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Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
03-30-2010, 08:37 AM,
#1
Information  Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:Trivializing War
By Cesar Chelala

March 25, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Captain Ferguson (not his real name) gets up early in the morning, and has breakfast with his wife and children. At the office, Captain Ferguson sits in front of the computer on and off for almost eight hours every day. At the end of the day he heads back home. Captain Ferguson’s wife is glad to see him back to discuss the events of her day. He does the same, with one omission. By most measures, it has been a beautiful day.

Beautiful, that is, if you don’t consider Captain Ferguson’s omission. While sitting in front of his computer, he was directing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, carrying powerful bombs to land in distant countries. He presumes, but he is not totally sure, that he has hit the right target. After the bombs exploded four suspected terrorists were killed. Four fewer criminals the U.S. will have to deal with.

A later investigation will later reveal that they were not terrorists but rather they were parents and children on a birthday party. As a result of the attack, four adults and eight children were killed, and several more seriously injured.

Captain Ferguson, of course, was unaware of the consequences of his actions. He only thinks that he has a somewhat tedious but rewarding job, since he is an important piece in the fight against terror. Only later he will know the truth, when the outcry of the victims’ relatives cannot be silenced any longer. The predictable apologies will not bring back the dead to life, nor heal those injured.

Let’s compare this made–up scenario with reality.

During the first year of the Obama administration, there were 51 drone attacks, compared to 45 drone attacks during President Bush’s two terms in office, according to The Year of the Drone, a report by the Washington-based New America Foundation. The report also states that the civilian fatality rate has been 32 percent in drone attacks since 2004.

“Drones are currently killing people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It should be noted that the United States is not at war with any of those countries, which should mean in a sane world that the killing is illegal under both international law and the US Constitution,” states Philip Girald, a former CIA officer and fellow of the American Conservative Defense Alliance.

Girald’s observation is confirmed by Mary Ellen O’Connell, a Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. In a research paper entitled “Unlawful Killing with Combat Drones” Professor O’Connell says, “The CIA’s intention in using drones is to target and kill individual leaders of al-Qaeda or Taliban militant groups. Drones have rarely, if ever, killed just the intended target. By October 2009, the ratio has been about 20 leaders killed for 750-1000 unintended victims. Drones are having a counter-productive impact in Pakistan’s attempt to repress militancy and violence. The use of the drone is, therefore, violating the war-fighting principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality, humanity.”

In the meantime, the U.S. military plans to more than triple its inventory of high-altitude drones capable of 24-hour patrols by 2020. General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, which includes both Afghanistan and Iraq, declared in a speech last January, “We can’t get enough drones.”

War, we should sadly acknowledge, is not a Nintendo game. And innocent people’s lives are not expendable. If we don’t admit the tragic dimension of war we will be cursed by its consequences.
http://digg.com/world_news/Trivializing_War
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25076.htm

This reminded me of a scene in a recent Hollywood film called Surrogates where 1000s of military 'video game players' were controlling swarms of robot soldiers via a neural link network from the human 'soldier' to their surrogate weapon of murder (war).
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04-12-2011, 08:28 AM,
#2
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Amazingly detailed report on US operation in #Afghanistan that killed 16-23 civilians. ~ Jeremy Scahill

Quote:Combat by camera: Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
U.S. Predator teams and a special operations unit on the ground studying a suspicious convoy make a series of fateful missteps as they try to distinguish friend from foe.

By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
April 10, 2011

Nearly three miles above the rugged hills of central Afghanistan, American eyes silently tracked two SUVs and a pickup truck as they snaked down a dirt road in the pre-dawn darkness.

The vehicles, packed with people, were 3 1/2 miles from a dozen U.S. special operations soldiers, who had been dropped into the area hours earlier to root out insurgents. The convoy was closing in on them.

At 6:15 a.m., just before the sun crested the mountains, the convoy halted.

"We have 18 pax [passengers] dismounted and spreading out at this time," an Air Force pilot said from a cramped control room at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, 7,000 miles away. He was flying a Predator drone remotely using a joystick, watching its live video transmissions from the Afghan sky and radioing his crew and the unit on the ground.

The Afghans unfolded what looked like blankets and kneeled. "They're praying. They are praying," said the Predator's camera operator, seated near the pilot.

By now, the Predator crew was sure that the men were Taliban. "This is definitely it, this is their force," the cameraman said. "Praying? I mean, seriously, that's what they do."

"They're gonna do something nefarious," the crew's intelligence coordinator chimed in.

At 6:22 a.m., the drone pilot radioed an update: "All … are finishing up praying and rallying up near all three vehicles at this time."

The camera operator watched the men climb back into the vehicles.

"Oh, sweet target," he said.

---

None of those Afghans was an insurgent. They were men, women and children going about their business, unaware that a unit of U.S. soldiers was just a few miles away, and that teams of U.S. military pilots, camera operators and video screeners had taken them for a group of Taliban fighters.

The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe.

This is the story of that episode. It is based on hundreds of pages of previously unreleased military documents, including transcripts of cockpit and radio conversations obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the results of two Pentagon investigations and interviews with the officers involved as well as Afghans who were on the ground that day.

The Afghan travelers had set out early on the cold morning of Feb. 21, 2010, from three mountain villages in southern Daikundi province, a remote central region 200 miles southwest of Kabul.

More than two dozen people were wedged into the three vehicles. Many were Hazaras, an ethnic minority that for years has been treated harshly by the Taliban. They included shopkeepers going for supplies, students returning to school, people seeking medical treatment and families with children off to visit relatives. There were several women and as many as four children younger than 6.

They had agreed to meet before dawn for the long drive to Highway 1, the country's main paved road. From there, some planned to go north to Kabul while others were headed south. To reach the highway, they had to drive through Oruzgan province, an insurgent stronghold.

"We traveled together, so that if one vehicle broke down the others would help," said Sayed Qudratullah, 30, who was bound for Kabul in hope of obtaining a license to open a pharmacy.

Another passenger, Nasim, an auto mechanic who like many Afghans uses one name, said that he was going to buy tools and parts.

"We weren't worried when we set out. We were a little scared of the Taliban, but not of government forces," he said referring to the Afghan national army and its U.S. allies. "Why would they attack us?"

---

American aircraft began tracking the vehicles at 5 a.m.

The crew of an AC-130, a U.S. ground attack plane flying in the area, spotted a pickup and a sport utility vehicle with a roof rack converge from different directions.

At 5:08 a.m., they saw one of the drivers flash his headlights in the darkness.

The AC-130 radioed the Predator crew in Nevada: "It appears the two vehicles are flashing lights, signaling."

With that, the travelers became targets of suspicion.

At Creech Air Force Base, 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas, it was 4:30 p.m., nearly dinner time.

A few hours earlier, a dozen U.S. special operations soldiers, known as an A-Team, had been dropped off by helicopter near Khod, five miles south of the convoy. The elite unit was moving on foot toward the village, with orders to search for insurgents and weapons.

Another U.S. special operations unit had been attacked in the district a year earlier, and a soldier had been killed. This time the AC-130, the Predator drone and two Kiowa attack helicopters were in the area to protect the A-Team.

The Predator's two-man team — a pilot and a camera operator — was one of the Air Force's most-experienced. The pilot, who had flown C-130 cargo planes, switched to drones after 2001 and had spent more than 1,000 hours training other Predator pilots. (The Air Force declined to name the crew or make them available for interviews.)

