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Special treatment for drone pilots


Some things I just cant understand like the below “evaluations” and recommendations. The below article talks about how drone pilots station here in the US are dealing with “stress” because they have to work long hours, sit in an air conditioned room, fly a billion dollar drone and perhaps drops some hell fire (hopefully on bad guys) then go home to deal with the “stresses” of home.

I swear, can we get any weaker as a Nation? Although these “drone” pilots get the same air medals as those flying missions actually in country, they want extra pay and special treatment because they chose to fly drone in the military?  That’s like me saying, I’m a grunt and because I have shit in a bucket for seven months I should get a special “kick” pay because I have to live in the dirt. You got to be shitting me. You want to know how to take care of their “stresses” they have because they have to go home after their long “flight?” You want to know how to solve 99% of their issues? Tell them to pack their shit and move it to the Middle East, deploy and join the real fight. While thousands miles away from your family eliminates many issues “at home” because guess what, you can’t do anything about it just like the rest of us. If they are have so much trouble flipping back and forth as “pilots” and home owners then pack their shit and deploy like the rest of us. Guess what, when you are deployed you tend to be a bit more focused on your job any way.

Pack your crap drone pilots, I know a outpost you can set up in.

Time for a CGar



High Levels Of 'Burnout' In U.S. Drone Pilots 
by Rachel Martin <
December 19, 2011 

Drone pilots are fighting a war from the safety of bases in the U.S., but are confronting some of the same wartime stresses as their comrades on the battlefield. 
Around 1,100 Air Force pilots fly remotely piloted aircraft – or drones. These planes soar over Iraq or Afghanistan but the pilots sit at military bases back in the United States. 
A new Pentagon study shows that almost 30 percent of drone pilots surveyed suffer from what the military calls "burnout." It's the first time the military has tried to measure the psychological impact of waging a "remote-controlled war." 
The report, commissioned by the U.S. Air Force, shows that 29 percent of the drone pilots surveyed said they were burned out and suffered from high levels of fatigue. The Air Force doesn't consider this a dangerous level of stress. 
However, 17 percent of active duty drone pilots surveyed are thought to be "clinically distressed". The Air Force says this means the pilots stress level has crossed a threshold where it's now affecting the pilots' work and family life. A large majority of these pilots said they're not getting any counseling for their stress level. 
Reasons For Pilot Stress 
The Air Force cites several reasons for the elevated stress levels among drone pilots. First, is the dual nature of this work: flying combat operations or running surveillance in a war zone, and then after a shift, the pilots drive a few miles home to their families in a place like Nevada or New Mexico, where they face a whole different set of stressors. The Air Force says switching back and forth between such different realities triggers presents unique psychological challenges. 
Second, is the issue of demand. Drones have proven to be the key U.S. military tool in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. military officials say over the past decade, there has been constant demand for more pilots to fly these platforms. While training for drone pilots has increased, there are still not enough to meet demand and pilots end up working longer than expected shifts, keeping these planes in the air 24 hours a day. 
The particular nature of drone warfare is also a contributor to the higher stress levels. While the number is very small, officials who conducted the study said they did encounter a handful of pilots who suffered symptoms of PTSD — post traumatic stress disorder — directly linked to their experience running combat operations. Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months. They watch someone's pattern of life, see them with their family and then they can be ordered to shoot. 
Col. Kent McDonald co-authored the report, and he says the Air Force tries to recruit people who are emotionally well adjusted, "family people" with "good values." 
"When they have to kill someone," McDonald says, "or where they are involved in missions and then they either kill them or watch them killed it does cause them to re-think aspects of their life." 
He described it as an "existential crisis." 
Air Force officials say they are putting plans in motion to try to address some of the causes of the elevated stress levels in drone pilots. Right now, there are 57 drones flying in 57 different positions in the world at any given moment. That number surged this summer to 60, but the Air Force is going to cap the number to 57 for the next 12 months. 
The cap is meant as a kind of "time out" to re-think how the drone pilots are being used. The service will use that time to re-evaluate shifts, train up more drone crews to meet demand and figure out ways to help pilots navigate between their professional and personal



David Navarre

Sounds like the best way to reduce their stress is to deploy all of them to an FOB in AFG, so they only have one set of "stressors". These POGs have it so hard right now that being in the sandbox would be stress-relieving, eh?



Steve Dahl

Speaking of STRESS!!! We've conducted a serious research project on the Most Stressful and Least Stressful Jobs of 2012. Two of the top ten positions for Most Stressful Jobs are with the military. Specifically, both Soldiers and Generals are mentioned in the study. Here's the link:


It's the Air Force, what do ya expect?


I've tried to write this comment for awhile. And I keep deleting it. But I guess I'll ask a question instead. Is there any chance you relate these Air Force drone operators to the Marine Corps UAS community?


My husband is a USAF Reaper pilot. Please don't ever believe everything you read. He loves his job but would give anything to be back up in the air flying his prior plane the B-1. But due to ops tempo and needs of the AF he can't go back to being a "real" pilot. I don't expect a Marine to understand the ways of the AF but know that the RPA community is treated like the red headed stepchild of the AF. Most of them have seen more combat during their RPA time than their primary aircraft. They appreciate coming home to their families every night. Most come from high TDY's rate aircraft and chose this so they can be home every night. They love the mission, love being the "tip of the spear". I would just ask you to not paint everyone with the same brush, nor believe everything you read. A few spoiled apples can ruin the basket, I would expect a marine to understand this given the recent bad press your beloved Corp has received as of late.

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