[In recent months, much attention has been given to the growing reliance on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)–drones–by the US military, and the turning of violent-video-gamers into remote bombadiers. Now these drones (both drones armed with bombs and unarmed-surveillance drones) have been deployed in places throughout the world, including in violations of various country’s air space, such as the drone shot down recently over Iran. From Yemen to Sudan, Uganda to Pakistan, drone bombing missions have killed both military targets and numerous “collateral” civilian victims, prompting ever-growing protests at the “high-tech impunity” of this weapons system. Are the deadly results of this program inherent in the system, or from the training and imperialist orientation of their targeting systems, or are they the product of inhuman quotas, priorities, stress and “burnout” is a question. But the article below is only concerned with the health of drone-joystick commanders–and not with the deadly results of the “pilots” instability, and their victims. — Frontlines ed.]
December 21, 2011
Around 1,100 Air Force pilots fly remotely piloted aircraft. These planes soar over Iraq or Afghanistan but the pilots sit at military bases back in the United States.
The report, commissioned by the US Air Force, shows that 29 percent of the UAS pilots surveyed said they were burned out and suffered from high levels of fatigue. The Air Force doesn’t consider this a dangerous level of stress.
However, 17 percent of active duty pilots surveyed are thought to be “clinically distressed”. The Air Force says this means the pilots stress level has crossed a threshold where it’s now affecting the pilots’ work and family life. A large majority of these pilots said they’re not getting any counseling for their stress level. Continue reading