Hidden Risk of Drone Warfare – Drone Pilot Trauma Uncovered
Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are piloted by experienced operators from high tech bases. Threats from extremist groups like the Islamic State, Pakistan, religious extremists, war criminals, Syrian corruption and terrorist threats are just one of many reasons to initiate drone attacks.
Research has found that drone pilots can suffer from just as much trauma as a regular Air Force pilot. Conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, behavioral issues and insomnia have been reported.
Working an unrelenting schedule with human lives at risk, drone operators view the results of their actions in graphic detail on their screens. A single mistake can mean the death of innocent civilians.
This emotional strain has left a void of professional drone pilots, and the Air Force is now offering incentives for obtaining and retaining them.
When a drone pilot is capable of killing dozens of people with a single strike, the Air Force is taking action to deal with the effects of this trauma. On-site chaplains and psychologists work with these pilots to help them cope. Shift hours and maximum daily flights have been altered to ease the stress.
It turns out that remotely dispatching human life plays a steep toll on the operator even though they don’t have their “boots on the ground”.