To our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters at Creech Air Force Base,
This week, veterans of the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are arriving in Nevada to join protests outside Creech Air Force Base against Drone Warfare. We are not protesting against you, the airmen (and women) who are drone operators and support personnel.
We are reaching out to you because we understand the position you that you are in. We were once in that position ourselves, some of us quite recently. We know what it feels like to be caught up in strange and brutal wars not of our own making, and not clearly in the interests of our nation. We want to share some of our hard won truths, and to offer you our support.
We know that drone operators and support personnel have a tough job. We understand that you are not playing video games, but rather engaging in life and death situations on a daily basis. You are not targeted and don't have to worry about being killed and wounded. But you are human beings with feelings who suffer nonetheless. You have a conscience too.
It is not normal or healthy for human beings to kill other human beings. Many veterans continue to suffer from PTSD and “moral injury” for the rest of their lives. The suicide rate for active duty GI's and veterans is extremely high.
No matter how you spin it, your job involves killing other human beings, thousands of miles away, who are not threatening you. No doubt you want to know who these people are. According to recent independent research, the identity of only one out of 28 victims of drone strikes is known beforehand. Though officials deny it, the majority of those killed by drones are civilians.
As veterans who have served in many wars and on many military bases, we have been educating ourselves about what goes on at Creech AFB. In 2005, Creech Air Force Base secretly became the first U.S. base in the country to carry out remotely controlled assassinations using the MQ-1 Predator drones. In 2006, the more advanced Reaper drones were added to its arsenal. Last year, in 2014, it was leaked that the CIA's drone assassination program, officially a separate operation from the Air Force's, has been piloted all along by Creech's super-secret Squadron 17.
The U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have been disasters for the people of those countries. These wars have also been a disaster for the soldiers, marines, airmen (and women) who were forced to fight them, as well as their families.
The ISIS terrorist threat of today would not exist if the U.S. had not invaded and occupied Iraq. Likewise, the U.S. drone war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia is creating more terrorism, not eliminating it. And, as many veterans have painfully discovered, these wars have been based on lies, and have more to do with rich men's dreams of empire than they do with the defense of our country and the well being of the common people.
So what can you do about it? You are in the military now. There are serious consequences for those who dare to question the mission. That is true. But there are also serious consequences for those who do not. We have to be able to live with ourselves.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
We encourage you to think carefully about your place in the scheme of things. Can you, in good conscience, continue to participate in killing other human beings, no matter how remotely?
If, after serious soul-searching, you come to believe you are against all wars, you can apply for a discharge from the Air Force as a Conscientious Objector.
If you need advice, there are conscientious objector organizations that can help you.
Military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to participate in war crimes,according to international law, U.S. law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And then there are the higher moral laws.
If you decide to refuse illegal orders or to resist illegal wars, we are here to support you.
Please also consider joining us to make common cause with fellow veterans who are working for peace at home and peace abroad. We welcome active duty members.
You can find out more at the websites listed below.
Veterans For Peace
Iraq Veterans Against War
Center on Conscience and War