In this month’s cover story, Mark Bowden’s description of the drone operator’s reaction — one of shock and uncertainty — to performing a specific mission clearly undermines the widely circulated but exceptionally irresponsible criticism that drones have created a “Playstation mentality” among their operators. An additional fact that the article did not include, but that has been understood (although not widely reported) for several years now, is that drone operators suffer from PTSD-like symptoms at rates similar to — and sometimes greater than — those experienced by combat forces on the ground. It turns out that even from 8,000 miles away, taking human life and graphically observing your handiwork is nothing like playing a video game.
For this and other reasons, this article is one of the best things I’ve seen written on drones in the past several years. His descriptions and takeaways on most aspects of the drone program are consistent with my own experience in military aviation and the information I have gathered from human rights organizations, drone operators, military lawyers, senior military, and CIA personnel who have run the drone programs, as well as from senior military policy advisors who were involved in changing the way drones are used.
Read more. [Image: Rich-Joseph Facun/Reuters]
It seems like 75% of the best things I read lately are coming out of The Atlantic.