HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. — From his computer console here in the Syracuse suburbs, Col. D. Scott Brenton remotely flies a Reaper drone that beams back hundreds of hours of live video of insurgents, his intended targets, going about their daily lives 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan. Sometimes he and his team watch the same family compound for weeks.RTWT.
“I see mothers with children, I see fathers with children, I see fathers with mothers, I see kids playing soccer,” Colonel Brenton said.
When the call comes for him to fire a missile and kill a militant — and only, Colonel Brenton said, when the women and children are not around — the hair on the back of his neck stands up, just as it did when he used to line up targets in his F-16 fighter jet.
Afterward, just like the old days, he compartmentalizes. “I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy,” he said. “I have a duty, and I execute the duty.”
Drones are not only revolutionizing American warfare but are also changing in profound ways the lives of the people who fly them.
Colonel Brenton acknowledges the peculiar new disconnect of fighting a telewar with a joystick and a throttle from his padded seat in American suburbia.
When he was deployed in Iraq, “you land and there’s no more weapons on your F-16, people have an idea of what you were just involved with.” Now he steps out of a dark room of video screens, his adrenaline still surging after squeezing the trigger, and commutes home past fast-food restaurants and convenience stores to help with homework — but always alone with what he has done.
“It’s a strange feeling,” he said. “No one in my immediate environment is aware of anything that occurred.”
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
At the New York Times, "A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away":