A former Air Force drone operator who says he participated in missions that killed more than 1,600 people remembers watching one of the first victims bleed to death.
Brandon Bryant says he was sitting in a chair at a Nevada Air Force base operating the camera when his team fired two missiles from their drone at three men walking down a road halfway around the world in Afghanistan. The missiles hit all three targets, and Bryant says he could see the aftermath on his computer screen – including thermal images of a growing puddle of hot blood.
“The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,” he recalled. “And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” As the man died his body grew cold, said Bryant, and his thermal image changed until he became the same color as the ground.
“I can see every little pixel,” said Bryant, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, “if I just close my eyes.”
This is one of the most chilling things I’ve read in a long time. This is an important account. At one point, he says he realized that this isn’t a “video game” anymore. I think that statement provides some insight into the intersection of violent video games, the military’s role in video games over the years, and the future of warfare and how it’s moving toward being more remotely controlled and abstracted. I have some initial ideas for a creative project involving all this that I hope to work on eventually.
The North Korean gov. should just go ahead and round up all of its non-military citizens in one place around a few of their nukes, and broadcast the hostage crisis to the world, because that would be a more effective negotiation/threat than threatening to shoot missiles everywhere. That’s what they’re essentially doing anyway—holding their people hostage, and assuring their destruction if they did follow through on threats to launch nuclear payloads.
I would just keep calling the North Korean government’s bluff and let them ineffectually rage out until they get tired and realize nobody cares. Don’t feed the trolls, world. But it would be nice to give their malnourished people some food, somehow.
I read stuff like this, and I re-experience this kind of shame of living in and being associated with a country that can (and actually wants to) go around the world and screw people over with relative impunity. The Iraq War was a joke—like a sick, fucked-up joke. I remember watching the bombardments live, and the line of tanks streaming into Iraq with embedded reporters, and feeling like ‘what the hell is going on here?’ And it’s just a nightmare that gets worse and worse, a quagmire, a Vietnam so ironically and painfully soon after people thought that that specific history would serve as a deterrent and an enduring monument to the United States’ sins.
Severely outgunned, the battle was going badly. It seemed like certain defeat. Then, from out of the crowd stepped a young girl of around 14. She grabbed the pole from the fallen flag-bearer, held it up, and called out to her brothers-in-arms to fight to the death.
Though she was shot dead, her rallying cry was seen as the turning point of the 1880 Battle of Maiwand; a triumph for the Afghans, and a devastating loss for British forces during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Her name was Malalai, Afghanistan’s Joan of Arc.
“If you go back into history, before we only had one female soldier named Malalai, but now I have a lot of Malalais in my Special Forces,” said Colonel Jalauddin Yaftaly, who heads the elite units. There are more than 1,000 women in the Afghan Army – and about two dozen have made it into Special Forces.
That war against tyranny you’re so worried about being armed so you can win? You lost a long, long time ago.
The government is not trying to kill you; if it was, you’d already be dead. Take off your tinfoil hats and stop stockpiling handguns.
Heh, for real. I mean, let’s say for some reason we have to go all Revolutionary War version 2.0. If it were legit and popular, it would probably evolve like other such recent or ongoing wars, like in Libya and Syria, were some of those weapons on the left are procured by defections and capturing them in battles (and some black market importing/smuggling). The Libyans hardly had anything at the beginning. They retrofitted ancient anti-aircraft guns on to the backs of normal trucks that could barely support their weight. I even remember Richard Engel coming across one revolutionary early on who had a toy gun as a bluffing (or psychological?) factor because there were not enough real guns to go around! They got enough weapons in the end, but more importantly it was their cause and determination that saw them through, and not a pre-war, personal stockpile of small arms. Also, there’s one key weapon missing from this chart: information networks.
Should women be allowed in combat? This question is a no-brainer if you ask my (almost) 6-year-old daughter. The issue came up while we were watching the Disney movie Mulan last week.
(Photo credit: Walt Disney)
I dunno. One of the last things I’d want my hypothetical kids doing is growing up to fight and kill other humans—to even think it is a necessary or unavoidable consequence of humanity. This is something that transcends gender issues. If they’re gonna fight something, then let it be invading aliens. :P But I could foresee a time when even that would not be the solution. Violence, hostility, conflict: it all seems so embedded in the fabric of reality. But I think one of the fundamental aspects of humanity (or perhaps any sentient and conscious life) is its destiny to transcend, step-wise, the limitations of the world it was forged in.
