With the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF), drones have become a vital part of the U.S. military's operations in different parts of the world. Controlled either by onboard computers or remote operated by operators on the ground, drones can provide reconnaissance, surveillance, or even attack targets on the ground during high-risk missions. As military operations expand around the world, the need for drone operators has become more critical than ever.
But what are the psychological costs of operating drones? The increasing need for drone missions as they continue to be a vital part of U.S. military operations has placed greater strain on ground-based operators. Along with a significant increase in total hours spent operating drones, the need for round-the-clock shifts, and the virtual exposure to the combat experienced by personnel on the ground.
Along with the drone pilots, that can include the sensor operators, support crews, and mission specialists who are also involved in ensuring mission success. Drone crews also have a strange dual role since they spend immersed in the drone operation while juggling the daily responsibilities of normal life. Much like police officers, firefighters, and paramedics, managing this kind of dual existence can take its toll over time. All of which can increase the likelihood of occupational burnout.
To read more, check out my new Huffington Post piece.