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Weekly Spotlight: 17 September 2023


1. Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force Receives Additional Aircraft

On 16 September, the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) announced the delivery of a second aircraft for the country’s aerial fleet. The “Alpha 2”, a nine-seater BN-2 Islander aircraft produced by British aerospace manufacturer Britten-Norman, will reportedly be used in a range of capacities including medical evacuations, search and rescue missions, and providing humanitarian relief following natural disasters. Lieutenant Colonel Alando Michael praised the purchase for expanding the versatility of the ABDF, elaborating that having two aircraft “allows us to be in two places at once.” Furthermore, Lieutenant Colonel Michael explained that in addition to being used by the ABDF, the aircraft has been made available for use by the eleven other member states from the Regional Security System (RSS) if required, hence also improving the versatility of Caribbean security more broadly.


2. United Kingdom Hosts 2023 DSEI Conference

London’s Excel Centre hosted the biennial Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference from 12-15 September, where military officials and civilian contractors from across the world met to showcase the most cutting-edge defence technology. At this year’s event, the British Ministry of Defence placed heavy emphasis on its plans for an Integrated Force, a vision outlining the combination of the nation’s maritime, land, air, and cyber capabilities into a unified organisation. Meanwhile, over 1,500 defence suppliers also attended the conference, including well-known manufacturers such as BAE Systems, General Dynamics UK, and Lockheed Martin. Overall, the event demonstrated hugely ambitious plans for future technological innovation, and the critical need for robust partnerships between the public and private sectors.


3. Curfew Imposed in Nigeria’s Cross River State due to Communal Clashes

Governor Bassey Otu has declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the Yala area of Cross River State in response to local communal clashes. The curfew, imposed on 12 September, will be enforced in the communities of Ugaga, Igbekurekor, Benekaba, and Ijama, which have recently experienced armed conflict owing to disputes regarding land boundaries. In the most recent clashes between these communities, seven people were killed. Governor Otu has described the curfew as an attempt to “enable security agencies to deal decisively with the situation in the affected communities and to restore normalcy,” and has urged local leaders to work proactively towards “the restoration of peace and friendship.”


4. Australia-India Cyber Technology Grant Awarded to University Cloud Computing Team

A team of researchers from the University of Wollongong and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur has received funding from the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership to complete a project aiming to improve data privacy within cloud computing. Specifically, the project aims to investigate the standardisation of cloud cryptography, and how emerging cybertechnologies can help cloud platforms to store user data more securely in accordance with government regulations. Professor Willy Susilo of the University of Wollongong praised the project’s potential to “strengthen the collaboration between Australia and India for the future through cybersecurity standardisation,” the foundations of which may branch into future areas of technological cooperation between the two countries.


5. Australia Extends Solomon Islands Security Presence Until 2024

On 11 September, the Australian Ministry of Defence announced an extension of its current deployment to the Solomon Islands until June 2024. The deployment, initiated upon request in 2021 following civil unrest in Honiara, has been extended to provide assistance to local security services for significant upcoming events such as the Pacific Games in November, and general elections scheduled for 2024. Specifically, cooperation between Australian and Solomon Islands police officers has thus far contributed to an easing in domestic security tensions, which the central government remain keen to preserve. However, the participation of security personnel from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand has also proven pivotal in the deployment’s overall success, highlighting the importance of inter-island cooperation in effectively tackling security challenges within the region.

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