What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?

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Offline vampares

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What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« on: 21/09/2014 06:23:59 »
Drone strikes involve non-confrontational ballistics.  Drone strikes place fewer human resources in harms way but are they truly effective?  What are the negative impacts of making these strikes against an adversary?  Are there positive aspects to avoiding human contact with an adversary, or a non-conformant?

[MOD EDIT- please phrase subjects as questions in line with AUP]
« Last Edit: 03/10/2014 11:35:30 by Georgia »

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Offline alancalverd

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HG Wells' "The War in the Air" should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the subject. Written before WW1 it pointed out that enormous carnage can be delivered by air, but the war isn't won until one side has occupied the other's territory.

In the case of WW2 it can be argued that nuclear bombs made actual invasion of Japan unnecessary, but the damage done by conventional bombing of Hamburg, Dresden and Cologne was of equal magnitude in terms of civilian deaths and the targets were of greater military significance than Hiroshima or Nagasaki, yet Germany fought on until it was overrun. To my mind the atom bomb was a demonstration of such potentially overwhelming capability that surrender was clearly preferable to continuing the fight.

So in the case of drone strikes, they either need to be followed up with infantry (in which case they are a very costeffective alternative to manned tactical bombing) or used as a demonstration of overwhelming capability. But the latter still needs a convincing capacity to follow up or a credible threat of nuclear devastation. The buildup of Allied troops in India in 1944-5, and the steady advance of the US navy across the Pacific, were clearly preparatory to a conventional invasion of Japan in the event that the nuclear attack was unconvincing.

The current farce in Iraq and the shambles in Afghanistan are surely due to a lack of post-invasion objectives and an unwillingness to enforce a military occupation after a virtually unopposed air campaign.  Had the first Iraq war been pursued to an invasion and occupation of Baghdad, things might be very different now. 

However much people may tell you the European Union has achieved, the simple fact is that Germany was under military occupation for 50 years and therefore unable to start WW3. Thus I feel that limited strikes against ISIS, and limited retaliation against Hamas, will be unprofitable: both are merely the sacrificial frontline of vastly bigger interests.       
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Offline vampares

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I could say that drone strike is non-confrontational and does not incite the enemy to retaliate.

It could also be said that drone strikes while very precise, are not really striking the heart of the matter.  By attacking a weak or non-aggressive target resources are directed to potentially more aggressive targets.

I heard the Japanese were about to surrender anyways prior to the nuclear weapons.  I'd be interested as to whether the nukes changed their minds in any way or created difficulty in this regard.

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Offline alancalverd

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A curious use of "nonconfrontational". If I bombed your brother's house and killled all your relatives, wouldn't you feel inclined to retaliate on his behalf? How about if I just blew up your car?

Now suppose you had just built a rocket launcher and I destroyed that: why did you build it in the first place? Wouldn't you want to build another one?

Considering the Japanese surrender was unconditional and tendered almost immediately after Hiroshima, I can't see that it "created difficulty" in that regard.
« Last Edit: 22/09/2014 11:21:52 by alancalverd »
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Offline David Cooper

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The strategy now is to do what should have been done before in Afghanistan and Iraq - provide an air force to aid the local fighters that you support so that they can hold their ground and prevent the bad guys from expanding. Within the territory where you allow the bad guys to go on running things, you can also throw in the odd air strike now and then to reduce their capacity to export harm and to make them unpopular with the population they control. This only works though if you can avoid killing civilians, because as soon as you start killing innocent people you merely increase support for the bad guys by making your side look worse.

It won't be long before we have small drones with guns on them which can find and eliminate the enemy with precision, so the whole game will then change and no one sane will want to walk around carrying a gun.

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Offline alancalverd

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There alas is the problem. Air strikes will always kill civilians, especially if the bad guys hide among civilians or herd them into a human shield - as has been done for at least the last 100 years.

Your minidrone is likely to be vulnerable to ground fire or a bash with a stick, if it flies "low and slow" enough to reognise the baddies. And it won't detect carriers of concealed weapons.
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Offline David Cooper

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How easy is it to spot a singing skylark? It can take minutes sometimes. Now imagine that there are half a dozen of them all with a gun that can take you out and ask yourself if you want to try to shoot them all out of the sky. The technology is possible now. It won't be long before stories of famous people being anonymously assassinated by them start to hit the news. People like Putin will never be able to go outdoors ever again.

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Offline alancalverd

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To be reasonably certain of killing a human at, say, 10 m range, you need a gun weighing around 1 kg - imagine an airborne Colt 45. The drone must be strong enough to survive more than one recoil and have sufficient fuel capacity to fly beyond the range of your target's security zone - say a couple of miles.

