Wednesday 26 - Friday 28 June 2019.
Pembroke College, Oxford
A 3 day conference on the Conduct of War: Past, Present and Future.
Call for papers
Armed conflict in the early twenty first century combined some established continuities of the past with the complexity of new technologies and some emergent novel techniques.
The first two decades were initially dominated by the question of how to tackle international terrorism and the extent to which major powers, and their coalition allies, should intervene in the affairs of other states to tackle them. There were extensive and protracted insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq against Western interventions, which gave rise to renewed interest in the practices of counter-insurgency. By the mid-2010s, however, rivalry between the Western powers and Russia had deepened to the point that both sides were making use of proxies to further their national interests. The United States found allies in Afghanistan, amongst the Kurds, and through their Iraqi partners, but Russia launched its own expeditionary war in favour of the Syrian government, made extensive use of paramilitaries in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, and aligned itself more closely with Iran and Hezbollah to conduct operations against Syrian resistance groups. The ‘hybrid’ technique of local forces with the backing of the latest technologies, especially in air power, produced a great deal of interest amongst military professionals, and political leaders looking for ways to reduce liabilities and maximize their freedom of action in international affairs.
While these developments consumed global attention, there was a parallel transformation underway in new technologies, especially in automated, unmanned and robotic weapons and surveillance systems. There was considerable interest in the potential of connectivity, disruptive cyber viruses, information warfare, new synthetic materials, and artificial intelligence. Although the future was unclear, it was already evident that being able to combine the right technology and technique could produce far-reaching effects. Intelligence activity, especially by China, Russia, and the United States, was intense.
Nevertheless, the actual wars of the early-twenty first century had the hallmarks of previous conflicts, especially in less developed countries. Urban warfare was still fought at close quarters amid high levels of destruction. Civilians were often the target of military operations, and terrorist organisations aimed at killing the maximum number in their attacks. Chemical warfare reappeared on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. Improvised mines were the weapon of choice of insurgent movements, and their wars of attrition echoed the guerrilla conflicts of the twentieth century. Improved and pervasive surveillance, precise weapon systems, and developed legal parameters were impaired by the friction of these wars.
In this conference, we seek leading scholars and world-leading ideas on the changing character of war, its enduring nature, its drivers and its implications. Our ethos is to be inter-disciplinary and to encourage scholars, armed forces professionals, and policy advisors to submit individual papers or formed panels.
Some suggested themes for papers and panels, but which should not preclude original ideas, might include the conduct of war or organised armed conflict in:
Strategic Decision-Making and the Friction of Institutions
Historical Precedents for 21st Century Command in the Multi-Domain Environment
Offensive Cyber Operations: Grounds for War?
Information Warfare and Psychological Operations
The Enduring Human Dimensions of War
High-Intensity Air/Naval/Land Warfare in the Information and Synthetic Age
Terrorism: The Next Generation
Nuclear Security Scenarios
Environments of War: Borderlands, Peripheries, and the Mega-Urban Space
Guides to the legal and Ethical Parameters of War
Survival in chemical warfare
Paper and Panel Submissions
Paper outlines should be a maximum of 800 words and panel suggestions no more than 2000 words, showing how the themes of change in war are to be addressed. Paper authors and panellists should each submit a CV of no more than 3 pages. Suggestions should be submitted by 0900, 26th November 2018. The suggested papers and panels will be assessed by a distinguished panel and decisions announced in January 2019.
The conference will be held at on 26-28 June 2019 at Pembroke College, Oxford.. There are excellent public transport links to Oxford and around the city from all UK cities and airports.
Paper and Panel suggestions should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org