A New Way to Fight

SARAH DWIDER For the past two weeks, War News Radio has been speaking with a number of experts about drone strikes in the Middle East.  Each of these experts left us with some provocative ideas for the future of unmanned warfare.

STUART RUSSELL Journalist and author Tara McKelvey – who specializes in covering security issues – sees the recent success of covert operations like drone strikes as an indicator that they will increase in the future.

MCKELVEY I think the plan, whether its stated explicitly or implied, is that we’re going to rely more and more on drone strikes and covert operations.  Drone strikes and special operations and things like that.  Right now, they’re riding high on that.  The Osama bin Laden raid was an amazing success.  And the people who believe in that type of approach to warfare are going to feel very strengthened by that.

DWIDER George Washington University international affairs professor Amitai Etzioni agrees, stating his belief that drone strikes offer political benefits attractive to policymakers.

ETZIONI: There will be less collateral damage.  Less civilians killed. And there will be less Americans killed.

RUSSELL Keven Gambold, the director of operations at Unmanned Experts – a consulting firm for those looking to become involved in the UAV field, also notes that drones offer the military new, valuable capabilities.

GAMBOLD: It is definitely affecting the way in which warfare is being conducted.  The thing they most importantly bring to the fight is their persistence. This is a capability they really haven’t had before, so it has changed the amount of information the commander has at his fingertips, which makes a big difference in the decision-making process. It should make things for him, and the decisions that the commanders make, better.

DWIDER University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora knows that this means drone strikes will not be a temporary strategy.  He thinks arguing against their use is futile.

GUIORA 100% drone warfare/policy is here to stay. and I suggested at various conferences, talking to academics, policy makers, that our responsibility in being involved in the public debates is to contribute to the debate by articulating the process for lawful implementation. To argue, to encourage end of the policy is like the expression yelling into the wind.

RUSSELL UCLA philosophy professor Douglas Kellner even believes that drones will not be the only new technological change in warfare.  He thinks that drones represent the first part of a dramatic shift in how wars are fought.

KELLNER The drones are an example of cyberwarfare where technology is taking over in fighting. But what’s going to be next is probably cyberspace itself in terms of postmodern war. That it’s increasingly important to control information systems. It means computer systems, it means all kinds of electronic communications, telephone systems, television and broadcasting systems, and satellites. Basically, these are gonna be major targets of high tech warfare. And, probably, the pentagon is going to be subject to more and more severe cyber attacks.

DWIDER The drones used in the Middle East prove that warfare is changing and heading in a profound new direction.  Drones, robotics, and other futuristic technologies are no longer the stuff of fiction.  They are an increasingly everyday reality.