Entirely feasible at a reasonable price (600 - 800 should cover it, including the TV gunsight) but by no means invisible or inaudible.

It's not a completely fanciful idea. In 1936 Air Commodore Clouston was approached by a syndicate offering to finance a single-pass strafing of Hitler at a set-piece rally. In such a scenario, where the target is clearly exposed for some time, I'd be inclined to use a fixed-wing drone - much faster and easier to control over a long distance. At 150 mph and low level, a 2 m wingspan model plane would be practically unstoppable, with a range of a few miles.     
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Offline David Cooper

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No recoil to drone if you shoot two things in opposite directions down (and up) the same tube. Plastic tube: very light gun. These things would be horribly easy to make, but fortunately the control system would currently require a video link which will give you away and ensure you are caught. With artificial intelligence though, that will soon change, and it may already be possible to do it with an autonomous drone using face recognition to target important people. On the battlefield, it would need to recognise combatants rather than faces, so the requirement is the ability to recognise people carrying guns in a combat zone where all the armed people in a defined area can be assumed to be the enemy. This is probably going to start happening soon in the fight against IS, and that's the perfect testing ground for it.

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Offline alancalverd

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No recoil to drone if you shoot two things in opposite directions down (and up) the same tube. Plastic tube: very light gun.
plastic guns do work at very short range with very light projectiles but if you want to kill a human with a single remote shot you need a projectile that will penetrate a skull at near-sonic speed, and this requires a propellant and an accelerating tube. You can use a low burn rate propellant with a long thin-walled tube like a black-powder blunderbuss (which rather screws up the aerodynamics and manoueverability of your drone) , or a high burm rate with a short, thick-walled tube (a Colt 45). But if the tube is not adequately rigid the projectile will jam, the tube will burst, or it won't fire in the direction you expected.

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the control system would currently require a video link which will give you away and ensure you are caught.
Not at all. Use a mobile phone for both the video downlink and the control uplink. And don't forget to withold your number. You can be in the crowd or on the other side of the world (roaming charges may apply)

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On the battlefield, it would need to recognise combatants rather than faces, so the requirement is the ability to recognise people carrying guns in a combat zone where all the armed people in a defined area can be assumed to be the enemy.
Wrong assumption, irrelevant scenario. The guys carrying guns are idiots. The enemy is the man giving the orders, and being a Man of God, he probably won't be armed. If idiots are walking towards you with weapons, you shoot them before they shoot you - all of them, and anyone who may be carrying weapons or hiding someone who is. If you are not there, they are no threat but you may wish to bomb them anyway.  Use a big drone - cheaper than a manned aircraft.
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Offline yor_on

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #10 on: 26/09/2014 01:59:31 »
Don't like it at all. the technique seems to be to first strike once, then wait until there are people there trying to help those injured and killed, then strike again. From over the sea, done by guys up-graduated from playing computer games to killing by remote. Whether it is effective? Depends on what you mean. It's a scary weapon, death from a blue sky, and as it is rather indiscriminate, whatever the guys flying them think, it has that scariness factor for a population, much as the rockets had over London.
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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #11 on: 26/09/2014 11:48:33 »
You're not supposed to like it. Killing people is not for entertainment. But war is war, and as Patton put it, "No goddam sonaofabitch ever won a war by dying for his country. You win a war by making the other goddam sonofabitch die for his country."

If the object is to influence the policy of a foreign government, killing civilians does seem to be more effective than killing soldiers nowadays, but it's a complicated business and the outcome is not entirely predictable. The obvious and rational response to 9/11 was to lock the cockpit door and issue all passengers with knives - rearranging the rubble in Afghanistan and confiscating sticky tape from air passengers doesn't strike me as logical at all. So when the bad boys fly a big drone into the Hancock Center, I wonder what the response will be?
« Last Edit: 26/09/2014 11:53:38 by alancalverd »
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Offline yor_on

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #12 on: 26/09/2014 12:13:15 »
Well, terror is terror Alan. Doesn't really matter who terrorize you does it? If you're the one targeted. And yes, I also expect it to ineffective, just as you seem to do. The only thing I expect it to do is to give USA a new, and worse, image in the eyes of those living where those drones deliver their loads. I can discuss this type of 'new warfare' at length, there are so many aspects to it.
« Last Edit: 26/09/2014 12:22:33 by yor_on »
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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #13 on: 26/09/2014 19:13:58 »
Interestingly, the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the UK (now spookily renamed the Terrorism Act) never defined terrorism. As far as I can see, modern terrorism is more a matter of response than action. The bad boys blow up  a building or a train and the government immediately imposes all sorts of restrictions on the population and makes everyone afraid of both government and their neighbours.

