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What Happens In Vegas Happens In Afghanistan

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the far-from-the-madding-crowd dept.

The Military 522

theodp writes "After the morning commute from his Las Vegas apartment, Air Force captain Sam Nelson sits in a padded chair inside a low, tan building in Nevada, controlling a heavily armed drone aircraft soaring over Afghanistan, prepared to kill another human being 7,500 miles away if necessary. Welcome to the surreal world of drone pilots, who have a front-row seat on war from half a world away. 'On the drive out here, you get yourself ready to enter the compartment of your life that is flying combat,' explained retired Col. Chris Chambliss. 'And on the drive home, you get ready for that part of your life that's going to be the soccer game.' No wonder why the Air Force is interested in the Xbox LIVE crowd and the Army's opened a new arcade recruitment center!"

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Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222100)

The risk to them: We kill them. If we ever get Bin Ladin in the sights of one of these things, it'll be well worth the investment.

The risk to us: We lose a drone. Pilot safe, and he can move on to another drone to keep going.

Sure, they can try to kill the pilot in Vegas... but that's a mainland murder and that's a whole lot easier to solve and capture them here. Furthermore, they've got to be here to do that.

So, net result is we're bringing the war to them using technology we have and they don't. Now our fighter planes don't need to have the fighter pilot on-board. They might own the ground in the war zone, but we own the air.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222234)

I wonder if the pilots get to post messages online labeling the insurgent snipers `cowards` when they're taking a break from being `brave` pilots.

MURDER BY REMOTE CONTROL (-1, Troll)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222316)

Kill a few raghead babies, then blow off steam at the roulette wheel.

America is worse than Germany and Franco in Guernica. Worse than the Soviets ever were.

America is Satan's fuming anus.

Re:MURDER BY REMOTE CONTROL (-1, Offtopic)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222378)

You seem to have forgotten that 9/11 changed everything. A small number of people crossed the border through the front doors, then assembled and killed thousands in an attack nobody had thought of defending against yet. This isn't a conventional wars where we can shoot down personnel carriers, and there's no "homeland" to attack.

Re:MURDER BY REMOTE CONTROL (-1, Troll)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222740)

Your CIA agents blew up New York with Arab stooges and Mossad complicity. "The order to stand down remains in effect".

There is no war, and Afghans did not ever attack the US. Your brainwashing was free, but is still too expensive.

Re:MURDER BY REMOTE CONTROL (4, Insightful)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222842)

9/11/01 turned out as only yet another excuse as to why we still roam the world and kill people for resources.

9/11/01 was significant from similar events only in that it happened in the USA. Only in that it was *our* civilians that got slaughtered. The west have done worse many times, and many times after 9/11/01.

The only way to prevent war is to fight the reasons for them. Starting more wars only starts more wars.

Re:MURDER BY REMOTE CONTROL (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222398)

care to explain your point of view?

Murder by remote control and other ways, too. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222748)

"Kill a few raghead babies"

You've underestimated that. The U.S. government has bombed or invaded 24 countries since the 2nd world war. The U.S. government has killed or caused the deaths of more than 11,000,000 people since then. In some ways, the U.S. government is the most violent government that has ever existed.

The killing was done for profit. See the article, Coups Arranged or Backed by the USA. [krysstal.com]

When you talk about the U.S. government, don't say we. They would kill you, too, if there was money in it.

Additional risk to us: (5, Insightful)

xmark (177899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222242)

We start to treat killing the enemy the way we treat killing chickens at the Perdue packing plant.

At the most fundamental level, war is still human beings killing other human beings...usually human beings who've never met. One of the damping feed-backs in the war loop is the ugliness and brutality of it. That loop needs more, not fewer, negative feed-backs. Further depersonalization and sterilization of war may incentivize the decision to engage in it.

Re:Additional risk to us: (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222272)

And if you actually *read* the article, you'll see that many of the people involved feel that this is *more* "personalized" than the old way of doing it (a bomber 30-40k feet in the air).

Re:Additional risk to us: (1, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222358)

Pity the plight of the poor killers!

Can't you see that this "article" is a military PsyOp? The intention is for you to identify with and commiserate over the tremendous difficulty faced by those who kill others, by pushing a button.

This all looks different when seen from the perspective offered from the bottom of an Afghan mass-grave.

That lying, satanic son-of-a-bitch got a prize in Oslo, for smearing his dead, vampire face with the blood and entrails of Afghan babies.

Enjoy your hell, America.

Re:Additional risk to us: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222592)

Everything is a psy-op.

Re:Additional risk to us: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222676)

Fuck you. Right in the ass.

I hope we invade your country next.

Re:Additional risk to us: (2, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222522)

I have very little respect for bombers and pilots who kill enemies while sipping Mountain Dew from the comfort of their chair and air conditioning. That's not anything to be proud of.

I respect more the lowly grunt, who actually fights for his life during combat, even though he has better armor, better equipment, and better medical facilities than the irregular forces against him.

Cowards should not be held up as heroes.

Re:Additional risk to us: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222564)

I have very little respect for the crossbowman, who kills his enemies from the safety of the castle walls.

I respect more the lowly grunt, who actually fights with his life during combat, with his sword and pike.

Cowards should not be held up as heroes.

Re:Additional risk to us: (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222772)

Grunts don't get swords, I mean, swords don't grow on trees...

Re:Additional risk to us: (5, Insightful)

wronskyMan (676763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222638)

Why? At the risk of quoting John Wayne, war isn't about giving your life for your country - it's about making the other bastard give his life for his.

Re:Additional risk to us: (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222712)

Funny you should quote John Wayne, since he normally portrays values of fairness. It's not about dying for your country, it's about fighting fairly while still doing everything to win.

All I'm saying is those who don't fight fair should not also expect to be *respected* for their efforts.

Re:Additional risk to us: (2, Insightful)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222856)

But what constitutes fairness? In every major battle or war the US has been involved in, the definition of what's fair has changed. What was unethical last time around, but common practice for the enemy and as a result helped their cause to the tune of Americans dying, is now standard operating procedure.

Why did the American Civil war soldiers line up and fire at each other? Because to hide behind trees, bushes, and hills would be unethical.

Guerilla style acts of sabotage by Viet Cong soldiers were seen as not fighting fair, until we realized how effective they can be.

Re:Additional risk to us: (4, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222846)

At the risk of quoting John Wayne, war isn't about giving your life for your country - it's about making the other bastard give his life for his.

John Wayne... George Patton... Same thing, really...

Re:Additional risk to us: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222726)

I've very little respect for anyone who puts their body on the line for some deluded ideal of "patriotism" when what they're really standing up for is Imperialism.

Re:Additional risk to us: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222760)

Nobody gives a shit what you respect. Take your self-importance and shove it up your ass.

Re:Additional risk to us: (0, Offtopic)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222812)

I have very little respect for bombers and pilots who kill enemies while sipping Mountain Dew from the comfort of their chair and air conditioning.

That's retarded. By that logic you should have "very little respect" for programmers, engineers, and pretty much anyone else who works in an office environment.

Cowards should not be held up as heroes.

Yeah brave keyboard warriors such as yourself are clearly much more heroic than anyone operating an armed drone. Keep Fighting The Good Fight!

Re:Additional risk to us: (1)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222738)

Amen. It makes sense, too. A pilot flying over enemy territory taking out targets is doing it partly to save his own skin - there's less guilt involved. A cyberpilot controlling a plane over enemy territory has reduced his physical and personal risk to virtually zero, but he still must make the decision to press the little red button.

Re:Additional risk to us: (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222318)

That's called fighting the last war... when we thought that hijackers wanted to go somewhere, we let them into the cockpit. When the new hijackers got the idea that they could take over the plane and hit a target, we ended up with a small number of people able to cause a large number of people, and they didn't care about guilt or punishment because they were fine with the idea of dying in the crash.

The rules of war have changed... the enemy isn't a state, it's a force of people loyal to a cult that believes a corrupted religion. There's no way to blockade them, there's no way to disable their tech because they don't use much. We have to change our response or else they'll find the weakness in the current way of doing things.

Re:Additional risk to us: (5, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222466)

The rules of war have changed... the enemy isn't a state, it's a force of people loyal to a cult that believes a corrupted religion.

That's not war, that's a crime ( just like Aum Shinrikyo ) , and when we start thinking it's a war, and treating it as such, we begin to turn society into a militarized police state. Welcome to 1984.

Re:Additional risk to us: (3, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222634)

And when crime goes unpunished because the cult has control of significant money and land areas what is the proper response? Send an arrest warrant? What happens when the law in that country allows him to go unpunished?

There are really very few international laws.

