Drone wars: the gamers recruited to kill | Guardian Docs


We sat in a box for nearly twelve hour shifts.
All the lights were usually off except for the light coming from the monitors. I remember watching a wedding. I mean, these
were people enjoying themselves. These were people celebrating like… a wedding, you
know? But someone in that wedding was a bad person. We’re the ultimate voyeurs. The ultimate peeping
Toms. No one’s going to catch us and we’re getting orders to take these people’s lives. It was just point and click. I had no idea what it was. I had no idea what
I was in for. I didn’t know where Creech Air Force Base was. I wasn’t even twenty years
old at that point – when I discovered I was going to be in there – so it was all very
new and different. Yeah, I thought it was the coolest damn thing
in the world, I was like: “Oh man!” You know, I get to pay a video game all day! And then the reality hits you, that you may
have to kill somebody. In our control room, you know, they had a
picture of September the eleventh – of the second plane hitting the building – just to
try to make you pissed off about it all over again right before you go and do your job. These guys have to die, these guys deserve
to die and you’ve got to make it happen. There’s always been a connection between the
world of war and the world of entertainment and I call this phenomenon “militainment”,
where the military world is actually now pulling tools from the world of entertainment to do
its job better. The military has invested in creating video
games that they’re using as recruiting tools. How do we find our ATNX pilots? What makes
a good ATNX pilot? If you can answer that question or I can answer
that question, then you could make a lot of money for the air force right now because
we don’t know. We’re trying to get our arms around what really
does make the best candidate for automatic airplanes and how do we identify these people
earlier? Video gamers do have a skill set that is very
important and actually enhances the skillset of drone operators. So, when I talk to people about this I say:
“We don’t need Top Gun pilots anymore, we need revenge of the nerds.” I felt like I was in power and I could have
absolute control. You know, I get these sons of bitches in the crosshairs and, you know,
I can kill them right now. It’s, you know, it’s like it was easy. It was too easy. You never know who you’re killing because
you never actually see a face. You just have silhouettes and it’s easy to
have that detachment and that lack of empathy for human life and it’s easy to really just
think of them as something else. You know, they were not people. You know,
they’re just terrorists. For me, every single day you put on that uniform
you were involved. So many of those shots where you depend on
the word of others but they don’t have to take that shot, they don’t have to bear that
burden. I’m the one that has to bear that burden.
The pilot’s the one that has to bear that burden. My mission controller’s the one that’s
got to bear that burden. So it’s easy for them to say: “Yeah, shoot
it, yeah that’s him, shoot it!” but they don’t have to do the action and they don’t have
to live with the repurcussions if it turns out that that’s not our guy and we just made
orphans out of all these children. You know, they don’t have to live with that. I do. Is there a war between the United States and
Pakistan? No. Is the United States bombing in Pakistan week in, week out? Yes it is. Nowhere has been more observed and more bombed
by the CIA than Waziristan. The first recorded CIA strike in Pakistan
took place in 2004. The number of those strikes has just accelerated to strikes every two
or three days. Really an industrialised killing programme. It’s a very different youth group we’re dealing
with – that we’re focing into this environment of killing – and it’s a very different form
of killing. When you’re, for example, in Nevada and the
person or people you’re killing are ten thousand miles away and only visible to you as “bug
splat” on the screen, which is the term that video operators use… We have something in the armed forces that
we call the warrior ethos. You destroy that when you go out and kill people and you’re
totally involved. I think the drone business, the distance imposed,
amplifies this a hundred fold. And the distinction between killing for state purposes under just
war theory and killing for state purposes with no vulnerability is, I think, the difference
between killing in a way that is recognised and legalised even, and murder. How did we get to the point where we’re no
longer warriors, we’re murderers for the state? The further removed we are from the victim,
the more we’re likely to act harshly. Psychologists have been showing this in experiments
going back decades. We know this is the case. Distance creates indifference and I think
that’s something that’s really not factored in enough in terms of the drone strikes: the
psychology of distance. Come on. People thought that it was like flipping a
switch. You’re in war, you’re out of war, you’re in war, you’re out of war. But every time Ieft I was still fighting the
war. Anyone who had any sort of mental issues or
qualms about it was told to just shut up and colour. Do your job. No one wants to hear
your bitching. If you wanted to go and talk to a therapist
about it, they would say: “Well if you do your security clearance is going to get taken
away.” That scared a lot of people. But we could go and see a chaplain and the
general response that we would get is: “It’s part of god’s plan.” Our war on terror begins with al qaeda but
it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. It just feels like we’re going through a bad
science fiction novel. If we duhumanise war, if we take the human aspect out of it, what’s
to stop us just sending a bunch of automaton robots into another country and let them wipe
out the entire population? People were writing about this in, like, the
early 1900s – what could happen – and we’re watching it happen.

69 thoughts on “Drone wars: the gamers recruited to kill | Guardian Docs

  1. Launching a missile from a drone is a hell of a lot more efficient than using a conventional artillery strike. If you want to fight and win a war then you will need to do one or the other.

