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Thread: Using drones: principles, tactics and results (amended title)

  1. #201
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Living Under Drones: new report

    A new report by Stanford & NYU, so its own website and much to read.

    This not an impartial report from the BBC:
    London-based human rights group Reprieve, which commissioned the report, said it was taking legal action in an attempt to force the UK government to clarify its policy of sharing intelligence in support of the CIA's drone-strikes.
    A very short account:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19704981

    This probably gives an introduction:
    In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false.
    Four points and a recommendation:
    First, while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.

    Second, US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.

    Third, publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best.

    Fourth, current US targeted killings and drone strike practices undermine respect for the rule of law and international legal protections and may set dangerous precedents.

    In light of these concerns, this report recommends that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits.
    Link:http://livingunderdrones.org/

    A commentary by Glenn Greenwald:https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...-drone-deaths?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2018 at 05:07 PM. Reason: Add last link
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  2. #202
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    Default Going private near you - the future drone?

    A short article, with many short videos, 'Everyone Who Wants a Drone Will Have One Soon':http://www.theatlantic.com/technolog...e-soon/262882/

    The focus is on the 'home front':
    The upshot of all this is that it's not going to take much to procure a drone and do anything you want with it. And if you try to outlaw them, then, well, only the outlaws (and government) will have drones.....Drones will make traditional fences as obsolete as gunpowder and cannons made city walls.
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  3. #203
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    JMM has added several posts on the separate thread that watches HVT policy under Obama:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...t=13239&page=7

    Hat tip to Abu M for the comments by 'Drunken Predator Drone', where this sentence struck me:
    Sovereignty is the inherent right to control your territory, and that right isn’t solely dictated by your capacity to do so
    Link:http://gunpowderandlead.org/author/drunkenpredator/

    'Drunken Predator Drone' writes in the context of Pakistan. What would happen if another 'ally' of the USA was repeatedly hit by drone strikes? Say Italy, where the US pursued a suspect AQ member and illegally rendered him.

    I have long thought the use of an apparent drone only approach / tactic primarily, if not only gains time through the impact of violent, leadership decapitation. Often there appears to be no other US tactic in use.

    Clint Watts again asks what are the alternatives to drones in a wider CT strategy:http://selectedwisdom.com/?p=813

    Clint was writing after an extensive WaPo article, mainly on the targeting process last week:http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...10/23/4789b2ae
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-28-2012 at 08:01 PM.
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  4. #204
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Drone proliferation: a commentary

    A column by Professor Paul Rogers:
    The United States and Israel see armed drones as a valuable tool of "remote control". But Iran, China and Russia - and non-state actors - are working to achieve their own capacity. The emerging era is one of drone proliferation.
    Near the end:
    If the United States can persist with targeted assassinations in northwest Pakistan, acting with seeming impunity as it rewrites the laws of war, and if Israel can do the same in Gaza - why should other countries not follow suit?
    Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-ro...s-new-blowback

    Interesting points made over the Iranian drone that flew from the Lebanon, down to Gaza and then across the Negev Desert before being shot down.
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  5. #205
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Here is a story about the latest victim of a drone strike in Yemen.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/11/2...ld_News_Update

    It is interesting because according to the story it would have been quite easy to pick the guy up. He was living in his home town which was not very far from the capital of Yemen. He had been arrested before and in 2011 had served as a go between between the gov and some rebels of some kind. And he was killed the day after the election.

    So we kill a guy we could have probably picked up the day after the election. We are not covering ourselves with glory here. The way my cynical eye sees it either 1. We got played by somebody in the Yemeni gov to knock off an enemy for them. 2. Some of our guys are really lazy and decided it would be too much trouble to drive someplace and grab the guy. Or 3. The powers that be inside the beltway needed a drone kill to make a statement right after the election and this guy was easy to get.

    The more I read about all this drone/Tantalus device killing the more I think this will ultimately be very bad for us.

    (Tantalus device is a reference to...?)
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  6. #206
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Default

    or
    4. Capturing is too much hassle because there's no evidence or even only crime to justify detention.

