UK setting dangerous precedent in refusing basic information about drone use

8 March 2016 - FCO - UK Against Daesh -fulltweetb
Sssh! Don’t mention the drone numbers (Click to enlarge)

In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from Drone Wars, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has again refused to detail the number of armed British Reaper drones undertaking operations in Iraq and Syria, the location of their base in the Middle East or whether they have been involved in missions over Libya. The UK is known to have ten armed Reaper drones in service.

The MoD insists that both the number of British Reaper drones involved in operations against ISIS and the location of their base must remain secret “for reasons of safeguarding operational security.” In stark contrast the MoD quite readily gives details of other RAF aircraft undertaking operations in Iraq and Syria as well as their operating base without it causing any problem Read more

UK operations in Iraq/Syria:  New reporting methods means less transparency & understanding

Days before the parliamentary recess Defence Secretary Michael Fallon slipped out a written statement on UK military operations against ISIS.  Overshadowed by the uproar around the revelations from Reprieve that UK pilots embedded in US forces were already undertaking air strikes in Syria in direct contravention of parliamentary authority, the statement reveals two important changes to UK drone operations.  Firstly that the UK is changing the way it calculates and records air strikes in Iraq to fall in line with the US methodology (or as Fallon chose to  put it “the Coalition method”).  Secondly through what Michael Fallon calls “collaborative force management and sharing arrangements”, the UK and the US will once again apparently be sharing drones. Read more

Mystery over UK’s armed drones – MoD says some in storage in UK while Defence Secretary says all 10 are “out on service”

M_Fallon with journalists - France June2015
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon with journalists yesterday ahead of meeting with Minister Le Drian.   Photo: British Embassy

 

Speaking to journalists yesterday before meeting with his French counterpart, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told journalists that all ten of the UK’s armed Reapers were “out on service, each one of them.”  Previously the MoD has told Drone Wars UK and others that while some Reapers were undertaking combat operations in Iraq and Syria others were in storage in the UK although it refused to detail the numbers. Read more

Finally revealed: UK drone strikes in Afghanistan by province

More than three years after first submitting a Freedom of Information request, the UK Ministry of Defence has finally told us in which Afghan provinces UK drones strikes took place.

Although there is no detail on the number of strikes within each province, the MoD reveals that UK drones strikes occurred in 16 out of Afghan’s 33 provinces between May 2008 and November 2014.  Full statistical details of UK drone operations in Afghanistan compiled from Freedom of Information requests and other public information is available here. The MoD stresses that the final UK drone mission in Afghanistan was completed on 15 November 2014.

UK_Drone_Strikes_Afghanistan_provinces2 Read more

Drones in Iraq and Syria: What we know and what we don’t

Over the past 3 months US, UK and other forces have carried out airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria using manned aircraft and drones.  There is little public available information as yet about the impact of these strikes on the ground .  Here’s is what we know – and don’t know – so far.

airstirke-raqqaBackground

On August 7, President Obama ordered what he called “limited strikes” against ISIS in order to protect American personnel in Iraq.  At the same time he stated that he would “not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq”.  US airstrikes began that next day and initiated another US military intervention in Iraq that has subsequently been named Operation Inherent Resolve. Read more

Drone Wars UK refused permission for full hearing on drones FoI request before Upper Tribunal

“The legality of the use of armed drones is one of the most important and pressing issues in modern international relations and public international law.”   Judge Nicolas Wikeley

 

upper tribunalVery disappointingly we have been refused permission for a full hearing before the Upper Tribunal of our appeal to overturn the refusal of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to answer our FoI requests on the use of armed drones in Afghanistan. (Full decision here – pdf).

As regular readers will know in 2012 we requested information about the location of UK drone strikes in Afghanistan by province and the breakdown of strikes undertaken under daily tasking orders (i.e. pre-planned) and those launched under dynamic targeting procedures (i.e. ‘on the fly’). This information was refused by the MoD and we have been appealing the decision since. Read more