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USAF Enlists Shrinks To Help Drone Pilots Cope

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the free-counseling-coming-with-next-GTA-game dept.

The Military 587

An anonymous reader writes "Flying drones from halfway-across the world used to be considered a cushy military job. But the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have become so dependent on the robo-planes that the Air Force has called in chaplains and psychiatrists to help these remote-control warriors cope. 'In a fighter jet, "when you come in at 500-600 miles per hour, drop a 500-pound bomb and then fly away, you don't see what happens," said Colonel Albert K. Aimar, who is commander of the 163d Reconnaissance Wing here and has a bachelor's degree in psychology. But when a Predator fires a missile, "you watch it all the way to impact, and I mean it's very vivid, it's right there and personal. So it does stay in people's minds for a long time."'"

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UAV missions more demanding that you might expect. (5, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#24528945)

So, while this has received some criticism, I visited Creech AFB [utah.edu] a little while ago and the missions being flown from there in the Middle East and South America are more taxing and complex than you might expect.

Loiter times and length of engagements for these aircraft are not measured in minutes like with traditional fighter jets or helicopters. Rather they are measured in hours with the Predator A airframes capable of loitering over a combat area for 10-13 hours at a time. The Reaper has a slightly shorter loiter time, but those airframes also carry the same combat load as an F-16 and the missions being carried out are just as complex if not more demanding than with piloted missions.

Because UAV missions can last quite a bit of time, the pilots are expected to multi-task with ground troops for extended periods of time, tracking targets and managing data in a way that traditional piloted aircraft crews are not expected to. I observed a number of missions including missions that involved oversight for ground troops and elimination of targets that were active threats to those soldiers on the ground and even though the missions were being piloted from the other side of the globe, the tension in the "cockpit" was palpable. There is no celebration when a target has been engaged successfully and you are very much an intimate observer of what transpires and able to see more than you might expect.

The final telling statistic in this comment thread anyway, has been that the 432nd wing has become in the last couple of years, the Air Force's number one most requested asset and the toll rapid build ups like that take on any organization can be significant.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (-1, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529007)

What kind of an evil coward do you need to be to steer bombs into peoples cities from the other side of the planet?

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (4, Insightful)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529025)

Probably a smart one.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (4, Insightful)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529095)

Not nearly as bad as the kind who gets themselves paradise by killing themselves and any near by kids with a bomb vest..

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (0, Flamebait)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529189)

No. They are EXACTLY the same.

Look at the ratio of Wedding Parties obliterated in Afghanistan to that of "terrorist" groupings.

Babies blown to bits - mothers decapitated and the shattered limbs blown into the face of the crippled, dying little boy.

For "freedom" - not on your life. This is to manage the international drugs syndicate monopoly on Opium - which has grown EXPONENTIALLY since Karzai was installed as the mayor of Kabul.

This is the worst thing to happen since Stalin.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (5, Insightful)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529365)

No they are not,

A soldier would rather not be doing his job and while they think they have to kill they do not think they are going to heaven because they are doing it. A suicide bomber believes that by *intentionally* killing a bus of women, kids, and elderly they are earning heaven.

The Afgan Weddings, while tragic were not intentional, the pilot did not wake up that morning and prepare himself to kill a bunch of civi's. The suicide bomber meticulously goes though ceremony preparing himself, selects the busiest bus, the most crowded market, or the most painful target thats a huge difference than the soldier.

"This is to manage the international drugs syndicate monopoly on Opium - which has grown EXPONENTIALLY since Karzai was installed as the mayor of Kabul.This is the worst thing to happen since Stalin."

WOW, just wow your hate blinds you.. Yes there are huge problems in Afghanistan right now and it would have been a million times better for all concerned (Iraq / US / Afgans) if we had stayed the hell out of Iraq so we could have then focused on helping Afghanistan stabalize, ill give you all that..

But to say that things in Afghanistan were *better* under the Taliban is either a pathetic F'ing joke, or proof you've jumped the shark. They (the Taliban) made shows of shooting women in soccer stadiums for daring to learn to read, or earning money, ... They banned speech, music, and every other freedom you can imagine but hey at least there were no drug problems right..

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (0, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529535)

I'm not saying better under Taliban.

I'm saying they didn't play ball with the US, so we took their goodies that we couldn't get cut-in on.

Look at the history of US involvement with ball-crushing regimes in SE Asia and Central America. A sudden rush of concern for the plight of tribal, mountain people is not indicated by this record.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529699)

I'm not saying better under Taliban.

I'm saying they didn't play ball with the US, so we took their goodies that we couldn't get cut-in on.