Also stationed at Creech were the Predator's mission intelligence coordinator and a safety observer.

In addition, a team of "screeners" — enlisted personnel trained in video analysis — was on duty at Air Force special operations headquarters in Okaloosa, Fla. They sat in a large room with high-definition televisions showing live feeds from drones flying over Afghanistan. The screeners were sending instant messages to the drone crew, observations that were then relayed by radio to the A-Team.

On the ground, the A-Team was led by an Army captain, a veteran of multiple tours in Afghanistan. Under U.S. military rules, the captain, as the ground force commander, was responsible for deciding whether to order an airstrike.

At 5:14 a.m., six minutes after the two Afghan vehicles flashed their lights, the AC-130 crew asked the A-team what it wanted to do about the suspicious vehicles.

"Roger, ground force commander's intent is to destroy the vehicles and the personnel," came the unit's reply.

To use deadly force, the commander would first have to make a "positive identification" that the adversary was carrying weapons and posed an "imminent threat."

For the next 4 1/2 hours, the Predator crew and the screeners scrutinized the convoy's every move, looking for evidence to support such a decision.

"We all had it in our head, 'Hey, why do you have 20 military age males at 5 a.m. collecting each other?' " an Army officer involved in the incident would say later. "There can be only one reason, and that's because we've put [U.S. troops] in the area."

---

The Afghans greeted each other and climbed back into the two vehicles, heading south, in the general direction of Khod.

At 5:15 a.m., the Predator pilot thought he saw a rifle inside one of the vehicles.

"See if you can zoom in on that guy," he told the camera operator. "Is that a …rifle?"

"Maybe just a warm spot from where he was sitting," the camera operator replied, referring to an image picked up by the infrared camera. "Can't really tell right now, but it does look like an object."

"I was hoping we could make a rifle out," the pilot said. "Never mind."

Soon, a third vehicle, waiting in a walled compound, joined the convoy.

At 5:30 a.m., when the convoy halted briefly, the drone's camera focused on a man emerging from one of the vehicles. He appeared to be carrying something.

"What do these dudes got?" the camera operator said. "Yeah, I think that dude had a rifle."


"I do, too," the pilot replied.

But the ground forces unit said the commander needed more information from the drone crew and screeners to establish a "positive identification."

"Sounds like they need more than a possible," the camera operator told the pilot. Seeing the Afghan men jammed into the flat bed of the pickup, he added, "That truck would make a beautiful target."

At 5:37 a.m., the pilot reported that one of the screeners in Florida had spotted one or more children in the group.

"Bull—. Where!?" the camera operator said. "I don't think they have kids out at this hour." He demanded that the screeners freeze the video image of the purported child and email it to him.

"Why didn't he say 'possible' child?" the pilot said. "Why are they so quick to call kids but not to call a rifle."

The camera operator was dubious too. "I really doubt that children call. Man, I really … hate that," he said. "Well, maybe a teenager. But I haven't seen anything that looked that short."

A few minutes later, the pilot appeared to downplay the screeners' observation, alerting the special operations unit to "a possible rifle and two possible children near the SUV."

The special operations unit wanted the drone crew and screeners to keep tracking the vehicles. "Bring them in as close as we can until we also have [attack aircraft] up," the unit's radio operator said. "We want to take out the whole lot of them."

---

The Predator video was not the only intelligence that morning suggesting that U.S. forces were in danger.

Teams of U.S. military linguists and intelligence personnel with sophisticated eavesdropping equipment were vacuuming up cellphone calls in the area and translating the conversations in real time. For several hours, they had been listening to cellphone chatter in the area that suggested a Taliban unit was assembling for an attack.

"We're receiving ICOM traffic," or intercepted communications, the A-Team radioed the Predator crew. "We believe we may have a high-level Taliban commander."

Neither the identities of those talking nor their precise location was known. But the A-Team and the drone crew took the intercepted conversations as confirmation that there were insurgents in the convoy.

At 6:54 a.m., the camera operator noted that the drone crew and screeners had counted at least 24 men in the three vehicles, maybe more. "So, yeah, I guess that ICOM chatter is great info," he said.

The screeners continued to look for evidence that the convoy was a hostile force. Even with the advanced cameras on the Predator, the images were fuzzy and small objects were difficult to identify. Sometimes the video feed was interrupted briefly.

The Predator crew and video analysts in Nevada remained uncertain how many children were in the group and how old they were.

"Our screeners are currently calling 21 MAMs [military age males], no females, and two possible children. How copy?" the Predator pilot radioed the A-Team at 7:38 a.m.

"Roger," replied the A-Team, which was unable to see the convoy. "And when we say children, are we talking teenagers or toddlers?"

The camera operator responded: "Not toddlers. Something more towards adolescents or teens."

"Yeah, adolescents," the pilot added. "We're thinking early teens."

At 7:40 a.m., the A-Team radioed that its captain had concluded that he had established "positive identification" based on "the weapons we've identified and the demographics of the individuals plus the ICOM."

Although no weapons had been clearly identified, the pilot replied: "We are with you."

The pilot added that one screener had amended his report and was now saying he'd seen only one teenager. "Our screener updated only one adolescent, so that's one double-digit age range."

"We'll pass that along to the ground force commander," the

A-Team radio operator said. "Twelve or 13 years old with a weapon is just as dangerous."

---

At 8:43 a.m., Army commanders ordered two Kiowa helicopters to get into position to attack.

By then, though, the convoy was no longer heading toward Khod. The three vehicles, which at one point were within three miles of the A-Team, had changed direction and were now 12 miles away. The drone crew didn't dwell on that news, thinking the convoy probably was trying to flank the A-Team's position.

The Predator crew began discussing its role in the coming attack. The drone was armed with one missile, not enough to take out a three-vehicle convoy. The more heavily-armed Kiowa helicopters, using the call sign "BAM BAM41," would fire on the vehicles; the Predator would target any survivors who tried to flee.

"We're probably going to be chasing dudes, scrambling in the open, uh, when it goes down," the pilot told his camera operator, whose job was to place the camera cross hairs on insurgents, so the pilot could fire the missile. "Stay with whoever you think gives us the best chance to shoot, um, at them."

"Roger," came the reply.

A little before 9 a.m., the vehicles reached an open, treeless stretch of road. The A-Team commander called in the airstrike.

"Understand we are clear to engage," one of the helicopter pilots declared over the radio.

Hellfire missiles struck the first and third vehicles; they burst into flames.

Qudratullah, one of the Afghan travelers, recalled, "The helicopters were suddenly on top of us, bombarding us."

Dead and wounded were everywhere. Nasim, the 23-year-old mechanic, was knocked unconscious.

"When I came to, I could see that our vehicles were wrecked and the injured were everywhere," he said. "I saw someone who was headless and someone else cut in half."

The Predator crew in Nevada was exultant, watching men they assumed were enemy fighters trying to help the injured. " 'Self-Aid Buddy Care' to the rescue," one of the drone's crew members said.

"I forget, how do you treat a sucking chest wound?" said another.

Soon, however, the crew in Nevada and the screeners in Florida realized something was wrong.

"The thing is, nobody ran," one crew member said.

"Yeah, that was weird," another replied.

At 9:15 a.m., the Predator crew noticed three survivors in brightly colored clothing waving at the helicopters. They were trying to surrender.

"What are those?" asked the camera operator.

"Women and children," the Predator's mission intelligence coordinator answered.

