LISD Launches White Paper Series with Analysis of Potential Use of Drones for Humanitarian Purposes

In a new LISD White Paper, "Drones for Peace," LISD non-resident associate, Michael P. Kreuzer, analyzes potenital dual-use capabilities of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), commonly referred to as "drones." Focusing on the example of possible roles and capabilities in the conflict in and around Syria, Kreuzer discusses traditional military and security uses of RPAs, as well as possible humanitarian ones.

As Kreuzer notes, drones have been the subject of much discussion surrounding potential operations in Syria, primarily in the context of enforcing a “no-fly” zone or enforcement role similar to their role in Libya and modeled after operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. But, Kreuzer asserts, in conflict zones, deploying RPAs as currently operated would likely be counterproductive to political aims in an enforcement capacity. Smaller RPAs, he argues, operating in a number of tactical and other roles, could play a critical role in ameliorating humanitarian crises—for instance in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. These tasks, Kreuzer notes, may include monitoring key sites designated by the international community and allowed by the host country government, to providing humanitarian aid, to the over-watch of convoy movements and possible general surveillance functions. The stigma of RPAs given their use in other conflicts and elsewhere, Kreuzer concludes, must be overcome to allow RPAs to be evaluated and used as an instrument for monitoring, assisting, and aiding in humanitarian crises among other roles, not just as (offensive) intelligence or weapons platforms.

"Drones for Peace" is the first publication in a new series, the LISD White Papers. For this series, experts will address a specific subject relevant to LISD’s work in a short-paper format discussing the matter conceptually and concomitantly offer real world assessments. The LISD White Papers are available both in electronic format and in hard copy by request

Dr. Michael P. Kreuzer is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a non-resident associate of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University. His dissertation examined the military utility and likely patterns of diffusions for remotely piloted aircraft, and their impact on future international relations. He is an Air Force veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and holds a BS in History from the United States Air Force Academy, a MPA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a MSI from American Military University.