Top Pro & Con Arguments


Drone strikes allow an emotional disconnect from the horrors of war and inflict psychological stress on drone operators.

According to D. Keith Shurtleff, an Army chaplain and the ethics instructor for the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, stated, “as war becomes safer and easier, as soldiers are removed from the horrors of war and see the enemy not as humans but as blips on a screen, there is a very real danger of losing the deterrent that such horrors provide.” Without this deterrent, it becomes easier for soldiers to kill via a process called “doubling,” in which “[o]therwise nice and normal people create psychic doubles that carry out sometimes terrible acts their normal identity never would.” [157]

Drone pilot Colonel D. Scott Brenton, in a July 29, 2012 interview with the New York Times, acknowledged the disconnect of what journalist Elisabeth Bumiller described as “fighting a telewar with a joystick and a throttle from his padded seat in American suburbia” thousands of miles away from the battlefield, then driving home to help with homework. “I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy,” he said. “I have a duty, and I execute the duty… No one in my immediate environment is aware of anything that occurred.” [76]

A study from the Department of Neuropsychiatry at the US Air Force’s School of Aerospace Medicine found that drone pilots, in addition to witnessing traumatic combat experiences, face several unique problems: lack of a clear demarcation between combat and personal/family life; extremely long hours with monotonous work and low staffing; “existential conflict” brought on by the guilt and remorse over being an “aerial sniper”; and social isolation during work, which could diminish unit cohesion and increase susceptibility to PTSD. [46]

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