Security cooperation with Saudi Arabia: Is it worth it for the UK?

This report assesses the costs and benefits to the UK of its defence and security relationship with Saudi Arabia, as well as the extent to which the UK is able to exert leverage and influence over Saudi Arabian foreign policy.Read more

No Such Thing as a Quick Fix: The Aspiration-Capabilities Gap in British Remote Warfare

This report is a first attempt to evaluate the gaps between contemporary strategies and activities in Iraq, Syria and Libya.Read more

Westminster Round-Up | July 2018

While July has been a short parliamentary month – nearly shortened further by an impromptu early recess for MPs – it has not been a boring one.Read more

Remote Warfare: Lessons Learned from Contemporary Theatres

This report is a first attempt to identify some of the factors that have helped or hindered the UK’s current approach to remote warfare.Read more

Defining Remote Warfare: British Training and Assistance Programmes in Yemen, 2004-2015

Between 2004-2015 Britain engaged in capacity building operations across Yemen’s police, military, and intelligence agencies. This briefing seeks to provide a critical review of these efforts, their successes, and the causes of their ultimate failure, in order to identify lessons for future training and assistance missions.Read more

Out from the shadows: the case for external oversight of UK Special Forces

By downplaying the benefits of opening UKSF to external scrutiny, the UK government places itself at a strategic disadvantage that devalues lessons learned exercises that could otherwise be incorporated into improving future military effectiveness.Read more

Pacifism or Pragmatism? The 2013 Parliamentary Vote on Military Action in Syria

Several commentators have argued that the 2013 Syria vote was a marker of parliamentary pacifism and a symbol of the perils of democratising the decision to use force. This briefing uses the transcript of the debate and recent interviews to assess the validity of these claims.Read more

Westminster Round-Up | May 2018

The Remote Warfare Programme covers the latest developments in defence and security in WestminsterRead more

Agile Warrior Quarterly

Emily Knowles and Abigail Watson have contributed an article to Agile Warrior Quarterly, the British Army’s intellectual examination of current and emerging threat and opportunities for land capability.Read more

Britain’s Shadow Army: Policy Options for External Oversight of UK Special Forces

This report makes the case for introducing some form of external oversight of UKSF, and examines allied experiences of legislative scrutiny. It then outlines two different models of parliamentary committee oversight that might be appropriate policy options for the UK.Read more

Defining Remote Warfare: The Rise of the Private Military and Security Industry

This briefing will show how, amid a new global security environment shared by state and non-state actors, the market for force has developed into a strategic partner for the state in both the Western and non-Western world.Read more

Falling Short of Security in Somalia

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.Read more

Defining Remote Warfare: Cyber

This is the second briefing in a series by the Remote Warfare Programme which will bring together experts to discuss important aspects of remote warfare to provide some conceptual clarity.This briefing by VERTIC attends to cyberwar, a subject that has grabbed the attention, and imagination, of publics, media, civil society and academics alike.Read more

Remote Warfare and the Boko Haram Insurgency

This report by Open Briefing examines the effectiveness of the use of remote warfare by the Nigerian government, its regional allies and Western states to counter the threat of Boko Haram.Read more

Are there sufficient mechanisms to protect UK special forces?

Recent reports suggest that UK special forces could have been left “understaffed” for years, and efforts to rectify this appear flawed. This adds to building questions about whether the current level of oversight is sufficient to protect our special forces.Read more

Defining Remote Warfare: Security Cooperation

This briefing paper provides an overview of a central, but often overlooked, instrument of US remote warfare: security cooperation. In the briefing, security cooperation is defined as Department of Defense-managed programmes to train, equip and advise foreign security forces to fight alongside, or as surrogates for, American ‘boots on the ground’.Read more

The Golden Age of Special Operations Forces

Special Forces have long captured people’s imaginations. Books, films, video games and news outlets propagate an image of heroism and mysticism – only added to by governments’ reticence to discuss their operations. The impact of this is that, while almost everyone knows or thinks they know what Special Forces are, few really know what they do.Read more

Mind the Gap: Parliament in the Age of Remote Warfare

This briefing by Liam Walpole explores the origins of the War Powers Convention and parliament’s role in scrutinising the UK government’s use of lethal force over the last decade.Read more

After the Fall: Views from the ground of international military intervention in post-Gadhafi Libya

This report by Libya specialist Alison Pargeter elicits Libyan views on international operations in Libya and analyses the possible effects of such operations on Libya's longer-term stability. Through interviews with a diverse section of Libyan society, the research paints a detailed picture of how international intervention, both covert and overt, is perceived by LibyansRead more

In Afghanistan, more is not the answer

This new briefing is based on off-the-record military interviews with both international and local Afghan troops between February and March 2017.Read more

Why the UK Will Lose the Information War Against Terrorism

If the government continues to refuse comment on most of its counterterrorism activity abroad it will struggle to win what is increasingly a war of narratives and the strategic use of (dis)information.Read more

All quiet on the ISIS front? British secret warfare in an information age

Remote Control’s latest report tracks the UK’s secretive but growing military commitments abroad by analysing the rise in the use of drones for targeted killing, the use of Special Forces, and the provision of capabilities such as intelligence and embedded troops to allied forces.Read more

Limited Accountability: A transparency audit of the anti-ISIL Coalition

This Airwars study for the Remote Control Project explores transparency and accountability issues within the US-led Coalition. It is based partly on in-depth briefings from senior officials from four sample belligerents (the US, Canada, the UK and Denmark) – and in part on two years of extensive Airwars modelling of the war against ISIL.Read more