On June 4, the Air Force agreed to give an administrative discharge to SSgt. Shane Owens, a Creech AFB drone sensor operator who is being treated for PTSD related to drone killing, after keeping him locked up for three months on charges of disobeying an order related to an alleged assault on his wife and use of drugs.

As indicated in the article linked above, the Air Force decision came after Owens’ lawyer petitioned for the release of Air Force data on stress faced by drone operators.  The data, which was refused to me by the Air Force, as well as the filings that were made by the lawyer to the court martial judge, may well contain information showing wide and deep problems of stress among drone operators.  A reliable source told me of three other Creech drone operators suffering from PTSD who have had legal troubles within the last two years.

Many of you have seen the New York Times article describing a cutback in U.S. drone missions because of a shortage of pilots.   The Owens case suggests that the U.S. drone program may be inflicting PTSD and moral injury within its ranks, far beyond what the Air Force is willing to acknowledge, in a growing, irreversible and unforeseen process.