Small Wars Journal

Terrorist and Insurgent Teleoperated Sniper Rifles and Machine Guns

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 4:02pm

Terrorist and Insurgent Teleoperated Sniper Rifles and Machine Guns by Robert J. Bunker and Alma Keshavarz, Foreign Military Studies Office

This data set consists of twenty-one teleoperated weapons systems used by terrorist and insurgent groups. It is worth noting that there are many more systems’ images available, but no group affiliation could be associated with them, which is why they were not included in this research project. The plethora of videos and photos on social media indicates that terror and insurgent groups are increasingly turning to improvised weaponry use on the battlefield. One class of improvised weapon that is emerging is remote controlled sniper rifles and machine guns. They are being used across Syria, Iraq, and a lone case in Libya as early as 2011. Typically, rifles or machine guns are improvised to be secured on a base—either mobile or stationary—and linked to cables, which are connected to a remote and screen. Some systems are more refined than others, such as with cameras, but all have at least proven to be somewhat effective. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) was at the forefront of using improvised weaponry for the better part of 2013, based on what is still available on social media. But other rebel groups as well as Islamic State and Al Qaeda affiliates caught on to the trend quickly…

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Tue, 08/30/2016 - 2:42am

This is a current and prime example of the proliferation of "Improvised Weapons" across complex OEs. It is also one of the reasons to expand "C-IED Strategies and Lines of Effort" to include this broader category within the OE Weapons Threat. Here, the associated OE Weapons Threat is broken down into three main categories: Conventional Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Improvised Weapons.

Improvised Weapons (IWpns) offer the potential to modify and combine conventional and WMD capabilities through non-military means of delivery using readily available and self-manufactured materials and technology, making the use of Improvised Weapons widespread in Irregular Warfare related persistent conflict.

In fact, the use of Improvised Weapons to create a hybrid threat is widespread in the current OE, and may appear in the form of modified munitions and weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or in the form improvised chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. The combinations of traditional and irregular capabilities that hybrid threats employ are often facilitated by mutually supporting actors and varying resources. Therefore, the current perception of "Hybrid Warfare" is exploiting target vulnerabilities and exercising evolved national capacities through a combination of military, non-military, clandestine and illegal means in order to achieve political objectives. Additional hybrid threat characteristics involve employing proxy forces and taking advantage of high and low intensity battlefield operations (ways and means) to reach political objectives (ends).

C-IED strategies and operations need to be deliberately expanded to account for all of the aforementioned categories and sub-categories which involve "Weapons of Concern".

The overall recommendation is to socialize and implement terminology and lexicon associated with the OE Weapons Threat and Improvised Weapons (IWpns) to account for TECHINT-WTI fusion, hybrid threat evolution, anti-access and area denial strategies, proxy sanctum, and additive manufacturing (3D printing).