An elite soldier on using drones to hunt terrorists — and giving the kill order

“You’re watching these guys and they’re totally normal.”

“We use this word ‘target.’ They’re ‘targets,’ but these are human beings. These are real people, and we are making real life-and-death decisions.”

That’s what former military intelligence analyst Brett Velicovich remembers thinking as he hunted down some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan using drone surveillance. He helped elite special operations forces find and track terrorists, and at the age of 25, he told them where to get to get the bad guys.

In his new book Drone Warrior, Velicovich describes his experiences using drones — a relatively new technology at the time he was serving — to do his job. I spoke over the phone with him on Tuesday to talk more about what it was like being responsible for the death or capture of terrorists and the strange intimacy of watching mass murderers go about their daily lives, buying groceries and taking their kids to school, as he surveilled them day after day from the air.

“You’re watching these guys and they’re totally normal. You see them dropping their kids off at school. You see them having tea or coffee at a local market,” Velicovich told me. “It’s almost like People magazine or something. You always have these ‘the stars are just like us’ type of feelings.”

What follows is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity and length.

Alex Ward

Why has the US military chosen to rely so heavily on drones?

Brett Velicovich

I think it comes down to the basic principle that information is power. Drone technology gives us this information unlike any other wars before us.

Think about how wars were fought for centuries. We’ve really not known much about our enemy. Vietnam, it’s a little gray helmet in a trench. You don’t necessarily …read more

Source:: Vox – All

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