RUSI Land Warfare Conference – Day 1

As some may know, I spent today at RUSI’s Land Warfare conference in London. The below is an article I originally wrote for the UK Defence Journal, and is an accumulation of the notes I took throughout the day. Such was the keen nature of my note taking, I was mistaken for a journalist at one point; not sure if that is a good or bad thing…..

Major General Chris Tickell today discussed the future of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warfare. At the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Land Warfare Conference in London, he stated that he was “enthused” by the opportunity it’s use presented to the British Army.

EMP is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. It is unclear the form it would be delivered via, although the US Army are currently developingan artillery shell equipped with EMP.

Its attraction is simple: it has the capacity to a render useless a wide range of electronics, critical infrastructure, and computer-based systems. It can cripple the electronic infrastructure of a target without directly causing human harm or suffering.

A DJI drone drone used by Da’esh – a form of warfare enabled by connectivity.

Whilst most believe its development to currently be in the preliminary stages, the first nation to develop such a capability will be at a huge advantage. Major General Tickell stated at RUSI “the first Army to use EMP on the battlefield will change the way counter-mobility is achieved. I am enthused to see this capability on the cusp of entry into service.”

Also at RUSI today, General Mark Carleton-Smith made his first public appearance, stating that the conference, with representatives from 43 nations present “sends a message to our potential adversaries”. In a brief assessment of warfare in 2018, he argued that the distinctions between overt and covert, real and virtual, are becoming increasingly blurred and are “one and the same”.

He also made a simple observance: wars start when enemies think they can win. This appeared to give some direction as to his strategy as CGS: ensure adversaries know they will be beaten.

William Hague, the former foreign secretary, in one of a number of discussions on cyber warfare throughout the day, argued the need for an “Article 5b” for NATO, to account for cyber aggression.  Soon after, Dr Philippa Malmgren, an American policy analyst, spoke to the audience on AI and its capability to determine emotion. She argued that this could be used by adversaries to detect emotional fragility in troops, as well as a highly effective lie detector.

Tomorrow will be a very different day, with the Chief of the General Staff outlining his army strategy, as well as discussion on how land force training must evolve in the future. For live commentary, feel free to follow @hthjones on Twitter.

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