Swamp Talk: Hey College Kids, Want a Master’s Degree in Drone Warfare?

By Mary Elysee Velasco

The United States government has developed a new video game. You play as a courageous captain fighting to defend your fellow countrymen from slimy enemies across the globe. Complete with a system of computer monitors, a jet joystick and a big, shiny, red button, you’ve got $20 million worth of missilery and machinery in your hands.

On the scanner, a foe has been detected. The area is framed in your crosshairs. Your target is perfectly locked.

Blip. Blip. Boom.

Here is when the victorious “YOU WIN!” should flash on this screen, but this is not just a video game. This is real life. You’re not killing pixels. You’re killing people.

Welcome to drone warfare, where pilots remote control planes and are assigned to wipe out suspected terrorists and terrorist leaders. In a constant state of conflict with those trying to hurt American citizens, the US government asserts that this is a program necessary to protect the homeland. But have the fear of attacks and the power we harness gone too far?

No matter your view on these unmanned aerial systems (UAS), just last week, different sources revealed that US colleges have began graduate programs, which will allow students to get careers in drone piloting. And, of course, our good’ole Sunshine State was the first state to implement it.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. started its six-month-long program this fall and promises graduates a starting salary of $150,000 per year.  Other schools don’t offer degrees, but do provide training for a starting salary between $50,000 and $120,000.

There is a huge, moral debate on the usage of drones. Some consider drones a valuable resource that allow the military to strike immediate dangers to the US, while at the same time, keeping our soldiers completely safe and out of combat.  Others consider drones an abuse of power that at times strikes the wrong people, and that keeping pilots on the other side of the world and making them unable to see the result of their actions results in trigger-happy warfare.

How do you feel now that counterterrorism has taken to the education system?

UF, sound off!

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