Tag Archives: drones

Here come the questions about the canceled strike

The questions have started coming forth about Donald Trump’s statement that he called off a planned strike against Iran after hearing about the potential for civilian casualties.

Hmm. Let me see how this played out.

The president assigned the Pentagon to draft a strike plan against the Iranians after the Iranians shot down an unarmed drone over international waters.

The brass followed the orders and then got the planes, ships and personnel ready to launch the strike.

Then the president decided to inquire about potential loss of life just as the planes were about to take flight? Is that right?

What kind of military planning didn’t divulge that information from the very beginning? Thus, we now have suspicion over what the president told NBC News’s Chuck Todd, that he was “cocked and loaded” to deliver punishment to Iran, but only found out at the last minute to cancel the strike because it would have been a “disproportionate” response?

This is the kind of suspicion that haunts Donald Trump. He seems unable or unwilling to execute a plan the way it should be done. He wants us to believe that the Pentagon’s military planners didn’t tell him from the outset about the casualties that would be inflicted by such a strike?


Don’t build that wall!

Donald J. Trump keeps harping on the need to build a wall that he wants to stretch along our nation’s southern border.

How many times must opponents of that idea say it? Don’t build the wall! Don’t appropriate the money to build it! Don’t pressure Mexico to pay for it!

The president wants Congress to appropriate $18 billion for the next five years to get started on the wall.

Do not go there!

Am I advocating a totally open border? No. I am totally in favor of increased border security. The use of drone aircraft is OK with me. Providing more Border Patrol officers is a good thing, too. Deploying more electronic surveillance equipment to stop illegal immigrants is fine as well.

The country needs to secure its borders, north and south — and east and west!

The idea, though, of erecting a wall along our border is bad symbolically. The notion runs directly counter to the national creed of being a welcoming place. Does that mean we allow anyone who wants in just to walk in without proper credential? No!

I do support the president’s concern about bad guys finding their way into the United States. His concern over criminals entering this country has not been a point of contention with me.

What has troubled me is the president’s approach to dealing with that concern. A wall won’t keep bad guys out. And that nutty boast about “getting Mexico to pay that wall” makes no sense. One sovereign nation cannot order another sovereign nation to spend a dime.

If we have a problem with illegal immigration, it is our problem to solve. A wall is not a solution I want to subsidize. However, I am willing to support a comprehensive approach to solving this dilemma.

That should include a far-reaching reform of our nation’s immigration policy. Yes, more security should be an option, but we can provide it without walling off the United Stats from our hemispheric neighbors.

‘Unpresidented’ isn’t a word, Mr. President-elect


Donald “I’m, Like, a Smart Person” Trump has done it again.

Or maybe someone on the president-elect’s staff has done it.

A tweet went out with Trump’s name that contained a curious non-word. It stated: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters — rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act.”

Unpresidented? Hmmm.

Trump’s tweet referred to the hijacking of a U.S. drone craft by the Chinese navy.

The “unpresidented” reference has drawn plenty of scorn around the social media universe.


Of course, it’s a non-existent word, and that forces me to wonder …

Either the president-elect is decidedly less literate than most of us have believed him to be, or someone on his staff — one of the “best people” he has pledged to hire — fits that description.

Someone has to yank the Twitter gun out of this guy’s hand.

Whoever it is — Trump or someone on his staff — these idiotic messages are not acceptable.

No ‘eye for an eye’ exchange here


I got scolded the other day for a blog I posted commenting on the drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour.

The fellow who scolded me said the U.S. air strike against the terrorist leader gives cause to continue the fighting.

Someone has to stop it, the individual seemed to imply. Thus, the implied question was: Why not us?

Many of those who read High Plains Blogger — and I am grateful beyond measure for those who do — likely think of me as a squishy liberal, a softy who wants to talk everything through.

When it comes to our war against international terror, I take a back seat to no one in the continuing prosecution of that effort. No, I don’t want us to send combat troops back onto the battlefield. I fully support the air strikes we’ve been launching against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

My critic wondered whether we were engaging in an “eye-for-an-eye” type of response.

