Piloting Military Drones Is Not Like Playing a Videogame

Gilhelmi

The One Who Protects
Oct 22, 2009
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Ah, That is fascinating. I do feel bad for them, being disrespected just because they are flying the first generation of the new planes. The future of piloting the new air force.

I imagine a world where even passenger jets will be flown from by remote. No more pilots sleeping on the job, no more drunk pilots allowed anywhere near the flight controls. If a pilot is tired from an 8 hour shift (no more 60 weeks) switch out pilots, passengers will never know. The possibilities are endless.
 

Gilhelmi

The One Who Protects
Oct 22, 2009
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Blablahb said:
soren7550 said:
I mean, did we really need an article explaining this to us?
Drone pilots are often accused of being drama queens when they get psychological problems, and their efforts go unnoticed, so I guess so yes.

In fact, it's been suggested being a drone pilot is actually more psychologically traumatizing because you're killing people, sometimes many people. You use a camera to inspect the damage and death you've just done, and then switch back to normal everyday life, whereas other soldiers have the atmosphere of a camp and other soldiers around to share it with. Apparently this had lead to higher rates of psychological problems for UAV pilots.

Got to say that while I'm no psychiatrist, I find it plausible because I experienced the same thing. Watching someone you killed be dead is a lot harder and more impacting than just knowing you did and not seeing it. UAV pilots kill scores of people and have to inspect it closely afterwards, so they get that effect hugely magnified.
Well said, reminds me of the studies 'On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society' and 'On Combat, The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace'.

PTSD and PTS, are extremely problematic for everyone from the front line soldiers all the way down to supply and admin. It is no different for drone operators.
 

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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DVS BSTrD said:
How long till somebody makes a video game about this?
It's almost like there's a popular game coming out that might deal with this. Hmm, let me think. The title starts with a C and makes me think of a fish ...
 

Jamash

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Jun 25, 2008
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Mimsofthedawg said:
Jamash said:
Greg Tito said:
While the typical sentiment portrays the pilots of these aircraft as nothing more than gamers dressed in uniform - mostly because they use a joystick-like device to control the drones - members of the Royal Air Force of Britain bristle under that comparison.
To be fair, that "joystick-like device" is an X-Box 360 Controller, so it's easy to see where the video game sentiment comes from.



If they didn't want people to think that controlling drones is like playing video games, then perhaps they should have been more secretive about what the use to control these drones. I remember a TV advert for the British Army that showed a young soldier controlling a UAV with a 360 controller, an advert that was on TV a lot in the prime-time and often sandwiched in between video game adverts.

At the time it blatantly seemed like the advert was trying to cash in on the popularity of Modern Warfare/Battlefield and gaming in general, so this complaint about the comparison with video games seems a bit like trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.
As much as I agree with your overall point (no really, I do - the "video game-ness" of it is truly used as a recruiting tool), I also think it's worth noting the difference between a UAV that's deployable from a soldier's back pack and the Predator-type UAV's likely being discussed in this article. Those bigger, hefftier UAVs are controlled at a station that looks like a cockpit with a comfy computer chair. So not all of them are controlled by Xbox 360 controllers
You're right, the article is about the RAF, whereas the video and advert I was referring to was for the Army, who would deploy man-portable, X-Box 360 controlled small UAVs, while the RAF would use the larger, full cockpit base controlled drones.

I suppose this misconception/assumption is part of the reason the RAF have made this statement, they're tired of people getting the wrong impression about their UAV role and not really seeing any distinction between the Army and the Air Force.

People hear the word Drone or UAV and automatically think of the advert the saw on TV with the 360 controller, not realising that the role the RAF play is very different from the Army footage they've been exposed to.
 

Frission

Until I get thrown out.
May 16, 2011
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Myrmecodon said:
If anything, the pilot is more likely to make bad split-second decisions because he's high on adrenaline and testosterone from going as fast as the plane. Also, pilots are hard to replace in the thick of combat, so they don't get criticized as often.

