Wires Brief: Killer robots stopped; France wants more robots; Turkey arms Syrian rebels

14 September 2018 – Cambridge, UK

by Robert Grayston

United Kingdom

An influential parliamentary body has warned that the UK lacks adequately trained personnel with suitable digital knowledge. The Ministry of Defence has already said it has some difficulty “attracting more people with… cyber skills” but is apparently tackling these issues with an assessment on whether these roles need military training.

Europe

The European Parliament has passed a resolution on “killer robots” which prohibits the development, production, and use of machines which can take life without human input. The resolution calls for a common European stance prior to negotiations on the issue at the UN in November.

France is looking at expanding the scope of its Scorpion programme, which would see it investigating new capabilities in unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, communications, and management of battlefield sensors. Integration of the unmanned vehicles to aid with tasks such as reconnaissance is due to begin in 2022.

The Swedish military can expect a boost in the wake of the country’s recent election. “Sweden needs a more resilient national defense capability that is better funded and resourced,” said Stefan Löfven, leader of the SDP party. Swedish defence spending is currently at an historic low of 1.03% of GDP.

US and European operators of the F-35 have made an agreement to work together to try and keep costs down on operating the fighters. Representatives from several nations that use the fighter met in Berlin where they “discussed the importance of ensuring that future costs – specifically for sustainment – are kept to a minimum so that we don’t have to cut into future purchases,” according to a US Air Force colonel.

North America

The US has funded a programme developing a communication device which fit inside the user’s mouth. The “Molar Mic” is designed to clip to teeth and is thought it will be introduced first to the US Air Force before any other branch.

Africa

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir signed a peace deal which has ended five years of civil war. The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan said, “With the signing of this revitalised agreement, we should publicly acknowledge it is but one step on the road to peace, but one which lays the foundation for all that follows.”

Middle East

French military involvement in Syria has been questioned after a US army image of a French army vehicle was released. The image was quickly removed, but not before it could be circulated and raise new questions for President Macron about his country’s involvement in the region.

Rebels in the Idlib region of Syria have been provided weapons and equipment by Turkey after talks between Turkey, Iran and Russia broke down over the issue of a Syrian government offensive in the area. Turkey is concerned that further attacks on the region could cause more refugees to cross the Turkish border as they already host over three million people who have fled Syria’s civil war.

Germany is in talks with the US, Britain and France over possible involvement in Syrian airstrikes. Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously said Germany would not become involved in a military capacity in Syria, although some members of her political party in the Reichstag have shown support for intervention “in specific circumstances.”

Saudi Arabia will be able to buy 400 missiles from Spain after the Spanish government reversed a decision to halt the sale due to concerns for Yemeni civilians in that country’s civil war, in which Saudi Arabia is involved. “The decision is that these bombs will be delivered to honour a contract that comes from 2015 and was made by the previous government,” said Foreign Minister Josep Borrell.

Asia-Pacific

The promised Russian-Chinese joint military exercise “Vostok-2018” has started and is expected to last a week. The largest exercise conducted by Russia since the Cold War, Vostok-2018 involves 300,000 personnel near the Chinese and Mongolian borders, with naval assets also active in the Pacific.

Japan is seeking to amend its pacifist constitution to allow for reference to the Japanese Self-Defence Forces. “Isn’t it the mission of us politicians living today to create an environment in which they (SDF members) can carry out their duties with a sense of pride?” asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at a time when neighbouring Russia, China and North Korea are all seen as sources of tension for Japan.

Wires Brief: Killer robots stopped; France wants more robots; US drops France in it; Turkey arms Syrian rebels; China and Russia exercise together

United Kingdom

An influential parliamentary body has warned that the UK lacks adequately trained personnel with suitable digital knowledge. The Ministry of Defence has already said it has some difficulty “attracting more people with… cyber skills” but is apparently tackling these issues with an assessment on whether these roles need military training.

