Soo Eng Hao (Student Mentor)

Soo Eng Hao (Student Mentor)

I am the student mentor for this course, I am here to welcome your comments and to assist you with any questions/queries you may have.

Location Bath, United Kingdom


  • @MichaelM. It is also not the only incident to have negative repercussions on the reputation of PMCs.
    Some might argue, however, that it can be unfair to highlight these, in contrast to so many other operations that have been completed without any incidents.
    In most of the cases, the people has taken issue with the fact that these PMCs are "private", and...

  • @RAJWANTSANDHU Yes you are right. The main point is to give an example on how politicians of other countries have politicse the drone issue to garner domestic support.

  • @MichaelM. The root problem, it seems, is this "anti-West sentiment". What is the root? And how can it be solved? Scholars have been pondering this question for a long time

  • Interesting point. As a matter of fact, the topic of "intervention" is a highly discussed one, there are strong arguments on both sides regarding the causes & consequences of such interventions.

  • Good point. So often we have witnessed conflicts that have dragged so long without any clear end..

  • This is a nice overview of what we have learned the past few weeks. What are your main takeaways?

  • Do you think that weapons system should be completely automated? Or should a human element still remain on the trigger no matter the advancement of technology?

  • While the links and references were about 2014, what do you think has or has not changed since then?

  • Feel free to conduct your own research and share any other cases on the use of Special Forces :)

  • Referring to the recent cases of the Russian-Ukraine war, what can you observe in relations to the above questions?

  • What do you think about the Western Intervention in Libya?
    How about other cases of interventions? Are there any similarities or differences?

  • Please continue to Part 2 for discussion :)

  • In this case study, US use of PMCs and UK use of Special Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were discussed respectively.

    Feel free to check the links below for the various perspectives on RCW, and let us know your thought on them by commenting below.

    Additional Useful Links:

    The Blackwater Shooting (2007) | The New York...

  • On US drone operations in Pakistan, Dr Aslam pointed out some prominent issues.

    Firstly, the civilian casualties, particularly the redefinition of legitimate targets and double-tap strikes. This implies that the US has arguably committed war crimes.

    Secondly, drones stir up anti-Western sentiments as they were seen as symbols of imperialism and...

  • The discussion here is mainly focused on Western developed countries. How about other developing countries and non-democracies? Do you think the same argument will apply to them?

  • Of the eleven lessons above, which one resonates with you the most? And why?

  • The topic of remote control warfare splits opinions. On one hand, some advocate the use of RCW due to its effectiveness and risk-free aspects; on the other hand, the morality and justifications were questioned.

    What do you think? Is there a way to find a balance between both sides?

  • This week we will be looking into specific case studies. Throughout the week, do feel free to read up about these cases, or even share about recent cases which might be relevant in this course. :)

  • Interesting... It seems like every time there is a certain advancement of technology, there will be a cycle of exploitation of such technology > leading to a risk of sovereignty > and then states adjusting and adapting accordingly to protect and preserve their sovereignty. Can you think of any example? And do you think that this will remain the case on drones?

  • While in some cases, a lack of enforcement might lead many to doubt efforts to ensure accountability; it is still arguable that some form of scrutiny is always better than none. By publicising information about the use of drones by certain governments, and exerting pressure (both domestic and international), slowly and systematically some kind of deterrent can...

  • Hi, thank you for joining the course! However, please observe the guidelines and comment only in the English language so that we all can engage and discuss together. Thank you! :)

  • Thanks for sharing!

  • Given the focus on the acquisition of nuclear weapons by rogue states (Iran, North Korea etc.), what about drones? Should they be restricted in this aspect too?

  • Indeed, we can observe that more and more drones are being used as a way to counter their asymmetrical positions.

  • The wrap-up video will be uploaded over the weekend as usual.

    Please come back to watch it as Dr. Aslam will be going over our discussions and questions.

    See you all next week!

  • We have now finished Week 3 and will be entering our final week. :)

    This week we have looked more specifically at the US, UK, Europe and the Asia Pacific regarding their politics on RCW.

    Next week, we will be looking into case studies on the use of RCW in different conflict zones.

    Please share your thoughts on what you have learned this week, we look...

  • There are a number of regional organisations and initiatives that can be a platform for trust building mechanisms. Can you think of any? Are they practical and effective?

  • Down south, both Australia and New Zealand can be seen as aligned to Western values. Especially the former, which is increasingly shifting towards forming closer ties with the US and the UK. What are the reasons and possible consequences?

  • On the other side of the globe, the Asia Pacific region is also worth looking at as a sign of RCW proliferation. What do you think?

  • Do you observe any differences between the UK, US and Europe in the politics of drone? What are they and why is that so?

  • What are your views on the EU's use of PMCs?

    Can you think of any obstacles to their regulation?

  • Feel free to discuss your opinions here on the US' shift towards a more unconventional type of warfare.

  • What do you think about the US foreign policy? There has been some changes since Obama's presidency, do you think it has improved?

  • What do you think on the US and the UK's use of RCW?

    Any similarities or differences?

  • What do you think of these recent developments and shift towards RCW?

  • Looking forward to hearing your views next week on this topic!

  • Feel free to share any information you found on the above countries and regions regarding RCW.

  • In reality, most non-combat roles have indeed been outsourced to private companies. This shift is an attempt to resolve the lack of manpower issue, as countries face an ageing population.

    On the other hand though, some might argue that PMCs are paid professionals with their own code of conduct. This might counter your argument, considering that standard...

  • That is a good suggestion. Frequent monitoring will help ensure that special forces and other RCW comply with the rules as they operate under scrutiny.

  • Well said! This establishes the "what" to oversight. The next question, then, is "who" should be doing the overseeing?

  • You have raised some good points here. A number of SF deployments are agreed upon by allies of the US, and that the presence of US forces is a necessary deterrent (think South Korea vs North Korea, Taiwan vs China etc.)

    However, this might result in an over-reliance on the US to maintain strategic balance. As you also mentioned, this is hardly a long-term...

  • That is a good question. We will be discussing that in detail next week. In the meantime, you can also try doing some research online and see if there is information available to share :)

  • To be fair, special forces are still under the military so there is a chain of command. It might be the more regulated compared to drones and PMCs but that still depends on the countries too.