Security Forward-Risk and Intelligence Forum’s summer meeting ar was held at Furniture Makers Hall in the City of London on 13 July 2017. Our first guest speaker was Victor Madeira, who is a Senior Fellow at The Institute for Statecraft and focuses on the historical roots of Russian deception and subversion. His talk was entitled "Russian Subversion: How Did We Get Here & Where Are We Headed?" Of particular interest was Victor’s analysis and description of national approaches to behavioural and cultural conflict, and how Russia has been deeply influenced by history and the geopolitics of both the Eurasian and Western Hemisphere. The cultural psychology of Russia needs to be understood and taken into account when dealing with the ‘Bear’. Indeed Victor’s latest work is entitled "Britannia and the Bear: The Anglo Russian Intelligence Wars", a signed copy of which was given to all participants. Following his presentation there was an extended discussion and debate with a very interactive group of attendees.
Our second speaker was Brigadier John Deverell CBE MPhil, who is a former British Officer and spent most of his career very much at the sharp end of the action. In the British Army he was responsible as a senior commander for a third of all personnel across the Army. Earlier in his career he operated in the jungle, the desert, tanks, infantry, submarines, and in Special Forces. John’s talk was entitled "Providing Livelihoods In Support Of Security" and generated an extremely thoughtful and perceptive discussion. John spent some time in Palestine reporting to an American General and was most informative as to the challenges faced in that part of the world. There was an informed discussion about Libya at the end of his talk as we had much expertise around the table. John was unable to join us for dinner as he was on an early flight out to Mogadishu the next morning. We were extremely lucky to have such a knowledgeable and informed speaker.
Our final speaker of the day was our own ‘In House Resident Speaker’ Lt Colonel Crispin Black MBE MPhil who delivered his talk in two parts as we had such a full programme. Crispin gave a presentation, "Military - Civilian: Where Is The Front Line Now?" He argued that the distinction between soldiers and civilians is a recent invention more honoured in the breach than the observance. In ancient times, and even in the early modern Europe of the 17th Century, few acknowledged the difference. By the time of the Second World War and the era of massive air attacks directed primarily at civilians the distinction was dead. It has become of concern once again in the aftermath of Islamist terror attacks in Europe and elsewhere which appear indiscriminate - but which are often, pradoxically, precisely targeted at concentrations of so-called 'infidels'. In any case, the casualties from terrorism in Europe have been, relatively, low. More importantly, the front line for those seeking to inflict serious harm on Western countries seems to be moving towards the cyber sphere. Equally, the front line in counter-terror seems to be moving away from the days of 'kill or capture the terrorist' to a more long-term approach combining legal action, border control and attempts at re-education.
Following our traditional cocktail interlude, this time a Kir Royal as Crispin reckoned us all royalty rather than civilian, we also dined at The Furniture Makers Hall. Having quite a few new attendees resulted in the usual networking opportunities and exchanging of cards. One after-event email noted, it was "quite a while since the participants had heard such an in depth account of strategic security issues given by people so well informed".
Future Meetings are scheduled for 9 October 2017, 11 January 2018 and 22 March 2018.