Let’s Start By Talking About a Typical Day Working with Ballistic-Armed Drones

Photo Credit: Brett Velicovich

Described as lightweight, hand-held, and portable, the “Raven” was the first drone that US special operations intelligence analyst Brett Velicovich encountered in eastern Afghanistan in 2005. It flew at low altitudes and delivered shaky video feeds covering a short range of six miles or fewer. It was the early years of drone warfare and Velicovich, at just 25, was crafting “kill lists” for the still-highly secret US drone program. “I had the power to decide whether a man lived or died,” Velicovich writes in his new memoir Drone Warrior, released this Tuesday.

Deployed with the US Army several times between 2004 to 2010, Velicovich typically commanded Predator and Reaper drones to root out Al Qaeda and ISIS fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bulk of his work was not focused on kill lists, though, but rather long-term surveillance to determine if targets were worth capturing. Under

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