Alternative Futures: United Kingdom Options in Venezuela

Hal Wilson is a member of the Military Writers Guild, and uses narrative to explore future conflict.  His finalist fiction contest entries have been published by the leading national security journal War on the Rocks, as well as the Atlantic Council’s Art of the Future Project.  His fiction has also been published by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and the Australian Army Logistics Training Centre.  Hal graduated with first-class honours in War Studies and History from King’s College, London, and is studying an MA on the First World War. He tweets at @HalWilson_.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


National Security Situation:  In an alternative future, the United States and Brazil will intervene imminently in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The United Kingdom (UK) faces being pulled into the crisis. 

Date Originally Written:  February 2, 2019.

Date Originally Published:  February 11, 2019.

Author and / or Article Point of View:  This article is written from the point of view of the UK National Security Adviser personally briefing 10, Downing Street on potential courses of action.

Background:  The Venezuelan state has collapsed, leaving the country in the grip of growing civil strife.  The recent death of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro in last month’s crash of a Cessna Citation – registration number YV2030, frequently used by the Maduro family[1] – failed to leave a clear successor.  As such, the ‘Bolivarian’ armed forces, affiliated militias (‘colectivos’) and even government-aligned criminal networks (‘pranes[2]’) are clashing for control of the socialist regime.

Mounting violence has seen the abduction-and-murder of opposition leader Juan Guaidó by regime intelligence on February 29, 2019[3], followed by last week’s shoot-down of a Puerto Rico Air National Guard C-130J, tail registration 64-0008. C-130J / 64-0008 was supporting in Operation DELIVER COMFORT – the ongoing U.S. effort to airdrop aid over Venezuela. UK Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood now confirms that, late yesterday evening, the Bolivarian Navy of Venezuela (BNV) attacked the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Agrippa.

Agrippa, a maritime support ship, was in-region to conduct Atlantic Patrol Tasking North – the UK’s standing patrol to support Caribbean Commonwealth partners and British Overseas Territories (BOTs). While departing Grenada for Monserrat, a single anti-ship missile (AShM) was fired against Agrippa, which successfully destroyed the missile with its Phalanx Close-In-Weapons-System. The BNV patrol boat – most likely Constitución-class, ironically built in the UK during the 1970s[4]  – withdrew immediately after firing.

It remains unclear why the Agrippa was attacked. Even despite recent aggressiveness by the BNV towards U.S. shipping[5], this represents a grave escalation.

Significance:  Without a leadership figure in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, the Agrippa incident and the loss of 64-0008 to a Man-Portable-Air-Defence-System (MANPADS) demonstrate a probable loss of control over state arsenals. Despite limited professionalism among the armed forces[6], the availability of such sophisticated weapon-systems is a major threat to regional stability. The risk of proliferation of MANPADS on the black-market is a particular concern.

Uproar over the loss of 64-0008 has also made intervention all but certain: repeated[7] warnings[8] to avert an intervention in Venezuela have lost weight in Washington and Brasilia[9]. U.S. enthusiasm in particular is buoyed in direct proportion to the likely share of effort which will be borne by Brazilian troops[10].

Although the UK faces no direct risk, Commonwealth partners and already-vulnerable BOTs stand to suffer if the violence continues to spill-over. A regional Notice to Mariners has been issued, complementing last week’s Notice to Airmen after the loss of 64-0008. The resultant increase of shipping insurance is further disrupting vital supply chains to isolated BOTs such as Monserrat. The UK is obliged to protect these territories.

Option #1:  The UK provides aerial support to the probable U.S.-Brazilian joint humanitarian intervention.

Risk:  Between Brazilian forces and the U.S. Global Response Force[11], the Venezuelan military will be rapidly overrun[12]. It is illustrative to note the Venezuelan Air Force is grounded by flight-safety issues[13] and defections[14] – to the point where DELIVER COMFORT remains unchallenged by any Venezuelan military aircraft.

The primary challenge will be the U.S./Brazilian occupation of major urban centres such as Caracas or Maracaibo. These cities include neighbourhoods dominated by loyalists to the socialist regime, and will pose considerable counter-insurgency challenges. Improvised explosive devices have already been employed by the opposition[15] and it can only be assumed regime loyalists will use similar techniques following an invasion.

UK sealift capacity is largely tied down supporting EXERCISE SAIF SAIREEA 6 in Oman. This conveniently precludes the prospect of large-scale UK ground contribution in Venezuela. The Royal Air Force (RAF) can nevertheless offer FGR4 Typhoons and Voyager aerial tankers to stage out of Puerto Rico, drawing on experience in long-range deployments[16].

Gain:  The UK will win favour in Washington while avoiding the more substantial risks of a ground deployment. By helping to crush the vying armed groups within Venezuela, Caribbean BOTs and Commonwealth partners will be reassured of ongoing UK support to their security.

Option #2:  The UK coordinates the acquisition or sabotage of Venezuelan MANPADS & AShM systems.