Europe

The European Parliament has passed a resolution on “killer robots” which prohibits the development, production, and use of machines which can take life without human input. The resolution calls for a common European stance prior to negotiations on the issue at the UN in November.

France is looking at expanding the scope of its Scorpion programme, which would see it investigating new capabilities in unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, communications, and management of battlefield sensors. Integration of the unmanned vehicles to aid with tasks such as reconnaissance is due to begin in 2022.

The Swedish military can expect a boost in the wake of the country’s recent election. “Sweden needs a more resilient national defense capability that is better funded and resourced,” said Stefan Löfven, leader of the SDP party. Swedish defence spending is currently at an historic low of 1.03% of GDP.

US and European operators of the F-35 have made an agreement to work together to try and keep costs down on operating the fighters. Representatives from several nations that use the fighter met in Berlin where they “discussed the importance of ensuring that future costs – specifically for sustainment – are kept to a minimum so that we don’t have to cut into future purchases,” according to a US Air Force colonel.

North America

The US has funded a programme developing a communication device which fit inside the user’s mouth. The “Molar Mic” is designed to clip to teeth and is thought it will be introduced first to the US Air Force before any other branch.

Africa

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has signed a peace deal which has ended five years of civil war. The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan said, “With the signing of this revitalised agreement, we should publicly acknowledge it is but one step on the road to peace, but one which lays the foundation for all that follows.”

Middle East

French military involvement in Syria has been questioned after a US army image of a French army vehicle was released. The image was quickly removed, but not before it could be circulated and raise new questions for President Macron about his country’s involvement in the region.

Rebels in the Idlib region of Syria have been provided weapons and equipment by Turkey after talks between Turkey, Iran and Russia broke down over the issue of a Syrian government offensive in the area. Turkey is concerned that further attacks on the region could cause more refugees to cross the Turkish border as they already host over three million people who have fled Syria’s civil war.

Germany is in talks with the US, Britain and France over possible involvement in Syrian airstrikes. Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously said Germany would not become involved in a military capacity in Syria, although some members of her political party in the Reichstag have shown support for intervention “in specific circumstances.”

Saudi Arabia will be able to buy 400 missiles from Spain after the Spanish government reversed a decision to halt the sale due to concerns for Yemeni civilians in that country’s civil war, in which Saudi Arabia is involved. “The decision is that these bombs will be delivered to honour a contract that comes from 2015 and was made by the previous government,” said Foreign Minister Josep Borrell.

Asia-Pacific

The promised Russian-Chinese joint military exercise “Vostok-2018” has started and is expected to last a week. The largest exercise conducted by Russia since the Cold War, Vostok-2018 involves 300,000 personnel near the Chinese and Mongolian borders, with naval assets also active in the Pacific.

Japan is seeking to amend its pacifist constitution to allow for reference to the Japanese Self-Defence Forces. “Isn’t it the mission of us politicians living today to create an environment in which they (SDF members) can carry out their duties with a sense of pride?” asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at a time when neighbouring Russia, China and North Korea are all seen as sources of tension for Japan.

Social Media Wires

US President Trump claims he helped with 9/11 after also claiming he saw hundreds of muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey.

Nigeria’s latest counterinsurgency campaign.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BokoHaram?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BokoHaram</a> are holding or in full control of some part of Maiduguri <a href=”https://t.co/bXKvI0aXMx”>pic.twitter.com/bXKvI0aXMx</a></p>&mdash; Sky Face. (@IshayaMopki) <a href=”https://twitter.com/IshayaMopki/status/1040336036361105408?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 13, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

 

Feature photo – Protest on killer robots, c. 2013  – Global Panorama, Flickr, 2018

The Wires Brief is a weekly breaking news report incorporating wire service news and social media updates. DefRep can not verify the authenticity of social media reporters nor the accuracy of social media updates.

 

Robert Grayston is DefenceReport’s marketing coordinator and occasional contributor. His most recent experience has involved security policy work for a member of the Shadow Defence team in the British Parliament. He can be emailed at rgrayston@defencereport.com