The use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, by the U.S. has been subject to substantial criticism both domestically and abroad. Those inside and outside the administration have asserted, correctly, that drones are simply a tool, not a policy. The most effective way to analyze drone use is through this metric — that it is a tool and an extremely useful one at that. The ability to almost constantly loiter over a target with a dual strike capability has provided a significant trove of image and signals intelligence for officials as well as instilling fear and limiting the movement of terrorist actors.
The munitions deployed by armed U.S. drones are actually quite accurate. “Lethal UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] strikes frequently have been criticized for their alleged tendency to cause excessive civilian casualties. This criticism has little basis in fact. Contrary to popular belief, UAV technologies, in fact, enable greater precision in targeting than most other common means of warfare,” the Stimson Center Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy wrote in its 2014 report. Some in the field have even asserted that drones are the most humane method of exercising force given this fact.