The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has changed in many ways over the course of the last decade. It has changed in terms of design, functionality, and use during that time. An advancement that the public and foreign nationals debate is the legality of using such aircraft when the weapons systems they carry are used to target suspected threat forces across international borders. Specifically in Pakistan, this has been a particularly challenging problem to overcome. It is hard to debate that given the opportunity to place a machine or a man in harms way, we would choose a machine. This argument can only work so long as the potential for collateral damage remains in at a tolerable level. A tolerable level looks very different if you are an official in Washington DC compared to a mother of four who has seen the devastating fallout that can occur because a Taliban leader was sleeping in the house next door.
Many leaders and suspected members of terrorist organizations such as the Taliban, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda seek asylum and refuge within the borders of Pakistan. It was not too long ago that the number one on our wanted list, Osama bin Laden, was killed in a raid just over the Pakistan border at a compound. The targeted attack lead by Seal team six members, garnered harsh criticism from Pakistan officials simply because they were not informed of the attack before it occurred, nor asked for the permission to carry out such an assault. The potential danger to soldiers and the risk of igniting additional ire and criticism from the Pakistan government, lead to the widespread use of drones across this particular international border. It is particularly challenging to limit collateral damage in dense urban areas. These leaders and members are part of networks, which unfortunately puts their wives and children in harms way. These weapons of war are very precise at finding and targeting individuals, but are they legal?
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom, the US employed the use of many UAV for different reasons. There are several types and sizes of UAV’s. Each one has a specific niche and use. Starting from the smallest and working up in size and complexity, the Raven, the Predator, and the Global Hawk are just a few types. The Raven is a lightweight, hand deployed surveillance UAV with a limited range. Its primary use is real time feed back on any given scenario. The Predator is also a surveillance vehicle, however, it is armed as well. The drone can be equipped with a number of different arms and ordinances depending on the particular target it will potentially be destroying. The Global Hawk is again both a weapon and an eye in the sky, but with significantly larger range and payload capacity.
In November of 2011, perhaps the most known and publicized criticism of the drone program occurred when a strike killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers at a border patrol checkpoint. After this...