digital nation - life on the virtual frontier

War by remote: What do you think?

October 16, 2009 _ 15:01 / Digital Nation Team / comments (100)

We've just posted a short excerpt from our footage with the pilots who fly unmanned Predator and Reaper planes over Iraq and Afghanistan. The planes are in the war zones; the pilots are at an Air Force base in the desert north of Las Vegas. A colonel tells us how his unit struggles against the possibility of detachment as they experience combat remotely. Some pilots, however, are able to so completely immerse themselves in conducting battle via video screen that their nightly return to suburban life in Las Vegas becomes all the more jarring and challenging. Watch our rough cut here, and let us know what you think -- there's a space for comments directly below the video. As the national debate over strategy in Afghanistan rages (see FRONTLINE's season-premiere report, "Obama's War"), we would love to hear your thoughts.

--Caitlin

Comments

Wonder clip. I value PBS and Frontline for the wealth of supplementary information that is provided to support the show. I especially enjoy following up with a look at the interviews and supporting original material - both for the additional detail and so that I can draw conclusions that complement what is suggested in the broadcast.

Mark, Beverly Hills / October 17, 2009 _ 00:19

The use of uavs are definitely something we need to continue in the war simply because they give us another advantage over extremists who know and use the terrain against our forces. the ability to see what's happening overhead is in the same pot as seeing the battle physically in the air or on the ground. depending on factors, there will always be human errors in any case. I think the plane pilots struggle with a dumbed down experience of action and consequence. Sure, they aren't experiencing the battle physically or seeing the blood up close, but they do hear their own people and they have an invaluable role to play in the battle. A soldier on the ground and a pilot far away must both be prepared mentally to make judicious decisions. It's when they truly are too detached from the battle that it becomes a problem because then, they lose the responsibility it takes to be a soldier and to do what soldiers must do. Focus should be put on ensuring the technological transition is smooth but scrutinized. This is war, and technology changes through time. War doesn't change. In the end, they are still soldiers who fight for our country and live with their actions.

atmzeal / October 17, 2009 _ 15:37

If this technology reaches wrong hands , using , for instance , 20 inchs planes with radioactive material , any one, in any place in this world will be in trouble

HERALD CURTI / October 17, 2009 _ 19:20

In a war on terrorism these devices have limited real value in use as they are dependent on a level of spy Intelligence that is clearly very difficult to obtain, or on the ground accurate data/intelligence.
When used incorrectly and killing civilians it is actually self defeating to winning the style of war being fought in Afghanistan, and is therefore of limited use and value.
Used properly therefore Ok but you have to accept that errors will be made.
Regards,
Hodgson.

J.V.Hodgson / October 18, 2009 _ 03:11

Having the support of family after a long sortie helps reduce the effects of stress on a daily basis for these drone pilots. Those who operate near the frontlines of the battlefield dont have the luxury of these drone pilots. Why are they being given the same attention as those who put their lives in danger?

Rommel / October 18, 2009 _ 05:09


My guess is the the detachment necessary to be a good drone pilot would be great for creating the criminal mind.

It would be a good frontline quest to see how the ratio of broken men has changed over time among our veterans.

As a past warrior, with some strategic thinking, I cannot think of a device more respect eroding than a couch potato killing someone with a joy stick. If somebody is defending their land they, the warriors, will not be afraid, whatever you throw at them. Fight is what a warrior does. So we want to scare the civillians?

One bad target choice and more is lost than could ever be gained. Are we going to gain trust with Wyatt Erp shooting "who knows" from Las Vegas? We have already shot one wedding party too many.

A drone is the epitome of cowardice. It reflects upon us as a cowardly people. I resent that. If I were to fight an enemy that used drones, it would difficult... no, it would be impossible to respect them. And what kind of agreement does one make with someone with whom you lack respect?

Do we expect to "win" the war in Afghanistan without agreements? By frightening the civilians? Killing a wasp with a hammer is so Bush era.

I feel drones are akin to torture. Sure looks good with the beady-eyed view of perfect execution. BUT The collateral effect is a Disaster. Evil spawn equivalent to the A-bomb. How do you uninvent this cowardly gadget? How long before it is used against us?


David the Vet / October 18, 2009 _ 15:40

That this is accepect as a form of warfare...that warfare is accepeted as a form of difference resolution is only reiterating the fact of our degenerate hearts, we have learned nothing in the course of humans short time on earth, if only that killing and death will bring us closer to the inevitable resolution, the end of the era of human hearts seperated from Truth. America will never leave, this war will never end, you can not defeat an "ism". It is a condition of the heart of man.

Jeremy / October 18, 2009 _ 20:44

Our technological and scientific progress has so outpaced our ethical, social and moral development that this imbalance seems to me to be unsustainable. War is fast becoming obsolete. We now have weapons that can obliterate an entire city in a few minutes--the most indiscriminate form of genocidal mass-murder ever devised. And now we have laser weapons that can be precisely targeted from thousands of miles away.

Are either of these extremes bringing us closer to a more just, more peaceful, and more stable world? I think not. When kings put their life on the line and led their men into battle, the savagery and barbarism of war at least was an expression of physical courage. Now, even the so-called warriors are simply well-trained computer operators. The absurdity of war as a social problem-solving institution is matched only by its increasing sinfulness used by those who lack the intelligence, rationality and compassion to resolve conflict through non-violent means. The Taliban are an expression of primitive, sexist, paternalistic, tribal consciousness. But killing them will only harden their resolve to fight back in whatever way they can. I don't like their culture at all, but if I were one of them and a powerful, rich, modern nation was attacking my land in such cowardly ways as predator drones do, I'd fight back with no fear of death, just as they are doing. All I can see is a lose-lose scenario which will bring more violence, more suffering and more financial ruin to the United States.

Jerry Gerber

Jerry Gerber / October 19, 2009 _ 00:27

Fascinating but disturbing clip; it would be interesting hear more about developments in this area; to what degree are policy makers convinced of the utility of remote warfare given the nature of conflict today, i.e. the nature of conflict beyond the battlefields of of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Camino Kavanagh / October 19, 2009 _ 15:53

The war by remote control may sound a relatively 'safe' option. Look at it this way -
the bad guys know a lot of this is being conducted remotely and that is why they believe
that they should strike 'closer to home' and
I guess that type of a plan will always be on their mind.
Does sufficient thought process go into the
programs that fund such 'remote' war planning?
Will such 'remote' war ever subdue the bad guys and bring end to hostilities?
This is as cultural war between those that support eastern culture and on the other hand those that support the west and the seeds of this animosity were probably sown centuries ago. It does not appear we have statesmen currently at the help or on the horizon who have a solution.

Louis D'Mello / October 20, 2009 _ 02:10

Dave the Vet is an idiot.
Signed,
Navy Pilot.

