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

Martha McSally, MPP Biography

US Senator (R-AZ) and Former Fighter Pilot and Drone Squadron Commander in the US Air Force
Pro to the question "Should the United States Continue Its Use of Drone Strikes Abroad?"

“Once a decision has been made that it is legal and wise strategy to conduct a targeted strike, the RPA (remotely-piloted aircraft) platform is usually the hands-down best choice to maximize precision, persistent intelligence, responsiveness, and oversight by commanders/intelligence experts/legal experts. It also has the benefit of minimizing civilian casualties at with risk of U.S. casualties and at relatively low cost.

Due to the time sensitive nature of actionable intelligence and the potential for the target and collateral damage circumstances to be fleeting, legal and strategy approval is desired in advance for a specific target with strict strike criteria required prior to weapons release. Using a variety of intelligence resources, it can take minutes, hours, days, weeks or longer to meet strike criteria. Further, favorable conditions often suddenly present themselves. Therefore, a fighter/bomber strike is often impractical for targeted strikes due to the additional lead time required for planning, asset deployment, and overflight clearances. It is also impractical and cost-prohibitive to have fighters/bombers in 24 hour orbits waiting for strike criteria to be met.

Similarly, a boots on the ground capture/kill mission could be impractical due to the requirements and time for the assets to deploy and remain on alert for potentially long periods of time waiting for strike criteria to be met. The risk of U.S. casualties and civilian casualties and the diplomatic/strategic implications of the presence of ground forces make this option often undesirable unless the target is of extraordinary value or ideal operational and intelligence circumstances exist.”

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:
  • US Senator (R-AZ), 2019-present
  • Member, US House of Representatives (R-AZ), 2015- 2019
  • Speaker, Premiere Speakers Bureau, 2012-present
  • US Congressional Candidate, Arizona District 8, Feb. 2012-Nov. 2012
  • Professor, National Security Studies, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 2010-2012
  • Fighter Pilot, US Air Force, 1990-2010
  • Colonel/Current Operations Division Chief, US Africa Command, US Air Force, 2007-2010
  • Commander, 354 Fighter Squadron (Lieutenant Colonel), US Air Force, 2004-2006
  • Master of Strategic Studies, Air War College, Air University, 2007
  • MPP, International Security, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1990
  • BS, Biology, US Air Force Academy, 1988
  • Twitter handle: @SenMcSallyAZ
  • Awarded David C. Shilling Award by the Air Force Association for best aerospace contribution to national defense
  • Enjoys hiking, mountaineering, ski touring, snow shoeing, running, biking, paragliding, and singing
  • Born on Mar. 22, 1966 in Warwick, Rhode Island
  • Won a lawsuit against the Department of Defense in 2001 challenging military policy requiring servicewomen stationed in Saudi Arabia to wear the body-covering abaya when traveling off base in the country
  • First woman in US history to command a fighter squadron in combat, earning the Bronze Star and six air medals for her combat leadership and 325 combat hours in the single-seat A-10 “Warthog.”
  • Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Center on Women in Policing
  • Received the Al Neuharth Free Spirit Award in 2002
  • Honorary Doctorate, Civil Law, Rhode Island College
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should the United States Continue Its Use of Drone Strikes Abroad?