Drones Update 20161229 – U.S. supplied drones in Ukraine are disappointing, drone tactics in Afghanistan, counter-drone challenge, low morale and training of drone pilots, and more.
Not a Good Job – Piloting Drones. “The U.S. Army and the Air Force both need a lot of pilots and technicians to keep the drones flying – literally tens of thousands of people altogether – but it hasn’t been easy filling those job slots.” Budget cuts have forced program managers to cut back on personnel, equipment, and training – in order to free up money for expensive programs like the Air Force F-35 Lighting II. Morale is low among Army and Air Force drone pilots. Read more in “Piloting Drones is the Worst Job in the Military”, War is Boring, December 22, 2016.
Drone Tactics in Afghanistan. The perspective of drone attacks in Afghanistan depends on who is doing the talking. U.S. spokesmen from Resolute Support HQs in Kabul will tell you that only enemy combatants are killed in drone attacks – only rarely acknowledging civilian deaths. However, eyewitnesses often tell a different story – whether based on fact or based on what they are told to say by the Taliban information operations machine. At the drone bases of Nevada (while the drone pilots live and work) there is belief that the death and destruction is visited on the enemy. In the villages where the damage takes place there is sometimes another story. Read more in “U.S. drone pilots defend tactics as Afghans question civilian toll”, Reuters, December 22, 2016.
“The Drone Memos”. The Hoover Institution will host a discussion with the author of The Drone Memos, Jameel Jaffer on January, 9, 2017.
Counter-Drone Measures. The costs of operating a small drone is insignificant compared to the damage it can do in the hands of an insurgent or terrorist group. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017 includes language that counters the small drone threat. Read more in “NDAA and the Counter-Drone Challenge”, by Ben Learner of the Center for Security Policy, Defense News, December 22, 2017.
Raven Drones in Ukraine – not Meeting Expectations. The U.S. has sent over a million dollars worth of U.S. drones to the Ukraine to assist the government forces in the fight against Russian-backed separatists. Unfortunately, the drones are not sophisticated enough to withstand Russian jamming and hacking. Read more in “U.S.-supplied drones disappoint Ukraine at the front lines”, Reuters, December 22, 2016.
Additional Reading on Drones:
GAO, Unmanned Aerial Systems: Actions Needed to Improve DoD Pilot Training, Government Accountability Office, Report to Congressional Committees, May 2015.