects of the topic here. Just that the medals discussion is so the other end of the scale... I apologise in advance cause I reckon I will have already offended some people with my response. But I just dont know how else to say it at this moment and time - and I dont want to leave it unsaid. Apart from the above, the debate (medals) doesnt seem to me to fit into the (international) dc community/forum. [/edit]
-tomos (October 29, 2013, 03:03 AM)
--- End quote ---

It's not about medals per se as it's what medals represent and how they make a clear statement about the 'official' attitude towards something. Medals serve to acknowledge and encourage certain acts and behaviors on the part of the military.

To award a medal is to say something is both meritorious and deserving of recognition - which goes right to the heart of the entire drone debate.

Is this type of military behavior acceptable and moral? And is it the sort of thing the people in the USA want to see done and encouraged in their name by their (supposedly) freely elected government? Because if it's not, why would we ever consider issuing a medal?

The United States (and many other countries) have biological and chemical weapons. While some may argue for the necessity of maintaining an inventory, or the capability of producing such weapons (always in the name of that favorite catchall: deterrence), nobody sane has ever proposed awarding a medal exclusively for meritorious service in the support or deployment of such weapons. And although this comparison is a admittedly extreme, there are still many of us who feel that unmanned/remote warfare is a step down a dangerously similar road. So much so that remote controlled weapons should not be allowed to become the norm on the battlefield even if the technical capability to make them so now exists.

War is dehumanizing in and of itself. To pull the human off the battlefield further dehumanizes things and allows those nations (which can afford such technology) to wage war without the human toll, thereby making it far easier to "sell" the latest governmental military venture to the public.

But it gets worse...

Some have already made serious legal arguments that the President of the United States requires no approval (other than the executive powers of his/her own office) to deploy US remote weapon systems anywhere in the world - and for whatever reasons deemed necessary - by the President alone.

That's handing a very big stick to a group of people who have a very poor track record regarding the rule of law or the checks and balances on executive power provided by the US Constitution.

It's also important to remember that the US military has always served as check against out of control political power in the US. Our military is educated in the law. Huge amounts of time are spent at military academies learning about the rules of warfare, constitutional law, and ethics. Something our military seems to understand and respect far more than its civilian leaders sometimes do.

Drones are a very real danger because of that. If some politicos decided to do a power grab they'd need to convince the military to go along. I doubt they'd succeed. It didn't happen at the height of the cold war. And I doubt it would now.

But...if you could have a huge arsenal of remotely piloted drones - or semi-autonomous robots like the next generation of these weapons promises to be; plus a few thousand "right thinking" individuals (with police and 'security' backgrounds) installed in secret command locations; with access to that huge domestic monitoring system the US has secretly built over the last ten years...it just might be sufficient to pull off that long feared US coup d'├ętat.

Drones are a weapon that, much like nuclear/chemical/biological weapons, are something we really can't be trusted with. And if they must be used, they should only be allowed in extremely limited and clearly defined scenarios - and certainly not purely at the discretion of a single man.

We've avoided nuclear war by the simple expedient of its price being too horrible to contemplate. We've avoided chemical and biological conflict largely due to the overwhelming disgust and refusal of most people on this planet to condone or tolerate such weapons.

Drones and unmanned weapons represent a new and significant threat because they remove the perceived "human price tag" attached to military action. And that's where the real problem and danger lies. As long as your nation is on the trigger end of this technology, there is no perceived human cost. Your designated adversary has been completely dehumanized - reduced to little more than a graphic on a tactical map - or a grainy IR image on a display screen housed in a bunker 5000 miles away.

And that's a very dangerous development in tactical warfare.

One that can only be contained by a near universal attitude which clearly says: This is not acceptable. This will not be allowed.

And you can start by refusing to glorify the use of such technology. Or attempt to make it somehow psychologically equivalent to human presence on the battlefield.

And that's why the decision to award - or not award - a medal for involvement in drone combat operations is so important.

Not about medals?

It's all about medals.



