CAMPAIGN ACTION: Responding to the MoD

On 26th October, we published a letter from the MoD in response to our 'Dehumanising Destruction' Pray&Post (calling from greater parliamentary scrutiny into the UK's use of unmanned armed drones). Since this was a Network-wide campaign, we'd like as many of you as possible to write a letter in response! This blog will give you some helpful knowledge and counter-arguments to build your letter. If there is something we have missed, do put it in too!

First Things First: Read the letter

It is important that you're letter responds to the defences and arguments made by the MoD in response to SPEAK's Pray&Post. To download and read the whole letter - visit


Who Should the Letter be Addressed To?

The letter should be addressed to Jason Pealin - Operations Directorate, Ministry of Defence, Main Building (04/K/30), Whitehall, London, SW1A 2HB

Possible Introductions...

- It's good and polite to thank the MoD for their response (it was pretty swift too)
- It has been recently reported that MPs are to hold an inquiry in the UK's use of drones, could the MoD confirm/deny this
- It is also worth expressing concern that such an inquiry should comprehensively investigate the legal, moral and political issues surrounding drones, rather than using an inquiry to blindly justify their use.

Defence 1: Releasing Information would harm intelligence security

The MoD said: “such information could potentially be used by enemy forces to gain insights into our Rules of Engagement…”

- Drone Wars UK estimates that only 40% of UK drone strikes are published by the government (the rest were discovered through a Freedom of Information Act). How does publishing this information not jeopardise British intelligence security? It appears to be more of an exercise in picking and choosing what can be published, and what is to be hidden.

Defence 2: Civilian deaths from UK drone strikes only 4

The MoD said: “We are aware of only one incident where individual not classified as insurgents have been killed by a UK Reaper Remotely Piloted Air System"

- How can we be sure that this is the case when approximately 60% of UK drone strikes are not publically scrutinised?
- In the US, It is estimated that approximately a 1/3 of all US drone strike victims in Pakistan (since 2004) are civilians. Chris Cole rightfully points out that this means either the UK are '100-200 times better at drone warfare than the US' or 'the figures are just not credible'.

The MoD also said: "…the report [an inquiry into the death of the 4 civilians] concluded that the actions of the Reaper crew had been in accordance with extant procedures and UK Rules of Engagement."

- What are these Rules of Engagement? Should they not be publically scrutinised if there is nothing to learn from killing 4 civilians?

Defence 3: Scrutiny into drones is already adequate

The MoD said: “The Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the MOD and publishes its reports”

- Again, how can there be proper scrutiny if the impact of so many drone strikes are left hidden?
- It appears that the Securing the Future of Afghanistan inquiry we were pointed to fails to adequately critique the moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding the policy of using drones

Defence 4: Developing new weapons

The MoD said: “the MOD currently has no intention to develop systems that operate without human intervention in the weapon command control chain.”

- Point the MoD to the development of the Taranis, which is billed by the MoD as fully autonomous
The MoD also said "The UK complies fully with its obligations under international law..."
- Article 35 of Additional Protocol 1 (Geneva Conventions) states:-
“It is prohibited to employ weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary

Get Writing

Hopefully you now have the confidence to write a reply to the MoD. Get your SPEAK groups and links involved too and, Don't forget to demand a face-to-face meeting to discuss the extant issues!