Are Pilots Deserting Washington’s Drone War?

Published on naked capitalism (first on TomDispatch), by Yves Smith, March 6, 2015.

Originally written by Pratap Chatterjee, executive director of CorpWatch. He is the author of Halliburton’s Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War and Iraq, Inc. His next book, Verax, a graphic novel about whistleblowers and mass surveillance co-authored by Khalil Bendib, will be published by Metropolitan Books in 2016 …;  

… On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle stating that pilot “outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come” and added that he was “extremely concerned.” Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. “This is a force that is under significant stress — significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” she told the media.

In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in “war zones,” they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new techno-warriors commute to work like any office employees and sit in front of computer screens wielding joysticks, playing what most people would consider a glorified video game.

They typically “fly” missions over Afghanistan and Iraq where they are tasked with collecting photos and video feeds, as well as watching over U.S. soldiers on the ground. A select few are deputized to fly CIA assassination missions over Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen where they are ordered to kill “high value targets” from the sky. In recent months, some of these pilots have also taken part in the new war in the Syrian and Iraqi borderlands, conducting deadly strikes on militants of ISIL … //

… Killing Up Close and Personal From Afar: … //

… Measuring Pilot Stress:

So whom does one believe? Janet Atkins and Bruce Black, who claim that drone pilots are overworked heroes? Or Brandon Bryant and Heather Linebaugh, who claim that remotely directed targeted killings caused them mental health crises?

Military psychologists have been asked to investigate the phenomenon. A team of psychologists at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio has published a series of studies on drone pilot stress. One 2011 study concluded that nearly half of them had “high operational stress.” A number also exhibited “clinical distress” — that is, anxiety, depression, or stress severe enough to affect them in their personal lives.

Wayne Chappelle, a lead author in a number of these studies, nonetheless concludes that the problem is mostly a matter of overwork caused by the chronic shortage of pilots. His studies appear to show that post-traumatic stress levels are actually lower among drone pilots than in the general population. Others, however, question these numbers. Jean Otto and Bryant Webber of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, caution that the lack of stress reports may only “reflect artificial underreporting of the concerns of pilots due to the career-threatening effects of [mental health] diagnoses, [which] include removal from flying status, loss of flight pay, and diminished competitiveness for promotion.”

Seeing Everything, Missing the Obvious: … //

… (full text with many hyper-links).

War Related Links:

War crime: ISIS bulldozes ancient Assyrian city in Iraq, on Russia Today RT, March 6, 2015;

ISIS 101: What’s really terrifying about this threat, on Dissident Voice, by John Chuckman, March 5, 2015; ISIS certainly is not what a great many people think that it is, if you judge what they think by what our corporate press proclaims incessantly …;

The answer for Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is war against Iran, on Financial Times FT, by Philip Stephens, March 5, 2015: a statesman would have made his country a partner in the talks, not an angry voice on the side;

IS destroys Iraq’s heritage, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by David Tresilian in Paris, March 3, 2015: The Islamic State group last week destroyed the contents of the Mosul Museum, part of its campaign to destroy Iraq’s cultural heritage;

How We’re Walking Into An ISIS Trap, 9.18 min, uploaded by TYT The Young Turks, Feb 18, 2015 … and many videos in autoplay;

Europe must stop warmongering, propaganda to avoid WWII repeat – Norwegian historian, 1.59 min, uploaded by RT, Dec 25, 2014;

100 foreign fighters executed by ISIS for trying to quit – report, on Russia Today RT, Dec 20, 2014;

The Religion Of Peace, 11.03 min, uploaded by Rogue State, April 5, 2014: These warmongering evangelicals beat the war drums; they encourage the young men from their churches to go off and fight these “holy” wars; they work tirelessly to elect pro-war politicians; and they twist Old Testament Scripture to fit these modern crusades. Then, the politicians whom the warmongers helped elect send the US military to invade, bomb, and kill hundreds of thousands of people, the vast majority of whom are innocent people. After which, these same warmonger-preachers get up in their pulpits and cry and weep about how we need to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the same people they just got done trying to annihilate … (more);

Books on amazon:

Warmonger (is someone who advocates war. Find it:

Other Links:

Mapley et al.: How the Scammers Behind Virgin Gold Mining Corporation Bit Off More Than They Could Chew (VIII), on naked capitalism, by Richard Smith, March 6, 2015: It’s high time I updated the APGMI part of the saga of Virgin Gold Mining Corporation. Here’s a round-up of the relevant parts of this sprawling series …;

Death, drugs, and HSBC, on Intrepid Report, by Nafeez Ahmed, March 6, 2015: How fraudulent blood money makes the world go round;

The K-12 Implosion, 4.07 min, uploaded by Encounter Books, March 6, 2013;

Egypt: Constitutional quagmire, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Gamal Essam El-Din, March 3, 2015: Egypt’s long-delayed parliamentary elections are again put on hold;

NSA Blackmailing Obama? Interview with Whistleblower Russ Tice, 53.20 min, uploaded by akbala herdasa, Feb 4, 2015: Courtesy of the Boiling Frog podcast, we have this clip of NSA whistleblower Russell Tice …;

… see also:

The Sanctus Germanus Prophecies:

… and this:

  • Classic Music for reading – Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Debussy, Liszt, Schumann, 90,42 min, Oct 3, 2013;
  • … und noch dies:

    • KenFM am Set: Jahresauftakt der Linken in Berlin, 12.06 min, von wwwKenFMde am 12. Januar 2015 hochgeladen … zum Jahresauftakt der Linken trifft man sich immer am zweiten Sonntag des Jahres in Berlin. So auch 2015, in der Volksbühne.

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