HOT BLAST: The life of a 'drone warrior'
Oct 23, 2013 | 1412 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
A Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
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Speaking of drones ...

... this month's GQ features Confessions of a Drone Warrior. Here's a part of the account of Airman First Class Brandon Bryant, who, the article says, was "part of a U.S. Air Force squadron that flew Predator drones in the skies above Iraq and Afghanistan."

Mostly the drone crews’ work was an endless loop of watching: scanning roads, circling compounds, tracking suspicious activity. If there was a “troops-in-contact” situation—a firefight, ground troops who call in a strike—Bryant’s Predator could be called to the scene in minutes with its deadly payload. But usually time passed in a haze of banal images of rooftops, walled courtyards, or traffic-snarled intersections.

Sitting in the darkness of the control station, Bryant watched people on the other side of the world go about their daily lives, completely unaware of his all-seeing presence wheeling in the sky above. If his mission was to monitor a high-value target, he might linger above a single house for weeks. It was a voyeuristic intimacy. He watched the targets drink tea with friends, play with their children, have sex with their wives on rooftops, writhing under blankets. There were soccer matches, and weddings too. He once watched a man walk out into a field and take a crap, which glowed white in infrared.

Bryant came up with little subterfuges to pass the long hours at the console: sneaking in junk food, mending his uniforms, swapping off twenty-minute naps with the pilot. He mastered reading novels while still monitoring the seven screens of his station, glancing up every minute or two before returning to the page. 

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