"17 percent of active duty drone pilots surveyed are thought to be "clinically distressed." The Air Force says this means the pilots' stress level has crossed a threshold where it's now affecting the pilots' work and family. "Report: High Levels Of 'Burnout' In U.S. Drone Pilots (NPR)
The particular nature of drone warfare is also a contributor to the higher stress levels. While the number is very small, officials who conducted the study said they did encounter a handful of pilots who suffered symptoms of PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder — directly linked to their experience running combat operations. Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months. They watch someone's pattern of life, see people with their families, and then they can be ordered to shoot.
Col. Kent McDonald, who co-authored the report, says the Air Force tries to recruit people who are emotionally well-adjusted, "family people" with "good values."
"When they have to kill someone," he says, "or where they are involved in missions and then they either kill them or watch them killed, it does cause them to rethink aspects of their life."
Un dur métier
Ce n'est pas si facile d'être pilote de drone. On a beau être tranquillement installé dans une base au Nevada ou au Nouveau Mexique et faire la guerre loin du champ de bataille, tirer sur des gens c'est stressant: