STAR WAR'S: THE DRONE WAR
STAR WAR'S: THE DRONE WAR
The drone or unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV], also known as a remotely piloted vehicle [RPV] or unmanned aircraft system [UAS],is an aircraft that flies with out a human pilot onboard. A UAV is defined as a reusable, uncrewed vehicle capable of controlled, sustained,level flight powered by a jet or piston engine.
UAVs come in two varieties; some are controlled from a remote location, and others fly
autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans using more complex dynamic automation systems. Military UAV's perform both reconnaissance and attack missions. Many "recon" missions utilize the more complex, preprogrammed, autonomous UAV. These fly along and record a preconfigured flight plan that can be downloaded and analyzed for events during flight or reviewed in detail post flight. Attack drones are just that. They can be armed with a variety of missiles and are usually sent into known areas where enemy targets have been located. There is one more type of mission for UAV's not usually discussed and that is the logistic role. These UAV's can move supplies and light equipment into hard to reach areas.
Two well known drones that are operational in Afghanistan and Pakistan are the Predator and the Reaper. These aircraft carry a number of sensors, t.v. cameras, radar, infra-red imaging and
targeting lasers. The Predator is the original "spy" drone while the Reaper was built as a hunter-
Drones were first utilized in Afghanistan under President Bush, and since then under President
Obama drone missions have nearly tripled. Compared with 25 drone strikes between January 2008 and January 2009, there have been atleast 87 drone attack missions between Obama taking office on 20th January 2009 and the end of June 2010. More than 700 people have been reported killed from drone missions under President Obama compared with slightly fewer that 200 under President Bush. While more than 700 people have died in these attacks, positive identification of the victims, either by Pakistani or US authorities has been made in fewer than a dozen instances. Mostly this act of "indentification" is done to verify high priority targets such as Taliban militant leader Baitullah Mehsud last August and several people described as senior al-Qaeda leaders Who were the objects of the attacks.
The greatest number of drone missions were launched during the Waziristan offensive from September through December 2009 where the militant extremist struck violently more than 140
times in various Pakistani locations killing more than 1,700 civilians and injuring hundreds more.
While there is some controversy over whether or not the use of drones is an effective tool
against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the west. With in Afghanistan and Pakistan the people believe
the drone missions are working. Muhammed Umer, a Taliban spokesman said publically, ""In the short term, yes, you can say it has caused us some difficulties because of the martyrdoms and realignment of our ranks," But Muhammed Umer goes on to suggest that such attacks are also working in their favour as they bring new recruits to the Taliban cause. "But our command and control system is very strong and well established, so we won't be affected for long," he adds. "Instead we get new courage, becoming more powerful with the flow of new blood." Of a matter of course one wouldn't expect him to say anything less. That kind of rhetoric is expected and may even hold some truth.
However, countering that, there is a large proportion of Pakistani society which has turned
against the influence of the militant extremist and they want to see an end to the bombings
that have terrorised them. And they are getting increasingly desperate for a solution. As of late
the intensity of Taliban attacks have been growing against Pakistanis and their government
infrastructure. Most notably, the attack on the Pakistani army's headquarters in Rawalpindi.
While the Pakistani government itself may publicly disapprove of US drone strikes on its soil
the Pakistanis themselves admit they believe their government is co-operating with America when it comes to the drone attacks. The country is often accused by outsiders for allowing militants from Afghanistan to stay in places like North Waziristan. The theory being that Pakistan feels the
Taliban are ultimately going to be in charge of Afghanistan, and they want a friendly neighbour
over which they can exert their influence. These same people suggest Pakistan wants to deal with
some of the militant elements in the tribal areas which are hostile to its interests, but would
rather see someone else take the blame.
The Pakistani government is very aware of the extremist with in their own society and must
constantly fine tune the balance between internal security, which means supporting the U.S. NATO mission in Afghanistan, and denying their own involvement. The so called secret war is really one fought by Pakistan more so than the U.S. and her NATO allies. This became obvious with the latest Wikileaks of official U.S. documents.
With many clamouring for a withdraw of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The number of NATO
countries who have an exit strategy in place. And the tenableness of a Taliban victory, it is not
unimaginable that down the road we will have to return to secure a nuclear Pakistan from becoming a Taliban Pakistan armed with the ultimate power of destrution. It is a grim prophacy and unfortunately one that should be considered. If Afghanistan fails so too can an already teetering Pakistan.
in the morning gather thyself to purpose,
in the evening discuss the manner,
that thou hast been this day,
in word, work, and thought.
July 28, 2010
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Vancouver, B.C., Canada