What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the use of UAV weaponry in the Near East? How do you think technological advancements will continue to shape warfare globally?
Perhaps the greatest advantage of UAV weaponry is its ability to strike targets swiftly over a large swath of territory. Other more “traditional” assets such as armored vehicles and fighter aircraft can take time to assemble and utilize. UAV’s, on the other hand, can often be utilized at a moment’s notice. This is extremely useful when the military is tasked with acting on time-sensitive intelligence. UAV’s allow the United States to project force into remote regions that might otherwise be inaccessible to other assets.
A negative aspect of UAV technology is its accessibility to American adversaries. UAV’s provide malign states and non-state actors with a cost-effective means of force projection in the region. The inexpensive and versatile nature of UAV’s empowers adversaries that might typically struggle to purchase or develop the type of weaponry that is needed to project power over the region. While UAV weaponry is a major American asset, it has also led to the proliferation of force projection by our foes.
I agree entirely with this post. It is remarkable to consider how American forces can be projected anywhere at any moment while being entirely operated remotely. Especially after the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal from last year, the capacity for American security to be projected abroad without risking American lives is critical. However, we would be naive to believe UAV weaponry will always remain an American advantage and must remain diligent (alongside our allies) in ensuring we have the necessary defenses to protect against remote operated attacks.
I agree that rogue groups in the region could continue to use these UAV weaponry to attack nations states in and outside the Near East. Furthermore your ideas made me think of a possibility of an actor such as Hezbollah using these weapons to attack Israel. By attaching a nuclear weapon to a drone given by Iran would be the best possible way to attack Israel from the north or possibly launching one from Yemen from the Southern Hijaz. Just like when Israel in the Six Day War used the Red Sea to fly its jets low to the ground/sea not to get detected by Egyptian radar. Therefore UAV tech gives another tool for rivals to launch attacks on one another.
UAV tech I believed has weakened/strengthened US power in the Near East. In regards to weakening the constant usage of drones and targeting al Qaeda and other groups in the region. I believe has weakened the intelligence gathering of the US. Also killing innocent people in these strikes as weakened US winning over people in these areas of combat.
Secondly the advantages and strengthened has shown the enemies of US and others in the region that have the tech of UAV that your enemies can strike at any moment. Thus power can be exercised at moments leased expected by your adversaries and yourself.
It does change the game because drones are great for gathering intel and surprise attacks.
Lastly the Nuclear question in the Middle East/Near East. Nuclear Proliferation is the most technological advanment that worries me. If Iran goes nuclear, what is to stop Egypt, Turkey, other Gulf states and Saudi Arabia who financed Pakistan’s Nuclear program. Therefore this Near East issue of nuclear weapons becomes a global issue because of the Nuclear weapons becoming a nations defensive or offensive weapon.
Advantages include lethal power, potential volume of strikes, small footprint, low cost, adaptability, unmanned, potential asymmetric advantage over more complicated tech. Disadvantages includes tech requirements, payload power, existing defense systems, mass adoption of tech and development of counter capabilities with additional adoption (i.e. loss of advantage over time). Drones present a terrifying addition to modern warfare as small devices can carry specific payloads to a precise location with minimal detection/counter risk (i.e. drop a grenade from a “WalMart” amid a platoon) without loss of life of the operator. Tech like this has shaped warfare globally and demanded strategic shifts toward adopting unmanned, AI, and cyber capabilities and a pace of change that is necessarily aggressive – this year’s tech may not be relevant next year. The challenge is the actors who stay ahead of the others. The DoD, despite its exceptional budget, has proved inept increasing the pace of adoption and frequency of change in tech, continuing buying massive platforms intended to last decades from monopolistic gov contractors which consistently experience cost overruns and schedule delays, while countries like China and Iran adapt and innovate particularly within the cyber domain, waging open cyber warfare with the world seemingly without consequence. Finally, it’s worth noting the Russia / Ukraine war. I don’t know the details, but much advanced tech (i.e. digitally connected / fast response platforms) has been deployed by Russia but Ukraine has figured out how to respond and push back. That’s worth paying attention to, and adapting to, should the US ever enter conventional warfare with one of the state actors mentioned in the lecture like Iran.
I agree with you on the impact that technology has on shaping warfare globally and it is honestly quite scary to even think about the idea of adopting unmanned AI in warfare. These weapons are meant to kill human beings and any small technological failure can be extremely detrimental to the safety of civilians in the region. How can we guarantee that there will be little to no civilian casualties if the weapons used are unmanned? Cybersecurity concerns also come to mind when thinking about technology used in warfare. How can we protect this technology from hackers, especially hackers will ill intentions or hackers in enemy nations? The pace at which technology is transforming warfare is quite concerning to me for these reasons.
There are some strong benefits, as well as downsides to UAV’s. First, the benefits. The biggest benefit is you can put a drone in a dangerous situation that a pilot never should or would go into. For example, the famous Blackhawk down mission in Somalia. If there had been drones in that city, we never would have had a helicopter shot down, which required more soldiers to fight and die to rescue the survivors. Also, drones are far smaller and quiet then most aircraft. This makes them hard to detect. Overall, their stealth and unmanned abilities make them far safer then traditional aircraft.
Now for the downsides, a pilot can only see what is on the camera and sensors. There is not a human there, which means that there is a lack of initiative. Now, privacy. These have been big concerns, since drones are almost too stealthy. They can be used in our own country and never be detected, which makes it easier for the government to spy on us. Also, drones can be easily used to trespass in other countries. Again, good for us if we are being sneaky, but can be bad if we are the country that has drones taking out our citizens.
While I do think UAV development is a net benefit to the U.S., its utilization by our enemies is troubling. The technology is much cheaper and more versatile than other more traditional systems, and I fear that puts our soldiers and assets at risk.
I will say that I’m not so sure it minimizes civilian casualties. While UAV’s do have the ability to provide targeted strikes in theory, those strikes are often carried out on bad or incomplete intelligence. Oddly enough, it seems that the CIA has actually become the preferred American UAV operator over the DoD. Perhaps the CIA is more skilled at synthesizing intelligence and targeted strikes.
Yes I agree about the civilians death tooth will continue. Secondly the US and Israel like you said will continue to grow their UAV tech and use the MENA region as a launching pad to use this tech.
Lastly if you would like to learn more on the middle east/near east I could recommend you some books and documentaries.
When you learn the Near East cultures, language, religions, geography you will have more to say on the topics that are developing in the Near East and beyond.
You make a fair point about desensitization. While I don’t think modern media is making people numb to the reality of human suffering, there is probably some level of unhealthy desensitization. As you said, life is inherently valuable. I also suppose it’s possible for American soldiers and operators to become more desensitized to the horrors of war as new technologies like UAV’s allow them to conduct remote warfare. However, maybe this is a benefit for our service members? As PTSD runs rampant through the service community, perhaps remote warfare is providing some much-needed relief from the front lines.
Very true. Our enemies can use this technology as much as we can. I remember some random drone fanatic got a drone to literally fly over the White House a few years back. What if he had used the drone to drop a bomb? Now, since then they have put in some type of mysterious countermeasures that block drones from flying around the white house. Maybe some way of blocking the pilot from communicating to the drone. Still, it is unnerving.