What drone pilots need is more levity, not less.

Good Guys/Bad Guys is a child's notion. You should have lost that concept by the time you reach adulthood, which I'm guessing these "pilots" are supposed to be. These "Bad Guys" are often just good guys born on the wrong side of an imaginary line drawn on a map.
A line is an imaginary construct. A jurisdiction, a territory, and a cause that motivates people to fight is anything but.

How anyone can label "Bad Guys" all these women and children we keep "accidentally" killing just because we thought the firewood they were carrying were guns is beyond me.
They would not spare our own women and children if they had the chance. Most likely the woman would be made prostitutes and the children made slaves, and both converted to Islam on pain of death. Their women might even volunteer to perform clitoridectimies on ours, and their children offer to introduce ours to the joys of anal rape as a form of social domination [http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/08/1-out-of-3-young-iranian-men-gay/#comment-80762](BUT IT'S TOTALLY NOT HOMOSEXUAL UNLESS YOU'RE THE ONE UNDERNEATH.) Or just sell them to some tribe of goat herders to be a 'dancing boy' for the various old men in need of release.

Should any be spared in a war you're serious about fighting? Are those who do the 'dirty work' of actual fighting and killing somehow less valuable than those who are arguably being cowardly non-aligned with their countries' interests?

Should we be all po-faced about it, intoning EVERYTHING WE DO IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW when we really should be saying "Yeah, I killed those sorry sons of bitches who were carrying wood for the guys who killed my bros, and I'd do it again if I had to!"
That's an animalistic viewpoint, you know that?

What a great world view you have.

I can now understand how some people can rationalize the incessant killing and "collateral damage" done in the wars. The war for Iraq and Afghanistan was a country building mission, but I suppose it was doomed to fail to fail when you have U.S soldiers who went thinking "let's kill everyone brown".

I doubt it will happen, but I hope some people involved in these wars are incarcerated fro war crimes. The U.S messes everything up and the N.G.O's have to clean everything up.

We still had to clean up messes in Vietnam, a war which was pointless and was entirely the fault of the U.S. Don't be so proud, of the horrible things that may happen or which were done.

OP: That's great news. I already knew that though. Although the rate of non-militants killed by drone attacks still makes me doubt some of the pilots.
 

The Thinker

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Jan 22, 2011
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DVS BSTrD said:
How long till somebody makes a video game about this?
Negative amounts of time. [http://unmanned.molleindustria.org/] Funny enough, I think I may have found out about that game from this website...
 

Kargathia

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Sniper Team 4 said:
I saw a show on one of the Discovery, Nat-Geo type channels about this once. It talked about U.S. Drone Pilots and what they did. They still have to wear their flight uniforms, still have to do drills and work out, and some get PTSD even though they are thousands of miles away. They are just as much a part of the military as the pilot of a fighter jet. I've always remembered that.
There also is the rather interesting twist that they on average will seek help for said mental problems much later, due to them not seriously considering the notion that killing human beings does cause some mental knocks - even when done from a US/UK air base.

Myrmecodon said:
Good Guys/Bad Guys is a child's notion. You should have lost that concept by the time you reach adulthood, which I'm guessing these "pilots" are supposed to be. These "Bad Guys" are often just good guys born on the wrong side of an imaginary line drawn on a map.
A line is an imaginary construct. A jurisdiction, a territory, and a cause that motivates people to fight is anything but.
I sincerely hope that was either sarcasm, or me misreading something, but the rest of your post causes me to be somewhat pessimistic on the chances of the first, and barring egregious grammatical errors I really can't interpret it in any other way than you having the notion that jurisdictions, territory, and causes are somehow not "imaginary constructs".

I'll just give you a simple example here of why all three of your examples are perfect arguments for why he was completely right in stating that the only thing between "good" and "bad" is an imaginary line.

