The Security Research Division of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has published a brochure detailing cooperation between Germany and Israel in the area of civil security. It features research projects covering transport security, preparation for CBRN attacks, detection technologies, transport security, crisis management and surveillance.

Click here to view the brochure (pdf).

As with the EU Security Research Programme, in which Israel is also deeply involved, the research has the twin objectives of enhancing security and developing technologies that can be profitably brought to the rapidly expanding Homeland Security market.

As the foreword to brochure notes:

“The BMBF now funds a diverse spectrum of German-Israeli research projects… These projects thus form an important foundation for the further development of international markets for security solutions and for future collaboration in research. Productive exchange in these German-Israeli projects makes an indispensable contribution to further raising the security standards in the two countries for the benefit of the citizens”.

Unlike the EU security research programme, which also claims to be wholly focussed on “civil” security, Israel’s largest military contractors do not appear to be directly involved.

More information on EU research subsidies for Israeli military and security contractors will follow shortly…

The EU is also holding its annual security research conference this month, from 22-24 September in Ostend, see conference website.

SCR ’10 is focussed on the EU’s R&D programme (the security research component of FP7) and includes plenary sessions on “Halfway through FP7”,  “After Lisbon: The continuum of internal and external security” and “Security as a pre-requisite for prosperity”.

In addition, there are dedicated sessions on Maritime Security, Standardisation, CBRN, Cybersecurity, Transport Security, Security of the Citizens (sic), Security of Infrastructures, Restoring Security, Improving Security, Security and Society and the coordination of EU Security Research.

As with the Berlin security research conference, “ethics and justice” are squeezed into a single session (on Security and Society). The words privacy, human rights, governance and accountability do not appear anywhere in the conference programme.

The conference also includes a “brokerage event” and exhibition to “facilitate networking between companies, scientific experts, operators and policy makers”. More than one thousand participants are expected.

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) and the European Commission are co-organising a one and a half-day briefing tackling the “current state of play on security research, its challenges and its opportunities in the future”.

The fifth German Security Research conference, organised by the Fraunhofer Group for Defence and Security, is under way in Berlin, see conference website and programme (pdf).

The eight conference sessions cover Security of Transport Systems, Building Protection, Surveillance and Control (2 sessions), Security-Related Legal and Ethical Principles, Detection of Hazardous Materials (2 sessions), Protection of Supply Networks and Security of Communication Networks.

While the inclusion of a session on legal and ethical principles is a welcome addition to the overwhelming focus on security technology, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that society should be (re-)oriented toward “future security”, and not the other way around.

The Civil Contingencies 2010 conference was held in London earlier this week. It featured “20 expert speakers” and “numerous carefully selected suppliers” in the business of preparing for “major disruptions”. The discussion ranged from “the current flu pandemic to severe weather, widespread flooding, the risks posed by a changing climate and malicious threats”.

The event promised “a crucial opportunity for delegates to connect with speakers, policy setters and key drivers of the government agenda”, with the exhibition area offering “unrivalled opportunities to network with over 25 suppliers, service providers and stakeholders”.

Civil Contingencies 2010 - Tackling tomorrow's threats

One of the reasons for setting-up this blog is to show how the arms industry is trying to cash-in on all things “security”. This includes everything from pandemics to paramedics. DITSEF is a new three year, €2.8 million EU funded project on “Digital and innovative technologies for security and efficiency of first responders operation” (Project Reference: 225404).

The DITSEF consortium claims that “The main problem of First Responders (FR) (fire fighters, police, etc…) in case of crisis at critical infrastructures are the loss of communication and location and the lack of information about the environment (temperature, hazardous gases, etc.)”.

The DITSEF project is led by Sagem Défense Sécurité and includes European arms giants Finmeccanica and EADS, as well as TNO, the Dutch defence research institute. The consortium does not include any “first responders”.

