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

  1. #61
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Israeli drone capability

    Leaving aside the timing of the story, an interesting development reported by the BBC:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/mid...st/8527268.stm

    The Israeli Air Force has introduced a fleet of pilotless aircraft that can stay in the air for nearly a day and fly as far as the Gulf.
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  2. #62
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default S2 thanks

    Regarding my post No.31 on an opinion poll in the FATA, thanks to S-2 for fully identifying the research and I've now found that the polling appeared on another thread far earlier in 2009:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=6801

    That thread has more details on the polling if it helps the discussion.
    davidbfpo

  3. #63
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Leaving aside the timing of the story, an interesting development reported by the BBC:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/mid...st/8527268.stm
    IT was announced 5 years ago!! I've touched the damn thing 4 years ago and walked all around it. This is an old, old story. - You can even see it on Wikipedia 3 years ago.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  4. #64
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Cheers Wilf

    Clearly the BBC editorial team need to be asked - why publicise now this old news? Very odd given the Dubai furore at the moment.
    davidbfpo

  5. #65
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Assessing the drones value

    A short paper The Year of the Drone: An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2010 by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, which appears on: http://counterterrorism.newamerica.n...iedemann_0.pdf

    My web access defences inserted the Privoxy Force text, so readers may need to access the website as:http://counterterrorism.newamerica.ne

    Within I noted:
    In total, between 100 and 150 Westerners are believed to have traveled to the FATA in 2009.25 So far, however, none of these militants has been able to carry out an attack in the West.
    The paper concludes:
    The drone attacks in the tribal regions seem to remain the only viable option for the United States to take on the militants based there who threaten the lives of Afghans, Pakistanis, and Westerners alike.
    davidbfpo

  6. #66
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Ben Macintyre of The Times of London argues that American drone strikes are a de facto policy of state-sponsored assassination. Rather than condemning the practice outright, his commentary in The Times of March 25, 2010 asks that the policy be publicly acknowledged and justified as a legitimate policy instrument.

    President Obama has ordered more drone strikes on terrorist targets in his first year in office than President Bush did in two terms. Of the 99 drone attacks carried out in Pakistan since 2004, 89 occurred after January 2008; last year there were a record 50 drone strikes, up from 31 the year before.

    America’s preferred euphemism is “targeted killing”; on the ground the procedure is called “find, fix and finish”. The Obama Administration prefers the term “elimination” to “assassination”, yet that is what is taking place.

    The CIA’s targeted killings may be justified on legal, ethical and practical grounds: if a gun it pointed at your head, violent self-defence is a reasonable response. The problem is that the Obama Administration has not sought to justify, or even properly acknowledge, its tactics, just as Israel has neither admitted nor defended the al-Mabhouh hit.
    The entire piece can be read by clicking here.

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    Default IF one does not believe

    that we are at war with a number of groups (AQ-Taliban as a generalized tag), one finds it very difficult to justify direct action whether via a drone or a .338 Lapua Mag. Targeted killing cannot be justified under a pure law enforcement approach. It can be and is justified under Military Law.

  8. #68
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    Ben Macintyre of The Times of London argues that American drone strikes are a de facto policy of state-sponsored assassination. Rather than condemning the practice outright, his commentary in The Times of March 25, 2010 asks that the policy be publicly acknowledged and justified as a legitimate policy instrument.
    This is like listening to an 8-year old (Ben Macintyre) discuss sex. The object in war is to kill the enemy. Is it "ethical" to kill the enemy? War is done by states, against states, or within states (of societies/groups constituted as such). War is killing for political purpose. Is that ethical?

    Politics is what people believe to be ethical, so War is always ethical in the eyes of those setting forth the policy.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Default A timely response from the Obama Administration

    HT to NRO's Weekend "The Corner", Friday, March 26, 2010, Harold Koh on Targeted Killing of Terrorists, by Ed Whelan, re: yesterday's speech to the American Society of International Law by Harold Koh, DoS Legal Adviser.

