Rubrick Biegon and Tom Watts
29 November 2017

This is the first briefing in a series which will bring together experts to discuss important aspects of remote warfare to provide some conceptual clarity. Over the course of the next year, Remote Control will release bi-monthly briefings on these subjects by experts in their field, with the eventual aim of exploring common themes, risks and opportunities presented by the evolving use of remote warfare.

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’.

This briefing paper demonstrates the significance of security cooperation to remote warfare. It focuses on the use of security cooperation in US counterterrorism operations during the Obama presidency, with examples drawn from efforts to combat Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Shabaab.

Image credit: AFRICOM.

About the authors:

Rubrick Biegon is an associate lecturer and research administrator in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. His research interests include US foreign policy, international security and inter-American relations. He is the author of US Power in Latin America: Renewing Hegemony (Routledge, 2017).

Tom Watts is a PhD candidate in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. His research examines the Obama administration’s military response to al-Qaeda’s regional affiliates and the evolving pursuit of US material interests in the Global South.​ Tom is the current chair of the British International Studies Association’s Postgraduate Network, and the 2017 winner of the University of Kent Social Sciences Seminar Leader Teaching Prize.