John Earhart / October 20, 2009 _ 19:30

It would truly be wonderful if we lived in a world where calm, reasoned, discussion could solve all disagreements but alas we do not. As a deputy sheriff long ago I learned that sometimes the other party just does not want to talk, they want to kill you. If having an unmanned drone not only protects the pilots who fly them but helps protect the men and women who risk their lives because their country sent them there, then by all means fuel them up and send them aloft. Any innocent that is killed in conflict is a tragedy and must be avoided if at all possible, but innocents have been killed in war since the beginning of time and that will always be the case. Tp Dave the Vet, I do not respect a "warrior" who hides behind children, who treats their own women as property, that only wants to teach their children to hate anyone who is a "non-believer". I hate war, was always against Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld's war in Iraq but to those that would bring down buildings filled with innocents from all over the world, let them feel the wrath rained down from the skies.

Mike R. / Atlanta / October 20, 2009 _ 23:55

Do not have a plethora of "golden words" except to say that it gets the job well done with the least amount of risk to our pilots and crews.
This is better that flying an AC130 around and taking ground fire!

Phil / October 21, 2009 _ 00:01

God bless the people who do that job. It is an important job. Glory to God that we have such technology. We play ball to win.

shayna / October 21, 2009 _ 00:52

The great thing about remote control planes is you can remote control the pilots too. You can monitor their Internet usage, what radio they listen to and who they talk to. If they show any doubt, if they question what they're doing, it doesn't matter -- they're pin-compatible. Swap out the bad one. Plug in an enthusiastic fresh one. You're freed from the corrosive effects of reality on moral.

Hasan / October 21, 2009 _ 09:33

We should be building Reapers and Predators as fast as we can. Let us fight the most primitive means of warfare, suicide bombers and roadside bombs, with the greatest technology that the world has ever seen.

Reapers can save the lives of U.S. soldiers. That's a very good thing.

John Tedder / October 21, 2009 _ 10:42

1. I think we need to monitor and reduce our DESTRUCTION in other countries. The positive effect of bombs & killing is very limited in these wars. We are fighting a war of ideas with extremists, but we are not presenting enought of a credible & noble alternative set of values & ideas. Think how a villager will be persuaded?

I'm an American Engineer, have lived in Asia, and find most Muslims to have similar values to Americans. (though we consume & waste disproportionate oil & other resources)

2. Why does our culture not talk about the total numbers of Iraqi & Afghani LIVES LOST & injuries in these wars we are fighting? And maybe a combattant vs. non-combatant breakdown? I guess PRECISE destruction is probably better than Large Destruction. Each person/ father/ mother/ child we kill is a big strike against us in a war of ideas.

3. I worry that DETACHMENT from the killing only takes us further out of balance. We need to be protecting villages & ethnic groups vs. killing "bad guys" (with many mistakes of accidentally killing good guys).

4. I agree with above posts that we are losing the MORAL war. Our ethics and actions are questionable and we are not building enough respect for us as a people and our way of life.

5. I feel we might make better political decisions if we had a DRAFT, where rich people's sons & daughters would be equally at risk of going to war. Where politician's sons & daughters served in the same proportion as poor neighborhood's sons & dauthers. Again, our decision making is so remote from the EVIL and DANGER of war & killing.

Rob in Atlanta / October 21, 2009 _ 13:15

There's nothing honorable about this.

Ray / October 21, 2009 _ 17:04

Keeping as many troops as possible out of harms way is always a good thing. Because of that I support the predators and drones. What bothers me most is that if we take the human element out of war, we decrease our risk factors, and we will have a cloudier judgement and make poor decisions. This is a slippery slope.

Staci / October 22, 2009 _ 15:11

Nicely done! We need to kill more people like this. All we need to make sure is that the ones with american passports don't get hurt. Awesome work pilots, you are all the great Americans!

Johnny Gumnan / October 22, 2009 _ 15:18

We will feel differently the day these are used against us on our own soil, terrorizing our lives and the lives of our families. Shame on America and the other countries who use these weapons of terror against others.

Think for a second / October 22, 2009 _ 15:18

All you armchair generals calling these guys cowards should be ashamed. The real cowards are people like you, who sit in judgment of men who are fighting for this country.

While you may not agree with UAV weaponry, it is no more barbaric than flying a plane into a building and murdering 3,000 innocent civilians. At least with a UAV we can control who is it. Is it 100% effective? No. Is it even close to the kind of barbarism that would be inflicted on you as an American if you were caught on the ground over there? No way in hell.

For those of you arguing they are causing us to be hated more, stop displaying how misinformed you are. The western culture was hated long before we began using drones over there. And you can rest assured that if we stop using them, the Islamic radicals are not going to suddenly decide we're ok. Wake up.

Kukulkan / October 22, 2009 _ 15:24

Honorableness does not come into play in this situation.

We're not dealing with an enemy who understands the concept of honor.

We are dealing with an enemy that uses every cheap trick in the book to kill our soldiers.

There is nothing honorable about going into a market filled with women and children and blowing yourself up.

There is nothing honorable about planting IED's

These people are cowards who have taken Islam and twisted it into a justification to kill anybody on any grounds for anything.

Patton said it right: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country"

Drones are part of making sure that the odds are stacked in our favor, not theirs. And despite all the bluster you'll hear from the Taliban's mouth piece, drones scare the shit out of the average Taliban soldier. The idea that a practically invisible plane could be watching you at anytime and kill you without warning is a very effective psychological weapon.

As for winning the hearts and minds of the people, that's the job for boots on the ground. Nobody (of honor) wants to see civilians killed. There is nobody in the military who is happy to hear that their actions caused the death of innocent people. Unfortunately we fight an enemy who has no qualms about collateral damage.

The best that we can do in Afghanistan is to defeat the Taliban as quickly as we can and destroy their ability to reconstitute themselves. Once that task is accomplished, we can get about the business of nation building.

Tim in USA / October 22, 2009 _ 15:28

Any kind of bombing was considered coward and dirty in the old days. Still is... Soldiers should look their enemy in the eyes.

jp / October 22, 2009 _ 15:43

To all who are mentioning /referring to 9/11 - please take note that the US Government started funding the Taliban in their war against the Soviet Union in the late 80's & early 90's. Long before 9/11/2001.

Anon / October 22, 2009 _ 15:46

I'm Sorry why are they there again?

lewsut / October 22, 2009 _ 15:47

I think this is a great piece, a subject very worth exploring, however, I think it's less important than what I'm still interested in, and that's whether or not the American populace could explain "why" the US is engaged there.

Why?

