Switchblade drones get law professor’s panties bunched

| June 11, 2012 | 39 Comments

The LA Times (yeah, I know we’ve been linking them a lot today) writes about the new “switchblade drones” as depicted in this video;

Well, it seems that some goober law professor, Naureen Shah, associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at Columbia Law School, has to pull the knotted panties out of her crack because she’s worried that some soldiers on the battlefield might have to make a decision about killing an enemy fighter;

She pointed out that when a drone strike is being considered there are teams of lawyers, analysts and military personnel looking at the data to determine whether lethal force is necessary. But the Switchblade could shorten that “kill chain.”

“It delegates full responsibility to a lower-level soldier on the ground,” she said. “That delegation is worrisome. It’s a situation that could end up in more mistakes being made.”

I guess it’ll be the first time a soldier will have massive destructive firepower and the decision making responsibility to apply that firepower to the battlefield. It’s as if a soldier has his own tank or Bradley Fighting Vehicle…oh, wait…. Dingus.

Arms-control advocates also have concerns. As these small robotic weapons proliferate, they worry about what could happen if the drones end up in the hands of terrorists or other hostile forces.

Yeah, I’m sure the learning curve for the thing is so shallow that any goat farmer can start dropping them wherever he pleases without even scraping the dung off his sandals first. Well, right after he learns how to wear socks.

Just give it to the troops, they’ll know what to do. I’m so tired of all of this hand-wringing about the troops. They did fine in World War II without the president whispering op orders in their ear.

Category: Barack Obama/Joe Biden, Terror War

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  1. Anita says:

    In my opinion the troops on the ground are the ones who would have the best judgement on what the situation calls for. We need to quit tying their hands in all the red tape and let them do their job.

  2. PintoNag says:

    First of all, I didn’t have to read any further than “Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project,” before I knew there was a serious problem. There has to be some kind of serious conflict of interest there somewhere.

    And the doofi (plural of doofus, I think) still haven’t learned that our soldiers are taught to THINK, have they?

    That was a rhetorical question, of course.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Arms. . .control. . .advocates. . .”
    I think that sums it up and sez it all.

  4. WhiteOneAlpha says:

    When are they going to install remote control selector switches and triggers? I’m only there to aim and be shot at right?

  5. 77 11C20 says:

    It seems professors and reporters never heard the term fire mission.

  6. Doc Bailey says:

    It is interesting that these very soldiers, would be “victims” that should be fawned over for being “forced to go to war”. Lets face it, there’s a competency issue here, the idea that the little guy with boots on the ground can make up his own mind is anathema to them. What does a lowly E-5 know? had he gone to college? What does he know of the world? Chances are that he might know bit more than these profs but that’s no never mind.

  7. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    “Columbia Law School”…that says “academia”. Even back in the ’80s when I went back to school, thank you GI Bill, academia was stupidly liberal. Academia today is just as stupid as the filthy hippies from the Viet Nam era. They STILL think GIs are nothing but mindless robots. They can’t conceive that even Jr NCOs are capable of thinking.

  8. DR_BRETT says:

    Who the Hell HIRES these !@#$%^& ??
    If — I said IF (biggest two-letter word in the language) “Law” Professors were hired by competition, all these Colleges would be better .

  9. DR_BRETT says:

    “That delegation [FACULTY OF PROFESSORS] is worrisome. It’s a situation that could end up in more mistakes being made.”

  10. WEW54 says:

    Fuck em! They’re not in the field,under fire seeing what the troops see. Let the troops have what they need!!!!

  11. NHSparky says:

    Let’s do a little bit of comparison, shall we, boys and girls?

    21-year old college student: Life and death decision consists of which professor to take for easiest “gentleman’s C” grade in Underwater Basket Weaving. Has at hand hundreds of dollars from latest student loan to spend on cheap booze which will be thrown up on random couch in random sorority house.

    21-year old infantry buck sergeant: Calling in air support, coordinating movement with higher authority and other units, keeping squad in one piece while undetermined number of bad guys are trying to turn you into DEAD infantry buck sergeant. Has at hand millions of dollars of equipment he can be held personally responsible for.

    Okay, thanks for playing, libtards.