    The time where armies marched up nicely on the battlefield and duked it out existed only for a very short time in the history of our species and even then only in Europe; Also the warrior ethos that Wilkerson is talking about exists only in his own imagination. It certainly was nowhere to be seen in the last two world wars.

    If the Guardian wishes to do a show about a strictly imaginary subject then why not do one about Werewolf's or perhaps Dragons.  

  2. It's just horrible that we'd do this to people. I mean I'm not American, but our British government does the same thing. War isn't a good thing in the first place, but when we get rid of the human element then there's no humanity left, killing people that don't deserve to die.

  3. fuck you America. you are disgusting…. i hope you get 'droned'. that one soldier in that crowd of 1000 innocent civilians that is the enemy. remember that. twats. how pathetic that you recruit kids…

  4. In 1945-46 Germans were prosecuted for obeying illegal orders.  Why is that not happening in the US and UK?  Isn't murdering groups of people considered against the law in both the UK and US?  It was against the law in France last month when several people were murdered that had done nothing wrong.

  5. I can imagine the camera looking a lot similar to Grand Theft Auto 5's Buzzard attack chopper first-person camera. Box for where the projectile will hit and all. It gets really easy when you do it for a decent amount of time and years of controlling aircraft by controls. Makes sense. I'd like to use controlling powers for expeditions in Outer Space with drones. I also plan on being part of a multi-operations party. Part innovation with machinery and agriculture in a way. I don't want to spoil what I have in mind but believe me when you combine drones with other things, get things can be done.

  6. this is so fucking awesome and brilliant. These guys knew what they were getting into before they started the job. i would love a job like this

  7. Many thanks to Guardian for publishing this video. Anytime a whistle-blower comes to the public, humanity wins.
    Thanks Guardian for enabling them. Another good document to check out is "Citizen four".
    I hope Guardian stays on the side of the people and does not get infiltrated by Zionists and warmongers like most media have.

  8. stop this shit, your insane  m f ers  who in the hell is giving orders to slaughter inocent people  and even guilty ones without a trial , who gave them the right to choose who lives and dies  this isnt what america wants  were all about peace , and equality  pro life for all  , stand strong and unite and do whats right stop killing  its time to do whats right    without a heart your blind life aint no video game snap out of your digital world and go home  say no 
     

  9. Sounds like a nice job
     pretty much the equivalent to a modern day sniper.
    does it matter if your 2 miles or 200 miles

    even if your in a plane dropping bombs your looking at a computer screen and pressing a button?

  10. I have two questions:

    1.  Is war profitable somehow for the United States?

    2. Do the repercussions of civilians killed during drone strikes create these "terrorists" and does it fuel the already existing terrorists to continue terrorizing in the name of their dead innocent friends and family?

  11. I tried to send this video over Facebook private chat, but it was blocked due to being 'unsafe' what is going on…

  12. This video makes me reassure how NASTY is the human race, beginning with the U.S. and allies governments and corporations down to the greedy people all around the world and the gamer terrorists who kill people to make George Soros richer.

  13. at 2:49 a bunch of fucking kids with no hair on there balls and the US army is looking for people like this who wont be stable in the mental frame of mind

  14. Wow, just wow. And I wanted to enlist in the US Army with this job (MOS: 15W). Now I might need to really reconsider. I was so excited for this job and I didn't know it was so dirty. Maybe I could still fly the SHADOW UAV. They shouldn't be as bad because they aren't armed, they are used for surveillance and such.

  15. this is so screwed up. Basically they are able to come, and just kill me easily, anyone, easily, thats scary.

  16. I'm happy some of these people who monitored drones are against in their words what's bad, but still much sad to see CIA instructing new generations ( the nerds) to do kind of that job, transforming them criminals or assassins. Where's the UN or legal authorities to banish the employers(especially the CIA!).

  17. Recently a Pakistani had attacked London bridge… Osama Bin Laden was in Pakistan… Pakistan is the main centre of world terrorism across the world… Pakistan redirects funds given by US to terrorist… US is the only country that funds the country who hid their greatest enemy.. US fights terrorists on one side and Pakistan creates new terrorists with US funds… Is there more foolish country in the world than US?

  18. The segregation of the job descriptions among the drone teams is deliberate to diffuse the sense of responsibility for the deaths, same as why a firing squad is used when a single person with the weapon could be just as lethal. But the pilot who was saying that he bears the guilt for pulling the trigger but he has to rely on info from the analysts and do what he is told. But if you listen to the analysts, they feel just as guilty for each person they identify as a "bad person", because they knew full well what was going to happen next.

  19. Gamers sit and play for 12 hrs too… They should create a drone add on for DCS world and see how the players take to it.
    BTW blowing up a wedding is fucked up.

  20. Everyone in a war does the same thing. War is really rough. So pray before you go that you are doing the right thing. We all are in the war every country pays taxes and pays war

  21. These drone operators should have automatic counseling sessions to help them detach from what they're doing.

  22. Hello, I see you from Syria. Al-Raqqa Province We have lived through years of terror while flying over our heads

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