Drones: The new direction of war

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Fraggle Rocker, May 13, 2013.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    From the June issue of Reason magazine, written by managing editor Katherine Mangu-Ward:

    Nicknamed the "Nintendo Medal," this decoration (accompanied by illustration) would go to troops who fight America's wars from behind computer consoles. The February debut of the Distinguished Warfare Medal saw former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praising drone operators for their contributions and noting that "modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems, have changed the way wars are fought. And they've given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar."

    But on March 12, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel temporarily halted the production of the medal, after public outcry. The new bauble would outrank both the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, prompting protests from veterans groups, a petition to the White House, and a bill to lower the medal's ranking, sponsored by Representative Duncan Hunter (Republican, California).

    The eagerness to award medals to drone operators and other cyberwarriors--which would also speed their promotions through the ranks--illustrates the direction the U.S. military hopes it is heading: more drones, fewer grunts.​

    Reason is a libertarian journal. Libertarians are neither Democrats nor Republicans, neither right nor left, generally taking conservative positions on fiscal issues but liberal positions on social issues. In general they favor smaller government because large governments are slow-moving, inefficient, expensive, focused on their own internal workings, and often incompetent, but they favor legislation that protects or expands personal freedom such as repealing the laws against drug use.

    Libertarians believe that every country should mind its own bloody business. They oppose wars of opportunity and generally only support combat when the country is under threat of attack by a foreign military force, not stateless terrorists with little or no constituency.

    I can't tell if Mangu-Ward is praising the cyberwarriors. Perhaps she regards them as a more nimble force for fighting terrorism than a batallion of Marines, and of course since they're cheaper to deploy than a batallion of Marines and require no death benefits to grieving families if they're shot down in combat, they would appeal to a libertarian's economic sensibilities.

    However, if so, she ignores the fact that drone warfare is criminally imprecise. On the average, for every person killed by a drone who might reasonably be suspected of being an enemy combatant, nearly thirty innocent civilians are killed. This isn't "collateral damage," it's a complete disregard for human life.

    I don't think anyone should be awarded a medal for fighting this way.
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Why not? Medals are given to people who perform above and beyond the call of duty. That can be a soldier who shows bravery under fire, a logistics worker who works long hours and does the work of ten men, or a pilot who does his job so well - and so accurately - that his missions go flawlessly. It doesn't really matter if he was in the airplane or at a ground console at the time.
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  5. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    It's possible that drones are overused or used without adequate restraint or proper procedures. But you know what is also imprecise? Conventional war.
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  7. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    I guess one day we might see the people who made the drones get medals because if they did not ever make them then those using them couldn't do what they do with them. To many medals , I feel, being given out .
  8. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    That's not just wrong, it's nuts. It reflects a total misunderstanding of how drone warfare works and what its place is in warfare history.

    Drones use small, precise laser guided missiles that result in a much lower collateral damage rate than other bombs and missiles. Something like 2 of 3 casualties are intended targets. Not sure where you got that wrong stat(I have an idea...) but you should have enough critical thinking skills to instantly recognize how badly wrong it is.

    As for the issue of medals, there should of course be medals, but they should not rate above medals for actions taken in harms way.
  9. leopold Valued Senior Member

    there is nothing heroic or courageous about fighting a war from inside a "safe room" or from the bowels of some mountain.
  10. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Just to be clear, fighting a war is not anywhere close to the only reason soldiers get medals. So your objection doesn't have any relevance to the question being asked.
  11. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    You still have to deal with the fact that you're killing people. It's not easy when you're behind a rifle, and it's not easy when you're behind a screen.
  12. leopold Valued Senior Member

    in some branches of the military you can get a medal just by going to some country.
    if you are a navy man then you might only need to get within 12 miles of the place.
    heroism, valor, and courage should be reserved for our fighting men.
  13. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Agreed - and I would like some solid *proof* of the accuracy of that "nearly thirty" number. And no, not some quote from a raving do-gooder but someone with clear qualifications and access to the actual stats. Treat it like you would in a court of law, Fraggle, where hearsay has no value.
  14. andy1033 Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    There is no more important technology other than mind control for militaries of the world. Forget about all the other stuff, mind control is where its most important.

    Say if you run a country and have mind control, you can get your enemies in that country to do bad things and blame it on them, without them knowing.

    No big war can be won without winning over the minds of the people, and this is most important today.

    This is why drones and things are coming, as humans are susepetable to all sorts of energies. The english especially are deadly with non lethel weapons like they used in nireland. Microwaving whole streets of people in nireland, was one of uk govs tactics to target communities. The uk gov does not care one bit.

