"Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building
collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his
'Did we just kill a kid?' he asked the man sitting next to him.
'Yeah, I guess that was a kid,' the pilot replied.
'Was that a kid?' they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.
Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. 'No. That was a dog,' the person wrote.
They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?"
A surreal article about life as a drone operator in a war that is being waged more and more like a video game.
As a liaison responsible for clearing areas for fire in VietNam I constantly heard chopper pilots call requests for "3 military aged males with packs and weapons evading, request permission to engage"...too pat...after months of war and witnessing carnage it finally 'grabbed me' the wrong way...I asked, "What's your altitude"...When the pilot responded with 2000 feet (or maybe it was even higher) I asked him to check it out further and get back to me with a better ID...he radioed back "Disregard previous request"...I asked the nature of the target...he said it was a mamasan and two babysans by a river doing laundry...my heart exploded...my mind exploded...how many times had I given clearance to engage military aged males with packs and weapons who were children and mothers carrying laundry to the river, carrying rice back from the fields...it changed my life...and the rest of my tour I changed what was happening in my area...some appreciated it...some hated me for it.
I still awaken to the sounds of my own screams...in a cold sweat.