Now when I was a lad the idea of blackmail or terrorism was to escalate your action until the target (government, company or individual) negotiated a deal or capitulated to your stated demands. This worked OK in Cyprus, Israel and Ireland, and more recently in Northern Ireland where the heads of gangs of murderers and torturers now share power in a "legitimate" parliament. But since 9/11 there don't seem to be any expressed demands, just random killings, on a decreasing rather than increasing scale, and the response has simply made life more inconvenient for the general public.   

Asymmetric warfare became fashionable in Vietnam, where it was surprisingly more effective than, for instance, much of the European Resistance effort during WW2. It seems that the more sophisticated the aggressor, the easier he is to defeat if you choose your battleground carefully. Attacking Syria with conventional ground forces was a pretty neat trick for ISIS: they are gradually drawing the West into an unwinnable war in support of an unpopular regime, and spilling the action into Iraq was a stroke of genius to accelerate the process. The mistake here is the Western belief that democracy can be imposed without bloodshed. It took 2000 years of fighting to establish in Europe, a massively bloody revolution and the subsequent collapse of communism in Russia, and the extermination of most of the native population elsewhere. No reason why the Middle East should be any different.

But I digress from the original subject. Yes, a neat drone strike could do a lot of good, but the target must be the brains and money behind the front line rabble. Things will improve when the West loses its dependence on oil. 
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #14 on: 26/09/2014 20:39:29 »
plastic guns do work at very short range with very light projectiles but if you want to kill a human with a single remote shot you need a projectile that will penetrate a skull at near-sonic speed, and this requires a propellant and an accelerating tube.

The range needn't be great. Imagine a flock of drones working as a pack and the difficulty an armed combatant would have when faced with a dozen of these things moving in on him from all angles - death is certain if he stays to fight them, even if he manages to shoot some down. If you send a swarm of these onto the battlefield you could wipe out an entire army for a very affordable price. Small drones could be used to wipe out the millitary forces of groups like ISIS and the Taleban, eliminating the need for troops on the ground and getting away from the distant rocket-firing approach of the kind of drones used today which leads to civilians being hit.

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the control system would currently require a video link which will give you away and ensure you are caught.
Not at all. Use a mobile phone for both the video downlink and the control uplink. And don't forget to withold your number. You can be in the crowd or on the other side of the world (roaming charges may apply)

If you are using a phone link, you can be potentially be detected at the time, and you can certainly be detected after the event when you are traced through trig and through CCTV, if you are at the scene. You're right though that you could control it from far away and even from another country, but that could be blocked by putting in sufficient delays to prevent anyone doing this, while any signal of that kind being used to control a drone from far off when the drone is near a potential target could have the connection cut. That's something the security services of many countries need to act on urgently if they haven't already done so, but I suspect all such video connections in sensitive locations are watched closely already. The real problem will come when the video link is no longer needed.

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Wrong assumption, irrelevant scenario. The guys carrying guns are idiots. The enemy is the man giving the orders, and being a Man of God, he probably won't be armed. If idiots are walking towards you with weapons, you shoot them before they shoot you - all of them, and anyone who may be carrying weapons or hiding someone who is. If you are not there, they are no threat but you may wish to bomb them anyway.  Use a big drone - cheaper than a manned aircraft.

If you are fighting against a force like ISIS or the Taleban, they depend on being in large groups to get past local defences - they fight their way in, and then they abuse and kill the inhabitants. If they were intercepted by drones first, they would never get to the point where they can have a gunfight against people. They would have to try to get in individually instead and would be unable to take in heavy weapons with them, so it would make operations magnitudes harder for them. The religious nutter in charge of them should ideally be targeted too, but there will be a string of replacement nutters waiting to take his place. The power he has comes from the forces he commands, and it is those forces that need to be targeted most. While new recruits will replace many of the ones lost, the rate of attrition will be high enough to put most people off and these groups will fade into insignificance.

It is likely of course that they would capture a few drones and try to reverse engineer them, so you need to ensure that only the hardware can be captured while the software remains out of reach, instantly being lost as soon as a fault of any kind is detected. Booting them up in the first place would have to be done in such a way that the software can't be stolen at that stage either. You would always be a step ahead though with the technology and your drones would be able to pick off any sent up to work for a primitive enemy.

