Be very afraid of the tiny Bugs
By Joseph Parish
Like a scene from a modern science fiction movie the military is now researching and building miniature unmanned drones. These small insect sized machines are as capable of doing their job as are their full size cousins as they search the skies of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Should we be afraid? Perhaps we should be.
Capable of hiding their true function from viewing eyes these small drones have been designed specifically to replicate the flight mechanics of various birds and insects. Greg Parker, one of the drone engineers claims you can be looking straight at one and not recognize it for its true nature (Shachtman, 2008). Here we have an engineering marvel capable of not merely espionage but competent enough even to engage in killing.
These miniature aerial drones dictate our military actions and are quickly transforming how America fights its wars. America currently has over 7,000 drones in operation with that number expected to double within the years to come. Congress has been petitioned for a budget of $5 billion for drone research and development alone. The Pentagon envisions “spy flies” by the year 2030 equipped with advanced sensors and micro-cameras which are capable of detecting not only enemy locations but nuclear weapons stockpiles as well.
To provide you with an idea of how important drones are now to our military, the CIA used this technology to spy on bin Laden’s compound by video transmitted from the militaries new bat-winged stealth drone known as the RQ-170 Sentinel. This “Beast of Kandahar,” has assisted the CIA in eliminating among others, Ilyas Kashmiri who is Pakistan’s most wanted militant. Drone strikes tend to place an aggressive anti-terrorist campaign on the positioning table when dealing with Al Qaeda.
According to government statistics there have been more than 1,900 insurgents killed by the militaries drone program since 2006. Of recent deployment, our military has employed armed “Predator” drones against the Libyan forces of Muammar el-Qaddafi.
I pose a question at this point as to whether the American drones are de-personalizing our war efforts. It matters not whether the drones are full size machines or the miniature versions being deployed in our current war zones the question in point is are they making us less sensitive to mass killing. Since no human is at risk in their use does it provide a stepping stone for military abuse and nation bullying? Have they turned the fear of war into nothing more than a real life video game? As we see more and more drones being developed we also view an increased military presence in countries with hostilities. Is this then what the future will hold?
There can be no disputing that military lives have been saved as a result of the use of drones. Drones are positively here to stay and their war potential has merely scratched the surface. Earlier this year, we witnessed a preview of a “hummingbird” drone (Cohen, 2011) which is able to fly at a speed of 11 mph and has the agility to successfully land upon a window ledge. Knowing how military technology is abused and often used against the very people who made it possible, I ask should we be afraid. Unfortunately, I must say yes we should.
Copyright @2011 Joseph Parish
Cohen, A. (2011). Monrovia company develops hummingbird-shaped drone. Retrieved from http://www.scpr.org/news/2011/02/17/monrovia-company-develops-hummingbird-shaped-drone/
Shachtman, N. (2008). Army Make Us a Mini-Drone Swarm. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/04/usually-our-dys/