RUSI in the News - February 2010

Citations of RUSI experts, analysis and events in the global media from February 2010

Pakistan draws line with Afghan Taliban

The arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghanistan Taliban's number two commander, has been hailed as a significant blow to the insurgents. The hope is that this will mark a shift in strategy by the Pakistan security services, Director of RUSI, Professor Michael Clarke, 'the Pakistani government have realized that the Taliban is too much of a threat to them, they've decided they've got to draw some red lines for both Pakistani and Afghanistan Taliban'.

Coverage: The Sun, Associated Press, Radio 4 Today Programme, Winston-Salem Journal, Star-Telegram

Battle for hearts and minds

The launch of Operation Moshtarak is seen as the 'first big test' of General McChrystal's and President Obama's new Afghan strategy. Having committed 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan Michael Clarke believes the latest offensive is a 'must-win' campaign for the Coalition. RUSI's Malcolm Chalmers notes that this is a 'psychological battle', 'the Taleban want to attack the will of the United States and its allies, the will of the Afghan government and seek to persuade them that they can't win, just as NATO is seeking to persuade the Taliban that the Taliban can't win'.

The true test will not only be in military terms, but in civilian terms. Will Afghan administrators and security forces be capable of consolidating the military gains, 'how expensive will the operation turn out to be in civilian casualties' and how will it be judged by Western electorates, particularly in those nations with upcoming elections?

To read Michael Clarke's analysis of Operation Moshtarak, click here.

Coverage: Channel 4 news, BBC News online, London Evening Standard, Voice of America

Falkland dispute

There has been a rise in tension between the UK and Argentina in an ongoing dispute over oil drilling off the Falkland Islands. Comparisons with 1982 have been frequently made, Michael Codner, Director of Military Sciences at RUSI, who saw 'action' with the Royal Navy during the Falklands conflict, believes that this time an invasion is 'unlikely'. 'Argentina does not have a substantial naval capability', stated Codner, 'they may, however, feel able to carry out some kind of constabulary operation, say warships preventing oil vessels from operating. You could then have an incident at sea'.

Coverage: The Scotsman

Defence firms looking abroad

With the global recession leading many European governments to cut back on their defence spending, 'several firms, from BAE to Babcock to QinetiQ, Finmeccanica and Thales, are developing their footprint in the U.S., as they see it as the most viable market going forward', commented Dr Lee Willett, Head of Maritime Studies at RUSI. The success of Isotta Fraschini, an Italian diesel engine-maker, in securing contracts to supply the US military, Willett believes 'shows the U.S. market has openings, despite reports of protectionism'.

Coverage: Defence News

The future of UK defence

The upcoming Strategic Defence Review (SDR) has raised a debate on where the Government should make necessary cuts to the defence budget. General Sir Richard Dannatt, former chief of the General Staff, has stated that the Government is right to continue the Trident nuclear deterrent, though he warns that the position needs to be closely evaluated as global circumstances change. Ian Kearns, RUSI senior fellow, agreed, 'General Dannatt's comments are potentially significant because they recognise that we are at a moment of strategic flux'. He continued, 'What the UK should do is give itself the maximum amount of time and flexibility to judge the situation before it sinks billions into the submarine contracts for Trident'.

Besides Trident another area of UK military expenditure being questioned is the acquisition of two Queen-Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. Dr Lee Willett told ISN Security Watch 'The aircraft carrier issue is a classic case of where too much emphasis is placed on price and not enough on value'. He argued that 'the opportunity cost may be high, but [is essential if the UK] wants to have the ability to demonstrate its will and capability to engage on a global scale'.

For more RUSI analysis on the Future Defence Review, click here

Coverage: Financial Times, ISN

Intelligence Oversight

Following the court's ruling in the Binyam Mohamed case Garry Hindle, Head of Security and Counterterrorism at RUSI, argues that the ISC is failing in its role of overseeing the intelligence agencies. He sees a two-fold problem with the current system; the ISC being constituted of 'insiders' chosen by the Prime Minister and its capabilities being limited by a lack of resources.

For more analysis on oversight of Intelligence, click here

Coverage: The World Tonight

UK border security

At a conference on border security hosted by RUSI, Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, the Shadow Security Minister, accused the Government of misleading the public of preventative measures brought in after the failed Christmas Day bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Ahead of the General Election, the Baroness stated that Government policies are a quick fix that will leave gaps in terrorist watch lists.

Coverage: The Daily Telegraph

In praise of RUSI

In a recent interview Chief Inspector Richard Varley of Scotland Yard's Counter-Terrorism Command, praised RUSI for 'a very good article written by a Saudi specialist on this topic in the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute in December'. He enthused that RUSI 'have done some good scholarly work and have challenged the ideas of the radicalised people using proper scholars who have brought them back onto the straight path. I have been impressed with what I have seen'.

Coverage: Asharq Alawsat


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