"That lady is carrying a kid, huh? Maybe," the pilot said.

"The baby, I think, on the right. Yeah," the intelligence coordinator said.

The Predator's safety coordinator, cursing in frustration, urged the pilot to alert the helicopters and the A-Team that there were children present. "Let them know, dude," he said.

"Younger than an adolescent to me," the camera operator said.

As they surveyed the carnage, seeing other children, the Predator crew tried to reassure themselves that they could not have known.

"No way to tell, man," the safety observer said.

"No way to tell from here," the camera operator added.

At 9:30 a.m., the pilot came back on the radio.

"Since the engagement," he said, "we have not been able to PID [positively identify] any weapons."

---

U.S. and Afghan forces reached the scene 2 1/2 hours after the attack to provide medical assistance. After 20 minutes more, medevac helicopters began taking the wounded to a hospital in Tarin Kowt, in Oruzgan. More serious cases were later transferred to Kabul.

"They asked us who we were, and we told them we were civilians from Kijran district," said Qudratullah, who lost a leg.

By the U.S. count, 15 or 16 men were killed and 12 people were wounded, including a woman and three children. Elders from the Afghans' home villages said in interviews that 23 had been killed, including two boys, Daoud, 3, and Murtaza, 4.

.....

It goes on ... and on .. a comedy of errors if it were not so brutally real.
http://digg.com/news/offbeat/afghanistan_predator_drones_despite_high_tech_tools_a_fatal_error
Full Article: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-drone-20110410,0,200182.story
MORE: Read the official U.S. military transcript of communications that day
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06-22-2011, 05:11 PM,
#3
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:The blurring lines between the CIA and Defense: With Yemen's drone war heating up, we need clarity
BY MICAH ZENKO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Early in the Obama administration, the President reportedly told his national security team: "The CIA gets what it needs." Ever since, the Central Intelligence Agency has enjoyed great latitude in executing top-secret military missions in support of President Obama's foreign policy.

That has led to some dramatic successes like the killing of Osama Bin Laden. But as the CIA has undertaken an expanded and historically unprecedented role, the line between the CIA and the Pentagon has become increasingly blurred. The absence of clarity over the roles of the CIA and the Defense Department has made it more and more unclear which agency should be accountable for the results of politically sensitive, lethal and secret military operations.

Before the Obama administration ratchets up use of armed drones in Yemen, as it is poised to do, it must reckon with this reality - and clarify the division of labor between Defense and the CIA as they carry out America's shadow wars.

The separation of command between the CIA and Defense is not just a bureaucratic quibble - it has significant bearing on critical civilian oversight. Technically, both Defense and CIA clandestine operations require presidential authorization. In practice, the difference is substantial. The CIA flies largely below Congress' radar; its operations require prior presidential notification to the closed-door Senate and House intelligence committees, but in practice the committees do not constrain its covert operations. With respect to the Defense Department, on the other hand, the Senate and House armed services committees are more diligent. They ask more pointed questions about spending, about strategy - and about consequences.

....
RT: http://twitter.com/FastTadpole/status/83565898799124481
Full Story: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-06-16/news/29681658_1_cia-director-leon-panetta-drone-strikes-cia-clandestine-operations
http://digg.com/news/world_news/the_blurring_lines_between_the_cia_and_defense_with_yemen_s_drone_war_heating_up_we_need_clarity
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07-02-2011, 11:46 PM,
#4
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:China's army develops 'online war game'
June 29, 2011

After setting up its own cyber-warfare team, China's military has now developed its first online war game aimed at improving combat skills and battle awareness, state press said Wednesday.

"Glorious Mission" is a first-person shooter game that sends players on solo or team missions armed with high-tech weapons, the China Daily reported.

Weapons used in the game are part of the actual arsenal of China's People's Liberation Army, it added.

The final version of the game, which took nearly three years to develop and test, was launched on June 20.

"I think it is possible the game will be made open online for Chinese military fans to download and play," an unnamed PLA press officer was quoted as saying.

China has the world's biggest online population at more than 477 million users, according to official data.

The launch of the game comes after the military announced earlier this year that it had set up an elite Internet security task force to fend off cyber attacks.

Despite numerous allegations from around the world pointing at China as a source of cyber attacks, the state press, citing military officials, denied that the elite task force was set up as a "hacker army".
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-china-army-online-war-game.html

The US also does combat training using video games.

In war games, real training that saves lives
By Andrew Martin and Thomas Lin (New York Times)
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2011-05/15/content_12512224.htm

Related:

Predictive Programming in Video Games Exposed (2011) (torrent)
http://concen.org/forum/showthread.php?tid=40016

Violence and War Promoted in Video Games and Movies
+ aggregated threads
http://concen.org/forum/showthread.php?tid=40664

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07-05-2011, 02:06 PM,
#5
Information  RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:Global race on to match U.S. drone capabilities
By William Wan and Peter Finn, Published: July 4

At the most recent Zhuhai air show, the premier event for China’s aviation industry, crowds swarmed around a model of an armed, jet-propelled drone and marveled at the accompanying display of its purported martial prowess.

In a video and map, the thin, sleek drone locates what appears to be a U.S. aircraft carrier group near an island with a striking resemblance to Taiwan and sends targeting information back to shore, triggering a devastating barrage of cruise missiles toward the formation of ships.

Little is known about the actual abilities of the WJ-600 drone or the more than two dozen other Chinese models that were on display at Zhuhai in November. But the speed at which they have been developed highlights how U.S. military successes with drones have changed strategic thinking worldwide and spurred a global rush for unmanned aircraft.

More than 50 countries have purchased surveillance drones, and many have started in-country development programs for armed versions because no nation is exporting weaponized drones beyond a handful of sales between the United States and its closest allies.

“This is the direction all aviation is going,” said Kenneth Anderson, a professor of law at American University who studies the legal questions surrounding the use of drones in warfare. “Everybody will wind up using this technology because it’s going to become the standard for many, many applications of what are now manned aircraft.”

Military planners worldwide see drones as relatively cheap weapons and highly effective reconnaissance tools. Hand-launched ones used by ground troops can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Near the top of the line, the Predator B, or MQ9-Reaper, manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, costs about $10.5 million. By comparison, a single F-22 fighter jet costs about $150 million.

Defense spending on drones has become the most dynamic sector of the world’s aerospace industry, according to a report by the Teal Group in Fairfax. The group’s 2011 market study estimated that in the coming decade global spending on drones will double, reaching $94 billion.

   

But the world’s expanding drone fleets — and the push to weaponize them — have alarmed some academics and peace activists, who argue that robotic warfare raises profound questions about the rules of engagement and the protection of civilians, and could encourage conflicts.

“They could reduce the threshold for going to war,” said Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield in England. “One of the great inhibitors of war is the body bag count, but that is undermined by the idea of riskless war.”

China on fast track


No country has ramped up its research in recent years faster than China. It displayed a drone model for the first time at the Zhuhai air show five years ago, but now every major manufacturer for the Chinese military has a research center devoted to drones, according to Chinese analysts.

Much of this work remains secret, but the large number of drones at recent exhibitions underlines not only China’s determination to catch up in that sector — by building equivalents to the leading U.S. combat and surveillance models, the Predator and the Global Hawk — but also its desire to sell this technology abroad.

