A US predator drone.
A US predator drone. Photo: Reuters
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the controversial American drone strike that killed US citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen.
Given Australia's role in piloting drones in Afghanistan and the increasing use of drones for surveillance at home, it is time to reflect on the wisdom of our involvement in the new global paradigm of drone warfare.
Drone analysts, based thousands of kilometres away in Nevada and other remote bases, do not benefit from the kinds of intelligence and understanding that personnel on the ground would have. 
Under the Obama administration, the US has rapidly expanded its drone program beyond the hot battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, to secret strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, killing thousands of people. Al-Aulaqi's death was the first time the US deliberately killed one of its own people in this campaign.
The technological capabilities of drones can be seductive, but as the Australian Defence Department considers acquiring $3 billion of US drone technology, it should stop and consider the US experience: drones are not infallible and they have a human cost.