Didn't play ball? I'd say. They harbored Osama Bin Laden. You remember him, right? The guy that planned and ordered the deaths of 3000+ Americans in the largest attack on American soil? Am I ringing a bell here?

What would you have had the US do?

GWB: Give us Bin Laden.
Taliban: No, bitch!
GWB: Well, we tried. Sorry to bother you guys. Have fun blowing up ancient art.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529747)

A sudden rush of concern for the plight of tribal, mountain people is not indicated by this record.

They'd have been left alone just like the others if they hadn't hosted al Qaeda training camps.

You can make a convincing argument that we are in Iraq because of oil, but there is absolutely no natural resource of any significance in Afghanistan. No reason at all to be in there except that they were harboring our enemies.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (-1, Troll)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529631)

The issue then boils down to your definition of 'better', then, doesn't it.

They say that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. They say it because it's true.

There is nothing inherently wrong with using asymmetric warfare tactics. In many cases, it's the more intelligent, more competent thing to do.

Few governments refuse to engage in terror tactics- look at Shock and Awe, for example.

The names are different, yes. The tactics and techniques are often the same because once somebody uses an effective tactic, it doesn't stay confined to 'just the good guys', or 'just the bad guys'.

More often, in fact, the 'good guys' get worse to compensate.

Anatomy of your enemy: Anti-Flag (1, Troll)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529761)

A soldier would rather not be doing his job and while they think they have to kill they do not think they are going to heaven because they are doing it. A suicide bomber believes that by *intentionally* killing a bus of women, kids, and elderly they are earning heaven.

10 easy steps to create an enemy and start a war:
Listen closely because we will all see this weapon used in our lives.
It can be used on a society of the most ignorant to the most highly educated.
We need to see these tactics as a weapon against humanity and not as truth.

THIS IS HOW TO CREATE AN ENEMY! THIS IS HOW TO START A WAR! THIS IS HOW TO CREATE AN ENEMY!

First step: create the enemy. Sometimes this will be done for you.

Second step: be sure the enemy you have chosen is nothing like you. Find obvious differences like race, language, religion, dietary habits Fashion. Emphasize that their soldiers are not doing a job, They are heartless murderers who enjoy killing!

Third step: Once these differences are established continue to reinforce them with all disseminated information.

Fourth step: Have the media broadcast only the ruling party's information This can be done through state run media. Remember, in times of conflict all for-profit media repeats the ruling party's information, therefore all for-profit media is state-run.

Fifth step: show this enemy in actions that seem strange, militant, or different. Always portray the enemy as non-human, evil, a killing machine.

Sixth step: Eliminate opposition to the ruling party. Create an "Us versus Them" mentality. Leave no room for opinions in between. One that does not support all actions of the ruling party should be considered a traitor.

Seventh step: Use nationalistic and/or religious symbols and rhetoric to define all actions.
This can be achieved by slogans such as "freedom loving people versus those who hate freedom." This can also be achieved by the use of flags.

Eighth step: Align all actions with the dominant deity. It is very effective to use terms like, "It is god's will" or "god bless our nation."

Ninth step: Design propaganda to show that your soldiers Have feelings, hopes, families, and loved ones. Make it clear that your soldiers are doing a duty; they do not want or like to kill.

Tenth step: Create and atmosphere of fear, and instability Then offer the ruling party as the only solutions to comfort the public's fears. Remembering the fear of the unknown is always the strongest fear.

THIS IS HOW TO CREATE AN ENEMY! THIS IS HOW TO START A WAR! THIS IS HOW TO CREATE AN ENEMY!

We are not countries. We are not nations. We are not religions. We are not gods. We are not weapons. We are not ammunition.(enemy) We are not killers. We will NOT be tools.

Mother fuckers
I will not die
I will not kill
I will not be your slave
I will not fight your battle
I will not die on your battlefield
I will not fight for your wealth
I am not a fighter
I am a human being!!!

But to say that things in Afghanistan were *better* under the Taliban is either a pathetic F'ing joke, or proof you've jumped the shark.

Personally, I don't care if things are better or worse for the Afghans. They attacked my country, and AFAIC they're just damned lucky they're not a radioactive hole in the ground.

If Pakistan doesn't stop coddling the God Damned Taliban, we should attack them, too. Iraq, on the other hand, well, we have no business being there. Bush (and most of Congress) should be impeached and tried for treason for that clucterfuck.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (4, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529373)

Jeremiah,

I have to disagree with you here. While I believe that our current policy with respect to Afghanistan and the export of the war on drugs to that region of the world is remarkably short sighted, indeed even foolish in both the long and short terms. I would also agree with you in that the current war in Iraq is a disaster of epic historical proportions that has been mismanaged by members of our government who have lied to the American public to further their own goals.

