Security Forward-Risk and Intelligence Forum’s quarterly meeting was held at The Honourable Artillery Company Headquarters in the City of London on Thursday, 17 October 2019.
We commenced with our ‘round robin’ session where everyone shares their current in-tray. Participants introduced themselves and identified issues of particular interest and concern. This is valued session which allows a platform for those present to raise issues and discuss points of concern with the whole group. As we operate under The Chatham House Rule, the conversation is very open and really informative.
We were then joined by Alderman & Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli, who is also the Executive Chairman of Z/Yen, under whose umbrella we operate. He was able to join us for the presentation given by our ‘Speaker in Residence’ Lt Col Crispin Black.
Crispin Black presented on "The Cruel Sea - Naval Convoys In The Age Of Asymmetric Warfare." He was pessimistic about the ability of Western navies (mainly the US Navy) to keep major sea lanes open in the event of serious conflict. Aircraft carriers, which superseded battleships as the key capital ships after Pearl Harbour, are increasingly threatened by high tech attack from ASBMs (anti-shipping ballistic missiles) in advanced development by both the Chinese and the Russians. And from 'swarm' attacks by large numbers of very fast, highly manoeuvrable speedboats - a current capability of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian Navy. US carriers may be able to mount a defence in depth against both types of attack, but the new Royal Navy carriers (the largest ships ever built for the RN), lacking sufficient escorts, could be 'sitting ducks'.
He developed the argument by suggesting that Western governments and their top-heavy military bureaucracies are proving slow in meeting the political and military challenges of a multipolar international power system - a theme taken up by both subsequent speakers.
Our second speaker was Jerry Smith OBE, Senior Partner at CHC Global and his talk was entitled "Revolutionary Guards & Fancy Bears: The Blurring Of State And Non-State Actors". Jerry gave a fascinating and thought-provoking talk that picked up on Crispin’s comments about the Iranian Republican Guards and their ‘Mosquito Navy’. Jerry’s presentation was followed by questions and a lively and informed conversation took place.
We were lucky enough to occupy the HAC Museum for drinks before dinner and take a brief tour of this very interesting museum.
Over dinner, our speaker was David Patrikarakos, who spoke about his book "War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century". David has identified a species he calls Homo Digitalis, individuals whose skill with social media allows them to reshape the conduct of modern conflicts and he expanded on this, covering Ukraine in particular and also Israel and the USA. A signed copy of his book was given to all the participants.
The next meeting is scheduled to take place on 16 January 2020 and then we plan to have a rather special event for our April Meeting (probably on 30 April) at The Old Bailey courtesy of Alderman & Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli.
Previous blogs and information about Security Forward can be found on https://www.zyen.com/events/security-forward/.