A full decade into the drone war in the Middle East, we’re still asking questions: what does an unmanned military mean for the future of warfare? Who chooses who lives and who dies? What does it mean to pull the trigger on a target half a world away?
And what is like being a veteran of the drone war?
Matthew Power is a freelance print and radio journalist and a contributor to GQ Magazine, where he wrote a profile of former drone operator and Airman First Class Brandon Bryant.
Only a few days after international weapons inspectors arrived in Syria, they’ve begun destroying Syria’sstockpile of chemical weapons along with the equipment used to make it. The team is reportedly using blow torches and heavy trucks to crush weaponry, working as an active war rages on around them.
For a better sense of what weapons inspectors do, we spoke to Tim Trevan. He worked as a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq in the early 90’s and is currently Executive Director of the International Council for the Life Sciences.
We hear the words honor, duty and sacrifice a lot around Veteran’s Day – and rightly so. What we rarely hear about are the individual, human stories that lead men and women to pick up the mantle of those powerful words and to fight in America’s name. “Where Soldiers Come From” follows a pack of close friends from Michigan’s icy Upper Peninsula as they transform from small town teenagers to National Guardsmen fighting in Afghanistan.
Check out the trailer for Where Soldiers Come From:
When we call dogs ‘man’s best friend’, we’re typically referring to their value as companions and protectors - but canines have a long history of helping people with affairs far more solemn that playing fetch. For centuries, dogs have played a pivotal role in aiding the disabled, in hunting, for search and rescue operations, and for their service in police and military applications. After a long hiatus, U.S. bomb-sniffing dogs were re-introduced to the battlefield in 2007. There are now some six-hundred military dogs deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An inside look at the war in Afghanistan. Recently, an increasing number of American troops have died at the hands of their Afghan counterparts, raising questions about American efforts there. But these incidents don’t come as a surprise to award-winning Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who spent two years covering the war in Afghanistan. He's written a book on the conflict -- Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan.
During this country's early years, military service was considered the price of citizenship in a free society. Over time, veterans gained in prestige, especially after World War II. Our wars since – some unpopular -- have brought about new attitudes. In his new book, Those Who Have Borne the Battle: A History of America's Wars and Those Who Fought Them, former Dartmouth College President James Wright describes the complicated relationship between this country and its military.
Nyachieng Nguot Teng, 25, lost her left leg and her 7-month-old son suffered a fractured leg when a Sudanese bomb fell on her hut in Lalat, South Sudan, on May 5. The United Nations is trying to prevent the recent fighting between the two Sudans from escalating into full-scale war.
Credit Ofeibea Quist-Arcton / NPR
South Sudanese soldiers travel near the front line with Sudan last month. The two sides have clashed repeatedly in recent weeks.
There's a tense calm at South Sudan's front line, just 10 miles from the frontier with Sudan, its neighbor to the north. South Sudanese commander Maj. Gen. Mangar Buong says his troops remain on alert and on the defensive.
There is not a civilian in sight. They all fled the area, known as Panakuach, after Sudan's recent aerial bombardments and escalating concerns about a full-scale war.
Some Latin American leaders want to talk about the possibility of legalizing some drugs, a move the U.S. strongly opposes. Here, a Mexican soldier stands guard at a huge marijuana plantation that was uncovered in San Quintin, Baja California state, near the U.S. border, last year.
Credit Antonio Nava / AFP/Getty Images
A man makes a joint during a march last month in Guatemala City, Guatemala, calling for the decriminalization of marijuana.
Twenty years ago this week, the Bosnian war began with the siege of Sarajevo, the capital. In this photo, smoke billows from a building in downtown Sarajevo, April 22, 1992, after a Serbian mortar attack.
Credit H. Delich / AP
A man carries a bag of firewood across a destroyed bridge near the burnt library in Sarajevo, in this picture taken January 1, 1994 (top), while a man carries a box over the same bridge, now repaired, April 1, 2012, in this combination picture made April 4, 2012.
Credit Peter Andrews / Reuters /Landov
On April 6, 1992, a Bosnian special forces soldier (third from right) returns fire from Serbians opposed to Bosnian independence as civilians seek cover in downtown Sarajevo. The day marked the beginning of the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, which left 100,000 dead.
Credit Mike Persson / AFP/Getty Images
A Bosnian teenager carrying containers of water walks in front of destroyed trams at Skenderia square in the besieged Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, in this picture taken June 22, 1993 (top), and a woman passes through the same square, April 1, 2012.
Credit Oleg Popov / Reuters /Landov
In this photo from 1992, women run across "Sniper Alley" under the sights of Serb gunmen during the siege of Sarajevo.
April 6 marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war and the siege of Sarajevo. It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.
Over three-and-a-half years of war, 100,000 people were killed, and half of Bosnia's population of 4.4 million — made up of a plurality of Muslims — fled their homes.
Afghans say they're so inured to civilians killed in wars that they bury their dead and move on. That's not so easy for Muhammad Wazir. He lost his mother, his wife, a sister-in-law, a brother, a nephew, his four daughters and two of his sons in last week's mass shooting in two villages.
"My little boy, Habib Shah, is the only one left alive, and I love him very much," says Wazir.
Oil tankers sit at a NATO supply terminal in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi on Feb. 9. In November, Pakistan's government shut down the main routes for bringing supplies to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Credit Masroor / Xinhua/Landov
Oil tankers line the road near a NATO supply terminal in Karachi, on Feb. 9, 2012. Analysts say Pakistan is in no hurry to reopen the supply routes to Afghanistan, though truckers complain that they can't earn any money.
Nearly four months after Pakistan closed the main supply lines for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the shutdown is creating hardship for Pakistani truckers and is forcing the U.S. to turn to costly and less-efficient alternatives.
The Pakistani move came after an errant U.S. airstrike left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead along the Afghan frontier back in November.
In recent weeks and days, the divisions over how to deal with Iran and its nuclear program have sharpened. The only undisputed fact is that Iran is developing a nuclear energy program, but after that things get murky.
Israel and some European countries believe Iran is moving toward a nuclear weapons program, but U.S. intelligence agencies disagree. Israel argues that a nuclear-armed Iran poses an existential threat, and there's much speculation in the media about a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites.
A member of the Free Syrian Army looks at the valley in the village of Ain al-Baida, in Syria's Idlib province, near the Turkish border, in December. Syrians fleeing the fighting in their country are flowing out across the border with Turkey, but opposition fighters say very few weapons are flowing in.
Credit Sezayi Erken / AFP/Getty Images
Mohammed Ibrahim lies in a hospital bed in Antakya, Turkey. The 18-year-old Syrian tried to help victims of an artillery shelling in his village near Hama when another shell shattered his right leg. His leg was amputated and his body is filled with shrapnel.
Credit Sean Carberry / NPR
Members of the Free Syrian Army stand guard near the village of Ain al-Baida. The opposition says most of its weapons come from within Syria.
In a nondescript apartment room in Turkey, just across the border from Syria, clouds of cigarette smoke drift toward the ceiling as Syrian opposition activists ponder how to keep people and supplies moving across the border.
Abu Jafaar is the alias of a Syrian smuggler who has been dodging Syrian army patrols for the past several months.