Risk:  By targeting sophisticated weapon-systems, we can not only neutralise a key threat to our U.S. & Brazilian allies, but also the main source of disruption to regional Commonwealth partners and BOTs. Bribery or staged purchases can be used to render these weapons harmless, or to have them delivered to UK hands for safekeeping. A similar activity was pursued by the Secret Intelligence Service during the 1982 Falklands War, targeting stocks of the ‘Exocet’ AShM[17].

This route, however, cannot guarantee complete success – especially where MANPADS may be held by regime loyalists, for instance. The risk to UK contacts inside Venezuela will be severe, besides the public-relations risk of UK taxpayer money being used in the illicit trade of arms. As a covert activity, it will also fail to publicly reassure local Commonwealth partners and the BOTs of a diminishing threat.

Gain:  This averts the expense of a full RAF deployment, while delivering results which can speed the U.S./Brazilian occupation of Venezuela – and ultimately assuring improved Caribbean stability. By not directly involving ourselves in the invasion, we also avoid inadvertent attacks against Russian mercenary forces in-country[18], or Russian civilians engaged in arms deliveries to the regime[19].

Option #3:  The UK enhances Royal Navy (RN) patrols in the Caribbean.

Risk:  The RN is currently thinly stretched. Besides ongoing North Atlantic Treaty Organization deployments and ships based at Bahrain, significant resources are tied up in the HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH Maritime Task Group to Singapore. A Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Dido, can nevertheless be made available. With a significant anti-missile capability[20], Dido can intercept any further AShM attacks and better protect local shipping than the Agrippa.

This will, however, fail to address the wider issue of MANPADS proliferation within Venezuela itself. The presence of a single additional air-defence warship will also do little to assist the U.S./Brazilian invasion: Washington may perceive the deployment as a token gesture.

Gain:  This option again averts the potential costs of an RAF engagement in the upcoming invasion of Venezuela, while offering highly visible reassurance to Caribbean Commonwealth partners and BOTs. Shipping insurance may be induced to return to pre-crisis levels, alleviating local supply chain disruptions.

Other comments:  The Venezuelan crisis poses an increasing destabilization risk to already-vulnerable BOTs and Commonwealth friends in the Caribbean. We must take action to assure their safety and prosperity.

Recommendation:  None.


Endnotes:

[1] Bellingcat, (2018, Dec 22)Identifying Aircraft in the Comina Operation in Venezuela https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2018/12/22/identifying-aircraft-in-the-canaima-operation-in-venezuela/

[2] Centre for Strategic & International Studies, (2019, Jan 23) The Struggle for Control of Occupied Venezuela https://www.csis.org/analysis/struggle-control-occupied-venezuela

[3] The New York Times, (2019, Jan 13) Venezuela Opposition Leader is Arrested After Proposing to Take Power https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/13/world/americas/venezeula-juan-guaido-arrest.html

[4] Hazegray.org, (2001, Oct 26) World Navies Today: Venezuela
https://www.hazegray.org/worldnav/americas/venez.htm

[5] Navaltoday.com, (2018, Dec 25) Venezuelan Navy stops ExxonMobil ship in Guyana Dispute
https://navaltoday.com/2018/12/25/venezuelan-navy-stops-exxonmob%E2%80%8Eil-ship-in-guyana-dispute/

[6] Bellingcat, (2018, May 13) “We are going to surrender! Stop shooting!”: Reconstructing Oscar Perez’s Last Hours
https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2018/05/13/we-are-going-to-surrender-stop-shooting-reconstructing-oscar-perezs-last-hours/

[7] Foreign Affairs, (2017, Nov 8) What Would a U.S. Intervention in Venezuela Look Like?
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/venezuela/2017-11-08/what-would-us-intervention-venezuela-look

[8] TIME, (2019, Jan 31) I Commanded the U.S. Military in South America. Deploying Soldiers to Venezuela Would Only Make Things Worse
http://time.com/5516698/nicolas-maduro-juan-guaido-venezuela-trump-military/

[9] The Guardian, (2018, Dec 14) Rightwing Venezuelan exiles hope Bolsonaro will help rid them of Maduro
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/13/brazil-bolsonaro-maduro-venezuela-dissidents-rightwing

[10] Twitter, (2019. Feb 2)
https://twitter.com/saveriovivas/status/1091733430151364610

[11] RAND, (2016) Enabling the Global Response Force, Access Strategies for the 82nd Airborne Division https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1161.html

[12] Military Review: The Professional Journal of the US Army, (January 2019) Venezuela, A ‘Black Swan’ Hot Spot
https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/Jan-Feb-2019/Delgado-Venezuela/

[13] The Aviationist,(2012, Nov 28) Photo shows pilots ejecting from their jet moments before it crashed into the ground https://theaviationist.com/2012/11/28/k8-crash/

[14] Daily Sabah, (2019, Feb 2) Venezuela air force general defects in rebellion against President Maduro https://www.dailysabah.com/americas/2019/02/02/venezuela-air-force-general-defects-in-rebellion-against-president-maduro

[15] Bellingcat, (2017, Sept 2) The Bombs of Caracas
https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2017/09/02/the-bombs-of-caracas/

[16] Forces Network, (2016, Sept 29) RAF Typhoons Head to Far East Amid Heightened Tensions https://www.forces.net/services/raf/raf-typhoons-head-far-east-amid-heightened-tensions

