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UK CMR and sub-threshold warfare – a view from the foothills - 10 June 2020

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Conflict changes its character. Arguably a new character on the stage is sub-threshold warfare, a type of warfare where open armed conflict is avoided yet confrontation is clearly happening. Examples of this could be the Salisbury attacks, Chinese activities along the 9 Dash Line or western interventions in Iraq and Syria.

Paul Cole, an aspiring KCL research student and serving military officer offers a practitioners view of the possible UK civil – military relations impacts of this with reference to the democratic oversight of the UK Armed Forces, whether sub-threshold warfare is truly a new phenomenon and what this may mean for Parliament, Government, populace and practitioners.

This will be set against the evolving parliamentary convention that major military operations are debated prior to being committed to, the UK Armed Forces being widely respected in the UK but arguably little understood, and discussion around the burgeoning lexicon of terms such as sub-threshold, sub-liminal, hybrid and grey zone that all seek to describe ‘new’ forms of warfare or are they merely the emperor’s new clothes?

This event is organised by the Society, Culture & Law research theme in the School of Security Studies.

If you have one, please use your King's College London email address to register. Once you've registered, full details on how to join the call will be sent to you.


Paul Cole, Group Captain, is a serving officer in the RAF and aspiring KCL PhD student.

His military career was initially focused around air transport with him seeing active service in the Balkans, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Broader Middle-East. Latterly, he has spent time working at the political – military seam.

Firstly, as 2ic RAF Brize Norton he was responsible for the organization of the 2014 UK France Summit working closely with No10 and the Elysee Palace. He then became the RAF’s Parliamentary Liaison Officer for a tour bookended by the Scottish and EU Referendums, and encompassing SDSR15 and votes on combat operations in Iraq and Syria. Latterly, he was part of the Directorate of Defence Communications responsible for RAF related ministerial communications, attending the NSC(Communications) and other cross-Whitehall security forums.

He is now responsible for the politically sensitive UK Military Flying Training System. Academically, he has an MA in Defence Studies, where his thesis explored the utility of airpower in hybrid warfare, and an MA in Coaching and Mentoring where the thesis explored the mentoring of newly elected MPs.

He hopes to start a PhD in the autumn exploring the effects upon UK civil – military relations of the rise of sub-threshold warfare.

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10 June 2020

Online event