Drone usage by militant groups: Exploring variation in adoption

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    29 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Judging by recent media reporting and pronouncements by senior US military and security officials, the use of drones by militant groups is both reshaping conflict between armed non-state actors and state parties and now presents a grave and direct threat to nations in the West and elsewhere. But does this threat warrant the attention it is currently receiving? To answer this question, this article surveys how various militant groups have used drones both tactically on the battlefield and for wider strategic purposes. Closely examining how drones have been employed and by whom provides a basis for understanding variation in adoption. The article shows how drone usage or non-usage is highly contingent on the setting of the conflict, the aims of different groups, and the capacity of groups to adopt the technology. Though advances in drone technology could make the use-case more appealing for militant groups, drones will be subject to the same back-and-forth, techno-tactical adaptation dynamic between adversaries that have accompanied prior military innovations.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)113-126
    Number of pages14
    JournalDefense and Security Analysis
    Volume34
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 3 Apr 2018

    Keywords

    • Adoption capacity theory
    • Countermeasures
    • Diffusion of innovation
    • Drones
    • Low-intensity conflict
    • Militants
    • Non-state actors
    • Technology

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