Last updated on: 4/3/2014 | Author:

James E. Cartwright, MA Biography

Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Pro to the question "Should the United States Continue Its Use of Drone Strikes Abroad?"

“Advances in high band-width satellite communications, sensing technologies – particularly full motion video – combined with existing aircraft technology has allowed armed drones to emerge as the platform of choice in this counter terror mission space. In military operations, these drones are highly capable and sought after by ground forces. They cost roughly $4-5M versus a modern fighter’s $150M. They persist on station for 15-20 hours without refueling, versus 1-2 hours for fighter attack aircraft. They consume 100 gallons of fuel per flight versus 1,000-3,000 gallons for an unrefueled fighter attack aircraft. Their optics provides full motion imagery at far greater distances and altitudes than the human eye, and the crews are not distracted or disabled by the constant duties of flight. Their sensor information can be distributed to fixed and mobile users in real time.

For a Marine, this means getting up in the morning, getting a patrol assignment, monitoring the target area in real time, while conducting mission planning, followed by travel to the target area, execution of the mission, return to base and debriefing. They can rerun the entire mission for accurate debriefings and mission effectiveness and accountability. During all that, they have an armed escort that can see over hills, and around corners, in the palm of their hand. Not hard to see why military operations are significantly improved by this technology.

Drones offer many advantages over other conventional forces in counter terrorism missions. Basing can be located far from the area of interest without sacrificing time on station. They have far greater mobility than a similar ground or naval capability. Their elevated sensors are generally more effective in locating and pursuing a threat. They can persist in an area for extended periods of time awaiting emergence or a clear opportunity. They can quickly adapt to fixed and mobile targets. These and many other attributes of armed drones make them the leading choice in counter terrorism operations.”

“Constitutional and Counter Terrorism Implications of Targeted Killing,” testimony delivered to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, Homeland Security Digital Library website, Mar. 24, 2013

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 2011-present
  • Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Department of Defense, 2007-2011
  • Commander, US Strategic Command, US Department of Defense, 2004-2007
  • Director for Force Structure, Resources and Assessment, Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Department of Defense, 2002–2004
  • Commanding General, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, US Marine Corps, 2000-2002
  • Deputy Commanding General, Marine Forces Atlantic, US Marine Corps, 1999-2000
  • Director for Force Structure, Resources and Assessment, Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Department of Defense, 1996-1999
  • Commander, Deputy Commandant, Administrative Officer, Aircraft Maintenance Officer, Assistant Program Manager for Engineering, Line Division Officer, and 2nd Lieutenant, US Marine Corps, 1971-1996
  • Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994
  • MA, National Security and Strategic Studies, Naval War College, 1991
  • Graduate, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, US Air Force, 1986
  • BS, Pre-Medicine, University of Iowa
  • Born on Sep. 22, 1949 in Rockford, Illinois
  • Received the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award in 2008
  • Named Outstanding Carrier Aviator of the Year by the Association of Naval Aviation in 1983
  • A naval flight officer and naval aviator who flew the F-4 Phantom, OA-4 Skyhawk, and F/A-18 Hornet
  • Awarded four Defense Distinguished Service medals
  • Retired from the Marine Corps on Aug. 3, 2011
  • Nickname is “Hoss”
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should the United States Continue Its Use of Drone Strikes Abroad?