The usage of drones in modern warfare has been debated ever since pilots were taken out of the cockpit. Not everybody has the willpower or the courage to fight for our country on the other side of the world, but with the use of armed drones, the United States military can target and terminate enemies with clinical precision without putting our troops in harm's way. Drone strikes take some of the trauma out of war, making the killing easier and less personal. It may sound too good to be true, because it is; between 2002 and 2015, The U.S. has targeted Yemen with 123 drone strikes killing a total of 705 people, almost 100 of which were civilians,10 of them being children. Is it just to give one person the power to kill hundreds of people on an entirely different continent, just hoping that there aren't civilians in the area? Is it right that the drone pilots can go home to their families at the end of the day after committing mass murder, regardless of the victims' identities?
In the past 11 years, almost 1,000 Pakistani civilians have died by way of U.S. drone strikes, and more than 200 of them were children. With that being said, would you vote for an increase or decrease in overseas drone strikes? Well, no worries, the pentagon decided to increase drone usage by 50% to counter the escalating aggression from China and Russia. There's one major catch: we don't have enough pilots to fly the drones. The Air Force's goal for annual pilot training is to acquire 300 new, trained pilots every year, but they have fallen way short, only graduating 180 per year. To achieve this lofty goal of a 50% increase, the pentagon is now offering drone pilot training to civilian contractors, putting the stress and responsibility of warfare on the shoulders of average citizens. The Air Force is also using private sector companies (also composed of civilians) to read and analyze the data that the drones pull in. Some of the contracts uncovered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism expose a secretive and very lucrative industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars, putting a corporate workforce alongside uniformed personnel, discussing battlefield intelligence. As many as one in ten people involved in the analytics of drone intelligence is non-military. As trained as these anonymous contractors may be, drone strikes are not easy or risk-free to carry out. One anonymous private-sector employee was quoted explaining how mistaking a female carrying a broom for an enemy combatant can have dire consequences. As necessary as an increase in active combat and surveillance drones may be to protect our troops, our way of life, and our peace of mind, we may not have all of the appropriate resources to do so. And using civilians to fill the shoes made for soldiers is not only unethical, but it may lead us down a slippery slope.