Since the US’s first drone strikes in Afghanistan in 2001, the Pentagon and CIA have gone on to use the weapons in Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Last year, the Trump administration revoked the policy of disclosing the number of civilians killed in such attacks in undeclared battlefields as total strikes soared.
The deployment of precision missiles like the Hellfire R9X, the so-called ‘ninja bomb’ which features no explosives, but is packed with half-a-dozen razor-sharp blades designed to chop the enemy to pieces, is likely to cause a further increase in drone strikes, says Air Marshal (ret.) Greg Bagwell, a former Royal Air Force deputy commander.
Bagwell’s comments came in the wake of last week’s reports on the killing of two commanders of Horas al-Din, an al-Qaeda linked group operating in a militant-occupied area of northwest Syria.
Chris Cole, director of Drone Wars UK, a UK-based NGO seeking to ban the use of armed drones, echoed Bagwell’s concerns, suggesting new weapons like the R9X increase the propensity of politicians and commanders to use them.
“This is often just a short term fix as politicians aren’t around for very long and any long term solutions, like other political or diplomatic solutions, often take many years, so they tend to opt for short term solutions,” Cole noted, adding that through drone strikes, leaders are “transferring the risk of combat from our boys to the civilians in the areas where conflict is taking…