So, the kind of warfare practised by ISIS and the Taleban is doomed to extinction - it's only a matter of time before they are tackled the right way and find that their whole approach is wrong. But maybe it's best not to get to that point, because if they can be tricked into continuing to go on working the way they currently are, most of the ones who might have gone in for other kinds of terrorism will throw their lives away for nothing on little battlefields instead, so it is probably best not to wipe them out, but to let them expand repeatedly and keep knocking them back without a decisive victory. Then again though, normal terrorism is increasingly hard because every time terrorists try to communicate with other terrorists they give themselves away, so they're really just wasting their time. All they do is find futile ways to kill themselves.

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Offline yor_on

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #15 on: 26/09/2014 23:08:48 »
Alan, nice summary, to me there is one more point to it. I think democracy needs to come, as in grow, from inside a population. I don't really think one can 'export' it. Is there any countries that have a democracy forced upon them by 'outsiders'?
==

This meaning that states that runs on a older 'patriarchic' model, as the old testament, won't get democracy at all. They will understand 'the strong mans right', but not democracy as such. that means that when USA is coming on 'strong', force full and threatening, they do get it. But not through arguments without that (military and economic)  force behind it. So when they accept USA in a region, it's more of recognizing the 'strong mans right' as I think, not because of expecting democracy, Same idea that Stalin had actually, that any problem can be solved, by a bullet.

and when USA then turn it into what they consider a democracy, and try to leave, it falls apart. You can't get it both ways.
« Last Edit: 26/09/2014 23:35:05 by yor_on »
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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #16 on: 27/09/2014 08:11:11 »


The range needn't be great. Imagine a flock of drones working as a pack and the difficulty an armed combatant would have when faced with a dozen of these things moving in on him from all angles
so you need a swarm of cooperating pilots or some very expensive drones, just to kill one person at a time. A nuclear artillery round can wipe out a battallion with a single, cheap, shot, if they are stupid enough to stand close together. 
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onto the battlefield......getting away from the distant rocket-firing approach of the kind of drones used today which leads to civilians being hit.
There's the problem. There is no "battlefield" in modern warfare. The bastards drive into undefended civilian areas and start punishing their chosen infidel until the good guys arrive and destroy the city with air strikes and heavy artillery from outside. It's not like "Agincourt with drones."

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If you are using a phone link, you can be potentially be detected at the time, and you can certainly be detected after the event when you are traced through trig and through CCTV, if you are at the scene. You're right though that you could control it from far away and even from another country, but that could be blocked by putting in sufficient delays to prevent anyone doing this, while any signal of that kind being used to control a drone from far off when the drone is near a potential target could have the connection cut.
Always a possibility with ground-based mobiles, but I do have the element of surprise on my side. However a satellite link is more difficult to disrupt and my signals are hidden in plain sight amid a thousand other phone calls.


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If you are fighting against a force like ISIS or the Taleban, they depend on being in large groups to get past local defences - they fight their way in, and then they abuse and kill the inhabitants.
not particularly large groups. Since the primary target is undefended civilians, one tank or armoured truck plus a dozen infantry can capture a village and kill a thousand people in an hour.
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If they were intercepted by drones first
Now we are talking about a machine that can destroy a truck, so it's back to rockets and cannon fire from something that looks remarkably like an aeroplane.

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The religious nutter in charge of them should ideally be targeted too, but there will be a string of replacement nutters waiting to take his place.
Yep. Faith is the enemy. Only education can defeat it, and that takes a very long time.

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It is likely of course that they would capture a few drones and try to reverse engineer them, so you need to ensure that only the hardware can be captured while the software remains out of reach
This happened to a relative of mine. He was commissioned to design parts for some special munitions for use in Vietnam. When they captured some Chinese copies it turned out that they had copied everything down to the tool marks and calculation errors in his original product.
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Booting them up in the first place would have to be done in such a way that the software can't be stolen at that stage either.
You may safely assume that everyone everywhere is writing the same software and indeed building the same or better hardware. Remember that the bad guys in the present conflict have unlimited funding because it comes from the oil that the good guys need to pursue the war.

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So, the kind of warfare practised by ISIS and the Taleban is doomed to extinction - it's only a matter of time before they are tackled the right way and find that their whole approach is wrong.
apparently not. Human stupidity is unlimited, human brutality only requires permission, teenagers love to rebel against the perceived status quo, and for as long as there is any oil in the Middle East, there will be money to buy weapons.  It's just an intellectual continuation of the Crusades, as far as the combatants and mullahs are concerned, and a means to keep the oil price high as far as the backers are concerned.
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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #17 on: 27/09/2014 08:26:43 »
Is there any countries that have a democracy forced upon them by 'outsiders'?


