Technology Geography: Remote Warfare and Drones

240_f_92862000_r8dbaricxnbvchpkjfciixgzpdnumnruGeography involves people places and spaces often within a cultural political and military setting. The use of drones in remote warfare have brought these settings closer yet in a way more impersonal, with many dilemmas.

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Drones are basically called UAV This stands for unmanned aerial vehicle. They used to be called just radio controlled aircraft, which were used by kids for hobbies. But now with the advent of more sophisticated camera technology, they are used for more serious purposes and can also be controlled by a computer.

The advantages of drones are that they can save lives by being used for search and rescue. Drones are much cheaper to purchase and maintain than regular airplanes. They can fly much lower (to see what is on the ground and possibly avoid radar in the case of military missions). Drones are much cheaper to purchase and maintain then regular airplanes. And they can fly much lower (to see what is on the ground and possibly avoid radar in the case of military missions). Drones can stay up in the air much longer than military planes piloted by humans on board. The deployment of drones is easier because one does not need a regular airport. With missiles or guns on board drones can be as deadly as regular planes.

Drones can very in size from a commercial jet, to a small bird. Drones were used in spying long before they were used for combative purposes. They greatly increase military intelligence. The drone strike has now become a common phrase. And these strikes have become approved but would not likely be approved if conventional aircraft had done them.  Especially if they had been controlled by a computer. For example the U.S. drone strikes in north western Pakistan to rout out U.S. enemy guerrilla  fighters and the continual violation of Pakistani air space has become a contentious legal grey area and a side stepping of international law.

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Remote warfare can also be good at remotely shutting down a country’s defense apparatus. like electromagnetic pulse weapons from space. They can render anything electronic inoperable. the was an actual incident when a SU 24 Russian jet in April 2014 shutdown the complete electronic systems of the USS Donald Cook Aegis in the Black Sea with a electronic jamming device known as Khibiny mounted under the SU 24’s fuselage. The Aegis Combat System is NATO’s most advanced integrated naval weapons system to date that can link together the defense systems of all naval ships doesn’t matter how remote they are from on another with the same network. It therefore can track and destroy tens or hundreds of targets at the same time. A kind of super remote warfare.  But as the Russians say the more advanced the easier it is to shut down. So the good thing is perhaps remote warfare fighting may be able to stop the war completely.

Drones have their downside because they cannot communicate with civilians on the ground and go from house to house gathering military intelligence It is said that drone operators will develop a video game like mentality and forget about the real ethical and moral issues regarding war. In Afghanistan the presence of drones has turned the civilian population into military combatants against not only the drones themselves but the host country also. But the biggest problem of host countries that use drones is that the drones could be taken over electronically. And the intelligence gathered intercepted as well as the electronics used to make the drone.

Remote warfare can also be done by by cyber strikes like the one in which the U.S. and Israel did against the Iranian nuclear facility using a computer worm called Stuxnet. This attacked the Iranian ministry’s programmable logic controller. A NATO commissioned report thinks this was an act of force prohibited by the U.N. charter. Some western intelligence agencies say Russia and China do many spy attempts on U.S. government workers so they can compromise both their security clearances and their personal lives as a form of leverage.

I think in the future there will be more drones and both aerial and ground for remote warfare. It is good  that humans won’t be the military personal in harms way but the video game mentality might pose a greater risk to civilians. I think computer spying should be allowed on national opponents but not allies. And cyber strikes (eg. worms) should only be used between countries in wartime. These drones on a negative note may affect people by instilling in us the fear of being monitored outside for possible nefarious reasons.