[17] The Telegraph (2002, Mar 13) How France helped us win Falklands War, by John Nott https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1387576/How-France-helped-us-win-Falklands-war-by-John-Nott.html

[18] The Guardian (2019, Jan 13) Russian mercenaries reportedly in Venezuela to protect Maduro https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/25/venezuela-maduro-russia-private-security-contractors

[19] TASS, (2018, Apr 4) Kalashnikov plant in Venezuela to start production in 2019 http://tass.com/defense/997625

[20] Savetheroyalnavy.com (2015, Sep 28) UK and NATO navies take further small steps in developing ballistic missile defence
https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/uk-and-nato-navies-take-further-small-steps-in-developing-ballistic-missile-defence/

 

Alternative Futures Brazil Option Papers United Kingdom Venezuela

Assessing Nigerian Air Power Employment In Counter Insurgency Operations

The following is an article from our partners at the Conflict Studies And Analysis Project.  During 2019 you will occasionally see their content on our website and vice versa.  The original article can be viewed here.  


Fulan Nasrullah is the Executive Director of the Conflict Studies And Analysis Project At The Global Initiative For Civil Stabilisation. He is national security policy and strategy advisor and conflict researcher. He sometimes tweets via @fulannasrullah.

Murtala Abdullahi is a Junior Associate Researcher with the Conflict Studies And Analysis Project at The Global Initiative For Civil Stabilisation. His areas of focus are on Nigeria’s military, local conflict drivers across Nigeria, conflict prevention, and effects of climate change on national security. He tweets via @murtalaibin.

Conflict Studies And Analysis Project’s content does not contain information of a classified or otherwise official nature, neither does the content represent the position of any governmental or non governmental entity.

Summary – The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), deployed air power in support of the Joint task force: Operation Restore Order and has sustained operational support to Nigerian Army as operational mandate changed. This is in addition to supporting regional Multinational Joint Task Force operations against Boko Haram groups, as well. The performance of the Nigerian Air Force has greatly improved compared to when operations in the Northeast first began, as it has taken on varied missions from Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance( ISR), to close air support to the Army’s manoeuvre units in theatre. However, air operations efficiency is affected by scarce national defence spending and a shortage of aircraft.

Text– Nigeria’s counter insurgency area of operations covers the three northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, or over 125,000 square kilometres of land area. This complex terrain encompasses the Nigerian side of Lake Chad with hundreds of islands, the massive Sambisa Forest Area, the Gwoza Hills, and the Mandara Mountains range which mostly hem in the region from the east.

The Nigerian Air Force, began operations against Boko Haram groups in 2010, as military operations under the Joint Task Force (JTF) of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and State Security Service were initiated (in succession) under the code names, Restore order I, II and III, to flush out insurgent fighters from built up areas of Borno between December 2011 and mid 2013.

As the conflict escalated, the Nigerian government on May 14, 2013, declared a state of emergency in the three worst affected states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) and expanded the JTF operations into Operation Boyona with the objective of securing the nation’s borders and asserting territorial integrity.

As part of Operation Boyona, the Nigerian Air Force conducted air strikes targeted at insurgents camps in July-September 2013 employing NAF’s Mi-35P Hind attack helicopters, in the opening salvo of what was evolving into a campaign of aerial bombardment against insurgent held territory.

Operation Boyona was later renamed Operation Zaman Lafiya with the Nigerian Air Force providing the aerial component in August 2013. The air component was under Boko Karam threat to it’s fixed- and rotary-wing operations, with NAF’s Mi 24V/Mi-35P attack helicopters, F-7NI and Alpha Jets fixed wing attack planes, coming under enemy anti-aircraft fire of up to 30mm caliber, forcing them to fly higher in order to deliver strike packages. This also required the Nigerian Air Force to fit longer-range rockets, removed from its MiG-21s, onto the attack helicopters [1]. By August 2014, the Nigerian air force had carried out 2,468 ground-attack missions against Boko Haram, in addition to conducting 1,443 surveillance missions with its DA-42s, ATR-42s and King Air 350Is, plus 1,479 airlift transport missions [2].

The Boko Haram conflict soon reached its peak between the last quarter of 2014 and early 2015 as the insurgents overran towns and military bases across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States. The Nigerian Government followed up with a counter-offensive campaign, in tandem with offensives launched by troops of neighbouring Lake Chad countries, to retake the territory overrun by the insurgents.

The Nigerian Air Force component of Operation Zaman Lafiya, played a key role in assisting ground forces in rolling back Boko Haram groups from territories they had occupied. The MI-35P helicopters flew over 900 combat sorties within this period [3]. In July 2015, Nigerian forces, launched Operation Lafiya Dole, replacing Zaman Lafiya.

As part of the new Operation Lafiya Dole, the NAF component of the joint military forces battling the Boko Haram insurgents, was expanded to an air task force with leeway to conduct independent missions [4]. This was in addition to carrying out missions in support of Nigerian Army troops engaged in the Army specific Operations Deep Punch I&II and Operation Last Hold, while also providing air support to the regional MNJTF’s Operations Rawan Gada and Gaman Aiki.