I feel the lack of a clear justification is the 800 pink elephant in the room and in the case of war, it's not acceptable there is no clear cut mandate.

saul tanner / October 22, 2009 _ 15:47

War is a nasty business, that is as it should be, lest we get to like it too much. Anything that makes war easier and less nasty from our point of view is dangerous for our moral health as a nation. This is exactly what happened to ancient Rome; it went from a republic in which every citizen was subject to the discipline of military service to a corrupt and lazy oligarchy whose wars were fought by mercenaries on distant borders. We divorce ourselves from the horrors of war at our peril.

Spike / October 22, 2009 _ 15:52

War as video game. This is what have we become.

To not have to look the person in the face when killing them is to ignore the horror of warfare.

Game Over.

Austin Engineer / October 22, 2009 _ 15:57

Five bucks says David the vet-- isn't.

William Ruffian / October 22, 2009 _ 15:57

Yeah....who gives a damn about the REAL reasons behind these wars hey? I bet you are all very happy and satisfied to bring "democracy" and "freedom" in these countries with bullets and bombs from drones not? I'm sure it's a nice way to win the hearts and minds of the locals.Oops...,I forgot that you people care for that just as much as bringing freedom and democracy ^^
Whatever,don't worry,everything is cool.
Just go "secure" their oil and/or space for a oil pipe or whatever they have of (geopolitical) interest up there.Or simply go and revenge 9/11 in whatever country is resposible for that this season.

Barbaricfellow / October 22, 2009 _ 15:59

Kudos to Rob in Atlanta for his comments.

I am constantly amazed at how willingly Americans gulp down distortions and abstractions when it comes to war. The drones will just create another 9/11, it's really that simple.

Peter Tebbut / October 22, 2009 _ 16:05

This has always been an issue for pilots. Seperation from the blood that is spilt.

WWII
They fly from the south of england and bomb berlin then return to the pub and in many cases girls.

In Vietnam they slept in air conditioned beds in Thailand, went out and drank like fish visited prostitutes. But by day they dodged SAMS over Hanoi or fired heat seeking missiles at other aircraft from miles away

The only change is that the pilots aren't at risk. That said, i'd like to see highway fatality stats for nevada compared to the combat death rate of manned aircraft over afghanistan. I bet the pilots have a higher chance of being killed commuting to the drone's cockpit than they do taking hostile fire while sitting in an f-16 over afghanistan.

So this is not a "complete cultural change" as the pilot states. Unless you consider the loss of income to bars and hookers. Although they are in Neveda so.....

frank / October 22, 2009 _ 16:25

so...would it be better for them to be in the war zone and dying? Are we to be against the natural progression of technology?

This tech saves soldiers' lives, and it is effective. It is killing terrorists. End of story.

j s / October 22, 2009 _ 16:29

The drones probably just instill the same fear that russian air power commanded during that particular failed attempt at occupation.
I dont remember any back slapping american proclaiming their shining gallantry and honor for mother Russia.

As those children of the Russian war grew up to be the handful of adult fighters that seem to bedevil our gallant horde, so too their children right now are learning
war.
In a country with literacy rates in the single digits I think the money spent on UAVs', their armament and the training time could and should go to something more beneficial.

But that would take actual work , not as fun as blowing something up WooHoo.


micha / October 22, 2009 _ 16:43

This is shameful and unbelievable,

And whats the deal with the "bad guys" talk?

Are these people's IQs maxed out at 70?

Lets label half the world "bad guys" and kill them...

Asghar / October 22, 2009 _ 16:51

You have a natural tendency
To squeeze off a shot
You're good fun at parties
You wear the right masks
You're old but you still
Like a laugh in the locker room
You can't abide change
You're at home on the range
You opened your suitcase
Behind the old workings
To show off the magnum
You deafened the canyon
A comfort a friend
Only upstaged in the end
By the Uzi machine gun
Does the recoil remind you
Remind you of sex
Old man what the hell you gonna kill next
Old timer who you gonna kill next
I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Saw a U.S. Marine in a pile of debris
I swam in your pools
And lay under your palm trees
I looked in the eyes of the Indian
Who lay on the Federal Building steps
And through the range finder over the hill
I saw the front line boys popping their pills
Sick of the mess they find
On their desert stage
And the bravery of being out of range
Yeah the question is vexed
Old man what the hell you gonna kill next
Old timer who you gonna kill next
Hey bartender over here
Two more shots
And two more beers
Sir turn up the TV sound
The war has started on the ground
Just love those laser guided bombs
They're really great
For righting wrongs
You hit the target
And win the game
From bars 3,000 miles away
3,000 miles away
We play the game
With the bravery of being out of range
We zap and maim
With the bravery of being out of range
We strafe the train
With the bravery of being out of range
We gain terrain
With the bravery of being out of range
With the bravery of being out of range
We play the game
With the bravery of being out of range

asdf / October 22, 2009 _ 16:53

soldier=terrorist

Cody / October 22, 2009 _ 16:56

That Predator operator is a piece of s***. And he references God? What a piece of s*** he is. God would not condone this.

Gss / October 22, 2009 _ 17:42

Why make this the 'Obama War' ?.. Sure he's the president now.. But he sure didn't start it.. I'm not trying to defend Obama but if you're trying to name something correctly DO so. Make it neutral.. Make it the 'The American War' which is exactly what it is.. Americans voted for whomever was in office that started the war.

GD / October 22, 2009 _ 17:58

That Gss is a piece of s***. And he references a God reference. What a piece of s*** he is. God would not condone this reference.

anon / October 22, 2009 _ 18:02

Shayna said: "we play ball to win"

It's not a ballgame, sweetheart. It's war. It's killing. This kind of simple-minded thinking by the citizenry is what allows so much carnage to continue to take place.

Shayna and a few others have mentioned God, and how much He loves this. I sure hope you aren't meaning The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. If you'd have asked Jesus on 9/11 what the appropriate response would be, you know what his response would be? It would be "turn the other cheek". So sure, get all riled up, screech and holler and run to murder other people in distant lands, but don't kid yourself: He sees this all as what it is - evil.

Old Warrior / October 22, 2009 _ 18:55

The use of crossbows was once considered cowardice.

The use of firearms was once considered cowardice.

This is merely another technological step. I'm not saying it is morally/ethically right or wrong, but to condemn it as cowardice is wrong.

Anonymous / October 22, 2009 _ 19:02

Welcome to 1984
Alternated as 2009
Surrealism prevail
When Double-dealing Coward Warmongering Liar
Gladly accepts Peace Prize without condition or logic
Awarded by the Committee of Imbeciles, Morons and Idiots
That surrenders to political correctness
And embraces great hypocrisy
In furnishing the fraud
Only because they are stupified
By Obama's chest-puffing
Pontificating the need and want for world peace
In ostentatious & empty speeches
While practicing pitiful morals and free-range murder
Drone attacks are good to spare presence of chickenhawk jingos who lust to kill with impunity
Manning remote control in the safety of Creech Air Force in Nevada
Like it's a fun video game
To commit carnage
Too bad dozens of innocent civilians die in one blast from the air
So what? We're only focusing on bad guys, real or imagined
This is War on Terror
We love America! Great Britain! Israel!
Morally righteous in delivering imperial justice!
Even when poor children must be sacrificed over there
We regret it happens while shedding crocodile tears
War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength

Nepos Libertas / October 22, 2009 _ 19:15

Bloody hands are the scourge of war, themselves its greatest deterrent.

