Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 78

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Steve Horton) Photo: Capt. Richard Koll, left, and Airman 1st Class Mike Eulo, both from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, perform function checks after launching an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle 7 August 2007 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Capt. Koll, the pilot, and Airman Eulo, the sensor operator, handle the Predator in a radius of approximately twenty-five miles around the base before handing it off to personnel stationed in the United States to continue its mission. Inset top left: A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Inset middle: MQ-9 Reaper firing a Hellfire missile. Inset bottom right: A view of the drone’s targeting screen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sgt. Brian Ferguson) (Photo illustration courtesy of the U.S. Air Force) (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force) exposed soldiers to tremendous risk. This, according to Ahmed, was honorable: … for anyone who doubts the tenacity, ferocity, courage, and moral purpose of Americans at war, they need to look at them in action in the last century, at Iwo Jima, for example, and in landing on the beachhead at Normandy–whe re ground was won through hand-tohand, inch-by-inch fighting, with enormous casualties.… To lead the allies to victory, the Americans had to show resolve and honor.4 American participation in World War II is reified, and the American soldier of the present is imagined as a mere shadow of the brave combatant of the American past. The drone epitomizes, in this narrative, a 72 challenge to American martial traditions of honor, bravery, and sacrifice. Drones certainly change the dynamics of warfare. Drone operators are not offering their life for the defense of their country or its ideology. Are drones, therefore, the weapons of cowards? Diverse voices seem to imply this. Mobashar Jawed Akbar, founding editor of the Asian Age and a former senior fellow with the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, argues that the American use of drones will be interpreted as an act of cowardice, not strength: “It will be seen as American cowardice. In war terms, if you are not willing to sacrifice blood, you are essentially a coward.”5 Counterinsurgency November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW