from Noah Shachtman over at our Danger Room blog. Excerpt:
"Flying drones from halfway-across the world used to be considered a cushy, if somewhat sterile, military job. But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on for so long -- and become so dependent on the satellite-piloted planes -- that Air Force commanders have had to call in chaplains, psychologists, and psychiatrists "to help ease the mental strain on these remote-control warriors," the Associated Press reports.
Just a few years ago, pilots of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) crowed that "most of the time, I get to fight the war, and go home and see the wife and kids at night." Since then, the demands for remotely-flown spy planes have grown exponentially. Pilots' hours grew longer and longer. And they started to compare themselves to "prisoner[s] with [l]ife sentence[s]."
In a fighter jet, "when you come in at 500-600 miles per hour, drop a 500-pound bomb and then fly away, you don't see what happens," said Colonel Albert K. Aimar, who is commander of the 163d Reconnaissance Wing here and has a bachelor's degree in psychology. But when a Predator fires a missile, "you watch it all the way to impact, and I mean it's very vivid, it's right there and personal. So it does stay in people's minds for a long time."