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The Great Libyan Gold Rush

With the official bilateral visit of UK Defence Minister Philip Hammond to Libya last week, there comes the news of the “reborn” nation finally opening up its defence coffers with reports of a $4.7 billion budget approval designed specifically to modernise the rusting armed forces, following decades of underfunding and the overthrow of a paranoid regime.

While the British defence industry is certainly on the books to help begin the rebuilding of air defence infrastructure taken out by NATO two years ago, other nations are also being consulted on delivering rapid upgrades to Libyan forces during this time of vulnerability. Defence IQ confirmed with the Libyan Air Force that consultations with Russia and Italy are underway to provide new trainer aircraft. Meanwhile, the fleet of Libyan C-130s that have been embargoed in the US for over 40 years are finally being discussed, but the Libyans are veering away from the offer to trade them in for a C-130J replacement.

Those involved in air systems would do well to keep their ears open as other ministers book flights to the Middle East over the coming months. A country that once commanded one of the biggest forces in the region wants to return to its old glory, and unlike many nations across the world today with similar dreams, Libya has the resources to make it happen.

Read more on this development.

Interested in the integration of modern military air weapons and systems? Network with decision-makers in London this May at Air Integration 2013.


Margaret Thatcher dies. Falklands legacy unassailable


Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister from 1979 – 1990, passed away on Monday morning leaving behind a legacy few others could equal. A divisive figure and political enigma, the first woman Prime Minister will be revered by many as the Iron Lady who protected British sovereignty on the Falkland Islands in 1982.

She sent 27,000 men and over 100 ships to the remote islands near the Argentinian coast. Following the successful defence of the islands some weeks later, she said:

“What the Falklands proved was that we could still do it, and do it superbly. There was a feeling of colossal pride, of relief, that we could still do the things for which we were renowned. And that feeling will stay with us for a very long time.”

Despite brash calls from Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández over the last 12 months for the islands to fall under her government’s control, the Falklands are, and will remain, British. Last month a referendum was held with 99.8% of islanders voting to preserve the status quo under British rule.

Even as a reluctant foreign policy premier, Thatcher’s alliance with U.S. President Ronald Reagan also provided a united front in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The Iron Curtain eventually fell in 1991, 13 months after the Iron Lady resigned from office following a leadership challenge from Michael Heseltine.

Love or loathe, respect or revile; Thatcher deserves to be recognised as a true giant of British politics and an icon of 20thcentury independence. She was a heck of a character; a pioneer, a visionary and fearless antagonist. A grocer’s daughter.

Margaret Thatcher the person will not be forgotten. Nor should the democratic, sovereign values she stood for in the Falklands be.

That feeling Thatcher talked about is still with us. But only just.

‘ARGO’: The other side of the story


Despite the latest cinematic adventure celebrating a successful joint personnel recovery operation thanks to the collaborative work of Canadian and U.S. agencies, we must not forget the far less successful endeavour to rescue others during this time.

In this article, James P. Farwell explores the long-term impact of Operation Eagle Claw, the aborted personnel recovery effort that cost lives and careers, including that of President Jimmy Carter. Could a single question that went unasked have turned this tragic story into a Ben Affleck worthy sequel?

Decades may have passed since this misstep, but personnel recovery remains a burning issue today with recent experiences in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa demonstrating the importance of effective planning.

As such, many in the global personnel recovery field will be gathering in London for the annual Joint Personnel Recovery conference this May, where topics of discussion will range from training operators in isolated situations and developing the capability to rescue military and non-military alike from behind enemy lines.

For more information on how to be a part of this important conference, visit


Iran “not responsible” for Shamoon malware


Following recent indications that the Shamoon virus (aka Disstrack) that targeted and disrupted about 30,000 Saudi Aramco workstations last year was “worse than originally believed”, new information has been dropped onto the desk at Defence IQ.

John Bumgarner, Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, has forwarded a summary report on the Unit’s research findings that suggest a more likely source to be an extremist Islamist group based in Saudi Arabia – or at the least, not an Iranian hacker, as initially suspected.

While the findings are still circumstantial and could of course have been designed to throw forensic analysts off the scent, the evidence at hand is compelling.

The report was initially circulated at the end of last year to a number of government agencies but has been made public for the first time to Defence IQ, entitled Decapitating Saudi Aramco with the Sword of Justice.

