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Minskaya
08 Jun 13,, 11:37
FORMER DRONE OPERATOR HAUNTED BY HIS ’1600 HITS’ SCORECARD


Brandon Bryant is haunted by the pixelated images he saw while operating a drone camera inside a virtual cockpit that smelled of sweat. Thermal images of heat rising from blood spilled after a target’s leg was blown off. The image of a dog — or was that a child? — running toward a target seconds before it was incinerated. Five U.S. soldiers killed when their vehicle hit an IED buried in the road. “I saw men, women and children die during that time,” the 27-year-old Missoula, Mont. native told Germany’s der Spiegel. “I never thought I would kill that many people. In fact, I thought I couldn’t kill anyone at all.”

In two recent interviews, Bryant tells of the psychological toll of being a drone camera operator for more than five years. “I can see every little pixel if I just close my eyes,” he recalled in an interview with NBC’s Richard Engel. He calls the experience dehumanizing, one that turned him into a sociopath who joked upon arriving at work, ” Which one of these f_____s is going to die today?”

When he was wrapping up his service in 2011, his commander presented him with a tally of the dead from his missions: the number was 1,626 people. When he told that number to his girlfriend she soon broke up with him. “She looked at me like I was a monster,” he said. “And she never wanted to touch me again.” Bryant has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, causing him sleeplessness and anger. It’s a disorder that researchers are currently successfully experimenting to eradicate with a drug. When he had downtime on the job, he would write in his journal. “On the battlefield there are no sides, just bloodshed,” he once wrote. “Total war. Every horror witnessed. I wish my eyes would rot.”


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2jepIJXHwM


Source: CrabbyGoLightly.com (http://crabbygolightly.com/wordpress/former-drone-operarator-haunted-by-his-1600-hits-scorecard/83418009/?google_editors_picks=true)



Thankfully, I never received a collective tally of my missions during the Second Lebanon War. Perhaps it is best to never know.

bigross86
08 Jun 13,, 18:58
"It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee, Statement at the Battle of Fredericksburg (13th December 1862)

I appreciate that PTSD is a real and horrible thing, and I am very glad I never experienced it even after going through Lebanon. That being said, whether you're a tank gunner, infantry grunt or drone pilot, you are playing in war, and yes, actions you do will lead to people dying. If you can't face that, don't enlist, don't sign up. I know exactly how many people I killed, exactly how far away they were from me when we fired, and I remember exactly the before and after pictures in my thermal viewer. It may not be 1,600 people, but the principle stands. If you go to war, know that you are going to be an actor in a real war environment, this is not a video game.

avon1944
16 Nov 13,, 09:25
My greatest fear with drone warfare is the political leaders using such weapons entirely to freely. The population will not get upset about the conflict because troops of the country are not being killed. The only videos are what the military provides are seen, so public opinion will not be an issue.
It is sad that the operators also suffering from PTSD. Once the operators realizes that the figures on the screen are real people, it suddenly takes on a different perspective.
During the first PGW, US tank gunners fired on Iraqi tanks all seemed well, none or few 'good guys' were killed or wounded. It was not until the M1 tanks passed though enemy lines some of the tank crews saw the horrors of war. Bodies burning, grotesque features on the enemy soldiers faces, bodies moving because the fire on the tank is cooking them, armored warfare take on a new perspective? In many cases, yes!
After awhile kissing your wife goodbye, going to work, working in a clean environment and, going home at night would seem like a good way to fight war. It is until you take a deep look at what is actually going on. The operator s were raised to be a decent people, not to kill other people, (in some cases) the realization of what they are actually doing starts to take a toll on their mind.

Dreadnought
16 Nov 13,, 15:42
I always viewed it as these people that terrorize the innocent, plant IED's with no regard for who might be killed,injured or maimed including civilians, women or children must be hunted. If they are not, then a state of war will exist until either they get their way and continue their actions to compel people to follow their "made up laws" or they are destroyed by those given the job of doing exactly that.

Killing anyone would be bothersome to any human being that has a conscience, I dont care who you are. However, how they face that reality afterwards is an unknown all to itself and only those that suffer its effects know it.

One can only imagine how the WWII, Korea, & Vietnam vets dealt with it when they returned home. Some to cheering celebrating crowds, others to protestors accusations, insults and skepticism and many to personel loss at home.

