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

15 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2015 Last revised: 19 Apr 2016

See all articles by Steven L. Schooner

Steven L. Schooner

George Washington University - Law School

Nathaniel Castellano

Arnold & Porter; George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

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

Schooner, Steven L. and Castellano, Nathaniel, 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 (2015). 8 Journal of National Security Law & Policy 321 (2016) ; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2015-39; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-39. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2668578 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2668578

Steven L. Schooner (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-3037 (Phone)
202-994-5614 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.gwu.edu/steven-l-schooner

Nathaniel Castellano

Arnold & Porter ( email )

601 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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