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Drone Warfare: Is the United States Violating the Law of Armed Conflict

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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The United States has become increasingly dependent upon the use of unmanned aircraft systems UASs or drones to kill targeted members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.1 Due to the success of drone warfare, we can expect the United States to continue its current missions and eventually expand the use of drones to other areas. Drones have become the weapon of choice due to environmental complexities in which the United States must fight its current global operations. This environment, once described as irregular warfare, is now referred to as hybrid warfare. Hybrid warfare is our nations newest buzzword in what was once referred to as the Global War on Terror GWOT.2 1 This paper is based upon open source materials and media accounts of the United States military and Central Intelligence Agencys involvement in these operations. For the purposes of this paper, the media accounts are assumed factually accurate. As the complexities of this war increased, it became apparent that we could not achieve our objectives if we employed the same strategies of previous conflicts. The law of armed conflict supports the current operation of drones when conducted by combatants, i.e. members of the United States military.

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