When killing becomes a precision task far removed from the battlefield then humanity is entering the Twilight Zone.

What's next? A button that turns certain people "off."

Fear made these machines, fear uses these machines, and fear will preserve them. I truly hope we never face an enemy as callous and equipped as ourselves.

Joshua / October 22, 2009 _ 19:19

The drones are a tool, and any tool can be used as a weapon. That said, it is ludicrous to think that using a new technology automatically puts us at risk of its misuse. With that mentality, perhaps we should turn off the TV, pack up our belongings and move to Lancaster, PA and join the Amish in rejecting technology. Of course, that would severely limit our ability to comment on issues such as this online....

Ed / October 22, 2009 _ 19:25

Oh, and one more thing:
Every single war is fought over resources. The elites of a country want the resources of another land. Long ago they learned that the only thing better than attacking them and stealing those resources, is to conquer them and force the vanquished to harvest their own resources, and give them to the victors.

But also long ago, the elites realized that the masses would never support their campaigns if they told them the truth. So they feed you endless propaganda about "our way of life" and "the bad guys".

In the video, Capt. McDermott talks about one of the "bad guys" doing regular stuff, like playing with kids, but then "sure enough" he was doing bad guy stuff, and so they had to kill him. What makes a bad guy a bad guy? Flying planes into buildings? Bombing buildings from thousands of miles away? Who are the bad guys? The Captain could have been describing himself - going home to his kids, having barbecues, doing regular stuff, but then "sure enough" going to a meeting of bad guys and systematically murdering people, day after day.

Ask yourself this: why are we so interested in the Middle East? The world is a very, very big place, and yet we are so fixated, and have been for the past 50 years, on this tiny little bit of land. You already know the answer - the answer is Oil. We need their resources, and we've already conquered them. But we have to go back periodically when the vanquished push back, and put them in their place. Don't kid yourself. This is not about freedom or democracy. This is about resources, as it always is.

And make no mistake: when the elites of this country want your resources, they will come and take them. Because you are conquered, too. And will your neighbors accept the use of predator drones then? It depends how good the propaganda is. But probably. Because they play ball to win.

Old Warrior / October 22, 2009 _ 19:27

I would like to thank everybody for the (mostly) insightful and thought-provoking comments on this video, they have genuinely been a joy to read.

Mike, UK / October 22, 2009 _ 20:11

One bad target choice, and more is lost than could ever be gained.

Any act of cowardice is reflected on us as a people. I refuse, admittedly refuse, to be responsible for others viewing Americans as deceitful, untrustworthy, or incapable of making morally sound decisions. If those things occur, we shall never win against the current aggressors in Afghanistan, and we will certainly not come to any agreements with it's people. I would not personally come to terms with anyone I had no respect for, therefore I should not be surprised that a people indigenous to an honor based society, will not meet with soldiers and marines they feel are unscrupulous. Perfect execution on a tactical level does not translate into a victory in the broad sense of this battlefield.

Our people, soldiers, and marines need to ensure that every action they take will reflect positively on the United States as a whole, in order for the views currently held by the Afghani people to change. This change in perspective will only become the reality if this is realized on the individual level by the operators currently working hand-in-hand with the Army, Police, and Civilians within Afghanistan's borders.

Tactics that previously had improved our strategic advantage over the enemy may not be employed with such indiscretion as they have in the past. The use of drones, aerial strikes, and heavy artillery can be more harmful than beneficial if it is perceived, by the people we are attempting to protect, to be a dishonorable action. The use of a unmanned, invisible, robot to kill seemingly at whim does not create a spirit of protection. Instead it induces a feeling of rampant fear that the deeply embedded enemy can multiply amongst the people with false propaganda in order to scare them into submission. A poor farmer in a deeply religious village who has possibly never even seen a computer, would find the idea of a constantly threatening, explosive menace from the sky, deeply disturbing.

This is by no means a reduction of the importance of these technologies in the creation and confirmation of intelligence on the battlefield. Nor is it meant to be degrading to the people manning those machines. There is a place for such objects, but I am not sure that the place they should be used in is the current political climate in Afghanistan.

To put this into perspective, I give a scenario which is very possible in the current area of operations inside southern Afghanistan. A UAV pilot tracks a truck of insurgents carrying rockets to a small village where intelligence indicates attacks on coalition forces are being organized. The UAV pilot is given clearance to destroy that truck, as it leaves the village. This explosion is massive and the local people for miles around can see the fireball. If the local leadership is aligned with the Taliban forces like intelligence suggests, they will not report this to the people as a coalition precision airstrike on a hostile target. Instead it will be said that civilians, possibly even women and children in a truck were destroyed by the evil Americans, who without mercy, cowardly attack people from the sky with fireballs. The willingness of these people to work with Americans and to revolt against the Taliban regime in that area is now all but zero. Without men on the ground to dispel such rumors and treat those citizens with respect, the brilliant tactical success of a precision air strike on a hostile target, becomes a loss ultimately for gaining control over that area.

In every case in which a victory has occurred against a deeply embedded insurgent group operating inside of a sympathetic populace, the most important tactical aspect of the winning operation was soldiers operating daily amongst civilians. The more secure people feel by having a sympathetic, responsive, and capable presence, the more likely they will be to stop funding and hiding the insurgent groups operating within their midst. This requires a large number of personnel responding to their needs and dispelling any false information that may be spread by the opposing forces. The only weakness of an insurgency operating inside the culture, language, and customs of a populace is the populace itself. If coalition forces are able to effectively take this single aspect of their fight away from them, it guarantees they cannot continue their fight as they will have no support from the people they require to hide them. While the removal of weapons, removal of monetary gain, and the immediate response to violence are needed actions, those actions become less of a priority than the opinions of the populace when fighting this type of warfare. This then poses the the question; Do the losses on the larger scale outweigh the tactical gains incurred by using UAV strikes in Afghanistan? In this Marine's humble opinion, that answer is yes.

Cpl. of Marines / October 22, 2009 _ 20:13

If winged machines piloted by people who believe they are hunting "bad guys" ever came for you I bet this would be a more clear concept (crystal clear to be exact).

Joshua / October 22, 2009 _ 20:13

CAPT Dan: Prays to god to guide his hand + Convinced that killing people 8000 miles away is saving lives.

Curiouser and curiouser.

