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 [...]

Sunday Times 2

US drone pilots reveal how they target insurgents

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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.

Death from above: A pilot flies a drone in Afghanistan from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in suburban Syracuse, New York

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.

‘There was good reason for killing the people that I did, and I go through it in my head over and over and over,’ Will, an Air Force officer who now trains drone pilots told the Times.

‘But you never forget about it. It never just fades away, I don’t think — not for me.’

Daily Mail, London




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