So what can you do to punish those responsible for cross border crime? Do you know what happens when a naval frigate captures somali pirates right now? They ask them a couple of questions, feed them and release them safely to shore. Why because it is okay to commit piracy in Somali.

When there is no law only lawlessness remains. in the borders between countries it is without law.

Re:Additional risk to us: (4, Insightful)

Dalambertian (963810) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222834)

The Somalis see their "pirates" as the only force securing their waters right now, and I don't blame them. Europe has been overfishing their waters and polluting their shores with toxic waste for years. Where was the justice of international law then?

Re:Additional risk to us: (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222640)

That's not war, that's a crime ( just like Aum Shinrikyo ) , and when we start thinking it's a war, and treating it as such, we begin to turn society into a militarized police state. Welcome to 1984.

War is where one group of people try to kill another group of people. Those groups just happen to be fighting for countries today instead of churches. And no, it's not 1984. We're still burying the bodies, and you can still go to the graves, and those that survive will still tell their stories. When we've lost the vocabulary to say "We were wrong," then 1984 will be here.

It's 2010, and we kill people, and we know we kill people, and a lot of us think there's another way to do this. And as long as you can still hear that voice, even if you don't listen, we're still okay.

Re:Additional risk to us: (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222696)

Oh please. Get off your moral high horse and pay attention to the God Damned reality that is Humanity. You want to end this global war or not? Pick a side. It's easy (black and white). You can be the victor, or loser/slave to your enemy. Pussyfooting around the issue only leads to more death in the long run.

Re:Additional risk to us: (5, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222790)

The best line from a TV show on the subject in the last 10 years I think is from Battlestar Gallactica.

"There's a reason we separate military and the police: one fights the enemy of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people."

This is why I always was nervous about the "war on terror". If it's a war then it's a civil war since extremists are also American citizens. The US Military an incredible effective fighting force. It's too easy in a 'global war on terror' for its sights to be turned onto itself. After all the US despite all the 'exceptionalism' is part of the globe. If terrorism knows no borders then that includes our own.

Re:Additional risk to us: (2, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222542)

The rules of war have changed... the enemy isn't a state, it's a force of people loyal to a cult that believes a corrupted religion.

If you think the only reason they're attacking the United States is "corrupted religion" then you have no clue WTF has been happening for the last few decades.
AFAIK almost every Mid-East country from which terrorists come has very specific historical gripes with US foreign policy.

Re:Additional risk to us: (3, Interesting)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222704)

The rules of war have changed... the enemy isn't a state, it's a force of people loyal to a cult that believes a corrupted religion.

Corrupted religion? Lets see here we have Muslims on one side and Christians on the other so which side are you talking about. They both seem pretty corrupted to me.

Re:Additional risk to us: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222796)

You ignorant clod, it is the Buddhist that are corrupted ! ;)

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222252)

US Predator Drone: $4.5 million
US Predator Drone Missile: $70 thousand
US Predator Drone Pilot: $70 thousand/year

Look on the faces of the innocent people in the Afghani wedding party or funeral procession you're about to murder because of faulty intelligence: Priceless

For everything else, there's consequences.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222368)

How is this insightful? Faulty intelligence isn't unique to remotely-piloted drones. Eyes on target doesn't always mean that it's necessarily the right target.

BLATANT FLAMEBAIT, MOD THE FUCK DOWN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222456)

This idiotic post is the very definition of flamebait, and should've been moderated as such.

The fact that some idiot moderator modded this "insightful" really shows the nuttiness of the left wing haters on this site and how unhinged they have become.

BTW, if you mod me down, you must mod the parent down as well. It's much more trolling and flamebait than anything else.

None of this old-fashioned junk... (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222258)

> net result is we're bringing the war to them using technology we have and they don't.

Oh yeah. None of the old-fashioned junk like Stealth Bombers. Why, I picked one of those up from a neighboring cave for cheap, just last month. :)

It's powerful new tech, though, and useful--more because of the increased visibility and flexibility brought on by the drones than because of lowering the risk to the pilot of being shot down.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222276)

The risk to us: There is no difference between killing someone in another country, and some uppity malcontent in the next city.

Nobody wins in Afghanistan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222282)

Not military means anyway. The British Empire. The USSR, and America is going for another Vietnam.

A ground to air missile is still cheaper and easier to fire than a drone, and drones can't hold territory.

