Remote Control - The Future of Warfare??

#1
I've not come across the Remote Control Project before but have just come across a fascinating paper that they've published which uses open source information to map UKSF and drone strikes in the so called 'war against terror.'

The paper argues that this shows the UK is actively engaged in 'Remote Control' warfare against ISIS and similar organisations. It then suggests that this is taking place without any form of democratic scrutiny of the overall strategy and highlights that this may result in questions about legitimacy.

Although I'm not sure I like the term remote control for the sort of covert, semi-deniable, small scale but large impact operations that the paper describes, it is difficult to argue that overall there is a really decent point being made. It also correctly emphasises the attractiveness for politicians of this sort of approach. Of course it has gone on in different forms for generations but I suspect that the results of Iraq/Afghanistan may mean that this is what the future looks like for us.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#2
I've not come across the Remote Control Project before but have just come across a fascinating paper that they've published which uses open source information to map UKSF and drone strikes in the so called 'war against terror.'

The paper argues that this shows the UK is actively engaged in 'Remote Control' warfare against ISIS and similar organisations. It then suggests that this is taking place without any form of democratic scrutiny of the overall strategy and highlights that this may result in questions about legitimacy.

Although I'm not sure I like the term remote control for the sort of covert, semi-deniable, small scale but large impact operations that the paper describes, it is difficult to argue that overall there is a really decent point being made. It also correctly emphasises the attractiveness for politicians of this sort of approach. Of course it has gone on in different forms for generations but I suspect that the results of Iraq/Afghanistan may mean that this is what the future looks like for us.
The "Oxford Research Group" is an umbrella for Drone Wars UK and a variety of other Christian-inspired anti-war projects. It has no relation to Oxford University. They are resolutely anti-"drone" but have moved on from conducting low level disruption and vandalism on airbases about 5 years ago, to a more political tack of influencing HoC decision making, which the usual MP suspects in the low-knowledge high-virtue part of the spectrum have lapped up (or did, before the Labour white dwarf started collapsing into its own event horizon).

I would take anything that originates from them with a massive pinch of bias.
 
#3
I am always a bit dubious of the pressure groups attacking drone use. They imply that these things float around doing weapons release on anything and everything without any further recourse or scrutiny. As anyone who has done a targeting course knows, to achieve a planned release of weapons to achieve effect requires a very formal highly scrutinised boarding process with considerable input from specialists.

They also refuse to understand the clear distinctions between embedded and exchange personnel too, believing that someone on exchange is somehow carrying out UK Govt policy rather than Host Nation policy.

I bear the scars of many encounters with groups like this in the past!
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#4
I am always a bit dubious of the pressure groups attacking drone use. They imply that these things float around doing weapons release on anything and everything without any further recourse or scrutiny. As anyone who has done a targeting course knows, to achieve a planned release of weapons to achieve effect requires a very formal highly scrutinised boarding process with considerable input from specialists.

They also refuse to understand the clear distinctions between embedded and exchange personnel too, believing that someone on exchange is somehow carrying out UK Govt policy rather than Host Nation policy.

I bear the scars of many encounters with groups like this in the past!
Quite. I've sat in on a number of public forums on this. We may have crossed paths at the one in Portcullis house last year with Lamb, McChrystal, David Davis and Harriet Harman?

Invariably the Harriet Harman types are woefully poorly informed and, more to the point, absolutely refuse to accept any of the factual information (usually limited) or practical experience (much less limited) offered by those who are better informed.

Having the debate is one thing, and laudable. Having the debate but only listening to people with no actual experience and deeply flawed information simply because they fit your existing political prejudices...well that's a pretty good tagline for that new western, Democracy (2016).
 
#5
Don't know what they're going on about to be honest.

If anything drone strikes are far better than the alternative.

For starters you don't have to cram a legal team, political types, assorted experts in to the cabin.

Second, you've removed the immediacy of the situation. No pilot in danger. You can send Johnny 5 around as many times as you want to get confirmation or the 'shot' you want.

Hippies tend to have watched too much Terminator and not enough avatar. These things don't launch of their own volition.

Weren't new warfare types always objected to? Ie submarines.
 
#6
Quite. I've sat in on a number of public forums on this. We may have crossed paths at the one in Portcullis house last year with Lamb, McChrystal, David Davis and Harriet Harman?

Invariably the Harriet Harman types are woefully poorly informed and, more to the point, absolutely refuse to accept any of the factual information (usually limited) or practical experience (much less limited) offered by those who are better informed.

Having the debate is one thing, and laudable. Having the debate but only listening to people with no actual experience and deeply flawed information simply because they fit your existing political prejudices...well that's a pretty good tagline for that new western, Democracy (2016).
But a) that doesn't obviate our requirement to keep on doing so and b) perhaps they don't believe you because, despite obvious evidence to the contrary, we continue to deny (or refuse to talk about) stuff like this happens.
 
#8
perhaps they don't believe you because, despite obvious evidence to the contrary, we continue to deny (or refuse to talk about) stuff like this happens.
While there is an element of truth in this there are a bundle of psychological studies that show that all humans are mentally wired to believe what they already 'know' and disbelieve anything else. We have two brief periods of mentally more flexible thought, up to the age of 5 and from 16 to 26; other than that we all, NCO's, VSO's, civil servants, tree hugging commie peaceniks alike are not really interested in changing our minds.
 
#9
You can't bloody win.