Some how, some way, they managed to pick up the pieces and start over again knowing that period of their life was over. Many had troubles with that part and some still did till the day they died, to others they were fortunate and its only a memory today.

IMO, I think our current war vets can take alot from our older war vets simply by talking to them and showing them how they managed to carry on in life knowing in many cases that it was much more savage and in your face bayonet combat and other savageries on a much greater scale when technology played so little of a part in their lives and everything required the human input and the human action and the human re-action to whats right infront of you.

One needs not wonder why these vets are so tempered with humility and silence as they get older and yet they can remember it like it was yesterday. Every detail. Including the politics surrounding the events that brought about those conflicts and the events that brought them to that point in time.

God Bless them All. For without them, their sacrifice, their suffering, There would be no us.

Battleship IOWA
12 Dec 13,, 00:29
[QUOTE=bigross86;918230]"It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee, Statement at the Battle of Fredericksburg (13th December 1862)

Great Quote. Craig

zraver
12 Dec 13,, 12:54
Sorry I ain't buying it- 1600+ people doesn't pass the smell test, neither does his claim to have followed orders to deliberately target children.

tankie
16 Dec 13,, 15:49
PTSD usually takes up to 14 years to fully materialise , how long is it since you were scrapping Ben ?? starts off with unexplained depression , sleepless nights with no explanation in your mind as to why , the sweats , the booze ,the drugs , self harm (not all ) the feelings of worthlessnes , suicidal thoughts , then the freakin flashbacks , seek help and then the diagnosis , seems to me this drone pilot is being pile driven in a short period of time , If he has been diagnosed with it by a doc , thats the end of it .However im with Z on this , deliberately carrying out orders to kill kids , tad smelly . Compensation may be setting in .

bigross86
16 Dec 13,, 17:09
I was in the IDF from 2005-2008, and in Lebanon during the summer of 2006. It's been 7.5 years since then, and I feel just fine.

tankie
16 Dec 13,, 17:12
I was in the IDF from 2005-2008, and in Lebanon during the summer of 2006. It's been 7.5 years since then, and I feel just fine.

Good , not everyone suffers PTSD , hopefully you wont , its not just a military illness , police/medical/ etc , just about all walks of life can get it ;)

omon
16 Dec 13,, 21:47
it didn't bother him until his gf dumped him, now he claims ptsd.

reminds me of a cop that claimed emotional distress, and workers comp, after he mased sitting down colledge students.

zraver
16 Dec 13,, 23:38
1600+ dead plus ordered to kill kids... fails the smell test. Only two people in American history have higher individual kill counts- Paul Tibbits and Charles Sweeny. They didn't use drones.

zraver
17 Dec 13,, 00:51
Yup, failed the smell test

This ain't Hell, but you can see it from here » Blog Archive » Brandon Bryant: Drones gave me PTSD (http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=36053)

Brinktk
29 Dec 13,, 14:51
"It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee, Statement at the Battle of Fredericksburg (13th December 1862)

I appreciate that PTSD is a real and horrible thing, and I am very glad I never experienced it even after going through Lebanon. That being said, whether you're a tank gunner, infantry grunt or drone pilot, you are playing in war, and yes, actions you do will lead to people dying. If you can't face that, don't enlist, don't sign up. I know exactly how many people I killed, exactly how far away they were from me when we fired, and I remember exactly the before and after pictures in my thermal viewer. It may not be 1,600 people, but the principle stands. If you go to war, know that you are going to be an actor in a real war environment, this is not a video game.

It isn't so clear cut as this. Studies have shown that 98% of people will exhibit symptoms of PTSD if they are exposed to combat long enough. The closer proximity to it the higher the likelihood. In my experience it manifests much faster with the onset of casualties or with being wounded yourself. There is just no way to get away from the smell of the dead and dying.

Also, how many people REALLY have an idea about combat before they actually go? It's more of a novelty before it happens because the terrible will "never happen to me" ...until it does and inevitably, over a long enough time, Murphy is going to find you. I don't think any soldier really understands to toll of killing until they've done it or had it done to them. Hate makes it easier. But it is only a temporary solution that WILL fester the longer the wall is up around it.

