Dawn of the Intercontinental Sniper: The Drone's Cascading Contribution to the Modern Battlefield's Complexity: A Review Essay of Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution, by Richard Whittle
8 Journal of National Security Law & Policy 321 (2016)
15 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2015 Last revised: 19 Apr 2016
Date Written: 2015
This review essay discusses a unique book that chronicles the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or "drone" revolution with a focus on the Predator weapon system. Although brought to market by a mainstream publisher, the book offers a thought-provoking, heavily researched, non-fiction case study involving national security, defense acquisition, and international law. We congratulate author Richard Whittle for crafting a thrilling and highly informative history of technological innovation, government contracting, and weapons system development and deployment, while introducing complex issues of national security and international law, that nonetheless left us eagerly anticipating a forthcoming action movie.
This review essay introduces prospective readers to a handful of the captivating characters that propel the Predator saga; identifies many interesting national security and international law issues raised in Whittle’s book; offers a disturbing anecdote about the extent to which the government’s post-millennial outsourcing has eroded the government’s monopoly over the use of force; paints a pessimistic picture of the Defense Acquisition System; and concludes that a broad range of sophisticated readers will enjoy the book.
Ultimately, however, the book’s success makes the bottom line no less troubling. As much as Predator celebrates the initiative, creativity, ingenuity, commitment, and drive of exceptional people, it bemoans the stifling and inefficient acquisition regime that appears to value process over outcomes.
Keywords: public procurement, defense acquisition, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), remotely piloted vehicles (RPV), drones, predator, Iraq, Afghanistan, law of war, outsourcing, innovation
JEL Classification: H56, H57, K23, K33, L33, N40, O38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation