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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Drones to the Rescue

For John, BLUFThere is a lot of suffering out there, especially in the Middle East.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A friend of mine, from Linked In, sent me "The Syria Airlift Project".  Brought to our attention by Joshua Steinman.

And, yes, I know USAF C-17 Pilot Mark Jacobsen, via the Internet.  He is working on a PhD at Stanford.

The Syria Airlift Project seeks to use humanitarian drones to deliver life-saving aid to besieged and hard-to-access populations in Syria.  Below are words from Warlord Loop member Mark Jacobsen.

For those interested, they are running an Indiegogo fund raiser at:

Imagine watching your child starve to death or die of a treatable illness, while supplies are available just a few miles away.  This a tragic and widespread reality in Syria, where armed groups routinely use starvation and medical deprivation as weapons.  More than 600,000 Syrians are estimated to live in besieged or hard-to-access areas.  Doctors are assassinated, hospitals are targeted, and smuggling medical supplies can result in torture or execution.  Syrians feel abandoned and hopeless.

What if it was possible to make a difference? What if modern technology allowed us to fight back against sieges?  What if we could eventually make the use of starvation and medical deprivation obsolete as weapons of war?

Those are questions I asked myself while visiting Syrian refugees in eastern Turkey last year.  As a US Air Force cargo pilot, Syrians asked me why the US government could not simply airdrop supplies.  The answer is that the risks to manned cargo aircraft are too great.  It seemed to me there might be another way.  If we couldn't fly one big airplane into besieged areas, maybe we could fly a lot of little ones.

I founded the Syria Airlift Project with the belief that small humanitarian drones can add up to a big difference.  If we could launch a plane every five minutes, we could deliver hundreds of pounds of cargo a night inside otherwise inaccessible areas.  The paradigm would be especially useful for high-value, low-mass goods like medical supplies, water purification tools, vitamins, and baby milk.  Operated at scale, we could even deliver meaningful quantities of food. We could overwhelm besieging forces with goodness, compassion, and the conviction that a better world is possible.  A generation of children that has only known war--that looks to the sky in terror of barrel bombs--will soon look up in anticipation of life-giving aid.  We will send a message that the world has not forgotten them (and with some perks, you can send your own personal message as well).  Our vision is to train Syrian refugees to operate these aircraft, giving them the opportunity to bring healing and hope back to their shattered country.

We have spent the past year developing the technology.  Our work culminated with an exercise in March 2015 in California, where we taught groups of Syrian and Iraqi families how to operate our aircraft.  Now we are ready to take our technology to Turkey, and we need your help to get there.  Mass starvation of innocents is not an inevitable tragedy of war. Through the Syria Airlift Project, you have the opportunity to fight back. Help us get to Turkey, and prove that our technology can work.  Join the movement.

The writer is correct, sending a $200 million dollar airlifter over some mud village to deliver food and meds does not seem like a good tradeoff.  A cloud of drones sounds a lot better.

Hey, they are looking for funding.

Regards  —  Cliff

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