Unmanned? The Bodily Harms and Moral Valor of Drone Warfare

In February 2013, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the Department of Defense would begin awarding the Distinguished Warfare medal to U.S. combat drone pilots. Panetta specified that these medals would outrank the Bronze Star—an honor awarded to service members who have demonstrated “heroic achievement in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.” 
 
    The publication of these awards sparked immense controversy among many US citizens, in particular U.S. Veteran groups. Many of whom, expressed adamant opposition to this new ranking. One such group, the Military of the Purple Heart, wrote, “to rank what is basically an award for meritorious service higher than any award for heroism is degrading and insulting to every American Combat Soldier, Airman, Sailor, or Marine who risks his or her life and endures the daily rigors of combat in a hostile environment.”
 
    The controversy certainly raises some interesting ethical questions regarding the proponents of courage, moral valour, and what exactly entails being a courageous soldier. Does courage entail only the physical presence on a battlefield? Can we compare the type of courage necessary for being on a battlefield and the courage of drone pilots whom, though many 

For Brown, the ethical drone blah blah blah. in his paper he discusses the blah blah of blah. While many people say this, blah blah ya yaaya, the ethical implications of the blah blah blah. for brown, this and this and this and this. this is a relevant issue in bioethics for this and this and this. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. 

Image: Aerial view explosion from drone military aircraft.

Brown's analysis does this and this and this. he questions this and this and this. He raises some interesting ethical dilemmas of this and this and this etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. 

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“…The use of military drones does in fact constitute a qualitatively new form of combat that cannot be entirely subsumed under the penumbra of the just war tradition…it requires probing and answering some more fundamental questions, questions like what is courage? How does one demonstrate courage in the context of combat, and what kind of practices and skills are both essential to and commensurate with the flourishing of that particular kind of courage.”
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Image: mock design of future drone aircraft.

“What drone warfare thus brings into sharper focus then is that the trauma of combat does not lend itself to a strict bifurcation between the nominal and the corporeal. Indeed drone pilots experience and process the harms of warfare as psycho-somatic wholes. That their trauma takes place in a location thousands of miles away from a physical battlefield makes the pain of their suffering no less real, nor any less severe.”

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