A retired British Royal Air Force commander thinks young gamers would be perfect to fly Reaper drones in combat to fight ISIS.
Greg Bagwell, a retired air marshal who used to be in charge of overseeing the use of combat Reaper drones in Syria, has testified before a parliamentary group and urged the RAF to recruit gamers.
The RAF needs to deploy more combat drones but it doesn't have enough pilots, so Bagwell's solution is to consider recruiting young gamers aged 18 and 19 and have them blast ISIS with Reaper drones.
MQ-9 Reaper Drones
The RAF has a fleet of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper drones, but qualified pilots to operate the drones are hard to come by. Drone pilots are typically recruited from the ranks of regular pilots, but the RAF should think outside of the box and start recruiting elsewhere.
The Reaper drone has a 66-foot wingspan and weighs nearly five tons at takeoff when it's fully armed and fueled, according to the U.S. Air Force. It can fire missiles and bombs in combat, but it puts pilots through great psychological stress.
Bagwell pointed out that drone operators face a psychological pressure that can overwhelm them. Mental stress or illness prompted some pilots to quit, which left the UK with a shortage it needs to address.
Recruit Gamers Straight Out Of Their 'PlayStation Bedroom'
"We need to test harder whether we can take a young 18- or 19-year-old out of their PlayStation bedroom and put them into a Reaper," said Bagwell, as cited by The Guardian.
Bagwell further explains that Reaper operators need to have a 3D view that makes them aware of everything that's going on, even when they're 3,000 miles away. Operators basically play 3D chess in their mind to figure out how everything fits together to prosecute a target, he explained.
Coalition Air Strikes Against ISIS
According to The Guardian, Reaper drones executed more than a third of all coalition strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. With this in mind, greater use of drones would allow for a better fighting chance against ISIS.
Bagwell says that laws regarding drone use should be changed to keep up with technological advances that would enable greater use of weaponry that can be operated autonomously and remotely.
Richard Barrons, another retired commander, echoes Bagwell's suggestion that the law governing the use of drones should be reconsidered. According to Barrons, the UK needs to prepare for and counter the possibility that its enemies will use robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems for greater combat capabilities "where machines kill on the basis of an algorithm without a human in the room."