    But mind control is the most important, not new techs like drones.
  15. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    I saw a radical peacenik blogger post an article where she misread (on purpose?) a report on the relatively small number of high value targets/terrorist leaders killed to mean that everyone else killed was civilians. I don't think it was 30:1 though and she later admitted her mistake when people pointed it out in the discussion section under her blog.
  16. leopold Valued Senior Member

    yes, that's one aspect of war.
    a rifle is a lot easier than hand to hand.
    i would much rather shoot someone once than to have to hack on them.
    i disagree.
    you would be surprised at the number of ordinary people that would be willing to inflict pain on someone else if they weren't faced with one another.
  17. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Drone Pilots Are Found to Get Stress Disorders Much as Those in Combat Do
  18. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    People tend to falsely assume that because you are sitting behind a screen, it is just like a video game. They forget that humans have brains and that they know a video game isn't real, but what they see on their screen is. That causes a very different psychological reaction for them than for people playing video games.
  19. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Every time an airplane passes overhead, whole streets get microwaved from the radar. Cell phones emit microwaves. What are you referring to?

    Factions of the IRA were waging wars of terror from hideouts in civilian enclaves. They were going to densely populated British cities and bombing crowded places like buses. Talk about targeting communities.

    About the massacre of innocent British civilians? I doubt that.

    The destruction of 9/11, Pearl Harbor, or the slaughter of innocent British civilians by the IRA are overt acts of aggression which stir the public conscience without the need for government propaganda. It takes a lot of mind control to convince a person to lace up with high explosives and wipe out a crowded subway platform for the cause of freedom.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I understand. But medals are supposed to carry at least a vague suggestion of honor. Sitting behind a desk in a building thousands of miles away from the combat which is, additionally, heavily guarded, and shooting primarily at civilians, does not cause the word "honor" to pop into my head.

    That's not the argument. The point is that they can't really identify the location of their target that accurately so they fire thirty of these motherfucking things into thirty bedrooms and hope one of those bedrooms is where the bad guy is sleeping.

    I feel the same way about drones as I feel about drug testing. The person who invented it should be shot, all the people who use it should be imprisoned, the apparatus should be dumped into a nuclear waste site, and the building where the plans and research are stored should be firebombed.

    I repeat: there should be no medals given for dishonorable behavior. Even if you're "only following orders."
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    That's the standard for duty - that's not "above and beyond" what is expected.

    I have a hard time imagining drone pilot service that would be worth a medal that outranks a purple heart, or that should be celebrated much at all actually - granted there's a morale problem when soldiers cannot be honored, but it's hard to "honor" this kind of operation.

    They suffer from stress etc? So do the guards at "interrogation" like Gitmo and Bagram, the soldiers rounding up civilians for abuse and confinement, and the like.

    That number is a high end of the range coming from ground estimates obtained piecemeal and unreliably through connections with eyewitnesses, reports from local government and local military agencies, hospitals and medical care personnel, etc.

    It might be high, or not - we have few sources of info in this matter, and none of them any better.

    Micah Zenko at the CFR blog caught this clue from a speech made by Lindsay Graham (the Senator) to a Rotary Club in South Carolina back in February:
    And I saw a gullible wingnut warmongering forum poster slander and question the motives of a blogger who, though once guilty of a minor misreading (and honest enough to own it), was at least not fool enough to claim that 2 of every 3 people killed by drones (let alone "casualties") were intended targets.

    Fraggle's number is at least plausibly in the right order of magnitude.

    The proper comparison for a drone is not a bomb or missile, but a sniper rifle or possibly an RPG. And they are much less precise, and do much more collateral damage, than a sniper rifle or RPG.
  22. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    No they aren't - at least not most of them. There's one medal just for being a member of the military during wartime. Another medal for getting a high score in target shooting. Another medal for doing a good job at your everyday job (even if not combat). Etc.
    Again, not just false, but crazy. 30 of them? It is hard to fathom how you came up with that. I'm not sure if you are rational person who is just misinformed or has a wild imagination, but if you are a rational person, you really should make an effort to educate yourself about a subject before saying such crazy things. Some facts are posted below, but they are plenty easy to find if you wanted to look yourself.
  23. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    It can be, if he does a particularly good job.
    It is tough to have a rational discussion with people who just make crap up as they go along. You do all over the place on this forum; it appears to be your standard tactic. Here are some facts for you to dismiss/ignore:

    So there it is. The worst the fraction ever was was a conservatively bad 40% civilians (that's if we include known civilians and people who weren't clearly identified as either civilians or combatants). Today, the conservatively bad estimates are more like 10% civilians. So my estimate was way-off. It isn't 2/3 combatants killed today, it is more than 90%.
    Not really. The thing that actually does the killing is laser guided missiles and bombs. A drone is basically the same as an attack aircraft, with the sole difference being that the pilot is not sitting in the plane. More to the point, drones are explicitly used as replacements for attack aircraft.

    A sniper rifle fires bullets, so that's not right. An RPG is short range, unguided and far too small to compare to the weapons of a drone.
    Perhaps, but those weapons are tiny, short range infantry weapons. Drones are not being used to replace sniper rifles and RPGs, they are being used to replace attack aircraft.

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