After six years in the U.S. Air Force, a former drone operator has started opening up about the psychological toll of killing large numbers of innocent people.
Brandon Bryant, 27, from Missoula, Montana, killed scores of innocents – by his own admission – simply by pressing a button from a control room in New Mexico.
Bryant couldn’t take any more after following orders to shoot and kill a child in Afghanistan. He knew that following the orders was wrong, but the very fact that he had been ordered to murder people who it was clear to all were innocent, told him that he was fighting for some very bad people.
“I saw men, women and children die during that time,” he said in an interview with Spiegel Online. “I never thought I would kill that many people. In fact, I thought I couldn’t kill anyone at all.”
Bryant joined the military when he was told that he could go to college for “free” if he enlisted. It was shortly thereafter that he found himself shooting innocent people by remote.
The very first time he fired a drone missile, Bryant killed two men instantly and cried all the way home.
“I felt disconnected from humanity for almost a week,” he explained.
“I saw men, women and children die.”
“These moments are like in slow motion,” he said further.
After seeing a flash on the screen – an explosion – and a building collapsing on a child right next to it, he had a sick feeling in his stomach.
“Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the drone operator who was sitting next to him.
“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the more seasoned operator coldly replied.
Now, he says, he “can’t just switch and go back to normal life.”
Bryant has left the military and is living back at home in Montana, and has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
(Article by M.B. David)