UK phones support US drone strikes

The UK’s telecommunications infrastructure is being used as part of a global defence intelligence network to help the US government conduct drone strikes.

Computer Weekly  has revealed that the situation is just as damaging as the situation where illegal US rendition flights to land at UK military sites, or permitting the US government to launch air strikes from its airforce bases in the UK.

Apparently the US depends on the UK to provide part of the core communications backbone used by drone operations.

The UK government and BT both deny any knowledge of the specific purposes for which the network is used, but then they would, wouldn’t they?

Legal charity Reprieve alleged last year that the UK connection is used for drone strikes on suspected terrorists outside the usual parameters of war but a lack of evidence about the UK connection has blocked the charity’s attempts to hold BT and the government to account.

However Computer Weekly thinks it has found the smoking gun which has established that the UK connection is part of a US military network that is used to target drone strikes.

The UK connection is a high-security communications line that forms part of the Defence Information Systems Network (DISN), which provides vital support to drone operations.

Key information revealing the role of the UK connection went unnoticed among various technical acronyms in a contract specification. In the specification, the US Defence Information Systems Agency (DISA) outlined instructions for a fibre-optic connection it had contracted BT to provide between a US military communications hub at RAF Croughton, Northamptonshire and Camp Lemonnier, the regional headquarters for US operations on the Horn of Africa.

The BBC and the Washington Post worked out that Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti is the base for US drone operations against suspected terrorists in Yemen and Somalia. These operations have bumped off civilians and are controversial.

The base has also conducted other military operations in support of states in the region, as well as extensive humanitarian, infrastructure and state-building missions.

What appears to have happened is that over the last 15 years show how DISN has enabled a transformation of the US war machine under the doctrine of network-centric warfare.

DISN has a dedicated military internet that spans over 3,500 US facilities in at least 88 countries and the US has an ongoing strategy to connect all its communications, forces, commanders, vehicles, weapons, surveillance sensors, satellites, radios, computer systems, intelligence agencies and allies into one network.

Drones use DISN to disseminate mission data and for long range command and control. Its 2005-2030 Roadmap named Reaper and Global Hawk as specific drones that use DISN. The DoD’s ongoing work seeks to make drones a more closely integrated part of GIG, which is the foundation of net-centric warfare.