“The United States doesn’t export many attack drones, so we’re taking advantage of that hole in the market,” said Zhang Qiaoliang, a representative of the Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, which manufactures many of the most advanced military aircraft for the People’s Liberation Army. “The main reason is the amazing demand in the market for drones after 9/11.”

Although surveillance drones have become widely used around the world, armed drones are more difficult to acquire.

Israel, the second-largest drone manufacturer after the United States, has flown armed models, but few details are available. India announced this year that it is developing ones that will fire missiles and fly at 30,000 feet. Russia has shown models of drones with weapons, but there is little evidence that they are operational.

Pakistan has said it plans to obtain armed drones from China, which has already sold the nation ones for surveillance. And Iran last summer unveiled a drone that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the “ambassador of death” but whose effectiveness is still unproven, according to military analysts.

...
Full Story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/global-race-on-to-match-us-drone-capabilities/2011/06/30/gHQACWdmxH_story.html
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08-08-2011, 09:46 AM,
#6
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:No Wonder the US is broke! $23 Billion Drone Programme to Replace U-2 Spy Plane
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:43 AM on 3rd August 2011

The U.S. is to spend $23 billion on a fleet of drone spy planes - despite facing economic turmoil and crippling debts.

Fifty-five Global Hawks are to be built over the coming years, with each aircraft costing a staggering $218 million each.

They will replace the highly-effective U-2 spy planes which were manned by pilots and played an effective role in the cold war and more recently Afghanistan.

But critics pointed to the escalating cost of the project at a time when the U.S. faces a major risk of defaulting on its $14.3trillion (£8.7trillion) debt.

'The Global Hawk is a very impressive product, but it is also a very expensive product,' Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group, a consultancy in Fairfax, Virginia, told the New York Times.

The plan to hand defence companies billions more dollars to build the drones comes as millions of Americans face financial struggles and job cuts.

....

Despite fears over the financial future of the U.S., it appears that politicians are still willing to spend vast sums on defence equipment.

The Global Hawks are being constructed in a sprawling warehouse in Palmdale, California, by a team of 50 engineers.

A raft of sensors and research equipment is being attached to each of the drones allowing them to fly unmanned into remote regions.

Each of the crafts costs $218 million, compared with $28 million for the Reaper, the largest armed attack drone.

In recent years the cost of the project to build the Global Hawks has doubled, which forced their numbers to be reduced to 55 from 77.

Nine of the planes have been used since March in Japan, Libya and Afghanistan. Officials say the crafts have successfully photographed earthquake damage in Japan and bombing targets in war zones.

But the crafts have been beset by problems, with parts failing and the equipment for intercepting calls struggling to pinpoint the source.

Officials said that the planes can fly 24-hour missions while being monitored from a base by controllers on shifts.

The drones can spy from twice the height of a commercial airliner and spot a group of insurgents or a tank 50 to 100 miles away. The images can then be sent directly to troops in a firefight or to intelligence centers, where analysts examine them and send out reports.

Eavesdropping equipment installed on the drones could also allow intelligence units to listen in on the conversations of potential targets.

The Air Force will spend $12billion on the project while the Navy will add $11billion in order to buy their own versions of the drones.

'Once again, we have a system that has failed to meet effectiveness and suitability requirements, but one that no doubt will proceed post-haste into full production and deployment,' said Thomas P. Christie, a former Pentagon testing official.

The Global Hawks may eventually replace the U-2 planes which were created in the 1950s to monitor Soviet nuclear sites. More recently they listened to Taliban phone calls and gave information on where Predator and Reaper drones should be deployed.

The Pentagon say that the Global Hawks will avoid troops being sent into dangerous situations and suffer the disorienting decompression illnesses that they are subjected to in U-2 planes.

'There’s a small group, when I’m at a U-2 reunion, that I have to remind about how we buried four U-2 pilots while I was with the program,' a former U-2 pilot said about crashes in the planes.
Full Story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2021854/U-S-debt--23billion-drone-programme-pursued-despite-economy-woes.html

The 2011 allocated budget for military (not spending, not DHS, not the green program that is funding India to produce biofuel for the US Airforce*) is set at $1.030 - $1.415 trillion. The total budget for military drones was supposed to be $1.9B (Predator and Reaper Unmanned Aerial System). The new drones (Global Hawks) are an extra unbudgeted expenditure.

*
Quote:This does not include many military-related items that are outside of the Defense Department budget, such as nuclear weapons research, maintenance, cleanup, and production, which is in the Department of Energy budget, Veterans Affairs, the Treasury Department's payments in pensions to military retirees and widows and their families, interest on debt incurred in past wars, or State Department financing of foreign arms sales and militarily-related development assistance. Neither does it include defense spending that is not military in nature, such as the Department of Homeland Security, counter-terrorism spending by the FBI, and intelligence-gathering spending by NASA.
~wiki

It also doesn't include the tax breaks, energy resource development programs, the public resources, media whitewashing, educational brainwashing and the grants given to military subsidiaries and directly for R&D.

It's not all done directly by government though corporations have plenty of stock in this too. From TV and Video Games to Colouring Books for Children.

2009 Figures / 2010 Estimates on (disclosed) funds spent directly on military spending.

Quote:Summarizing some key details from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s recent trends summary:

* World military expenditure in 2010 is estimated to have reached $1.62 trillion in current dollars;
* This represents a 1.3 per cent increase in real terms since 2009 and a 50 per cent increase since 2001;
* This corresponds to 2.6 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP), or approximately $236 for each person in the world;
* The USA with its massive spending budget, is the principal determinant of the current world trend, and its military expenditure now accounts for just under half of the world total, at 43% of the world total;

SIPRI has commented in the past on the increasing concentration of military expenditure, i.e. that a small number of countries spend the largest sums. This trend carries on into 2010 spending. For example,

* The 15 countries with the highest spending account for over 82% of the total;
* The USA is responsible for 43 per cent of the world total, distantly followed by the China (7.3% of world share), UK (3.7%), France (3.6%), and Russia (3.6%):
http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending

Where do you think all that taxpayer spending on intelligence gathering, R&D and military hardware is going to go when their is a debt default?

They've already started training the world army, via private military corporations, the militarization of police forces and NATO, UN, the Philippines and all that jazz.

The US Military is but a spending vehicle for arming a world that is being systematically whipped into a powder keg to have a saviour come and unite us under one hive under ??? well whatever it is from Chaos comes Order in the playbook of the so called "elite". Or maybe it can go straight to control with a remote control robot army augmented with mind controlled slaves (aka troops, aka fodder).
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08-19-2011, 10:00 PM,
#7
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:Cyber-Physical Attacks and Drone Strikes: The Next Homeland Security Threat
By John Villasenor, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation The Brookings Institution
July 05, 2011

Drones are essentially flying – and sometimes armed – computers. The same advances in information technology that enable video-capable smartphones and wireless Internet-based movie delivery to laptop computers also make it possible to build smaller, less expensive, and more versatile drones. For example, the Wasp III microdrone used by the U.S. Air Force weighs under a pound and is less than a foot long, yet carries two on-board cameras and a GPS receiver and can fly at an altitude of 1000 feet.[3] In February 2011, California-based company AeroVironment announced the successful demonstration of the prototype Nano Hummingbird, a video-capable drone developed under DARPA funding that weighs only two-thirds of an ounce and has a wingspan of 6.5 inches.[4]

As drones become smaller and quieter, they become easier to move and launch, and harder to detect in operation. The prospect of foreign-owned drones not under U.S. control operating within the United States without our knowledge or permission is not purely theoretical. In fact, it has already happened.