  12. Ex-PH2 says:

    I suggest that Ms. Shah and the delegation spend some time on the receiving end of a terrorist attack, with no one answering their cries for help.

    It will probably shut them up.

  13. UpNorth says:

    “She pointed out that when a drone strike is being considered there are teams of lawyers, analysts and military personnel looking at the data to determine whether lethal force is necessary”. Yet, she apparently has no clue about what goes on at the shooter’s end of an M-4.
    I guess this is just a plea for more lawyers in the military, or increased funding for Columbia Law, to turn out more lawyers.

  14. CI says:

    @11 – That was masterful Sparky….too bad most of society can’t comprehend that difference.

  15. Yeff says:

    That’s the great thing about US troops. If you give them a spoon they’ll sharpen it on a rock and use it to kill food you don’t need to sip.

    You never can tell how they’re going to use something like the Switchblade in the end but I’ll bet you’ll be able to use it to eat tomato soup.

  16. Cortillaen says:

    Re: the second quote, it’s a little late to be having those worries. Drones are already in use, our enemies, their sponsers, and/or friendly (read: hostile to us) powers already have the concept and, most likely, some of the technology in hand. Plus, if at least one hostile power isn’t actively researching weaponized drones of their own with the express intent of using them, even as a deterrent, against us, I’ll eat my boots.

  17. Anonymous says:

    reminds me of the army’s entire mentality. “if you haven’t been to college, you don’t know shit, and are therefore not allowed to make decisions.” It was perfectly described in one of Col Hackworths books when he described his own OCS experience where soldiers were being dropped left and right because of dumb shit that had nothing to do with being a soldier and one day while they were teaching a maneuver in a classroom setting, they said something to the effect of “and the man who performed this maneuver is the battle described was awarded the MOH and is in this class…stand up sgt so and so” To which someone replied “he was dropped from the course”. Until somebody makes it common knowledge that not everybody who chooses to wield a rifle for a living MUST be a moron, you will have complaints of this nature for every piece of equipment that gets fielded to enlisted types.

  18. malclave says:

    The solution is simple… draft all the lawyers who haven’t already volunteered for military service, and put them in charge of the drones.

    The law degree should be enough to get them E4 once they’ve finished Basic and AIT.

  19. DaveO says:

    Well, at least they have jobs. Whether they pay taxes, or like most progressives feel taxes are for the untermensch, is another question.

    We should realize that most college graduates can not write, can not do basic math, have no knowledge of our Constitution, civics, or civility. Lawyers aren’t much better off. Have met a number of lawyers who can’t find jobs, and will do anything now that bill’s come due.

    So don’t celebrate that Naureen Shah is working for the other side – celebrate that she found a job in an economy with over 14% real unemployment!

  20. Ex-PH2 says:

    #17 — It’s not “haven’t been to college”. The culture of the Army is “haven’t been to WEST POINT”.
    “College” is an insufficient term. Substitute “elitism” for “West Point”.
    It’s the same as saying “I went to law school” but not saying “Harvard law school”.

  21. Ex-PH2 says:

    I forgot to ask if these people actually understand that, in warfare, people get killed? And the whole point of weapons development is to ensure success on ‘our’ side (whoever ‘we’ are), regardless of the effect on ‘them’.
    Just asking.

  22. DR_BRETT says:

    “I forgot to ask if these people actually understand that, in warfare, people get killed?”

    Ha !!
    You DARE, to bring THAT up !!
    You heartless, ruthless !@#$$%
    (*sarcasm*)

    A man from Khe Sanh
    (NO — I was NOT there)
    said, in effect: “We went there, in order to KILL THE ENEMY;
    we left, when we had accomplished that mission.”

  23. Ex-PH2 says:

    Dr. Brett: well said!

  24. Ann says:

    This drone will help save military AND civilian lives. I’ve seen firsthand all the capabilities drones give us. It’s some amazing stuff. Couple that with the instant objectivity of third party monitoring and the strong combat sense of our guys on the ground then you end up with an amazing tool. I guess the Professor doesn’t want reduced fog of war, and lower civilian and military casualties.

    How difficult does she think it is to ascertain the intentions of some random guys with RPGs and AKs doing the reverse pajama moon walk to an area we’d otherwise have zero visibility of? Or some random concealed near belly down in the dirt near a roadway with a cell phone like device he clearly isn’t talking into?

