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Military drones to be protested in Battle Creek Saturday

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Peace activists plan to rally against the nation’s military drone program outside the gates of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base on Saturday.

Just this week, a pair of U.S. drone attacks killed sixteen people in Pakistan.  It’s the first attacks this year.     

Brian Terrell is with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.   He says the drone program is being abused.

“This is actually not even an instrument of war any more in the way it’s being used,’ says Terrell, “It’s global…but it’s also a very local issue.”

The Battle Creek base is part of the Air Force’s drone program.     The base was designated as part of the MQ9 Reaper program in 2013, though there are no drone aircraft currently on the base.

Major Kelly Black is with the 110th Airlift Wing.   He disagrees with the drone opponents about how the remotely piloted aircraft are being used.

“I see their perspective.  I see their point of view. I don’t think it’s accurate,” says Black. 

Black says the drone aircraft operate under a very restrictive ‘rules of engagement’ guideline and are effectively ‘warfare by committee’ considering the number of people involved in any decision about when to use them for surveillance or combat. 

The peace activists have been walking from Chicago for more than a week.   They met with a large crowd at a Kalamazoo church Thursday night. 

It’s unclear how many protesters will show up outside the gates of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base on Saturday.    

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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