The United States has been consolidating their drone operations into what is quickly becoming a permanent US Predator drone base in Djibouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa.
Djibouti is a former French colony with fewer than a million people living there. It’s a pretty miserable place to live, so naturally, not too many people go there.
That makes it perfect for Camp Lemonnier, a base established by the French Foreign Legion that America now leases to Djibouti at $38 million a year. A decade ago it was meant to be a temporary outpost for the Marines to gain a foothold in the region, but with our rising use of drones in place of boots on the ground, the camp’s location has proven to be ideal to consolidate many of our UAV operations under its umbrella.
Outside of the Afghan war zone, it’s now the busiest drone base the United States operates. Just a hop, skip and a jump to the collapsed nation of Somalia, al-Qaeda’s occupations in Yemen, and other distinctly more classified operations.
It wasn’t meant to: The drones fly out of Djibouti’s only airport, where there’s no room for expansion, the air traffic controllers aren’t up to international standards, and the drones takeoff from the same runways that civilian aircraft do.
But the secrecy around the base is insane. Every division within the base is compartmentalized. The UAV pilots are actually flying the crafts from America. The ground crews never know where the drones are going, or when they’re going to come back. The liaison between these divisions is only known as “Frog,” and even Congressional committees can’t figure out who the guy is.
Furthermore, the increase drone traffic has shown that the Predators can have some… peculiar attributes.
For example — a drone that just plain turned on all on its own. The ignition had been turned off and the fuel lines closed, and without any human input, it came online. (And on that day, so did SkyNet.)
Washington Post has the in-depth feature. Check it out and read about the future of modern warfare.
Question: Are we relying too much on drones for conducting our war on terror?