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Published On: Sat, Jul 14th, 2012

Drone training involves targeting civilians in traffic

Holloman Air Base has been transformed into the number training facility for drone operators, but their practices may raise a few eyebrows.

According to a NY Times article  posted this week, the drone flies overhead and the operator can pinpoint a vehicle in nearby traffic for practice. When challenged by a reporter, the group was rushed out of the room.

Public domain photo/US Air Force

Mark Mazzetti writes for the Times, “When I visited the base earlier this year with a small group of reporters, we were taken into a command post where a large flat-screen television was broadcasting a video feed from a drone flying overhead. It took a few seconds to figure out exactly what we were looking at. A white S.U.V. traveling along a highway adjacent to the base came into the cross hairs in the center of the screen and was tracked as it headed south along the desert road. When the S.U.V. drove out of the picture, the drone began following another car.

“Wait, you guys practice tracking enemies by using civilian cars?” a reporter asked. One Air Force officer responded that this was only a training mission, and then the group was quickly hustled out of the room.

The DOD and Pentagon have outlined plans to increase the drone operations fleet by 30 percent, equally the Air Force pilots who actually leave the ground, but details on the operation is kept secret.

Retired Colonel Luther (Trey) Turner III was quoted in the New York Times article as saying, “I firmly believe it takes bravery to fly [an unmanned aerial vehicle], particularly when you’re called upon to take someone’s life.” An unnamed pilot was quoted as saying, “We’re not just playing video games here.”

The drone program has been criticized at times. A research team in Texas hacked into a drone, taking control of GPS navigation and leaving critics asking how secure the units really are. In mid-June Wired Magazine released a map which indicated that drone bases are essentially sprinkled all over the US, and again the critics were quick to question the Pentagon’s motivations.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said in February that the world doesn’t support the US use of drones.

“Right now, there isn’t a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations, except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel.”

 

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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