Reaper UAVs gearing up to patrol Canada-US border

The confirmation came Friday from Michael Kostelnik, the assistant commissioner of the Office of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Air and Marine, during the dedication of a new customs air and marine base at Selfridge Air National Guard base north of Detroit.

“Will they be here at some point? I certainly hope so but it won’t be today, it won’t be this year,” said Kostelnik at the ceremony attended by about 200 dignitaries from various branches of the American military and political spheres and some Canadian representatives.

“It will be after we prove that we can operate safely in areas on the northern tier.”

Kostelnik said that within weeks drones, known as the MQ-9 Predator B, will begin flights out of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Air and Marine base in Grand Forks, N.D.

Kostelnik said the first drones will be flying in the sparsely populated region on the western border before it is introduced in more built-up areas.

“We have a lot of air lanes, we have a lot of traffic, we have a lot more people in the Metro-Great Lakes area than there would be out west, so it’s prudent to take a measured approach to this but at the end of the day, flying late at night, over the Great Lakes, a system like this would be of tremendous benefit working with small boat traffic, augmenting the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Kostelnik.

“It helps to add security, it adds tremendous humanitarian support, they can do a lot of things that the manned things just cannot do.”

— Chris Thompson, “Drone airplanes might patrol Detroit River“.  Windsor Star, August 8th, 2008.

The reaction from Canadian commenters to the article is typically myopic and ignorant; as if a UAV has no other purpose in life than to drop laser-guided bombs on Taliban caves.

Let’s not think about the lives that may be saved because a UAV can be on SAR patrol 24 hours a day, looking for errant boaters and pilots.  Let’s further not think about the law enforcement benefits that might accrue from being able to spot say, all manner of illicit cross-border activity.  Let us further ignore the fact that countries such as Australia and India have seen fit to deploy UAVs in a border surveillance role, and that Canada has considered using them for coastal and arctic patrol as well.

No, clearly this is all wrong-headed and stupid, and we should all laugh at America because UAVs have only one mission (that’s bomb-dropping) and there’s nobody to bomb in North America.  Ha ha ha!

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2 Responses
  1. Tom says:

    What I’ve heard far more are law-abiding citizens resenting the intrusion to their privacy. We go out in our boats to get away from it all, not so we can be spied on by Big Brother and his high-res cameras.
    I was going to ask, “what next, video cameras on street corners?” and then I remembered, we already have that too. *snicker*
    If you give the government and inch, they will take a mile. GW has already shown that it’s okay for the gov’t to participate in blatantly illegal spying activities which 100% infringe on our guaranteed civil rights, on innocent citizens who are doing nothing wrong.
    For a country so worried about the law, how is it that our GOVERNMENT has turned so lawless? This has nothing to do with bombs, and everything to do with being a law-abiding citizen who’s doing nothing wrong, being spied upon as if I am a criminal. Thank you but yes, I do feel that I have a right to privacy; that’s why I left shore!
    I should also point out that this isn’t Australia, nor India (thank God), we have far more freedoms and rights than the citizens of those countries, which is the crux of why this proposal absolutely SHOULD be closely examined and critiqued by Americans.

  2. Chris Taylor says:

    By all means, examine and critique. I see the primary mission of border-patrolling UAVs as security and customs ISR. Any nation which hopes to remain sovereign cannot leave its borders ah, unexamined and uncritqued, as it were.
    The fact that the borders happen to run through bodies of water, and those bodies of water are heavily used commercially and recreationally, does not really detract from the main point. What sort of border and customs security would one prefer to see in the Great Lakes region?