• Drones have become a trusted tool in the arsenal of non-state actors seeking to engage in asymmetric attacks against a more powerful adversary.
  • Besides Hezbollah, a range of terrorist groups deploy drones in their operations, including the so-called Islamic State, Palestinian Hamas, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
  • Tacit knowledge transfer and external assistance in the form of training provided by nation-states are force multipliers that enable terrorists to innovate tactically while increasing their ability to launch sophisticated attacks.
  • Nation-states are scrambling to acquire effective counter-drone technology, but remain far behind in the laws and policies necessary to deal with the threat.

Drones have become a trusted tool in the arsenal of non-state actors seeking to engage in asymmetric attacks against a more powerful adversary. Over the past two years alone, drones have improved significantly in terms of flight duration, ease of use, and potential to be repurposed to drop a payload on targets. These technological developments are expected to accelerate, with anticipated future developments making the use of drones by non-state actors a regular feature of any unconventional warfare campaign. In an attack in late August, the Israelis killed two Hezbollah militants operating at an Iranian base in Syria who were allegedly preparing a drone attack on Israel. On the same day, Hezbollah claims that Israel flew a drone packed with explosives into a building associated with its media operations. Besides Hezbollah, a range of terrorist and insurgent groups possess and capably deploy drones and other unmanned aerial systems in their operations, including the so-called Islamic State, Palestinian Hamas, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Both Hezbollah and the Houthis receive instruction from Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Tacit knowledge transfer and external assistance in the form of training provided by nation-states, are force multipliers that will allow Hezbollah and the Houthis to innovate tactically while increasing their ability to launch sophisticated attacks. Drones are also used to help non-state actors by improving their intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (IRSR) capabilities. And drones are not simply used in isolation, but as part of an integrated set of warfighting capabilities that terrorists use. As they continue to harness and leverage emerging technologies, some groups could soon develop the ability to launch massive swarms of drones, autonomously operated and programmed to attack a range of vulnerable targets on the battlefield.

READ FULL ARTICLE COURTESY OF THE CIPHER BRIEF

 

 

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