Bumgarner will be speaking at the annual Cyber Defence & Network Security (CDANS) conference in London next week, where a number of senior government and military personnel will be joining commercial solution providers, academia and others to discuss faster progress in this field.

Find out how to attend here.


Join Senior Military Representatives and Industry Heads at Airborne Early Warning

Press Release:

Defence IQ, London UK 15/01/2013

Senior military decision makers and industry heads will be gathering in Paris at the end of the month to discuss how operating environments are shaping new platform and upgrade requirements for both emerging and established military powers within the airborne early warning and battle management environment.

Defence IQ’s 12th annual Airborne Early Warning & Battle Management conference is widely regarded as the most well respected and independent forum targeted at the AEW&BM community. Each year provides the top military speakers, cutting edge themes and industry solution developments. This year’s agenda is no different and is available at

Ahead of the conference, programme leaders from the US Navy and Northrop Grumman Corporation have detailed the progress on the E-2D Hawkeye in an exclusive interview ahead of the company’s involvement in Paris. Listen to the full interview with Bart LaGrone, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems vice president for the Airborne Early Warning and Battle Management Command and Control (AEW/BMC2) programmes, and the new USN programme manager for the E-2D, Captain John “Chet” Lemmon at

See who you could meet at Airborne Early Warning & Battle Management by viewing the 2013 delegate list, which is available to download now from the event website.

Notes to editors:

If you would like to attend Airborne Early Warning as press, please get in touch with Samantha Tanner at

Airborne Early Warning & Battle Management 2013 is sponsored by Northrop Grumman and Saab.

About Defence IQ:

Defence IQ is an authoritative news source for high quality and exclusive commentary and analysis on global defence and military-related topics. You can join the 65,000-strong community now for free:

Information Security Threats – Round Up From The 5th Hemispheric Security and Intelligence Forum

By Alex Stephenson, Defence IQ’s man in Brazil

What breaks a company is lack of money, not lack of management or leadership. The same applies to criminal gangs. Imprisoning individuals is almost completely ineffective compared to denying a criminal organisation the proceeds of their activity. Concerning narcotics, one method is to interdict air, sea and land cargoes of substances – an alternative is to prevent the flow of the financial incentive in the other direction. No one sells a product if they cannot receive payment. A complete approach to narcotics includes both these elements.

But, there is a crime more profitable than narcotics. The sale of unknown vulnerabilities in computer software to criminal organisations who can exploit these weaknesses either to cause damage or steal intellectual property. So significant is this threat that it was contextualised as the threat of the modern era, paralleled by the nuclear threat of the cold war. A cyber threat to remain potent needs to remain unknown and then deliver chaos. An explicit parallel to the Hiroshima bomb; a capability unknown until it was deployed was drawn.

Linking both cyber security threats and counter narcotic threats I understood there to be three key takeaways:

  • These are evolving risks, much like a game of chess they require continual attention, calculation and execution.
  • Simplistically there are two approaches that can be used in tandem; tackling the problem and tackling the incentive – money makes the world go round
  • Finally, the importance of sharing information, helping partners and collaborating.

This last point is perhaps the most important. Too often perhaps there is a concern about sharing information about a problem. Perhaps this is because there is a national sensitivity around admitting there is a problem. However, if it is happening on your patch it is probably happening on your neighbour’s and by working together the intelligence picture becomes more complete and hopefully solutions begin to appear.

It is a great privilege for me to be able to attend this conference by kind invitation of USSOUTHCOM and the Brazilian Ministry of Defence. Later during this weeklong conference I will be delivering two presentations, one to the Caribbean Regional Intelligence Conference and one to the Central American Regional Intelligence Conference. The subject of this presentation will be the Caribbean Basin Coastal Surveillance and Maritime Security Summit 2013.

