Drone, a new documentary on the unmanned aerial vehicles, reveals how the US military recruited young gamers to operate the killing machines to attack targets in Pakistan.
“You never know who you are killing, because you never actually see a face” says Michael Haas, former drone operator for the US Air Force. “You just have silhouettes and it’s easy to have that detachment and that lack of empathy for human life.”
The documentary follows people on both side of this method of warfare – with stories from Waziristan drone victims and the drone operators who struggle to come to terms with what they do.
“I had no idea what I was in for…. I wasn’t even 20 years old at that point,” Haas recalls. “I thought it was the coolest damn thing in the world… play video game all day.
“And then the reality hits you that you may have to kill somebody.”
“The military has invested in creating video games that they are using as recruiting tools,” international relations scholar and political scientist PW Singer informs, while former US Navy pilot and aeronautics professor Missy Cummings comments on the changing nature of the job: “We don’t need Top Gun pilots anymore, we need Revenge of the Nerds.”
“I remember watching a wedding,” another former drone operator Brandon Bryant highlights the predicament. “These were people enjoying themselves. These were people celebrating a wedding. But someone in that wedding was a bad person.”
“It was just point and click,” he adds.
A portion of the documentary is available for viewing on The Guardian.