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Drone strikes and diplomacy

May 28, 2013

THIS is apropos of drone attacks inside Pakistan by the US.

The origin of drone technology lies in remotely-piloted vehicle (RPV) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). These instruments are also known as ‘birds’ during informal discussions.

The drone technique is an advanced stage of this technology where these birds are armed with the capability of delivering modern guided weapon systems on selected targets. The US and Israel exclusively possess the latest and the most expensive technology in this particular field.

The US, at present having a unique military potential, has divided the world into different regions and assigned each region to its different commands.

Pakistan is located in the area of responsibility (AOR) of the US Central Command (Centcom). Each command has its own army, navy, air force and carrier (s). The respective command controls employment of all kinds of forces, including drone weapon system in the AOR.

One of the basic uses of these birds is reconnaissance or designation of selected targets, identified through human intelligence or Awacs, for launching of guided weapons by modern aircraft like F - 16.

The selected target corridor is electronically jammed, using technology available with Awacs and other US military resources in the area with a view to denying any interruption by hostile forces.

The signature or material used for these birds cannot be picked up by hostile radars within the corridor of the ‘mission’. Some of these birds (drones) have been equipped with modern guided weapon systems, launched remotely on the target. However, Awacs coverage, radar jamming and support from allied military resources/carrier present in the command AOR is always ensured against any intervention within the target area.

So, one can conclude that drone technology is a segment of overall US military system utilised to accomplish any military mission. One who understands the drone technology, modern air-to-air and ground-to-air weapon systems will bear out that unless the target configures on radar screen, it cannot be neutralised by any modern guided weapon.

Besides, drone is comparatively a slow - moving bird and cannot be easily neutralised by present - day fast - moving aircraft. Drone can also climb to the height beyond the range of ground weapon systems, as well as helicopters.

Notwithstanding the above salient features of drone technology, any intervention by the hostile forces against drone mission may also be neutralised or eliminated by the US supporting elements located within the region.

This may lead to a military conflict between the US and the intervening forces for a short duration. The consequence of such military conflict is well understood.

This does not imply at all that Pakistan cannot force or convince the US to stop drone strikes into its territory. At present political, diplomatic and economic means prove stronger than military means provided these are used prudently and effectively with resilience.

The political leadership of Pakistan should also have strong regional consensus in addition to total harmony among its own people to exhibit ‘political defiance’ to the US policy of drone attacks.