Tuesday, July 31, 2012

'There was a good reason for killing those people': Inside the mind of a US drone pilot who brings death to the Taliban from 7,000 miles away in NY

Colonel D Scott Brenton kills insurgents in Afghanistan from an office 7,000 miles away in suburban Syracuse, New York.

Contrary to popular belief, though, the US Air Force officer says piloting a remote-controlled drone gives him a dramatically more intimate connection with his targets than he ever had when he was piloting an F-16 fighter plane and dropping guided bombs from 20,000 feet.

Col Brenton and other pilots say they often spend several hours a day for several days at a time watching a militant's house from the powerful cameras aboard the MQ-9 Reaper drones before striking.

'I see mothers with children, I see fathers with children, I see fathers with mothers, I see kids playing soccer,' Col Brenton told the New York Times.

The military has been criticized by human rights groups for using drones flown and fired by distant pilots for 'dehumanizing' the use of deadly force of a battlefield.

However, the Times reports that many drone pilots have a uniquely intimate view of the enemy. It's a perspective one troops on the ground seldom see, fighter planes are too high in the clouds to spot and attack helicopters don't stick around to witness. Read More