Broward News

Defense Department Flying Drones From Three South Florida Locales

The U.S. Department of Defense is conducting drone operations from at least four sites in Florida, and it plans to add three more sites in the future, according to data gathered and released by the nonprofit Public Intelligence. 

The group released this week an interactive Google map that shows where the drones are being flown from and provides basic information, including the type of unmanned aerial vehicle. 

South Florida has three locations on the map: an Army base in Okeechobee; a Special Operations Command site in Homestead; and a Special Operations Command site in Key West.

While the map does indicate whether the site is active or intended for future operations, it does not provide information on what type of missions are being conducted. Wired suggests that operations at U.S. sites might range from basic training to serving as remote cockpits for drones that are flying overseas missions. 

Drone attacks have soared under President Obama, becoming a cornerstone in his war against terrorism. Rolling Stone recently reported that in his first three years as president, Obama "unleashed 268 covert drone strikes, five times the total George W. Bush ordered during his eight years in office." 

Unmanned aircraft are also being deployed regionally to counter drug traffickers. In 2011, The New Yorker reported that the U.S. had a drone flying over Kingston when local military forces waged war to capture and extradite Christopher Coke, better known as Dudus. 

Hell, even local police departments are starting to move toward this type of technology. 

But if you're worried that the DoD is flying drones around Florida to spy on you, don't be. According to Wired: 

Domestic proliferation isn't the same as domestic spying, however. Most -- if not all -- of these military bases would make poor surveillance centers. Many of the locations are isolated, far from civilian populations. Almost half of the bases on the map work only with the relatively small Raven and Shadow drones; their limited range and endurance make them imperfect spying tools, at best. It's safe to assume that most of the bases are just used for military training.

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Chris Sweeney