THE DRONES CONTROVERSY IN TODAY’S CONFLICT
In today’s battlefield unmanned aerial systems (UASs) also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) or drones are the United States Department of Defense’s most controversial defense weapon to date. Many US top commanders and expert in military history, intelligence, and international security, says that unmanned aerial systems or UAS, as experts call them, are the most important new military technology in the twenty-first century since the intercontinental ballistic missile. With the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) writing rules to allow UAS to fly in American skies nowadays, drones are also ushering in the most dramatic new age in aviation since the jet engine. Only a dozen years ago, no one saw it all coming and perhaps it is even seems like a science fiction. UAVs and UASs are not a relatively new defense weapon or a very futuristic robot but in fact they have been around since the 1930’s in the loose form of Austrian balloons which is used for reconnaissance back then. However, with the advancement of technology for the past few years, drones have become the most efficient, effective, and accurate means to gather intelligence and information, reconnaissance, and surveillance without putting the lives of our soldiers and officials in danger at the front lines. Drones have been successful in targeting and killing high profile terrorists (many of whom were top Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants) and minimizing civilian casualties. They have also been successful in minimizing U.S. soldier casualties because the pilots are flying these vehicles in U.S. soil or somewhere safe away from the conflict zone. Drones have been and will continue to be a major successful factor in the U.S.’s war on terror. Meanwhile on the other hand, as convenient and beneficial as drones are, they are also one of the most controversial weapons used because, internationally, they violate the United Nation’s Charter; violating a country’s territorial sovereignty and national integrity. Although they are precise in eliminating their targets, they have killed too many innocent civilians who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Through the years, the U.S. has increasingly used drones to target and kill suspected terrorists, increasing the number of civilian casualties during the attack. As a result, more and more people (mainly in Pakistan- who were neutral in the U.S.-Pakistan conflict) are getting frustrated or losing hope with U.S. military tactics and beginning to side with Pakistani militants, possibly derailing their goal of democracy in the region. In relation to innocent civilian casualties, if Pakistan or another country wanted to bring issue to international criminal court, who will be charged? Will the soldier piloting the aircraft be charged, or his commander? Will former President Bush or President Obama be taken to court? Either way, the international legal issue surrounding drones are still very hazy and do not seem to be cleared any time soon especially with the war on terror is still raging in the Middle East. Not only do the drone strategy raise issues internationally, there is also a lot of controversy surrounding them domestically. The government and many companies see drones as a great technological advantage to society or public life. They are can be used for surveillance of the U.S.-Mexican border, search for survivors of natural disasters through heat sensor technology, wildfire fighting, spraying pesticides, and searching for radiation or dangerous chemical leaks. Nevertheless, domestic drones can also be used to invade citizens’ privacy. Recently, Congress allowed the FAA to allow over 70 drones to operate in U.S. airspace. These domestic drones can be equipped with infrared cameras, heat sensors, GPS, and automated license plate readers, making it easy to track people. These domestic drones are supposed to be...
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