Between Dec. 25, 2015 and the end of January 2016, the Nigerian Air Force conducted 286 strike missions against Boko Haram targets, for a total of 536 flight hours. During the 18 months between July 2015 and mid-January 2017, the air task force (ATF) carried out 2,105 missions across the entire aerial spectrum [5].

From the beginning of Operation Zaman Lafiya and now Operation Lafiya Dole, the Nigerian air force has suffered relatively few losses directly related to the Combat. Two Chengdu F-7Nis, one Alpha Jet, two Mi-35Ps, one A109LUH, and at least two Mi-17s have been shot down or destroyed in accidents over active battlefields.

The Nigerian Air Force’s combined aircraft inventory is estimated at between 200-250 aircraft[6], comprising an estimated three operational C-130Hs, sixteen Alpha Jet E trainer variants acquired in the ‘80s and around twenty Alpha Jet A[7] ground attack aircraft, thirteen Aero L-39 ZA Albatross, ten used Mi-24Vs acquired from the Ukraine, around twenty Mi-35Ps and MI-35Ms acquired from Russia, 10 Pakistani Super Mushshak trainers, two Bell 412, four EC-135 and over a dozen Agusta Westland helicopters. In addition an unknown number of Chinese-built CH-3 rainbow unmanned combat aerial vehicles and indigenous Gulma|Tsaigumi UAV are in service, along with Austrian DA-42 Twin Star light patrol aircraft, ATR-42 maritime patrol aircraft, Super Puma, MI-17 and Beechcraft Super King Air 350i ISR-optimised turboprop aircraft [8].

In addition the Nigerian Air Force is expecting delivery of six AgustaWestland AW109, unknown number of Yabhon Flash 20 unmanned aerial vehicle, and an unknown number of CAC/PAC JF-17 fighter-bombers from Pakistan[9].

The Nigerian Air Force has also ordered twelve A29 Super Tucanos, a turboprop aircraft built for the kind of engagements it has to carry out currently, i.e a counterinsurgency. The much criticised $593m deal for these planes, however comes with 100 GBU-12(500lb) Paveway II(PW-II) Tail Kits, 100 GBU-58(250lb) PW-II Tail Kits, 400 laser guided rockets with Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, 2,000 MK-81 (250lb) bombs, 6,000 Hydra 70 unguided rockets(70mm, 1000 of which are practice rockets), 20,000 rounds of .50/12.7mm calibre machine gun ammunition, seven AN/AAQ-22F electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor and laser designators [10]. Also, these planes will be equipped with software to support forward-looking infra-red targeting pods.

Service operable aircraft increased from about 36 per cent in 2015 to between 78 and 82 per cent currently [11]. This contributed to the Air Task Force in Operation Lafiya Dole’s ability to, from June 1 2015 to October 31 2018, fly 51,852 flight hours in 39,807 day and night sorties including close air support, strike, ISR and humanitarian support missions.

However, despite these improvements, the Nigerian Air Force still faces significant challenges in asserting aerial supremacy over the terrain, despite insurgent air defence capabilities being limited largely to varied calibre anti-aircraft guns (including ZSU-23-4 quad-barreled self-propelled platforms). This is due to the size of the terrain in question, plus a lack of systems to set up and maintain an integrated kill-chain from finding the enemy to maintaining ISR presence over him, to ultimately finishing him off and gathering information to be exploited for analysis purposes. There are improvements to be made in this regard.

Also, logistical challenges including a lack of spare parts, inadequate number of precision guided and stand-off weapons, and a shortage of personnel trained to standard to maintain increasingly complex modern weapons of war will continue to prove a major hindrance to the Nigerian Air Force, at least for the foreseeable future.


End Notes:

[1] Chris Pocock. February 2, 2015.Nigerian Air Power Hindered in Boko Haram Fight. Retrieved from: https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2015-02-02/nigerian-airpower-hindered-boko-haram-fight

[2] Same as No. 1 above

[3] Author’s conversations with ranking NAF officers involved with pertinent operations

[4] Author’s conversations with ranking NAF officers involved with pertinent operations

[5] Author’s conversations with ranking NAF officers involved with pertinent operations

[6] Global fire power. “Nigeria military strength”. Retrieved from: https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=nigeria

[7] Murtala Abdullahi. Options For Supporting Nigerian Air Operations In The Lake Chad Conflict. Conflict Studies And Analysis Project. Retrieved from: https://conflictstudies.gics.live/2019/01/01/options-for-supporting-nigerian-air-operations-in-the-lake-chad-conflict/

[8] Same as No.7 above

[9] Author conversations with ranking Nigerian Air Force officers for this paper.

[10] FederalRegister.Gov. “Arms Sales Notification”. Retrieved from: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/08/28/2017-18201/arms-sales-notification

[11] Author conversations with ranking NAF officers, confirmed by the Nigerian Chief of Air Staff during his presentation at the International Air Power Seminar in Abuja, Nigeria. Chief of Air Staff remarks retrieved from: https://www.today.ng/multimedia/photo/sadique-abubakar-role-public-irregular-warfare-critical-172227

 

Africa Nigeria Partner - Conflict Studies And Analysis Project United Kingdom

An Assessment Of Britain’s Relations With Nigeria In 2018

The following is an article from our partners at the Conflict Studies And Analysis Project.  During 2019 you will occasionally see their content on our website and vice versa.  The original article can be viewed here.  