  25. C.Q. says:

    But if we reduce civilian casualties then these professors will have nothing to bitch about.

  26. Ann says:

    CQ, and then Jonn would be destitute since there’d be nothing to post about so nobody would click on his ads.

  27. Tom B. says:

    Here’s what angers me so badly. These asshats don’t realize that most E-4′s in the military have some level of higher education, are currently working on their high education or, have plans and the means to obtain high education. They’re trained to be a Soldier in the world’s most educated, highly trained, technically and tactically proficient, politically hindered/over-seen military force to ever walk the Earth. They are typically very intelligent individuals who have had the ROE explained to them to the point of nausea. The have been Power-Pointed to death and constantly keep each other in check (there have been exceptions to this) in any given tactical situation.

    They have a gun in their hand, typically have M203′s, typically have indirect fire support in their patrol sectors and yet, this ONE tool of war is going to change the face of combat so much as to drastically increase civilian casualties?

    I don’t fucking think so!

  28. WOTN says:

    So, the far left is concerned that an NCO in combat might have the capability to see beyond the horizon, and accurately kill enemy combatants that are shooting at him, that he might make a mistake?

    But they are not concerned that politicians might start wars because they can send robots into the air to blow up television stations in a foreign country (Libya) without getting authorization for war from Congress?

    The “Drone Wars” are here. The current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania loves his drones. Because he doesn’t have the political risk of “boots on the ground,” that could be killed, he can order that team of pilots, politicians, and lawyers to blow up anything he wants, and call it “not war.” And he believes that means he doesn’t even need to tell Congress in what countries he is blowing things up. (see Panetta testimony to Congress re: Syria, and the list of targets in Libya, including the TV station that was broadcasting things Obama didn’t like being said.)

    Does that make these flying robots evil? No. They are just tools of war. They don’t (yet) think on their own and they don’t kill on their own. But like any tool, they can be misused, and currently, the chief politician is using them in a manner that is contradictory to the International Laws of Land Warfare, and the US Constitution.

    You can find a lawyer that will be happy to be paid to tell you whatever you want, and argue in court that it was justified for you to have done it. You find a whole generation of politicians that would kiss the devil’s bastard baby and tell the world it’s an angel if it’ll get them elected. Who do I trust more with decisions of life and death in combat? An NCO being shot at on the battlefield, or a lawyer/politician looking over the shoulder of a pilot in Ohio? The NCO, every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  29. Old Trooper says:

    As a 21 year old E-4 (yeah, at that time I was part of the dreaded E-4 mafia) I was responsible for the weapons systems on 7 attack helicopters worth millions of dollars, combined, plus keeping them up and combat ready at all times. We had 3 flights of attack helicopters (21 total) plus 3 flights of scouts (15 OH-58s) and other equipment and we were all young, college age kids at the time with more responsibility than our peers that were, as Sparky so eloquently put it, puking up foam from the previous nights party and worrying about the grade on their final. If we didn’t perform, people died; if they didn’t perform, they had to retake a class.

    Yeah, there is a big difference in level of maturity and responsibility in comparison, but the lifetime academics can’t see that, because they have never experienced it, themselves.

  30. El Marco says:

    time to change the MTOE. Infantry squad leaders will now be replaced with attorneys who can make the right decision.

    Articles like this make me want to start cussing again.

  31. NHSparky says:

    When I was 22 (sorry, did the college thing for a couple years before I joined) and was an E-5 qualified RO/SRO, we joked that our job was a “Leavenworth-capable position where at the beginning of the watch we put our stripes and a check for a couple of months pay on the RPCP, and got to take them back at the end of the watch, then repeat.”

    I wonder what that asshat lawyer would say if she witnessed said lowly E-5 (among others) telling 25-year old O-2 or O-3 EOOW, “No sir, you can’t do that, the RPM says you can’t in such-and-such chapter and verse, and here’s why, “sir”…” We would trust a man (or on carriers, a woman) no older than a college senior with a freakin nuclear power plant, along with the political implications if the shit hit the fan.

