Apparently not, I found out today while doing research for Friday’s “Athens Now” column.
I ran across an NPR story from December entitled “Report: High Levels Of ‘Burnout’ In U.S. Drone Pilots.” Being in actual combat missions, the argument goes, is less stressful than piloting the drone in some ways.
From the story: “The particular nature of drone warfare is a contributor to higher stress levels. While the number is very small, officials who conducted the study said they did encounter a handful of pilots who suffered symptoms of PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder — directly linked to their experience running combat operations. Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months. They watch someone’s pattern of life, see people with their families, and then they can be ordered to shoot.”
NPR is surely worried that war might not ever end if the drone program remains one of our chief tools in the war against radical Islam, and so it’s understandable that they would capitalize on some pilots’ problems with flying the drone. Never mind that the ability to take out terrorists with zero risk to the pilot is a blessing. The danger lies in the potential for Obama to lean heavily on the drone, thinking that there is no moral or strategic backlash to its overuse.