India. But Gandhi recognised that there would be a hell of a lot of bloodshed between the British leaving and the re-establishment of a working democracy in an independent state, and there was.  Democracy was established in Australia and South Africa by simply ignoring or murdering the native population until they decided to participate, but the compromise was more quickly established in New Zealand. North America: same story. West Indies: establish a democracy then give the slaves a vote. In fact I can't think of anywhere (apart possibly from Scandinavia, where common sense seems to fall with the snow) that democracy arose peacefully from a majority consensus. If it wasn't by revolution, it was by conquest.   
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Offline yor_on

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #18 on: 27/09/2014 13:42:55 »
Maybe?

You make a good argument there. Then again, what time period are we discussing for a democracy to raise from the ashes of what was before. Seems to me that we're discussing centuries if I look at Britain in India. (1757 to 1947)

It could possibly be argued that the only way to a working democracy goes through conquest, but at the same time I think one has to see that the native population, by that time intermingled, conquerors and 'natives', need to have a consensus on it. Which takes us back to what I believe is the only way to get democracy to work. By having a population wanting it, and working for it, conquerors there or not.
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #19 on: 27/09/2014 18:08:07 »
so you need a swarm of cooperating pilots or some very expensive drones, just to kill one person at a time. A nuclear artillery round can wipe out a battallion with a single, cheap, shot, if they are stupid enough to stand close together.

Robot swarms (flying ones) are already able to work together without a single human controlling them, so it's not a problem. The whole point of using drones is that the enemy isn't always sitting in a tight knot waiting to be eliminated, but they spread out and lurk a lot. It's expensive to take them out with missiles and the like, but with drones it will be cheap and effective.

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There's the problem. There is no "battlefield" in modern warfare. The bastards drive into undefended civilian areas and start punishing their chosen infidel until the good guys arrive and destroy the city with air strikes and heavy artillery from outside. It's not like "Agincourt with drones."

There's still a battlefield - the civilians get the hell out of the way and two sides fight it out in a messy way by lurking behind whatever protective features of the environment they can find, sniping at each other from there. I watched some recent footage of British troops fighting in Afghanistan against the Taleban and was astonished at how primitive the fighting was and how perfectly suited it would be to using robotic devices to flush out the enemy and eliminate them so that people stop sticking their heads up over walls and getting bullets fly at them. They don't even seem to have guns with electronic viewfinders to allow the soldier to keep his head down while only sticking a gun over the top which can be aimed without needing an eye to be physically located over one end of it.

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not particularly large groups. Since the primary target is undefended civilians, one tank or armoured truck plus a dozen infantry can capture a village and kill a thousand people in an hour.

Tanks and armoured trucks are easy targets for missiles, so they can be eliminated easily by air strikes. The harder task is dealing with the small scale stuff, but when the enemy is reduced to that, it's easier to defend against them, and having small single-shot drones that can pick them off one by one without the defenders putting themselves at risk will be a game changer.

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Yep. Faith is the enemy. Only education can defeat it, and that takes a very long time.


Education has little impact. Mind viruses will be around for a long time to come, but we can find ways to prevent nutters from putting military forces together to impose their beliefs on others.

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You may safely assume that everyone everywhere is writing the same software and indeed building the same or better hardware. Remember that the bad guys in the present conflict have unlimited funding because it comes from the oil that the good guys need to pursue the war.

I think the bigger powers have better software to throw at the problem, but the Americans seem to be leaky - the Chinese are getting their hands on a lot of it through hacking. I do wish they'd stop connecting everything to the web.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #20 on: 27/09/2014 23:28:25 »

There's still a battlefield - the civilians get the hell out of the way and two sides fight it out in a messy way by lurking behind whatever protective features of the environment they can find, sniping at each other from there. I watched some recent footage of British troops fighting in Afghanistan against the Taleban and was astonished at how primitive the fighting was and how perfectly suited it would be to using robotic devices to flush out the enemy and eliminate them so that people stop sticking their heads up over walls and getting bullets fly at them. They don't even seem to have guns with electronic viewfinders to allow the soldier to keep his head down while only sticking a gun over the top which can be aimed without needing an eye to be physically located over one end of it.


Afghanistan is an odd case: this year's "bad guys" were previously brave mujahadeen freedom fighters armed by the USA in their opposition to Soviet occupation. They returned to the hills when the West discovered what a bunch of fundamenalist scumbags they were when in power. But whilst they have rural refuges and training camps, their operations are still primarily in towns and villages from which the civilian population has not fled - because they can't. 

Come to think of it, it's not that unique. Pretty well every brave freedom fighter has turned out to be more of a threat to the natives than the corrupt regime they were fighting, and not just godfearing muslims either: Stalin killed almost as many Russians as Hitler, and the Maoists' balance sheet is pretty weak too. ISIS is just following the trend. 

