Types of drone usages and their effects

I think it’s important to discuss what types of drone strikes there are, and the effects that they have, because there are definitely some distinctions involved in this technical warfare that makes certain strikes applicable in certain situations. This list is by no means meant to be complete, but I think it discusses some of the more common strikes used and what their purposes are. Look to this article and this article for references.

 

The most common types of drone strikes are signature strikes and targeted killing. A lot of people conflate these two types of attacks. While extremely similar, there are some key differences that make them different. Signature strikes are conducted upon individuals who’s names and identities aren’t known. They are conducted upon individuals whom the government believes fits the requirement of conducting a terrorist activity (which ends up being a rather loose definition), while targeted killing is conducted upon individuals whom we know for sure are terrorists. If we had killed bin Laden with a drone strike, that would have been targeted killing, not a signature strike. Signature strikes are more commonly cited as the more destabilizing and debilitating drone strikes conducted in Pakistan.

 

Two other types of drone strikes that are distinctly different from signature strikes and targeted killings are overt combat operation drone strikes and covert combat operation drone strikes. Overt strikes are done explicitly in conjunction with regular military operations. These are different than covert strikes, which are done covertly.

 

One final type of drone usage (that is not a strike) is surveillance drones. These are used, as the name implies, for surveillance purposes, not for attacking purposes. These drones do not have weapons equipped to them (although they certainly have the capacity to have them equipped) and are instead used for acquiring intelligence and tracking individuals and such.

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