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Air Force pilot grapples with the psychological costs of drone warfare

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drone (public domain)
drone (public domain)

Brandon Bryant used to be one of the best drone pilots in the US Air Force, but his career came to an abrupt halt after a Hellfire missile killed two children in Afghanistan. Bryant's story is the focus of a recent piece in Der Spiegel, which examines the psychological burdens carried by many Air Force drone operators. To outsiders, remote-controlled airstrikes may seem like a good way to keep the horrors of war at arm's length, but for Bryant and his colleagues, the consequences of their actions were all too real. "On the battlefield there are no sides, just bloodshed," Bryant wrote in his journal one day. "Total war. Every horror witnessed. I wish my eyes would rot."