The crews say they’ve watched fighters shit in the woods countless times or have sex, sometimes with animals. One sensor said he watched an Afghan target fight a goat for an hour. They’ll often zoom in tight so the intelligence analysts can watch too.
It is not unheard of for crews to track a target for two to three months. The constant surveillance creates an intimacy other fighter pilots and even soldiers don’t have with the target. The crews get to know the target’s family. They know the family’s mosque, the kid’s school.
“I understand there is an intimacy you get with your target,” Sparkle said. “However, you’re a bad guy and you’re doing bad things to the people I am here to support. We just don’t go out there and shoot stuff. There is a reason. They are always associated with some part of hurting our friendly forces. At the end of the day, when you boil it down to that one point, the rest of it goes out the window.”
Back over the compound, Sparkle and Spade watched and waited for hours. Two hours after the shift started, the target finally came out of the door dressed in the baggy shirt and pants typical of the region.
“He’s coming out,” Sparkle said as the crosshairs rotated to put the man in the middle of the screen.