Drone Warfare - Child Victims Of War

Drone Warfare
Drone warfare is part of a military shift
away from conventional armed forces and
declared warfare towards secretive and
unaccountable killing.
Lethal strikes from US drones have
targeted populations in Afghanistan, Iraq,
Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
Drones are not only operated by the US
military, but by the CIA, and by America’s
secret army, the Joint Special Operations
Command (JSOC). (1) There are already
around 60 military and CIA bases around
the world connected to the drone
programme and more are being planned.
The UK has deployed drones in
Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; Israel has
used drones in Syria, Lebanon, Sudan and
Palestine; Iran is currently using
surveillance drones in Iraq, and France in
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs). They are aircraft which are
controlled by pilots on the ground, often
thousands of miles away from the action.
The drones are used for three main
purposes: to support ground troops under
attack by launching missiles and bombs
from the air; giving a 24 hr a day
surveillance of the ground and observing
the ‘pattern of life’; to conduct targeted
killings. Although unmanned as in
‘pilotless’ it can take around 180 people to
maintain a single orbit, the majority being
analysts. (2)
US drones used in Afghanistan, Pakistan
and Iraq are controlled from Creech Air
Force Base in Nevada and the CIA has its
base at Langley, Virginia. The UK RAF
drones squadron has been transferred
from Creech Air Force Base to the RAF
base at Waddington in Lincolnshire. The
first drone strike from the UK took place
on 30th April, 2013.
The Royal Air Force operates General
Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drone which carries
GBU-12 Paveway 11 precision guided
bombs and AGM-14 Hellfire air to surface
missiles. Between 2008 and 2014, the UK
conducted 5,214 sorties in Afghanistan,
piloting both UK and US Reapers, and
launched 510 weapons. Since October 2014
UK Reaper drones have been deployed in
Iraq and in the first few months had
accounted for one third of UK air strikes.
UK drones are also being used for
surveillance over Syria.
The UK is the world’s top drone importer,
taking 55 drones from Israel and six armed
UAVs from the US - which adds up to
more than a third of global deliveries
between 2010 and 2014. (3)
The WK450 Watchkeeper drone, a
collaboration between Thales UK and the
Israeli firm, Elbit, was finally deployed to
Afghanistan in September just a few weeks
before British withdrawal.
surveillance i.e. selecting targets and
observing the ‘pattern of life’ on the
ground. This in itself creates terror
amongst civilian populations who feel
constantly spied upon. This ‘intelligence
gathering’ has already resulted in
hundreds of civilian deaths in Afghanistan
and Pakistan where homes, schools or
entire villages have been targeted. A
recent UN report expressed concern that:
“the mixed use of armed and surveillance
drones has resulted in permanent fear in
psychosocial well-being of children and
hindering the ability of such communities
to protect their children. Reports further
indicate that the use of drones has a wider
impact on children, especially their access
to education.”(4)
Lethal Strikes
Drones are often implicated in targeted
killing, a policy questioned by legal and
human rights groups including Philip
Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions. Targeted killing by the US
increased after 9/11 and has been
conducted not only by drones but by
Apache helicopters and the bombing of
family compounds. CIA drones, which do
most of the assassinations, are reportedly
piloted by civilians, including both
contractors. The list of targets is approved
by senior government personnel, but little
is known about the criteria for inclusion.
The CIA is not required to identify its
target by name and decisions are often
based upon surveillance and ‘pattern of
life’ assessments. (5) The use of drones by
the JSOC is even more secretive. Research
by Reprieve has shown than targeted
killing is very imprecise and many
innocent people are killed. For example,
attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the
deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of
24 November 2014.(6)
Drones are extending the killing fields by
governments may have given tacit
for example, Pakistan and
Yemen. This allows the war on terror to be
conducted against unlimited numbers of
individuals and communities and, as in
Pakistan, is resulting in the justification of
increased numbers of suicide bombings.
(7) New drone bases in Africa are now
extending the shadow wars into that
International Humanitarian Law
Drones may only be used when targets
cannot be disabled or arrested by other
means; civilians should be given adequate
warning of imminent attack; drone attacks
should not target nor affect civilians or
potentially civilian persons or objects
Neither the US nor UK appear to be
adhering to these rules and there is a
worrying lack of transparency. While the
UK has only launched missiles from
drones in declared war zones, its close
intelligence sharing with the US makes it
complicit in US covert drone strikes in
Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Syria.
1.Top Secret America’: A look at the military’s Joint
Special Operations Command, By Dana Priest and
William M. Arkin, September 2
2.Impact On Pace Of War Draws Scrutiny Aviation
Week, July 8 2011 www.aviationweek.com
4. Children and Armed Conflict, Report of the
Secretary-General, 2013
5. Report of the Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, UN
Human Rights Council, 28 May 2010
6. http://www.theguardian.com/usnews/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147
7. Drone bombing correlation to suicide attacks
May 19, 2010 http://www.defence.pk/forums/u-sforeign-affairs/58900-drone-bombing-correlationsuicide-attacks.html
Briefing by:
Child Victims of War - updated 18.3.2015
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07890651970