Taliban and al-Qaida militants targeted by U.S. unmanned aircraft may attempt to retaliate against bases in Nevada and Arizona where the pilots remotely control the drones, said an Air Force official.
Col. Jeff Eggers, Air Force director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance innovations, said those being targeted by unmanned aircraft have already struck back at the bases in the theaters of operation where the drones land and takeoff. This usually comes in the form of mortar attacks.
But officials also fear that militants may seek revenge on U.S. forces by making direct attacks on bases located in the United States, where the operators fly the unmanned aerial vehicles and launch the missiles that kill militants.
“We are taking very seriously in the United States the notion of insurgency teams coming surreptitiously in the states and trying to attack our bases for just that reason,” Eggers said at an Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference.
“We have defensive postures just for that reason,” he added. The Air Force remotely flies UAVs such as the Predator B from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
It’s wrong to assume those who operate unpiloted drones are safe from retaliation, Eggers argued.
“The crews are not necessarily safe right now. We are flying them in theater, [and] launching them from bases in theater that are getting rocket attacks, mortar attacks. And people on the bases are being hit,” he said.