That’s if you make any differentiation at all….anyways under this headline- How UK fights remote control war. The correspondent in …er… Nevada details how …er …American Reaper drones are flown from a USA base by a small contingent of RAF techs & ‘pilots’.
The BBC has been given an inside look at Britain’s latest weapon in the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Reaper.
Outside Creech Air Force Base sits the small town of Indian Springs with its gas station and Moe’s Trading Post, selling Native American souvenirs. But behind the barbed-wire fence are a series of hangars housing the Predators and Reapers as well as the all-important Ground Control Station which acts as a nerve centre wherever they are flying.
It is not just the US flying from here. In one corner of the base, the Royal Air Force ensign flutters in a light breeze, signalling the presence of 39 Squadron. Britain’s fleet is small. It did consist of two Reapers but one crashed in Afghanistan in April.
During our visit to the base, the British Ministry of Defence also confirmed the RAF is now arming its Reapers and has already used its weapons system.
And of course the money line-
But those in charge believe the vehicles offer particular advantages. “It’s not the weapons. It’s the persistence. It’s the unblinking eye – how long you can spend over the target,” explains Colonel Chris Chambliss, who commands the US fleet of Predators and Reapers. He believes the ability to conduct long surveillance of a target makes civilian casualties less likely when bombs are dropped.
Honestly, find me a slavering drool-fest over some new military tech by a starry eyed geeky reporter that doesn’t at some point convey that message. It is the moral justification armchair supporters need to claim just wars and believe we are the ‘good guys’. So where was the countervailing argument in this BBC piece….erm….testimony of drone attacks that killed civilians, human rights organisations position on armed drones…there is none, this is a boys and their remote control shiny toys wank session. So here from TomDispatch.com some balance-
“Assassinations by air” are, writes David Case in Mother Jones magazine, “a relatively new tactic in warfare.” By the beginning of 2006, however, U.S. Predator drones “bearing Hellfire missiles — the preferred weapon in decapitation [strikes] — had already hit ‘terrorist suspects overseas’ at least 19 times since 9/11.” Such strikes and other similar operations by air, land, and sea have been a crucial follow-on to the Bush administration’s proclamations, immediately after 9/11, that there would be no “safe havens” for terrorists on the planet, nor safety for those countries which housed them, inadvertently or otherwise. Within days of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, Bush administration officials were already identifying up to 60 countries-cum-targets.
This aspect of the Bush Doctrine, of what the President likes to call staying “on the offensive,” when mixed with a couple of decades of “advances” in air warfare, including the development of sophisticated, missile-armed drones, “smart bombs,” “precision-guided munitions,” and the like, has resulted in a lethal globalizing brew of assassination and destruction. It recognizes neither boundaries, nor sovereignty across much of the planet. With all its “actionable” possibilities, it will surely be with us long after George W. Bush has left office.
Of course, those few nameless dead or wounded Somali civilians — swatted like so many flies and forgotten as quickly as flies would be — don’t faintly match up against the “dozens” of Iraqi civilian deaths that, according to Human Rights Watch, were caused by 50 decapitation strikes launched against the top officials of Saddam Hussein’s regime back in March 2003. (Not a single official was harmed.) Nor do they quite make it into the company of the “Afghan elders” being taken to President Hamid Karzai’s inauguration back in 2001, who were mistaken “for a Taliban group” and bombed, with 20 killed; nor the 30 or more guests at an Afghan wedding party back in 2002 blown away by 2,000-pound bombs after celebratory gunfire was evidently mistaken for an attack (no apologies offered); nor that wedding party in the Western desert of Iraq near the Syrian border wiped out in 2004 with 42 deaths, including 27 in one extended family, 14 children in all. They were, of course, taken for terrorists. (As U.S. Major General James Mathis put the matter in offering an explanation: “How many people go to the middle of the desert… to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?”) And these are just a few prominent cases, not including the civilians killed in periodic Predator and other strikes in Pakistani border areas, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere about whom no fuss is ever made — not here, anyway.