The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has presented a complex and difficult array of dilemmas to military and political leadership. These systems bring a myriad of capabilities that are unavailable from other types of platforms. As the Navy pursues these technologies, understanding the ramifications of their employment in combat is critical. The fight against terrorists and insurgents over the course of the past decade-plus and the use of UAVs within these conflicts offer the Navy a valuable set of lessons from which to learn as it develops its own systems and doctrine. As the service sets its requirements for these systems, it must first consider their effectiveness. One of the most visible uses of UAVs has been their employment against asymmetric and non-state threats. With respect to the military, political, and ethical factors, UAVs are an effective and viable military technology in the targeting of non-state terrorist actors but present difficult considerations in their proper use.
While drones are effective in combat, the political, moral, and military issues surrounding their use must be carefully considered.
By Ensign Samuel S. Lacinski, U.S. Navy