London Daily Mail & AntiWar.com & Live Science – 2014-01-03 10:55:02
‘One in Four US Drone Deaths in Pakistan Are Civilian’ Report Suggests:
Washington and London Face Growing Pressure to Cut Drone Programs
Daily Mail Foreign Service
LONDON (January 1, 2014) — Nearly a quarter of those killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan could have been civilians, a report claims. With Washington and London facing growing pressure to cut drone programmes, the figures are certain to inflame relationships with Pakistan.
The study released yesterday by the Council on Foreign Relations concludes, after scrutinising estimates from three monitoring groups, that of the 3,520 killed by US drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia over the last 12 years, 457 — or 11 percent — were civilians.
But one monitoring organisation, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, thinks the deadliest attacks were in Pakistan, and claims 3,091 were killed since 2004, with 22 percent of deaths — just over 680 — those of civilians.
America has sought to play down the ‘collateral damage’ of the drone strikes in Pakistan’s regions bordering Afghanistan where Al Qaeda terrorists have sought refuge. Pakistani officials say innocent civilians were killed daily.
The issue has put human rights groups and pro-Taliban forces on the same page as they use the civilian deaths to denounce the drones.
Pakistan has tempered its claims recently, but insists the attacks violate its sovereignty regardless of who they kill. Official casualty figures for the deaths are unavailable as they are classified. But according to details in the new report, President Obama’s mid-year decision to wind down drone strikes resulted in fewer strikes last year.
There were around 55 strikes in 2013, a drop from the estimated 92 the previous year.
The data comes from estimates compiled by the New America Foundation, the Long War Journal and the TBIJ.
Pentagon Roadmap: Future Drones Will Be
Deadlier, More Independent
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(January 2, 2014) — Making drones more controversial than they already are looks to be a herculean task, but the Pentagon seems eager to meet the challenge, and has unveiled an Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap that is a positively terrifying glimpse into the future.
More drones, bigger drones, stronger drones, and drone motherships that can launch smaller suicide drone “swarms” to attack people and detonate themselves. The drones of tomorrow will be deadlier, longer range, and capable of faster reactions.
But before anyone starts predicting a bull market for drone operator jobs, the plan also envisions autonomy in everything the drones do, including killing people, with the long-term goal being turning the drones loose and letting them figure out who to blow up.
While international efforts are underway to curb runaway drone use, the Pentagon report reads as a wish-list for more and more, and other than a single mention of the prospect of drone funding getting cut sometime after 2020, it seems not to question the underlying merit of flying, autonomous killbots.
Smarter, Deadlier Drones Mapped Out in Defense Plan
Erik Schechter / LiveScience
(January 1, 2014) — Drones that can decide for themselves how best to complete a pre-programmed mission — that’s just one of the many advanced capabilities the US Department of Defense (DoD) wants to develop over the next 25 years as part of its Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap.
The roadmap, released last week, lays out a broad vision for future unmanned air, land and maritime vehicles, But drones definitely get pride of place in the document, with the DoD exploring such technologies as precision navigation, swarming munitions and increased autonomy.
Unmanned aircraft currently depend on GPS for navigation. However, the satellite signals behind GPS are weak and easily jammed. Addressing this problem, the roadmap cites the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) ongoing work with so-called pinpoint inertial guidance systems that are jam-proof. [
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