A man who grew up in the Missoula Valley is talking to the press about the experiences he had as a drone operator before leaving the Air Force. Brandon Bryant was interviewed on CNN on Thursday, and had previously spoken to GQ magazine.
Bryant, 27-years old, said in an interview with GQ that the first time his remote piloting killed somebody was in 2004, when he was controlling a drone from a base in Nevada. The Hellfire missile strike, he said, hit three men on an Afghanistan dirt road.
In an interview with CNN, he said that he wants people to recognize that drone operators can deal with psychological problems after their work, just like any other soldier. He wants people to realize that it’s not just like playing a video game, and that the mental health fallout can be very real.
“We see what we do and we see the actions that happen,” said Bryant in an interview with CNN on Thursday. “We see the immediate effect.”
US Officials have regularly stated that drone programs help prevent soldiers from dying on the ground, and are a valuable asset in the fight against militants like Al Qaeda.