We have entered the era of The Drone. The people of America and the world will wish it had never happened; they will rue the day that it did. Yes, the U.S. government which has been launching Reaper and Predator drones to rain destruction upon countries in the Middle East for years has now approved the use of thousands of drones here in America.
To some, especially technology buffs, this represents a breakthrough and an exciting, revolutionary development. But here’s the rub; along with the so-called benefits that they can bring to commerce and other ventures in this country, they will also serve to produce a myriad of domestic problems and will have the potential to create new threats of terrorist attacks here in America.
The U.S. government, because of its penchant for acting first and dealing with the consequences after, has often been likened to a bull running through a china shop. And it appears that it is, once again, living up to that reputation. The FAA seems to be fascinated by the future uses of drones in this country and, before it has fully developed the necessary and, no doubt, very detailed rules and regulations required for such a new endeavor, has already given approval for the implementation of thousands of drones.
That reminds me of when millions of Americans began to use cell phones while driving; as expected, accidents increased but many states let this problem fester before they finally enacted laws that required speaker phones. That’s what’s typically called closing the door after the horse has left the barn. It’s likely that the same thing is going to happen with these drones; as this article indicates, there were 25 episodes in 2014 in which small drones came within a few seconds or a few feet of crashing into much larger aircraft.
You can bet that these drones are going to interfere and cause havoc with jet travel all over the world; some countries may develop and implement effective measures to deal with this impending danger, but many others will not. Airline passengers have plenty of worries without having to be fearful about a collision with some out of control drone. We’ve heard of demented people who have aimed laser beams at airliners; now some of them may graduate to the use of drones – and then look out.
Drones will almost assuredly be used for monitoring the activities of Americans; we can expect the NSA spying agency to use them extensively. We could see them hovering over our neighborhoods and even our backyards. In fact, that’s already happening. There was a recent incident in which a homeowner in Bullitt County, Kentucky shot down a civilian drone that he felt was invading his family’s privacy. The homeowner was charged with a felony offense while the individual operating the drone was not charged.
The FAA has already authorized 106 federal, state and local government agencies to fly drones in U.S. airspace. This agency estimates that as many as 7,500 small commercial drones will be in use by 2018 and as many as 30,000 by 2030; I’d bet that the number will be far more than that. The skies over America are going to be as dense as the Los Angeles Freeway during rush hour. And this number doesn’t even include the hobbyists who will jump at this chance to take part.
The FAA’s rules and regulations will be designed to see that drones are operated safely and pose no dangers to those on the ground or who travel by air. There will be appropriate altitude requirements and restrictions. Now just imagine what’s going to happen when drones from law enforcement, commercial businesses, real estate companies, land surveyors, the NSA, and hobbyists are all flying these drones in huge metro areas such as New York, Chicago, and LA.
Amazon Prime Air is a service Amazon has already initiated to make express deliveries using drones maybe right to your doorstep. UPS apparently is working on a similar service and FedEx and others may be right behind. Perhaps the next use of drones will be to deliver pizzas to your home and here’s an idea; why not use them for lightning-fast deliveries of Jimmy John’s sandwiches?
But aside from the uses of drones here in America for commercial and other uses another great danger will come from their proliferation all over the world. Other countries have watched the U.S. use them for years in Middle East countries to hunt down and destroy terrorists; many of them have since developed various types of drones which are equipped with lethal weaponry. Reports indicate that all the major countries, including U.S. allies and Russian, China, Iran and others, now have these new weapons of war.
Think the situation in the Middle East is tenuous and volatile right now? Just wait. Iran and Saudi Arabia either have or will have sophisticated drones and before long all of the countries in that region also will, and that includes Hezbollah. Just think of the situation in which the U.S. is raining bombs down upon Iraq and Syria and then many of these nearby countries decide to use drones to escalate the destruction; the Middle East could explode.
How about Israel? Anyone doubt that Hamas will be able to obtain or make them? When Hamas used rockets against Israel in the past they had little to no guidance systems and in most cases did no great damage; but modern-day drones can easily be guided to exact targets to deliver their deadly bombs.
What we are going to see relative to military conflicts going into the future is that “the playing field” will be leveled and smaller countries will find that they can bring destruction upon larger, more powerful countries much more easily.
Many Americans remember that the primary weapon used by both Iraq and Afghanistan guerilla-style fighters against U.S. forces was the IED, i.e., the Improvised Explosive Device, the use of which was remarkably successful. The drone may become the modern-day version of the IED that future terrorists can surely obtain or construct. They won’t need highly sophisticated Reaper and Predator drones such as the U.S. has in abundance or Hellfire Missiles; theirs can be much less complex and far less expensive but still be very deadly.
Talk about a great danger to America. Here’s a scenario that I hope we never see but, because of the misguided policies of this government, could actually materialize. Try to envision what it will be like in the coming years when the skies over this country will be filled with drones of many different types performing all sorts of operations. How in the world will the federal, state and local governments and law enforcement agencies around the country be able to spot some drone being operated by someone who is determined to commit some act of terrorism?
That could be a nightmare scenario. One thing that this government better not do is to underestimate the danger posed by drones operated by people who want to do harm to this country and its people. It’s time for it to think about those threats now, not later. Don’t think that the type of terrorists who flew the planes into the WTC and caused the tragedy of 911 won’t think of using drone technology against America right here in this country.
This government and President Obama, by their intensive drone campaigns in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan have initiated the era of world drone warfare. Now the FAA has laid the groundwork for widespread use of drones here in America. They, collectively, have opened a door that will be virtually impossible to close.