Niagara Gazette

Columns

April 6, 2014

GLYNN: Drones cited for peaceful roles as well

Niagara Gazette — Those unmanned aircraft called drones will simply kill innocent people suspected as enemies of the U.S. Even worse, executions will be staged before anyone can enter a plea in a court of law.  

Such was the overreacting alarm from the roadside protestors waving signs to attract the media and the passersby last week in front of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station off Lockport Road.

Drones are not all about killing people. In fact, they have a place in civilian airspace. How about the advantages they offer a police department studying crime scenes? Farmers could obviously put them to good use for monitoring their fields and crops. It is also suggested that builders and developers could avoid a lot of problems by surveying construction sites. And there are dozens of other ways they could prove useful.

A recent Time magazine article noted that the advanced technology of the drone will inevitably flow from the military sphere into the civilian. Television footage has already uplifted the image with drones delivering pizzas across town or to your doorstep. The downside, of course, wouldn’t they also be capable of carrying drugs across borders? And while drones no doubt will help catch criminals on the run, someone is bound to deploy one focusing on a naked celebrity in his mansion.

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THE OTHER SIDE: Those vocal opponents of the drones might be shocked to hear that the military brass has serious reservations about cyber warriors. Consider this scenario: A single-handed person in the ranks empowered with the right to deploy digital sabotage could put a dramatic end to a conflict and score a total victory for the U.S. 

Lexington, the think-tank type columnist for the Economist, raises a valid question: Who would the Department of Defense honor then? How do they compare the work of drone operators — shooting missiles or spying on enemies — with all those acts that involve physical risk? Last year, there was a plan to honor actions that have an extraordinary impact on combat operations — without considering personal valor or the proximity to the theater of war. All of a sudden, the Bronze Star or Purple Heart (not to mention other medals) would lose their importance. Fortunately that plan to honor cyber-warriors was scrapped.

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