Sola Tayo is a BBC journalist, a Senior Associate Fellow at the Conflict Studies And Analysis Project at the Global Initiative For Civil Stabilisation, and an Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs/Chatham House. Sola tweets via @tayos02.

Conflict Studies And Analysis Project’s content does not contain information of a classified or otherwise official nature, neither does the content represent the position of any governmental or non governmental entity.

Summary: Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest economies is facing several internal security threats. Violence has devastated the northeast in the form of an insurgency with Islamic State linked groups while bloody resource based conflicts have at varying times wreaked havoc on the oil and agriculture industries and contributed to wide-scale outbreaks of violence.

Nigeria has traditionally played a role in conflict resolution and its military has been deployed on peacekeeping operations across the continent. But Nigeria’s military has been increasingly deployed to tackle its own internal conflicts. Underfunded ad overstretched,  its military at times struggles to battle better equipped militants.

Although Nigeria is considered a regional powerhouse, it receives a lot of assistance from its western allies – the United Kingdom, the United States and France.

This paper discusses the defence and security relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom in 2018.

Text:

Since gaining its independence in 1960, Nigeria has maintained strong relations with the United Kingdom, its former colonial master. The United Kingdom is now one of Nigeria’s strongest allies and as such its security issues are of great concern to London. Nigeria’s location on the edge of the Sahel – a region that has seen an alarming rise in the activity of Islamic State linked insurgents – leave it vulnerable to cross border activity by insurgents. Its struggles with home-grown insurgents are considered a potential threat to global security. The UK, like many of Nigeria’s allies, is worried that the increased presence of the Islamic State in the country could become a threat way beyond Nigeria’s borders.

2018 was an important year for British-Nigerian official relations. Of particular significance was the visit of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to Abuja and (Nigeria’s commercial capital) Lagos in August. Nigeria was one of three African countries (including Kenya and South Africa) visited by Mrs May as part of a mission to reset the United Kingdom’s relations with former colonies in Africa as it prepares to leave the European Union this year.

The focus of her visit was to discuss improving bilateral relations between the two countries. Security was very much on the agenda and both countries signed a defence and security agreement[1].

In addition the UK’s Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, visited Nigeria in November.  He reiterated the UK’s commitment to the agreement stressing that it was in his country’s interest to help keep Nigeria secure to avoid insurgents establishing a caliphate and plotting attacks against the West.[2]

Nigeria is a key area for defence engagement for the UK and most of the work involves training and intelligence sharing. The British Army and Royal Air Force send Short Term Training Teams (STTTs) to provide infantry training to the Nigerian Army and Air Force.

Most of the UK’s work in Nigeria is focussed on the North East where the insurgency by insurgent groups has claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2009[3]. The insurgency has also displaced more than 2 million Nigerians and, in 2016, put more than 5 million people in the region at risk of food shortages when aid workers were unable to enter the region with supplies[4].

 The United Kingdom says the defence and security agreement will transform the way both countries work together to combat shared threats. The UK will expand its current programme of training for Nigeria’s military as well as offering a broader supply of equipment.

The provision of training and equipment is centred around protecting soldiers from the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and includes the gifting of a range of £775,000 worth of counter IED equipment to the Nigerian army.

The UK also pledged to – for the first time – train full army units (as opposed to the current system where individual soldiers are trained) before they are deployed to the North East.

The UK has avoided providing Nigeria with arms because of allegations of human rights abuses by its military so the Prime Minister’s pledge to review this will give the Nigerian army a boost in its fight against the militants.

Education has suffered as a result of the insurgency.  Schools have been destroyed or closed, there is a chronic shortage of teachers (many have fled) and there are few crisis response systems in place to protect civilians from attacks by terrorists. Under the agreement both countries will work together on a £13 million programme to educate 100,000 children living in the affected areas of the region.

The UK under this agreement, committed to help Nigeria to implement a crisis response mechanism to help civilians keep safe. In addition the UK has offered to help with teacher training in conflict zones.The United Kingdom also hopes its investment in education will help to reduce the ability of insurgent groups to attract impressionable people by engaging communities to counter the propaganda used as a recruitment tool.

The agreement also encompasses cooperation on improving policing (which is chronically under-resourced in Nigeria), tackling kidnapping, human trafficking and other organised crime, corruption (through the creation of a civil asset recovery task force to help recover stolen assets) and the ongoing issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

The UK’s Defence Secretary in 2018, also announced the establishment of the UK’s first specialist army training team to tackle sexual violence and the use of female and child suicide bombers.  The team will primarily work in east Africa where the militant group Al-Shabaab has brutalised civilian populations in Somalia and the region. It is expected that afterwards the training will expand to Nigeria which has seen a rise in the use child and female suicide bombers by Boko Haram insurgents.

