Question about drone strikes

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by RedNose, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. RedNose

    RedNose Member

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    Hello everyone. I've been a lurker here for quite some time, with the exception of a post I made in the Air Force forum concerning some problems I had with grades. Thank you all for being a treasure trove of information for me.

    Before I start, I just want to state that I truly love this country and want only the best for it and its people; I'm committed to serving in the military and would do all I could to uphold my oath regardless of my (irrelevant) personal politics.

    I probably won't be very popular for starting this thread, and I sincerely apologize if anyone here takes offense to it, but I have to say there have been a few things that have troubled me about our military's activities in the Middle East. I've discussed this with my friends, but I feel as though current military personnel would have a very unique and valuable perspective on it.

    I fear that our use of drone strikes is counter productive. It seems as though almost every day we read stories in the news about tens of civilians being killed--women and children included. While I am sure they have the best of intentions, drone operators obviously aren't perfect and occasionally horror stories come out; weddings that turn into funerals, schools reduced to rubble, little kids being bombed.

    I understand that we are at war, and war is often inherently terrible. But I don't think that the war on terror is one that can be won solely through the use of the military (not that it should not play a role). I fear that when we conduct these strikes, particularly in such a non-transparent manner, we run the risk of radicalizing those who might otherwise have been neutral towards us. I fear that, when we act to recklessly in what we perceive to be our interests, we do irreparable damage to the image of our country. America has inspired the world for over two hundred years; our culture is present and dominant in almost every country and our military helps protect countries around the world--many of which would otherwise be in perilous positions. Maybe I'm being naïve for saying this (don't hesitate to tell me if I am) but when little kids around the world think about America, I want them to think about NASA and Disney and the country that fought Nazism and Communism. I don't want them to think of America as a country that "shoots first and asks questions later" (to be somewhat crude).

    I understand that drones are very useful tools of war--I just feel that the way we are currently using them is highly flawed.

    I'm not really a hippie; I truly want to believe that we are doing the right thing to protect this country and our allies from terrorism. Please let me know what you all think; I'm only 18 and I certainly don't have all the answers!

    Additionally, here is an article that got me thinking:
    (I'm not allowed to post links, but it's an article from the Guardian written by Rafiq ur Rehman.)
     
  2. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    At the operator level, drone crews do the best they can. Intel folks try to provide the best information. Sometimes mistakes are made, and that is a tragedy.
    There is also an ability for our enemies to claim everyone present was a civilian, as you won't see pictures of the Taliban bodies, et al, in instantly recognizable uniforms. It is also doubtful the DoD would declassify their means for target selection to disprove those claims.

    These programs have been and will continue to be debated at the highest levels. Frankly, I don't think we know whether those strikes, as a whole, will do more damage to our enemies or PR damage to us. Those in the know are continuing, so I guess that goes toward one side of the scale.
     
  3. RedNose

    RedNose Member

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    Thanks; it's just sometimes I wonder whether I'm doing the right thing. I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to wonder about it or not.
     
  4. ERAUMattmom

    ERAUMattmom Member

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    I think they call that a conscience. That and empathy. Combine those two things with that fact that you were honest enough to brave the possible flaming from this forum tells me that you have three excellent personality traits worthy of possessing. JMPO
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2014
  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Well that's one way to look at it, and it's always regrettable when civilians are killed in war. Nevertheless, and not wishing to seem callous, civilians are always killed in war. Many tens of millions were killed in WWII. Many millions intentionally. So perhaps one way to look at the drone strikes is that, although there ARE civilian casualties, we have gone far in reducing the civilian casualties in war. Not to say we shouldn't be striving to reduce them further, but since humans are involved in war, errors will happen. The only way, ultimately, to have 0 civilian casualties in war is to avoid war altogether.
     
  6. RedNose

    RedNose Member

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    Thanks to everyone for your input. At the end of the day, I suppose these are largely policy questions rather than military ones. It's an interesting world, if nothing else.
     
  7. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Not so simple. What would you do if you are the drone pilot about to launch a missile against a target and see a possible collateral damage (civilian target), you make a request to abort the mission, but it is denied?
     
  8. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    RedNose,

    First, good for you asking the tough questions. We should always... always be asking those kinds of questions.


    To Kinnem's point, one of the sad realities of warfare is that civilians will also pay a dear price. The consolation here (if there is one) is that the US has done more to minimize collateral damage in this war than perhaps any military in history.

    Congratulations on your decision to serve, and keep asking those hard questions and just maybe we can move closer to avoiding the next war altogether.
     
  9. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    There are a LOT of folks looking "over the shoulder" of those drone operators before they are cleared to hit that pickle button. This usually includes some high ranking Commanders and their staffs, to include the JAG officers, all ensuring Rules of Engagement are clearly met before the weapon is released.

    Are some civilians being killed unintentionally? Certainly. But please remember, the enemy isn't as stupid as we arrogantly think they are, and they are very savvy at public relations and "controlling" the media message. Just saying....
     

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