    From the ASIL Press Release, as summed by NRO:

    [I]t is the considered view of this administration…that targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war….As recent events have shown, Al Qaeda has not abandoned its intent to attack the United States, and indeed continues to attack us. Thus, in this ongoing armed conflict, the United States has the authority under international law, and the responsibility to its citizens, to use force, including lethal force, to defend itself, including by targeting persons such as high-level al Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks….[T]his administration has carefully reviewed the rules governing targeting operations to ensure that these operations are conducted consistently with law of war principles, including:

    - First, the principle of distinction, which requires that attacks be limited to military objectives and that civilians or civilian objects shall not be the object of the attack; and

    - Second, the principle of proportionality, which prohibits attacks that may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

    In U.S. operations against al Qaeda and its associated forces – including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles – great care is taken to adhere to these principles in both planning and execution, to ensure that only legitimate objectives are targeted and that collateral damage is kept to a minimum.…

    [S]ome have suggested that the very use of targeting a particular leader of an enemy force in an armed conflict must violate the laws of war. But individuals who are part of such an armed group are belligerent and, therefore, lawful targets under international law….[S]ome have challenged the very use of advanced weapons systems, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, for lethal operations. But the rules that govern targeting do not turn on the type of weapon system involved, and there is no prohibition under the laws of war on the use of technologically advanced weapons systems in armed conflict – such as pilotless aircraft or so-called smart bombs – so long as they are employed in conformity with applicable laws of war….[S]ome have argued that the use of lethal force against specific individuals fails to provide adequate process and thus constitutes unlawful extrajudicial killing. But a state that is engaged in armed conflict or in legitimate self-defense is not required to provide targets with legal process before the state may use lethal force. Our procedures and practices for identifying lawful targets are extremely robust, and advanced technologies have helped to make our targeting even more precise. In my experience, the principles of distinction and proportionality that the United States applies are not just recited at meeting. They are implemented rigorously throughout the planning and execution of lethal operations to ensure that such operations are conducted in accordance with all applicable law….Fourth and finally, some have argued that our targeting practices violate domestic law, in particular, the long-standing domestic ban on assassinations. But under domestic law, the use of lawful weapons systems – consistent with the applicable laws of wear – for precision targeting of specific high-level belligerent leaders when acting in self-defense or during an armed conflict is not unlawful, and hence does not constitute ‘assassination.’
    The full text is at The Obama Administration and International Law (Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law, Washington, DC, March 25, 2010).

    This speech surprised some because of Mr Koh's prior views (before entering the Obama Administration). E.g., see Kenneth Anderson, Bleg for Harold Koh’s ASIL Speech, vs. Kenneth Anderson, Predators Over Pakistan.

    Both legal and practical aspects are covered more fully in this thread, HVTs/Political Assassination, and its many links.

    Regards

    Mike

  10. #70
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Debating drones

    Hat tip to Abu M. A report on a debate at the International Spy Museum, Washington DC and in particular Bruce Riedel's comments.

    Link:http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawam...e-strikes.html
    davidbfpo

  11. #71
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Ingenuity or sales talk?

    An odd story in the UK, from a Russian company:
    Defence experts are warning of a new danger of ballistic weapons proliferation after a Russian company started marketing a cruise missile that can be launched from a shipping container.
    Link, with animated video:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...e-bidders.html
    davidbfpo

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    Definitely odd especially these so called defence experts? Cruise misiles have been launched from containers for decades.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by GI Zhou View Post
    Definitely odd especially these so called defence experts? Cruise misiles have been launched from containers for decades.
    Concur. I know both Rob Hewson and Reuben Johnson, very well. The problem is Robert Harding's is looking for a story that is entertaining, not factual.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  14. #74
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I had a different take on the article. The technology is not new but it is becoming more affordable to 3rd world countries and/or non-country terrorist organizations. If the Russian company is willing to sell it to them.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Club in a box

    Very Toyota Horde!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  16. #76
    Council Member OccamsRazor's Avatar
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    Default Domestic Due Process Leading to Overseas Drone Strikes?

    Yes - I suppose that's a rather broad hypothesis, but I hope that I explain my stance a bit clearer here.

    Also, if you haven't checked out Current Intelligence, it has some interesting analysis that tends to complement SWJ.

    I'd be interested in hearing any feedback on the article.

    Bill
    "All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it." -- H.L. Mencken

  17. #77
    Council Member Polarbear1605's Avatar
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    Default Ewwww! I like this!

