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People, Culture and Ethics (Spotlight Brief 1/ 21)

16 March 2021
Spotlight Brief
Strategic Analysis
People, Culture and Ethics

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.

Further reading:

‘Women, Peace, and Security: Is DOD Turning a Human Rights Corner?’, Just Security, 17 Feb 21

‘Making Gender in Armed Conflict Operationally Relevant’, International Law Observer, 20 Jan 21

‘The new war on women: Weaponising online spaces’, Broad Agenda, 29 Oct 20

‘Insecurity, gender and violent extremism in the era of Covid-19’, Monash University, 25 Jun 20

‘Understanding the Women, Peace and Security agenda’, The Forge, 09 Apr 20

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.

Further reading:

‘The Case Against Killer Robots’, The Oxford Student, 03 Jan 21

‘Opening a Conversation About Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS)’, Motive, 15 Dec 20

‘Should AI-Powered Autonomous Weapons Be Regulated?’, Analytics India, 14 Dec 20

‘Robots aren’t better soldiers than humans ‘, Boston Globe, 26 Oct 20

‘New Weapons, Proven Precedent’, Human Rights Watch, 20 Oct 20

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.

Further reading:

‘The Ethics of the Kill Decision: Should Humans Always be in the Loop?’, The Cypher Brief, 07 Feb 21

‘Drone Swarms Are Getting Too Fast For Humans To Fight, U.S. General Warns’, Forbes, 27 Jan 21

‘Ethical Control of Unmanned Systems’, Naval Postgraduate School, 18 Jan 21

‘What if autonomous weapons are more ethical than humans?’, Extra Newsfeed, 30 Dec 20

‘Putin Urges AI Limits — But for Thee, Not Me?’, Defense One, 03 Dec 20

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.

Further reading:

‘Women in preventing and countering violent extremism’, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 02 Feb 21

‘A global effort to counter extremism through education’, Brookings, 25 Jan 21

‘New Indonesian law empowers communities against extremism, but some fret about rights’, The Straits Times, 19 Jan 21

‘From COVID to the Caliphate: A Look at Violent Extremism Heading into 2021’, United States Institute of Peace, 15 Dec 20

‘Countering the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes’, Organization for Security and Co- operation in Europe, 2020

Detecting the need for change: How the British Army adapted to warfare on the Western Front and in the Southern Cameroons

Source: European Journal of International Security – November 2020

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.

Further reading:

‘Application of Innovation, Risk Tolerance, Opportunism and Leading through and beyond failure within the Australian Army’, Centre for Australian Army Leadership, 19 Feb 21

‘How 'Small C' Change Can Beat Large-Scale Rebuilding’, Harvard Business School, 13 Jan 21

‘Why Do 75% of Change Management Programs Fail?’, locomote, Jan 21

‘Bringing the Army to innovation’, War on the Rocks, 24 Dec 20

‘America’s military needs an innovation overhaul’, Fast Company, 08 Dec 20

Captains of War: History in Professional Military Education

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.

Further reading:

‘American Universities Declare War on Military History’, Bloomberg, 31 Jan 21

‘Decolonising Professional Military Education’, Wavell Room, 09 Jan 21

‘Does India's Professional Military Education Need a Course Correction?’, Mission Victory India, 23 Dec 20

‘Embedding Creativity in Professional Military Education: Understanding Creativity and Its Implementation’, Strategy Bridge, 10 Aug 20

‘Professional military education needs more creativity, not more history’, War on the Rocks, 28 May 20

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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