My view simply is this: The terrorists are targeting innocent victims, mostly fellow Muslims; we are killing the killers.

I see zero compatibility between what the terrorists are doing and what we are doing in response.

Keep the aircraft armed and on the hunt for the bad guys. We’ve got a lot more of them to kill.


Patience is the key to eliminating these monsters


American and British intelligence officials are beginning to talk now as though they believe they have killed Mohammad Emwazi, aka Jihadi John.

The strike was quick but it was months in the planning.

It goes to show that patience is a critical ingredient in this war against terrorism and the people who commit these horrific acts.

Emwazi was a British citizen, born in Kuwait but reared in the U.K. He became a propaganda tool for the Islamic State and was video-recorded beheading captive foreigners, the first of whom was U.S. journalist James Foley.

Yes, a lot of folks demanded immediate justice. As it turned out, though, in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, these efforts require tremendous coordination, attention to the tiniest detail and absolute certainty that we’ve got the bad guy right where we want him if we intend to strike.

The hunt for bin Laden commenced right after the 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration hunted far and wide across Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bin Laden almost got it at Tora Bora, Afghanistan. He got away. President Bush left office in January 2009, handed the operation off to President Obama, who then took up where his predecessor left off.

Detailed analysis of intelligence led the Navy SEALs and CIA spooks to the Pakistan complex, where they found bin Laden — and then shot him to death.

Emwazi’s death — which is beginning to sound more certain — was delivered after tremendous effort by U.S. and British intelligence agencies and military planners from both countries.

What’s the lesson?

It’s that we cannot antsy when we don’t bring justice to these monsters right away.

Patience, folks. Patience.


Drones are hunting poachers in Africa

A curious thought crossed my mind when I saw a headline referring to “poacher-hunting drones.”

It was that someone was using unmanned aircraft to actually shoot at poachers caught killing wild animals in Africa. A part of me — the evil part, no doubt — wanted that notion to be true.

Alas, it turns out that the drones are being used to track down poachers and relaying their location to park rangers who then arrest the bad guys — if they don’t shoot them to death first.


Poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa long has been a crisis for governments seeking to protect the wildlife. One study says 100,000 elephants have been killed for their ivory in the past three years; rhino populations have been decimated as well, with poachers taking the horns of the rhinos to make some kind of magic potion or aphrodisiac.

A project called Air Shepherds, a U.S.-based operation, has been launched to help African governments in the hunt against poachers. They plan to use drones equipped with state-of-the-art tracking technology. They spot the poachers from the air and transmit the location data to ground forces, who then go to the location to make the arrest.

It’s also known that some countries on the continent have issued shoot-on-sight orders to park rangers who catch poachers in the act of killing these magnificent beasts.

So, the drones are helpful in locating the poachers. It’s then up to the rangers to do what they must to stop them from killing the animals.

Oh, and for the record: I wouldn’t object at all if governments used the drones to blast these poachers to smithereens.



ISIS or Yemen? U.S. effort is getting stretched

U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry says the United States is stretched too thin in its war against terrorists.

The Clarendon Republican says U.S. efforts have turned away from Yemen while fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

What to do?


If I read my congressman’s thoughts correctly, I believe he’s saying we need to spend more money on defense needs. He’s saying it without really, um, saying it.

This conundrum defines pretty clearly to me why this war on terror may never end. You turn away from enemy and another surfaces in another region of the world — not that we’ve really turned away from any of our enemies. Near as I can tell, our forces still are conducting robust strikes and raids on suspected terror targets.

“We don’t have the (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) ISR that we used to have, so when you got to move it to Iraq and Syria, you leave Yemen less covered than it used to be because you have to make choices, and it increases the danger to the country,” he said.

I got that part, Mr. Chairman. So what happens if and when we concentrate on Yemen — a known terrorist breeding ground — and the Islamic State takes further advantage as we look the other way in fighting this on-going anti-terror war?

