Menu
Home
Log in / Register
 
Home arrow Computer Science arrow Drones : what everyone needs to know
Source

Q. Who has used armed drones in combat, and where have they been used?

As of 2015, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States, Pakistan, and Hezbollah all used armed drones in combat, although the first three countries have been the most prolific users and are the focus of this section. Israel has used armed drones both in the Gaza war and in Sinai. Israel's early use of drones came in the 1970s, when they were used for surveillance for the 1973 Yom Kippur War and later in 1982 to locate targets in the First Lebanon War. Though the evidence is thin, due to the highly secretive nature of the Israeli program, Israel likely first used armed drones in 2004. The Jerusalem Post claimed that a "pilotless aircraft" had been used to strike targets in Gaza. Later that year it appeared that Israel used a drone to target a suspected Palestinian jihadist militant. During the 2006 Lebanon War drones were likely used, as they probably also were in late 2006 during an American military strike targeting Gaza. Palestinian sources suggest that Israel again sent armed drones to strike targets in Gaza in 2007, and most notably in 2008-2009, during Operation Cast Lead, during which about a dozen drones were airborne at all times.19 One Palestinian rights group claims that during this conflict Israel conducted 42 drone strikes, killing 87 civilians. The Israeli Air Force again used armed drones in its 2012 Gaza conflict, Operation Pillar of Defense, with an estimated 24 civilians killed.20 Israel has also used drones in isolated cases in Sinai, targeting militants suspected of trafficking in weapons from Egypt.21

The United Kingdom has conducted a number of drone strikes in Afghanistan using its US-made Reapers, though the last crew appears to have left Afghanistan in November 2014. Between 2008 and 2014, the British Reapers conducted almost 5,000 Reaper sorties, firing more than 450 missiles during that time. Although its last crew had left Afghanistan, UK drone operations in Syria and Iraq were increasing, with a number of Reapers having been sent to the region. Between January and June 2015, the United Kingdom had conducted 350 Reaper missions in Iraq, and 107 in Syria, though the strikes appear to be restricted to Iraq, which saw 97 actual strikes during that time period.22

By far, the United States has been the most frequent user of armed drones. These strikes can be organized around strikes in active battle zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, which constitute the largest percentage of strikes. The first recorded use of an armed drone by any country took place in November 2001, with a Predator striking a target in Afghanistan. In recent years, the data on strikes in Afghanistan has become classified, making it impossible to update the trends, though between 2008 and 2012 it appears as though there were almost 1,000 strikes in Afghanistan. Another 105 strikes occurred in the 2011 Yemen conflict, and several others took place in the earlier phase of the Iraq War.

More recently, a coalition involving the United States and the United Kingdom struck targets in both Iraq and Syria, with the intention of eliminating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) strongholds. Data from Reuters reveals that whereas the United States had carried about 37% of coalition strikes in the first three months of the campaign from September to November, by December 2014 it had reached about 97% of strikes.23 About 15% were drone strikes,24 although the rates appear to fluctuate and drones have carried out a number of high-profile attacks, including the one in August 2015 that killed Junaid Hussain, a senior ISIS recruiter, propagandist, and cyberspecialist.

Beyond these strikes in active conflict zones, the United States has conducted hundreds of counterterrorism strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. While the United States does not report details on these strikes, and generally does not acknowledge them at all, particularly those conducted by the CIA, advocacy groups have expended considerable resources trying to uncover the details of covert strikes. The Bureau of

Investigative Journalism (BIJ), the New America Foundation (NAM), and The Long War Journal have all collected data on the number of strikes, and Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Stanford/NYU Law have added case-specific details to this data, doing on-site interviews with relatives and friends of drone strike victims. The reporting that these organizations have done serves as a relatively credible source of strikes in nonactive battlefield zones. As Table 2.2 shows, most of these strikes have taken place in Pakistan, with a peak of about 122 strikes in the year of 2010, but dozens of others scattered across more than a decade have taken place in Somalia and Yemen.

As the data shows, the rate of strikes has decreased since 2010. There are several potential reasons for the drop. One is that the strikes eliminated many of the high-value targets that were on the strike list. Another factor, not incompatible with the first, is that the United States became more careful with

Table 2.2 Estimates of the Number of Strikes per Country per Year, 2002-2014

Year

Pakistan

Yemen

Somalia

2002

0

1

0

2003

0

0

0

2004

1

0

0

2005

3

0

0

2006

2

0

0

2007

4

0

0

2008

36

0

0

2009

54

2

0

2010

122

4

0

2011

73

10

5

2012

48

54

2

2013

27

26

1

2014

24

14

2

Source: BIJ.

the strikes it did conduct. A number of former US officials have expressed concerns about whether the strikes were creating more terrorists than they were killing, that is to say, were working tactically but not strategically, and that the United States should raise the bar in terms of targets, only killing the most notable ones. When President Obama appeared to usher in a new policy on drones that would be more restrictive and transparent—a move some critics suggested was more about words than actions25—long-time observers such as the New York Times' Scott Shane attributed the shift to "a changing calculation of the long-term costs and benefits of targeted killings."26 In other words, the administration had come to see drones as less valuable against the remaining targets, with the costs of such strikes mounting from a public relations standpoint. Nonetheless, the "tactic, once intended to be rare, has become completely routine," according to the Council on Foreign Relations' Micah Zenko, as he reflected on the 500th non-battlefield-targeted killing in November 2014.27 In 2014 there were nearly as many drone strikes in Pakistan as the year before, 24 versus 27; there were somewhat fewer in Yemen than in the year before; and there was one more in Somalia than in the year before.

 
Source
Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >
 
Subjects
Accounting
Business & Finance
Communication
Computer Science
Economics
Education
Engineering
Environment
Geography
Health
History
Language & Literature
Law
Management
Marketing
Mathematics
Political science
Philosophy
Psychology
Religion
Sociology
Travel