Airborne surveillance craft have a new mission: saving lives

Protection from mass atrocities is new on the agenda for drones, blimps, spy planes and satellites

Defense Department officials want to draw on the agency's current resource of overhead-surveillance gear -- such as drones, blimps, spy planes and satellites -- to protect people from mass atrocities without force, according to a report by Wired’s Danger Room. Under the new initiative called Mass Atrocity Prevention and Response Operations, DOD would keep an eye out for those who commit mass atrocities or plan violent acts against other groups.

The project’s surveillance arm is picking up steam because of the efforts of Rosa Brooks, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and international humanitarian policy, writes Danger Room. Since the fall she has worked diligently to turn MAPRO into a basic military function.

“A big part of that effort is enlisting military tech to provide early warning about where mass murders or rapes are developing,” she told Danger Room.

The program, which has its own 160-page handbook released last year, concentrates on saving lives without putting U.S. troops on a foreign tightrope, the article said.

Deterrence could be a side benefit of the initiative, Brooks said. "... If their boss believes that someday, an international court might enter drone footage as evidence in a genocide trial,” she said.

Future goals of the program could include stopping radio transmissions of would-be genocidaires and posting text and social media alerts to American forces about civilians at risk.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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Reader Comments

Mon, Feb 14, 2011

Ground control from the air- where have we heard that one before? While the concept appeals to the sci-fi buff in me, unless we have assets in orbit, I see a replay of 'Open Skies', where all the countries being overflown regard these flights as an insult to their sovereignty. Plus of course, the obvious issue- cost. Who is going to pay for all this hardware, and the trained people to interpet what they see? Think SBI raised by an order of magnitude. From orbit, a bunch of farmers headed to market as a group, for safety, looks a whole lot like a group of insurgents trying to blend in.

Mon, Feb 14, 2011

pure garbage this is the industry's attempt at maintaining the spending level -- whatever happened to controlling costs, scope creep, mission creep, etc. is dod being run by the industry, or vice-versa? which is it?

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