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    Ex-Pentagon Official: New Drone Measures Unlikely to Reduce Civilian Deaths

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    President Barack Obama’s executive order to develop measures to limit civilian casualties will have little impact unless he reduces drone strikes altogether, former US Department of Defense senior analyst Chuck Spinney told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Friday, Obama announced new measures to reduce civilian casualties resulting from counterterrorism strikes, which killed up to 116 noncombatants from 2009 through 2015, according to US intelligence estimates.

    “It might make a small difference, but I doubt it,” Spinney said on Friday. “Reducing civilian deaths is already a big part of the planning process.”

    Obama, Spinney noted, as Commander-in-Chief must take responsibility for those civilian deaths because it is up to him, not military measures, to mitigate collateral damage.

    “Given the epistemic limitations of our military strategists, the chief target picker [Obama], can only reduce civilian deaths by curtailing drone strikes, but that requires an admission of failure,” Spinney suggested.

    The problem in reducing the number of civilians killed in US air strikes lay in the assumptions of the military planning process itself, Spinney maintained.

    “The central problem is discriminating combatants from civilians from a great distance with few intelligence resources on the ground,” he explained.

    Persistent civilian casualties from US drone strikes are inevitable because of the overreliance on drones and uncritical trust in their effectiveness, Spinney argued.

    “The whole theory of drone warfare has been based on the idea that we can find, identify, and kill critical leadership targets… while minimizing risk to civilians,” he said.

    US military planners projected their own false assumptions onto their adversaries and then measured their imagined success according to a rationale reflecting those assumptions, Spinney observed.

    The US obsession with quantitative analysis made these assumptions even more arbitrary, Spinney continued.

    “Inevitably, success is measured by inputs [such as] the number of sorties flown, bombs dropped and aim points claimed to be destroyed,” he said.

    However, in reality there was no linkage between such measures and the will and the mind of the enemy, Spinney concluded.

    Research conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that over 3,000 people, including nearly 500 civilians, have been killed by drones under the Obama administration


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