mm288: Videogames. Real warfare. An unsettling fusion

MUDGE’S Musings

Mark Benjamin, writing in Salon.com, opened our eyes this weekend with an exclusive look inside the U.S. Air Force’s operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And the illuminating article allows this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© to return to an abiding interest, what’s going on up there in the sky?

The changing face of military aviation

eighth in an occasional series

The series so far…

No

Title

Link

1

U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war

mm142

2

Go to war — Play videogames

mm155

3

Osprey: A Flying Shame

mm163

4

Abolish the Air Force

mm183

5

Proxy killers — Can you live with that?

mm211

6

A Maginot Line for the 21st Century

mm215

7

A shared obsession is a satisfying thing

mm225

The videogame theme has struck yr (justifiably) humble svt before. Take a look.

salon

Killing “Bubba” from the skies

Inside the U.S. Air Force’s Combined Air & Space Operations Center in the Middle East.
Inside a secret high-tech control center the U.S. Air Force targets enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. But can they bomb them legally, and without killing innocents? A Salon exclusive.
By Mark Benjamin

Feb. 15, 2008 | UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, THE MIDDLE EAST — The cavernous control room used by the U.S. Air Force to manage the air wars in Iraq and Afghanistan looks exactly how you’d expect it to look in a Hollywood movie. The lights are low. Around 50 camouflage-clad men and women lean forward in their chairs, staring intently at rows of computer screens glowing with multicolored graphs and fluctuating displays. They sometimes glance up from the banks of computer monitors to gaze at a sweeping panel of large television screens mounted on the front wall. Two massive, side-by-side screens in the center display digital maps of Iraq and Afghanistan. Swarms of U.S. aircraft above the war zones are represented by green labels that move about each map, gravitating toward wherever U.S. troops are fighting on the ground, in case they need backup.

To the left and right of those large maps are four smaller screens. Each is about 5 feet wide, displaying remarkably clear live footage from cameras mounted on the Air Force’s un-manned Predator drones that buzz incessantly above Iraq and Afghanistan. The Predator drones, however, are not filming a raging firefight, or a bridge about to be strafed from the air.

They are stalking prey.

Always appreciate an excuse to add a Predator image to this space.

predator

Looks can be deceiving, can’t they? With its skinny landing gear, it looks like a kid’s toy.

A kid’s toy capable of loitering over a city, focusing its cameras to isolate a single supposed enemy, and perhaps even releasing a human-scaled bomb targeted at that enemy, although the actual bombing usually is the responsibility of manned aircraft called in for the purpose.

Some toy.

The Salon story provides a unique insight into the way war is prosecuted today. Worth the effort to read.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Iraq, Afghanistan, U.S. Air Force bombing operations | Salon News

Not in any respect a gamer, I have no idea whether any commercial entertainment videogame out there played by zillions of young’uns include avatars of attorneys standing by to rule on the legality, according to The Law of Armed Conflict, of bombing specific individual human targets, but it’s an interesting wrinkle.

So the future of U.S. combat is here: fewer men, more robots, more separation from the bloody reality that human beings are the target. As Salon‘s writer points out, this antiseptic warfare, while it may put fewer U.S. combatants’ lives at risk, might all too easily cross the thin line of morality separating justified war from cold blooded murder.

Worth pondering next time you play World of Warcraft.

……………………………….

Update

Last post, while observing with awe China’s explosive investment in infrastructure, we took the U.S. consumer to task regarding our shopping habits: i.e., sending our treasure to China when we do business at the big box retailers we so favor.

Yesterday, my home office chair broke one of its casters off in a non-repairable manner.

Today, off to Staples to replace it. I’m sitting in it as I type this, some hours after bringing it home in its compact carton and spending about 30 minutes assembling it.

Reasonably high quality for such a modest price; very well packaged, including the card containing shrink wrapped screws (including one each extra of the three sizes furnished), washers and Allen wrench, the only assembly tool required.

Very comfortable new chair with very nice lumbar support, a trendy mesh back and a “microsuede” seat.

$80 well spent.

Made in China, of course.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Note!: the link to Staples.com used above is for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever, as a picture is today worth 3,714 of our maladroitly chosen words at the present rate of exchange. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor, and in any event it’s against WordPress.com’s rules. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. It’s an artifact of Sequitur Service©. Deal with it.

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3 Responses to mm288: Videogames. Real warfare. An unsettling fusion

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