SOUTHWEST ASIA — An MQ-9 Reaper deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve has been referred to the Equal Opportunity office for mostly targeting darker-skinned ISIS militants.
Since arriving in-theater this January, "Smokey 81" has flown numerous missions over Iraq to provide an aerial surveillance capability for special operations forces carrying out direct action missions against ISIS.
On several occasions, Smokey — whose preferred pronoun is "he" — has helped turn the tide of battle with air-to-ground missile strikes and by providing enhanced situational awareness. To his chain of command's dismay, most of his targets have visibly been individuals of Middle Eastern and North African descent.
"I remember Smokey being our eye-in-the-sky during a firefight downrange," said Sgt. Gary Rivers, a Marine Raider and designated marksman. "Smokey was calling out targets for me, and I realized afterward that he was telling me to shoot the brown and olive-skinned fighters. The ones who escaped looked like foreign fighters from Europe or America."
"Why didn't he light them up before they got away?"
When asked for his opinion, Smokey seemed to believe that his actions are business as usual.
"My brethren and I were introduced during the War on Terror, so surveilling and incinerating brown people in CENTCOM is all I've ever known," the UAV told reporters. "I'm only doing what I've been trained to do."
No sooner had he finished his statement that security forces personnel swarmed the hangar to isolate Smokey from the press until a public affairs representative could arrive.
"A single drone doesn't speak for the Department of Defense or its policies," said Master Sgt. Santiago Huerta, flight chief of the local Public Affairs Office, after showing up on-scene. "The Air Force is committed to providing ISIS and its militants an equal opportunity to die in battle, irrespective of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or in the case of civilian employees, age and handicapping conditions."
"Although, I don't think 'religion' really applies to this situation. Jews and Christians for ISIS, anyone? Didn't think so."
At press time, Smokey was heard screeching and chirping electronically as he was loaded onto a cargo truck to be taken to the EO office.