    I still remember my first SRO (Shutdown Reactor Operator) watch after getting qualified. “Okay, PO Sparky, you did the reactor shutdown, you’re now SRO, place the engine room in a shutdown lineup, starboard side supplying. So-and-so’s the Rover, so-and-so’s the Mech Operator, I’m going forward. Don’t fuck it up.”

  32. Ann says:

    Sparky, excellent example. In my case I wonder what they’d say when they realize the entire OIF/OEF airspace and everything in it are controlled by 19 or 20 year olds with just a high school diploma. The few officers who actually did any controlling and approval were at most Captains in their mid twenties. The only ones older were all prior enlisted.

    I can’t speak for other services, but in the case of the Marines there’s a Captain in charge of the crew; however, the enlisted CC has just as much authority to correct any of the other officers on crew.

  33. NHSparky says:

    Exactly. Most folks have no idea just how much RESPONSIBILITY the average junior officer or even junior NCO have.

  34. Ex-PH2 says:

    I don’t recall my mother ever talking about people complaining about collateral damage to private property during World War II. I don’t think the Axis powers gave a crap whose house was blown up or whose property was stolen or whose family was strafed and killed. They just blitzed and killed and stole. Considering how much damage was done in England and on the continent, I’ve always been surprised at how quickly things were rebuilt after the war was over.

    Do we hear whining from the Vietnamese? Or from Korea? No.

    I do not believe any attorney is qualified to judge or make decisions about whether or not a properly trained and properly qualified equipment operator should handle his equipment.

    Can someone just stuck a sock in her mouth?

  35. tesla says:

    i know naureen personally from law school. she is a great human being and tireless worker. that said. —-i can’t help agreeing with the author’s general sentiment for reasons i will describe below.

    —perhaps naureen should take a step back from the focus of her critical thought, and rethink where exactly human rights are being violated, and where exactly her criticism can be helpful.

    —human rights are being violated almost everywhere, and her criticism is not going to be helpful in the foreign arena where one/she cannot even physically visit the behavior which she is examining. perhaps for example, she should be critical of the use of drones in the united states, by the government for supposedly ‘peaceful’ purposes–and for outright spying—because not only can her input be useful , but there is a far larger audience of americans who feel their civil rights are being trampled that might take you seriously.

    i suspect the author of this article would have written something very different if the substance of her criticism were directed at the u.s. government using expensive and near pan-opticon-like technology to spy on americans without their knowledge , and without a warrant obtained from a grand jury.

    —-i could be wrong. but i mean, drones , yea they’re horrible and what not, but so are nuclear weapons, and for all the brooha that pacificsts have made about nukes being held by the military, absolutely nothing of substance has been accomplished with regard toward changing their usage in the military. all the supposed non-proliferation treaties and every other sign of ‘progress’ is bogus coverup for what is really just the game of empire. i think a domestic focus would suit naureens human rights campaign much better.

  36. UpNorth says:

    “and without a warrant obtained from a grand jury”. Well, Skippy, unless/until the law is changed, the air over your house/tailer/bunker is free, anyone can use it. Next time you hear rotor blades beating the air, take a look. It could be a medical helicopter, a National Guard helicopter, a police helicopter, a sight seeing helicopter. They all have free reign up there, as does the 737/757/767/Airbus.
    That said, the issue needs to be addressed by the legislatures of the states, or Congress. It’s much like “plain view”. Look it up.

  37. PapaMAS says:

    I think we should take this person’s views very seriously. We should have a bunch of lawyers and politicians debating every action every single military member might make and only after very serious discussion can they be told if they can shoot off a round or two. Seriously. It worked in Vietnam, right?

    My God, the absolute horror this dimwit must be in at the concept of someone else actually thinking and acting autonomously! Why, what can we do without the sage advice of our betters?

    We in the military kill other people and break things. That’s what we do. We are very, very good at it. If you don’t want people killed and things broken, DON’T FREAKIN’ SEND US IN.

  38. Elric says:

    As far as drones collecting on US citizens, legally any info gathered say near our southern border that includes activities of US legal residents or citizens has to have all identifying information immediately redacted (permanently). The actual data itself…whether film, intsums, photos must be physically destroyed within 90 days. THe files are inspected and violations have ended careers and could land you in Leavenworth.

    That is the military. Law enforcement, specifically DOJ and DHS is what worries me.

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