Former Air Force pilot Brandon Bryant tells an unsettling story about the time he killed a child. He was flying a Predator drone over Afghanistan, when, under orders, he and another pilot launched a hellfire missile at a building. They sat in horror as they watched a child appear around a corner, only to vanish in a flash.
Then he drove home, Bryant told Der Spiegel, a German news magazine. That shocking juxtaposition of normal life in America with killing in Afghanistan is too much for some drone pilots to bear.
The longer Bryant flew US drones, the more disturbed he became. He broke up with his girlfriend. He didn't see his friends. Once, he collapsed and spat up blood. His doctor ordered him to not work until he could sleep more than four hours a night for two weeks.
That incident, combined with others, caused Bryant to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The trauma experienced by drone pilots makes the impersonal word "drone" a bad descriptor for the Obama administration's go-to weapon. The US air force members who pilot the aircraft watch suspects do everything from playing with their children to doing laundry. As a consequence, he says, "war somehow becomes personal."
Via Der Spiegel