The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and other media sites recently republished the report by Lolita Baldor (Associated Press) about the Pentagon plans to increase drone flights by 50% – increasing numbers of combat air patrols to 90 a day. Reasons given:
- escalating aggression from Russia: military leaders, including the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, name Russia as the nation’s most serious security threat. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) adds that the head of U.S. European Command, Gen. Philip Breedlove, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in April, that he needed more coverage to monitor his assigned region, which includes the conflict in Ukraine;
- escalating aggression from China, whose rising military power and island-building program in the South China Sea have increased tensions and prompted a greater demand for U.S. surveillance and intelligence across the Pacific;
- the US Air Force has asked for more capacity, as they have had to decrease combat air patrol missions to 60 a day because of stress on the force.
Civilian contractors would fly surveillance drones, not the armed aircraft. But senior defense officials said they need at least a small contractor contribution in order to reach the total of 90 combat air patrols per day.
Officials said some of the costs could be borne by war funding — the overseas contingency operations in a separate account approved by Congress. The account funded some of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as some counterterrorism operations in the Middle East and Africa.
Plan reflects pressure on military efforts to address a cascading series of global crises
The plan to increase by 50% the number of daily drone flights would broaden surveillance and intelligence collection in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, the South China Sea and North Africa. It would be the first significant increase in the U.S. drone program since 2011.
The WSJ adds that this will give military commanders access to more intelligence and greater firepower to keep up with a ‘sprouting number of global hot spots’, according to a senior defense official, who provided exclusive details of the plan.
The Pentagon plan grows the capacity for expanding surveillance and lethal airstrikes, the most controversial part of the U.S. drone program, with its rapid growth under President Barack Obama – killing 3,000 people or more as estimated by non-partisan groups.
A principled new British regime would act:
Because nations are colluding with this slaughter by their silence or – in the case of countries like Britain – their active assistance.