Small Wars Journal

United Kingdom

Irregular Warfare Initiative: The United Kingdom Doubles Down on Covert Operations

Fri, 04/02/2021 - 9:45pm


A commentary on role of covert operations in the UK's recent integrated defense review


"Two weeks ago, the British government published its most significant review of defense, security, and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. It will likely usher in a new era of British covert interventionism.

The 114-page integrated review, titled “Global Britain in a Competitive Age,” emphasizes “Global Britain,” a slogan coined by the governing Conservative Party in the aftermath of the country’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016. The review highlights that the British government wants to maintain global influence, including by tilting toward the geographically distant Indo-Pacific region. At the same time, however, Britain perennially lacks the capabilities sufficient to meet its ambitions—and even more so now given the damage Covid-19 has done to the British economy.

In an attempt to reconcile global ambitions with limited means, the review, together with an accompanying Defence Command Paper, emphasizes secret intelligence, special operations forces, and offensive cyber capabilities. They will be used to disrupt, deter, deny, and degrade Britain’s adversaries. All are tools of force multiplication; the power of the hidden hand will allow Britain to do more with less."

Treading Softly: Winning the Peace in the Human Domain

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 1:11pm
What if you never had to go to war because your strategy in peace was so effective that the carnage of a future war could be avoided? In other words, are we in the UK, right now, maximising our strategy in peacetime? Much of this rests on our understanding of Soft Power, but Soft Power seems to be treading so softly in any of the current defence and security debates that it is virtually absent.

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The UK Should Learn from the Transgressions of Australian Special Forces

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 12:21am
This summer, Australian Special Forces have been accused of War Crimes that have caused wide-spread outrage. However, although the accusations echo eerily close to those previously raised against British Special Forces, the responses of the two nations could not be more disparate.

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Preventing or Promoting Radicalization? - A Critical Analysis of the United Kingdom’s Newest Prevent Strategy

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 12:20am
The rise of terror attacks across the United Kingdom (UK) has been a harsh wake up call for the nation to re-evaluate its strategy for countering terrorism, known as CONTEST. Its first version was produced in 2003, with updated revisions in 2009 and 2011. Since 2011, the UK has suffered seven deadly terror attacks stemming from both far right wing and Islamic inspired extremism.

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