Nigeria is also experiencing another devastating conflict in the form of violent clashes between farmers and cattle herders.  Although the roots of the violence is largely resource based, the demographic of the parties involved and the way it has been reported by the media has led to it being labelled a conflict based on religion.

The herder/farmer violence is said to have claimed at least 2000 lives in 2018 alone[5]. The outbreaks of violence are not new but have taken an increasingly bloody turn in recent times.  So concerned is the UK that British parliamentarians – through a cross party parliamentary group on religious freedom –  have been engaged in debates on the subject.

The UK parliamentarians – many of who see it as a conflict based on religious discrimination – are pressuring UK government ministers to get tough on Nigeria for not doing enough to protect mainly (but not exclusively) Christian farmers against violence from armed Muslim herders from the Fulani ethnic group.

Although a reaction to the farmer/herder violence has yet to form a part of the UK’s engagement with Nigeria, it has been the purpose of visits to affected areas by UK parliamentarians.  The UK’s Minister for Africa said it was something she and the Prime Minister discussed with president Buhari and during their visit to Nigeria[6].

At the end of 2018 the UK Foreign Secretary commissioned a review into the persecution of Christians around the world[7].  The review will cover particular countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Officials from the Foreign Office have said the aim of the review is to eventually produce policy recommendations to protect religious minorities.

It is expected that Nigeria will be one of the countries studied in the review – despite Christianity not being a minority religion.

Last year saw a lot of activity and interest in Nigeria and the Sahel region from the United Kingdom, as it seeks to increase its footprint and extend its influence in Nigeria’s immediate region.


End Notes:

[1] UK. UK And Nigeria Step Up Cooperation To End Boko Haram Threat. Retrieved from; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-nigeria-step-up-cooperation-to-end-boko-haram-threat

[2] Daily Mail. British Defence Secretary Warns Nigerian Jihadists Pose Growing Threat To Britain. Retrieved from: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6404117/Defence-Secretary-warns-jihadists-Nigeria-pose-growing-threat-Britain.html

[3] Premium Times. 100,00 Killed In Boko Haram Conflict. Retrieved from: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/223399-shocking-revelation-100000-killed-two-million-displaced-boko-haram-insurgency-borno-governor-says.html

[4] https://www.unocha.org/story/five-things-know-about-crisis-nigeria

[5] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/12/nigeria-government-failures-fuel-escalating-conflict-between-farmers-and-herders-as-death-toll-nears-4000/

[6] “Colleagues have asked about the role of the UK Government, who are of course extremely concerned about the violence. It is destroying communities and poses a grave threat to Nigeria’s stability, unity and prosperity. It poses significant risks to the peaceful conduct of next year’s important presidential elections; so we take every opportunity to raise our concerns with the Nigerian Government at every level. When the Prime Minister and I were in Nigeria in August, she discussed the issue with President Buhari, and I was able to raise it with the Vice-President and Foreign Minister.”    — https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-11-27/debates/818A5775-5E16-4C15-84CB-8DA497FD0FBB/NigeriaArmedViolence(RuralCommunities)

[7] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-secretary-announces-global-review-into-persecution-of-christians

Nigeria Partner - Conflict Studies And Analysis Project United Kingdom

Options for Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems and the Five Eyes Alliance

Dan Lee is a government employee who works in Defense, and has varying levels of experience working with Five Eyes nations (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand).  He can be found on Twitter @danlee961.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


National Security Situation:  Options for Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems and the Five Eyes Alliance

Date Originally Written:  September 29, 2018.

Date Originally Published:  October 29, 2018.

Author and / or Article Point of View:  The article is written from the point of view of Five Eyes national defense organizations. 

Background:  The Five Eyes community consists of the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), Canada, Australia and New Zealand; its origins can be traced to the requirement to cooperate in Signals Intelligence after World War Two[1]. Arguably, the alliance is still critical today in dealing with terrorism and other threats[2].

Autonomous systems may provide the Five Eyes alliance an asymmetric advantage, or ‘offset’, to counter its strategic competitors that are on track to field larger and more technologically advanced military forces. The question of whether or not to develop and employ Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) is currently contentious due to the ethical and social considerations involved with allowing machines to choose targets and apply lethal force without human intervention[3][4][5]. Twenty-six countries are calling for a prohibition on LAWS, while three Five Eyes partners (Australia, UK and the US) as well as other nations including France, Germany, South Korea and Turkey do not support negotiating new international laws on the matter[6]. When considering options, at least two issues must also be addressed.

The first issue is defining what LAWS are; a common lexicon is required to allow Five Eyes partners to conduct an informed discussion as to whether they can come to a common policy position on the development and employment of these systems. Public understanding of autonomy is mostly derived from the media or from popular culture and this may have contributed to the hype around the topic[7][8][8]. Currently there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a fully autonomous lethal weapon system, which has in turn disrupted discussions at the United Nations (UN) on how these systems should be governed by the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCWUN)[10]. The US and UK have different definitions, which makes agreement on a common position difficult even amongst like-minded nations[11][12]. This lack of lexicon is further complicated by some strategic competitors using more liberal definitions of LAWS, allowing them to support a ban while simultaneously developing weapons that do not require meaningful human control[13][14][15][16].