In December 2010, a small Israeli-made drone operated by the Mexican federal police crashed in an El Paso, Texas backyard, causing no injuries.[5] That incident, which U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin later characterized as “an accident, no question about it,”[6] illustrated the uncomfortable reality that all of the analysis regarding the drone’s origin, ownership, purpose, trajectory, and payload took place after the crash had occurred. Before the crash, U.S. officials had not even been aware that drones were operating in the area.[7] Had the incursion been purposeful, targeted, and malicious as opposed to accidental, it appears highly unlikely that it would have been detected and stopped in advance of reaching its target.

To believe that drones will remain the exclusive province of responsible nations is to disregard the long history of weapons technology. It is only a matter of time before rogue groups or nations hostile to the United States are able to build or acquire their own drones and to use them to launch attacks on our soil or on our soldiers abroad.[8]

The national security threat posed by drones has been considered before. For example, Dennis Gromley of the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies described the possible use of drones by terrorists in testimony before a House of Representatives subcommittee in 2004[9] and in a 2006 paper published through the Naval Postgraduate School.[10] Similar issues were also considered in a 2005 paper by Eugene Miasnikov of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.[11]

In addition, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report[12] in January 2004 addressing nonproliferation issues related to cruise missiles and drones from the standpoint of U.S. export control as well as multilateral export control through the Missile Technology Control Regime[13] and the Wassenaar Arrangement.[14] The drones of the early 2000s were often akin to cruise missiles in terms of size and weight, so in that era considering them jointly from the standpoint of nonproliferation in the manner of the 2004 GAO report was eminently reasonable.

Times have changed. In some respects today’s drones are more similar to smartphones than to cruise missiles. This is due in large part to several game-changing information technology advances that have occurred over the last several years. First, spurred in part by general consumer demand for high-quality commercial mobile video solutions for products such as smartphones and tablet computers, miniature cameras and computer chips able to acquire and process high-resolution, high-frame-rate video while consuming very little battery power have become inexpensive and widely available. Second, commercial wireless communications technologies and the associated standards and protocols have evolved to the point where wireless transmission of video has become routine.

These advances, in combination with innovations in drone airframe and propulsion system design, have made it possible to build very small, inexpensive drones, and to control them using an interface as simple as a laptop screen and computer mouse. Partly as a result of these changes, the U.S. military has increased its inventory of drones from under 50 drones a decade ago to about 7000 today.[15] Drones have transformed the way the U.S. military wages war, making it possible to gather unprecedented amounts of aerial imagery using nearly undetectable platforms, and to strike at targets without putting pilots at risk. However, these capabilities can be exploited by anyone with access to suitably equipped drones. That access will become dramatically easier as drones continue to become more numerous, smaller, cheaper, and more widely distributed in the global supply chain.

One source that a rogue group wishing to gain possession of one or more drones might look to is the U.S. military itself. The Pentagon is requesting almost $5 billion for drones next year, and as the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer recently stated, drones are “a growth market.”[16] A recent study from the Virginia-based Teal Group predicts that global spending on drones will exceed $94 billion over the next ten years, with the United States accounting for nearly 70% of the procurement expenditures.[17] With thousands of drones flowing through a complex U.S. military procurement and deployment process in the coming years, there are multiple scenarios that would enable a U.S. military drone to end up in the wrong hands.

Some degree of loss in the distribution process is almost certain.[18] Somewhere, a box containing a drone will be left on a pallet, will fall off a truck, or will be left momentarily unattended and will disappear. Or, the box, when opened at its final destination, will be empty, with no practical way to determine when or where its contents were removed. Some drones will crash during missions and could be recovered by persons hostile to the U.S. In some cases the crash may leave the drone irreparably damaged, but in others the damage may be slight and easily repaired.

There is also the very real threat of an insider sale, as illustrated by the 2007 arrest of an ex-Navy officer for stealing and in some cases selling military equipment including machine guns, a shoulder-fired rocket launcher, and weapons-mounted infrared laser-aiming devices.[19]

The computer systems on U.S. military drones are presumably highly secured. But these are also easy to replace. A rogue group in possession of an airframe and propulsion system obtained from the U.S. military could use commercial off-the-shelf electronics components to replace the systems for acquiring video and for enabling ground-based control of the drone.

Alternatively, the group could attempt to buy a drone on the global market. As an El Paso Times newspaper article noted in December 2010, the drone model that crashed in El Paso is offered for sale on the Internet.[20] Increased demand for drones from the militaries of many different countries has led to larger numbers of drone suppliers, some based overseas and thus outside the direct reach of U.S. regulation, and some of those located in countries that are not members of the Missile Technology Control Regime or the Wassenaar Arrangement. For example, as noted in a July 4, 2011 Washington Post article,[21] China has a very active program to develop its drone design and manufacturing capabilities, as well as a desire to sell drones on the international market. China is not currently listed as a member state of the Missile Technology Control Regime[22] or of the Wassenaar arrangement.[23] An Air Force expert on the history of drones wrote in 2007 that there were over 50 countries engaged in the “development and employment” of drones,[24] and the Teal Group’s 2011 World Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems report contains individual market forecasts for over 70 countries.[25] In short, the drone industry is large, complex, and global.

..
Full Story + Reference Links: http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2011/0705_drones_villasenor.aspx

Interesting to note the mass manufacture of electronic components such as cameras and computer systems driven by customer demand. Demand is supplanted by massive advertising campaigns and cheap manufacturing facilities overseas (notably China) that can apparently be easily converted into massive drone factories. In fact, just yesterday, China showcased their first flying drone.

So is this demand to create all the components that fit with spy, military weapons and computer systems, thus funding its propagation, driven by design? Much of the R&D, education (robotics and computer programs) and in the case of military (100%) is subsidized by contract. Is this just natural human progression that everyone has a camera phone, wireless internet and a computer? Has it been fast tracked? Was it really inevitable or is this engineered?

The threat itself is yet another reason to closely monitor purchases of technology and its use along with guns, raw milk, fertilizer, box cutters and plutonium for threat of terrorism.

In fact further on in the above paper eludes to that:

Quote:U.S.-made drones can be designed to include chips or other electronics that would enable them to be tracked if they are lost. With appropriate design, these chips can be made very difficult to find without destroying or significantly damaging the drone in the process.

On-board computer systems on drones can be equipped with kill switches that could be tripped remotely if the drones go missing. Of course, it would also be important to ensure that the kill switches can only be accessed by a very limited group of trusted people. In addition, or in the alternative, in the manner of theft recovery software that is increasingly installed on laptop computers, the on-board computer systems on drones could include the ability to “phone home” upon activation, and to provide imagery and information related to location.

Electronics and other system components used in drones can be designed to include steganographic (hidden) information that would allow the original manufacturer and purchaser to be traced and identified. This could aid after-the-fact identification of the perpetrators of a drone-based attack, and could also provide a disincentive to carry out attacks in the first place.
http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2011/0705_drones_villasenor.aspx

DIY Drones
http://www.diydrones.com/

UAVForge
http://www.uavforge.net/

It also seems that the drone movement is being crowdsourced, just like the Mozilla Project. DARPA and the TTO is actually sponsoring such an open source drone project to harvest cheap innovation, recruit talent and probably gather more intel on persons of interest at the honey pot.

