In response to a written parliamentary question from Caroline, the Armed Forces Minister has confirmed that number of drone missions undertaken by the UK in Afghanistan increased from 296 in 2008 to 892 in 2012. The number of missions including a weapon release rose from 14 to 92 over the same period – a sixfold increase. The proportion of missions including a weapon release almost doubled.
Commenting on the figures, Lucas said:
“Drone warfare has terrible consequences. It has been responsible for the indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent civilians, undermines our moral authority, and is likely to be counterproductive.
“As we increase our use of forms of combat that reduce the enemy to blips on a screen, there is an increasing danger that we forget the horrors of war. Even in cases where the intended victim is killed, drone strikes represent the death penalty imposed from distance and without trial.
“It is amazing that the Government can claim that the presence of aircraft has no psychological impact on the people of Afghanistan. It is also deeply worrying that they cannot say how long drones are flying over civilian communities.”