The Drone Zone
Holloman Air Force Base, at the eastern edge of New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range, 200 miles south of Albuquerque, was once famous for the daredevil maneuvers of those who trained there. In 1954, Col. John Paul Stapp rode a rocket-propelled sled across the desert, reaching 632 miles per hour, in an attempt to figure out the maximum speed at which jet pilots could safely eject. He slammed on the brakes and was thrust forward with such force that he had to be hauled away on a stretcher, his eyes bleeding from burst capillaries. Six years later, Capt. Joseph Kittinger Jr., testing the height at which pilots could safely bail out, rode a helium-powered balloon up to 102,800 feet. He muttered, “Lord, take care of me now,” dropped for 13 minutes 45 seconds and broke the record for the highest parachute jump.
Today many of the pilots at Holloman never get off the ground. The base has been converted into the U.S. Air Force’s primary training center for droneoperators, where pilots spend their days in sand-colored trailers near a runway from which their planes take off without them. Inside each trailer, a pilot flies his plane from a padded chair, using a joystick and throttle, as his partner, the “sensor operator,” focuses on the grainy images moving across a video screen, directing missiles to their targets with a laser.
Holloman sits on almost 60,000 acres of desert badlands, near jagged hills that are frosted with snow for several months of the year — a perfect training ground for pilots who will fly Predators and Reapers over the similarly hostile terrain of Afghanistan. When I visited the base earlier this year with a small group of reporters, we were taken into a command post where a large flat-screen television was broadcasting a video feed from a drone flying overhead. It took a few seconds to figure out exactly what we were looking at. A white S.U.V. traveling along a highway adjacent to the base came into the cross hairs in the center of the screen and was tracked as it headed south along the desert road. When the S.U.V. drove out of the picture, the drone began following another car.
“Wait, you guys practice tracking enemies by using civilian cars?” a reporter asked. One Air Force officer responded that this was only a training mission, and then the group was quickly hustled out of the room.
Though the Pentagon is increasing its fleet of drones by 30 percent and military leaders estimate that, within a year or so, the number of Air Force pilots flying unmanned planes could be higher than the number who actually leave the ground, much about how and where the U.S. government operates drones remains a secret. Even the pilots we interviewed wore black tape over their nametags. The Air Force, citing concerns for the pilots’ safety, forbids them to reveal their last names.
It is widely known that the United States has three different drone programs. The first is the publicly acknowledged program run by the Pentagon that has been operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other two are classified programs run separately by the C.I.A. and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, which maintain separate lists of people targeted for killing.
Over the years, details have trickled out about lethal drone operations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and elsewhere. But the drone war has been even more extensive. According to three current and former intelligence officials I spoke to, in 2006, a barrage of Hellfire missiles from a Predator hit a suspected militant camp in the jungles of the Philippines, in an attempt to kill the Indonesian terrorist Umar Patek. The strike, which was reported at the time as a “Philippine military operation,” missed Patek but killed others at the camp.
The increased use of drones in warfare has led the Air Force to re-engineer its training program for drone pilots. Trainees are now sent to Holloman just months after they join the military, instead of first undergoing traditional pilot training as they did in the past. The Air Force can now produce certified Predator and Reaper pilots in less than two years.
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I believe I will have a cuppa, Pat ; but it will be a glass and single malt not a paper cup and Alex Jones Kool Aid. And I just looked around..........Yep, just as I thought , I don't see a single camp or coffin-- only mountains and desert, the I-40 & I-25 interchange, and a few aliens. Not the ones from Roswell in their Reynolds Wrap Space ships though, they all have their own conspiracy websites. They work from green former AF trailers adjacent to the south end of the North South runway from which I flew many sorties in a crosswind while Walker AFB was still open. When we were particularly heavy we flew quite low over the cages where they were being kept by our nefarious government. We had to keep secret how frightened they were then; but now of course, since they were issued birth certificates and registered to vote in 2008, they are all loyal Democrat voters.
I will keep looking, though!
Salud, and don't lose track of your Tinfoil Hat.
I agree with you Jim.........One reporter making an ignorant observation means our forces are practicing to bomb civilian American cars.........war games training has been going on forever...too often emotion becomes reality.
The Marines can use my property any time they want to perfect their skills at doing what they do best!
As they say "you're what you reflect in your life" and Obama has given plenty of indications that he associates with socialist, communist, Marxist. There's no argument, Obama is a threat to America, cannot be trusted, has demonstrated tyrannical behavior, has an ego unmatched, narcissistic and kingly in his actions, and favors nearly every nation on earth over America. That's how I see him........and I agree Pat, there's probably nothing Obama won't do to retain his power base. Vigilance is mandatory.
Also the SSD is going nuts with new disabled people.. / Well the brotherhood and new recruits into the brotherhood need money to live. What better way than to put them on SSD until they are ready to attack.
And, since they "don't have to work", they have lots of time for indoctrination and training, all paid for by John Q. Yankee.
You know what I don't understand? 2when did it get to the point that we have been led to believe ,WE CAN"T FIGHT BACK????????
People forget we have that ability and knowledge to protect ourselves, You talk like were in a field of sheep being heard.
STOP PLAYING THE PART OF THE VICTUM.USE YOU GOD GIVEN RIGHTS AS A HUMAN BEING AND STAND UP AND REMEMBER THAT PHRASE "WERE MAD AS HELL AND WERE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE"WATCH THEM BACK UP.
They know that ,WHY do you think the want to strip people and kill the 2ND amendment? They count on you feelin you have to surrender,NO YOU DON'T!
Just keep in mind there are more of us than there is in all of the GOVERMENT.
Look at boxers in a ring for an example,do they go in and one of them just lay down an say fights over because one of them was an inch taller? No He just fought harder and faster,showed no fear, and guess who won?the 1 inch shorter man.
Stop playing pitiful pearl. show our confidence that we will beat the GOVRNMENT at their own game, when they start threatening we stand tall ,and watch them back off. ,Remember safety in numbers.
Now if we had a Government in the WHITE HOUSE that knew he was put in there to help the people and remember we are the bosses that hired them ,we wouldn't have that feeling of having to watch every thing they are doing to strip people of their rights. But we don't have a Ronald Regan in the White House now.
AND IT IS UP TO EVERY AMERICAN TO STAND TALL AND TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY, I AM NOT GOING TO STAND BY AND LET MY LOVED ONES DOWN THAT GAVE UP THEIR LIVES TO PROTECT WHAT THIS REGIME IS TRYING TO DISTROY.
And keep one thing in mind ONLY GOD HAS THE SAY SO OVER US, NOT MAN..THATS IN OUR BIBLE,NOT IN THE QURAN.