Joe public whines when you put boots on the ground and cries when you don't.
 
#10
The "Oxford Research Group" is an umbrella for Drone Wars UK and a variety of other Christian-inspired anti-war projects. It has no relation to Oxford University. They are resolutely anti-"drone" but have moved on from conducting low level disruption and vandalism on airbases about 5 years ago, to a more political tack of influencing HoC decision making, which the usual MP suspects in the low-knowledge high-virtue part of the spectrum have lapped up (or did, before the Labour white dwarf started collapsing into its own event horizon).

I would take anything that originates from them with a massive pinch of bias.
Great line :mrgreen:
 
#12
there are a bundle of psychological studies that show that all humans are mentally wired to believe what they already 'know' and disbelieve anything else. We have two brief periods of mentally more flexible thought, up to the age of 5 and from 16 to 26
Genuinely interested in this - what would you recommend as a starting point?
 
#14
I am always a bit dubious of the pressure groups attacking drone use. They imply that these things float around doing weapons release on anything and everything without any further recourse or scrutiny. As anyone who has done a targeting course knows, to achieve a planned release of weapons to achieve effect requires a very formal highly scrutinised boarding process with considerable input from specialists.

They also refuse to understand the clear distinctions between embedded and exchange personnel too, believing that someone on exchange is somehow carrying out UK Govt policy rather than Host Nation policy.

I bear the scars of many encounters with groups like this in the past!
I thought targeting sop was to bomb suspicious weddings/funerals with extreme prejudice
 
#15
Thanks @beardyProf . I will take a look through, although a quick skim suggests that - as an ex-infantryman - I may need to find a pop-science paperback to guide me through using shorter words.

Apologies for the thread drift.
 
#16
The "Oxford Research Group" is an umbrella for Drone Wars UK and a variety of other Christian-inspired anti-war projects. It has no relation to Oxford University. They are resolutely anti-"drone" but have moved on from conducting low level disruption and vandalism on airbases about 5 years ago, to a more political tack of influencing HoC decision making, which the usual MP suspects in the low-knowledge high-virtue part of the spectrum have lapped up (or did, before the Labour white dwarf started collapsing into its own event horizon).

I would take anything that originates from them with a massive pinch of bias.
Thanks for the info and I assumed that they had an axe (or possibly a drone!) to grind. Despite their clear bias I still think they make valid points about the lack of public scrutiny of what is going on and the attractiveness of this to politicians.
 
#17
Don't know what they're going on about to be honest.

If anything drone strikes are far better than the alternative.

For starters you don't have to cram a legal team, political types, assorted experts in to the cabin.

Second, you've removed the immediacy of the situation. No pilot in danger. You can send Johnny 5 around as many times as you want to get confirmation or the 'shot' you want.

Hippies tend to have watched too much Terminator and not enough avatar. These things don't launch of their own volition.

Weren't new warfare types always objected to? Ie submarines.
Not quite correct you will have LEGAD as part of the advisory team and an assortment of 'other advisers', as for the immediacy of the situation believe me there are split second decisions made on these matters.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#18
My favourite ever book is The Forever War. There's a sequel, Forever Peace. They're bundled into an omnibus, Peace and War. Theres a third book, Forever Free.

The premise of the third book is that infantry are replaced by android drones, controlled from back in the good old US of A. It looks at the effect on the operators, who step out of a firefight in the Colombian jungle night into the cold night of day, and out for a beer.

To be honest, that's all I remember about it. Must get book off shelf.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#19
But a) that doesn't obviate our requirement to keep on doing so and b) perhaps they don't believe you because, despite obvious evidence to the contrary, we continue to deny (or refuse to talk about) stuff like this happens.
a) No, it doesn't, and I have no problem with doing so. The existence of such forums suggests that there are attempts to inform people, and there are people "in the know" who agree with doing so. I agree that we could be better at it, and often the reasons for not saying stuff are cultural, irrational and incoherent. But they do exist.

b) I have less sympathy for that rationale. Yes, if you only get your Defence news from the MOD RSS feed or have only a passing interest in this (to be fair, pretty niche) stuff, then you might get that impression. There is no excuse for professional politicians and people who work in or around Defence thinking that. More importantly, like I said, there is no excuse for politicians to demand and elicit advice and opinion from professionals, and then deliberately brush off advice and opinion that - I'm sure entirely coincidentally - they happen to disagree with.

The "we don't trust you because you're not trustworthy" mentality that some supposed professionals (politicians) have is just as damaging, and just the flipside of, the "it's secret because it's SECRET" mentality that other supposed professionals (in intelligence / Defence) have, which you criticise. Both reinforce each other and ensure that people who need to and should understand each other, don't. If any of that is going to change, it requires both sides to drop both attitudes, and penalise those who behave that way.
 
#20
There seems to be some weird misunderstanding of the law of armed conflict in the anti drone lobby that assumes that if you fight a war it is morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat.

Most modern industrial military equipment is based on NOT risking the lives of your men, by ensuring that you can find, fix and kill him without getting into knife fighting range.

A drone is basically a flying sniper rifle, and is no more or less effective than the skill of the operator.

If they were concerned about the morality of fully autonomous AI drones that made their own judgements, I could understand it. At the moment, the issue is fogged by wilful ignorance of the system capabilities and the peculiar idea that war is supposed to be fair, or is made more 'fair' by giving the enemy more opportunity to kill our troops.
 

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