24 June 2012

Some changes and a few random thoughts

Greetings to all again.
Yes, another post and it has not been weeks since the last one. 
I want to point out some new items here at the old corner. I have added a link to "Lolcats". Yes, internet cats/kittens. Well, it is my blog and I like cats. So, I figured, why not share, so there is now a new link to that site in the links section. The other new link is to an excellent site that I found some short time ago. I should have put up the link sooner, for that I apologize. The site "Bill the Butcher" is a wonderful site with commentary and some of the best fiction on the web in my opinion. Bill has a super imagination and his stories will make you smile, and think among the emotions evoked by his writings. 

Actually, one of his latest articles titled "Drone Pilot" got me off on another rant which follows. I highly recommend reading this story as it is a very good description of the drone wars the US is waging in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and who knows where else.

Bill's story got me to remembering an article I ran across in the very early years of drone usage. I have not found the article I wanted to quote, but a simple google search for "drones + medals" brings up many hits. True, many are duplicates, still, many are interesting to me. 
I found it most interesting that active duty and recently retired military people have little to no good thoughts about the drone pilots getting medals for, of all things, bravery. Yes, back in the early days of the drone, an Air Force (perhaps Air Farce?) general was complaining to some reporter that he was trying to figure how to award medals to the drone pilots. As if that was a major concern for the military. Apparently it was as the general seemed quite upset that this had not been addressed at that time.

On to the search results. Well, there are many "hits" for my simple search of "drones + medals".  One article mentioned the "clinical stress" of the drone pilots. That article says the main source of this "clinical stress" is NOT the actual killing being done. Nope, the main source of said "stress" is the long hours and "inadequate staffing". A few of these pilots did seem to have some form of PTSD, however that number was quite small and an actual number/percentage was not mentioned. The article further noted that the "alarming" aspect of "burn out" was among the sensor operators of the Global Hawk drones. Also, "34% of them reported burn out and 25% showed clinical distress, the study found".  Here is the link to the article if you wish to read it in total. overstretched-drone-pilots-face-stress-risk.

Another version, with different percentages for burn out and clinical stress is at the UK Daily Mail. The article, which does NOT want me to link to, was in the 19 December 2011 issue and has the byline of Jill Reilly. It is basically just a rehash of the above linked article with differing percentages. Sorry that I am unable to provide a direct link. Maybe the Daily Mail does not like a Yank from linking to one of their stories. Oh well, and so it goes.

Even NPR has a story on the stress of being a drone pilot. The link is; High levels of "burnout" in US drone pilots. This is also from December 2011.

For a different perspective, I give you the following link. Yes, it is by a US Marine, that did not influence my adding it here. Just because I was a Marine does not mean I support anything they do or say. This Marine, however does hit it squarely in my opinion. One Marines View on drone operators. You can decide if you agree with him or not. As always, your comments are most welcome.

More on the subject of medals for drone pilots is here. Medals for UAV "pilots". Along with these comes this one. Give that drone a medal.

Another view on medals for drone operators is here. Air Force "valor" for operating drones. It looks like among active duty military, not members of the Air Force necessarily, the awarding of medals for drone operators is going over much like the proverbial lead balloon. Ouch. 

Continuing with the drone subject, yes, it does seem as though this blog post IS droning on and on. Sorry for the bad pun, I could not stop myself. I'll try and keep that sort of thing under control.
The Washington Post has a rather long article on drones and the future of the Air Force. The story follows; Combat generation:drone operators climb on winds of change in the Air Force of change. This gives a decent over view, but I recommend the new book from TomDispatch titled "Terminator Planet" subtitled "The first history of drone warfare 2001-2050" by Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt. I have not read it yet, still saving to buy my copy. 

And, just when you thought it was safe to venture out of doors, here is an article from the good old Stars and Stripes news. It is a study by Bloomberg titled; "Drones most accident prone Air Force craft. Once again, the link gremlin will not allow me to give a direct link. I can inform you that it was written by Brendan Gregory for Bloomberg News and the date is June 18, 2012. Yes, very recent so it should be up to date. 

The last (I know, finally he gets to the end of this subject) is; With its deadly drones, the US is fighting a coward's war by George Monbiot in the UK newspaper The Guardian. I agree that using drones and other robotic weapons is a cowardly way to fight a war. Here is another quote from Mr. Monbiot that catches the sentiment quite well. "Without risk, there's less restraint. With these unmanned craft, governments can fight a coward's war, a god's war, harming only the unnamed." Well put sir. 
I have one more item to add on drones for this post. I ran across this while doing my research for this rant. The United States Air Force (air farce?) does NOT like to call their drones "unmanned aerial vehicles" (UAV's). They prefer to use the label "remotely piloted aircraft" (RPA's). And as a better writer than I'll ever hope to be said, "a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet". 

One "extra" if I may. I want to thank a good friend by way of email and articles, Mr. Brian Cloughley (the link to his web site is in my links here).
Brian has contributed a new "name" for dear old Gobomber. No, not "Mr. Hopey Changey" that we already had here. Brian came up with DOBO. What is DOBO you ask? Well, it is Disney Owned Barack Obama. Hey, if he is going to feel out to the corporations, he may as well get his kids some entertainment value from the deal. 
And with that, I say a huge thank you to all those who stuck with me until now.
semper fi