 

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (2, Insightful)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222294)

Don't forget incidental risks due to human error, namely the deaths of innocent civilians. Which is another way to lose the war.

Our track record is NOT perfect. Not by a longshot. In fact, it's a Big Problem.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222302)

Sure, they can try to kill the pilot in Vegas... but that's a mainland murder and that's a whole lot easier to solve and capture them here. Furthermore, they've got to be here to do that.

Does it really qualify as "murder"? Isn't that just war?

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222386)

Depends on whether they're uniformed or not. Geez man, this is geneva convention 101.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222334)

If we ever get Bin Ladin in the sights of one of these things, it'll be well worth the investment.

Just like before, right? [timesonline.co.uk]

The pictures are part of a mass of evidence now emerging of the missed opportunities to kill or capture Bin Laden and his associates before they launched the terror attacks on America in 2001.

They include at least three further occasions in Afghanistan between 1998 and 2000 when the CIA had Bin Laden in its sights but was prevented from acting. There were divisions between the agency and the White House over who would have the authority to fire and the legality of killing the Al-Qaeda leader.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (1)

AlphaFreak (646767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222390)

I wonder... if what you said happended (one enemy unit chasing and killing a drone pilot in U.S. soil) if that could be considered an act of war, so not technically a "murder". That remote (very remote) killing stuff is an unknown land regarding the laws of war.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (5, Insightful)

wigaloo (897600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222504)

Sure, they can try to kill the pilot in Vegas... but that's a mainland murder and that's a whole lot easier to solve and capture them here.

So, let me get this straight. If a pilot kills them anonymously with drones from thousands of miles away that's war, but if they somehow get to Vegas and kill that drone pilot it's murder? Huh. My double-standard sense is tingling.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (2, Insightful)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222832)

I think the key word in "that's a mainland murder" is mainland rather than murder. So the point the original poster was making was not that now it's suddenly more morally odious because it's a murder, it's that now it's something the US police can handle without too much trouble, whereas the same thing inside Afghanistan would be harder to deal with.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (0, Flamebait)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222572)

You live is such a disgusting delusional world, that you make me sick!

Who is “them”? HM?
Do you really think the terrorists are some random people in some mountains who probably haven’t even gotten electricity??
Dude, you KILL OTHER HUMAN BEINGS! Dead. Murdered. For nothing!
Have you ever seen someone die? Unless you have killed someone yourself, or were in Afghanistan, just shut the fuck up!

Now switch off the delusion, and think where the real evil people sit:
- The mullahs in Iran and other Arabic countries. (NOT the population!)
- Cheney, Monsanto, Haliburton, Eli Lily, and friends. (NOT the US population.)
- North Korea’s leaders.
- A hand full of other freaks around the world, including Mobutu and Putin.

If you want to do something good, and fulfill your perverse lust to murder other people, go and do it to them. With a special unit of agents. In a covert operation.

That’s what one gets for discussing such topics on a tech site. :(

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222604)

The risk to us: We lose a drone. Pilot safe, and he can move on to another drone to keep going.

The pilot lives; It's a stretch to say he's safe. You kill someone and that's with you for life. And that's not a definition of "safe" I'm disposed to agree with.

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (2, Informative)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222630)

It is very tempting to imagine that we can wage a war that is bloodless on our own side.

However the fact of the matter, at this point, is that there are still soldiers fighting street to street under a hail of sniper fire and rpgs. These troops certainly gain something from the new close air support, but they still have to kick down doors, peer around corners and walk through mined fields.

We must not allow ourselves to be wowed by new technology and forget about the plight of our soldiers. They are paying the full price for our actions and we must recognize their bravery and commitment

Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (1)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222744)

We must not allow ourselves to be wowed by new technology and forget about the plight of our soldiers.

Or, you know, the people it kills.

Face-to-face combat (4, Insightful)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222150)

I think the people of the world including the leaders would think twice if they (that is, all leaders and followers) had to do this old-style with rocks and clubs. The readiness to kill is somewhat lower if you have to be involved face-to-face. It is highly problematic if you can kill as if it were a computer game. There is no better prevention than to have your own life on the edge. Yes, I do know there are people willing to do anything regardless the consequence, but I think there would be a net benefit for all if you had to kill face-on.

Re:Face-to-face combat (5, Insightful)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222206)

Wouldn't it be great if wars could be fought just by the assholes who started them?