We will withdraw from AFPAK. When we leave, there will be more poppies, more Talib and more institutionalized support for the corrupt gvt. Notwithstanding the hyperbole from a certain side of the aisle, there is not a single real national security interest we have in AFG. No more US/NATO blood on AFG dirt. AFG is a geographically huge, resource devoid, expensive to reach theater. No more blood on AFG dirt.

Ace Miller / October 22, 2009 _ 20:22

I find this interesting for a few reasons, but here the main two. "Real" pilots consider UAV pilots to be a joke. They're simulator jockeys who sit in a room thousands of miles away. They don't live in a crappy little shack where mortars are falling, they don't have to deal with sand and bugs and heat, they don't have to say goodbye to their family for months at a time. For this reason I'm skeptical of what this video implies, but I'm willing to learn more about it. Maybe the disconnect that we are allowed to make when we go overseas somehow makes things easier. When I leave I say goodbye, sit on a plane forever, then land in an alien war zone. It's definitely not home. Perhaps that utter contrast from our regular life in the US makes it easier to keep our brain in check.

Besides that, I would be very interested to see what the statistics are for fighter pilots or bomber crews with PTSD vs. those of the UAV drivers. I can't imagine that watching a bomb fall on a TV screen in Nevada is more traumatic than feeling your airplane get lighter when you pull the trigger, knowing a physical bomb that was just attached mere feet from yourself was ejected from your airplane. I will admit that these UAV guys are doing the same things as a fighter pilot. They take off, find a bad guy, track him, launch a missile, and return to base. But the vast distance between themselves and the fighting, the sleeping in their own beds, the Walmarts and Costcos, makes it really hard for me to sympathize.

Joe / October 22, 2009 _ 21:14

Very sad. A very long time from now, humans will mature and look back at our addiction to war, greed, violence, and hatred... of ourselves and the rest of life.

There is only Peace and Love. So love the terrorist, for he is you.

(in the words of Abraham Lincoln)

"Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

Artist of Peace / October 22, 2009 _ 22:29

All empires have fallen as will the US, when the government decides to use these weapons within the US I wonder what these “patriots” will say? “If it’s saving soldiers lives it’s a good thing”, what a joke. Keep lying to your selves. US soldiers fighting for democracy, the rights of the Afghanis, Iraqis, whomever we happen to be killing, freedom, revenge for 911; keep deluding yourselves so you can sleep at night. We fight for the rights of multinational corporations to steal the resources from the very ground that our “enemies” walk on. And for those of you who are so eager to attack the messenger, I did my 4 years in the Marine Corp and left with an honorable discharge. Then I learned to read, you might start with Smedley Butlers’ “War Is a Racket”, Butler was one of the most decorated marines ever by the way. If that doesn’t open your eyes try Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of The US”, and lastly check out any of Nome Chomsky’s books on US foreign policy. Dialogue and diplomacy work better then bombs..

Ed / October 22, 2009 _ 22:52

I agree 100% with this poster from Oct 18:

In a war on terrorism these devices have limited real value in use as they are dependent on a level of spy Intelligence that is clearly very difficult to obtain, or on the ground accurate data/intelligence.
When used incorrectly and killing civilians it is actually self defeating to winning the style of war being fought in Afghanistan, and is therefore of limited use and value.
Used properly therefore Ok but you have to accept that errors will be made.
Regards,
Hodgson.
J.V.Hodgson / October 18, 2009 3:11 AM

tommy tuna / October 22, 2009 _ 23:10

...The drones kill more innocent civilians. And their manufacturers are making record earnings.

In fact the United States is the largest weapons producer in the World - no doubt getting bigger & BIGGER too.

Just a few of these companies my be found in this article:
http://www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms/updates/profiteers121701.html

Who needs Peace when War makes them rich? and they buy/lobby our "Representatives" in govt.

Jaqcqui B / October 22, 2009 _ 23:19

THE 'PILOTS' of unmanned drones...

Aruba / October 22, 2009 _ 23:25

Great vid guys. Perhaps it needs a bit more time spent showing what exactly is wrong with this, considering all of the people here that have missed that completely. Ed (above post) is spot on.

Ed2 / October 23, 2009 _ 00:19

Pathetic american army scum hard at "work".

Proud non-american / October 23, 2009 _ 00:42

What I find interesting is that this US Air Force group seems to be largely unopposed by the people they are in combat with much the same as it was with the early B52 bomber air flights over Vietnam.
In Vietnam the air defense's were easily overwhelmed at first until the Chinese allies of the North Vietnamese started introducing highly accurate surface to air missiles. This altered the battlefield for the B52 air crews immensely in the fact that they were no longer invincible and that they could actually be shot down. Their detached view of the battlefield suddenly became connected and it began to affect the actual crews who witness's they fellow crews appearing in the North Vietnamese prison camps.

With the present cyber-pilots, they have not met any sever opposition from the ground forces, they may be in for a rather large shock when someone or some group actually throws up some effective opposition. Though no one would actually be fatally wounded by the loss of the robot airplane, and I have some suspicions that this could happen to the support people in the combat area, there would be most likely a great deal stressful feedback producing great anxiety for these cyber-pilots. How this would play out on these pilots lives after they disconnect daily with the high possibility of failure, would be a situation that would have to monitored very closely. They would have the actual taste of war in the real senses but the fear of failure from hard effective opposition would start to play on their perception of war.

Bystander / October 23, 2009 _ 00:54

Shout out to the maintenance guys that still deploy in support of the UAV's, and don't get to drive home after the duty day.

perkins driver / October 23, 2009 _ 01:01

From the more sane writers on this comment thread there has been some emphasis of the fact that airpower can often be counterproductive in the context of a counterinsurgency campaign. I think that's beyond dispute at this point; at the same time there are a wide range of circumstances where the kind of precision firepower that an MQ-9 can provide is useful. Perhaps more importantly, the real-time tactical intelligence that UAVs provide can and has made all the difference in a very large number of engagements between ISAF forces and their enemies. As a counterexample, one of the major lessons being taken away from the attempted overrun of VPB Kahler in Wanat last July is that the attacking Taliban force would not have been able to approach the American position and establish itself if the American platoon had been supported by a Predator or Reaper overhead. The simple fact is that there are insufficient numbers of these platforms to cover our forces in the field and at the same time conduct offensive strikes in Pakistan. Clearly, the intelligence that can be generated from the air in Pakistan is indeed scanty, the drones depend on good HUMINT to find their targets in that context.
As regards the remainder of the comments, ones attacking the use of such aircraft (or indeed, warfare in general) as immoral, I can only offer my opinion that those who feel that violence has never solved anything haven't been paying attention for very long.
Bystander, in answer to that ever-popular question, "what happens when your predator gets shot down?", the answer is 'pretty much nothing'. they've lost a couple to enemy fire in the past, back during OSW before the Iraq war started. Obviously the flight crew have a long, hard debrief with their chain of command and someone writes up a "lessons learned" (don't fly into the threat ring of an antiarcraft gun!) and the pilot has a nice black mark put on his record, unofficially. But I wouldn't imagine that it's nearly as stressful as physically being shot down.

