A bloody month in the drone wars: 7 separate drone strikes kill dozens of civilians across 4 war zones

November 2019 saw seven civilian casualties incidents from drone strikes in four different war-zones illustrating the growing spread of drone warfare. The seven strikes between them are thought to have killed  41 civilians including 11 children.

Proponents of the use of armed drones often argue that drones are better at warfare as they can  sit above the ‘fog and friction’ of war and therefore limit the harm to civilians as they have a better view of the ground.  The reality, however, is that drones appear to be transferring the risk of warfare away from combatants onto the shoulders of civilians.

These seven strikes in the month of November are just a snapshot of the impact of drone warfare on civilians.  However, the likelihood is that civilians will continue to be killed unless there is progress at the international level on controlling the proliferation and use of armed drones. Read more

Finally revealed: UK drone strikes in Afghanistan by province

More than three years after first submitting a Freedom of Information request, the UK Ministry of Defence has finally told us in which Afghan provinces UK drones strikes took place.

Although there is no detail on the number of strikes within each province, the MoD reveals that UK drones strikes occurred in 16 out of Afghan’s 33 provinces between May 2008 and November 2014.  Full statistical details of UK drone operations in Afghanistan compiled from Freedom of Information requests and other public information is available here. The MoD stresses that the final UK drone mission in Afghanistan was completed on 15 November 2014.

UK_Drone_Strikes_Afghanistan_provinces2 Read more

The dirty consequences of our clean wars

Air strike on Iraq

Five years ago the suggestion that within a decade drone strikes would be taking place on a regular basis in multiple countries with little notice by the mainstream media or the general public seemed far-fetched to many. Today, with drone strikes being undertaken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, and no doubt Libya again too soon (and not to forget the regular sporadic bursts of Israeli strikes in Gaza) such a prediction looks a lot more likely, if not a certainty. Read more

UK’s much delayed Watchkeeper drone deployed to Afghanistan

Watchkeeper at Camp Bastion Sept 2014 - Crown Copyright
Watchkeeper at Camp Bastion Sept 2014 – Crown Copyright

The UK’s new Watchkeeper drone has finally been sent to Afghanistan.  Well over three years late and just weeks before UK forces are due to be withdrawn, the MoD announced that Watchkeeper had become “fully operational.” However it is not clear what this means especially as all remaining UK troops in Afghanistan have been withdrawn to Camp Bastion and with the MoD announcing last month that all UK “offensive operations” have ceased.   The MoD refused to tell journalists how many Watchkeepers have actually been sent to Afghanistan. Read more

UK doubles armed drone fleet in Afghanistan

RAF Reaper MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Air SystemThe MoD have announced today (3 July 2014) that the additional five armed Reaper drones purchased as an urgent operational requirement (UOR) in December 2010) have begun operations in Afghanistan.  Questions have been asked about why equipment bought urgently has taken over three and half-years to come into service with Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, Tom Watson MP, telling the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

“‘Urgent Operational Requirements’ are meant to be used for emergencies in combat zones. This revelation, that approximately £100m of taxpayers’ money used has been used to purchase equipment that may never be used in Afghanistan, is a scandal at a time when service personnel are being made redundant.”

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Pausing at the crossroads – drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa

under MQ-9Over the past decade the use of armed drones has dramatically increased and spread with drone strikes reported to have taken place in up to ten countries. Although the US use of drones in Pakistan and  Yemen has been most controversial and received  the majority of media coverage, Afghanistan has been the real centre of armed drone use.  The first combat drone strike took place in Afghanistan just weeks after 9/11 and the vast majority of drone strikes have taken place there although exact figures remain shrouded in secrecy.  It is not surprising therefore that the forthcoming end of NATO combat operations in Afghanistan later this year brings the drone wars to something of a crossroads. Read more