Re:Face-to-face combat (0, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222488)

Wouldn't it be great if wars could be fought just by the assholes who started them?

Tell that to the person who is starving. Tell that to the man who comes home after another day waiting for a job at the work center, who comes home empty-handed. You think wars are just fought by people who want money? Not all of them. Some are fought because people are hungry. Some are fought because people are desperate -- they're afraid their culture will disappear, their natural resources will be used up... And it's hard to be civil when your neighbor next door has giant refineries and everyone has a car, and an education, and wears clean clothes.

Those people aren't assholes. They're human beings. And a lot of wars are started because despite that, a lot of us sure as hell don't act like it when it counts. We turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, and the result is violence. Whether it's in a desert, or in our streets, the blood is the same color and it's shed for the same reason: Because we can't admit that it's our smug moral superiority, our inability to share, that led us to it.

Re:Face-to-face combat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222612)

Because we can't admit that it's our smug moral superiority, our inability to share, that led us to it.

My dear, it's a nice sentiment and I'm doing my best to decrease my own footprint on this Earth, but do you really think it is enough for all of us to do that?

There's over 7 billion people on this Earth and increasing. There's only so much potable water, agricultural land (increasing it has some nasty side effects - we need the trees too), and other resources in this World. The Earth can only support so many people.

Wars are inevitable and the reality is that's one of the best ways to decrease population - especially with continued medical advances and medical access to the Third World - the countries with the highest birth rates. Infant mortality is decreasing, people are living longer and over all birth rates are not decreasing. Can those countries be developed fast enough to the point where their birth rates start decreasing as in the developed World?

Then we get into the economics of aging populations and that's a book there.

Re:Face-to-face combat (1)

furball (2853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222752)

our inability to share

Really the question is what are you unwilling to share openly? As soon as you reach the answer to that, you reach your justification for war-like actions. Wars can be defensive.

Re:Face-to-face combat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222268)

So, how many virgins do the taliban think they'll be getting in the afterlife if they get blown up by a missile from a drone? Is there some kind of bonus?

Re:Face-to-face combat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222270)

>>The readiness to kill is somewhat lower if you have to be involved face-to-face
Huh? Since the dawn of time wars have been waged face to face. There are always going to be zealots who can stir up crowds up people to fight for their "noble cause" and their will always be the sane who answer the call to defend individual rights of the oppressed. Evolution of the battlefield may remove some "front row" elements, but the zealots still remain as do the defenders of freedom.

Re:Face-to-face combat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222374)

Really deep. How's second semester freshman philosophy going?

Re:Face-to-face combat (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222402)

The readiness to kill is somewhat lower if you have to be involved face-to-face. It is highly problematic if you can kill as if it were a computer game.

Those people know what the hell they're doing. They're killing someone. You think the people that sat in nuclear silos at the height of the cold war didn't know what that red button would do? You think they didn't break out in cold sweats at night, hoping and praying the day would never come when they'd be ask to do their last duty for their country? It's disgraceful to think these people are calloused to the fact that they are killing people just because it happens on a computer screen instead of splattered across their chest. Don't think that just because they don't see their faces when they kill them, they won't wake up screaming at night and sobbing when they think nobody can hear them, praying to God or anyone else that'll listen to make the pain stop.

Every person you kill takes away a piece of your soul, and it doesn't matter whether it was with an button pushed or a trigger pulled. And that's how it should be. Trust me, the price of war is high enough. And it's not just them that hurt for it. They have families. The "enemy" have families. And they have friends. And communities. And prayer groups. We are all connected, and this world is a whole lot smaller than you think.

No technological advancement will ever take away the fact that a life lost makes the world a little less bright.

Re:Face-to-face combat (0, Troll)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222628)

It's disgraceful to think these people are calloused to the fact that they are killing people just because it happens on a computer screen instead of splattered across their chest.

You're confusing real danger with imagined danger. Real danger is infinitely more worthy of respect than imagined danger. That's why the military takes actual combat experience into account for promotions.

Re:Face-to-face combat (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222498)

Isn't that exactly the opposite of what the history of warfare shows us?

Frankly, I'd rather be shot than have to face a Marine with a knife and his war face on.

Re:Face-to-face combat (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222722)

There is no better prevention than to have your own life on the edge. Yes, I do know there are people willing to do anything regardless the consequence, but I think there would be a net benefit for all if you had to kill face-on.

Tell it to the Greeks at Troy, Salamis or Thermopylae. Or, if you prefer, the Romans at Cannai or Actium. The Crusaders under Richard I might also have something to say in response.

Nor for everyone (1)

Haxzaw (1502841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222158)

Very nice, but the AF will still not allow enlisted to pilot the drones. Must have at least a 4 year degree in something, even underwater basket weaving will do, and be commissioned in order to fly anything.

So you wanna join the Air Force and Fly? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222180)

So, you wanna fly jets in the Air Force and be in the sky?

Read it and weep.

Drones: much much cheaper than a manned jet and you don't have to worry about pilots being beheaded on TV. And one day, they'll be completely automated.

I wonder if this will cause a decline in Air Force recruiting?

Not everyone can fly the F-22 or F-35 - there's only so many jets. And as I pointed out above, the politicians have incentive to send in the drones.

I'm surprised the Navy hasn't picked up on this more.

Re:So you wanna join the Air Force and Fly? (1, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222300)

It's only one instance of a larger trend of robots replacing humans in situations where frankly humans don't belong (flying at Mach 3, going into space, landing on Mars, disarming bombs, etc.). Robotic solutions are becoming easier to implement than all this fiddling with oxygen and pressure suits and life support. People are already using robots to play fetch with their dogs [youtube.com] and soon the dogs themselves will be robots as well.

Re:So you wanna join the Air Force and Fly? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222690)

I'm surprised the Navy hasn't picked up on this more.

They have. [defensetech.org] And even with fuel cells [techradar.com] . And helicopters [popularmechanics.com] , too.

Toys (3, Interesting)

Ivan Stepaniuk (1569563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222192)

Remembers me of the movie Toys (1992) [imdb.com] , A military general inherits a toy making company and begins making war toys, and recruiting kids to "play" a war simulation game that was in fact a remote control of the real thing. It took less than ten years to make it happen.

Latency? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222216)

I know the drones fly slower than a normal jet but wouldn't the latency to something on the other side of the world be a problem? I'd think you'd want someone who's at least on the same continent.

Re:Latency? (3, Informative)

ubergamer1337 (912210) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222292)

Most if the time they are not "directly" flying - they spend more time giving autopilot commands, so a bit of lag is just fine.

Oh boy! (1)

SlothDead (1251206) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222224)

I wonder when we'll have remote controlled tanks.

Also, instead of these "Did you know that the US Army uses drones"-stories I'd be much more interested in the details on how this is made safe. How much equipment would I have to steal to take controll of a drone or the entire robotics section of the army?
Just out of curiosity, of course. ;->

Re:Oh boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222274)

I wonder when we'll have remote controlled tanks.

They are working on them now.

People problem. (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222228)

I'm sure we'll hear lots about the technology, but when you're in the field, surrounded by your fellow soldiers, then blowing the shit out of a car full of people is a shared experience. You can rely on your friends and fellow soldiers to help you deal with the fact that you just helped end a bunch of lives. Yes, it was the right thing. Yes, it was you or them. But all the justifications aside there's an emotional price to be paid that every person who's been in combat or seen it, or similar.

Now we have guys sitting in rooms filled with computer screens blowing people up, and is there anyone there to talk to about it? Can they light a cigarette after, put a fist in the wall, and say "Goddamnit, I wish there'd been another way!" No. You're stuck in a sterile environment, air conditioned, quiet, and after blowing the fuck out of someone you can get up and go get yourself a soda from the vend, grab your coat, file some paperwork, and drive home.

Huge disclaimer -- I'm not in the military, I don't know what these guys to for stress relief, or to deal with the emotional consequences of what they're doing. But I do know the dangers of becoming emotionally numb to violence, and without advocating for or against what the military is doing, I want to ask -- what are we doing to help these soldiers deal with those issues? For that matter, is it even an issue? I don't really know. But I think it helps to look someone in the eye if you have to kill them. To know they were a real person. To remember what you've done -- even if it was the right thing to do, even if there was no other choice, it's a statement about the value of human life.

Re:People problem. (2, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222462)

There was a report on NPR about it a while back, and you pretty much captured the issue.

Also, these people watch the missile they launch until impact, in many ways it is more up-close and personal than flying a bomber.

That with the complete disconnect from surroundings (Killing people than going to the soccer game), is creating a new situation, that the full mental impact is not fully understood yet. But the drone pilots are being watched, and the military is aware that it is new, and the ways to help are likely to be somewhat different.

