US soldiers in Iraq flying a drone, photo: US Army Korea/ flickr
This week the ISN weighs in on the debate about drones, exploring both the risks and benefits associated with their use in modern warfare. The main challenge is to match the reality of the battlefield with theoretical, strategic and operational clarity and to catch up, both analytically and legally, with technological advances.
In our Special Report this week:
- An Analysis by Micah Zenko looks at the pros and cons of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including lower morale among drone pilots, eroding pilot skills, as well as network safety issues and argues that caution and a broader strategic context are prerequisites for the successful deployment of these tools.
- In this week’s Podcast Peter W Singer of the Brookings Institution discusses the importance of matching our analytical, theoretical and legal understanding of 21st century warfare with the science fiction-like capabilities of modern robotic technology.
- In our News section, Security Watch articles on technological innovations and ethical questions in military robotics, the issue of robot autonomy on the battlefield, and much more.
- In Publications papers from our Digital Library, including an Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) paper examining US and Pakistani strategy in light of drone attacks in Pakistan.
- Primary Resources includes a United States Air Force report on the future of unmanned aircraft systems.
- Links to relevant websites, among them a detailed Defense Science & Technology Agency article on developmental trends in drone technology.
- The IR Directory lists relevant organizations, including the Space Daily, a news network covering science and technology issues in the field.
A lot less heavy than a hand wand / Photo: zoyachubby, flickr
On the heels of what could have been a disaster, the job of a US Transportation Security Administration transportation security officer (TSO) has become just a tad bit more stressful than it already is.
A TSO is the person scanning passengers at US airports with hand wands, doing pat downs and searches for potentially dangerous devices all while dealing with irate travellers.
It’s the person you probably roll your eyes at when you’re asked to remove your shoes before walking through the security checkpoint.
And, at least according to a job ad I found on the USAjobs.gov site (PDF), a TSO does this for between US$28,626 and US$42,938 a year.
Iceberg, Alaska, photo: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton/flickr
With the Copenhagen conference on climate change only two weeks away, it remains doubtful whether a legally binding agreement on climate change will emerge. Here a run-down of the (mostly vague) pledges made by key greenhouse gas emitters in the wake of the conference:
Lone girl in Afghanistan, photo: Papyrrari/flickr
As the world anticipates Obama’s long-awaited strategy review for Afghanistan, the debate around the war intensifies with politicians, experts and laymen weighing in on the desired course of Afghan policy.
A war that has lasted eight years, and that costs the US $3.6 billion a month, has become a source of intense historical and strategic debates about the nature of conflict in South Asia, the region’s geopolitical significance, and the role of US power in the modern era. With America’s Vietnam legacy in mind the pressure to deliver something positive is immense.
But in these debates about strategy- how to quell the Taliban insurgency; how to address the region as a whole, particularly with Pakistan’s shortcomings in mind, and how to strengthen the Afghan government without giving Karzai carte blanche, etc – the humanitarian focus is exactly what seems to be missing.
Obama and Mao T-shirts, photo: Shea Hazarian/flickr
Obama’s three day visit to China is expected to breathe new life into the US-China partnership. With deep economic and financial links, as well as responsibility for 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, the US and China are under immense pressure to deliver on the promise of great power cooperation and progress on a daunting set of challenges.