The Dark Truth and Future Trajectory of Modern Warfare Unveiled

Sophia Ruger

We all remember the haunting image of “the boy in the ambulance”, a five-year-old victim of war, with ash and dirt covering his body and blood all over his chest and face.

The casualties of war are hard to look at, but are becoming easy to ignore. In the last 20 years, warfare has risen from the trenches to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Also called drones, UAV are currently used by the United States to target and eliminate members of terrorist groups in the middle east.

Modern drone warfare is a developing tactic to be used by the US military for years to come. Upcoming generations may have to decide if the use of UAVs is morally right. Is the loss of civilians outweighed by the benefits drones provide the US? And how will war develop given how rapid the innovation of new technology has become? 

Given the uprising of many terrorist organizations in recent years, technology will develop rapidly. ISIS is an established terrorist group that has been closely watched for over a decade by many nations, the United States included. The organization has been declared defeated since 2019, though it’s members are still active. Attacks on civilians and cities still occur all around Asia and the Arabian peninsula but are not limited to those regions. 

The line is blended between politics and religion currently in the middle east. People who practice the muslim faith identify as either Sunni or Shiite. Historical indifference has split the beliefs of the Sunni and Shiite people. Shiites believe that the ruler of Iraq, Iran, and other countries of the middle east should be a descended of Muhammad, while Sunni people have no preference regarding bloodline. Though originally historical, this qualm has led to major modern conflict. Different interpretations of historical Muslim doctrine has lead to the Sunni-Shiite conflict, and even given birth to a radical terrorist group like ISIS.

The US intervenes when the democracy of a people is jeopardized by threats like ISIS. US troops were deployed in Afghanistan in the early 2000s because of their moral obligation to help vulnerable populations. Here is what is important to note; there are invaluable resources throughout the middle east, in areas with extremist terrorist groups, and the aid the US gives is not only extended to benefit the vulnerable population, but also to receive something in return. 

There was still US military presence in the middle east in early 2020 to, as said by Senior pentagon official James H. Anderson, “‘ensure the region is not a safe haven for terrorists,’” (Britannica.com). Now however, those troops have come home and are now replaced by UAVs, and their use is debated. 

These unmanned aerial vehicles are high tech, and remote operators are expected to have precise accuracy when in control of them. They have heat sensors and cameras which are supposed to help the US Military correctly identify enemies.  

The current problem the US Department of Defense is facing is lack of accuracy and accountability when targets are misread. The New York Times recently investigated the Pentagon by Freedom of Information requests. According to author Michael Levenson, “the investigation reveals that, since 2014, the American air war has been plagued by deeply flawed intelligence, rushed and imprecise targeting and the deaths of thousands of civilians, many of them children” all over the Middle East. From Kabul, Afghanistan to Syria, the amount of civilian casualties the US Military is trying to hide is alarming. 

This article reveals how the US Military undercounted civilian deaths in the Middle East, and this devastating fact poses a question in many Americans minds: Is this the correct way to protect vulnerable populations? Or are we doing more harm than good?

Drone warfare has many upsides for the US: they are exceptionally efficient, they do not carry the weight of a pilot, they allow troops to return home to their families, and they allow the US to protect troops that are on the ground by surveilling the terrain. 

However, in addition to their inaccuracy, military drones dehumanize war. Instead of pilots being threatened with their own life when ascending into war, there is no threat to them at all. Controlling these vehicles of mass destruction is simply a day at work for some military personnel. Also, the US has a lack of accountability when it comes to offering aid to victims of war and these military drones. The US can easily side step civilian casualties when they are not forced to observe the injuries and detriment they’ve caused face to face. 

Though convenient, unmanned aerial vehicles are going to be a major source of error for the US military, and it is about time we stop and reflect on the tragedy they cause helpless fathers, mothers, and children.