America’s Ex-Drone Pilot

When I made the first shot that killed, it broke my heart I did not think I would ever find myself in a position to take someone's life

[THE DRONES PILOT] Brandon Bryant served for 5 years as a drone operator in the US Air Force With his joystick, he shot 1,626 people In the end, Brian nearly left his own life there I often felt it was destroying my soul If I said that I had a mental problem, that it bothered me to kill people, it was very frowned upon

If you're not violent in the army, you're a wimp Nobody wants to be a wimp The job of predator is in itself a coward and weak thing You must manage to feel better It's a hell of a psychological mess

To your left Go to your left German soldiers may soon suffer the same psychological stress The first combat drones of the German army will be ready at the latest in 10 years The secretary of defense has already made her decision

For her, the benefits of the drone are clear as the day A drone can monitor a large area from the air, and most importantly, he can see when our ground troops are attacked, when they are fired This is an important benefit that should be guaranteed to our troops While drones can provide air support to ground troops, they do not stop there Thousands of people have been killed by combat drones

Just look at the United States What has happened in recent years? An incredible amount of life has been destroyed It feels like the way I interact with people, with the rest of the world, and that isolated me I stopped sleeping because I dreamed of my job I could not escape it

It's impossible to hide, and I can not isolate myself because I could end up shooting myself What did you hear when you talked about it? I was called a traitor People told me I deserved a ball I was told that I should commit suicide A former colleague told me that if one day I was within firing range of their drones, if he were told not to fire, he would light me anyway

He was a guy I knew for two and a half years I even flew with him I wore it in my heart, and he told me that I felt betrayed I thought our goal was to raise their country, restore democracy, and to stabilize their country, but concretely, that's not what we do

What really reinforced me in my idea was when we were hunting Anwar Al-Awlaki Anwar Al-Awlaki was an Islamist who had an American and Yemeni passport He was one of al-Qaeda's leading educators, and he's been dubbed bin Laden from the Internet To the American people, I say: your security will continue to be threatened as long as your government continues to attack Muslims His death in 2011 was that of the first US citizen targeted and killed by an American drone

We decided to fly drones over Yemen and kill him We were told daily that this guy was a traitor to our country, and I learned that by doing that, the Constitution of the United States was violated Because according to the Constitution, even a traitor deserves a trial before a jury composed of his peers And we raped that The US drone program violates not only the Constitution, but also international law

The people who give us orders, you have to trust and tell yourself that what they are doing is right We are not given all the information we should receive We are simply cameramen covered with glory The UAV war of the United States would be impossible without Germany Every attack in Pakistan or Yemen is done through a data center at Ramstein Air Base in Rhineland-Palatinate

The German Federal Government does not want to know anything about its contributions to extra-legal killings Washington assured them that none of their drones were flown from Ramstein What role does this air base play in the drone war at the international level? They are piloted from the United States via satellite, remotely Whenever a drone took off or landed, we had to call them We have to call them and say, "Is our signal clear?" There is a fiber optic line from the Ramstein base, goes under the ocean to the United States, Nevada

To Creech Air Force Base And all the data, the information that comes from the drones, are transmitted via Ramstein's satellite to the United States I have never contacted another platform for that, during the 5 years and 5 days of my participation in the drone program As a data platform, Germany has been supporting the drone war for a long time Today, she wants to acquire her own combat drones

What does it mean for the soldiers who will pilot these drones? I was in Nevada and New Mexico It is a room 25 meters high, 25 wide and 6 long On one side of the control station there are 2 seats and 14 screens

It is the only source of light There is no noise Just the hum of a fan that keeps the entire installation cool And we have to watch what happens on 5 screens Another guy, somewhere in the world, is watching the transmissions information, and another, elsewhere, monitor the information that the images bring

They gather this information and say: "That's what's happening here, here, and there" "And with that, we can determine, through an algorithm, the presence of malicious activities" "This person could call someone mean" "and they may have gone to a place identified as a weapons warehouse" "Then they went elsewhere" And they make this kind of portrait of this person

And instead of going to capture him or react when he has committed a violent act, they just say, "OK" "We've determined that this person is a bad guy Even if a human target was calculated by a detector operator, the pilot of the drone makes the fatal shot It was to that extent that I found important to be responsible for his actions, because I think we made mistakes I never saw anyone being worried about killing civilians

But apparently, that's what happened with a lot of attacks And the only thing that could be worth a punishment was if you crushed a camera That's all We can understand that they are upset We are an invader who comes into force in their country

We killed people It did not matter if we killed that type of al-Qaeda who was such a brother The brother might not agree with his philosophy, but we touched his family and now it's a vendetta against us We have invaded their country, and they want us to escape, and all that involves killing someone it's going to be dirty Because they do not understand that this person can be at the other end of the world and from a different culture, but it is not considered a human Then they will not consider you as human anymore So the hidden price is that we lose our humanity as we justify the ability to kill another human being

[STEPHEN SANCHEZ]

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