The second issue one of agreeing how autonomous systems might be employed within the Five Eyes alliance. For example, as a strategic offset technology, the use of autonomous systems might mitigate the relatively small size of their military forces relative to an adversary’s force[17]. Tactically, they could be deployed completely independently of humans to remove personnel from danger, as swarms to overwhelm the enemy with complexity, or as part of a human-machine team to augment human capabilities[18][19][20].

A failure of Five Eyes partners to come to a complete agreement on what is and is not permissible in developing and employing LAWS does not necessarily mean a halt to progress; indeed, this may provide the alliance with the ability for some partners to cover the capability gaps of others. If some members of the alliance choose not to develop lethal systems, it may free their resources to focus on autonomous Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) or logistics capabilities. In a Five Eyes coalition environment, these members who chose not to develop lethal systems could provide support to the LAWS-enabled forces of other partners, providing lethal autonomy to the alliance as whole, if not to individual member states.

Significance:  China and Russia may already be developing LAWS; a failure on the part of the Five Eyes alliance to actively manage this issue may put it at a relative disadvantage in the near future[21][22][23][24]. Further, dual-use civilian technologies already exist that may be adapted for military use, such as the Australian COTSbot and the Chinese Mosquito Killer Robot[25][26]. If the Five Eyes alliance does not either disrupt the development of LAWS by its competitors, or attain relative technological superiority, it may find itself starting in a position of disadvantage during future conflicts or deterrence campaigns.

Option #1:  Five Eyes nations work with the UN to define LAWS and ban their development and use; diplomatic, economic and informational measures are applied to halt or disrupt competitors’ LAWS programs. Technological offset is achieved by Five Eyes autonomous military systems development that focuses on logistics and ISR capabilities, such as Boston Dynamics’ LS3 AlphaDog and the development of driverless trucks to free soldiers from non-combat tasks[27][28][29][30].

Risk:  In the event of conflict, allied combat personnel would be more exposed to danger than the enemy as their nations had, in essence, decided to not develop a technology that could be of use in war. Five Eyes militaries would not be organizationally prepared to develop, train with and employ LAWS if necessitated by an existential threat. It may be too late to close the technological capability gap after the commencement of hostilities.

Gain:  The Five Eyes alliance’s legitimacy regarding human rights and the just conduct of war is maintained in the eyes of the international community. A LAWS arms race and subsequent proliferation can be avoided.

Option #2:  Five Eyes militaries actively develop LAWS to achieve superiority over their competitors.

Risk:  The Five Eyes alliance’s legitimacy may be undermined in the eyes of the international community and organizations such as The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the UN, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Public opinion in some partner nations may increasingly disapprove of LAWS development and use, which could fragment the alliance in a similar manner to the Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty[31][32].

The declared development and employment of LAWS may catalyze a resource-intensive international arms race. Partnerships between government and academia and industry may also be adversely affected[33][34].

Gain:  Five Eyes nations avoid a technological disadvantage relative to their competitors; the Chinese information campaign to outmanoeuvre Five Eyes LAWS development through the manipulation of CCWUN will be mitigated. Once LAWS development is accepted as inevitable, proliferation may be regulated through the UN.

Other Comments:  None

Recommendation:  None.


Endnotes:

[1] Tossini, J.V. (November 14, 2017). The Five Eyes – The Intelligence Alliance of the Anglosphere. Retrieved from https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/the-five-eyes-the-intelligence-alliance-of-the-anglosphere/

[2] Grayson, K. Time to bring ‘Five Eyes’ in from the cold? (May 4, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/time-bring-five-eyes-cold/

[3] Lange, K. 3rd Offset Strategy 101: What It Is, What the Tech Focuses Are (March 30, 2016). Retrieved from http://www.dodlive.mil/2016/03/30/3rd-offset-strategy-101-what-it-is-what-the-tech-focuses-are/

[4] International Committee of the Red Cross. Expert Meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems Statement (November 15, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.icrc.org/en/document/expert-meeting-lethal-autonomous-weapons-systems

[5] Human Rights Watch and
Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. Fully Autonomous Weapons: Questions and Answers. (October 2013). Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/10.2013_killer_robots_qa.pdf

[6] Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Report on Activities Convention on Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems – United Nations Geneva – 9-13 April 2018. (2018) Retrieved from https://www.stopkillerrobots.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/KRC_ReportCCWX_Apr2018_UPLOADED.pdf

[7] Scharre, P. Why You Shouldn’t Fear ‘Slaughterbots’. (December 22, 2017). Retrieved from https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/military-robots/why-you-shouldnt-fear-slaughterbots

[8] Winter, C. (November 14, 2017). ‘Killer robots’: autonomous weapons pose moral dilemma. Retrieved from https://www.dw.com/en/killer-robots-autonomous-weapons-pose-moral-dilemma/a-41342616

[9] Devlin, H. Killer robots will only exist if we are stupid enough to let them. (June 11, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jun/11/killer-robots-will-only-exist-if-we-are-stupid-enough-to-let-them

[10] Welsh, S. Regulating autonomous weapons. (November 16, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/regulating-autonomous-weapons/