Or at least so it seems to me.  ;)

-------------------------------

Apart from the above, the debate (medals) doesnt seem to me to fit into the (international) dc community/forum.
--- End quote ---

I'm not sure if I understand the point being made there. Maybe something went missing in translation? :)


wraith808:
That wasn't my intent when I posted it for sure... it was more the merging of the technology and the warrior, and the psychological effects thereof.  I think that the medals isn't off-base with the international aspects of DC IMO.  But it does point towards the attitude and conversations that surround the use of the drones, i.e. that it isn't really worthy of mention as battle and isn't worthy of recognition as battle, which I dispute.

Especially given that at times, the combatant in question isn't 5000 miles away... as when the soldier in the article above deployed to Iraq.

40hz:
Especially given that at times, the combatant in question isn't 5000 miles away... as when the soldier in the article above deployed to Iraq.
-wraith808 (October 29, 2013, 08:22 AM)
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Out of curiosity - why there?

It would be more efficient and cost effective to keep it in Nevada. No shipping charges! And certainly more secure in that there would be no risk at all of a command unit being destroyed - or even  worse, captured by the enemy. IIUC these systems use satellite communications for their control systems - so physical location of the commander doesn't seem to be all that important. (It certainly isn't for the "hitman" drones operating in Pakistan and other places.)

I strongly suspect it was done more for PR purposes than anything else. Much like the mobile nuclear weapon systems deployed in Europe in the early days of the Cold War. Those were put in place mostly to placate and assure US allies they had a "nuclear blanket."

Sad thing was, it actually increased the risk of a nuclear exchange because these weapons would almost certainly have been overrun or captured by conventional opposing forces long before they could be readied and used. So that necessitated an "early" or "preemptive launch" strategy to avoid being captured by an enemy. "Launch on certainty of attack" became reduced to an educated guess about being under attack.

Fortunately, that was something everybody eventually realized and the weapons were removed from Europe.

wraith808:
Out of curiosity - why there?

It would be more efficient and cost effective to keep it in Nevada. No shipping charges! And certainly more secure in that there would be no risk at all of a command unit being destroyed - or even  worse, captured by the enemy. IIUC these systems use satellite communications for their control systems - so physical location of the commander doesn't seem to be all that important. (It certainly isn't for the "hitman" drones operating in Pakistan and other places.)
-40hz (October 29, 2013, 08:43 AM)
--- End quote ---

I'm not sure why there... but I'd assume that for the same reason that is pointed out in the article that you linked... link latency.  He was performing flyovers at the base to accompany patrols and reinforce base security.  Link latency would be a problem, I'd think, especially when lives are on the line.  It's of little importance if the drone lands safely to be recovered when the link goes out if there's no one to recover it.

And does the reason lessen the fact that he is now on foreign soil in enemy territory?  And that he volunteered for deployment?

40hz:
And does the reason lessen the fact that he is now on foreign soil in enemy territory?  And that he volunteered for deployment?
-wraith808 (October 29, 2013, 10:15 AM)
--- End quote ---

I have no issue with Airman Bryant. I'm sure he enlisted and served with the best of intentions and truly believed his service would make the world a better place in the end. I've known others just like him who served in our nation's armed forces. Some are even in my own family.

But I consider him more a tragic figure than a hero. As I do all the patriotic and highly honorable men and women who have served this country in needless conflicts orchestrated by those who put their own interests and agendas ahead of those of their nation.

Seeing people (both allies and adversaries) die over half-truths and untruths will take its toll on anyone with a shred of humanity still left inside them. Small wonder so many have come back from conflicts such as this one with serious emotional and mental issues. Small wonder so many who live in the region of conflict will also live out their lives similarly scarred.

Perhaps I see it this way because I was "of age" (plain and simple '1-A' on my draft card) during the last years of the Viet Nam war. I saw what that war did to our nation at home and abroad. And I especially saw what it did to to many of those who served once it became public that all the reasons they thought they were fighting and dying for were largely misrepresented those few times when they weren't just flat out lies.

I see this current conflict in much the same way - and for much the same reasons. And I see it doing much the same thing to this nation - although those responsible for it have been significantly more successful in framing the story and keeping reality from interfering with "the official version" too much. So at least something has been learned by those in power after Viet Nam and the Pentagon Papers revelations.

Guess you could call that a form of progress, right? :) :(

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