This week, my blog shift towards a topic that I find very interesting that is relevant in today’s military activity, remote sensing. For those that may be unaware of what remote sensing is, it acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object and thus in contrast to on site observation. In modern society, remote sensing is the use of aerial sensor technologies to detect and classify objects on Earth. When I sat in lecture on Thursday, the only topic that came to my mind was military drones. Military drones are used today by the military as either surveillance or for attacks. They are known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) where the aircraft is being controlled by a “pilot” from the ground at a location rather than being in the aircraft itself.
Above are two videos of two different types of drones, the Reaper (above) and the Predator (below). Both UAVs are controlled from the ground but the difference as explained before is the use that each have.
The Predator back in the day were used as a surveillance and reconnaissance mission. The Predator would fly in the sky and observed the citizen and city and look for any suspicious activities. As we enter the 21st century and with 9/11 happening, Predator became a use in other countries to track down terrorists. From the video above, you can see that the Predator was only scouting insurgents and not firing at the people. The predator would later become modified.
On the other hand, the United State Air Force further created a new type of UAV, the Reaper. The Reaper not only was used for surveillance, it was also used as an aircraft that could attack terrorists. Equipped to the Reaper are several missiles and two bombs that can be used in cases of fighting.
Now, these drones have both their advantages and disadvantages but I’m here to bring up the issue of remote sensing in military. Using drones is beneficial in that it saves hundreds of US troops lives. On a political scale, the use of drones tends to favor both sides of the political spectrum. There are those who do not want to see countless numbers of US troops risking their lives to fight a long war on terrorism – the Vietnam War was a war that many citizens did not want – and then those who wants to attack the terrorists. The con to this is that many would be upset as to the number of innocent lives of many foreigners being killed by the hands of drones. The troops have no knowledge of who is innocent and who is part of a terrorist group. This leads to a lot of controversies as to whether we as Americans should be involve in foreign affairs or even the use of drones in these locations.
The drones are a double edged sword. It can protect lives of many US troops but you risk killing many innocent citizens on top of the terrorist groups. I believe that there needs to be a fine balance between these two issues but at the moment, the only thing I can think of is either withdraw the use of drones or use the drones and finish this fight on terrorism ASAP. Here’s an interview of Brandon Bryant, an ex-US pilot who piloted these drones have to say. It is pretty long but it is pretty insightful.
~ Kevin Trieu-Nguyen