In a July 6 piece for the New York Times on the training of drone operators titled The Drone Zone, Mark Mazzetti wrote:
The increased use of drones in warfare has led the Air Force to re-engineer its training program for drone pilots.
Aside from the inevitable landing accidents that result when you rush a pilot — virtual or not — into action, other problems have arisen.
Then there is the fact that the movement shown on a drone pilot’s video screen has over the years been seconds behind what the drone sees — a delay caused by the time it takes to bounce a signal off a satellite in space. This problem, called “latency,” has long bedeviled drone pilots, making it difficult to hit a moving target. Last year senior operatives with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula told a Yemeni reporter that if they hear an American drone overhead, they move around as much as possible. (Military officials said that they have made progress in recent years in addressing the latency problem but declined to provide details.)
Jeez, as if drone strikes weren’t already enough of a guessing game what with signature strikes* and all.
*”Signature strikes target groups of men believed to be militants associated with terrorist groups, but whose identities aren’t always known. The bulk of CIA’s drone strikes are signature strikes.” http://tinyurl.com/8a78vdp
Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.