Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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Showing posts for "Military Operations"

Guest Post: The Humans Behind Remotely Piloted Aircraft

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
Travis, a 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) sensor operator, and Ben, a 432nd Wing/432nd AEW RPA pilot, fly an MQ-1 Predator during the wings 2 million flying hour milestone on October 22, 2013. (Courtesy U.S. Air Force) Travis, a 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) sensor operator, and Ben, a 432nd Wing/432nd AEW RPA pilot, fly an MQ-1 Predator during the wings 2 million flying hour milestone on October 22, 2013. (Courtesy U.S. Air Force)

Priscilla Kim is an intern in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The U.S. Air Force trains more remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) pilots than traditional fighter and bomber pilots combined—350 RPA pilots compared to 250 fighter and bomber pilots in 2011. Additionally, one in every three planes is unmanned, and the Pentagon intends to double the number of unmanned aircraft systems from 340 to 650 by 2021. If RPA proliferation is not complemented with policy changes that effectively address the concerns of RPA pilots, there could be damaging overall effects for U.S. military forces. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Snowden, Homeland Security, and Drone Strikes

by Micah Zenko

Karen Parrish, “Hagel Arrives in Bahrain for Speech at Dialogue,” American Forces Press Service, December 5, 2013.

Hagel noted during a press conference yesterday that even as it focuses more attention on the Asia-Pacific, the United States is fully engaged around the world. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Nuclear Iran, Drone Markets, and Terrorism

by Micah Zenko
John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state, Catherine Ashton, European Union high representative for foreign affairs, and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran foreign minister, during the third day of nuclear talks in Geneva on November 9, 2013 (Jean-Christophe Bott/Courtesy Reuters). John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state, Catherine Ashton, European Union high representative for foreign affairs, and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran foreign minister, during the third day of nuclear talks in Geneva on November 9, 2013 (Jean-Christophe Bott/Courtesy Reuters).

 

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” International Atomic Energy Agency, November 14, 2013.

Since Iran began enriching uranium at its declared facilities, it has produced at those facilities: Read more »

You Might Have Missed: FAA UAV Roadmap, Salaries of Congress, and Blackwater

by Micah Zenko

Despite Challenges, Africans Are Optimistic about the Future,” Pew Research, November 8, 2013.

The world’s two leading powers, the U.S. and China, enjoy mostly positive images in Africa. Both nations receive higher favorability ratings in Africa than in the other regions included in the 2013 survey. Across the eight African nations, a median of 73% express a positive opinion of the U.S., while 65% hold this view about China. Globally, the U.S. generally gets higher marks than China on this question. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drones, al-Shabaab in Somalia, and the NSA.

by Micah Zenko

Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “As Security Deteriorates at Home, Iraqi Leader Arrived in U.S. Seeking Aid,” New York Times, October 31, 2013.

Until now, Mr. Maliki was reluctant to openly ask for United States support. A former American official said that in 2012 Mr. Maliki was on the verge of asking the United States to fly reconnaissance drones over Iraq to help pinpoint the growing terrorist threat but backed off at the last moment when the request became public. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drone Strikes, the CIA, and Polls on Syria and Iran

by Micah Zenko
Afghan policemen keep watch during celebrations for Afghan New Year. (Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters) Afghan policemen keep watch during celebrations for Afghan New Year. (Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters)

Drop the Pilot,” Economist, October 19, 2013.

A 2009 poll in three of the tribal agencies found 52% of respondents believed drone strikes were accurate and 60% said they weakened militant groups. Other surveys have found much lower percentages in favour. But interviews by The Economist with twenty residents of the tribal areas confirmed that many see individual drone strikes as preferable to the artillery barrages of the Pakistani military. They also insisted that the drones do not kill many civilians—a view starkly at odds with mainstream Pakistani opinion. “No one dares tell the real picture,” says an elder from North Waziristan. “Drone attacks are killing the militants who are killing innocent people.” Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Benghazi, Syria, and China’s Aid

by Micah Zenko
Attack on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames on September 11, 2012 following an attack on the compount that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other staff members (Al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters).

Art Swift, “For First Time, American’s Views of Russia Turn Negative,” Gallup, September 18, 2013. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Syria , al-Qaeda Retaliates Against Drones, and Private Contractors

by Micah Zenko
U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testify at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria on September 4, 2013 (Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Colleen McCain Nelson, “Obama’s Curbs on Executive Power Draw Fire,” Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2013.

A senior administration official said that while the new drone-strike policy does rein in executive authority, the NSA and Syria proposals weren’t a reduction of power but an effort to increase transparency and build public confidence. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Syria Intervention, WMDs, the “Black Budget”

by Micah Zenko
chemical weapons inspector in Syria A member of the United Nations chemical weapons inspection team, examines one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Damascus' suburb of Zamalka, Syria (Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Barton Gellman and Greg Miller, “U.S. spy network’s successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget’ summary,” Washington Post, August 29, 2013. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Spies, Think Tanks, and Stuxnet Realities

by Micah Zenko
funeral convoy carrying bodies of four Islamist militants killed by an air strike A funeral convoy carrying the bodies of four Islamist militants killed by an air strike that their comrades said had been done by an Israeli drone but which state media said was the work of an Egyptian army helicopter, in the north of the Sinai peninsula on August 10, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Gregory D. Johnsen, “Did an 8-Year-Old Spy for America?The Atlantic, August 14, 2013.

At the time of the meeting, the boy didn’t know that the United States had decided to kill a man named Adnan al-Qadhi, and had turned to its allies in Yemen for assistance. Now the Yemeni government needed the child’s help. The Republican Guard officers told him what they wanted him to do: plant tiny electronic chips on the man he had come to think of as a surrogate father. The boy knew and trusted the officers; they were his biological father’s friends. He told them he would try. He would be their spy. Read more »