May 24, 2022

U.S. Veterans

U.S.A Veterans News, Support & Information

Borne the Battle Ep. 266: “Wright Brothers” of the US Drone Warfare Program

1 min read

With over two decades of experience, Mark Cooter and Alec Bierbauer have been called the “Wright Brothers” of the U.S. drone warfare program. They were the ones – in January 2000 – who were tasked with finding terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. They had nine months to carry out their mission.

Cooter and Bierbauer discuss how their team located bin Laden a full year before the events of 9/11 (and why they couldn’t take action against him), how weapons were first added to drones, and the ways in which drone technology has evolved over the last 20 years. They also talk about the psychological stress endured by today’s drone operators and caution against minimizing the combat trauma faced by pilots and support crews.
0:00 – Intro
6:00 – Beginning of the Armed Drone Program
10:32 – The History of the Drone Program
16:12 – Attaching a Hellfire Missile to Drones
23:40 – First Unmanned Strike Attempt
38:29 – Capabilities 20 Years Later
44:00 – Levels of Vetting for Strikes
48:42 – It’s Not a Video Game
48:50 – Drone Pilots and PTSD
53:30 – Transitioning Out of the Military
59:48 – One Thing Learned in the Military That Still Applies Today
1:01:16 – Final Thoughts

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