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

British drone strikes in Afghanistan using borrowed US drones revealed

reaper-at-nightupdated below

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that British RAF pilots have borrowed USAF Reaper drones more than 250 times in Afghanistan, launching weapons on at least 39 occasions. However the numbers of strikes by RAF pilots using US Reapers drones is likely to be higher as the MoD  are keeping secret the number of weapons launches by RAF pilots when they have been officially embedded with the USAF. Read more

New British drone strike stats released to Drone Wars UK

In a response to our FoI request the MoD has released new figures detailing the number and type of weapons launched by British Reaper drones in Afghanistan each month since May 2008.  While the MoD have previously given annual totals, this is the first time that figures have been broken down for each month. The figures come in response to our Freedom of Information request that also reveals the number of strikes in Afghanistan undertaken by British RAF pilots using borrowed USAF Reaper drones (see our story here). Read more

UN report: civilian casualties from drone strikes in Afghanistan Jan – Jun 2013

unamaIt is very rare to get any details of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan and even rarer to have information about civilian casualties from drone strikes in Afghanistan.  Today the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its mid-year report  Afghanistan: Protection of civilians in armed conflict (pdf).   The report details a 23% increase in civilian casualties over the same period last year.   UNAMA  attributes  74% of civilian deaths and injuries to Anti-Government Elements, 9% to Pro-Government Forces, 12% to ground engagements between Pro-Government Forces and Anti-Government Elements, with the remaining 4% unattributed. Read more

UK Defence Select Committee to investigate use of armed drones

The Times is today reporting that the UK Defence Select Committee is to hold an inquiry into the use of armed drones:

Members of the Commons Defence Select Committee are to investigate the deployment of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Afghanistan as part of a two-year inquiry into the use of lethal force, The Times has learned.  MPs and peers may also hold a joint debate on Britain’s drone policy and the ethics of killing targets remotely.  In addition ministers face calls to reveal whether they share British intelligence with the US to help CIA-operated drones to kill terror suspects in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

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New figures reveal almost 1,500 US/UK drone strikes in Afghanistan since 2009

New information about the number of US drone strikes in Afghanistan has been revealed by DangerRoom, the national security blog at Wired.com.  According to official US figures supplied to the website there have been a total of 1,160 US drone strikes in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2009. (Note each ‘weapon released’ is counted by the military as a strike; in press reports often several weapons releases at a single location are counted as a single ‘strike’.)  This is not the overall total number of US drone strikes as figures have only been given from the beginning of 2009, while US drones have been operating in Afghanistan for several years before that. Read more