Matt Hill / October 23, 2009 _ 02:17

This is murder, nothing else.

Europe / October 23, 2009 _ 02:40

Look -- I agree with you all that dropping bombs (however precise) from 30,000 feet isn't exactly winning over the hearts and minds of the citizens of whatever country we're bombing -- but who are you to say that you want a flesh and blood pilot in the plane doing it? For what purpose, to add some sort of requisite "risk" to the operation? Will the fact that the bomber had a beating heart somehow soften the blow of losing loved ones? I think not.

There's no "honorable" way to win this sort of war. It's not about the methods, and far be it from me to insist that some soldier has to put his neck on the line for "honor" just so that I can feel like my country is fighting the right sort of war.

It's a little sick that some of you think there is a right and a wrong way to travel to another country and kill people -- it's ALL wrong. I don't care if you do it with a UAV or a butter knife, you just killed someone's brother / son / daughter / etc. All that matters is the "why", the how is inconsequential.

Bottom line, my thoughts on this war (and war in general) aside, I'm glad that more US pilots are coming home to their families.

Ryan in Seattle / October 23, 2009 _ 02:46

Anyone who declares "Glory to God we have such technology" is closer to any terrorist, or the taliban than needs be said. The real thing for us to realize, is that we need to stick to our continental affairs, and not bud in with other countries, the same goes for the religion.

The religious belief of ANY individual in our country should not matter, as our country is based on- and even quoting the founding fathers, that religion has no basis to guide, nor decide our actions as a country.

Furthermore, it's needless for us to meddle in affairs overseas. 9/11, as much as a tragedy, and a crime against humanity as it was, is a pathetic and needless example for us to make two other countries, and uncountable peoples suffer. Their wars, civil may they be, are theirs to fight. Ours only to support in spirit, and by example.

We are a free country. Religion has no place in politics or people's opinions of others among our own. Everyone is equal. Despite religion. Atheist, Muslim, Christian, Scientologist, Bhuddist, Pagan, etc.. We all have the exact same rights as another, providing by we don't harm another. Those that caused such events as terrorists bombings are likely dead at this time. We need only worry ourselves with out defense, as a continent- Not overseas, especially considering the technology at hand.

Alex / October 23, 2009 _ 02:59

I wonder how long it will take for this people to start shooting drones controlled by people in another airbase in the other side?

Pepe Sepulveda / October 23, 2009 _ 04:01

These drones have killed to many innocents. It is obvious that they are wonderful weapons but I would hazard to guess that their civilian casualty rate is much higher than that with ground troops.

If you must conduct a war, you must do it as humanely as possible. This isn't a matter of bleeding hearts, it is a matter of winning hearts and minds.

The idea that people do this kind of thing for a living makes me a little sick. I know that I could never entertain the idea of being friends with someone who does this for a living. It is ghoulish and sociopathic. I would never let this man near my children.

Michael Chewning / October 23, 2009 _ 08:41

It is nothing less then cold-blooded assassination. They are acting as judge, jury, and executioners. As well as murdering a lot of known innocent people.

Robert / October 23, 2009 _ 11:49

As we rely more on "intelligence", we should be less inclined to use force, not more. I think it is time we reverse the trend of war being less and less formally declared. The "last time United States declared officially war was in 1942, against Romania." (wikipedia) Just think of what we have done since then! I think that if we decide we have to declare ware to wage it, we will do it less often, more appropriately, and with better results. America, as a country that was founded on rights, should begin to recognize the rights of other nations and other people. This stuff will bring us more hate, not less.

Nick / October 23, 2009 _ 11:57

If you cannot stop war then maybe it is a good thing to limit the casualties of the side that you are on. This kind of warfare is inevitable - as technology advances the military-industrial complex will continue to "evolve" in a direction of cheap and efficient combat. I agree that there is more room for mistakes and collateral damage, but honestly ask yourself; if America is to be in a war, do you want your son or daughter in foreign soil fighting that war? Or do you want your son or daughter to be commanding a machine that does the fighting for us?

Basil / October 23, 2009 _ 12:24

perkins driver: Good call.. The pilots may not be in harms way but there is a lot of ground crew there to support the remote pilots.

To frontline - research this aspect, the relationship between the pilots and ground crew and I'll bet you find a lot of resentment (for lack of a better way to put it)

The "detachment" that is happening to these remote pilots is enviable. They are already lying to themselves. Look at 1:49 - You can tell when the lady interviewing one of the pilots on the field with a drown in the background. She ask him "So you don't think u've ever hit someone you never intended to hit" He says no.. My guess is that most of the pilots would say no. why? Because detachment is the only way they have get through it.

Add a interview with a doctor experienced in this area and see what they have to say.

I would love to see you interview a drone pilot with a few hundred mission, one just after his first or second mission, and maybe even an F16 or Apache pilot on station in Afghanistan for some more contrasting views. Ask them how they feel about the drone pilots. I don't know but I would love to here it from them.

There are some ethical issues here. Issues no different than them using IED's to kill our soldiers. The only difference I can see is in the motivation. And that it is saving American lives.

-JRS

John / October 23, 2009 _ 12:26

Make it a videogame and people will pay to do the job. Heck, they wouldn't even have to know it was real.

Trevor James / October 23, 2009 _ 12:34

more war, more money, more deaths, more hate.

joshua / October 23, 2009 _ 12:49

"Who ever appeals to the law against his fellow man is either a fool or a cowered, who ever can not take care of him self with out this law is both. For a wounded man shall say to his assailant. If I die you are forgiven, but if I live I will kill you. Such is the rule of honor."

Suicide bombers detach themselves from the humanity they are wrapped in, and take the life of the innocent.

Sounds like an even match to me.

Jonas / October 23, 2009 _ 13:14

hmmmm.......!

tayyabr / October 23, 2009 _ 13:17

It seems a lot of the comments here are comparing the life of one of these predator drone pilots to the life of someone on the front line. It's not the same. There's advantages and there's disadvantages.

It's certainly a more safe form of war, and the pilots don't experience the depth of battle that soldiers on the front lines experience.

On the other hand they go from a situation of having just killed to spending time with their family or friends, sometimes within the course of an hour, which really isn't an easy adjustment to make. I can picture the conversation now "Molly said her first words just an hour ago!", "I killed 53 people just an hour ago."

Stop comparing it. It's a different experience, and this kind of coverage is trying to expose that.

Selidor / October 23, 2009 _ 19:07

David the Vet. Thanks for your analysis. It's reassuring to know my view is held by those who have seen active service and have a strategic mindset as well. I appreciate that.

