Ex-drone operator describes a kill: ‘I watched this guy bleed out’
Former U.S. military drone operator Brandon Bryant described the process of carrying out his first strike, as well as the aftermath, to Democracy Now anchors Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Friday, while arguing that he and his fellow colleagues should not be described as being drones themselves.
“They were probably in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Bryant said of the January 2007 strike in Afghanistan, which he executed remotely from a 8 x 20 “trailer” at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. “I’ve been accused of using poetic imagery to describe it, but I watched this guy bleed out, the guy in the back, and his right leg above the knee was severed in the strike. He bled out through his femoral artery.”
Bryant, whose squadron was credited with 1,626 kills during his four years in the Air Force, also discussed a mission in which he mistakenly killed a child after intelligence suggested the target site was holding an al Qaeda commander.
“Something ran around the corner, and it looked like a little person,” Bryant said. “And it made me realize that, you know, we can have all the intel in the world, and it’s still not going to be perfect. And as clean as these types of strikes can be, they’re in reality really dirty.”
He also told Goodman that he has been shunned by his former colleagues for sharing his experiences in a story released this week by GQ Magazine, while defending operators as being something more than “video-game warriors.”
“I did the job,” Bryant said. “I did it as best as I could, because I was scared that someone would come in, and they wouldn’t do it very well. I mean, I paid a spiritual and mental price for that. And I think that’s something that people really discount, because I didn’t take any physical injury through it.”
Watch Goodman and Gonzalez’s interview with Bryant, aired on Friday on Democracy Now, below.