U.S. airborne drones now striking in half-a-dozen countries. The world and future of drone warfare.
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.
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.
From Tom’s Reading List:
- Foreign Affairs: “On average, only one out of every seven U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan kills a militant leader. The majority of those killed in such strikes are not important insurgent commanders but rather low-level fighters, together with a small number of civilians. In total, according to our analysis, less than two percent of those killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have been described in reliable press accounts as leaders of al Qaeda or allied groups.”
- CBS News: “In the seven weeks since the killing of Osama bin Laden, pundits and experts of many stripes have concluded that his death represents a marker of genuine significance in the story of America’s encounter with terrorism. Peter Bergen, a bin Laden expert, was typically blunt the day after the death when he wrote, “Killing bin Laden is the end of the war on terror. We can just sort of announce that right now.”
- New York Times: “Two miles from the cow pasture where the Wright Brothers learned to fly the first airplanes, military researchers are at work on another revolution in the air: shrinking unmanned drones, the kind that fire missiles into Pakistan and spy on insurgents in Afghanistan, to the size of insects and birds.”
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.