The eleventh in the Remote Control project’s monthly briefing series from Open Briefing has been published today. The briefings cover developments in five key areas or remote warfare: special forces, private military and security companies, unmanned vehicles and autonomous weapon systems, cyber warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Key stories this month:
- US special operations forces withdraw from Yemen, severely limiting US counter-terrorism campaign: The US has withdrawn an estimated 125 special forces operators from Yemen causing significant political consternation for the Obama administration which held up Yemen as a US counter-terrorism success story.
- Sentencing in Blackwater Iraq shootings trial highlights need for better regulation of private military companies: Four former Blackwater security contractors have been sentenced to long prison terms for their roles in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in 2007.
- Advocacy groups seek halt for autonomous military vehicles and weapons: In the build-up to the second round of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons – Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, on 13-17 April, reports from advocacy organisations expressed concern over the ongoing and rapid development of unmanned vehicles and autonomous weapons systems.
- Governments continue to struggle balancing surveillance needs with privacy concerns: Strong public concerns over intrusive electronic surveillance continue to frustrate Western governments’ attempts to increase monitoring in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. A poll of 13 countries by Amnesty International found no majority support for internal surveillance of a country’s own citizens.
- China’s cyber operations acknowledged in influential People’s Liberation Army publication: The acknowledgement is contained in the most-recent edition of the highly influential Science of Military Strategy report published by the PLA. The report was released in Mandarin in late 2013, but has only just been translated into English by Western researchers.
The Remote Control project is a project of the Network for Social Change hosted by Oxford Research Group. The project examines changes in military engagement, in particular the use of drones, special forces, private military companies and cyber warfare.