Sunday, May 18, 2008

Droning On

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you

I can read your mind

--Eye in the Sky, Alan Parsons Project


Fellow blogger Abu Muqawama recently wrote on the dishonesty of the new high-tech Air Force advertisements which imply conflicts can be fought neatly and tidily from above, going so far as to suggest drones would dispense with much of the dirty work ("Eyes in the Sky").

Well, that may be how it looks from up there, but as Abu M. suggests, nothing can replace HUMINT and boots on the ground, things which are decidedly not always neat and tidy.

Ranger takes it one step further. The drones are seen flying over a mud hut, backwater village in some generic Afghanistan / Iraq / Pakistan scenario. The suggestion that the USAF will be able to neutralize the terrorist threat simply be flying over and then peering into the evil souls inhabiting these areas is patently absurd. The take home is the dropping a few surgically placed bombs will bend them into submission (or smash the evildoers into smithereens.)

This is a lie and a misguided fantasy for two reasons. Eyes in the sky will never see the evil intent hiding in men's heads, nor will it be able distinguish those who simply think evil thoughts (that is, from our side of things), versus those who can or will be able to implement their dreams of destruction.
Secondly, mud huts are not the origin of the terrorist threat.

It is the terrorists that originate in the palaces, boardrooms and bank offices of Saudi Arabia that need to be overflown by these drones.
Let's put some realism into our advertising.

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i don't care how much technology they invent. it will always come down to some tired, dirty grunts standing on sore feet, with aching backs who occupy a stretch of dirt, or more likely, mud.

it's been that way since before the phalanx.

to achieve the ends of a war, you have to be there, you have to get shit on you.

they want it all to be so easy. clean, and i hate this one, surgical. surgery? if your idea of surgery is to hit shit with a filthy baseball bat, ok.

they'll pull all their new high tech toys out of the box and run wild. they'll spend all the money in the world, and just like the kids you bought a whole bunch of complicated and intricate christmas toys for, you'll come back later and find that the kids are playing with the box.

grunts are the christmas box. always going to be there. have to be there.

Monday, May 19, 2008 at 12:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys said...

I recall, in Berlin, in 1979 how fond our new boss at the Field Station Berlin was of all the "new technology options" he believed were opening up. While my job was working with "sigint"(signals intelligence), the level to which this new technocrat believed the human element (including us analysts) could be dispensed with made us all shake our heads. Humint (intelligence gotten in the old fashioned less-fun-than-James=Bond-has way) is messy; but, had we had more of it pre-911 we might not be where we are now. Spies in the sky and war exclusively from 30,000 feet up is the wet-dream of those who don't GO to war.

Monday, May 19, 2008 at 9:23:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Right on, labrys.

Monday, May 19, 2008 at 12:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


In education we faced the same mentality: always some rep with the latest gewgaw guaranteed to teach disinterested students grammar.

Bottom line: Nothing replaces an informed and caring instructor with a fire for teaching. Very low-tech, but very effective.

Monday, May 19, 2008 at 12:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MB, I agree with your analysis BUT my point is that we must assess the threat realistically and respond with the appropriat respone. The issue of Terrorism is not resolved by boots or drones.It's much beyond that.We can fill the entire world with frigging drones and soldiers but terror will remain. jim

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 9:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Labrys, Same to you as to MB.
You know my position on humint v sigint; there must be a balance point somewhere. But whatever the source of intell there must be a real threat being managed and not just free floating anxiety masquerading as anti-terrorism.Obama was right , Iran is not , was not and never will be the same threat to America as was the Soviets.And of course Mc Cains reply is to say that Iran=terror=nucs=bad juju.The logic is so weak it's disturbing that the voters accept such convoluted thinking. jim

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 9:27:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Mr. Oblivious said...

"Eye in the Sky" is by the Alan Parsons Project, not B.O.C.

I've always been a fan (of both!).

Carry on.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 1:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Mr. O.,

Thank you so much! I knew that, but was sending Ranger the lyrics from B.O.C's "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" at the very same time, so conflated the two.

Thanks for noticing, and for helping maintain artistic integrity here,


Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 2:27:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

I heard that the other day in Sadr City Muqtada's boys used a sand storm as cover to launch rockets against the Green Zone thus avoiding the drones.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 11:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

TW, ah yes the drones!the last and best defenders of our freedoms.I hope what you're reporting is not true b/c it'll ruin my Memorial Day festivities. jim

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 9:29:00 AM GMT-5  

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