photo by Jim Howard via Flickr modified by Curiousmatic
Despite the increase in strikes, according to the IBIJ, the drone program has decreased its civilian death rate from about three deaths per strike to about one and a half in the past decade.
This, experts believe, may have much to do with increasingly accurate drone missile technology.
While the impact of drone strikes are often hard to quantify given their classified nature and the general opaqueness of the drone program, the Bureau, as well as Long War Journal, and The New America Foundation, have used reliable news reports and other sources to help paint a portrait of America’s current drone wars.
So before we get to 2014, how do the trends stack up with 2013?
2013 vs. 2014
Drone deaths have ticked up substantially
While there were a reported 176 deaths from drones in 2013, in 2014 at least 206 were kiled by US drones.
This number coincides with an increase in the number of attacks.
Civilian deaths have declined significantly
Despite total death ranges estimated as high as 318 total death, the number of civilian deaths caused by drone attacks is noticeably smaller.
More drone strikes in Somalia
The targets of such attacks were high ranking militants in the prolific terrorist network Al-Shabab.
While no civilian deaths resulted from these attacks in 2014, according to the report, since 2004 such strikes have resulted in the death of 4-47 civilians and possibly two children.
statistics from IBIJ
Number of people killed per strike hits an all-time high in Yemen
Fortunately, the civilian death toll has also decreased substantially from from a minimum of 17 in 2013 to a minimum of 4.
graph from IBIJ
Drone toll in Pakistan remains about the same
Though the first five months of 2014 saw little activity in Pakistan, the year ended almost exactly the same as 2013.
According to the IBIJ there were a minimum of 112 deaths from drones and a total of 25 attacks. This is in comparison to 27 attacks in 2013 for a minimum of 114 deaths.
2014 In Drones
Below are a few key stats from the three most active drone theaters around the globe.
map from Wikipedia modified by Curiousmatic
The CIA’s drone program continues to be a divisive topic in the U.S., with a slight majority approval of 52 percent.
Its effectiveness, however, is up for debate. While the U.S. military officials agree that drone strikes have helped curtail the advancement of militant extremists like ISIS, there exists very few statistics which help support that opinion.
Some critics, like Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, have spoken out against the program, arguing that such strikes have only radicalized ordinary civilians who have in some cases fallen victim to drone attacks gone awry.
Like it or hate it, the drone program is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and with 87 countries now with drone technology, we might just be seeing a lot more of them.