Military Drone Operators Can Feel Emotional Strains Of War

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DRONE FLIES

President Barack Obama has assured Americans he opposes sending U.S. ground troops to crush Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria — well aware the country is not ready to return to the battlefield with its war wounded still recovering from a decade of conflict.

But airmen have been sent back into combat in the region with the focus on airstrikes, divided between fighter pilots and drone operators.

While drone operators are not physically in harm’s way — they do their work at computer terminals in darkened rooms far from the actual battlefield — growing research is finding they too can suffer some of the emotional strains of war that ground forces face.

“It can be as impactful for these guys as someone in a foxhole,” said Air Force spokesman Tom Kimball.

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