Do you get where Thornberry is talking about spending more money on defense matters to wage a multi-front war on international terror?

I doubt we can afford it.

According to The Hill: “The administration has implemented a ‘light footprint’ counterterrorism approach in Yemen that relies heavily on drones for surveillance of terrorist threats and for striking targets in the country.”

Here is where the drones can do the same kind of work as manned aircraft. Turn them loose on those suspected targets and deliver enough firepower to send those we don’t kill scurrying for cover.

Therein, though, lies the difficulty in continuing to wage this global anti-terror war. It’s a war like we’ve never fought. President Bush all but declared war on the terrorists after 9/11. It was the right call for the time. President Obama has continued to pursue that war at virtually the same pace as his immediate predecessor.

There are those, though, who insist the Pentagon is being whittled down to dangerous levels. I don’t buy it. We’re still spending hundreds of billions of dollars on new weapons and we’re deploying them throughout these terror hot spots.

I will argue that we still have plenty of assets to deploy against these forces of evil. We just need to fine-tune how we deploy them — and have them deliver maximum punishment.

Should U.S. let Americans know when attacks are due?

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants the U.S. government to spell out the conditions that warrant fatal attacks on American citizens.

By itself, that’s not an unreasonable request.

Let’s put this request in some context, though.


Wyden sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and is dismayed, I gather, about the drone attack in Yemen that killed American-born al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. He was blown away in a blast delivered by an unmanned aerial vehicle. The Obama administration has made no apologies for striking him down … nor should it. The man had forsaken his country, taken up with an enemy fighting force and was plotting to inflict more damage on our national security.

Here’s how the Oregonian reported it: “The senior senator from Oregon, joined by fellow Democrats Mark Udall of Colorado and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, want to learn how and when Americans can be targeted outside of declared war zones.

“‘Specific details regarding lethal counterterrorism actions will sometimes need to be kept secret to ensure that the U.S. government can act effectively against very real threats to our country, but we firmly believe that the laws and rules that govern the executive branch’s actions should always be public,’ they wrote on Thursday. ‘We believe that every American has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them.'”

This war in which we are engaged seems to be one without “declared war zones.” Yemen has long been known to be a terrorist training ground. Al-Awlaki was in the midst of such activity. Thus, he became a target of U.S. military forces whose mission is to eliminate terror threats whenever — and wherever — they find them.

In this instance, the military acted as it should. If other Americans are foolish enough to take up arms against their country, then they will deserve the fate that befell Anwar al-Awlaki.

Memo validates drone strike on American

Maybe there’s something wrong with me … but I doubt it.

I might be one of few Americans who can justify a drone strike that killed an American citizen who happened to be an al-Qaeda terrorist.


The U.S. Justice Department has released a declassified version of a memo that validates the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born terrorist. He had been plotting against the United States of America. He was a traitor to his country. His death in the Yemen drone attack, which occurred in September 2011, has become a cause for civil libertarians who contend that the United States should not target an American citizen in its war against international terror.

Al-Awlaki was a very bad man. He deserved to die on the battlefield. He had taken up arms against the United States. He was an enemy combatant. My understanding of war is that enemy combatants become targets of the forces that oppose them.

“We believe DoD’s contemplated action against al-Aulaqi would comply with international law, including the laws of war applicable to this armed conflict and would fall within Congress’ authorization to use ‘necessary and appropriate force’ against al-Qaida,” the memo said.

The memo concludes, saying that al-Awlaki was “engaged in continual planning and direction of attacks upon U.S. persons from one of the enemy’s overseas basis of operations, the U.S. government does not know precisely when such attacks will occur, and a capture operation would be infeasible.”

“There are few questions more important than the question of when the government has the authority to kill its own citizens,” according to deputy ACLU legal director Jameel Jaffer.

My own feeling is that when one of those citizens takes up arms on the field of battle against his country, then he has answered the question himself. He becomes a target.