Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, are increasingly relied upon as a key component of U.S. foreign policy, national security, and military strategy. Part of the Conventional Defense program, Stimson's Drone program focuses on underscoring the challenges presented by a continued lack of transparency and the need for greater accountability for the U.S. drone program.
While the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency use drones to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions, they also use drones as lethal weapons to execute targeted strikes as part of conventional warfare and counterterrorism strategy. Drones are also increasingly used by other U.S. government agencies, foreign governments, and multilateral institutions, and by the commercial sector for a variety of non-lethal purposes. Stimson’s current efforts focus on underscoring the challenges presented by a continued lack of transparency with regard to drone strikes and drone policy, the implications for international precedent and future drone use, and the need for greater accountability for the U.S. drone program.