However, characterizing the work of the 432nd as equivalent to terrorist bombings is hyperbolic extremism. The work that I witnessed was remarkable in that the UAV squadrons have the time and take the effort to minimize collateral damage to both civilians and religious institutions. For instance, I watched while crews waited and followed confirmed roadside bombers while they left a Mosque crowded with other people. The crews waited patiently for those bombers to get to a safe distance before engaging them, preserving the life of everyone else in the mosque. This sort of thing happens every day and I'd argue that UAV operations are far more surgical, minimizing collateral damage because of the time that the crews are allowed to invest in their mission.

Are you an eager killer, too? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529745)

BW Jones,

There is no "our current policy with respect to Afghanistan"! Those who kill would easily kill you too. There is no our. That's just ignorant, arrogant, American thinking. Do you really think that the U.S. government can kill people in foreign countries and there will never be any repercussions?

If you are a U.S. taxpayer, you pay. You suffer the loss of respect for your country. You suffer through the arranged inflation that pays for the killing. That's your entire involvement.

The "current policy with respect to Afghanistan" is CERTAINLY something a person like you will never be allowed to know completely. However, it is known, and often mentioned, if you bother to read the books about U.S. government corruption, that oil companies [whatreallyhappened.com] want to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan [wikipedia.org] . THAT is the reason for the fighting in Afghanistan, both by the Soviets and the U.S. government.

When you talk about "our" policy, does that mean you would easily kill someone who stands in the way of you making more money? Are you a violent psychopathic killer? I don't think so. I think you are just very, very ignorant about the corruption in the U.S. government. Educate yourself.

Get a clue! You cannot kill people without suffering yourself!

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529537)

I don't want to start a political war here, so I'll leave the name(s) of the country(ies) involved and group(s) out. If you look at some of the footage after a bomb is set to have detonated in a certain part of a city - many are hundreds of kilometers apart - the *same* faces keep showing up within minutes of the event. I'm not implying that bombs don't go astray or hit the wrong target - but its just as easy to stage an explosion on your own people and blame the otherside for doing it, hence the same faces keep showing up.

OTOH, if you're trying to do some PR for your own side and you're loosing the war, don't think OBL and company won't think of having a meeting in a building with uninvolved women and children in the hopes they are not killed because the US is being the nice guy.

I just found it a shame that they had OBL in their sights from a Predator done and didn't blast him to bits before trying to get clearance from higher up. I'm pretty sure the trigger puller would not face court marshall or discharge. He/she would have more than enough support from higher up.

Equating the sides (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529593)

They are EXACTLY the same.

Look at the ratio of Wedding Parties obliterated in Afghanistan to that of "terrorist" groupings.

You are equating the deeds based on their results, rather than the intentions of the perpetrators. It is a very common fallacy, so I don't blame you in particular. For example, for reasons irrational we punish successful murderers harsher than the failures, even though the crime is exactly the same.

Similarly, you assign equal blame for a blown-up wedding party — and spice it up with graphic depictions of bodily damage ("mothers decapitated"). Very touching, and very idiotic — either you are an idiot yourself, or you have serious contempt for your audience.

US does not target the innocent — when we kill them, it is by a tragic mistake, a major failure. Terrorists do target them — the "decapitated mothers" means success for them, and a cause for celebrations.

Re:Equating the sides (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529657)

I'm not sure why you'd assign blame otherwise than based on the results.

Haven't you heard the saying 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'?

A failure by intent is no worse than a failure by accident. They're still just as dead.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (3, Insightful)

daveatneowindotnet (1309197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529125)

I don't know, but I don't like your implication that someone flying a drone back in the states to ensure the safety of American ground troops is "bombing cities" at all, least of all intentionally.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529179)

You should have asked for this honour thingy during WW1 maybe.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (4, Interesting)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529229)

Were the humans of ancient times cowards when they decided that projectiles were a great way of killing people at a distance?

I guess everyman that doesn't use a short knife or blunt stick in battle is a coward?

Have you ever even been in a fist fight? Because your statement reeks of insulation from the real world. The last thing you want in any battle is a fair fight. Even the Samurai, whose whole being was centered around remaining honorable on the battlefield, realized that and used any advantage they could to kill their enemy.

And if you want to talk philosophy of war in general - well the problem with being a pacifist is it doesn't stop others from killing you. Only warfare does. It's a sad reality.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529529)


Even the Samurai, whose whole being was centered around remaining honorable on the battlefield, realized that and used any advantage they could to kill their enemy.

Exactly. Honor != stupid idiot.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (3, Insightful)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529645)

I remember a quote that from somewhere that went something like this: "If you find yourself in a fair fight, its time to re-evaluate your strategy".

