Alarm as US Bases in Iraq Face Growing Threat of Drone Attacks

Drones fly too low to be picked up by defensive systems

US troops involved in the occupation of Iraq have faced any number of problems throughout the 18 years of war. The latest focus of officials is a tactic that didn’t even exist when the war began – drone attacks.

While rockets were a growing problem against US bases in recent years, the drones are a bigger problem, because while the US military and CIA cheerfully use drones in a number of countries, they don’t have a great system of defense for when they’re used against them. Officials note in particular that the defenses can’t detect the drones properly because they fly too low.

As with every other threat they’ve faced in Iraq though, the US is seeking to blame Iran, and attributing the drone attacks to “Iran-backed militias.” In US parlance this really just means Shi’ite militias, and with Iran ordering its allies to not attack the US forces, not wanting tensions to rise at a time when saving the nuclear deal is being negotiated.

The US has not only acknowledged Iran’s position on this, but has consistently blamed Iran for anything any Shi’ite militia has done in the region. The factions in question are at best tentatively linked to Iran, and the militias have been very public in that their ceasefire and resumption of attacks were both related to US troop talks. They stopped attacks to try to facilitate Iraq’s government negotiating a US pullout date, and resumed the attacks by saying they didn’t feel the negotiations were taking the issue seriously.

The US has been well aware that they were ill-equipped to defend against drone attacks, and the Pentagon used that as an argument for more funding even as US drone attacks around the world were ensuring that nations and private groups would be investing heavily in the tactic.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.