Killing fellow humans on the other side of the planet – ‘We Kill Because We Can’ – Ten Years: 352 Drone Strikes; 3,248 Killed; 50 Percent Civilians

Source: RT News

Killers, drinkers & traumatized for life: What it means to be a US drone operator in ‘war on terror’

November 22, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Graffiti in Sanaa, Yemen © Reuters / Khaled Abdullah

They sit in rooms resembling hi-tech shipping containers. Joysticks in hand, they spend hours watching grainy screens, displaying people in faraway lands going about their daily lives — and they hold life and death in their hands.

They are the men and women who operate the United States’ controversial drone warfare program — and they frequently get it disastrously wrong.

A newly-released report by the Associated Press claims that one third of people killed by US drones in Yemen this year were civilians with no association to terror groups like Al-Qaeda, the intended targets.

But intention and reality often diverge sharply when it comes to death by US drones — and the horror is not confined to Yemen. From Pakistan to Afghanistan, to Iraq, Syria and Somalia, US drone strikes — which are often hailed by the US military and government as “precise” and even “surgical” — have killed scores of innocent civilians.

Tribesmen stand on the rubble of a building destroyed by a U.S. drone air strike, that targeted suspected al Qaeda militants in Azan of the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa February 3, 2013. © Reuters / Khaled Abdullah

In recent years, multiple whistleblowers — former drone technicians, camera operators and image analysts — have come forward to shed light on the horror and reality of what US drone bombing really entails. Perhaps an indicator of the level of stress involved, the people who do these jobs also quit them in record numbers. In 2015, an internal Air Force memo published by the Daily Beast revealed that there was a serious “outflow” problem with drone pilots due to the “unrelenting pace of operations.” Even when the Air Force began to offer six-figure salaries, it did not stem the outflow from the program.

But long, arduous shifts and high pressure are just the “official” explanations for the outflow problem, Laurie Calhoun, the author of ‘We Kill Because We Can’, an in-depth look at the US’ drone war, told RT.

Apostate operators and sensors have become disenchanted with the profession and are plagued by feelings of regret and guilt for having agreed to kill on command people who never threatened them personally with death.

In the drone age, Calhoun says, while the operators risk no physical harm, the explanation for their PTSD must derive from “moral factors.”

‘Killing fellow humans on the other side of the planet’

It’s easy to assume that the men and women operating drones are entirely detached and unfeeling maniacs, but often they are ordinary men and women who are lured with high salaries and assured by the military that they will be part of something morally good and justifiable.

READ MORE: Life in fear: Report says 1 in 3 US drone-strike deaths in Yemen are civilians, including children

Christopher Aaron, a former image analyst, who worked at the Counterterrorism Airborne Analysis Centre in Langley, Virginia and in Afghanistan as an intelligence liaison, told RT that he began to have second thoughts about the work during his first deployment in 2006 when he noticed how the military would celebrate successful kills, but the next day he would see “more than the intended number of targets” in funeral processions on the screens in front of him.

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Suffering in Silence (English)

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