Something like that. Also reminded me of advice about being in a fist fight (generally speaking): "Hit first and hit really really hard."

Again I paraphrase.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529231)

What kind of an evil coward do you need to be to steer bombs into peoples cities from the other side of the planet?

I'd do it.

It's no more "evil" than flying a fighter plane, and in war bravery can be quite useful - but needless bravery == stupidity.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529715)

Do you have a listening, reading or comprehension problem? They weren't steering bombs into cities, they were steering them into people trying to kill your fiends in those cities. Big difference, even for a troll.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529067)

There are currently pay bonuses for airmen willing to volunteer a Creech assignment. Can't imagine why! Good grief, have a look at the place at Google, it's like a AOR deployment. But seriously, this nonsense sounds like a lot of whining from folks who have a chip because they don't get the glory of being in a fighter cockpit.

When do they pee? (0, Troll)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529129)

Great info, thanks.

If a UAV pilot is expected to be tied to a remote mission for 10-13 hours, that sounds physically exhausting. Kind of like driving a semi-truck for 10 hours straight. That doesn't even consider the mental stress. I respect these UAV pilots.

But when do they pee? Do they have poopy suits? [wikia.com]

Re:When do they pee? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529391)

If a UAV pilot is expected to be tied to a remote mission for 10-13 hours, that sounds physically exhausting. Kind of like driving a semi-truck for 10 hours straight. That doesn't even consider the mental stress. I respect these UAV pilots.

They need to switch to a different set of gamers when recruiting pilots. Rather than going after the flight-sim aficionados, they need to go for the MMORPG raiders. It's not so much about dogfighting skillz so much as it's about managing/teamwork/coordination over flaky communications links during epic raids.

On the psych front -- and perhaps AF folks can answer this better than I can speculate on it -- how often does the guy flying the drone need to see the results? He's not the one doing the bomb damage assessment, right? Why not depersonalize it a bit, instead of showing the live feed, have a computer, in real time, render the video into polygons, and/or use standardized models/particle effects for humans, trucks, smoke, etc... Gamer is rewarded with suitable *kaboom* animation, then the truck vanishes from the playfield, sorta like the old Microprose flight sims.

Meanwhile, in some other trailer (several miles away), some other guy can be watching the live footage, and tweak the computer's models accordingly -- oops, that truck's not dead, it's only damaged, and there's a guy crawling out of it. *clickity-click* - the polygon-rendered truck now reappears as a damaged vehicle, and a graphic representing a bad guy materializes near the truck. All the pilot hears is an anonymous voice (or maybe he hears nothing, and just sees a status update on his screen) indicating "near miss on target, new mission is to circle around and hit the target again".

It's an interesting phenomenon. Unlike CGI rendering of humans in movies, where the "uncanny valley" means that imperfectly-rendered humans are disturbing, you want the "uncanny valley" effect in war, because the same effect means that imperfectly-rendered targets are easier to yell "PWN3D!" at when you blow them up.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (2, Interesting)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529219)

aside from the realism and the fact that actual people are involved, how come you never see anything like this for video games? In fact you see quite the opposite. Maybe, as horrible as it sounds, they should promote a light, gamer atmosphere and different approaches to missions to help them to disassociate what they are doing with murder.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529415)

It happens in games too [wikipedia.org] . That level of anguish, empathy, and debate was created in a text-based game. I don't think you can get more disassociated than that. The distinguishing factor would seem to be knowing that there's a real person at the receiving end. Witness the debates over PvP vs. PvM in multiplayer online RPGs.

Re:UAV missions more demanding that you might expe (4, Insightful)

Marillion (33728) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529457)

I fully respect that from time to time, horrible things must be done.

That said, I hope the USAF has only limited success with brainwashing all the guilt away. Guilt is important. Guilt is what reminds us what is morally right. When the operator pushes the button that fires the missile people die. Again, I understand that sometimes it must be done. But the decision to kill should be tough and difficult and fraught with guilt.

so youre basically saying that the uav pilots are (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529589)

in fact Sysadmins :

Rather they are measured in hours with the Predator A airframes capable of loitering over a combat area for 10-13 hours at a time. The Reaper has a slightly shorter loiter time, but those airframes also carry the same combat load as an F-16 and the missions being carried out are just as complex if not more demanding than with piloted missions. Because UAV missions can last quite a bit of time, the pilots are expected to multi-task with ground troops for extended periods of time, tracking targets and managing data in a way that traditional piloted aircraft crews are not expected to.

Re:so youre basically saying that the uav pilots a (2, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529705)

"Colonel crash" != "kernel crash"

I'm sure UAV piloting isn't easy, but (0, Flamebait)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529641)

those airframes also carry the same combat load as an F-16 and the missions being carried out are just as complex if not more demanding than with piloted missions.