Quote:UAVForge Manufacturing Services
Solicitation Number: DARPA-BAA-11-35
Agency: Other Defense Agencies
Office: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Location: Contracts Management Office
May 25, 2011 11:08 am

The Tactical Technology Office (TTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seeks a manufacturer to produce the physical output from a design and development initiative called UAVForge. This initiative aims to produce a small, affordable, and easy to operate unmanned air vehicle capable of persistent perch and stare surveillance. The successful offeror will empower a diverse community of innovators and emergent design teams by providing manufacturing capabilities and assessments and producing up to 15 units of the winning design. The UAVForge initiative will employ a collaboration website and a fly-off competition, both developed and administered for DARPA/TTO by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Atlantic (SSC Atlantic), Charleston, SC. The selected manufacturer is expected to provide objective, non-biased feedback to UAVForge participants; therefore the manufacturer is not eligible to submit to or compete in the design and development competition due to the conflict of interest such competitive involvement would incur.
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=26879b116ce692c03bc0095506fd9e27&tab=core&_cview=0
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10-20-2011, 06:47 PM,
#8
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:Military ‘Not Quite Sure’ How Drone Cockpits Got Infected

It's been more than a month since a virus infected the remote "cockpits" of America's drone fleet. And the U.S. military still doesn't know exactly how the machines at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada got infected. "We're not quite sure how that happened yet," General Robert Kehler told reporters Tuesday. Kehler is the head of U.S. Strategic Command, which is nominally in charge of the military's Cyber Command and all other online activities. The Pentagon is ordinarily reluctant to talk about any computer security breaches; even routine infections are treated as military secrets. For example, the clean-up of a common, if widespread, worm was considered a classified mission — undertaken under the name "Operation Buckshot Yankee."
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/10/military-not-quite-sure-how-drone-cockpits-got-infected/
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12-09-2011, 02:21 AM,
#9
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
For thoroughness, from CBS:

Iran shows intact drone, boasts of cyberattack
December 8, 2011 12:01 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-57339407-503543/iran-shows-intact-drone-boasts-of-cyberattack/

Middle eastern countries have dragged the bodies of soldiers, military contractors, reporters and Christians through the streets. Now it is a metal carcass being used to boost morale.

They make this sound as if this is a US .. as if Drones cannot be made by the billions in the Chinese workforce. Drones are a serious threat to freedom no matter where you are from.
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12-23-2011, 02:54 AM,
#10
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:America's Drone Wars in Africa: A Constellation of Secret Airstrips and Drone Bases
December 22, 2011
by Michel Chossudovsky

"For the second time in two weeks, American authorities lost contact with a drone aircraft, this time resulting in a fiery crash in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. ... "

In 2009, The Pentagon established an agreement with the Seychelles government to establish a drone base within proximity of the country's civilian airport. The base is operated by the US Air Force.

The Seychelles islands with a population of 85,000 inhabitants are strategically located in the Indian Ocean. They are close to the U.S. combined Navy and Air Force base in Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago, from which major military operations are conducted. Diego Garcia is also a major center of the military intelligence establishment.

The Seychelles are also directly opposite Somalia and its capital Mogadishu. See Map.

According to the Washington Post, the US Air Force operates only "a handful" of MQ-9 Reapers out of its base in the Seychelles. Bear in mind that these are very sophisticated UAV. Officially they are said to be involved in the survellance and prevention of acts of piracy off the East African coastline. In actual fact, they are involved in surveillance activities in support of US military and intelligence operations in East Africa.

More specifically, the UAVs are involved in military surveillance in Somalia, where the US is engaged in "a war of stealth", which is rapidly developing into a theater war following the influx and deployment of allied Kenyan troops.

Reports confirm that "the base in the Seychelles is part of a constellation of drone bases that the U.S. government has expanded in the region" [officially] to monitor or attack al-Qaeda affiliates," namely as part of a counter-terrorism mandate, "to make the world safer for Africans."

In recent years, the US Air Force in liaison with the CIA, has established drone bases in Ethiopia and Djibouti. These initaitives are ccordinated with Africa Command (AFRICOM):

"The Air Force has been secretly flying armed Reaper drones on counterterrorism missions from a remote civilian airport in southern Ethi­o­pia as part of a rapidly expanding U.S.-led proxy war against an al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa, U.S. military officials said.

The Air Force has invested millions of dollars to upgrade an airfield in Arba Minch, Ethi­o­pia, where it has built a small annex to house a fleet of drones that can be equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. The Reapers began flying missions earlier this year over neighboring Somalia, where the United States and its allies in the region have been targeting al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group connected to al-Qaeda.

....As a result, the United States has relied on lethal drone attacks, a burgeoning CIA presence in Mogadishu and small-scale missions carried out by U.S. Special Forces. In addition, the United States has increased its funding for and training of African peacekeeping forces in Somalia that fight al-Shabab.

The Washington Post reported last month that the Obama administration is building a constellation of secret drone bases in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, including one site in Ethi­o­pia. The location of the Ethio­pian base and the fact that it became operational this year, however, have not been previously disclosed. Some bases in the region also have been used to carry out operations against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.

The Air Force confirmed Thursday that drone operations are underway at the Arba Minch airport. Master Sgt. James Fisher, a spokesman for the 17th Air Force, which oversees operations in Africa, said that an unspecified number of Air Force personnel ­are working at the Ethio­pian airfield “to provide operation and technical support for our security assistance programs.”

The Arba Minch airport expansion is still in progress but the Air Force deployed the Reapers there earlier this year, Fisher said. He said the drone flights “will continue as long as the government of Ethi­o­pia welcomes our cooperation on these varied security programs.”

Last month, the Ethio­pian Foreign Ministry denied the presence of U.S. drones in the country. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Ethio­pian embassy in Washington repeated that assertion.

“That’s the government’s position,” said Tesfaye Yilma, the head of public diplomacy for the embassy. “We don’t entertain foreign military bases in Ethi­o­pia.”

But U.S. military personnel and contractors have become increasingly visible in recent months in Arba Minch, a city of about 70,000 people in southern Ethi­o­pia. Arba Minch means “40 springs” in Amharic, the national language.

Travelers who have passed through the Arba Minch airport on the occasional civilian flights that land there said the U.S. military has erected a small compound on the tarmac, next to the terminal.

The compound is about half an acre in size and is surrounded by high fences, security screens and lights on extended poles. The U.S. military personnel and contractors eat at a cafe in the passenger terminal, where they are served American-style food, according to travelers who have been there.

Arba Minch is located about 300 miles south of Addis Ababa and about 600 miles west of the Somali border. Standard models of the Reaper have a range of about 1,150 miles, according to the Air Force.

The MQ-9 Reaper, known as a “hunter killer,” is manufactured by General Atomics and is an advanced version of the Predator, the most common armed drone in the Air Force’s fleet.

Ethi­o­pia is a longtime U.S. ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the militant group that has fomented instability in war-torn Somalia and launched attacks in Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere in the region.

The Ethio­pian military invaded Somalia in 2006 in an attempt to wipe out a related Islamist movement that was taking over the country, but withdrew three years later after it was unable to contain an insurgency.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-drone-base-in-ethiopia-is-operational/2011/10/27/gIQAznKwMM_print.html

According to a report cited by the Washington Post, the CIA is also "building a secret airstrip somewhere in the Arabian subcontinent in order to carry out drone missions against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. U.S. officials say the group, based in Yemen, is al-Qaida's most active branch, and is responsible for several attempted attacks on U.S. targets....The US military is also believed to have used the unmanned drone aircraft to carry out missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Libya."