  7. #207
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    or
    4. Capturing is too much hassle because there's no evidence or even only crime to justify detention.
    Indeed. Which means we are killing people just on general principles. This is not going to end well.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  8. #208
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Carl,

    Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert and Clint Watts have been "ding, dong" on Twitter on this latest drone strike in Yemen. I posted Gregory's recent comments on US intell in Yemen, see Post 74:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...t=12784&page=4
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  9. #209
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    Default The top terror takedowns of 2012: 80% due to drones

    The thread title includes results, so here are some.

    Notwithstanding the Twitter and elsewhere traffic on the recent spike in drone strikes in the Yemen; now with a third failure to get their target - there is this CNN roundup:http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/1...12/?hpt=hp_bn2

    It shows ten deaths, with seven attributed to drones, although I'd add one in the Phillipines which few thought the Phill. AF did IIRC.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-01-2013 at 05:34 PM.
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  10. #210
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The "disposition matrix"

    ..a look at U.S. actions in the past makes it possible to reverse-engineer a rough decision tree for certain types of suspects.
    Link:http://www.theatlantic.com/misc/disposition-matrix/
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    Default A good summary by Byman-Wittes

    If the answer to their question #10 ("Is US capture plausible?") is negative, then we proceed to either a personality strike or a signature strike as hypothesized here, One Strike You're Out ??

    Regards

    Mike

  12. #212
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Wasn't there some propaganda-only guy killed in Yemen a year or so ago?
    That case would not fit into this scheme at all.

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    Default

    btw, re the latest high profile victim, Mulla Nazir: http://www.brownpundits.com/2013/01/...-nazir-speaks/

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    Default Samir Khan

    (wiki), perhaps - who picked the wrong traveling companion at the wrong time ?

    As to "propaganda-only", the burden of proving that assertion lies on its proponent. But, one must admit that concept is immaterial here because no trier of facts is authorized to decide whether the burden is met or not. Thus, discussion is usually a waste of time.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 01-05-2013 at 03:11 AM.

  15. #215
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Mini helicopter drone for UK troops in Afghanistan

    A BBC report, with a photo:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21313323

    The Norwegian-designed Black Hornet Nano features a tiny camera and relays video and still images to a handheld control terminal. It measures about 10cm by 2.5cm (4in by 1in) and weighs 16g (0.6oz). ....Powered by battery, the Black Hornet is reported to have a range of about half a mile (800m), a top speed of 22mph (35kph) and can fly for up to 30 minutes.
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  16. #216
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    Default Americans: If You Don’t Want To Get Killed By A Drone, Avoid These 4 Things!

    SWC members: I made a post at my blog today reference the debate over the use of drones, which has reached its zenith this week. I've cross-posted some of the points here from the entire post and would enjoy the intelligence discussion of all those wise folks here at Small Wars. Here's the introduction and the policy recommendations are at this link: http://selectedwisdom.com/?p=965

    "The much anticipated Department of Justice memo authorizing the use of drones to target Americans....scratch that. A white paper from the Department of Justice outlined what might be the U.S. government's position with regards to the killing of Americans via the use of unmanned drones.

    Twitter erupted with claims that this memo provided the President unprecedented powers to kill any American, anywhere, for any reason. Well, I read the memo, and I'm fairly certain that is not what it said. (I think @blakehounshell was the first to point this out.) However, in reading this memo, which may or may not exactly detail U.S. policy, I did identify four important points for Americans if they want to avoid getting a warhead to the forehead.

    Americans, if you are trying to avoid being transformed into a red mist;

    --Don't join al Qaeda outside the United States- Who knew that if you are an American and you decide to join al Qaeda that you might get smacked in the face with a Hellfire missile. Unbelievable, the nerve of the American government to hold a grudge for so long. Can you believe the Executive Branch would be willing to kill members of the terrorist organization, including American members, that committed the largest terrorist attack in history on American soil? Absolutely absurd! However, simply being a member of al Qaeda won't necessarily get a drone sortie on your hut.

    --Don't become a Senior Leader of al Qaeda overseas - Even more shocking, if you are an American citizen and you join al Qaeda, and then later, you become one of the senior leaders of that organization, you might just wake up to a mouthful of hell's fire! Unbelievable! To think that you could join a terrorist group and openly advocate for the killing of your fellow citizens, and then be so good at promoting terrorism against your homeland that you would be honored by al Qaeda with a promotion....to think you could then be killed for that promotion. I can't imagine. Who are these barbarians?

