The Pentagon flew more drones for domestic missions in 2018 than the last 7 years combined
The U.S. military has supported domestic missions with drones several times in the past decades, but 2018 marked a highpoint of military drone usage domestically, surpassing the past seven years combined and suggesting a continued support relationship in 2019 and beyond. Of the 2018 missions, four supported forrest firefighting efforts in California and Oregon, another one an “incident and awareness exercise” in New York, and the remaining missions for training and for border security/counter drug missions in support of the Customs and Border Patrol. All of the drones used were surveillance drones, and exclude drones operated by the Department of Homeland Security. While the number of domestic military missions in the U.S. are dwarfed by nonmilitary drone missions carried out by local, state, and federal agencies, this increase hints that the military may be called in more often to support them, especially along the southern U.S. border.