Anyway, back to the plot. Why "flush out" the enemy? If you know where he is, why not kill him there, with a conventional bomb or shell? This isn't sport, it's war. He isn't going to be drawn out of cover by a machine, only by a patrol of potentially killable humans, hence firefights usually start with a landmine or roadside bomb, and the enfilading force will generally have the wit and wherewithal to cover themselves from aerial observation - they have after all been subject to intensive satellite and helicopter surveillance for the last 50 years or so. 
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #21 on: 28/09/2014 18:37:11 »
Why "flush out" the enemy? If you know where he is, why not kill him there, with a conventional bomb or shell?

You typically don't know where they are until they turn up somewhere and try to take it over. If it was easy to blow them all to kingdom come with missiles from high altitude drones it would have been done by now. What those drones (and other aircraft) are good at is taking out things like tanks and targetting stupid leaders who give away their location by using radio communications. The difficulty with tackling these groups from the air is when they manifest themselves as spread-out gangs with machine guns, RPGs and the like - you ordinarily need troops on the ground to deal with that. Those troops could be local defence forces trained to defend their own villages and towns, but they need to be armed and trained and there's a lag in the system which has made the fight uneven. If it can be levelled up, you get stalemate, and that means relative safety for the population. Small drones could make these defence tasks a lot easier, taking away the need for large local defence forces. Most of the drones needn't even be armed, but could be made as cheaply as toy ones and make up the bulk of a drone swarm so that anyone who tries to shoot them all down is wasting their time. Only a few of them need to be able to shoot back.

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This isn't sport, it's war. He isn't going to be drawn out of cover by a machine

The whole point is that he's already out of cover trying to attack something, and wherever he tries to hide during the attack, the drones will find him without any risk to the defenders. Of course, drones could also be turned to attack, so if the terrorists started using the technology to attack places they could avoid risking their lives too, but it would be easy enough for the locals to stay indoors beyond the reach of the bullets fired by these things, so they're much more use in defending against an attack than in staging an attack on a village.

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...only by a patrol of potentially killable humans, hence firefights usually start with a landmine or roadside bomb, and the enfilading force will generally have the wit and wherewithal to cover themselves from aerial observation - they have after all been subject to intensive satellite and helicopter surveillance for the last 50 years or so.

Who is the landmine or IED going to target if there are no ground forces there to be attacked? It's all obsolete. We need to move on to a new way of fighting these wars where ground troups have no useful role and where everything they used to do can be done by small drones and other robotic devices.

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Offline yor_on

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #22 on: 29/09/2014 19:07:01 »
It would be a sad world, wouldn't it? If all Countries would have drones, and use them on those not conforming to whatever views they might have. Doesn't need to be 'democratic' anymore, just not fitting my ideas. I got a drone for you too.
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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #23 on: 29/09/2014 19:13:15 »

Who is the landmine or IED going to target if there are no ground forces there to be attacked?

If there are no ground forces opposing you, you have won the war.
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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #24 on: 29/09/2014 23:27:14 »
Military technology is most effective for those organizations that have the advanced technology, and the means of delivering it. 

Drones are effective because we have them, and the Afghans, Iraqis, and Syrians don't. 

To some extent, short, medium, and long range missiles can do much of what drones do, but with much less precision. 

Would we be comfortable if the militant nations around the world could fly drones over New York and pick off "targets" at will that they considered of strategic value?  Assassinate individuals (and bystanders) with the push of a button without trial?

Apparently the US has "donated" a stealth drone to Iran, who not surprisingly now claims to have copied the technology.  What will be next?

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #25 on: 30/09/2014 09:13:59 »
Military technology is most effective for those organizations that have the advanced technology, and the means of delivering it. 

Which is why the technologically advanced nations are once again withdrawing from Afghanistan, having learned so much from operations in Vietnam? Drone strikes in London made a bit of a mess, and the Tiger and Panzer tanks were superior to anything the Allies could muster, but WW2 was won by infantry invasions from all directions meeting in Berlin. 
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #26 on: 30/09/2014 20:03:29 »

Who is the landmine or IED going to target if there are no ground forces there to be attacked?

If there are no ground forces opposing you, you have won the war.

