Secure gatherings

In November 2009, the International Society of Military Sciences held its first annual conference on the theme of “Security in 2020 in a Multi Polar World”. The Society was established “to further research and academic education in military arts and sciences in the broadest sense”.

Here’s some ‘highlights’ from the conference:

  • Painless war: An illusory pipe-dream or a practice-based development? [Col. (ret.) Dr. Jan van Angeren (Netherlands Defence Academy]: There is a lot of attention from western media for the enemy’s pain (collateral damage, civilian casualties). Therefore, military forces are less inclined to inflict “pain” and more careful how to inflict it (e.g. precision bombardments etc.). There is a need for force in war, not only to defeat the enemy but to hurt (punish) him and to threaten him with. Because of the need of force in war and our disinclination to use it, our credibility to engage in coercive strategies is undermined.
  • Developing Future Counterinsurgency Doctrine [Dr. James Corum (Baltic Defense College)]: As a military we love “rapid, decisive operations,” yet there are no quick fixes in COIN and irregular warfare. Lead document: FM 3-24 – Strategic and Operational Requirements for COIN
  • Hybrid Wars (Leadership in contemporary armed forces) [Prof. Eyal Ben –Ari (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)]: Face of war/paradigm shift is cumulative/incremental. Changed context: Casualty aversion, Military humanitarianism, Media wars, Global Surveillance; Internal changes: Loose and temporary coalitions, ‘Hyphenated’ roles, Amalgamated organization, Privatization; Changed frameworks: Gender, Technology, Education, (Sex-Orientation); Challenges: Leaders as Center of Gravity, Career path (different influences) instead of Career Ladder
  • Surveillance systems with Multi-modal Sensors [Dr. Ir. Zhenke Yang (Delft University)]: Dr. Yang gave an interesting presentation about his promotion subject, which he had just finished. He studied the detection of aggression in trains by using camera’s and microphones. The goal was to decrease the human watch keeping, which is very expensive. He created a software model, which was able to detect aggression by only using these two sensors. When aggression was detected a watch keeper was informed. This application, although context sensitive, could be useful in military surroundings.
  • Self-Location of Sensors in Networks of Randomly Distributed Sensors [Ir. R.R. Hordijk (Netherlands Defence Academy)]: Mr. Hordijk gave an enthusiastic technical, presentation about his research. These days, sensors are getting so small that they could be thrown as a ‘cloud of smart dust’ in any location to gather information about this location (i.e. a conflict zone or an unknown area to measure temperature, pressure etc.). The problem he solved was how to find out the location of each sensor (or node). He created a model, using the ‘Hop-count-method’, to find out the distance to any node in the field.
  • Role of tissue simulants and their physical properties in the evaluation of non-lethal weapons [Dr. L. Koene (Netherlands Defence Academy)]: Dr. Koene gave a technical presentation about his research concerning mechanical non-lethal weapons. In his research he used ballistic gelatin as a tissue simulant for the human body.
  • Distinguishing extremism from terrorism: implications for social policy and military strategy [Shahzad Shafqat (University of Cambridge – UK)]: Words carry meaning; There is no exact definition for extremism; There are all kinds of extremisms (all kinds of extreme behavior): for example extreme ironing (just Google it…); Experiment result: the given background information determines whether extremism is seen as terrorism. The give background information shapes our response more than the act itself. So context is important; Without “threat” extremism isn’t terrorism
  • Perfect soldiers of the future: on chemical enhancement of the American military [Dr. Lukasz Kamienski (University of Krakow)]: Five area’s for future transformation of soldiers: (1) drugs (2) genetic engineering (3) cyber war soldier (4) robots (5) nanotechnology; Drugs for enhancing stamina of injured soldiers, against fatigue, suppressing battle stress, overcoming limitations of body and sleep-action regulation; Doping which are designed for sports (and can’t be used) are used by soldiers; Amphetamines (go-pills) for endurance for missions longer than 8 hours; Danger of genetic engineering; Genetic engineering will lead to redesigning human nature and therefore change nature of war. We are entering post-human era; It will lead to virtualization of war. Redesigned warriors will  become deadly machines; These solutions benefit tactics, not strategic thinking; Discussion: is a drug really that different from using a tool of weapon? Is both enhances our abilities to work, function or fight; Conclusion: chemical solutions are only temporarily effective. Let us keep it that way.

Soldiers on drugs? Surely it’ll never catch on…

Read the full proceedings here (word doc).

