“Every single day this base is at war. …These kids are not playing video games out of their mothers’ basements,” says Col. James R. Cluff, commander of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

The 500 pilots aboard Creech are engaged in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and have been conducting drone operations on a near-continuous basis in the last decade.

That high tempo might be part of the recruitment and retention problem facing the Air Force’s drone program, which is in dire need of additional pilots if it intends to meet its mandate of 65 daily air combat patrols.