Krieg der Drohnen

--- Esquire hat eine Reportage über die Wargames bei der Steuerung von Drohnen in Afghanistan aus der Wüste Nevadas unweit von Las Vegas aus:
Every so often in history, something profound happens that changes warfare forever. Next year, for the first time ever, the Pentagon will buy more unmanned aircraft than manned, line-item proof that we are in a new age of fighting machines, in which war will be ever more abstract, ever more distant, and ruthlessly efficient. ... at any given moment, three dozen armed, unmanned American airplanes are flying lazy loops over Afghanistan and Iraq. They linger there, all day and all night. When one lands to refuel or rearm, another replaces it. They guard soldiers on patrol, spy on Al Qaeda leaders, and send missiles shrieking down on insurgents massing in the night. Add to those the hundreds of smaller, unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles being flown over the two countries by the Army, the Marines, and coalition countries, and a handful of missile-laden planes owned by the Central Intelligence Agency circling above Pakistan. Efficient and effective, the planes have fast become indispensable assets, transforming today's battlefields just as profoundly as the first airplanes transformed warfare during World War I. The Reapers and Predators are flown by about 500 two-man teams like Nelson and Anderson, and the crews can't keep up with demand. Last year, armed UAVs circled Iraq and Afghanistan for 135,000 hours — about fifteen years of nonstop flight time. This year, they will fly 190,000 hours, double that if you include all of the military's unmanned planes. ...

CIA Director Leon Panetta says UAVs are "the only game in town." It should be said that this kind of thinking substitutes a tactic, a piece of technology, for a strategy in Pakistan. But the remote missile strikes — there have been dozens this year — have killed many of the most-wanted Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders and scores of other fighters. They kill civilians, too, which riles the Pakistanis, but the American government has deemed that a bargain: It can methodically pick off people without risking American lives or the diplomatic headaches of a ground incursion or a captured pilot being paraded on the Internet. ... Even a desk jockey at the Pentagon can monitor the feeds if he has the right clearance. So enticing are these voyeur views that a special term for them has arisen in military circles: Predator porn.

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