Airport Exchange 2009

All the usual suspects participated in the the 8th annual ACI EUROPE Security Summit on the theme of “Aviation Security – How Well Does It Work?“, which took place in November 2009. Looking at the list of speakers it’s tempting to pass comment on the recent “screw-up” (to use the words of Barrack Obama), but there’s absolutely nothing funny about the failed Christmas day airline bomb or its likely consequences. Well almost nothing…

The EU takes “cybercrime” very seriously. A three-day “High Tech Crime Experts Meeting” took place at EUROPOL HQ in the Hague (Netherlands) on 04 December 2009. “Subjects like cross-border operational info-exchange, cyber-crime case studies, new techniques in perpetrating digital attacks, new concepts in digital forensic analysis methods, future criminal trends, and training for law enforcement were all discussed during the event”.

The first day dealt with “strategic issues” and the establishment of the “‘European Cyber-Crime Platform” and EUROPOL’s efforts to tackle “criminal groups operating on the internet”. Day two concentrated on “the malicious use of internet technologies by criminal organisations and the action to be taken by EU law enforcement to tackle this phenomenon”. On the third day topics included the heinous crime of “illegal file sharing on the Internet”.

Of course it could. It could take every bit of ‘intelligence’ ever gathered from every police officer, intelligence agent and surveillance system in Europe and put it all together in one gigantic interconnected computer network. It could call it “interoperability”, or the “principle of availability”, and argue that things like “privacy”, “data protection” and the “presumption of innocence” are outdated concepts.

In the meantime, SDA organised a “roundtable” to ask the likes of Europol, Interpol, Hewlett Packard and the Research Institute for European and American Studies what they thought. You can read SDA’s report here.

According to the organisers, “the DGI 2010 Conference is Europe’s largest annual gathering dedicated to high-level discussion addressing the major challenges of the defence and government geospatial intelligence community. Bringing together Heads of Geospatial Intelligence, GIS, Remote Sensing, Operations, and Imagery and Analysis, the conference provides a unique forum to discuss and debate the development of geospatial intelligence capabilities across the globe”.

The conference takes place in London on 25-28 January 2010. Highlights include:

  • Operations – Hear case study presentations from military & national security GIS professionals, who will show you how they have used GIS in-theatre and operations world-wide. Find out best strategies and practical realities of supporting soldiers in-theatre with effective and timely GIS intelligence. Case studies from Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and many other hot-spots around the world will give you unique insight into the role of GIS in current warfare.
  • Olympics Focus – This year DGI 2010 will bring you a number of case studies from defence and government organizations responsible for GIS information and intelligence during the London 2012 Olympic Games. We are currently working with many GIS executives who have been involved in the Olympic games around the world, as well as with the London Olympic Games team.
  • National Security Focus – Interoperability between nations and organizations has become imperative. Your organization will be co-operating with many defence and national security organizations on many levels. This is why DGI 2010 is bringing you a range of national security case studies from around the world. Learn how police, ambulance, fire, transport & infrastructure services use GIS to make decisions, plan for large events and build plans for the future.

Click here to register for this event directly (you’ll need the best part of £4,000).

From the organisation that brought you harmonised EU standards for the interception of telecommunications…

20 – 22 January 2010, Sophia Antipolis, France: The annual ETSI Security Workshop will bring together international Standards Developing Organisations (SDOs) and security experts to discuss recent developments, share knowledge, identify gaps and co-ordinate on future actions and work areas.The workshop will include overviews of the work being done in the area of security across standards and technical bodies, along with presentations from major organisations involved in security initiatives.

ETSI is now calling for papers. Abstracts (not exceeding an A4 page) presentations should be sent to , together with the title of the presentation, name and coordinates of the presenter and the topic of reference as listed below by 9 October 2009. Presentations should have a focus on SECURITY INNOVATION . In particular ETSI welcomes papers on the practical implementations, and issues such as practical use of standards, the human factors and examples of insecurity.



The 5th EBF Seminar on Entry/Exit took place on 4 November 2009. Speakers included the European Commission (large-scale IT systems Unit, JLS) EC, Interpol, Frontex, US department of Homeland Security, EDPS, Sagem, Accenture, UK Home Office and EU JRC. Click here for the full agenda. Presentations (from EBF website):

