Drones are a strategic responsibility for the United States

Violent extremists have a secret ally in the Pentagon. No, not a military officer who voted for Donald trumpDonald Trump Overnight Energy & Environment – Biden to release 50 million barrels of oil reserve and wears a MAGA hat on weekends when he visits gun shows – the secret ally is the US military’s persistent failure to hold anyone accountable when a mistake on the battlefield kills people. innocent civilians.

The common US response to the accidental killing of civilians in drone attacks is that it will conduct a full investigation, with the implication that sanctions will be imposed – but it never happens. When you’ve just lost a family member to an inattentive or inexperienced watch fitter in Indian Springs, the fact that his next promotion might be delayed for six months doesn’t sound like justice. But if Russia or Iran fail – and they did when they shot down MH17 and PS752 – the US demands a trial in The Hague and new rounds of sanctions.

The military’s explanation for each accidental murder is “mistakes were made, but no one did anything wrong.”

America’s chaotic retreat from Afghanistan was made even more ridiculous by the not-so-funny murder of ten family members, including seven children, when American forces attacked one they believed to be a facilitator of the ‘ISIS, a hasty revenge attack justified as a “fair strike” by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the General. Marc MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense & National Security – Biden officials consider increased aid from Ukraine Military leaders of the United States and Russia are talking by phone amid concerns over Ukraine. Chinese hypersonic missile test revealed unprecedented military capability: PLUS report.

The truth came out because there were journalists in the capital Kabul, unlike many other stray strikes in isolated places in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and the Pentagon’s story fell apart when The New York Times reported the death of the Ahmadi family, led by a man who worked for a United States-based humanitarian organization, who hoped to emigrate to the United States

The tragedy turned into a farce when the military later admitted that it could not find the refuge where the mythical ISIS facilitator was based, despite following Mr. Ahmadi all day as he drove. around Kabul.

With the truth, the US military promised a full investigation, and a month later, the US Air Force (IG) Inspector General announced that his review found “execution errors” (without pun) had caused civilian casualties, but recommended no disciplinary action. action, because the troops “truly believed” they were targeting a threat to US forces. Alright then.

“Sadly” was sprinkled all over the place, a salad of words that left survivors of the victims likely to think the United States was using its laws to evade justice.

The IG report has been forwarded to operational commanders who will likely issue a few warning letters to some lower ranks and then cite the Privacy Act to be anonymous forever. In the hands of a good lawyer, the conclusion of “mistakes were made” will tie the hands of any commander who believes the punishment is warranted.

So the American intelligence apparatus – which sees everything, but doesn’t know it – mistakenly identified a family residence as a safe house, tracked down the wrong white Toyota Corolla, and killed the wrong people. Six armed drones and layers of analysts and examiners – probably 100 people – from Afghanistan to Qatar to Nevada were involved… and they blew it up.

These mistakes are a labor-saving tool for America’s enemies, who may argue that the United States is careless when foreign lives are at stake.

If drones prove to be a recruiting sergeant for ISIS, we may have to admit that if they are tactically effective, they are a costly strategic responsibility that creates more enemies than they kill.

For example, the United States attempted five times to kill Qari Hussain, a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, before getting lucky the sixth time on October 15, 2010, but in the process it killed 128 unlucky people, including 13 children.


After an accident, the military’s priority is to protect its members from civil suits in the United States or from prosecution in a foreign court that would result in an Interpol Red Notice when the offending troops do not show up. The United States wants to avoid a repeat of the trial in Italy of 22 CIA officers and a US Air Force colonel for the 2003 kidnapping of convicted terrorist Abu Omar. All 23 were found guilty in absentia and one of the CIA officers was arrested on her way to Europe later.

Drones play on America’s strength – technology – and don’t endanger any American, but the strategic downside is never taken into account. The response to US drones will be more drones, but deployed by the opposition, which – if they cannot attack US troops – will be content with easy targets like US embassies or US allies. And the low cost of drones means that civil strife – where US troops can be deployed as peacekeepers – will become even more deadly as armed gangs, many of which are referred to as “militias,” can now deploy a weapon. aerial for surveillance or attack.

Thus, the American drone attacks will provoke an asymmetric response which will be qualified as “terrorism”, justifying more drone strikes and more responses, nausea.

Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security – Missile demonstration in China ahead of US technology US intelligence shows preparations for rapid Russian push into Ukraine: reports Marines on track to have lowest vaccine compliance in army PLUS said the Pentagon “must work harder” to reduce civilian casualties from US airstrikes. Twenty years after the first drone operation on October 7, 2001, which also failed, it proves that the smell of cordite is not enough to move the army forward faster than the speed of the government.

The resulting Pentagon bureaucratic back-and-forth will result in a more detailed pre-strike checklist, but the cat is out of the bag, and the United States no longer has the luxury of air superiority, ironically. because of the drone technology they pioneered.

James Durso (@james_durso) is the Managing Director of Corsair LLC, a supply chain consulting firm. He was a professional member of the Commission for the Closure and Realignment of Defense Bases in 2005 and the Commission on War Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Durso served as a US Navy officer for 20 years and specialized in logistics and security assistance. His overseas military assignments were in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and he served in Iraq as a civilian transport advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority. He served afloat as a supply officer for the submarine USS SKATE (SSN 578).

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