Strategic Briefing: The ‘Pivot’ to Paradise

By Yousuf Malik, Defence IQ

This summer we saw a succession of maritime disputes involving China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines over a few scattered uninhabited rocks in the South and East China Sea. On the surface these little rocks have little to offer, but whoever controls sovereignty over these rocks also controls a 200 mile radius exclusive economic zone. The reason for all this hostility, experts say, is vast reserves of oil in those waters.

cabsec picture 1More than 10,000 miles east of the South China Sea or 18 hours non-stop by plane lies the Caribbean Basin. Think Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and what comes to mind is idyllic white sandy beaches, cocktails and time spent doing as little as possible. What almost no one knows is that this sleepy part of the world is about to receive a lot of attention from the United States, Canada, the European Union and an increasingly powerful Brazil, not to mention, China which has been quietly buying influence in the region. Analysts say it’s because of oil. This doesn’t sound as far-fetched as we know there is oil in the Gulf of Mexico (remember the BP oil spill?) and vast reserves just off the coast of Venezuela. Oil has replaced tourism as the largest contributor of GDP in nearby Trinidad & Tobago. Brazil, further down south, has huge oil reserves rivalling the Middle East about which Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, remarked that this just proves that “God is Brazilian”.

If you’re in the business of surveillance, whether it’s fixed wing, rotary or coastal sensors, AIS based maritimecabsec picture 2 information systems, secure data and communication networks that can pull and push information from US, NATO and Latin American sources. Or interdiction through fast patrol craft, small OPVs, etc. – or maritime security in general – there is there is a bonanza coming up in the 24 nations that comprise the Caribbean Basin. As there is no regional consensus on how to approach common surveillance and security problems, there are also opportunities for companies that can provide related advice, counsel and training. The ‘pivot’ to paradise has just begun.

There are other reasons for this. The Panama Canal is about to undergo an unprecedented expansion that will double its capacity allowing for a huge increase in sea trade that passes through the Americas spelling a massive increase in trans-shipments. In the backdrop of increased sea trade, and heightened pressure on the powerful criminal networks of the drug trade, they could lash out in revenge and could be disruptive and so must be controlled.  This is why senior military experts, heads of navies and coast guards, ambassadors from the United States and the European Union are meeting in Curaçao from the 12th to 14th of March 2013 at Defence IQ’s CABSEC 2013 summit.

The event is focused on the coastal surveillance and Counter-Narcotics and Illicit Trafficking (CNIT) requirements of the Caribbean Basin and features a Focus Day on counter-narcotics. There is also a visit to the nerve centre at Parera Naval Base where information from the a vast surveillance network is monitored and disseminated, and a world-class 2-day conference that will enable you to get to know the decision-makers and influencers in the region while getting current with the geography and relationships in preparation for upcoming requirements.

If you’re interested in attending, you can download the agenda here

If being a sponsor or exhibitor is more up your street, you can send us an email at

Is Directed Energy Destined to Remain in the Realms of Fantasy?

By Mark Eastwood, Defence IQ

Earlier this week, during the monotonous morning tube journey into work which every Londoner dreads, I noticed that the man stood in front of me was reading a Military-based novel on his e-book reader. Glancing at the screen, I saw that the plot of the novel seemed to revolve around the debate over whether the United States should turn to non-lethal Directed Energy weapons in the face of some shadowy unknown enemy of the State for whom traditional ballistic weaponry had, seemingly, no effect. The protagonist made explicit reference to the Active Denial System (ADS) and seemed to be the only one arguing that this non-lethal directed energy weapon should be used.  Just as the man reading the book departed the train, I noticed that the main character was musing about the difference which would come with the inauguration of the first Female President; surely she, with all her clichéd maternal inclination, would see the benefits of using the non-lethal weapon. This led me to think about that very question – is a change of leadership mentality all that is needed to move Directed Energy Weapons into operation?

The answer is, of course, not simply that black-and-white. But, having looked at the history of Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) over the past decade, I would argue that until a significant change in the mind-set of policymakers occurs, Directed Energy Weapons will never see the light of day, regardless of how many technical problems are overcome.

Directed Energy Weapons have been in development, in one form or another, since Regan’s ill-fated Strategic Defence Initiative, or as it more infamously became known, Star Wars. Whilst the modern DEW has developed a long way since that system, the principles remain the same – harnessing energy, either a laser-beam or High Powered Microwave, and projecting it onto an object to render some kind of effect.

