Military

Playstation warfare

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The military use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, has risen sharply over the last decade. These remotely piloted killer robots enable operators to launch missiles and bombs on human targets in the combat zone while they remain safe, thousands of miles away in the Nevada desert.



Grim game: a Reaper drone operator

With weapons dispatched at the touch of a joystick, armed drones involve a form of "playstation warfare" that risks creating a culture of convenient killing.

Conditioned to kill

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As the war in Afghanistan continues without an end in sight, Dave Crouch delves into the testimony of serving soldiers to reveal the full horror of an unwinnable conflict.

The shell that killed seven year old Shabia was fired by British troops. As the mortar landed, fragments of molten shrapnel sliced into her fragile body while phosphorus burned through her thick hair. The patrol called an ambulance. But Shabia was transferred to a squalid Afghan hospital. Within hours she succumbed to her wounds and died.

New war resisters

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Growing numbers of US soldiers are refusing to go and fight what they see as immoral wars, reports Dahr Jamail, who has recently written a book on the soldiers who won't return to the battlefield.

Today the US finds itself in two seemingly unending occupations. With veterans not being given the healthcare they need upon their return, redeployment becoming increasingly common, and a stop-loss policy that continues to lower morale among troops, GI resistance is once again on the rise. This is what my book is about.

Examples of various forms of GI resistance are once again becoming commonplace.

Fighting for soldiers

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Lance Corporal Joe Glenton has been a soldier for five years. He first went to Afghanistan in 2006, but refused to return. Next month he faces a court martial for desertion.

He wrote to Gordon Brown to explain: "The war in Afghanistan is not reducing the terrorist risk. Far from improving Afghan lives it is bringing death and devastation to their country. Britain has no business there."

I am proud to legally represent Joe. He is following his conscience. It is a sign of the mood inside the army that his stand is popular with fellow soldiers, who treat him like their shop steward.

Unembedded in Iraq

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When a journalist decides to "embed" they can only report on the unit they are with. They see what the unit sees, and limit themselves to what the military decides they will see.

In many instances they sign forms granting the military the right to censor their work. It is impossible for such "embedded" journalists to report accurately on how Iraqis are being affected by the occupation.

My type of reportage, like other independent journalists, focuses instead on the Iraqi perspective. I have focused my stories on how rampant unemployment, lack of water and electricity, the US-backed segregation of Baghdad, and the horrible security situation had an impact on Iraqis.

Follow the money: the "war on terror" and the multinationals who are profiteering from it

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It started with an article on a private security company in Bosnia. Solomon Hughes then became drawn into an investigation which was to expose the ever growing profits made from the privatisation of war.

I started writing about the private security industry in July 2001, when I sold a story to the Observer newspaper about a company called DynCorp. They were hired by the US to help the "reconstruction" of Bosnia and Kosovo by running the new post-war police force.

Marshall Adame versus Blackwatch

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Marshall Adame, ex-marine and Democrat congressional candidate for North Carolina, has incurred the wrath of mercenary firm Blackwater, whose 7000 acre training facility is based in his constituency.

Adame has worked recently on Iraq's "reconstruction", where he was given protection by the firm. He wrote on a blog about travelling in a Blackwater vehicle which began to fire at passers-by before crashing into civilian cars: "The vehicle in front of us rammed into a car that was trying to get out of the way, and they just spun that guy around. He was out cold in that car, maybe even dead. I don't know, but we just kept on going."

Gunning for profits

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On 16 September 17 Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater contractors on a convoy escort operation.

This brought the name of this private security company (PSC) into international news. The incident was neither unexpected nor unique, but the ensuing debate certainly was. Even the US-controlled Iraqi government has demanded the termination of Blackwater's contract.

There are currently 861 "contractors" working in Iraq under Blackwater CEO and founder Erik Prince. Each is paid $1,222 per day to protect US diplomats and high ranking military personnel.

Getting them while they're young

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"Are you between 12 and 18 and looking for excitement?" asks the ad. "How does riding in a helicopter grab you? Or even rock climbing?"

Not just helicopters and rock climbing either: we're talking bob sleighs, rugby, tanks, computer games and getting shot at. Welcome to Camouflage, the glossy recruitment magazine from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

There are several international laws preventing these youngsters going to the front line, but that doesn't stop the MoD putting them on the production line. The £1 million Camouflage website offers video clips of how cool you will be among your school mates if you enlist, and video games letting you blow people up with a tank, all for free if you register.

Terror from the Skies

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In the aftermath of Israel's assault on Lebanon and continuing threats by the US against Iran, Beau Grosscup looks at the history and politics of aerial bombardments.

Shock and Awe! Shock and Awe! With this by now familiar, celebrated phrase, the Bush administration announced its intention to topple Saddam Hussein from power in March 2003. The Pentagon plan was to blast the so-called "axis of evil" nation with 3,000 bombs and missiles over 48 hours for the purpose of "shocking the Iraqi leadership" into quick submission. If, said Pentagon officials, Saddam didn't capitulate immediately "the political imperative to keep civilian casualties to a minimum will have to be put to one side... There will not be a safe place in Baghdad."

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