You wouldn't think of suburban New York as a battlefront for the war in Afghanistan, but for the growing number of U.S. drone operators at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, that's exactly what it is. In today's New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller interviews the pilots who sit in office chairs all day firing missiles at militants 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan. It's a surreal-sounding job where life and death decisions precede routine trips to pick up the kids or shop for groceries. Take the experience of Col. D. Scott Brenton who targets Afghan insurgents from the comfort of suburban Syracuse, a vastly different environment than his days in Iraq. Per Bumiller:
When he was deployed in Iraq, “you land and there’s no more weapons on your F-16, people have an idea of what you were just involved with.” Now he steps out of a dark room of video screens, his adrenaline still surging after squeezing the trigger, and commutes home past fast-food restaurants and convenience stores to help with homework — but always alone with what he has done.
“It’s a strange feeling,” he said. “No one in my immediate environment is aware of anything that occurred.”