DRONING ON AND ON

By Bruce Gagnon  February 15, 2013  Space4Peace

  • Drone medals?  The out-going Secretary of War Leon Panetta has announced that the Pentagon will begin awarding the Distinguished Warfare Medal to individuals for “extraordinary achievement” related to military operations that occurred after Sept. 11, 2001. But unlike other combat medals, it does not require the recipient risk his or her life to get it. It will be given to drone pilots and cyber “warriors” who sit at computer screens safely distant from the “battlefield”. The medal will be considered a bit higher in ranking than the Bronze Star, but is lower than the Silver Star, military officials said.
  •  Associated Press reports that federal officials on Thursday solicited proposals to create six drone test sites around the US. The FAA is required by a law enacted a year ago to develop sites where civilian and military drones can be tested in preparation for integration into U.S. airspace that’s currently limited to manned aircraft. The law also requires that the FAA allow drones wide access to U.S. airspace by 2015.  About two dozen government-industry partnerships have been formed over the past year to compete for the sites. The agency forecasts an estimated 10,000 civilian drones will be in use in the U.S. within five years.
  •  Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, New York is a drone base that has drawn many non-violent peace protests in the past two years. Recently the base Operations Commander has gotten an “Order of Protection,” to guard himself from “assault, stalking, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, sexual misconduct, [or] forcible touching,” by the nonviolent activists.  Not to be deterred nine activists were arrested earlier this week for blocking an entrance to the base.  In a statement the protesters declared, “We come to Hancock Airfield, home of the National Reaper Drone Maintenance and Training center, this Ash Wednesday — to remember the victims of our drone strikes and to ask God’s forgiveness for the killing of other human beings, most especially children…..Lent is a time to repent–literally, to change our minds. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus’ command to love our neighbors and our enemies. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus’ radical, non-violent message of love.”  On April 26-28 the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars will hold a conference that will include workshops, panels, and talks on Friday night and Saturday. On Sunday an action is planned at Hancock Field to call attention to the criminal, innocent and, illegal deaths caused with drones from the base

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America’s declining empire….
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