If there are local communities successfully defending themselves against you through the use of small drones while bigger ones high up are blowing up your vehicles whenever you're stupid enough to use them, you haven't won any war - you have been rendered an irrelevance.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #27 on: 30/09/2014 23:25:15 »
It appears in Afghanistan that the "local communties", or at least the bad boys embedded within them, are planting the IEDs that are killing British and American troops. Similarly for rocket launchers in Gaza. If anything, it looks as though your drones will be more use to guerrillas than to conventional forces.
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #28 on: 01/10/2014 19:25:00 »
If you don't have any troops there, the bad boys can't target them - they have to go back to targeting the locals instead and making themsevles unpopular.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: Drone Striking: the Effectiveness of Balistics in the Dark
« Reply #29 on: 03/10/2014 07:13:40 »
Far from unpopular, the Vietnamese communists, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas were democratically elected (just like the Nazis) and the Mujahaddin, supported by the CIA, were the local heroes who expelled the Russians. ISIS was flavor of the month until they started killing westerners and Christians.

A bit of fundamentalist reforming zeal always goes down well with the peasants - hence the anomalous working class vote for Thatcherism.
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #30 on: 03/10/2014 19:48:10 »
Far from unpopular, the Vietnamese communists, ...

...was the side which deserved to win, though sadly it was turned bad along the way by being pushed towards the Soviet Union - Ho Chi Minh was pro-American at the start and actually invited them to help in the fight against the French instead of asking the Russians. He admired the American constitution and made the mistake of thinking they were the good guys. His idea of being a communist was more like what we call a socialist.

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...Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas were democratically elected (just like the Nazis)

Democracy is far from ideal - it allows majorities to abuse minorities. What's often missing from people's interpretation of democracy is the idea that minorities must not be abused by majorities, and that leads to bad governments which only conform with the idea of mob rule while not understanding that they should not be an abusive mob.

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...and the Mujahaddin, supported by the CIA, were the local heroes who expelled the Russians.

They were indeed the heros in the context of that war, but the US starved the moderates of funding, as usual, and funded the most crazy ones instead which ultimately led to some of them becoming the Taleban, while others opposed them and eventually became the government of today's Afghanistan.

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ISIS was flavor of the month until they started killing westerners and Christians.

There would be no problem with ISIS if it didn't abuse Shias, Kurds and others. If they could be kept restricted to places where their own people live, the ones who buy into their interpretation of Islamic rules, it would be best then to leave them to destroy their own reputation like the Taleban did in Afghanistan - they made themselves deeply unpopular by applying their silly rules and the people were almost universally delighted to see them defeated when the West finally got involved, but because the West then messed things up by putting ground forces in and by killing the wrong people with reckless drone strikes (e.g. killing two 8-yr-old shepherds on an empty hillside who were somehow mistaken for armed Taleban), the Taleban regained popularity.

The forces of the Afghan government added to the problem by being corrupt, fleecing people of money at every opportunity. Things would have been very different if the West had got out as soon as they'd pushed the Taleban back. All they needed to do was provide the Northern Alliance with the weapons they had long been starved of and offer to provide them with long term air support. The Taleban might well have retaken territory and even retaken Kabul, but they could have been pushed back out again if that happened, repeatedly if necessary, for a fraction of the money than was thrown at a pointless ground war, and it could have been done without the loss of any Western troops. The main problem the Northern Alliance always had was that they were starved of funding and weapons, so they couldn't hold the Taliban back. Dostam lost his territory in the far north because of this, while only Masood was able to cling on to his in the north east due to his tactical genius and the helpful terrain of the Panjsher Valley (many divisions of Russian tanks were sent in there and none of them ever came back out).

The Taleban was unpopular, but we did too many of the wrong things and made them popular again. One of the biggest mistakes was to combine the misguided war on drugs (which can never succeed because it's targeting the wrong thing) with the military campaign, so lots of poppy fields were destroyed, thereby removing a lot of people's ability to make enough money to feed their children - this drove hundreds of thousands of them back to supporting the Taleban.

So, it was a catalogue of errors made by monkeys at the top in politics and in undemocratic organisations like the CIA which often works against the interests of the US in order to further its own fascist objectives (it went through a bad period for a long time when it was run by deranged people who were strikingly close to being Nazis, but it looks a lot better balanced today).

We need to give ISIS the freedom to make themselves unpopular while protecting minorities from them. It's hard to do where different sects and ethnic groups are mixed up together, but where they are in separate towns it should be possible to protect those and to keep ISIS away from them by supplying weapons, training and air support. In those places where ISIS is left to fester unchecked, it will simply rot itself to pieces and make the people hate it. They all love Islam, until it's imposed on them systematically by people who want to do it by the book. Then they moderate. You have to give them the space to moderate, and you do that by letting the nutters run them for a time in a safe zone where other ethnic groups and sects are not physically present so that they don't take the brunt of the abuse that is generated whenever a powerful bunch of bullies decide they want to do their religion properly.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #31 on: 03/10/2014 23:15:12 »
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There would be no problem with ISIS if it didn't abuse Shias, Kurds and others.
And nobody would object to a hurricane if it wasn't so windy. Theives would be no problem if they didn't steal. You could love a murderer if he hadn't killed anyone. You could respect a politician if he had never told a lie. Indeed I could probably respect a priest if he kept his mouth shut.

