December 12, 2014
What have been the chief motivations behind the development and deployment of unmanned technologies and what are the chief drawbacks in this policy?
With the advancements in robotics, unmanned battlefield technology seems to be the military’s newest obsession. This policy of unmanned vehicles came to the attention of the American public with heavy drone use under President Barack Obama’s administration but unmanned technology has been around for decades. The only difference is that now the military is pouring more money into research and development of these types of technologies. The current five-year budget is set at ...view middle of the document...
However, unmanned technologies have some recognized drawbacks. Unmanned technologies such as drones cannot communicate with civilians. In addition, collateral damage not to mention the destabilizing and counterproductive impact these deaths cause on public opinion of the native population may make the operation or mission objective harder to achieve. Another drawback is that unmanned technologies are making war seem more like a video game and less like brutal conflict, which when taking into account the number of civilian lives taken because of drones, makes it seem as if Americans are killing people for fun. The last drawback is the most frightening. If the enemy were to become more tech-savvy or gain hacking capabilities, the worst drawback would be to turn all of the American unmanned technologies against our own military.
When in a policy-maker’s shoes, it is easy to understand the appeal of a technology that promises to save lives. One way that unmanned technologies save lives is that sending a robot into a battlefield is not the same as risking the life of a human soldier on the battlefield. As Sergeant 1st Class Gregory Carroll states, “the cost of losing a robot is not nearly as [high] as losing a trained […] person” (Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Perceptions & Potential, 4). Since the operators of the drones are sitting in a cubicle somewhere in the United States, their life is not in danger and the drone is still carrying out the mission. This is most important when the mission is to eliminate a heavily guarded target. In the case that there actually are “boots on the ground,” these boots are “three times safer from friendly fire attacks when deployed in war zones covered by drones compared with traditional warfare” (Weiner). Drones do not only help our troops but have also reduced the civilian casualties as well. According to the Pakistani Defense Ministry, “citizen fatalities occurred at a rate of 3 percent of total kills” (Weiner).
Unmanned technologies are not affected by emotions. According to Peter Olsthoorn, “a survey done by the US Army Surgeon General’s Office showed that troops who were angry, anxious, had unit members become a casualty, or who had handled dead bodies or human remains were more likely to say they had mistreated civilian non-combatants” (Olsthoorn, 2). Unlike humans, drones will not accidently fire in a tense situation and instead “hold their fire in ambiguous situations” (Olsthoorn, 2). This can be especially beneficial in places such as checkpoints where the tension is already high and any slight movement can cause an accident. With a drone, the situation is being constantly analyzed either by the drone or the controller, many miles away.
Unmanned technologies offer an advantage to conventional aircrafts with regards to monetary costs as well. Drones are significantly cheaper to purchase and maintain. According to Ashley Boyle of the American Security Project,...