    --Don't actively plan to kill or actually attempt to kill Americans - It turns out that if you are an American and you join al Qaeda overseas and then you plan to kill or actually try to kill Americans, you could get shot in the face with a missile. Ridiculous. What right do U.S. citizens have to try and prevent terrorists from attacking them? Surely if you join al Qaeda, recruit a guy off the Internet, and then help wrap his junk with explosives before setting him off to take down an airplane over Detroit on Christmas day, you should be allowed to hide out overseas and enjoy another opportunity to try a better, more sophisticated attack against the U.S., right?

    -- Don't make it difficult to be arrested - This is where the white paper gets completely ludicrous. It seems that if the U.S. government cannot figure out a way to arrest you since you've joined al Qaeda, been promoted, tried to attack the U.S. and have been hiding in a failed state with no functioning law enforcement, they will then maybe send a drone after you. How insulting! How is this possibly fair to American terrorists that join al Qaeda?

    Unlike the folks I witnessed on Twitter suggesting this document provides the President unbounded power to kill Americans, I see the inverse - a legal opinion particularly crafted to pursue one Anwar al-Awlaki. As has been seen in other public domains, Awlaki, an American, served as the head of external operations for AQAP in Yemen (a senior leader position), was being considered for promotion to head of AQAP (a more senior position) and was actively participating in plots to attack the U.S. (See Underwear Bomber). This uniquely qualifies him for targeting according to this white paper. The question should now be: what other Americans could be legally targeted by the U.S.? Adam Gadahn maybe? The list seems to be fairly short and not expansive in the way suggested by drone conspiracy theorists.

    Drone critics - what do you want? - see policy recommendations here: http://selectedwisdom.com/?p=965

  17. #217
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    Default Matrices

    My take (strictly hypothetical), from here.

    Strikes (whether drone or other air, or boots on the ground direct actions) can be divided into two catagories, depending on what is known and unknown re: the target.

    A "personality strike" is one targeting an individual whose identity and past and current activities are known. When the strike is conducted, those making the decision to engage are primarily concerned with (1) the degree of confidence that the particular individual is present; and (2) the extent of collateral damage that can be tolerated. UBL and al-Awlaki, for example.

    A "signature strike" is one targeting an individual (or individuals) whose precise identity is (precise identities are) unknown or uncertain. Instead, the individual or individuals must match a pre-identified “signature” (a behavior set) that the targeter links to terrorist activity or association.

    I expect we'll be hearing much more about "signature strikes".

    The signature strike matrix below is strictly hypothetical (presented as a quote only to set it off):

    A Signature Strike Matrix

    (1) Individual(s) Planning Attacks

    (2) Individual(s) Transporting Weapons (not incl. legal weapons ?)

    (3) Individual(s) Handling Explosives

    (4) Individual(s) in Terrorist Compound

    (5) Individual(s) in Terrorist Training Camp

    (6) Military-Age Male(s) in Known Terrorist Activity Area

    (7) Individual(s) Consorting with Known Militants

    (8) Armed Man(Men) Traveling (on foot)(in vehicles) in Terrorist-Controlled Area

    (9) Individual(s) in Suspicious Camp located in Terrorist-Controlled Area

    (10) Group(s) of Armed Men Traveling Toward Conflict Area

    (11) Individual(s) Operating a Terrorist Training Camp

    (12) Individual(s) Training to Join a Terrorist Group

    (13) Individual(s) Facilitating a Terrorist Group

    (14) Individual(s) in Terrorist Rest Facilities (Safe Houses)
    Discuss, if you wish, the plusses and minuses of the matrix as written

    - as well as

    (1) the test you would use to include a factor (e.g., "more likely than not", "reasonable certainty", "high degree of confidence", etc., etc.);

    (2) whether you would include or exclude each factor separately without considering the other factors (strict "must stand on its own" test); or would you aggregate all factors supported by some evidence, even where each such factor would not "stand on its own" ("conditional probability"); and

    (3) whether other factors should be added to the matrix.