When a guy operating a UAV joystick is pulling 9 G's and risking being a KIA or POW, then we'll call it as demanding as an F-16 mission, K?

Depressiong after firing a missile (1)

phoneteller (1261402) | more than 6 years ago | (#24528969)

Ummm wasn't there a rumor that pilots were all macho, dynamic and the ultimate fighters. Maybe after dropping a bomb they should be happy, not running to the nearest doc. Ah, I just saw Top Gun, apparently they *do* need to see shrinks...

People should search for AC-130 videos (5, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529017)

I don't see how this all that different from the gunners on an AC-130 who watch everything they shoot. It's not all fire and forget pushbutton in the Air Force. Sounds just like an old problem in a new role, not much worth noting. Killing people isn't supposed to be fun or normal, that's not news.

Re:People should search for AC-130 videos (4, Interesting)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529167)

Killing people isn't supposed to be fun or normal, that's not news.

Maybe the shrinks are for people who find it fun?

Re:People should search for AC-130 videos (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529255)

You mean the Neo-cons?

Re:People should search for AC-130 videos (5, Insightful)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529419)

I do think that killing without being at risk yourself is new and different. Also going from kill mode to dinner with the family within such a short amount of time and knowing that you're doing it again the next day is probably very new. Typically for US military it's like a whole other life if for no other reason than the travel between the battlefield and home.

Re:People should search for AC-130 videos (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529727)

I do think that killing without being at risk yourself is new and different.

For the Air Force?!? Sure, there's always a remote chance of getting hit by a shoulder fired missile, but that's extremely rare for F16 pilots. It's just like the article says, you fly to a certain point, press a button, and you're gone before it even hits the ground.

Re:People should search for AC-130 videos (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529421)

No, but the fact that the Air Force has to worry about the effect on pilots probably is to some folks who like to see the military as a bunch of emotionless killing machines. It seems more like the training is about becoming *able* to do it, but the aftereffects are another story. The best anyone can likely do is rationalize it based on the chain of command, the necessity of the conflict, etc., all of which provides a moral framework for the decision to take someone's life. Some folks are going to find that harder than others, and the military needs those folks. They help prevent abuses. But the difficulty of this is one reason why we shouldn't use force for trivial reasons.

Welcome to warfare (4, Interesting)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529023)

Welcome to warfare. This is not much different than the same consultations offered ground troops who get up close and personal. The military realized that killing someone else really changes a person early on and brought in people who could help - religious leaders and shrinks.

Thank God I was in the Army during a peaceful period. I would certainly regret taking another life, even if I could justify it as the warrior way (don't be on a battlefield without being ready to kill or die). Particularly when today's battles are so one-sided and the targets mingle amongst the population.

Re:Welcome to warfare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529157)

yes, killing people changes you forever.

I still wake with nightmares of it, from 26 years ago...but the war I was fighting has yet to be released for public knowledge...and I will never get help because that means the USA admitting to what it was up to back then.

I have the only solution. Stop sending our troops over to invade other countries, and stop sending them to die under the banner of peace.

Re:Welcome to warfare (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529381)

Killing a person changes you? killing ANYTHING changes you a lot.

Remember the first animal you killed? not accidentally, but determined and calculated, you took aim and pulled the trigger to kill it.

That changes you a LOT.

Re:Welcome to warfare (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529757)

I remember, we laughed and laughed and laughed..good times~

Other Considerations (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529035)

Not to mention the ego boosting attention a real pilot gets and the thrill of actually flying, but then there is the risk of dying and the thousands of hours of training. I guess flying a drone is somewhere in between MS Flight Sim and the real thing.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529277)

I'm sure a lot of things are between those two extremes, however since they're piloting multimillion dollar pieces of hardware I guarantee its closer to the "real thing"

Re:Other Considerations (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529383)

I guess flying a drone is somewhere in between MS Flight Sim and the real thing. Plus World of Warcraft thrown it!

No Taste for Armageddon? (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529049)

Damn... what's the point of having a technology sufficiently far advanced that you can conduct a remote-control war if the button-pushing still results in some kind of scarring, albeit emotional?

Might as well just send in the pikemen...

Re:No Taste for Armageddon? (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529087)

Damn... what's the point of having a technology sufficiently far advanced that you can conduct a remote-control war if the button-pushing still results in some kind of scarring, albeit emotional?

The point could end up being "don't kill anyone unless you absolutely have to, because the cost is too high otherwise." Which would be a very good point to learn I think.

Re:No Taste for Armageddon? (4, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529091)

Might as well just send in the pikemen...

