US Army Brass Warns Against Overuse of Drones, But 'Pandora's Box' Already Open
August 26, 2018 Sputnik International
War abolition activist Leah Bolger warns that weaponized drones allow wars to be fought without human combatants actually facing each other, and that's not a good thing. In drone warfare, "we don't really know who we're killing. We don't know what the damage is. We don't know who those people are, or all the 'collateral damage,' as they use that euphemism." EAW offers a selection of videos that reveal the potential threat posed by militarized drones -- from hand-grenade quadcopters to the Pentagon's Predator drones.
US Army Brass Warns Against Overuse of Drones,
But 'Pandora's Box' Already Open Sputnik International
(August 24, 2018) -- A senior US Army official warned Tuesday that drones are "not a panacea" because "drones don't smell, they don't feel" and can't deliver the same battlefield intelligence humans can. However, a leading anti-war activist told Sputnik, don't expect this to mean drone warfare will be in any way curtailed in the future.
"There is value to having an unmanned aerial system teamed with a manned system," Gen. James McConville, Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army, said at the National Defense Industrial Association's 2018 Army Science & Technology Symposium and Showcase in Washington, DC, Tuesday. But, he warned, "it's not a panacea."
McConville noted during his presentation that watching a screen from inside a tactical operations center is "not the same as actually being there . . . When you are working with unmanned systems, you've got to be careful that you don't believe that you know everything that is going on."
Activist Leah Bolger agrees with that: drones allow wars to be conducted without the combatants actually facing each other, and that's no good thing. In drone warfare, "we don't really know who we're killing. We don't know what the damage is. We don't know who those people are, or all the 'collateral damage,' as they use that euphemism -- the people who are actually killed," she told Sputnik Thursday.
"Drones are a really good example of something that's not just ineffective, it's countereffective; because every time you kill a person . . . then his extended family and his children's children are also going to become, now, your enemy," Bolger, chair of the coordinating committee of World Beyond War and retired military officer, said.
"So it creates enemies faster than it can kill them. It's illegal, it violates all kinds of international law about Geneva conventions and the UN charter, and it costs so much money that could be spent on human needs. So it's inhumane in that way too." Bolger has spent time researching US drone strikes and speaking with victims of US drone warfare.
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According to McConville, "You still need soldiers on the battlefield; drones don't smell, they don't feel. If you are watching me here on video, you don't get the same feeling as if you are in the crowd, and it's the same thing in combat."
Bolger would argue that no, the US doesn't need soldiers on the battlefield. "There are several reasons to oppose war in general, and the same reasons apply to drones, and the first one in my mind is the immorality of it . . . to kill each other in order to resolve differences is absurd and it's obsolete, and that's why we don't have dueling anymore, because it's idiotic to think that that's how you're going to solve a problem. So it's immoral, it's ineffective, it doesn't solve anything."
But as the Department of Defense continues to make war, it will certainly continue to make drones, McConville's statements notwithstanding. "I don't think it is something that anti-drone activists should see as a real positive sign," she said. McConville's not calling drone warfare immoral or illegal, simply not a be-all, end-all.
The Department of Defense loves drones "because American lives are not at risk . . . The only thing that resonates with the American public is if American lives are lost." Bolger said. "And with drones, that's why everybody loves them. The DoD loves them, the White House loves them, and that's the wave of the future."
She noted how Defense Department officials boast that "we're going to spend a lot of money, this is the future of warfare, we're going to use these unmanned systems, working with manned and unmanned together, and maybe unmanned and unmanned together."
"Congress just approved a 700-plus billion dollar 'defense' budget and a lot of money for drone technology, and all the drone manufacturers are now getting richer and richer. And it's not just the United States -- dozens of countries have drones, many countries have armed drones, and it's just -- it's a Pandora's box."
And with the US using drones to drop bombs on countries it's not even technically at war with -- Pakistan being one example -- how long will it be before this practice spreads?
"I don't see a closing of that Pandora's Box at all," Bolger said.
(June 22, 2018) -- The findings were made by the Intercept media outlet and Italy's La Repubblica newspaper after carrying out an investigation, based on interviews with US military officials and an analysis of open-source data.
The amount of the US drone strikes on Libya, since the start of its campaign in the north African nation in 2011, reportedly exceeds the number of US airstrikes since 2001 in Yemen, Pakistan or Somalia, media reported Thursday.
"Our Predators shot 243 Hellfire missiles in the six months of OUP [NATO operation Operation Unified Protector], over 20 percent of the total of all Hellfires expended in the 14 years of the system's deployment," retired Lt. Col. Gary Peppers, the commander of the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron during the OUP, told The Intercept.
Nor the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) or the US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa could confirm his figures, according to media outlet.
The investigation pointed at the failure of the US military to tally the number of drone strikes accurately. According to the media outlet, chief of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) Gen. Thomas Waldhauser provided an incorrect number of airstrikes in Libya in 2016 before a congressional committee in March.
"Probably very few people outside the U.S. government are even aware the U.S. is fighting in Libya, let alone conducting hundreds of lethal drone strikes there. And the U.S. seems to be quite selective about which strikes it publicizes and which it doesn't," Daphne Eviatar, the director of security with human rights at Amnesty International USA, told The Intercept.
The US strikes in Libya continued under the administration of US President Donald Trump, with the latest one being conducted on June 6 near the town of Bani Walid.
A Short Sampling of Do-it-yourself Drone Warfare
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The IS-affiliated Amaq news agency released the video of the drone strike. ABC News
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