Veterans Ask Operators to Refuse to Fly Military Drones & Attack

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A MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during a local training mission June 9, 2009. The 42nd Attack Squadron at Creech AFB operates the MQ-9. (U.S. Air Force photo/Paul Ridgeway)

United States military veterans are urging military drone operators to to disobey orders to fly drone surveillance and attack missions. This military veterans group, comprised of former US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines with ranks ranging from private to colonel and whose military service spans 60 years, has sponsored graphic commercials showing footage of children killed and mutilated by U.S. drones. Now, they have submitted a letter to media outlets that urges drone pilots and sensor operators to refuse to fly surveillance and kill missions. You can watch the commercial and read the letter below.

The military veterans group behind the effort asking drone operators to disobey orders is called KnowDrones. The group believes that the U.S. drone campaign “is completely against international law.” And according to their website, “KnowDrones provides drone replicas and educational materials to support citizen action to achieve an international ban on weaponized drones and surveillance drones – war drones.”

Army Veteran Shares Opposition Against Drones

One of the military veterans who signed the letter urging drone pilots and sensor operators to disobey orders and refuse to fly missions told told Air Force Times that she signed the letter because she is concerned about civilian casualties from drone strikes.

Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright said in an email to Army Times, “I have traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Gaza to do talk to victims of US and Israeli drones. Because of the number of civilian casualties, I firmly believe that this weapon system is jeopardizing US national security and creating large numbers of people who despise the United States (and Israel for the drone use in Gaza).”

Write continued, “I have worked with our latest generation of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and know the suffering that many of them are enduring — and I know several drone operators who tell stories of their nightmares.”

While these military veterans try to end the use of military drones, it looks like the Air Force is facing problems with its drone missions from another front. According to a recent report in the New York Times, “After a decade of waging long-distance war through their video screens, America’s drone operators are burning out, and the Air Force is being forced to cut back on the flights even as military and intelligence officials are demanding more of them over intensifying combat zones in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”

KnowDrones Please Don’t Fly Television Commercial

Below is the anti-drones commercial which has seen a week-long run on various cable channels in Las Vegas, NV, including CNN and MSNBC. Warning – some of the images in this commercial are graphic.

Letter from Military Veterans Urging Drone Operators to Refuse Orders to Fly

The following letter from military veterans urging drone pilots to disobey orders was shared by the blog World Beyond War. Below is that letter in its entirety along with the names of the U.S. military veterans who signed it.

As retired and former members of the United States military, we urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions. These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.

At least 6,000 peoples’ lives have been unjustly taken by United States drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya and Syria. These attacks are also undermining principles of international law and human rights, such as those enumerated in the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights, written in 1948 under the guidance of Eleanor Roosevelt with the blood of the atrocities of World War II freshly in mind. The United States is a signatory to this declaration.

Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting in accordance within accordance of Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950:

“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible.”

So, yes, you do have a choice – and liability under the law. Choose the moral one. Choose the legal one.

Signed:

Kenneth Ashe E3 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1971
Wendy Barranco SPC US Army 2003 – 2006
Barry Binks E5 US Army 1964-1967
Russell Brown CPL US Marine Corps 1966- 1968
Ben Chitty PO2 US Navy 1965 – 1969
Gerry Condon PVT US Army 1967 – 1969
Bill Distler E5 US Army 1966 – 1968
Arthur H. Dorland YN3 US Navy 1964 – 1967
Kelly Dougherty Sgt. – E-5 US Army National Guard 1996 – 2004
Jonathan Engle SFC (E-7) US Army 2004 – 2013
Mike Ferner HM3 US Navy 1969 – 1973
Bruce Gagnon SGT US Air Force 1971 – 1974
Bill J. Gilson AE2 US Navy 1954 – 1958
Mike Hastie E5 US Army 1969 – 1972
Michael Hearington E1 US Army 171st Infantry 1970 – 1971
Dud Hendrick CAPT US Air Force 1963 – 1967
Herbert J. Hoffman SPC3 US Army 1954 – 1956
Matthew Hoh CPT US Marine Corps 1998 – 2008
Matt Howard CPL US Marine Corps 2001 – 2006
Aaron Hughes SGT (E-5) Illinois National Guard 2000 – 2006
Tarak Kauff PVT US Army Airborne Infantry 1959 – 1962
Barry Ladendorf LT US Navy 1964 – 1969
Erik Lobo PO3 US Navy 1976 – 1982
Maggie Martin SGT E-5 US Army 2001 – 2006
Kenneth E. Mayers MAJ US Marine Corps Reserve 1958 – 1966 (active duty) 1967 – 1978 (Reserves)
Ray McGovern CPT US Army 1962 – 1964
Nick Mottern LTJG US Navy 1960 – 1963
Carroll Nast CAPT US Air Force 1969 – 1979
Tom Palumbo SGT US Army/US Army Reserve 1978 – 1992
Bill Perry US Army 101st Airborne/Tet Offensive 1966 – 1968
Kyle Petlock 0-1 US Air Force 2000 – 2002
Charles R. Powell E4 US Air Force 1961 – 1965
Doug Rawlings SPC4 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1970
John C. Reiger SPC5 US Army 1959 – 1962
Jovanni L. Reyes SSG US Army 1994 – 2005 Active Duty. 2005 – 2007 Reserves
Hannah Roberts LT (03) US Navy 2009 – 2014
Steven E. Saelzler E1 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1970
Benjamin Schrader E-4 US Army 2001 – 2005
Chuck Searcy E5 US Army 1966 – 1969
Robert L. Stebbins 1stLT US Army 1956 – 1958
Will Thomas E3 US Navy 1961 – 1963
Cres Vellucci E-5 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1971
Zachary Wigham SSgt. Massachusetts Air National Guard 2006 -2012
Ann Wright Colonel US Army (Retired)

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