A word of warning before reading this article: I, Iassen Donov, am as pro-drone as you can get. Foreign Terrorists? United States al-Qaeda members? Terrorists on allied soil? I’m even for the use of armed drones on U.S. soil in extreme circumstances. Basically, I’m all about dropping bombs on no-gooders regardless of citizenship or race (I’m not prejudiced).

This talk all started when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a memo that it is possible that a “hypothetical emergency” and “very unlikely scenario” can lead to a drone strike on American soil. Of course, the populace went into an uproar without taking the time to sit back and actually think outside the box utilizing the common sense approach. But this is ‘Murica, we don’t do that nonsense here, we instead rage at the drop of a hat – almost on par with Muslim raging. Except we use Facebook. If we actually think there will never be a cause to have armed drone capabilities on the continental U.S., then we have ultimately failed as a nation to secure this country.

Okay I digressed there a little bit, let’s get back on track with the feasibility of using armed drones in the homeland. It is honestly very feasible and generally won’t be too much of a hassle to get pretty good, timely and well-armed coverage over the nation. Three strategically placed MQ-9 Reapers (one of the drones we most commonly use) could easily cover 50% of the nation, including almost the entire Eastern seaboard, our entire border with Mexico, and pretty much the entire Southwest region of the U.S. At $36.8 million a pop for a single Reaper, that’s not too bad. Legally, all armed drones would most likely have to be owned and operated by law enforcement agencies and personnel – most likely federal or possibly even the National Guard as the Posse Comitatus Act does not apply to them.

US Drone Coverage
The blue circle indicates the maximum distance a MQ-9 Reaper can travel before turning back to its home base (575 miles). The red circle indicates the MQ-1 Predator can travel before returning: 387 miles.

You are probably asking yourself: “What scenarios could we possibly find a need for drone strikes?!” I came up with a couple, and I’ve thought about it for about 30 seconds.

  • Terrorist scenario: Imagine al-Qaeda operatives infiltrate our nation through our border with Mexico. Intelligence already knows they are driving two vans, both laden with 2,000 pounds of explosives, each on their way to terrorize the good residents of San Diego. Four occupants armed to the teeth inside each van who are not afraid to trigger the explosives and turn their vehicle into a JDAM on wheels. What exactly would the police do to stop them? Chase them on the highway? Set-up a road block (that’d be comical)? It would be our responsibility as a nation to send a couple of Hellfires their way.
  • Law Enforcement scenario: Christopher Dorner is a perfect example. In the span of a week, he killed two police officers, wounded another three, and murdered two civilians. On the last day of the manhunt on February 12th, Dorner engaged two San Bernardino deputies, killing one and wounding the other, and was in a major firefight (yes, it was “major”, I heard the audio tape) with two other Fish and Game wardens before running off into the wilderness. Here we have a man, armed with an assault rifle and other weapons, who has been actively targeting police for a week, running through the woods. If an armed police drone was in the sky with “eyes-on” Dorner, would it have been legal and justifiable to fire a Hellfire and end his reign of terror? I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘Yes’ to both. An armed drone killing Dorner would be no different than a SWAT sniper from 500 meters away shooting him in the back as he was running away from the police. The sniper would be a hero and would have been in his legal perimeters to kill Dorner.

Something to think about whilst not wearing a tin-foil hat.

PS: I hope you enjoyed my awesome graphics. I used Microsoft Paint. Don’t freak out – there really isn’t an armed drone operated by a Sheriff’s Department.