The defining characteristic of ISIS is intolerance. That makes it intolerable.
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #32 on: 04/10/2014 18:47:24 »
My point is, cut them off from the minorities which they seek to abuse. This can be done wherever those minorities are dominant in a town or region, as in the northern zone where the Kurds and Yazidis live, and also in southern Iraq where the Shia's dominate.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #33 on: 05/10/2014 17:09:55 »
How do you "cut off" an invading force, or worse still, an embedded majority? What on earth do you mean by a "dominant minority"? Isn't that something of an oxymoron, unless you mean a minority with superior weaponry and organisation, which is exactly the definition of ISIS?   
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #34 on: 05/10/2014 20:19:18 »
How do you "cut off" an invading force, or worse still, an embedded majority? What on earth do you mean by a "dominant minority"? Isn't that something of an oxymoron, unless you mean a minority with superior weaponry and organisation, which is exactly the definition of ISIS?   

I don't mean anything by a "dominant minority" - never used such a term. But I did talk about minorities (in a country) being dominant in a town. In many parts of Iraq things are divided up geographically into different ethnic groups. Such areas can and should be protected against majorities (in the country as a whole) who seek to invade those areas where minorities (in the country) are local majorities (to the point that whole towns and even regions can be populated by those minorities).

ISIS fighters are Sunnis. They do not go round murdering Sunnis for that reason. If they can be kept in Sunni areas they will not be a major problem, but they will eventually make themselves unpopular there with their own people in the same way the Taleban did in Afghanistan - if you have all that religious stuff imposed on you by the book, you fall our of love with it pretty quickly.

How do you cut ISIS off? You simply restrict them to Sunni territory and make sure they don't take over anything else. When they try to take over Kurdish, Yazidi or Shia territory, that's when the locals need to be provided with weapons and training, and they need to be given air support to keep ISIS at bay. Baghdad is more complicated - it could fall to ISIS as it is naturally a Sunni area, but not all Sunnis are keen on ISIS, so they may put up enough of a fight to keep ISIS out. We should help them with air support, but if it falls we should just let it go - ISIS will destroy itself before long if we give it the space to, but it must be contained to Sunni areas to minimise the murdering that they do. Minorities in Baghdad would probably do well to flee south if that happens, most of them being Shia.
« Last Edit: 05/10/2014 20:21:01 by David Cooper »

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #35 on: 05/10/2014 21:17:59 »
The problem is you keep using vicar's teaparty words like "cut off","restrict" and "keep at bay" when you mean "kill". Get to the point: there are all sorts of murdering bastards out there, who need to be killed before they kill others.

There is only one majority: homo sapiens. There are all sorts of minorities, most of which distinguish themselves by not being sapiens but the gullible led by the obnoxious. As for ISIS destroying itself, it is true that all societies eventually implode, but some do a lot of damage to others before imploding. It would be foolish to wait for the death of any form of fascism.
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #36 on: 05/10/2014 21:46:19 »
If I meant "kill" I'd say so, but that's too narrow to describe the destruction of heavy weapons where it's a complete irrelevance as to whether there are any humans inside the tanks or other heavy vehicles. When it comes to keeping enemy forces at bay, it is also not necessary to kill them, but to keep them pinned down so that they cannot advance.

If ISIS is held within Sunni areas, it will not go around slaughtering everyone there. If you imagine that you can wipe out ISIS by going into those areas where they are currently welcome, you will only generate more terrorists. It's in the areas where they are not welcome that they must be fought.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #37 on: 07/10/2014 00:51:26 »
"Pinned down" means being in a position where you will be killed if you move. It's all about killing people, not machines. The original question was about the use of selectively targeted drones for killing people. It's a sad fact, but some people are just badly behaved and won't stop until they are dead.
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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What is the effectiveness of drone strikes?
« Reply #38 on: 07/10/2014 17:35:10 »
The point of pinning them down is to take them out of the game. If they want to surrender they can, and if they drop their guns and run away with their hands in the air it is not considered cricket to shoot them. The purpose is not to kill, but to defend, and you should always understand that the people fighting against you are not all bad; if you treat them kindly, they begin to respect you and can switch sides. The greatest military strategists have always understood that and have used it to great effect.