The drones are allegedly used for "humanitarian purposes" as well as part of the "Global War on Terrorism", "to go after" Al Qaeda affiliated paramilitary. Ironically, the evidence amply confirms that in Libya, Syria and Somalia, these Al Qaeda groups are supported covertly by Western intelligence. In Libya and Syria Al Qaeda constitutes "NATO's foot soldiers" supported directly by the Atlantic Alliance.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28212
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02-28-2012, 06:09 AM,
#11
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:Currently, UAVs can only fly in restricted airspace zones controlled by U.S. military 23 Feb 2012 Legislation passed by Congress last week gives the Federal Aviation Administration until Sept. 30, 2015, to open the nation’s skies to drones. The first step comes in 90 days when police, firefighters and other civilian first-response agencies can start flying UAVs weighing no more than 4.4 pounds, provided they meet still-to-be-determined requirements... By May 2013, the next class of drones, those weighing less than 55 pounds, can fly the nation's skies, according to provisions of the FAA bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week.
http://www.legitgov.org/US-opening-airspace-use-drones
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46499162/ns/technology_and_science-science/

Quote:H.AMDT.220 to H.R.658 Amendment directs the FAA to work with various federal agencies to integrate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) into the National Airspace System more expeditiously and ensures that all safety studies are carried out as necessary to support such integration.
Sponsor: Rep Miller, Candice S. [MI-10] (introduced 3/31/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 3/31/2011 House amendment agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the Miller (MI) amendment (A011) Agreed to by voice vote.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/L?d112:./temp/~bdajF4h:1[1-30]%28Amendments_For_H.R.658%29&./temp/~bdCBid
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01-30-2013, 09:23 AM,
#12
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
Quote:Military Moves Closer to Truly Autonomous Drones
By Ryan Gallagher
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, at 11:27 AM ET

   
Taranis - Copyright © 2012 BAE Systems. All rights reserved.

Imagine a flying machine equipped with bombs and missiles, navigating the skies stealthily without human control. Soon it will be a reality: the next generation of drones.

Drones currently used in combat, like the Predator or Reaper, are navigated by pilots thousands of miles away. But the latest versions of the aircraft are being designed to fly autonomously and without direct human intervention, with a pilot taking charge only when it’s time to destroy a ground target. This kind of “thinking” drone seemed a far-fetched prospect only a few years ago. In 2013, though, things are set to change.

Earlier this week it was announced that the British military is planning to test a new stealth drone called the “Taranis” in the Australian outback this spring. The Taranis, which will carry a range of weapons, can fly autonomously and faster than the speed of sound while using intelligent sensor technology. Its manufacturers, BAE Systems, say the aim is to try to discover whether the drone can be used to strike targets “with real precision at long range, even in another continent.” If tests are successful, it could be a game changer—eventually, making traditional fighter jets like the Typhoon close to obsolete.

The British are not alone in pressing forward with this technology. The U.S. military has recently been testing its “X-47B” stealth drone, which, like the Taranis, will be capable of flying pre-programmed missions using a kind of artificial intelligence. Similarly, France, Italy, Sweden, and other countries are working on a pan-European project to develop a stealth drone called the “Neuron," which successfully completed its first test flight last month.

Meanwhile, opposition to the aircraft is building. Last year, Human Rights Watch released a report calling for restrictions to be placed on autonomous weapons—“killer robots,” as the group described them. Existing remotely piloted drones such as the Predator remain contentious from an ethical standpoint because critics argue they can lead to a kind of video-game warfare detached from reality. (Not everyone agrees—Brad Allenby criticized the report in Future Tense.) But autonomous drones are considered even more controversial. Militaries in the United States and Europe insist they will never allow machines to make the final decision to kill. The concern, however, is that once the technology is available, that position might change over time.

There’s also fear over the damage the technology could do if it were to get into the wrong hands—like a dictator unconcerned with the ethics of who pulls the trigger, so long as the trigger is pulled. It’s worth considering, too, the vulnerabilities inherent in any computerized technology. Hackers and adversaries have shown how it is possible to commandeer drone systems. And in 2011, a Predator drone reportedly “started itself” without explanation after it was infected with a bug. If something similar were to happen to a heavily-armed autonomous drone in midflight, the consequences could be deadly.

Still, military chiefs are moving forward swiftly with their development and testing of these new warplanes. That’s why 2013, for better or worse, could well be the year the autonomous drone was born.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/01/16/taranis_neuron_militaries_moving_closer_to_truly_autonmoous_drones.html

Inline Links FTA:

British stealth drone to undergo first test flight
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9797738/British-stealth-drone-to-undergo-first-test-flight.html

Eurofighter Typhoon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurofighter_Typhoon

US Navy details X-47B catapult launch test
http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-navy-details-x-47b-catapult-launch-test-379662/

European stealth-combat test drone flies in France
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-12-01/european-stealth-combat-test-drone-flies-in-france

Iran Hacked GPS Signals To Capture U.S. Drone
http://www.informationweek.com/security/attacks/iran-hacked-gps-signals-to-capture-us-dr/232300666

Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/remote-us-base-at-core-of-secret-operations/2012/10/25/a26a9392-197a-11e2-bd10-5ff056538b7c_print.html

Leon Panetta: Drones To Be 'Continuing Tool' Of U.S. National Security
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/leon-panetta-drones_n_2527417.html

Quote:Losing Humanity: The Case against Killer Robots
November 19, 2012

This 50-page report outlines concerns about these fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law’s power to deter future violations.
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/11/19/losing-humanity-0
Full Report (55 Page PDF): http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/arms1112ForUpload_0_0.pdf
Upped it on the ConCen Tracker Here: http://concen.org/tracker/torrents-details.php?id=31884

Rebuttal: What Human Rights Watch’s “Case Against Killer Robots” Gets Wrong About Military Realities
http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/11/20/human_rights_watch_s_case_against_killer_robots_report_misunderstands_the.html

Related Threads:

30k Drones To Fill US Skies By 2020, 76 countries use them now, 66 more can too.
http://concen.org/forum/thread-44601.html

The Drones Unveiled
http://concen.org/forum/thread-18038.html

Homeland Security to deploy more drones on Mexico
http://concen.org/forum/thread-33593.html

Military Links Drones into Unmanned Squadrons
http://concen.org/forum/thread-80.html

CCTV in the sky: police plan to use military-style spy drones
http://concen.org/forum/thread-31137.html

Feds under pressure to open US skies to drones
http://concen.org/forum/thread-33404.html
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02-15-2013, 10:57 PM,
#13
Thumbs Down  RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
@Pentagon Officials Responsible for Creating this "Award"
Fuck you and your heroes

[Image: drone_operator.jpg]

Quote:Pentagon Creates Medal to Honor Drone Operators
Sitting at a computer and killing people the government told you to deserves official veneration
by John Glaser, February 13, 2013

The Defense Department has decided to create a medal to honor US soldiers who sit at a computer and operate armed, unmanned vehicles bombing people thousands of miles away.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday announced that the Pentagon can award the Distinguished Warfare Medal to drone operators, because although they are far from any battlefield, they have a direct impact on combat operations.

‘‘I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems, have changed the way wars are fought,’’ Panetta said. ‘‘And they’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar.’’

The work they do ‘‘does contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight,’’ he said.

