The Drone War Goes Global

U.S. airborne drones now striking in half-a-dozen countries. The world and future of drone warfare.

A U.S. Predator drone flies over the moon above Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan. (AP)

A U.S. Predator drone flies over the moon above Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan. (AP)

In the Hollywood version, the Star Wars version of war, the guys using drones to fire down on rebels are rarely the good guys.

Drones are too cold, faceless, lethal to win the crowd. But around the world, drones –- for reconnaissance and for lethal attack –- are increasingly the face of the U.S. military.

In half a dozen countries now, they can and do rain down sudden, devastating violence. They’re cheaper than “boots on the ground.” They’re easier and quieter to deploy. They’re the future, experts say.

And very busy right now. But where does drone war go?

This hour On Point: Drone war.

-Tom Ashbrook


Peter Singer, senior fellow and director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. He is also the author of “Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.

John Arquilla, professor and director of the Information Operations Center, department of defense analysis, at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and author of Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military.

Matt Martin, U.S. Air Force pilot, he ‘flew’ Predator combat and surveillance missions over Afghanistan and Iraq from 2004 to 2008. He now trains future UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] pilots for the Air Force. Author of “Predator: The Remote-Control Air War over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot’s Story.”

The New America Foundation keeps a running tall of reported drone strikes. You can see their work here.

Map of Af-Pak Drone strikes
View Map of Af-Pak Drone strikes in a larger map

From Tom’s Reading List:


Here’s a report on drone technology from the Air Force.

Here’s a critical report on the nature of the drone campaign from Russian Television.

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