Be careful, sometimes they can beat battleships ;)

Re:No Taste for Armageddon? (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529341)

Because the pure emotionless autonomous killing machine hasn't been invented yet. They are working on that.

Boo Hoo! (-1, Troll)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529065)

I bet life sucks a lot more for the kids blown to bits by these chair-jockeys. Somehow, I'm having a hard time getting all misty over a bunch of wankers sitting in air conditioned comfort who don't want to face the consequences of their actions.

Signed Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529069)

has anyone figured this out? By the way, how to articles get tagged - faq wasn't much help.

Re:Signed Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529615)

Try countertagging !signed.

vivid and personal? (1, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529071)

the experience of a drone pilot seems to me to be the very definition of detached and distant

i mean compare their experience to say, plunging a knife into a guys heart and covering his mouth until he stops struggling so his screams don't alert anyone else? now that's vivid and personal if you ask me

and by the way, that's not a theoretical:

http://books.google.com/books?id=74DRCVfzqkgC [google.com]

Re:vivid and personal? (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529329)

Perhaps in some way killing face to face is easier on the mind, since you are witnessing your destruction and can grieve over it. You also know that it was either you or him.

When you blow up a building you may not ever know the extent of the suffering you caused, and the wondering about it may drive you crazy, on top of the guilt of you personally being completely safe and sound.

Re:vivid and personal? (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529501)

the experience of a drone pilot seems to me to be the very definition of detached and distant. i mean compare their experience to say, plunging a knife into a guys heart and covering his mouth until he stops struggling so his screams don't alert anyone else? now that's vivid and personal if you ask me

I think this is exactly the point of the story, that it is very personal. You might not hear the gurgling sounds, but you watch the missile all the way in, you see the damage, and you're expected to review it and make sure the target was struck. I don't think it's remote at all. On the contrary, it's a lot more similar to being personally involved in the killing, and as a society we're not used to it anymore. Read the first posting on this thread - http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=640311&cid=24528945 [slashdot.org] - for a good account of what it means to be a drone pilot.

Awww, muffin! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529077)

Here's an idea: stop dropping those bombs on innocent civilians by the hundreds of thousands.

Easy, cost-effective, low-tech.

Re:Awww, muffin! (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529149)

You overstated the numbers, but for what it's worth, I don't think your post deserved to be marked as -1 Troll. I think your points is valid.

Re:Awww, muffin! (0, Offtopic)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529577)

welcome to crappy moderation on slashdot. sorry, but I think the best thing everyone here can do is make sure they metamoderate seriously and by reading the context. Maybe that way we'll get somewhere.

and, btw, he was not a troll. But I would mark him as flamebait. I know the effect is similar, but it does make a difference. He wanted to start a flame war, not just to put his two cents in without reading the article.

Re:Awww, muffin! (1)

dat cwazy wabbit (1147827) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529597)

I kinda liked the idea too. Yeah, a "me too" post. But "stop killing people" is really a good idea, isn't it?

Rigth tool, wrong target (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529085)

I agree that shrinks are needed regarding army in iraq/afganistan, but they must focus where the real problem is, in the other end of the chain of command.

Here's an idea (5, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529101)

Rather than spending a fortune on shrinks, why not hire a programmer instead? Just have the display overlay something like, oh... 'Direct Hit! 10,000' when the bomb goes off. And keep a high score. That'll help the pilot achieve the necessary mental disconnect between his own actions and the gruesome fate of the people on the ground, and enable him to defend our freedom much more effectively without unfortunate side-effects like conscience or remorse.

Bonus points for hitting weddings, Chinese embassies, and British armoured columns.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529201)

Bonus points for hitting weddings, Chinese embassies, and British armoured columns.

That's just tasteless.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529253)

Yes it's tasteless. That's the Truth, for you - no room for tact.

Re:Here's an idea (2, Insightful)

32771 (906153) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529487)

Clearly we should have Onion Funny and HaHa Funny as moderator tags. That way we would know when to cringe and when to smile.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529355)

It's called sarcasm.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529345)

M-m-m-m-monster kill!

Re:Here's an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529405)

M-O-N-S-T-E-R K-I-L-L !!!

Re:Here's an idea (1)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529491)

This reminds me of the Battle School Simulations in Ender's Game [amazon.com] .

Which kind of makes sense, as when I'm watching the news, with all their cut panes, I think I'm reading a damn comic book come to life.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529503)

Just have the display overlay something like, oh... 'Direct Hit! 10,000'

This reminds me of something...

Holy ones and zeros... BATMAN! [wikipedia.org]

Re:Here's an idea (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529669)

You forgot Canadian ground forces also...