The award seems a far cry from what soldiers are traditionally honored for, which is sacrificing their lives in war-zones while killing people their government tells them to. In this case, only the latter applies.

This is not to denigrate the hardships of drone operators, however. Many of them have reported suffering from post-dramatic stress disorder as a result of the anxiety caused by bombing unsuspecting people after watching them through grainy video footage.

Brandon Bryant, a drone operator, launched a drone strike with the stroke of a few computer keys and, according to Der Spiegel, said: “Did we just kill a kid?” Another soldier responded: “Yeah, I guess that was a kid.”

Bryant told Der Spiegel he flew drones for more than 6,000 hours from his base in New Mexico. “I saw men, women and children die during that time,” he says. “I never thought I would kill that many people.”
http://news.antiwar.com/2013/02/13/pentagon-creates-medal-to-honor-drone-operators/
http://www.globalresearch.ca/pentagon-creates-medal-to-honor-drone-operators/5322920

Pentagon creates new medal for cyber, drone wars
http://www.boston.com/business/news/2013/02/13/pentagon-creates-new-medal-for-cyber-drone-wars/D265C91RrHasLVzjFNdz6J/story.html

[Image: 13f339f854596e05290f6a706700be7e.jpg]

The Folly of Soldier Worship
http://antiwar.com/blog/2012/03/22/the-folly-of-soldier-worship/

FastTadpole Wrote:RE: Why I don't Support the Troops

..I support the troops right to medical care from being vax experiments, the DU, PTSD and all else that goes with the the territory instead of treating it like the usual US health insurance conglomerate. The DoD / Government should buck up and take a bit more responsibility in that right. I hate that the military lure in the desperate and the misinformed and tell them lies of supporting their country and being a patriot and all that rhetoric. I have empathy for the individuals but I do not support the troops' collective mission as it stands now.

Defend the borders, offer aid and relief from disaster. There are roles for such an institution but when they are off guarding oil pipes and poppy fields after a war of conquest based on a lie I find it difficult to back the mission. There are pockets of good amongst the bad and should be evaluated on a case by case, individual by individual, mission by mission basis. I am in no position to judge that and would like to believe that most soldiers go in with the motive to make the world a better place. I just wish they were better informed and more had the guile to disobey orders that went against human morality when presented with the ultimatum - even in the face of personal repercussions.

It can sometimes be difficult to see that morality because of the inherent compartmentalization that exists in the military, and, for that matter, the corporate and government world as well since it is designed that way. In a way we are all cogs in the machine more or less if you dig deep enough and make the connections to our each and every action. From buying that slave traded toy for your kids on sale at Wal-Mart to firing on a group of civilians and journalists from a chopper. Personal responsibility needs to be given more consideration overall.

Really it's not cut and dried black and white but from an overall perspective in this instance I'd have to agree with the stance taken in the video for the most part. Even more so in the face of the blind patriotism given to the organization that is playing the role of executor of an agenda that I cannot agree with. At least from what I have seen and what I know but I may be eating a lot of disinfo as well so I'll note that my opinion is based on my perception of what I think is going on in reality.
http://concen.org/tracker/torrents-details.php?id=16545&page=1#comments

Dreams in Infrared: The Woes of an American Drone Operator
A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can't do it anymore.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/pain-continues-after-war-for-american-drone-pilot-a-872726.html
There are no others, there is only us.
http://FastTadpole.com/
Reply
03-07-2013, 12:46 AM,
#14
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
A little more on the domestic side but pawns in a war by all means nonetheless.

Quote:FAA Releases New Drone List—Is Your Town on the Map?
February 7, 2013
By Jennifer Lynch

   

View EFF's updated Map of Domestic Drone Authorizations in a larger window.
https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=MAP&q=select+col2+from+1WuTyH62PmUF97oxo6IreT1BL_aw9HJN5pocwmwg&h=false&lat=44.08758502824518&lng=-85.5615234375&z=4&t=1&l=col2&y=1&tmplt=2

The Federal Aviation Administration has finally released a new drone authorization list. This list, released in response to EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, includes law enforcement agencies and universities across the country, and—for the first time—an Indian tribal agency. In all, the list includes more than 20 new entities over the FAA’s original list, bringing to 81 the total number of public entities that have applied for FAA drone authorizations through October 2012.

Some of these new drone license applicants include:

The State Department
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Barona Band of Mission Indians Risk Management Office (near San Diego, California)
Canyon County Sheriff’s Office (Idaho)
Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (Northwest Oregon)
Grand Forks Sheriff’s Department (North Dakota)
King County Sheriff’s Office (covering Seattle, Washington)

And several new entities in Ohio, including:

Medina County Sheriff’s Office
Ohio Department of Transportation
Sinclair Community College
Lorain County Community College

The list comes amid extensive controversy over a newly-released memo documenting the CIA’s policy on the targeted killing of American citizens and on the heels of news that Charlottesville, Virginia has just become one of the first cities in the country to ban drones. This new list should contribute to the debate over whether using domestic drones for surveillance is consistent with the Constitution and with American values.

As we’ve written in the past, drone use in the United States implicates serious privacy and civil liberties concerns. Although drones can be used for neutral, or even for positive purposes, drones are also capable of highly advanced and, in some cases, almost constant surveillance, and they can amass large amounts of data. Even the smallest drones can carry a host of surveillance equipment, from video cameras and thermal imaging to GPS tracking and cellphone eavesdropping tools. They can also be equipped with advanced forms of radar detection, license plate cameras, and facial recognition. And, as recent reporting from PBS and Slate shows, surveillance tools, like the military’s development of gigapixel technology capable of “tracking people and vehicles across an entire city,” are improving rapidly.

EFF hopes this list will spur more people to ask their local law enforcement agencies about their drone programs. EFF has partnered with MuckRock to make it easier to ask for and disseminate this information. We also encourage people to ask hard questions of government officials about who is funding drone development in their communities and what policies the government will demand agencies follow if they fly drones. We need greater transparency and citizen push-back to protect Americans from privacy-invasive domestic drone use.

You can find the new list here.
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/02/faa-releases-new-list-drone-authorizations-your-local-law-enforcement-agency-map

New Drone Applicant Authorization List
https://www.eff.org/document/2012-faa-list-drone-applicants

EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit
https://www.eff.org/press/releases/eff-demands-answers-about-predator-drone-flights-us

CIA Drone Policy Memo
http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/04/16843014-exclusive-justice-department-memo-reveals-legal-case-for-drone-strikes-on-americans?lite

Cities that have banned drones
http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-drone-regulation-20130205,0,7365434.story

Drone Tracking Ability Technology
http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/02/06/argus_is_could_the_pentagon_s_1_8_gigapixel_drone_camera_be_used_for_domestic.html

EFF / MuckRock Drone Census Report and Reporting Tool
https://www.muckrock.com/drone-census/

As Secretive "Stingray" Surveillance Tool Becomes More Pervasive, Questions Over Its Illegality Increase
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/02/secretive-stingray-surveillance-tool-becomes-more-pervasive-questions-over-its
There are no others, there is only us.
http://FastTadpole.com/
Reply
03-07-2013, 04:30 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-07-2013, 04:31 AM by macfadden.)
#15
RE: Trivializing War - Nintendo Style via Drones
“I never thought I would kill that many people.”
- Brandon Bryant, a drone operator

“Did we just kill a kid?”
- Brandon Bryant, a drone operator
Reply


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