Unmanned combat aerial vehicles
Drones are another example of technology outpacing ethics, with devastating consequences.
By changing the nature of warfare it is becoming easier for aggressor states to go to war, with fewer political and human costs at home: drones have already become a weapon of choice for Obama, the CIA and NATO in undeclared wars and the so called ‘war on terror’; are liable to error and have caused many civilian deaths including those of children; dehumanise war because the perpetrator faces less directly the reality of killing; and are a potentially powerful means of domestic surveillance, threatening civil liberties.
Over the past few years we have witnessed the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, to undertake armed attacks around the globe. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia have all been subject to drone strikes by US or British drones while Palestinians are also subjected to strikes from Israeli drones.
After 10 Years, Time To Ground Britain’s Drones
October 2017 marks 10 years of British Reaper drone operations. Acquired on a temporary basis for ‘urgent operational capability’ the UK began operating armed drones in Afghanistan in October 2007. A decade later the Reaper has been in continuous use & is deemed ‘core capability’. Having tripled the number in use the Government is now in the process of increasing the fleet up to 26 with a new updated version of the Reaper – rebranded as the ‘ Protector’!!
Their use is surrounded in Government secrecy, which increases as with their growing use.But any discussion of their use cannot be dealt with in isolation from the US use. Over the past decade British drones have operated alongside US drones, & at times interchangeably. Last month documents released in the Snowdon cache revealed how a small base (RAF Digby) in Lincolnshire, a few miles from Waddington, is involved in acquiring intelligence from UK drones to share with US operations. There is widespread international concern at the US use of drones for targeted killing in Pakistan, Yemen & elsewhere & the Trump administration is now considering a change of policy which would increase these operations to include ‘low-level’ militants & passing authority for such strikes to lower down the command chain.
The Pentagon is already lobbying the UK send its forces back into Afghanistan, but this dangerous & unlawful call to perpetual war must be resisted. Dropping bombs & firing missiles does not, & will not solve international security problems – indeed, it has the opposite effect. After 17 years of military intervention & bombing – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya & Syria – unless we take a positive decision to take a different path, war will have become a normal and permanent state.
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More information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk
Opening Pandora’s Box
Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the UN to ban the development and use of killer robots.The UN recently to begin formal discussions on such weapons, which include drones, tanks and automated machine guns. A letter, published at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in August strongly stressed the need for urgent action. They call for ‘morally wrong’ lethal autonomous weapons systems to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN’s convention on certain conventional weapons bought into force in 1983, which includes chemical and intentionally blinding laser weapons. the UK opposed such a ban on lethal autonomous weapons in 2015 stating ‘international humanitarian provides sufficient regulation’ and all weapons employed by UK armed forces would be ‘under human oversight and control’. Professor Toby Walsh, of University of South Wales, Sydney, said ,Nearly every technology can be used for good or bad: these weapons can be used to industrialise war – they can be weapons of terror, used by despots against innocent populations’
Drone strikes in Iraq and Syria
There was a huge increase in the number of Reaper missions in Syria in the first half of 2017- 254 compared to 88 in the previous 6 months, however there were still more drone strikes in Iraq than in Syria. There is a huge amount of secrecy around the military use of drones with no parliamentary control and they are leading us into a state of perpetual war.
Significant issues’ facing MoD drone projects
Development of the new ‘Protector’ armed drone to replace the Royal Air Force’s current Reaper system and the Army’s ‘Watchkeeper’ surveillance drone are facing “significant issues” according to a newly published analysis of government major projects by a spending watchdog.
Saturday 7th October 1pm – 3pm at RAF Waddington
We are marking 10 years of the armed Reaper drone at a demonstration at RAF Waddington. We are saying that after 10 years of reaping, now is the time to sow the seeds of peace. It also starts the annual Drones Week of Action.
As you know the base is on the A607, 5 miles south of Lincoln and no.1 bus from Lincoln to Grantham stops at the base every 30 minutes..
Yorkshire drone tour throughout the Week of Action
Maya Evans will be touring Yorkshire giving talks about Afghanistan and about drones. Contact us if you would like to book her.
Drones Week of Action 7th – 14th October
It is that time of year again – and a great opportunity to campaign against armed drones in your local area. To help you campaign we are organising a range of new resources which will be available from our website from mid September including:-
- a letter to MPs and a petition calling for an end to the secrecy which surrounds drones and proper parliamentary control.
- a new A5 flyer outlining the main issues
- new design tee shirts and badges – because the use of non military drones has increased so much we have redesigned our popular tee shirts and badges to clarify we mean armed drones
- rebranding # with downloadable drone template, following MoD’s plan to rename future Reapers the ‘Protector’
Nobel Peace Prize
March 18th – 21st Fly Kites Not Drones
The Persian New Year, March 21st, has become established as an excellent time to remember the millions of young people for whom the threat of drone strikes means an end to the simple pleasure of kite flying; a time when we fly kites in solidarity with them.
This is the fourth year we have done this to coincide with the Persian New Year in solidarity with all those young people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen who live under the threat of drones and for whom a blue sky is no longer a good sky for flying kites because it also gives better vision for flying drones.
Groups were flying kites in Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol, Edinburgh, Hastings, Kabul, Leicester, London and Waddington and probably many more we didn’t hear about. The demonstration at RAF Waddington also formed the background to a short film made by War on Want.
July 6th 10.30 – 15.00 demonstration at Elbit Systems, Shenstone near Lichfield
On the third anniversary of the Israeli assault on Gaza people will be coming from all over the UK to call for an end to the UK arming Israel and an end to the production of Israeli drone engines at Shenstone. More details including transport links contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
more information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk