Remote warfare has become a ‘catch-all’ term, used to describe the so-called ‘light footprint’, ‘low-risk’, and ‘distant’ characteristics of contemporary Western warfighting. Typified by a reliance on military airpower, new weapon technologies, special operations forces, and the support of local partners, proxies, and surrogates, this form of modern warfare has allowed the USA and its Western coalition member to meet national security threats globally, yet withoutr having to endure the heavy cost to their soldier’s lives that defined Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). Nevertheless, in this article, we argue that this perception of remote warfare needs reappraising. By analysing the case of Niger, we highlight how the means and mechanisms of remote warfare have now proliferated to a plethora of state actors, with varying ambitions, who combine their ‘light footprint’ to saturate distant zones of conflict and sovereign nations considered to be ‘strategic choke-points’. Although adopted as the blueprint for militarily effective and politically attuned global force deployment by a range of nations, we question the extent to which it is still politically useful, militarily effective, or indeed academically accurate to consider remote warfare as ‘light footprint’ at all.
Rogers, J., & Goxho, D. (2022). Light footprint—heavy destabilising impact in Niger: why the Western understanding of remote warfare needs to be reconsidered. International Politics. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-021-00362-9
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