Opinion: Drone warfare adds unseen dangers to combat

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A great deal of skepticism surrounds the ongoing American practice of drone strikes.

Drone warfare has not been a significant issue this election season. In fact, it most likely never will be. Both candidates fully support the use of drone strikes in the Middle East and Pakistan. But should they?

There are obvious benefits to using drones over conventional soldiers. First off, there is no harm to U.S. troops. Without boots on the ground, no American soldiers can be killed. Instead of having a small team operating in the midst of danger, the government can have one man fly a drone from an apartment in New York City and deliver the same amount of damage. Secondly, drones are much more precise and can supposedly cut down on civilian casualties. Because they can follow and track a suspect for weeks, drones have the capability to properly identify targets and then deliver a precise and devastating kill, limiting the amount of real action and cutting down on the risk factors involved with combat. However, do these surface benefits outweigh the underlying problems?

Three major problems are associated with the usage of drones in military combat. First, there is extreme detriment to the psyche of the person flying the drone. Second, the presence of drones increases anti-U.S. sentiment in Middle Eastern countries. And third, the wreckage of drones allows terrorist groups to gain the technology, which would result in a sever threat to our national security. Let’s begin at problem one. Conventional warfare pits two soldiers against each other, and the strongest and best-organized wins. It is a fair and somewhat equal matchup with both parties getting an equal opportunity for survival. However, drone warfare goes against all of those parameters, as a person in a remote area can, with the click of a button, murder another human being in cold blood. There is no imminent danger to the killer, and there is no opportunity for survival presented to the target. Because of this, many drone operators have trouble dealing with the kills, regardless of how many kills they had in real battle.

Problem two: Despite the thinking that drone warfare cuts down on civilian casualties, it really doesn’t  In one strike alone, 13 Yemen citizens were killed. This trend can be seen all throughout the region, with civilian casualties growing higher and higher by the day. Because of this, civilians throughout Middle Eastern nations grow increasingly frustrated with the United States. And, as shown by the consulate attacks of earlier this year, these frustrations can eventually boil over into violent action.

But perhaps most significant is problem three: As drones crash, terrorist groups are able to take the pieces and eventually recreate their own versions. Iran has already begun working on a drone that can reach the entire Middle East, and technology will continue to develop throughout that region. As anti-American terrorist groups get better and better drone technology, the probability of a drone attack on the U.S. grows exponentially. At that point, every citizen in the nation would be at risk, although high ranking officers and politicians would be especially targeted. The detriment to our national security and peace of mind would be immense and overbearing. Is the death of a few more Al Qaeda members truly worth that?