I know many soldiers, myself included, that suffer from PTSD. It's not a cop out and we aren't crying uncontrollably in the corner somewhere. I used to get explosively angry at very little provocation. I used to have nightmares...now I just have VERY violent dreams. I used to be hyper sensitive to " combat like" stimulation. I still am to an extent, the 4th of July still makes me uncomfortable, but I'm better than I used to be. If I smell freshly slaughtered animals or burnt flesh I quickly go back to events in my past...but I get past them. They don't consume me.

As for a drone pilot, I'd say he simply got numb. Hard for me to empathize with a 9-5 warfighter. But I can understand how the realization of killing people while drinking your morning coffee can become shocking. Especially if they're doing it from the states. You know how grunts have a hard time transitioning when they go back home....that's because they "become the battlefield". It helps protect their mind. Imagine killing almost everyday and still trying to go to the movies with your wife afterwards. Quite an unprecedented set of circumstances.

Minskaya
29 Dec 13,, 15:57
I wasn't aware that he was operating from Nevada. I've been to Creech AFB. They utilize a triad cockpit; pilot, weapons system officer, and mission commander. All data is recorded and after every mission each crew member has to file an AAR and sign it. A cockpit MC would't dare order children to be targeted or fudge an AAR. The other main drone bases in the continental US are in Florida and Texas. About his kill numbers, I don't see that as realistic unless he is also counting targets 'painted' for fighter jet strikes.

bigross86
29 Dec 13,, 16:29
So, I guess that my circumstances were different, because the transition is such a short one, just a 3-4 hour bus ride. But I joined the IDF, willingly going to a combat unit instead of trying to score a desk job like most of my friends. I knew that combat was an option, but we didn't expect a war like Lebanon 2006. Once it happened, however, we were all anxious to get in there and do our share.

And then my friend in the tank next to me was killed, and some friends of mine from basic and advanced training were killed, and I killed some Hezbollah bastards.

So sure, it took me a while to wrap my brain around the fact that I'd killed people, and I miss my mates, and the Company still visits the family, and we meet at the gravesite on Memorial Day and the day he was killed. And sure, I probably went through some mental changes following the war. I'd have to be a psychopath not to. But thankfully, I feel like I've avoided PTSD, it's been 7.5 years and I feel fine, getting married soon, run my own business, and just completed my degree.

And like I said in my original response: I am not in any form, fashion or manner belittling the effects of PTSD, its severity, or how anyone is susceptible to PTSD.

However, and this is a very big however, too many people are seeing and approaching combat as either a computer game, in the case of drone operators, or as some sort of video game, like Modern Warfare, Call of Duty or a whole bunch of other FPS games. They are not leaving themselves open to the possibility that they may be affected by PTSD, and are shocked when they are, blaming the military. It's plainly clear in the original post, that he's blaming the military for his PTSD, and for the fact that he's killed (an alleged) 1,600 people, a number that sounds fishy to more than one person. The fact that he's willing to lie about the number of people he killed, also brings the PTSD claim into suspicion.

But we digress. After reading your entire post again, I realize that I have no idea what claim of mine you're taking issue with. I said that was is hell, and that anyone who participates in any manner should be aware that they are not playing video games, that this is real life. I never said his PTSD is any more or less potent or lethal than yours, or any different than yours. My main bone of contentment was people approaching the military as just another video game. I'm sure that in your service you've met people, both in the military and out, that think the military is just a live-action version of Call of Duty.

Brinktk
29 Dec 13,, 17:31
So, I guess that my circumstances were different, because the transition is such a short one, just a 3-4 hour bus ride. But I joined the IDF, willingly going to a combat unit instead of trying to score a desk job like most of my friends. I knew that combat was an option, but we didn't expect a war like Lebanon 2006. Once it happened, however, we were all anxious to get in there and do our share.

And then my friend in the tank next to me was killed, and some friends of mine from basic and advanced training were killed, and I killed some Hezbollah bastards.

So sure, it took me a while to wrap my brain around the fact that I'd killed people, and I miss my mates, and the Company still visits the family, and we meet at the gravesite on Memorial Day and the day he was killed. And sure, I probably went through some mental changes following the war. I'd have to be a psychopath not to. But thankfully, I feel like I've avoided PTSD, it's been 7.5 years and I feel fine, getting married soon, run my own business, and just completed my degree.