[11] United States Department of Defense. Directive Number 3000.09. (November 21, 2012). Retrieved from https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=726163

[12] Lords AI committee: UK definitions of autonomous weapons hinder international agreement. (April 17, 2018). Retrieved from http://www.article36.org/autonomous-weapons/lords-ai-report/

[13] Group of Governmental Experts of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects – Geneva, 9–13 April 2018 (first week) Item 6 of the provisional agenda – Other matters. (11 April 2018). Retrieved from https://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B8954/(httpAssets)/E42AE83BDB3525D0C125826C0040B262/$file/CCW_GGE.1_2018_WP.7.pdf

[14] Welsh, S. China’s shock call for ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems. (April 16, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.janes.com/article/79311/china-s-shock-call-for-ban-on-lethal-autonomous-weapon-systems

[15] Mohanty, B. Lethal Autonomous Dragon: China’s approach to artificial intelligence weapons. (Nov 15 2017). Retrieved from https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/lethal-autonomous-weapons-dragon-china-approach-artificial-intelligence/

[16] Kania, E.B. China’s Strategic Ambiguity and Shifting Approach to Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. (April 17, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.lawfareblog.com/chinas-strategic-ambiguity-and-shifting-approach-lethal-autonomous-weapons-systems

[17] Tomes, R. Why the Cold War Offset Strategy was all about Deterrence and Stealth. (January 14, 2015) Retrieved from https://warontherocks.com/2015/01/why-the-cold-war-offset-strategy-was-all-about-deterrence-and-stealth/

[18] Lockie, A. The Air Force just demonstrated an autonomous F-16 that can fly and take out a target all by itself. (April 12, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com.au/f-16-drone-have-raider-ii-loyal-wingman-f-35-lockheed-martin-2017-4?r=US&IR=T

[19] Schuety, C. & Will, L. An Air Force ‘Way of Swarm’: Using Wargaming and Artificial Intelligence to Train Drones. (September 21, 2018). Retrieved from https://warontherocks.com/2018/09/an-air-force-way-of-swarm-using-wargaming-and-artificial-intelligence-to-train-drones/

[20] Ryan, M. Human-Machine Teaming for Future Ground Forces. (2018). Retrieved from https://csbaonline.org/uploads/documents/Human_Machine_Teaming_FinalFormat.pdf

[21] Perrigo, B. Global Arms Race for Killer Robots Is Transforming the Battlefield. (Updated: April 9, 2018). Retrieved from http://time.com/5230567/killer-robots/

[22] Hutchison, H.C. Russia says it will ignore any UN ban of killer robots. (November 30, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-will-ignore-un-killer-robot-ban-2017-11/?r=AU&IR=T

[23] Mizokami, K. Kalashnikov Will Make an A.I.-Powered Killer Robot – What could possibly go wrong? (July 20, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/news/a27393/kalashnikov-to-make-ai-directed-machine-guns/

[24] Atherton, K. Combat robots and cheap drones obscure the hidden triumph of Russia’s wargame. (September 25, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.c4isrnet.com/unmanned/2018/09/24/combat-robots-and-cheap-drones-obscure-the-hidden-triumph-of-russias-wargame/

[25] Platt, J.R. A Starfish-Killing, Artificially Intelligent Robot Is Set to Patrol the Great Barrier Reef Crown of thorns starfish are destroying the reef. Bots that wield poison could dampen the invasion. (January 1, 2016) Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-starfish-killing-artificially-intelligent-robot-is-set-to-patrol-the-great-barrier-reef/

[26] Skinner, T. Presenting, the Mosquito Killer Robot. (September 14, 2016). Retrieved from https://quillorcapture.com/2016/09/14/presenting-the-mosquito-killer-robot/

[27] Defence Connect. DST launches Wizard of Aus. (November 10, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/key-enablers/1514-dst-launches-wizard-of-aus

[28] Pomerleau, M. Air Force is looking for resilient autonomous systems. (February 24, 2016). Retrieved from https://defensesystems.com/articles/2016/02/24/air-force-uas-contested-environments.aspx

[29] Boston Dynamics. LS3 Legged Squad Support Systems. The AlphaDog of legged robots carries heavy loads over rough terrain. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.bostondynamics.com/ls3

[30] Evans, G. Driverless vehicles in the military – will the potential be realised? (February 2, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.army-technology.com/features/driverless-vehicles-military/

[31] Hambling, D. Why the U.S. Is Backing Killer Robots. (September 15, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/research/a23133118/us-ai-robots-warfare/

[32] Ministry for Culture and Heritage. ANZUS treaty comes into force 29 April 1952. (April 26, 2017). Retrieved from https://nzhistory.govt.nz/anzus-comes-into-force

[33] Shalal, A. Researchers to boycott South Korean university over AI weapons work. (April 5, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tech-korea-boycott/researchers-to-boycott-south-korean-university-over-ai-weapons-work-idUSKCN1HB392

[34] Shane, S & Wakabayashi, D. ‘The Business of War’: Google Employees Protest Work for the Pentagon. (April 4, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/technology/google-letter-ceo-pentagon-project.html

 

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