The centenary of the First World War also marks the anniversary of the practice of recording and naming casualties of war. But a century on, new forms of ‘shadow warfare’ limit the ability to record casualties of conflict and thus threaten to allow states a free hand to employ dangerous new tactics without threat of individual or international accountability. Without verifiable casualty figures, – including information on who is being killed and how – we cannot evaluate the acceptability, effectiveness or impact of ‘remote control’ tactics as they are rolled out among civilian populations.
In considering security sector reform, questions of affordability have often been subordinated to questions of effectiveness and expediency. A recent series of reviews of security expenditures by the World Bank and other actors in Liberia, Mali, Niger and Somalia has highlighted several emerging issues around the (re)construction of security institutions in fragile and conflict-affected states.
After 100 years of continuous war, can Britain learn the limits of military action to respond to shifting realities of insecurity? Continued investment in force projection and lack of commitment to genuine reflection on today’s security challenges suggests it’s not yet ready to let go of its militarist mindset.