People, Culture and Ethics (Spotlight Brief 1/ 21)
Moving from Gender Analysis to Risk Analysis of Failing to Consider Gender
Source: The RUSI Journal
The Australian Defence Force is a world leader in integrating the aims of UNSCR 1325, with it being a critical part of training and operations. Despite some success, we must continue to build on and improve the gender planning considerations within our planning processes. Because in wars fought within and ultimately for the support of civilian populations, the gender dimension is a vital one. The article proposes the needs to develop a dedicated operational level risk assessment relating to gender, affording commanders the ability to include risk mitigation actions earlier within their appreciation process.
The Problem with Killer Robots
Source: Journal of Military Ethics – Dec 20
Autonomy is an increasing part of the ADF. Our new reality is we will be working with and against autonomous systems capable of lethal force in the near future. There remain significant ethical arguments and challenges surrounding these systems. In this article, Nathan Gabriel Wood discusses many of them, arguing there are serious questions about lethal autonomous weapons violating the principle of necessity. While not arguing against autonomous weapons in general, Wood does raise points for consideration in determining Australia’s course of action in introducing such capabilities. If Australia invests in lethal autonomous systems it is imperative we have understood and addressed the ethical concerns that may arise.
Good Practice for the Development of Autonomous Weapons
Source: The RUSI Journal – Jan 21
Despite ethical concerns and legal questions about the use of autonomous weapons, there are possible ways of integrating mitigating factors into such weapons from the design phase onwards. This goes beyond the normal military considerations about ethical action (we do not concern ourselves with how children are raised today, despite being our future recruiting pool), but may be needed to provide a level of reassurance to the Australian population to allow full use of such weapons. In contrast to recent acquisition trends toward lower risk with ‘off the shelf’ solutions, this will require involvement at the pre-design stage of weapons systems, demanding in turn changes to our procurement processes and associated risk acceptance. Here Tony Gillespie develops and suggests possible interjection points, as well as processes by which we can utilise autonomous weapons once in service.
Countering Violent Extremism in Indonesia: Using an Online Panel Survey to Assess a Social Media Counter-Messaging Campaign
Source: RAND Corporation – 2020
The increase in social media influence and penetration has brought significant opportunities and complications from a national security point of view. This report assesses the effects of countering violent extremism-themed social media content used in a campaign to promote tolerance, freedom of speech, and rejection of violence in Indonesia. With the continued high likelihood of extremist organisations operating within Australia and the Indo-Pacific region, having information warfare and cyber tools that aid in countering them is essential. This report suggests some opening steps toward developing and adopting such tools. Of interest in the case study provided is the tension between maintaining the secrecy of our capabilities and actions in the cyber/information worlds and the requirement to share with allies and partners, including non-military actors.
Detecting the need for change: How the British Army adapted to warfare on the Western Front and in the Southern Cameroons
We often utilise overarching theories describing why some militaries are successful at innovation and others are not. The authors propose taking a single step from business and economics literatures on organisational change, the art of detecting failure, as a heuristic to explore the introduction and optimisation of innovation. This can be challenging for those in the fight or immediately afterwards; here Michael Hunzeker and Kristen Harkness highlight the essentialness of institutionalised feedback loops and how they should be constructed. Historical cases of conventional and counter-insurgency efforts by the British Army are used to inform comparisons of results.
Source: The RUSI Journal – Dec 20
The Australian Army has made recent strides in improving its understanding, delivery, and support of professional military education (PME). Louis Halewood and David Morgan-Owen examine the role of history in PME in light of the recent US Joint Chiefs of Staff’s guidance on achieving ‘intellectual overmatch’. Halewood and Morgan-Owen argue a narrow approach to the past, underpinned by preconceived notions of ‘relevance’, undermines what ability history has to serve the aims of military education. History need not be ‘applied’ to make it valuable. Its study can provide a broader understanding of warfare – what Sir Michael Howard referred to as the important contexts of war which careful study of military history provides. With our increasing emphasis on the so-called ‘STEM’ side of PME, it is useful to remember that while STEM may suggest the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ , it is history that helps contextualise the ‘why’ of war.
The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.
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