Charles Frith / October 24, 2009 _ 07:02

I think it is important to ask questions about the likely strategic responses to the use of drones. For example, look at Hezbollah and Hamas, which function as hybrid militia/mafia/government organizations that seek to maintain total integration with civilian populations as a strategic offset to the overwhelming military power of their adversaries. Such organizations are extremely difficult to dislodge once established. Establishing and expanding such an integrated position is clearly a primary goal of the Taliban in their Afghanistan-Pakistan strongholds.
Intelligence led operations using precision strikes against these type of integrated organizations suffer from the same problems as law enforcement against organized crime and street gangs- namely that if you don't change the fundamentals of the local economics, politics, education, etc., then it doesn't matter how many kingpins you take out, they are simply replaced with those below them. In some cases you can even be doing their own work for them, because they can feed out intelligence which leads you to kill their internal opponents.
Although you could conceivably use drones to kill anyone carrying out obvious outdoor violence, or even to enforce total curfews on whole areas, such impositions would not significantly damage an integrated organizations (i.e. the Taliban's) ability to stay in control of an area unless there was a simultaneous ground presence of security and humanitarian forces that could supplant the social and economic functions of the integrated organization.
This then begs the question of why you would use drones at all if you are not going to have simultaneous ground engagement, since without the ground engagement there is little to no possibility of addressing the core conditions that give an integrated organization like the Taliban their power. Most importantly, unless the ground forces treat the local population better than the integrated organization did, then there will be no reason for the locals to support the ground forces.
For these reasons, and many of those mentioned by other postings, it seems very likely that in the long run drones cannot address the underlying reason for the conflict in Af-Pak or any similar conflict. Even worse, if drones are over-used they are likely to further entrench groups like the Taliban by creating exactly the kind of local instability and fear that helps them to impose and integrate themselves into the local population.
Although your own research and interviews might come to very different conclusions than those above, I hope that you are able to include discussion of the likely strategic responses/outcomes of the use of drones in your documentary.

Harold Jamison / October 24, 2009 _ 16:48

This is a terrible assasin, America is crazy

Jose / October 24, 2009 _ 18:28

Notice how these computer geeks dress up in flight suits just like real aircrews. Why not dress blues? (Jacket and tie.)

ethanallen / October 25, 2009 _ 09:31

In the 1930s future Luftwaffe pilots trained in glider clubs because Germany was forbidden a military. (Later the capitalists permitted the building of a military, contrary to the Treaty of Versailles, to counterbalance the Bolsheviks in the east.)
We, on the other hand, have trained our future warriors (and some criminals-the Columbine shooters reportedly trained on violent computer games)in computer game rooms.
The US air force is now training RPV pilots without any actual flying-after all it is just an adult computer game-but they will continue to wear flight suits and collect flight pay. What a ridiculous charade.
Geeks and nerds don't despair. The US Air Force has a place for you!

Anita / October 25, 2009 _ 10:11

"While you may not agree with UAV weaponry, it is no more barbaric than flying a plane into a building and murdering 3,000 innocent civilians."

Being civilised means holding to your own values and moralities no matter how horrible and barbaric your enemies are.

Saying that flying drones is no more barbaric than flying planes into buildings means that you are admitting that you no LESS barbaric than them.

I'd have thought after close to 5,000 years of progress in the western world we'd be above such knee-jerk reactions.

World War 2 proved that there is no progress, just technological advancement.

Drones are shameful.
Area-bombing is shameful.
War is shameful.

There's better solutions than ramping up something that gets more contracts for your friends who own armaments factories.

ddraig / October 31, 2009 _ 05:44

"While you may not agree with UAV weaponry, it is no more barbaric than flying a plane into a building and murdering 3,000 innocent civilians."

Being civilised means holding to your own values and moralities no matter how horrible and barbaric your enemies are.

Saying that flying drones is no more barbaric than flying planes into buildings means that you are admitting that you no LESS barbaric than them.

I'd have thought after close to 5,000 years of progress in the western world we'd be above such knee-jerk reactions.

World War 2 proved that there is no progress, just technological advancement.

Drones are shameful.
Area-bombing is shameful.
War is shameful.

There's better solutions than ramping up something that gets more contracts for your friends who own armaments factories.

ddraig / October 31, 2009 _ 13:49

Come on people, open your eyes, does anyone really believe that humans will ever stop waging wars! It will never happen. Only naïve people think in such simplistic way.

For those who are are against using drones in war, then I suppose they think that gouging your enemy with spears and swords are a more noble way of fighting and dying.

Advanced technology has always been used to advantage in fighting and always will be.

Now, lets all hold hands and sing Cumbaya and maybe wars will disappear forever. But in the meantime, there will be times when a country has to defend itself. So, be prepared and use technology to your advantage.

When wars no longer exist, that place is called heaven

Roger / November 01, 2009 _ 06:54

Come on people, open your eyes, does anyone really believe that humans will ever stop waging wars! It will never happen. Only naïve people think in such simplistic way.

For those who are are against using drones in war, then I suppose they think that gouging your enemy with spears and swords are a more noble way of fighting and dying. Advanced technology has always been used to advantage in fighting and always will be.

Now, lets all hold hands and sing Cumbaya and maybe wars will disappear forever. But in the meantime, there will be times when a country has to defend itself. So,be prepared and use technology to your advantage.

When wars no longer exist, that place is called heaven

Roger / November 01, 2009 _ 06:59

I cannot wait for a time when all wars are fought by people controlling machines attacking enemy controlled machines.

Wait. Even better I cannot wait for wars to be fought by people controlling machines, controlling machines, fighting machines, controlled by machines, controlled by your enemies. Yeah, that would be cool.

Andrew / November 19, 2009 _ 00:46

"[...] That's how everything happened, the night Sebastián Copons slit the injured dutch's throat and I took captain Alatriste's hand off my shoulder. And that's also how I went through, almost no noticing, that strange line of shadow every lucid man finally crosses sooner or later. Right there, alone and standing in front of the corpse, I began to look the world in a very different way. And I saw myself in possesion of a terrible truth, that before that precise instant I just had been able to sense in captain Alatriste's sea green look: he who kills from afar ignores everything about the act of killing. He who kills from afar obtains no lesson from life nor death; neither he takes risk nor gets his hands stained with blood, nor does he listen his adversary's breath, nor does he read the fright, the courage or the indifference in his eyes. He who kills from afar tests neither his arm nor his conscience, nor does he create ghosts that will come later in the night, punctual to the appointment, during the rest of his life. He who kills from afar is someone despicable,who entrusts others the dirty and terrible job of his own. He who kills from afar is worse than the other men, because he ignores rage, and hatred, and vengeance. and the terrible passion of flesh and blood in contact with steel; but he ignores as well mercy and remorse. That's why he, who kills from afar, doesn't know what he loses [...]"

