Disgusted Drone Pilot Quits Air Force
by Kevin Mathews
May 27, 2013
The international community is outraged over the careless devastation and lack of accountability of the U.S.âs drone program. At least part of this uproar results from the institutionalized mystery surrounding these flying killing machines. However, one former member of the U.S. military knows the drone program all too wellâŠ and heâs harshly critical of it, too.
According to an NPR report, Brandon Bryant joined the military fresh out of college in 2006 so that he could pay back his student loans. The U.S. Air Force assigned Bryant to its Predator program where he was a sensor operator. Rather than piloting traditional jets, however, Bryant captained drones.
Yes, you read that right: drones DO have pilots. While no one is actually inside a drone, the technology is not yet so advanced that it can carry out actions entirely by itself. As a result, Bryant found himself taking the helms â from a computer located in a trailer in Las Vegas.
During his first mission, Bryant witnessed American troops dying via the droneâs camera. He was helpless to do anything from his remote location, in part due to the combatantsâ proximity to U.S. soldiers. Instead, he was instructed to fire a missile on a group of men away from the fighting.
âAfter the smoke clears, thereâs a crater there and you can see body parts from the people,â explained Bryant. And as powerful as the droneâs weaponry is, death is not always instantaneous for its targets. â[One] guyâŠ his left leg had been taken off above the knee, and I watched him bleed out.â