    I agree with what you state but in my opinion we are getting back to a fundamental debate that either we use the Rules of Law or the Laws of War in the War on Terrorism. Recognizing that neither is a perfect fit, you have to make a call and once you make that call you adapt that system (work to change either the Rules of Law or the Laws of War) to the War on Terrorism. To a certain extent, I think we saw this immediately after 9/11 in the Bush administration. They picked the Laws of War and then extended the Executive Branch powers in an attempt to cover some of those gaps. Of course the SCOTUS, pulled those powers back or limited them in a couple of SCOTUS Cases (e.g. - Whoever-vs- Rumsfeld). Good examples of the Executive and Judicial Branch working in contention … like it should. I have also seen arguments that the Bush administration was not consistent with this approach and agree. Of course then we have Congress and our two party system. Picking one of two non-perfect systems means the opposition party will always rail against the picked system on the basis of the other. For example, when a drone pilot kills a bad guy and “others” a case for murder (elements of proof) can be made using the Rules of Law. Intent is certainly there along with a plan and bodies. Under the Laws of War both the target and the collateral damage can be justified under the principle of military necessity.

  18. #78
    Council Member OccamsRazor's Avatar
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    I think in many ways you're correct. You can probably make this fit into that construct - the "which rule of law do we use" debate.

    If anything, I think it's an interesting butterfly effect. You make certain declarations and actions about due process domestically, and all of a sudden you don't have any type of working system for foreign HVTs.

    What's an administration to do? Keep calm and carry on - fire up the drones - much like the Bush administration did with Gitmo, until it reared up and backfired in the second half of his presidency.

    I think it's likely that this may do the same.
    "All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it." -- H.L. Mencken

  19. #79
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I think Drone Strikes are Maneuver Warfare, and like Colonel Wyly says "War has no truck with rules" it is just a fight for survival.

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    Default Hello O'Razor and Da Big Furry One

    I can't answer the question asked (as the title of this thread) because I don't have the foggiest idea what rationales drive the Obama administration to do what they do.

    I can say firstly the drone strikes (and implicitly all direct action taken against HVTs) are based on the Laws of War. See this post, A timely response from the Obama Administration, in the Drone Paradox thread. Just a snip from LA Koh's statement:

    [I]t is the considered view of this administration…that targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war….As recent events have shown, Al Qaeda has not abandoned its intent to attack the United States, and indeed continues to attack us. Thus, in this ongoing armed conflict, the United States has the authority under international law, and the responsibility to its citizens, to use force, including lethal force, to defend itself, including by targeting persons such as high-level al Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks….[T]his administration has carefully reviewed the rules governing targeting operations to ensure that these operations are conducted consistently with law of war principles, including:

    - First, the principle of distinction, which requires that attacks be limited to military objectives and that civilians or civilian objects shall not be the object of the attack; and

    - Second, the principle of proportionality, which prohibits attacks that may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

    In U.S. operations against al Qaeda and its associated forces – including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles – great care is taken to adhere to these principles in both planning and execution, to ensure that only legitimate objectives are targeted and that collateral damage is kept to a minimum.…
    Both legal and practical aspects are covered more fully in this thread, HVTs/Political Assassination, and its many links.

    I can say secondly that our detention policy is also firmly based on the Laws of War - e.g., take a look at these posts in the War Crimes thread (all on page 12):

    222 - Obama DoJ "refines" the standard for detention !!

    223 - Statements about the new standard ...

    225 - DoJ Memorandum re: detention

    226 - continuation of DoJ memo ...

    227 - Well, George, if you are asking my opinion on this ...

    The key statement in this package is from #226:

    Moreover, the Commentary to Additional Protocol II draws a clear distinction between individuals who belong to armed forces or armed groups (who may be attacked and, a fortiori, captured at any time) and civilians (who are immune from direct attack except when directly participating in hostilities). That Commentary provides that “[t]hose who belong to armed forces or armed groups may be attacked at any time.” See ICRC, Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 Aug. 1949 and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Additional Protocol II), ¶ 4789.
    (emphasis added). Thus, both direct actions and detentions have the AUMF as their base and are clearly based on the Laws of War.

    The Rule of Law (domestic laws, whether in the US or in foreign countries) has nothing to do with either direct actions or detentions.

    How did the Rule of Law get into this discussion ? Because folks in the Bush II and Obama administration wanted, or felt it necessary, to go beyond detention and prosecute crimininally. The criminal prosecution approach (going back to the Clinton administration) could go either of two routes: military commissions (Bush II prime choice) or Federal courts (Obama prime choice). In either, the procedures (due process) are spelled out.

    Regards

    Mike

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