Re:People problem. (3, Insightful)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222486)

Talk to other people about it? You mean besides all the other remote drone pilots?

Or the next guy up your chain of command? Or your military councilor? Or your spouse? Or your priest/rabbi/whatever?

Hell, there's probably forum those guys hang out on.

If there's one thing that's lacking in the modern world, finding people to talk to isn't one of them.

Re:People problem. (1)

Jumperalex (185007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222530)

Technology and all the options it brings will never change the very human fact that people in emotional distress will always feel there is no one to talk to, no one who will understand, and nothing that can be done about it. The facts being otherwise do nothing to change those facts. And I can assure you our UAS pilots do not want to go home and tell their family about it.

Re:People problem. (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222568)

If there's one thing that's lacking in the modern world, finding people to talk to isn't one of them.

And yet we sit in our homes watching TV that tells us the world is a big and scary place, and how many of us can truly say we know our neighbors? How many of us start conversations on the bus, or in the grocery line? Not many, and you know why? Because we're afraid they'll think we're a freak. Nobody talks to one another. Except online, where it's all nice and safe, where even if the guy has a gun and is crazy, the worst he can do is type in all caps.

Give me a break. Besides, how many guys do you know that are comfortable crying and saying "God, that was a hard thing to do." That ain't happening, not in today's society. They're too afraid they'll be thought of as gay, or weak, or less of a man for admitting that they had doubts about what they just did.

And then you know what? Then they come home to their wives, and daughters, and their friends... And they all expect him to be just like he was before he left. And he isn't. And often times those relationships shatter as a result, because he still can't say what happened. He wants to be the way he was before. But he won't be. Nobody could be. Once you've been touched by violence, it's with you for life.

And no... There aren't many people you can talk to about that, if you can even summon the courage to find your voice to begin with. Society doesn't want to hear it -- we don't want to look weak in front of our enemies, let alone our friends and family.

Re:People problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222534)

How is this different then bombers at 25k high dropping bombs and killing? They seem to have been able to handle that mental burden through several conflicts.

Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222238)

Isn't this the same story as: http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/10/14/1638229/Behind-the-Scenes-With-Americas-Drone-Pilots?art_pos=1

Re:Dupe (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222396)

Similar, but different authors. Earlier story you point to does has more technical info and includes some cool photos, including one of the user interface [esquire.com] .

Good on paper, until you look into your enemy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222262)

God damnit, the United States and Terrorists is looking just like the Whale Wars versus Japanese Research Whalers. Just blow them both the fuck out of my way plz. I hate both of them.

Those that think they are free are the more enslaved. So is USA the battering-ram of Saudi Arabia to fight the other muslim nations that reject the Royal Saudi empire? Now you can expect the adversary to seek and destroy all communications lines not approved by DARPA and U.S. Army Civilian Workforce Volunteers, and the "terourists" bomb civilian buildings to wherever these cowardly United States agents are operating from.

I guess freedom is only on paper nowdays. If you seek to preserve your life, you will lose it. If you go "country" to live free, the terrorists if not the United States will force you to align with some despot that you left behind.

What's worse? (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222342)

Soldiers that come home shell shocked, traumatized for the rest of their lives but on the other side some becoming writers or what not and sharing the horrors of war with the general public.

Or soldiers largely untouched, but treating their experience like it was a video they watched on digg or a video game, completely detached from the inhumanity of it all - heck, during their lunch break, they may go to Walmart to get a game that will be more exciting to play after work. Even a current fighter pilot faces death, if somewhat distanced to what his weapons do on the ground.

Re:What's worse? (2, Insightful)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222446)

It doesn't matter.

It's like saying "What's worse? Being shot at with a bullet or having a limb sliced off with a sword?"

We're switching to bullets anyway.

Re:What's worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222452)

What's easier:

Pulling the trigger on a crying little girl running a few feet from you, or pressing a key to eliminate a green sprite on your screen?

Re:What's worse? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222686)

yes, I am a UAV pilot. No, you're dead wrong. All of you motherfuckers have no clue. Hunting people is not very different at 20 yds then at 2000 miles. And no, I do it because I don't want my two little girls to be property. That is the cost of loosing.