And like I said in my original response: I am not in any form, fashion or manner belittling the effects of PTSD, its severity, or how anyone is susceptible to PTSD.

However, and this is a very big however, too many people are seeing and approaching combat as either a computer game, in the case of drone operators, or as some sort of video game, like Modern Warfare, Call of Duty or a whole bunch of other FPS games. They are not leaving themselves open to the possibility that they may be affected by PTSD, and are shocked when they are, blaming the military. It's plainly clear in the original post, that he's blaming the military for his PTSD, and for the fact that he's killed (an alleged) 1,600 people, a number that sounds fishy to more than one person. The fact that he's willing to lie about the number of people he killed, also brings the PTSD claim into suspicion.

But we digress. After reading your entire post again, I realize that I have no idea what claim of mine you're taking issue with. I said that was is hell, and that anyone who participates in any manner should be aware that they are not playing video games, that this is real life. I never said his PTSD is any more or less potent or lethal than yours, or any different than yours. My main bone of contentment was people approaching the military as just another video game. I'm sure that in your service you've met people, both in the military and out, that think the military is just a live-action version of Call of Duty.

I guess the point I was trying to make was that it isn't so easy to say if you don't like this or that about combat then don't join. Nobody knows what they really sign up for. I too was eager to put my training to use while awaiting the orders we all knew would arrive to invade Iraq. I figured I was better prepared than most 19 year olds because I had studied military history for years and had essentially prepared my whole life for it. My initial combat actions were fairly small and I would say typical. I was exhilarated because I had "passed" the test. What I didn't know was that I hadn't really passed much other than to shoot a rifle and run about doing what my NCOs told me to do. Then we got to Baghdad, and we were literally fighting for our lives for 3 days. The fear was palpable. The idea of being overrun for lack of ammo and fuel was terrifying. It didn't happen of course, but for about a 6 hour period we didn't know that. This was my first real introduction to sustained combat and it certainly got my attention.

Then I ended up working in around Ramadi and Fallujah for almost 2 years in 03-04 and again in 04-05. I was wounded...I lost half my squad in a matter of 15 minutes from a very co-ordinated attack. I lost several friends over the course of that time either KIA or grievously wounded. Seemed every day something happened to us or near us. We found bodies along the river often or out near the Bedouin routes that disappeared into the vast desert that is western Iraq. Then we went into Fallujah...pretty heavy stuff. Hard to kill the bad guys because they were armored and doped up. They'd make fun of our screaming wounded as we fought room to room or from one building to the other....fear....lots of fear...and rage. I had no idea what that was at 18 when I joined. Even as aware as I was I had no clue. I imagine it is the same for most people.

My best friend missed the first three years of Iraq and him and I used to go round and round because he was so eager to go. He felt it was his duty and that he was made to be a soldier...I used to point out to him that it's not what he thinks and that he really needed to think about what he was asking. I left for college in the beginning of 2007 and he left for his 1st tour to Iraq. He was in Baqubah with 10th mountain division. 15 months later I received a phone call from him...the first thing he said to me was "Brink, you remember what we used to talk about...well...you were right...it isn't what I thought" he "got" it.

That was my point I guess. I agree that people need to understand that the military's job is ultimately to kill. But even many soldiers don't understand the weight of that until they have done it. I understand that many people do have unrealistic ideas about combat. Of course they do! That hasn't changed throughout history. Hell, people were throwing picnics to watch the opening battles of the civil war because they thought it would be glorious to see...they quickly realized it wasn't. The bottom line is that kids will continue to think they're invincible, the population will continue to be oblivious, and soldiers will continue to come home to a world they no longer understand anymore.

As far as the guy in the video...I think he's lying. After watching it again....I really think he's lying. I don't know why, but my BS detectors are screaming.

Sp1n2w1n
12 Sep 14,, 19:05
Sorry I ain't buying it- 1600+ people doesn't pass the smell test, neither does his claim to have followed orders to deliberately target children.

You give people the chance to kill others from far away and not having to even look them in the eye, they will do some pretty evil stuff. :slap: (http://forum.hackerbot.net/)

They do what is called "signature strikes": A computer analyzed movement patterns on the ground and decides based on how people move whether they should be killed or not.

Its a sad time.