The European Organisation for Security (EOS) – a lobby group created entirely on the back of the “public-private” partnership that is the European Security Research Programme – has issued a Position Paper on Priorities for a Future European Security Framework.

The position paper contains “common messages” and proposals for the “consistent development” and harmonization of the EU security market to be “suggested” to the EU Institutions and Member States. “The suggested priority actions, in particular the establishment of sector specific EU Security Programmes, will now be proposed for discussion to the new Commissioners and the European Parliament”.

The Position paper is based on a series of EOS white papers:

The positions of the European Commission and ESRP are in any case so close to those of EOS that many of its suggestions are already EU policy. In other words: as lobbying efforts go, much of what appears above is already a done deal.


During their campaign for a ‘yes’ vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the Irish government, the European Commission and the EU Council went to great pains to stress that “the Treaty of Lisbon does not provide for the creation of a European army” (see for example EU Council Conclusions of 29 June 2009).

The Lisbon Treaty does, however, provide for an EU military command, EU military operations and EU military procurement. Lisbon also integrates the nascent EU military apparatus into a new integrated foreign policy framework covering external and diplomatic relations as well as military and non-military EU crisis management operations.

According to Defence News, the European Defence Agency has just launched a joint investment program in “unmanned underwater systems” (robotic submarine vessels) worth about 60 million euros over the next three years. A ‘European Air Transport Fleet’ is also on the EU’s shopping list. Fourteen of the EU’s 27 defence ministers have signed a letter of intent to establish a European Air Transport Fleet “based on the A400M military transport plane and other aircraft such as the C130”. Initially the idea is to make existing aircraft available through the EU to those countries that do not own them themselves. In the longer-term, France and Germany would like to develop a 32- to 35-ton “future transport helicopter” for EU forces.

As the EU continues to take gradual steps toward outright militarisation, so the calls for the EU to use its military muscle grow louder and more frequent. The Royal Institute for International Affairs of Belgium, for instance, argues that now the EU has agreed on the ‘means’ of security and defence, it needs to start defining the ‘ends’.

“[The EU] won’t have an influence on a global level, nor will it be independent, be a reference for stability or a key factor for peace, unless [it] is able to secure its own defence by its own means in an autonomous and sufficient way”, is another familiar argument.

The European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR) also argues that a “More Assertive Europe Is Needed” or it risks “irrelevance on the global stage”.  According to the ECFR, the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States has had its day and Washington is now looking instead to Brussels. Feeling confident enough to speak for the Obama administration, the report claims that “Washington is disappointed with Europe and sees EU member states as infantile: responsibility shirking and attention seeking.” What is needed, argue the authors of the ECFR report, is “a shift in European behavioral psychology… Europe needs to develop habits of discussing big strategic issues as Europeans in the European Union”.

See “Towards a post-American Europe: A power audit of EU-US relations” (dated 2 Nov. 2009) for the full ECFR report.

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).

Despite a waning of the initial hysteria and expert studies suggesting that the H1N1 pandemic may not be as bad as feared, security consultants like SRA continue to argue that the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. Here’s a taste of their latest warning (dated November 2009):

– An estimated 25 percent of businesses never reopen in the wake of a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

– The H1N1 virus poses a serious risk to the United Kingdom’s economy and it could reduce the Gross Domestic Product of the U.K. by as much as 3 percent

– estimates indicate that up to 15 percent of European workers will be absent from the workplace at the pandemic’s peak. These estimates may be conservative

As SRA explains: “Public health professionals look at pandemic flu and see a public health emergency. Critical infrastructure protection professionals look at pandemic flu and see the potential for economic calamity”. To which we might add: security consultants and pharmaceutical companies see the opportunity for a big profit. While we’re very glad that health professionals have taken the outbreak seriously, is anyone else uncomfortable about the EU Centre for Disease Prevention and Control‘s embrace of Donald Rumsfeldesque rhetoric in its May 2009 report “Influenza Pandemics: Known Facts and Known Unknowns“?

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