Early Directed Energy Systems were so fraught with technical issues that they remained firmly in the realms of scientists, and some of the more imaginative Sci-Fi writers, but over the past decade, technological advancements have made Directed Energy Systems much more feasible. Whilst military-grade Directed Energy weapons are still faced with problems over power, heat capacity and size, many would argue that once these issues are overcome, the world’s military will open their arms to these systems; marking a significant shift in the weaponry we see on the modern battlefield. And, whilst this may indeed be the case, I would argue that it is in fact highly unlikely.

The reason for this takes me back to the original point I made: Directed Energy Systems will not see the light of day until an organisational and governmental mind-set change is achieved. As discussed above, some would have us believe that this is not the case and that technical restrictions are the real inhibiting factor for Directed Energy. For such arguments, there is one significant piece of evidence which undermines their argument – The Active Denial System.

Mentioned in the Tube passenger’s book, the ADS is a system designed for area denial and crowd control. By emitting high powered microwaves, it is designed to heat a person’s skin to an unbearable level so that they have to flee from its range, but without being injured. The safety of the device when used against humans has been tested thousands of times, all yielding no unpleasant results. Indeed, so successful did the device prove in testing, that it was sent to Afghanistan for use by the US Military. Yet, for all the positives associated with the system, it was not used in Afghanistan and was quickly withdrawn. The reason for this? The policy makers and high-ranking military officials were worried about the bad-press using this system would generate. Stories of the US using “Death-Rays” against the Taliban and civilians in Afghanistan posed too much of a PR headache for the US and so the system, which had proved time and time again to cause no harm, was withdrawn.

Now, one might argue that this was a sensible decision given the bad press the US already received in Afghanistan. However, this doesn’t alter the fact that the current mind-set surrounding Directed Energy led to its withdrawal. Efforts to re-invent the ADS after this set-back led to it being introduced into an LA jail, as a method of riot control. However, one of the lead scientists involved in the project, told me that the project was pulled, “at the eleventh hour due to concerns from federal government over how the system might be interpreted”. Yet again, the mind-set of the political leadership, fuelled by death-ray science-fiction of the past, led to the withdrawal of the system before it was even used.

I find it hard to believe that this mind-set has changed so much in the past 12 months that any Directed Energy System which became viable now would be accepted immediately. In fact I believe that until Directed Energy can get away from its current associations, it is destined to remain stuck in the laboratory and the pages of fictional novels.

The future of Directed Energy Systems, both at a technical and a policy level will be discussed in-depth at Defence IQ’s Directed Energy Systems 2013 Conference. For more information, and to learn what the experts believe the future holds for Directed Energy, view the full agenda here.

An armoured vehicles news update…

Contributed by Kim Vigilia, Defence IQ

In recent news, the British Army has announced an order for 51 additional Foxhound Vehicles and Lockheed Martin has provided an update on the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle upgrade for improved lethality systems. Given these headlines, it’s clear that priorities for many western military nations are not only to provide necessary mine and blast protection for soldiers in Afghanistan, but also to ‘future-proof’ these vehicles up until 2040.

However, defeating the IED threat and securing future survivability are just two of the main issues facing land defence leaders. There are also challenges within situational awareness and communication enhancements, weapon station integration and the balancing act of creating the ‘perfect’ environment for simulating armour and mechanised training. Add to that the basic foundation and maintenance of supply chains and other processes to remain efficient and effective… the list goes on.

Taking these issues into account, the International Armoured Vehicles show (IAVs) has a programme which is designed to reflect these challenges and offers a platform on which senior leaders in land defence can discuss, debate and swap ideas on the potential solutions and where they foresee the future of armoured vehicles. Lieutenant General Jonathan Page, Commander FDT and Major General Andrew Sharpe, DG DCDC from the UK Ministry of Defence will lead sessions at IAVs where Foxhound and Warrior are sure to be key talking points.

Defeating the IED threat, once and for all?

According to the press release published by General Dynamics in regards to the Foxhound Vehicle order, “The value of the award is approximately $73.6 million, or £46 million.”  In light of the drawback from Afghanistan, that’s still quite a significant investment for a light weight vehicle which specifically features countering IED capabilities, confirming the fact that C-IEDs is still one of the most critical challenges for militaries to overcome.

