Podcast: The Future of Airpower and the Weaponization of Law (and more)

At the Present and Future of Airpower conference at the Institute for the Study of War and Strategy at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland last May, I spoke with Chrome360’s Catriona Oliphant about the weaponization of law, including the origins and development of the term lawfare’.

Take a quick listen on challenges, methods and emerging issues relative to the law of war in this podcast.

Many challenges involving the law of war exist in today’s combat operations, particularly with respect to airpower.  I describe the complications that arise when policymakers impose restrictions that the law does not require – such as demanding a “near certainty” of zero civilian casualties before approving an airstrike (see here for more about that policy).

Hear about methods that rule-of-law democracies employ in order to avoid the enemy benefiting from the use of human shields ), including attacking war-sustaining objects instead of trying to engage enemy fighters hiding behind civilians (see here for more on that subject) for further about that).

I also address a few of the emerging issues associated with the rise of autonomous weapons. In addition, I speak to the problem I see today with many academics and policymakers: as much as they may know about the law, their understanding of the technology of war – to include airpower – is often deficient.

Again, if any of this sounds interesting to you, the podcast (about 15 minutes) is found here.

BTW, several other podcasts from the conference will enable you to catch up on the hottest issues in airpower. These podcasts are informative to people at all levels of expertise (they are very ‘listenable’). The full playlist is here.

With Lt Gen Deptula at St. Andrews, Scotland, May 2018

Don’t miss retired Lt. Gen Dave Deptula’s podcast (here).  I’ve known this former fighter pilot for more than 25 years, and his credentials are awesome.  As his bio notes, he was the principal attack planner for the Operation Desert Storm air campaign; commander of no-fly-zone operations over Iraq in the late 1990s; director of the air campaign over Afghanistan in 2001; twice a joint task force commander; and was the air commander for the 2005 South Asia tsunami relief operations.  I believe he’s the foremost airpower thinker alive today, so when he speaks, people are wise to listen.  

In addition to the podcast, General Deptula made an extremely important address at the conference about the future of airpower entitledThe St. Andrews Proclamation: A Pragmatic Assessment of 21st Century Airpower.”  It’s a “must read” for anyone wanting to understand the potential of airpower in the 21st century, as well as the complexities involved. 

Dr. Lambeth

It’s something I’ll talk about more in a future post, along with an analysis of the really interesting presentation made by DrBen Lambeth entitled “The Air War against ISIS.” Ben is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments after a 37-year career as a Senior Research Associate at the RAND Corporation (where he remains an adjunct associate).

Additionally, Dr. Urike Franke’s podcast (here) about drones is very well informed, and she provides a cogent summary of the state of their use by governments around the world (which she says now number 90-100 countries, with about a dozen of them fielding armed versions). 

Moreover, Dr. Franke points out the difficulties in using drones in a contested environment, something other academics often underappreciate.  She also makes some fascinating observations about the role of science fiction in thinking about the future of war.

Again, check out the full playlist of experts!

Still, as we like to say on Lawfire®, check the facts, assess the law and the arguments, and decide for yourself!


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