Drone Warfare in Yemen
Killing like sport.
by Stephen Lendman
Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap compared to manned aircraft and ground troops. Teams of remote warriors work far from, and at times, closer to battlefields.
Drone pilots operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors. Sensor staff work with them. They handle TV and infrared cameras, as well as other high-tech drone sensors. Faceless enemies nearby or half a world away are attacked. Virtual war kills like sport.
At day's end, home-based operators head there for dinner, relaxation, family time, then a good night sleep before another day guiding weapons with joysticks and monitors like computer games.
Dozens of drone command centers operate worldwide. Dozens more are planned. Pentagon and CIA personnel run them. Some are bare bones. Climate-controlled trailers work fine. They operate effectively anywhere. They maintain constant radio contact with command centers.
Others are sophisticated command and control centers. Two operate at CIA's Langley, VA headquarters. Nevada's Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases near Las Vegas have others. Plans last year called for Nellis operations to be moved to Florida's Hurlburt Field Special Operations Command.
Domestic bases also operate from command and control centers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, New York, and perhaps elsewhere. Eventually they could be anywhere.
Washington plans escalated surveillance and predator drone operations at dozens of global sites. Expanding them to hundreds is likely. The Pentagon and CIA are tightlipped.
Currently, around one in three US warplanes are drones. One day perhaps they'll all be unmanned. Sanitized killing is cheap and efficient. Rule of law principles and other disturbing issues aren't considered. Secrecy and accountability go unaddressed.
Last September, the Washington Post headlined, "US assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say."
Pentagon and CIA officials plan aggressive campaigns against "al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said."
Ethiopia is home to one installation. Al-Shabab fighters are targeted. Another is based in the Seychelles. Since September 2009, Air Force and Navy MQ-9 Reaper drones operated there.
Called "hunter-killers," they're equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. Operational secrecy suppresses details of planned missions.