Message from Veterans to Drone Operators and Support Personnel at Creech Air Force Base
By Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against the War. March 17, 2015
To our Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters at Creech Air Force Base,
Last week, veterans of the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Nevada to join protests outside Creech Air Force Base against Drone Warfare. We were not protesting against you, the airmen (and women) who are drone operators and support personnel.
We were reaching out to you because we understand the position you that you are in. We were once in that position ourselves, some of us quite recently. We know what it feels like to be caught up in strange and brutal wars not of our own making, and not clearly in the interests of our nation. We want to share some of our hard won truths, and to offer you our support.
We know that drone operators and support personnel have a tough job. We understand that you are not playing video games, but rather engaging in life and death situations on a daily basis. You are not targeted and don’t have to worry about being killed and wounded. But you are human beings with feelings who suffer nonetheless. You have a conscience too.
It is not normal or healthy for human beings to kill other human beings. Many veterans continue to suffer from PTSD and “moral injury” for the rest of their lives. The suicide rate for active duty GI’s and veterans is extremely high.
No matter how you spin it, your job involves killing other human beings, thousands of miles away, who are not threatening you. No doubt you want to know who these people are. According to recent independent research, the identity of only one out of 28 victims of drone strikes is known beforehand. Though officials deny it, the majority of those killed by drones are civilians.
As veterans who have served in many wars and on many military bases, we have been educating ourselves about what goes on at Creech AFB. In 2005, Creech Air Force Base secretly became the first U.S. base in the country to carry out remotely controlled assassinations using the MQ-1 Predator drones. In 2006, the more advanced Reaper drones were added to its arsenal. Last year, in 2014, it was leaked that the CIA’s drone assassination program, officially a separate operation from the Air Force’s, has been piloted all along by Creech’s super-secret Squadron 17.
The U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have been disasters for the people of those countries. These wars have also been a disaster for the soldiers, marines, airmen (and women) who were forced to fight them, as well as their families.
The ISIS terrorist threat of today would not exist if the U.S. had not invaded and occupied Iraq. Likewise, the U.S. drone war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia is creating more terrorism, not eliminating it. And, as many veterans have painfully discovered, these wars have been based on lies, and have more to do with rich men’s dreams of empire than they do with the defense of our country and the well being of the common people.
So what can you do about it? You are in the military now. There are serious consequences for those who dare to question the mission. That is true. But there are also serious consequences for those who do not. We have to be able to live with ourselves.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
We encourage you to think carefully about your place in the scheme of things. Can you, in good conscience, continue to participate in killing other human beings, no matter how remotely?
If, after serious soul-searching, you come to believe you are against all wars, you can apply for a discharge from the Air Force as a Conscientious Objector.
If you need advice, there are conscientious objector organizations that can help you.
Military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to participate in war crimes, according to international law, U.S. law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And then there are the higher moral laws.
If you decide to refuse illegal orders or to resist illegal wars, we are here to support you.
Please also consider joining us to make common cause with fellow veterans who are working for peace at home and peace abroad. We welcome active duty members.
You can find out more at the websites listed below.
- Veterans For Peace – veteransforpeace.org
- Iraq Veterans Against War – ivaw.org
- To Know Your Rights, Call the GI Rights Hotline – girightshotline.org
- Courage To Resist – couragetoresist.org
I am not in the military but wish to pay my respects to you for this beautifully worded entreaty to the drone operators. The USA has dragged my country into one illegal war after another. The client, Israel, is utterly despicable and essentially controls the USA. Drone operators also suffer PTSD, understandably given the numbers of women and children ripped apart by grim Reapers. I hope you succeed in turning drone operators away from their murderous activities. Much respect, Neil McPhee, London, UK.
Sorry, I am not a drone operator, but felt like replying anyway. I have long been against murder by drone, and consider POTUS a mass-murdering war criminal because of them. I got out of the Air Force in 1968, but had similar feelings as an analyst helping to run weather satellites to plan bomb attacks on Hanoi (from safe and sound stateside). I had long been a pacifist (from study of military history), but had no idea how to become a conscientious objector, and probably wouldn’t have anyway, as I felt I owed my country for the free education at a service academy.
Your actions are courageous , moral, and honorable. An example to follow.
Military personnel have the right and responsibility to refuse to participate in war crimes.
It is disgraceful that the perpetrators of this illegal killing are not held accountable,…and that goes to those in the highest ranks of the military and the government.
War is an aberration and only exist to make a small section of the population of this Planet ( Great Industrial War Complex ) very rich, to protect special interests and terrorize and subjugate indigenous populations!
This letter to the drone operators is sensitively crafted and supportive of the military personnel involved in drone attacks. I believe it is just the right tone to reach people who may be ambivalent …or more…about their current role. It is a straightforward and moral message which anyone reading it can appreciate. Thank you for all the thought that went into this. I have hope that it will be successful in helping us end the endless wars.
I’m a non-combat Marine veteran. I served from 79-83. I got out when I learned from reading foreign policy periodicals that we’d eventually be going to war in the Persian Gulf over oil. I wanted no part of that, so did not re-enlist. I did my best to stop my son from enlisting in the Marines 5 years ago, but he would not listen. Now, he understands and is getting out. If you are in the service, no matter what your MOS, during this time of illegal wars, you need to get out.
The real war is here against domestic enemies: our treasonous president and congress members who continue illegal wars and occupations. You took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. If you don’t understand it, you better start studying it. It is why you wear the uniform. It is the supreme law of the land and no official or officer can legally order you to violate its principles.
I’m a history major. I believe there should be a prerequisite prior to being allowed to serve in the military, that every officer candidate and recruit be required to thoroughly understand the U.S. Constitution. It makes no sense to require taking that oath when most entering the service do not understand what it means.
What you drone operators do is no different than this:
You drop bombs on innocent, mostly brown-skinned human beings from the safety of your position thousands of mile away. The above video footage, and what you do, are acts of cowardice.