Arturo Pérez Reverte
"The Sun Over Breda" (free trnslation from the original in Spanish)


A There's nothing but cowardice and dishonour in taking other men's lifes -even the most evil of them- withouth even see their faces and look them in the eye. Shame on modern military.

Alex / November 24, 2009 _ 15:00

The modern military has no idea where this technology will lead. A military mind is too simple to think in terms other than good/evil and promotion to a higher rank. They want robots because they cannot bring back the draft: the American public is not willing to spend the blood of its young to project American power wherever the Military/Corporate Complex (the Industrial part has been shipped overseas to non-union client nations) deems it necessary.

The semi-autonomous robots they desire will, with the help of the obscene money thrown at the U.S. DOD, "progress" to autonomous robots and in a few decades could well evolve into something our species will not be able to control. (read Ray Kurzweil's "Age of the Spiritual Machines")

The US has 11 state-of-the-art aircraft carriers: the entire rest of the world has only 10 less-than-state-the-art carriers. The US has troops (excluding those protecting U.S. embassies) in 105 counties and another 20,000 on ships at sea. If the US Military were a nation, it would rank 37th in energy consumption.

Here is the conservative take on the wonders of killer robots...
http://www.heritage.org/Research/nationalsecurity/bg2093.cfm

Alex, future robotic warriors will not be contemplating cowardice/bravery or honor/dishonor.

Mike Q / November 24, 2009 _ 22:25

One of the great historical tragedies around war is that there are always those who take the "Patton", or "Bush/Cheney" view of it all. That is: honor, courage, glory, etc.
These tools take all of that out of war. That is a very good thing. Perhaps in the future, war will finally be seen for what it really is, killing and more killing - nothing els.

William / November 25, 2009 _ 01:47

I flew UAVs for the Marine Corps in Iraq. They were not armed. However, when combined with our abilities to communicate to both air and ground combat assets, they were used to kill. We gave the coordinates, called for fire, watched the rounds impact and repeated the process if necessary. Regardless of how effective the Air Force Predators can be about hitting the specific place on the ground that they intend to, there is still no way in many instances, to ensure that the person occupying that piece of dirt is an enemy. The problem is that only those on the ground tend to have the right perspective on who does and doesn't constitute a threat. I don't say that because I was a Marine and this video covers another branch. I say it because it is fact. Lest we forget that two piloted Air Force A-10 Warthogs wasted the lives of at least 18 Marines in the opening weeks of OIF. The simple fact is that those who fight from above the battlefield, when unable to clearly discern between friend, foe, and civilian are prone to making mistakes.

Cpl. B / November 25, 2009 _ 05:39

I see no problem with using these weapons. They are subject to same ROE as manned craft. They are our IED. Why risk flesh and blood when these are out there. TB would use them if they had access. Go for it!

John Wood / November 25, 2009 _ 10:53

Wake up people! THIS is terrorism! This is SICK, horrible, fiendish, and COWARDLY!!! At least the 9-11 terrorists had the balls to do their killing in person. I'm ashamed to call myself an American in this regard.

Let's turn the tables for a moment. Can you imagine unmanned airplanes, flown by Pakistani pilots, flying over our heads? We wouldn't give a hoot in hell that they were only out for the "bad guys." Not after they accidentally kill our family! We'd be in uproar! We wouldn't stand for it! We would cry, "Just STOP! You're doing more harm than good! We can deal with the bad guys here thank you very much!"

When are we going to say "Enough?" When the cops are robots walking around arresting us? When we send completely computerized robots like terminators to do our killing for us? For example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQf0Q0JEdtE

JESUS! WAKE UUUUPPPPPP you insane people!

Paul / November 26, 2009 _ 02:07

I cannot think of a more despicable, cowardly and loathesome way to fight a war. This reduces it to a computer game where there can be no doubt more innocents are killed than the so called enemy. These wars are fraught with faulty intelligence that ends up killing children, families and blowing away wedding parties. It is technology gone berserk and the people willing to condone it and use it are the scum of the earth-murderers first and foremost.

robert / November 26, 2009 _ 23:03

I cannot think of a more despicable, cowardly and loathesome way to fight a war. This reduces it to a computer game where there can be no doubt more innocents are killed than the so called enemy. These wars are fraught with faulty intelligence that ends up killing children, families and blowing away wedding parties. It is technology gone berserk and the people willing to condone it and use it are the scum of the earth-murderers first and foremost.

robert / November 26, 2009 _ 23:03

I say more, and more varied, vehicles. Why not ground based remote tank/gun platforms as well. Send as much hardware at them as you can.
Robert says innocents get killed but every time I
see a fire fight on video we have teenagers and non combatants with AK47s. They want a war man to man then put on a uniform and dig in and fight otherwise cowards with bombs and gun toting 12 year old should get their butt blown away just like their cowardly bomb building fathers!

Randy / November 28, 2009 _ 00:34

Fascinating as always. I wish more journalists would take their time to tell a real story.

Vincent / November 28, 2009 _ 03:49

While the use of satellite based observation and remote weapons systems have proven themselves as valuable tools in the 21st century arsenal. Over developement and reliance on these types of weapons could ultimately prove fatal.
Should a potential enemy ie. N. Korea, Iran, Taliban controlled Pakistan, or even conventional powers like Russia or China ever perfect and use anti-satellite weapons against the satellites the Achilles heel of these weapons would be immediately apparent and leave us vulnerable.
In response to Randy of Nov. 28th, there was a prototype high speed remote controlled tank built by two guys in a garage that was featured in Popular Mechanics back during the summer. DoD are giving this a look

Alex H. / November 28, 2009 _ 16:42

I view remote controlled aircraft as an extension of the "scout" and the "sniper" role in this type of warfare.
Used as a bomber,it's an improvement.
where is the difference between a trigger,button,or joystick? None.Look at it as a different type of gun and get on with your duty to serve.

Daniel D. / November 29, 2009 _ 11:09

Didn't watch Clip. Logistics are wrong though. A Team (2 or More) should be sent in to the Country starting or controlling the Action. They should locate the Base of Operations and "Mark It" electronically. Then forward the information when those responsible are at that location to their home base. At that time a Drone should be dispatched armed with a "Smart Bomb" to be released on THAT Target. Unnecessary killing of Civilians would be avoided and no long drawn out campaign would follow. Also when the People that WANTED these Wars knew they only would be targeted, there would be fewer incidents!

Al D / November 30, 2009 _ 14:29

It seems to me, that the Isreali policy of targeted assassinations is being copied, at a larger scale, by the U.S. with its drone atacks. What is the international law that applies to atacks in Pakistan? Joe

joe merrill / November 30, 2009 _ 15:20

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