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The Remote Warfare Programme is a project of the Network for Social Change hosted by Oxford Research Group. We are a small research and policy team based in London analysing changes in military engagement, with a focus on remote warfare: the recent shift away from boots on the ground deployments towards light-footprint Western military interventions abroad.

The aims of the Remote Warfare Programme are to explore the real effects of remote warfare, to raise public awareness and to facilitate debate amongst policy makers about the key issues involved. Ultimately, the project aspires to help effect positive policy change and promote alternatives to covert military intervention that will improve prospects for long-term security.

What is remote warfare?

The last decade has seen significant developments in military technology and a rapid rethinking of military approaches to future threats. One dominant idea among Western powers is countering threats at a distance without the deployment of large military forces: remote warfare.

This includes a heavy reliance on drones (both reconnaissance and armed variants) and a marked increase in the use of special operations forces (SOF) and private military and security companies (PMSCs). This trend is paralleled by an increase in train and assist activities with local troops, who now find themselves at the frontlines of the war on terror in places like Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

The origins of remote warfare can be traced politically to a lack of popular support for large boots on the ground operations following the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with major developments in military technology, in particular the development of armed drones in the last decade.

How do we work?

We both commission and conduct in-house research that focusses on the effectiveness, consequences and costs of remote warfare. We focus on areas where remote warfare is currently being used – which predominantly means analysing counter-terror efforts across the Middle East and North Africa, the Sahel-Sahara, and Central Asia.

We also bring together those looking at different aspects of these new military trends, acting as a facilitator for the exchange of information and supporting work that is being undertaken in the area. We use our research and our outreach to generate evidence-based policy recommendations that promote more effective, accountable, and sustainable approaches to defence and security.

Background & Network for Social Change

The Remote Warfare Programme is a project of the Network for Social Change. The Network for Social Change is a group of individuals providing funding for progressive social change, particularly in the areas of justice, peace and the environment. Together they give around £1M per year to a variety of projects and organisations.

Originally the Remote Control Project, the programme was launched as a pilot project of the Network for Social Change in January 2013 and was rolled out as a full scale project In November 2013. It was renamed the Remote Warfare Programme in January 2018 ad became an Oxford Research group programme.

Oxford Research Group

The Remote Control Programme is part of the Oxford Research Group (ORG).

The Oxford Research Group (ORG) is a leading independent think-tank working to promote more sustainable approaches to security as an alternative to violent confrontation through research, dialogue and policy recommendations.