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February 22, 2010
CIA's Drones Aren't so Friendly

While allied troops on the ground make extraordinary efforts to relate to civilians in Afghanistan, CIA drone attacks on Pakistan tribal areas are drawing recriminations.

Drone aircraft, of course, can't be programmed to hit only unfriendly individuals, so the tensions in military strategy clearly remain, despite the efforts of U.S. forces to get closer to local populations in Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, media reaction to the drone strikes and the unintended civilian deaths is in the category of "dire" headlines.

On Thursday, an anonymous Islamabad-based NATO military official spoke to CBS News. This official said the U.S., Pakistan, and NATO collaborated in the use of remote locations in Pakistan and Afghanistan to operate the drones.

"There is no single site you can name," said the official. "We are looking at different locations both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. If the Shamsi base has been found to be a home for the drones, that is not the only location."

A NATO country diplomat stationed in Islamabad also spoke to CBS News on the condition of anonymity and confirmed this information.

"There is no one location," said the diplomat. "The locations keep on changing in both countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan). But yes, there are drones flying from locations in both these countries."

While U.S. forces switch to highly relational tactics in the campaign to drive Taliban militants out of Afghanistan's Marja, we are also relying on highly impersonal, non-relational drone aircraft to clear out Taliban forces from the sky. War is that way. Tensions are built-in, and the proponents of both sets of tactics -- relational and not-so-relational -- continue to joust.   

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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