2011 started where 2010 left off with continued drone attacks in Pakistan. On 27/28th December 42 people were killed in drone strikes while 19 people were killed in three separate drone attacks in North Waziristan on New Year’s Day and between 4 and 6 people were killed in an attack on a vehicle near the town of Miranshah in North Waziristan. Most reports labelled all those killed as ‘militants’ but as Jason Ditz of antiwar.com says
“Officials term everyone killed a “suspected militant” but concede that they don’t know any of the identities of the slain and that civilians are almost certain to be amongst the toll. With virtually no media allowed into the region, identifying the victims of US attacks is virtually impossible.”
The New Year also began with a lot of coverage of Gorgon Stare – despite missing its ‘end-of-2010’ deployment deadline – mainly thanks to a large article in the Washington Post. As we have previously reported Gorgon Stare is a new surveillance capability that allows a wide area of ground to be videoed while also enabling individuals to be tracked within that wide area.
The amount of video from drone surveillance is already overwhelming analysts yet the military continues to demands more. The Post article quotes Army Col. Steven A. Beckman, former intelligence chief for coalition forces in Sothern Afghanistan as calling drone video coverage “the crack cocaine of our ground forces.”
Flight international reports that one Gorgon Stare ‘pod’ will be deployed in Afghanistan before April 2011, one in 2012 and one in 2014.
Finally a new year curiosity was the reported shooting down of two ‘western spy drones’ by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the air force wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards made the claim but gave no further details and there were quick denials from the US that any of its drones had been shot down.