Heather Linebaugh, who worked with the U.S. Air Force until last year, writes a first-person account of the drone program she used to directly deal with:
But here’s the thing: I may not have been on the ground in Afghanistan, but I watched parts of the conflict in great detail on a screen for days on end. I know the feeling you experience when you see someone die. Horrifying barely covers it. And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience. UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were.
Of course, we are trained to not experience these feelings, and we fight it, and become bitter. Some troops seek help in mental health clinics provided by the military, but we are limited on who we can talk to and where, because of the secrecy of our missions. I find it interesting that the suicide statistics in this career field aren’t reported, nor are the data on how many troops working in UAV positions are heavily medicated for depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.
One problem Linebaugh points out is that the technology, as advanced as it is, isn’t nearly as good as it could be. “We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.” she said.
17:24 // 3 months ago
They floated down from the sky Sunday — 2,000 mice, wafting on tiny cardboard parachutes over Andersen Air Force Base in the U.S. territory of Guam.
But the rodent commandos didn’t know they were on a mission: to help eradicate the brown tree snake, an invasive species that has caused millions of dollars in wildlife and commercial losses since it arrived a few decades ago.
What NBC doesn’t mention is that the “mice” looked like this. We kid, of course, but the above story is certainly an interesting look at how we’re forced to respond when humans accidentally introduce new species to an existing ecosystem.
16:46 // 4 months ago
The death threats began again shortly after Lieutenant Adam Cohen, a combat systems engineer in the US air force, returned from Afghanistan in October 2011. The messages, littered with obscenities and urging him to take his own life, were linked, he believes, to an alleged rape he had not reported from years earlier.
But when Cohen, 29, reported the threats and the alleged sexual assault to his chain of command, he found himself under investigation.
On Monday, in a turn of events that has been called into question by two senators, advocates groups and the special victims counsel the air force employed to help him, Cohen faces a court martial, accused of multiple charges.
Cohen was due to plead guilty to the charges against him on Monday. He told the Guardian that he took the decision in order to stop his alleged rapist, who is now a US army major, from testifying in court against him.
The U.S. Air Force denies claims that their investigations of Lieutenant Cohen were a punishment for reporting his rape; reportedly insisting they began only after those tasked with investigating Cohen’s claims discovered evidence of the crimes he’s now charged with.
15:53 // 9 months ago