Drone Wars

Ineresting video about the use of Drones.

Drone use will increase. There is no doubt of this. They prevent US casualties. They increase the application of precision power, decrease civilian casualties, and they’re cheaper than full-scale aircraft with pilots inside. What has always confused me is the complaint against them. If a manned aircraft destroys something instead of a drone, there seems to be less backlash. Why? What difference does it make? I can see where the enemy would complain, as they never had a chance to kill the pilot that was shooting at them. But they ARE the enemy, so why should I care about their version of what is fair? The old adage, “all is fair in love and war,” is true here. And we are at war against terrorists who are willing to attack civilians and murder anyone who stands in their way by any means necessary.

I offer you this video in regard to the future of drones.

Computer controlled RC aircraft flying in formation. You’ll notice the scene where they fly in through a window. Right now we use ground-based drones for recon. You saw them in the previous video. Now I want you to imagine a soldier being followed by a swarm of twelve miniature aircraft. He doesn’t need to tell them where to fly, they have a computer system and communicate between each other in a mesh network. Each one of these little aircraft is a node in that network, and the soldier carries a main computer system that regulates them. They follow him, and he can give them preset command sequences controlled by the AI in his kit. Not only is each one equipped with scanning systems that can look for infrared emissions, give a visual feed to the soldier’s HUD, and perhaps supply chemical sensory data. Each one is also a bomb that can be armed by the soldier if he needs to do so, flown through a window, and detonated.

In a firefight, this network could be deployed to fly behind enemy cover. They are small targets, difficult to shoot down. Enemy hiding behind a wall? Fly over the wall and detonate. Enemy hiding in a building? Fly in the window and detonate. Unable to find the enemy? Disperse the swarm to cover a wide area and filter the feeds to locate infrared signatures. Turn each one into an audio feed, and hear what the enemy is saying. Relay this information back to base for translation. Record all feeds for later analysis.

I’m not suggesting this is fair for the enemy. And I’m not suggesting that it’s not going to result in civilian casualties. I am suggesting, however, that it would make one of our own soldiers more effective, and it may well increase their odds of survival. But no matter what I think, and no matter what others may have to say on the issue, one thing is certain (at least to me). This WILL happen. In fact, I find it likely that our military is already experimenting with these types of systems.

How do you feel? Do you think drone use is bad in compared to manned vehicles? If so, then what is your reasoning? What makes killing the enemy with a drone different than killing the enemy with your own hand?

8 Responses

  1. It’s an interesting question. However, all is not fair in love and war. That’s why we have the Geneva Convention and the nuclear ban treaties, outlawing torture, nuclear weapons and use of chemical weapons among other agreements between warring nations. Some things are so abhorrent that civilized societies agree they should not be used. Remember, whatever one side uses against an enemy only invites the enemy to reciprocate. You are correct in saying that the use of drones will only increase. But perhaps because the technology is so new it hasn’t been addressed diplomatically yet but will be some day soon.

    There was a great early Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk and friends came across a couple of warring planets who had evolved the art of war to such an extent that they went beyond drones to a type of warfare where computers would play out the attack/defend scenarios to their logical conclusion and would simply report on the projected casualties.

    The two planets would then send their citizens to eradication chambers where the appropriate number of people would be exterminated. Having made war ‘clean’ they were able to continue the practice for centuries. Kirk found this to be so abhorrent that he had the warring computers destroyed, forcing the two planets into actual killing again. His logic was, if they were witness to the actual killing and suffering on the battlefield, they would turn away from war altogether.

    Drones is a type of antiseptic warfare. We violate Pakistani airspace going after insurgents with impunity. Imagine how the civilian population must feel watching flying machines coming in, low overhead, knowing they are being guided by remote control.

    • Thank you. That was a very well thought-out response, and I am very familiar with that Star Trek episode. It was one of my favorites.

      I wouldn’t put drones in the same category as NBC weaponry. Those are weapons of mass destruction. They don’t take into account who they are killing, they simply kill everyone. Drones are intended to serve the same purpose of the weapons they are replacing – manned aircraft – and they have the same payload; bombs and missiles.