    This doesn't require legalese.

    Regards

    Mike

  18. #218
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    Default The issue of both signature and personality strikes

    Hi Mike--

    Long time no see. I think you defined both pretty well and have a reasonable matrix for signature strikes. to me however, the issue is not one of legality but rather one of effectiveness, Both kinds of drone strikes suffer in two areas:

    Dead insurgents or terrorists who have been blown to bits cannot provide much if any intelligence. You certainly can't ask them any question so there is absoulutely no HUMINT to be gained.

    Second. there is every likelihood that these strikes - both kinds - will kill some civilian non-combatants and both combatants and non-combatants heve friends and relatives who are sure to be pissed off. so, the question then is how many more bad guys do you create with each drone strike? Do you kill more than you create? or the reverse? In other words, what are the costs v. the benefits of the program - on both issues?

    I have no moral qualms about killing bad guys with drones and even with some of what we euphemistically call collateral damage. But I do think that this tool can be and has been very over used to our detriment.

    Cheers

    JohnT

    PS The prior analysis of how not to get killed by a drone if you are an American is spot on - with the qualification in #1 that if you join AQ in the US you should not leave the country and should surrender to the FBI when they com knocking on your door. (No hellfires here but certainly a hail of bullets is most likely. )

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    Default Hey Brother Fishel,

    I've stayed in plain sight.

    from JTF

    Dead insurgents or terrorists who have been blown to bits cannot provide much if any intelligence. You certainly can't ask them any question so there is absoulutely no HUMINT to be gained.

    Second. there is every likelihood that these strikes - both kinds - will kill some civilian non-combatants and both combatants and non-combatants heve friends and relatives who are sure to be pissed off. so, the question then is how many more bad guys do you create with each drone strike? Do you kill more than you create? or the reverse? In other words, what are the costs v. the benefits of the program - on both issues?

    I have no moral qualms about killing bad guys with drones and even with some of what we euphemistically call collateral damage. But I do think that this tool can be and has been very over used to our detriment.
    Agree; except as to this: "... and has been very over used to our detriment." The "jury" is not yet in on that.

    As far as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism is concerned, the first drone strike was "to our detriment" - as if that "esteemed body" gives a damn.

    Regards

    Mike

    PS to PS: "hail of bullets" - not probable, but I'll admit the possibility (e.g., Ruby Ridge). Almost all FBI arrests of terrs in US have gone off without bullets flying (several hundred cases).

  20. #220
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    Default Which is it? - "Drones Kill al Qaeda" or "Drones Make al Qaeda" - Cast Your Vote!

    The past week has brought a flurry of debate sprinkled with intermittent anger over how the U.S. utilizes unmanned, armed drones to target al Qaeda members around the world. After I wrote the post, “Americans: If you don’t want to get killed by a drone, avoid these 4 things!”, I received a flurry of hate mail (of which a fraction actually dealt with drone policy) and some positive discussion. The debate on whether the U.S. should use drones to kill al Qaeda members hinges on two separate points of contention.

    --Legal/Moral: Can the U.S. legally use drones to engage al Qaeda members (American or non-American)?
    --Efficacy: Do drones eliminate more al Qaeda members than they create?

    Today, I’ll focus on the latter question and save the legal/moral/ethical debate for later.

    So are drones effective? Osama Bin Laden noted in his internal documents the devastating impact of drones on al Qaeda in Pakistan. However, Gregory Johnsen, Jeremy Scahill and other Yemen journalists/analysts see drones not as the great killer of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) but instead the primary radicalizing force for new recruits to AQAP. So which is it? Do drones eliminate al Qaeda or do they create al Qaeda? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Please cast your votes on the efficacy of drones and the results should show up after you cast your ballot. Note, this question is only about the efficacy of drones – save your moral/legal arguments for later. And no hedging! Is it worth continuing drone operations or not? Don’t qualify with “Sometimes” or “Depends on the conditions”. Assume that regardless of the context, the drone program will be conducted in roughly the same way with the same results.

    Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5JGSVMC

    And here is the link to the post at Selected Wisdom: http://selectedwisdom.com/?p=977

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