  • Dr. Frank Paul EU Commission – Unit Large Scale Information Systems DG JLS presented on “European Entry-Exit: challenges and opportunities”  (Opening Keynote). Click here for Frank Paul’s presentation.
  • Mr. Ralph Markert, Assistant Director at Interpol spoke on “Global Security Initiatives”. Click here for Ralph Markert’s presentation
  • Ms. Monica Gariup, Research Officer at Frontex (EU Border Management Agency) presented on “Requirements for harmonized European Border Control management”. Click here for Monica Gariup’s presentation
  • Mr. Satko Mujagic from the Dutch Ministry of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service (Advisor at Staff Directorate for Implementation and Policy) presented on “Policy to support transgovernmental partnerships”. Click here for Satkko Mujagic’s presenatation
  • Mr. Clive Bourke from Daon, (Vice President, Asia Pacific) presented a “Case Study: Overview of Border security systems incorporating Australia and Japan”. Click here for Clive Bourke’s presentation
  • Ms. Benedicte Havelange European Data Protection Supervisor, Legal Advisor gave a presentation entitled “How do we protect our citizens?”. Click here for Benedicte Havelange’s presentation.
  • Mr. Thomas Marten from SITA (Vice President Government and Security Solutions) gave a “Global perspective on identity management”. Click here for Thomas Marten’s presentation
  • Mr. Nicholas Delvaux from Sagem Sécurité, Program Manager, European Programs spoke on ‘Border Control on the Fly’. Click here for Nicholas Delvaux’s presentation
  • Mr. Marek Rejman-Greene, UK Home Office (Senior Biometrics Advisor for the UK Home Office’s Scientific Development branch; head of  the  Biometrics Centre of Expertise) presented on ‘Towards best practice in biometric enrolments’. Click here for Marek Rejman-Greene’s presentation
  • Mr. Gûnter Schumacher from the EU Joint Research Centre, Institute for Protection and Security of the Citizen presented on ‘Ongoing Research Challenges’. Click here for Gûnter Schumacher’s presentation

Frontex’ Research and Development Unit and the Swedish Presidency of the EU organized  a conference on “Biometric Technology for Border Control” (with industry exhibition) in Warsaw on 1-2 October. Topics discussed included European Commission initiatives, standards and guidelines, automated border control systems, mobile equipment, and issues such as security, data protection, costs and funding (see programme).

Presentations (from FRONTEX website):

  • European Biometrics Forum: BEST (Biometrics European Stakeholders Network): best_standard.pdf
  • German Federal office for Information Security: Technical Guideline Biometrics in Public Sector Applications: bsi.pdf
  • European Committee for Standardisation: The European Standardisation process cen.pdf
  • National centre for Information Technology in Public Administration (CNIPA, Italy): Technical and operational Challenges : cnipa.pdf
  • German Federal office for Information Security: The EasyPASS pilot project at Frankfurt Airport: easypass.pdf
  • European Biometrics Forum: Testing & Certification of biometrics components and systems: ebf.pdf
  • European Data Protection Supervisor: Biometrics for border control and data protection: edps.pdf
  • International Civil Aviation Authority: The use of biometrics to enhance Border Control & Security: icao_mrtd.pdf
  • European Commission DG for Justice, Liberty & Security: The policy of Biometric Technology for Border Control: jls-european_view.pdf
  • European Commission Joint Research Centre: MOBIDIG: The European ‘Mobile ID’ initiative Working Group: Electronic identity documents and management for mobile environments: A way forward to meet the upcoming European challenges: mobidig.pdf
  • French border Police: National Automated Border Crossing System (PARAFES): parafes.pdf
  • UK Border Police: automated border crossing… secure border crossing?: ukba.pdf

A quick glance confirms that having mandated biometrics ID systems for border controls, the EU clearly has no intention of limiting their use to checks at the EU’s borders (see in particular “mobile biometric checks”).

Securing the State / Securing the Corporate Nexus

Leeds Metropolitan University, 27 November 2009: flyer

As part of the Climate and Violence series, this workshop will explore military and corporate responses to climate change and mass migration, and brings together key researchers on new military crowd control, surveillance and space technologies.

The world is holding its breath for a successful outcome to the International Panel of Climate Change to be held in Copenhagen December 2010. The meeting will bring together the world’s leading scientific experts in climate change, and its consequences.

The Copenhagen conference is rich in the number of technical issues covered including migration. However, what is less explored is how states will respond if told they could be facing over a billion people being forced to migrate if the world’s temperature rises by more than three degrees.

This workshop will, therefore, examine how the current revolution in military affairs has financed a new generation of weapons and control technologies in the “war against terror,” and how these will become rapidly reoriented toward area denial and for border exclusion purposes.

Speakers include experts on sub-lethal and paralysing weapons, new techniques of urban control and destruction, and the development of militarized robotics. Also discussed will be state responses to human security as the climate crisis deepens, and how these could go beyond the limits of international and humanitarian law.

To book your place for this workshop please visit the Leeds Met online Store


The EU Civil Protection Forum: “Towards a more resilient society” on 25-26 November will “start a debate on a comprehensive European disaster management strategy to enhance resilience”. Why? Because “Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and impact of disasters, and Europe has to be prepared for this challenge”. How: “Participants come to network, learn about new technologies used in civil protection, hear from international partners, discuss the future of European civil protection and much more”.

“Prepare for the unpredictable” and strengthen your resolve here: “civil protection forum“.

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