As a witness of the horrors of 9/11, I did not feel any remorse about the death Anwar al-Awlaki this weekend. Awlaki was the head of the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda responsible for the deaths of so many innocents. The world breathed a sign of relief upon hearing the news that this “walking time-bomb” has been eliminated. The technological marvel of the Predator Drone shows terrorists that their actions demand justice, and their cowardice of hiding in caves will be eventually uncovered if not from our soldiers than our army of robots.
The first use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was in 1915 during World War I, which were basically model planes. Remote controlled planes grew in numbers during the consecutive wars of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. However, it was not until Israel developed the first modern UAV in reaction to the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when Syrian missile batteries caused heavy damage to their fleet. By 1982, Israel was able to completely neutralize the Syrian air defenses at the start of the 1982 Lebanon War. This led America to develop its own UAV unit, with the help of is ally Israel, which proved very successful in the field in the 1990s during the first Iraq war and Bosnian conflict.
The MQ-1 Predator (aka the Predator Drone) is typically armed with Hellfire missiles to hit its target. Since 2001, armed Predators have been used extensively in the War on Terror. The size of a compact car a Predator can fly for up to a day to provide real-time reconnaissance to troops or seek out and acquire its target on its own. Typically, it is controlled in a neighboring country by specialized ground forces in a high-tech mission control center. The drones have greatly reduced troop casualty and civilian deaths since its implementation.
To save lives one has to make tough decisions. Drones are robots and thus do not think. It is our men in uniform who are armed with the ability to seek out and destroy terrorists – proving once and for all that justice will eventually prevail – aided by the long arm of robotics.