      I certainly agree that we violate Pakistani airspace if we do not inform them and have agreements in place when we send drones in. We have done this repeatedly, and not with just drones, we have done so with manned aircraft as well. So this is not really a drone issue, but a larger one. That being said, I think we are always going to have problems when fighting an enemy that can cross a border, strike our forces, and then return to hide behind the political skirts of the next country over. We’ve had circumstances like this before, and it never turns out well for us when it happens.

      But the main point you make that I take to heart is how the people of these countries feel when one of our unmanned drones flies overhead. The question is, do they feel any differently knowing it’s unmanned than if it were manned? This is a question I cannot answer, of course, since I’m not one of these people. I would certainly fear that it might fire upon me, but I might feel that way about a manned vehicle as well. Might I feel that the people running these drones are cowardly for not being in the vehicles themselves? It is possible. I might feel disgust for a enemy that sends robots against me – if they were an enemy. If I were not an enemy, but simply a civilian onlooker, my concern might be more along the lines of hoping the thing didn’t malfunction and shoot me by mistake. But, realistically, I don’t think this happens any more often than a manned vehicle making a mistake. These drones are piloted, their pilots just aren’t in them.

      Bottom line: if my country were being used as a refuge for terrorists that want to enforce their religion on me and everyone else, and are willing to shoot children to do it, then yeah, I’m going to be one of the guys carrying a gun and looking for these bastards. And I wouldn’t have any problem with the drones. I’d want my government to be working closely with anyone willing to help me get these guys.

      But that’s my perspective, looking at it from the viewpoint of what I’d want if America was Pakistan. Which it’s obviously not. So my perspective may be worth squat here.

      • Scares me!

  2. Why can’t we all just get along? :shock:

    • Well, I could make a list, but then I’d be here all day. :(

  3. Unfair? One of the sillier things we humans do is talk about rules and fairness in war. How can one possibly expect adherence to rules when it’s kill or be killed?

    I have mixed feelings about drones. For the most part I think they are great. Why put our men and women in harm’s way when drones can do the job? On the other hand, I have a problem with our drones in Pakistan killing innocent civilians. If the attacks were precise, taking out only known terrorists, great. But if an attack takes out ten civilans along with a terrorist … is that justifiable? How much “collateral damage” is acceptable? We aren’t at war with the people of Pakistan and I worry about the anger we are generating there; Pakistan, after all, is considered an ally. For now, anyway. How long is that going to last if we keep killing innocent Pakistanis? How long would the US tolerate similar incursions and attacks within its borders?

    • I agree that collateral damage is an issue. So is the hate we are generating. I don’t think it’s the drones though. We could be doing the same thing with manned aircraft, and making the same mistakes.

      What is justifiable collateral damage? I can’t answer that. Personally, I’d say that none of it is justifiable, but then you come across cases that make you wonder. It’s impossible to know the future, though. If we could, then maybe we could make that estimate. If we knew, for instance, that killing one man along with a hundred innocent people would prevent that one man from his destiny, and that destiny was going to be detonating a nuclear weapon or unleashing a plague on a major city, then yes, we might be able to justify it. But we can’t do that. We can never know for certain. All we can do is try to kill the individuals who have already done something or planned to do something – assuming that they’ll do it again, or succeed in their plans.

      If the US were full of terrorists who had attacked Pakistan, and Pakistan was trying to get at them by flying into our airspace and occasionally killing our civilians while trying to get them, we would have major issues with Pakistan, there is no doubt. We’d either forge agreements that allowed them to enter our airspace to do this, or we’d be at war with them. I think that the Pakistani Government has not threatened us with war already is quite telling. It certainly isn’t good for their government to maintain relations with us while we’re doing things that their people don’t like. Tactically, we’re not in a winning situation. Every time we act, we provide stimulus to the terrorists. And when we don’t act, they attack us. In the end, attack may be the only option. Not the best one, but the alternative is to sit back and let the terrorists grow their organization. What else can we do but fight them and try to protect ourselves?

  4. It still scares me. Maybe even more now that the NSA is so heavily involved.

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