Afghanistan: we call it a country, but it really is not. The British took out some small-scale maps and a marker, and declared a good chunk of territory to be henceforth "the country of Afghanistan".
In reality it's populated by dozens of tribes, many of which have nothing more in common than physical proximity, and/or religion. Maybe they share one of the half-dozen or so major languages that is spoken throughout the "country". The situation is roughly comparable to suddenly unilaterally declaring the entirety of Europe a single country.
And yet we keep on trying to stabilise, and consolidate the central government's hold on power - mostly because that's how we think politics should work.

I'd say that makes for an example as to why "jurisdiction", and "territory" are nothing more than an imaginary line, that only exists in the heads of the ones who know and care about it.

As for "cause": if a foreign country invaded yours in order to impose their particular flavour of politics, would you fight them? Even if that'd make you the "bad guys" in the eyes of one of their UAV pilots?

"Good", and "Bad" really are nothing more than the results of judgement passed on actions based on your personal point of view. Considering this to be universal truth is immature to say the least.
 

kevinsux909

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Mar 4, 2010
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DVS BSTrD said:
How long till somebody makes a video game about this?
Already done, in flash form. Look up the game "Unmanned" by Molleindustria.

*Edit* Crap, someone already posted a link.
 

Kopikatsu

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May 27, 2010
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A Satanic Panda said:
Acrisius said:
A Satanic Panda said:
Acrisius said:
Um...anyone else under the impression that this article kinda came out of nowhere, so to speak?
Well, China has been giving Japan some funny looks lately.

[small]The kind of looks people get right before they disappear[/small]
I don't see how that's connected to this...
As if there would suddenly be a large scale military conflict, in which these drones are used.
There won't be a large scale military conflict.

Japan's Navy and Airforce were both forced to effectively disband after their conditional surrender, which ended WW2. In exchange for the disarmament, the US promised to protect Japan and it's assets if it ever had to go to war. But the majority of the US's loans are held in China, and the US owes China more money than exists in the world. They can't risk armed conflict.

So yeah. No large scale military conflict. If China moves on Japan, then neither the US nor Japan can do anything about it. Japan is fucked.
 

Zakarath

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Mar 23, 2009
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The Thinker said:
DVS BSTrD said:
How long till somebody makes a video game about this?
Negative amounts of time. [http://unmanned.molleindustria.org/] Funny enough, I think I may have found out about that game from this website...
There's also ArmA 2 :)
 

frizzlebyte

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Oct 20, 2008
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Blablahb said:
soren7550 said:
I mean, did we really need an article explaining this to us?
Drone pilots are often accused of being dramaqueens when they get psychological problems, and their efforts go unnoticed, so I guess so yes.

In fact, it's been suggested being a drone pilot is actually more psychologically traumatising because you're killing people, sometimes many people. You use a camera to inspect the damage and death you've just done, and then switch back to normal everyday life, whereas other soldiers have the atmosphere of a camp and other soldiers around to share it with. Apparently this had lead to higher rates of psychological problems for UAV pilots.

Got to say that while I'm no psychiatrist, I find it plausible because I experienced the same thing. Watching someone you killed be dead is a lot harder and more impacting than just knowing you did and not seeing it. UAV pilots kill scores of people and have to inspect it closely afterwards, so they get that effect hugely magnafied.
I was just about to post something to the effect of this. I tend to think that much of our war-making techniques ("better," more mechanized combat; all-volunteer armies) have made wars too easy to start, and too easy to keep fighting.

I'm probably one of the few people my age (24) to be willing to consider that all-volunteer armies and large standing armies might not be a good thing.

At least when you enact a draft, you have a large proportion of those draftees who don't want to be there, and that's a good thing, in my opinion.
 

Slayer_2

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Jul 28, 2008
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Jamash said:
To be fair, that "joystick-like device" is an X-Box 360 Controller, so it's easy to see where the video game sentiment comes from.
To be fair, that's not an armed drone, just a surveillance one. You'd have hard time attaching a 100 pound hellfire missile to that 8-pound remote control toy. This is a "real" killer drone, and I'm willing to bet it uses a lot more than an xbox controller to fly it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Atomics_MQ-9_Reaper