You know, I’ve been having this odd thought recently. It’s the idea that maybe a looming asteroid impact might not be such a bad thing. I think humanity needs a good kick to the stomach, to gain global perspective, and come together to neutralize a common threat (the creeping background threat of climate change ain’t doin’ it). Kinda like Armageddon (though awful it may be), but more global and inclusive. Oh, and less Hollywood, MORE SCIENCE.
AlphaDog, a four-legged robot being jointly developed by DARPA and Boston Dynamics. It can carry up to 400 pounds across rough, up-and-down terrain for 20 miles or so, topping out at 5 mph right now. It can also follow a leader via a beacon, and it can be given some commands. They hope to eventually make AlphaDog quieter, faster, and, in time, give it the ability to decipher voice commands, among other things.
Another baby-step towards a humanless battlefield? That is until the robots/avatars push past the lines and into civilian areas I guess. :/
A Syrian rebel covers a fellow fighter carrying the body of his brother, killed during a battle in the Saif al-Dawla district of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, amid heavy street fighting between opposition and government forces on August 29, 2012. Zac Baillie / AFP - Getty Images
I called an old friend the other day, dialing the number somewhat sheepishly. He’s a senior adviser to the Iraq government and I knew what to expect when he answered.
First, he reprimanded me for not calling enough and hardly visiting. I’ve been away too long. You can’t do that, not to your friends. What’s so difficult about calling? he asked.
I apologized, asked about his children, his health, if he’s having success in quitting smoking, and offered the only excuse I could think of: “I’ve been busy with the Arab Spring.”
“The Arab Spring?” he said. “What’s that? There’s no Arab Spring anymore. That’s over. It is now a big struggle for power.”
He may have been acting like an insistent grandmother, but he was right. The Arab Spring is over. The days of the protesters with laptops and BlackBerrys in Tahrir Square are long gone.
Instead, a much bigger struggle is underway, one that goes back centuries that is both a regional battle for dominance and an epic tug of war between Sunnis and Shiites for control of the Middle East and the Prophet Muhammad’s legacy.
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. “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.”
‘a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation’
Redditor Lycerius has been playing the same game of Civilization II, on and off, for almost a decade, and describes what little world remains as “a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation.”
After “dozens” of nuclear wars, just three nations - the Celts, Vikings, and Americans - remain. Ninety per cent of the world’s peak population has died. A single war has raged for 1700 years, with cease fires only lasting as long as the next turn.
This constant conflict forced Lycerius to ditch democracy 1000 years ago. “The Senate would always overrule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did,” he writes. “This would delay my attack, and render my turn and plans useless. And of course, the Vikings would then break the ceasefire anyway.”
Lycerius seeks help. He sees no way out of a war that has raged for two millennia, where only three nations of equal, overwhelming power remain. He’s going to upload his save file, with his fellow Redditors trying different strategies to see if it’s truly possible to end the war, and restore order to his decade-old world. To get involved, follow the source link below.
The Pentagon is turning to the private sector, universities and even computer-game companies as part of an ambitious effort to develop technologies to improve its cyberwarfare capabilities, launch effective attacks and withstand the likely retaliation.
The previously unreported effort, which its authors have dubbed Plan X, marks a new phase in the nation’s fledgling military operations in cyberspace, which have focused more on protecting the Defense Department’s computer systems than on disrupting or destroying those of enemies.
Poison ivy/oak/sumac, 95˚F+ humid weather, copious amounts of UV-B radiation, seed ticks, deer ticks, trombiculidae (chiggers), copperheads (snake), rattlesnakes, yellow jackets, hornets, mosquitoes, fire ants, gnats, and a vast assortment of briars and other spiky things. Those are the lovely things I’m encountering or anticipate encountering this year since I started doing survey work. Today, I encountered the last listed thing and got a gash extending across my entire posterior right forearm below the wrist. Try as Nature may, a jungle of briars did not deter me (nor did the gnats buzzing in my ear when I was trying to hold a prism rod deathly still). On the contrary, the sight of my own blood triggered an innate resolve.
It’s interesting that the world is the way it is—that survival and competition seems to be the default mode of operation and is fundamentally woven into the fabric of reality. Based on our best science, we wouldn’t be here on the Internet griping about one thing or another if life had not waged war in the heart of nature.
I’ve probably made a similar observation before, but it feels necessary to reiterate every now and again.