Xbox Helped Drone Pilot Be All He Could Be

A guy went from high school dropout to drone pilot instructor in the Army - not a position most 19-year-old enlisteds hold, by the way - thanks in part to his video game skills.

In an interview, P.W. Singer, a former defense policy adviser to the Obama campaign, and the author of "Wired for War," explained how video games helped this guy shoot up through the ranks, and how others weren't so cool with it.

Democracy Now! talked to Singer - the conversation ranged into areas of civil rights and what the use of military force means if its deployed by robots. But they asked about the video game pilot, whose story is featured prominently in Singer's book.

The soldier in question was a high school dropout who joined the military to make his father proud. But his failing grades in school made his superiors skeptical of his qualifications to be a helicopter mechanic, his first choice. So they asked if he wanted to be a drone pilot.

"And it turned out, because of playing on video games, he was already good at it. He was naturally trained up," Singer told Democracy Now!. "And he turned out to be so good that they brought him back from Iraq and made him an instructor in the training academy, even though he's an enlisted man and he's still-he was nineteen."

(I can't help myself. Ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-nineteen. Nineteen.)

Best part? This doesn't sit too well with bona fide academy flyboys. Says Singer: "You tell that story to someone in the Air Force, like an F-15 pilot, and they go, "I do not like where this is headed. You know, I've got a college education. The military spent $5 million training me up. And you're telling me that this kid, this nineteen-year-old-and, oh, by the way, he's in the Army-is doing more than I am?" And that's the reality of it."

Young Soldier Uses Xbox Skillz to Become Ace Drone Pilot in Iraq [GamePolitics]