Re:Here's an idea (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529713)

You could also just automate the whole thing. That way humans wouldn't have to endure the trauma of watching it happen. Probably the most efficient way of doing it would be to network the whole lot, that way they can coordinate with each other. We can call the whole thing SkyNet and be done with it.

Of course it is personal... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529113)

...you're fracking killing people!!!! War should NOT be made easy, for anyone!

flying drone (1, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529119)

Flying drones from halfway-across the world used to be considered a cushy military job

I'm a flying drone and I can tell you, after flying all the way across the ocean your arms get tired pretty fast!

The guy at the controls is under stress, too.

(Damn it, I wanted to post anonymously but since I made a comment 17 minutes ago I can't)

Re:flying drone (1)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529753)

I'm a flying drone and I can tell you, after flying all the way across the ocean your arms get tired pretty fast!

So, to get the drone to fly, you have to flap your arms?

Everyday.. (4, Interesting)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529135)

Everyday, we closer to Ender's Game.

Apparently, the solution is to recruit kids and tell them it's just a video game.

~Aero

Re:Everyday.. (3, Funny)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529603)

have you seen xbox live? that solution is a great way to guarantee 100% team kills only. That and hearing disparaging remarks aimed at your mother.

Re:Everyday.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529729)

Your mother!

I've got a great solution... (1, Redundant)

geekmansworld (950281) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529173)

Let's stop killing each other.

Re:I've got a great solution... (3, Interesting)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529243)

I've got a more realistic solution - let's all start killing each other indiscriminately.

Mine at least has a chance of actually happening.

No, this is the way things should be... (3, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529195)

Killing someone - whether up close and personal - or from halfway around the world, should make someone feel uncomfortable. When war becomes little more than a video game, without a view of the human cost, tyranny becomes inevitable. Just witness what happened with "smart weapons" and the U.S. -> high tech weaponry and minimal collateral damage made it all the more easily to justify invading a country under the guise of liberating them.

Re:No, this is the way things should be... (2, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529551)

I could not disagree with you more. My fat rich country sends its boys out to fight and perhaps die in support of its foreign policy (be it good or bad). When those boys are done with war, I want our country to do everything it can to minimize their postwar discomfort and maximize their reintegration to society. If they can get through the war less "uncomfortably," then I'm all for it.

You talk about the 'way things should be,' but you're really just talking about the things that you want. You want the groundpounder at the point of the spear to suffer? Is that really what you want?

The people you need to sensitize are the decisionmakers and the people who pick them. Don't pick on the soldiers. Leave them alone.

Re:No, this is the way things should be... (0, Troll)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529579)

1. So maybe violent video games don't cause additional violence in society. If games made violence acceptable, then these "pilots" would not experience the degree of trauma that they do. Sorry parents - the violence is your fault.

2. Maybe we should be more intent on using diplomacy and bringing someone to justice through the legal process rather than turning them into ground chuck.

Re:No, this is the way things should be... (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529629)

at the same time, you should hire shrinks and priests to make sure that the soldiers don't build it up, leave the service, and can't cope with what they did. And yes, you should feel uncomfortable. I don't trust anyone who is not.

Yay! (-1, Troll)

rtechie (244489) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529233)

This is the best thing I've ever heard about the UAV program.

Maybe being forced to look into the eyes of the kids they're killing will lead some of these UAV operators to refuse to fire on civilian targets or in civilian areas.

Mod parent up, "Human". (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529505)

I realize that there must be people who have never had occasional thoughts that there would be less war if more of the people involved had to face the results of their actions, but I'm not sure I'd want to meet one.

Mirror image SF... (1, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529297)

I just read "Spin Control" by Chris Moriarty. In this novel, to reduce troop losses along the Palestine-Israeli border both sides have the soldiers remote-controlled by an AI (called "EMET" on the Israeli side, after the word "Truth" inscribed on the Golem of Prague's forehead). The AI is "told" that it's just playing a video game, and when it realizes that its "character" is a real person killing other real people it can't deal with it... so they terminate it and boot up another copy that hasn't had that realization yet to take over.

Welly, welly, welly, so humans have the same problem...

Ender's Game, anyone? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529333)

Whoever moderated that offtopic didn't RTFA or didn't understand the last line of it. :)

Hmmmm (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529299)

Lets see...

Fly a plane. Get shot at. Drop a bomb. Get shot at some more. Land plane. Eat dinner with grubby sweaty guys. Dodge mortar attacks. Crawl into bed dodging sand fleas.

or

Fly a plane by remote. Drop a bomb. See results. Take a break, talk about last night's game. Fly some more. Hit Taco Bell for lunch. Fly some more, drop another bomb. See the results. Grab some coffee. Stop at Petco to get cat food on the way home. Order in chinese, watch How's It Made while you're eating. Surf the net, crawl into bed.