IAVs has a dedicated pre-conference day to focus on Countering IEDs to complement the main conference plenary sessions at IAVs, which features a panel discussion with Commander Abdulrazaq Olapeju Kazeem, Commander of the Nigerian Army’s Headquarters Bomb Disposal Squadron as well as Major General Ruben Dario Alzate Mora, the Head of Land – Materiel & Commander of the 1st Army for the Colombian Army and Robert Shaw, Head of C-IED Training for NATO ISAF.  The panel will be posed questions from the audience focusing on whether the future of C-IED efforts will be non-expeditionary.

With the Nigerian Army looking to acquire Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) All-Terrain vehicles to advance its strategy in defeating home-grown terrorism, the resulting conversation from the panel discussion should prove interesting to military peers and potential industry partners.

“IED incidents in Nigeria have been quite serious and challenging, however, because of proactive and pre-emptive measures put in place by the Nigerian Government and Security Forces, the threat is receding,” Kazeem told Defence IQ, citing the reduction in frequency of both attacks and casualties. “The Nigerian Army Bomb Disposal is tackling the rising IED incidents by employing global best practices in locating, rendering safe and disposal of IEDs.”

What does the future battle space look like and how can we ‘future-proof’ armoured vehicles?

Deemed as the British Army’s “key priority,” the £1 billion Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) is one of the largest and most significant projects being pushed through the MoD as it seeks to upgrade and refit the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle with improved lethality systems and an electronic architecture that will future-proof it until 2040.

So what does this armoured vehicle of the future look like? Brigadier General Andrew G. Hughes, Director of Combat Capability at the UK Ministry of Defence, will open IAVs with a keynote speech, “Showcasing the Work of Combat Capability in the Content of the Army 2020 Strategy: Future Armour and Protected Mobility Requirements” – so we might find out then!

If you’d like to find out more about the International Armoured Vehicles 2013 event please click here.

What does it take to become a maritime security expert?

Guest post for Defence IQ by Fred Burns

Maritime security is a fascinating, and sometimes dangerous field that requires specific training and licensing. It will require you to become trained in preventing sabotage or subversion, and in identifying terrorist threats that might threaten the security of the individuals or shipments you are protecting. As a Maritime Security Officer, you’ll deal in insuring security in port, onboard, and for personnel and facilities.


Quite a lot of maritime security companies will only recruit ex British Royal Marines or Royal Navy that possess past ship service and specific anti piracy experience. But in the event that you become trained via a professional organisation the training for becoming an MSO is varied and fascinating. You will learn personal survival techniques. This will be both for survival in hostile natural environments and in connection with hostile personnel as well.

You’ll also learn basic firefighting. This will be crucial onboard ships and in dock. You will not only be responsible for assuring the safety of the ship, but of the crew as well. Therefore, you’ll be trained in personal safety.

Social responsibilities are crucial for the MSO, as you will be exposed to the public in many instances and will need to know how to conduct yourself as a security officer, but to recognize threats as well.

You will become proficient in handling different weapons. This includes hand held weapons such as various pistols and knives, but in heavier machinery such as the AK47.

A MSO will need to be able to administer first aid in a hostile atmosphere, and to assess the need for oxygen and defib.

You will be certified in radio communications and in radar, as well, and will receive certification in risk management.


Members of your group will turn to you is crisis that include medical emergencies. Therefore, your ability to administer front line first aid will be crucial. The main purpose of first aid is to prevent death or further injury. As the MSO, you will evaluate situations requiring medical first aid, administering CPR, stopping bleeding, and hooking up oxygen for those who need it. You will learn how to help a person who is being asphyxiated, or who is going into shock. You’ll also learn how to relieve pain. In most of the situations in which you’ll find yourself, there will probably be a medic onboard. However, it is crucial that you are trained to assure the health and survival of those to whom you have committed to protect.

Another level of medical certification is the Hostile/Hazardous Environment Medic. This is a more advanced certification that will train you in the handling or moving of an injured person, along with basic life support. You will learn how to use suction, extricating trapped persons, and field treatment in such trauma as burns, heart attack, and fracture. You’ll learn cannulation, cricothyrotomy, and chest decompression.


You will first be trained to use the Browning long-trac rifle and Glock. Aiming techniques such as breath and trigger control will be taught as well as firing from different positions such as standing, prone, shooting from cover, and kneeling. Your experience in small arms will aid you in your job as an MSO.


Fred Burns has been working in the defense industry for many years. He currently works for a company that supply access to training courses and jobs in security in the UK.

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