Drone Casualties Released in a DNI Report

Recently, the White House released a report on estimated casualties from the USA’s campaign of targeted assassination against jihadi terrorist groups. Compiled by the Director of National Intelligence’s office, the analysis concludes that strikes outside of war zones have killed roughly 2,500 terrorists or enemy combatants, and somewhere between 64 and 116 non-combatants.

Naturally, some on the left are already wailing about how inaccurate these figures are. The urban myth that particularly annoys me is the belief that anyone killed by a strike is automatically classified as an enemy combatant. No, they’re not; that’s just rubbish and I’m getting sick of hearing it, but then who expects honesty from the loudmouthed left these days?

What’s significant is that the US government has released this information at all. In my opinion, it’s a reaction to the continued demonization of strikes by UAVs and, to a lesser extent, cruise missiles (which are also included in the report). The myth that “drone strikes” are somehow different from strikes by manned aircraft just refuses to die for some reason – many people are still convinced that they’re illegal, even a war crime.

ReaperThere’s also a widespread belief that “drones” are uniquely devastating and indiscriminate, and I think it’s this nonsense that the report has been aimed at. The fact is that, apart from the sniper rifle, no other weapon system in the history of warfare is as precise, discriminating or less likely to cause collateral damage than a Hellfire or Small Diameter Bomb launched from a UAV. These things aren’t just flying around randomly, blowing stuff up at the whim of the operator. Strikes are carefully planned based on intelligence information, approved by multiple levels of legal and political advisers, and then conducted under close supervision right up to the point of weapon release – which is only authorized if the commander is confident it can be done safely.

Compared to almost any other way of killing the west’s enemies, a UAV is tailor made to minimize civilian casualties. The facts speak for themselves. Somewhere between 2,372 and 2,581 terrorists have been sent to paradise by remotely controlled strikes, and at most 116 civilians have died. Contrast that to conventional weapons. When my own country’s air force carried out the famous Dambusters raid in May of 1943, the chaos unleashed by the Upkeep weapons wiped away 1,600 non-combatants in a few minutes – and, even today, that’s rightly seen as acceptable and proportionate to the number of combatants killed.

In fact, let’s contrast the toll taken by UAVs to what the people who’re being targeted routinely do. At least 120 Shi’ite Baghdad residents died last Saturday in an ISIS car bomb attack. They weren’t even collateral damage; they were the target of the attack – killed simply because the jihadis don’t like their form of Islam. Or Paris, where 130 were slaughtered last November for the crime of enjoying a night out. Or Orlando, Brussels, Madrid, London, New York…

The west has reacted to jihadist barbarism with astonishing restraint and almost superhuman efforts to preserve innocent lives. These latest figures from the US government make that perfectly clear. It’s time for some people to acknowledge who the real murderers are.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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