Yeah I think I could deal with it.

BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529305)

Only the "Chingers" are human babies and mothers.

Re:BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529643)

"BIL", two 'ells' for officers only... :-)

Fun book, I haven't read it in probably 30 years...

Why would they wan tto stop this? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529369)

Why would they want people just killing other humans without fear or sympathy? The fact of the matter is when you're killing from that distance, there is no way to know if that person or persons "deserved" it. For all you know, the person who gave the order just didn't like that neighborhood.

who's really to blame here? (1)

andre3001 (976515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529411)

It's easy for us to wonder how "evil" or monstrous someone is for flying drone planes that drop bombs on people, but I think it's important to remember exactly where the finger should be pointed. The guy flying the drone is, after all, doing a job that he is required to fulfill whether he wants to do so or not. So how evil do you have to be to tell that guy to do his job? Or, to sit back in your office thousands of miles away and calmly discuss the likelihood of "collateral damage" while someone else does your dirty work for you, and consequently spends the rest of their life dealing with the emotional and physical ramifications of that decision?

Now here's an idea (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529423)

I completely believe that these UAV pilots experience stress from, well, killing people.

My idea is this: now that the U.S. military has the technology to kill people from halfway across the globe without exposing the pilot to physical danger, let's let the President sit next to the pilot and push the button for a couple of those missions, then sit there and watch the blood and destruction.

I think this should be a mandatory experience for anyone who has the authority to order an attack. Military officers have a good chance of having fought in combat already; now let's let the President experience killing an enemy and watching him die. Then we'll see whether his attitude toward using military force displays a little more, let's say, maturity.

Purpose (5, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529431)

It seems to me that if we had a more solid purpose for fighting, then this wouldn't be nearly the concern that is indicated in the summary. Let's say a hostile foreign army invaded US soil. Do you think that people fighting that army, that army which directly threatens their homes and their children and their homeland, would have such concerns about the casualties they have to inflict?

Whether politicians prefer to call it "pre-emptive" or not, what we are doing is fighting an offensive war. In the case of Iraq this is against an enemy which was no real threat to us, which is why the "justification" so quickly changed from "weapons of mass destruction" to "liberation of the Iraqi people". In the back of their minds, in some place that is untouched by denial, our soldiers have to see just how convenient this whole war has been for the expansion of executive power, the passage of legislation like the Patriot Act, the no-bid contracts for companies that our Vice President and others just-coincidentally happens to have ties to. Despite the incredibly bravery and willingness to put their lives on the line that our soldiers have shown (seriously, these guys have balls of brass and guts of steel; they are not the problem), there is very little honor to be had in a war of this type. Don't mistake me for a pacifist just because I think we need a damned good reason before we go and kill a lot of people; a reason that will stand up to questioning and critical thinking; a reason that does not have the taint of political and financial gain everywhere you look.

When an enemy attacks and like-it-or-not you are forced to defend yourself, the horrors of conflict are not your fault and they are not what you asked for. They are what you had to do. Despite that, it may still take the defenders a long time to learn to cope with the horrors they have witnessed. Just imagine how much harder that must be when you also know that you are the aggressor. Like too many things we do, this is a band-aid designed to alleviate a symptom and not a solution to the actual underlying problem.

War is a terrible, hellish, ugly thing. It's supposed to be. That is its nature, and that is what the drone pilots are finding out the hard way. It's not supposed to be something you do for a questionable reason. What an insult to such honorable men that our leadership puts them through this, and for what?

Re:Purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24529489)

You should take a psychology class or two and go learn a few things about where terrorists come from and why they become terrorists. There are many things you fail to understand here.

If I know these fly-boys... (2, Insightful)

Illbay (700081) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529443)

...Their officers are referring them to shrinks to help them tone down the "yeah, how do you like me now, Ahmed!" and "there's a little sand in your shorts, Ali!" comments that are making it hard for the admins to concentrate on their paperwork.

Catch-22 (2, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529627)

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. (Lt.) Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

 
                                "That's some catch, that Catch-22," he [Yossarian] observed.
                                "It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Well, one hopes not at least, but having grown up in the military, I could easily see one being in place.

Upon further reflection... (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529679)

Considering that pilots in theater spend their off hours with other people in theater, who share in the same situation, while UAV pilots (in Utah) go home to their spouse and kids and I can see a potential need for them to have someone to talk to.

Dream Job (1)

The Insane One (25793) | more than 6 years ago | (#24529743)

To rain down death from above with no more danger than psychological harm? This can be mitigated with the "sleep of the just".

I grab my wizards hat and robe.

Where do I sign up?
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