Re:What's worse? (0, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222754)

Or soldiers largely untouched, but treating their experience like it was a video they watched on digg or a video game, completely detached from the inhumanity of it all - heck, during their lunch break, they may go to Walmart to get a game that will be more exciting to play after work. Even a current fighter pilot faces death, if somewhat distanced to what his weapons do on the ground.

They know it wasn't a video game. They just wasted some mother's son or daughter. They might have blown up a place they thought was insurgents but it was really a school. Or some innocent's home that was comandeered. And even if we had perfect intelligence, and never made a mistake, we would still know at the end of the day we had taken a human life. Not some digital avatar that respawns 45 seconds later as an exact copy of the original. A person. Someone who had a family, friends, and a life. A life you just ended.

Sure, you can justify it. Sure, maybe it was you or him (or one of your buddies), but you still killed that person. And you gotta live with that.

So this game (0)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222440)

requires a constant internet connection? Did EA write the software?

The real question is, of course (0, Offtopic)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222464)

WTF is he doing in Vegas, I mean...

The Playstation at War (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222490)

There has to be a way to set up a game server for this, so the war in Afghanistan can be handled by the PS3 community.

#dronepilate: Got missile lock, about to fire
#badassbomber: Hold off dude, it looks like a wedding
#dronepilate: I hate weddings

Re:The Playstation at War (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222556)

There has to be a way to set up a game server for this, so the war in Afghanistan can be handled by the PS3 community.

just like MW2 except with a dedicated server

Seem familiar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222496)

Does anyone remember a very similar story from about a year ago?
http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/10/14/1638229/Behind-the-Scenes-With-Americas-Drone-Pilots?from=rss

Soccer game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31222538)

It's FOOTBALL.

Horrifying Precedent (1)

niftyguy (1745152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222586)

Within 10-15 years many countries will have this technology. I find that terrifying.

When the soldiers waging the war are half a world away at an undisclosed location at no personal risk, then the barriers to starting a war will be greatly reduced - it is much easier for politicians to justify a war to their populace when the home side's soldiers won't be getting killed.

It's increasingly starting to look like the 21st century will have even more wars than the 20th, and that is not something to be proud of.

Re:Horrifying Precedent (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222724)

Much of the benefit of using the drones is lost when your enemy has similar levels of resources available (if drones were being used against U.S. troops, the military would be happy to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to shoot each one down, and they could spend those dollars on American war industry).

count on more "terrorism" (2, Insightful)

thenextstevejobs (1586847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222588)

not looking forward to the further freedoms I'll lose as an american when the agents of these militias start killing these pilots, and probably some others in the attempt to, on US soil.

im confident the overzealous US government will use this as an excuse to 'protect me' by further tracking my identity and tabs on my life.

point is: keep these pilots who are killing people the fuck away from urban american areas, or we're all going to be targets. and in case you say 'we already are', i don't see any reason to make it worse.

damn mythical 'war' is getting to negatively impact my life more and more, and i'll happily vote for, pay money to, or pledge allegiance to whatever i can to not be involved with the warmongering that this country has been engaged in. pretty confident our behavior in iraq and afghanistan has not generally enhanced the safety for much of anybody, compared to the consequences...

overall, this is a step in the wrong direction.

diden't they do this in a movie? but it was people (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222608)

diden't they do this in a movie? but it was people playing pc games / arcade games controlling bots that where killing real people but it was billed as a game?

any ways what happens if the bot get's lagged out / jammed?

So if terrorism is the coward's war... (0, Troll)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222620)

Then what's this?

I'm not looking forward to technology giving us 'safer wars'. Safer for the technologically superior one, that is (as it's already 'safer' for the one nation that isn't fighting on their own soil).

What we need from technology, existing technology, is complete and total audio-visual coverage of every war, ever battle, every death, every innocent family left in ruins. We need to get closer to the reality of war, not further away.

Related Coverage (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222806)

The subject of drone pilots was recently covered in a PBS Front Line documentary called Digital Nation [pbs.org] , specifically Immersion Training [pbs.org] , and Remote Control War [pbs.org] .

Worth watching.

DIY versions (1)

kerubi (144146) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222848)

Scary thought comes to mind. It does not take much effort to put together a flying R/C plane or chopper, a camera with remote video feed and some nasty payload. If "us" can have this kind of tech, so can "they", even if lower grade with huge limitations.

Should radiowaves (and hence control of the flying object) be jammed near possible terrorism targets?

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