Emily Knowles

31 January 2018

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Drawing upon a number of interviews conducted with serving and former UK and EU military personnel and round-table material, this briefing by Emily Knowles examines the international involvement in military operations to counter Al-Shabaab.

Somalia should serve as a cautionary example of the difficulties of an approach that is becoming popular in Western capitals – working by, with, and through local troops to confront terrorist groups. The success of light-footprint remote warfare requires strong local buy-in, effective ground forces, and careful international support. Current signs suggest that the anti-al-Shabaab operations have fallen short on each of these key criteria.

Image credit: AMISOM/ Flickr

About the author

Emily Knowles is the Director of ORG’s Remote Warfare Programme. She writes and speaks regularly on changes in military engagement. Her research and policy interests include: the changing role of Britain’s special forces; security force assistance; the use of partner forces in combat; and the military, legal, and political implications of light-footprint remote warfare. She also leads on the team’s field research in conflict environments, having recently conducted research in Kabul, Basra, and Baghdad. Her commentary has been included in programmes like BBC1’s The Big Questions, BBC Radio 4’s The Briefing Room, and the British Forces Broadcasting Services’ Sitrep.