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Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in Law, War | 15 comments

Armed Drones Now Patrol Iraq


The U. S. military has confirmed that some surveillance drones in Iraq have been armed with air to surface missiles. The purpose of arming the drones is to provide protection for U. S. military who are in the country. Confirmation came from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. He noted that some U. S. personnel were venturing outside the embassy to assist Iraqi military, exposing the U. S. personnel to increased risk.

We can learn from this. Take note of the differences between this use of armed drones and the assassination-by-drone program that has been used to kill individuals in places like Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen. In Iraq, we are present by invitation of the government. That government also specifically suggested that they were open to armed drone activity in their country as they battle ISIS in what some describe as a Shiite/Sunni civil war. Using drones to protect American personnel from real time ground attacks is very different from using drones to complete assassinations of persons selected from a CIA “kill list.”

Though still taking a cautious approach to see how this deployment of armed drones evolves, my tentative first reaction is that this is a legitimate use of these weapons. Let this be an opportunity to show and educate how new weapons can be used within the bounds of international law for legitimate defensive purposes…and hopefully with minimal, or no, civilian casualties.