Veterans Urge Drone Operators to Refuse Orders to Fly

Letter Reinforces Call Made in National TV Ad Campaign

Hastings on Hudson, NY – An increasing number of United States military veterans are counseling United States military drone operators to refuse to fly drone surveillance/attack missions – the veterans are even helping sponsor prime time television commercials urging drone operators to “refuse to fly.”

In a letter released today by KnowDrones.com, 44 former members of the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines whose ranks range from private to colonel and whose military service spans 60 years, “urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions.  These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.”

Among those signing the letter are retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright, who resigned from her State Department post in 2003 over the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and former Marine Captain Matthew Hoh, who, in spite of pleadings by Obama Administration officials, resigned his State Department post in Afghanistan in 2009 in protest over U.S. strategic goals and policy there. Also signing are former U.S. Army Captain and CIA official Ray McGovern; former U.S. Navy Lt. Barry Ladendorf, president of Veterans for Peace; and former U.S. Army Sgts. Aaron Hughes and Maggie Martin, co-directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Speaking to the issue of disobeying military orders, the letter says: “Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting in accordance with Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950,” that states:

 “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible.”

“The people signing this letter know that they are asking drone operators to take a heavy step,” said Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, “but we feel it is perfectly legitimate to advise military people to stop taking part in illegal activity that has killed thousands without due process, is terrorizing thousands more and is wracking their own ranks with moral injury and PTSD.”

To advance the “Refuse to Fly” initiative, KnowDrones.com has been airing 15-second television commercials (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESdmex_AA3I&feature=youtu.be) on CNN, FoxNews, MNBC and other networks in areas near drone intelligence and control centers in the U.S. The paid spots, the cost of which has been partially covered by members of Veterans for Peace, show the human toll of drone attacks and urge drone operators to refuse to fly.

The ads have appeared in Las Vegas near Creech AFB and in northern California near Beale AFB. They are currently airing in upstate New York near Hancock Air National Guard base outside Syracuse and the Air Guard base near Niagara Falls; more showings will be scheduled soon elsewhere in the U.S.

Below is the letter:  

RETIRED AND FORMER U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL URGE DRONE OPERATORS TO REFUSE TO FLY MISSIONS

As retired and former members of the United States military, we urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions.  These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.

At least 6,000 peoples’ lives have been unjustly taken by United States drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya and Syria.  These attacks are also undermining principles of international law and human rights, such as those enumerated in the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights, written in 1948 under the guidance of Eleanor Roosevelt with the blood of the atrocities of World War II freshly in mind.  The United States is a signatory to this declaration.

Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting in accordance within accordance of Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950:

“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible.”

So, yes, you do have a choice – and liability under the law. Choose the moral one. Choose the legal one.

Signed:

Kenneth Ashe E3 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1971

Wendy Barranco   SPC US Army 2003 – 2006

Barry Binks E5 US Army 1964-1967

Russell Brown CPL US Marine Corps 1966- 1968

Ben Chitty PO2 US Navy 1965 – 1969

Gerry Condon PVT US Army 1967 – 1969

Bill Distler E5 US Army 1966 – 1968

Arthur H. Dorland   YN3 US Navy 1964 – 1967

Kelly Dougherty   Sgt. – E-5 US Army National Guard   1996 – 2004

Jonathan Engle   SFC (E-7) US Army 2004 – 2013

Mike Ferner HM3 US Navy 1969 – 1973

Bruce Gagnon   SGT US Air Force   1971 – 1974

Bill J. Gilson   AE2   US Navy   1954 – 1958

Mike Hastie   E5 US Army 1969 – 1972

Michael Hearington   E1 US Army 171st Infantry 1970 – 1971

Dud Hendrick CAPT US Air Force 1963 – 1967

Herbert J. Hoffman   SPC3 US Army 1954 – 1956

Matthew Hoh   CPT US Marine Corps 1998 – 2008

Matt Howard   CPL US Marine Corps 2001 – 2006

Aaron Hughes   SGT (E-5) Illinois National Guard  2000 – 2006

Tarak Kauff   PVT   US Army Airborne Infantry   1959 – 1962

Barry Ladendorf   LT US Navy 1964 – 1969

Erik Lobo PO3 US Navy 1976 – 1982

Maggie Martin   SGT E-5 US Army 2001 – 2006

Kenneth E. Mayers   MAJ US Marine Corps Reserve 1958 – 1966 (active duty) 1967 – 1978 (Reserves)

Ray McGovern   CPT US Army   1962 – 1964

Nick Mottern     LTJG US Navy 1960 – 1963

Carroll Nast CAPT US Air Force 1969 – 1979

Tom Palumbo SGT US Army/US Army Reserve 1978 – 1992

Bill Perry   US Army 101st Airborne/Tet Offensive 1966 – 1968

Kyle Petlock   0-1 US Air Force 2000 – 2002

Charles R. Powell   E4 US Air Force   1961 – 1965

Doug Rawlings SPC4 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1970

John C. Reiger   SPC5 US Army 1959 – 1962

Jovanni L. Reyes   SSG US Army 1994 – 2005 Active Duty. 2005 – 2007 Reserves

Hannah Roberts   LT (03) US Navy 2009 – 2014

Steven E. Saelzler   E1 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1970

Benjamin Schrader   E-4 US Army 2001 – 2005

Chuck Searcy   E5 US Army 1966 – 1969

Robert L. Stebbins   1stLT US Army 1956 – 1958

Will Thomas E3 US Navy 1961 – 1963

Cres Vellucci E-5 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1971

Zachary Wigham   SSgt. Massachusetts Air National Guard 2006 -2012

Ann Wright Colonel US Army (Retired)

#NoWar2019 Pathways to Peace conference in Limerick, Ireland October 5-6 2019

9 Comments

  1. u.s. navy, 1973-1979
    (sorry I do not publish my e-mail on petition sites for good reasons!) thanks!

  2. The drones are creating more enemies than they kill, and are far more cowardly then suicide bombs. NO sympathy for those who fly them

  3. Robert Bogner says:

    Add my name to the list

    Robert Bogner
    USMC #2111180
    1964-71

  4. J A Blacker MSc IMI says:

    It is very hard to see how using a drone is not an act of terrorism.

    How is there not a breach of due process?

    How is there not a breach of many aspects of signed war conventions.

    How is such a method not physiological war against all those innocent people living in and around areas of said conflict?

    How is it possible to be absolutely certain the intended target is both A) correct and B) the only casualty in a humain way?

    It is my qualified scientific opinion that targeting individuals using drones for anything other than intelligence gathering – constitutes war crimes.

  5. Drone warfare is counterproductive, immoral and illegal. I support the signators of the declaration that bring up the historical facts of drone warfare to “profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.”, as Ann Wright stated.

  6. Stan Goff says:

    US Army, Retired

  7. Stan Goff says:

    US Army (Retired)

  8. Trevor Goodger-Hill says:

    _____________
    “War is the parent of armies; from these
    proceed debts and taxes. And armies,
    and debts, and taxes are the known
    instruments for bringing the many under
    the domination of the few.”

    1809-1817 – James Madison

  9. Mike Maybury says:

    Drones have killed thousands of (illegal) targets, plus also children, women and men who were innocent bystanders, including wedding parties.

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