A Drone Operator Speaks Out

Many issues arise over the use of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] aka drones in killing operations.  The highest must be the non-combatants killed, despite constant assertions of care taken and proper controls.  Not too far below is the impact on the operators, themselves.  In the Guardian, one such operator,  Heather Linebaugh, speaks about the impact on her.

But here’s the thing: I may not have been on the ground in Afghanistan, but I watched parts of the conflict in great detail on a screen for days on end. I know the feeling you experience when you see someone die. Horrifying barely covers it. And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience. UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were.

She doesn’t say whether she is still working as a drone operator.  She doesn’t reveal how many were discovered to have been killed my operator error (not a gun, a shovel).  She doesn’t make a call for others to speak out.  But, it’s a start.

For another article on a drone ‘warrior’ see this in GQ

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