My Books

(2018) Why Paramilitary Operations Fail, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN: 978-3-319-71630-5.


This book analyzes U.S. pro-insurgency paramilitary operations (PMOs) or U.S. proxy warfare from the beginning of the Cold War to the present and explains why many of these operations either failed entirely to achieve their objective, or why they produced negative consequences that greatly diminished their benefits. The chapters cover important aspects of what PMOs are, the history of U.S. PMOs, how they function, the dilemmas of secrecy and accountability, the issues of control, criminal conduct, and disposal of proxies, as well as newer developments that may change PMOs in the future. The author argues that the general approach of conducting PMOs as covert operations is inherently flawed since it tends to undermine many possibilities for control over proxies in a situation where the interests of sponsors and proxies necessarily diverge on key issues.

(2016) Military Neuroscience and the Coming Age of Neurowarfare, London: Routledge, ISBN: 978-1-315-59542-9.


Krishnan describes military applications of neuroscience research and emerging neurotechnology with relevance to the conduct of armed conflict and law enforcement. This work builds upon literature by scholars such as Moreno and Giurdano and fills an existing gap, not only in terms of reviewing available and future neurotechnologies and relevant applications, but by discussing how the military pursuit of these technologies fits into the overall strategic context. The first to sketch future neurowarfare by looking at its potentials as well as its inherent limitations, this book’s main theme is how military neuroscience will enhance and possibly transform both classical psychological operations and cyber warfare. Its core argument is that nonlethal strategies and tactics could become central to warfare in the first half of twenty-first century. This creates both humanitarian opportunities in making war less bloody and burdensome as well as some unprecedented threats and dangers in terms of preserving freedom of thought and will usher in a coming age where minds can be manipulated with great precision.

(2012) Gezielte Tötung: Die Zukunft des Krieges [Targeted Killing: The Future of War], Berlin: Matthes & Seitz Berlin Verlag, ISBN: 3882215682.

Gezielte Toetung

The new book by Armin Krishnan argues that targeted killing is a new emerging form of warfare that has become viable and attractive for modern armed forces and intelligence services because of vastly improved intelligence-/surveillance- and precision strike capabilities. In particular, drones enable technologically advanced states to conduct military intervention on the cheap, without significant risks to their own forces. The book traces the current practice of targeted killings of terrorists back to earlier counterterrorism-/counterinsurgency operations and other instances where governments have used ‘campaigns’ of systematic assassinations in pursuit of strategic objectives, showing that ‘targeted killing’ is not simply a counterterrorism tool, but has been used by many governments in many other contexts, such as fighting organized crime, counterproliferation, and overthrowing ‘rogue’ regimes. While drones feature prominently in the current discussion of ‘targeted killing’ other commonly used methods include covert intelligence operations, the use of Special Forces, and conventional air strikes by bombers, gunships, and missiles. It is argued that since target selection is based on secret intelligence and procedures, and since attacks are usually not acknowledged by governments conducting them, there is a blatant lack in public accountability. Typically the legality of a particular killing (for example with respect to the combatant status of the target) cannot even be established independently, as the public never gets to see the intelligence (and its quality) that led to putting an individual on a ‘kill-list’. It is also typically unclear whether criteria of ‘imminence’ and ‘proportionality’ were met. The morality of targeting people, who may be associated with a terrorist group or who may aid in the proliferation of weapons technology, but who are non-combatants (financiers, propagandists, weapons scientists), is also highly questionable. Another much criticized aspect of targeted killing, especially by drone or other airstrike, is the fact that they also kill substantial numbers of innocent bystanders, as is well-documented by statistics of NGOs with respect to targeted killing campaigns in Israel and in Pakistan, which raises questions of ‘necessity’ (does the military advantage gained in the strike justify the negative effects?) and again ‘proportionality’ (are the measures proportionate to the threat?). A strategic analysis of targeted killings as a primary method of winning a political or military conflict shows that this approach to warfare is unlike to be decisive because the removal of leaders often causes unpredictable results, seriously complicates peace negotiations, does not affect the motivation of opponents, is unlikely to deter individual operatives, and has great potential for ‘blowback,’ as inevitably innocent people are mistakenly targeted/ killed, which can be exploited by the enemy for propaganda and recruitment. The final chapter speculates about the future of targeted killing and argues that future wars are likely ‘shadow wars’ in which targeted killings and assassinations will be a characteristic and salient feature, especially since such killings could be carried out deniably, utilizing stealth- and micro-drones and exotic directed energy weapons. Wars could degenerate in covert assassination duels or ‘Mafia wars’ in which the belligerent parties aim to eliminate key personnel on the other side in order to gain a strategic advantage. In the worst case, the same technology that enables governments to identify, track, and ‘neutralize’ individuals across the globe, who potentially pose a threat to them, could be used for the selective killing of undesirable parts of a population.

(2009) Killer Robots: The Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons, Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, ISBN: 9780754677260.


Military robots and other, potentially autonomous robotic systems such as unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) could soon be introduced to the battlefield. Look further into the future and we may see autonomous micro- and nanorobots armed and deployed in swarms of thousands or even millions. This growing automation of warfare may come to represent a major discontinuity in the history of warfare: humans will first be removed from the battlefield and may one day even be largely excluded from the decision cycle in future high-tech and high-speed robotic warfare. Although the current technological issues will no doubt be overcome, the greatest obstacles to automated weapons on the battlefield are likely to be legal and ethical concerns. Armin Krishnan explores the technological, legal and ethical issues connected to combat robotics, examining both the opportunities and limitations of autonomous weapons. He also proposes solutions to the future regulation of military robotics through international law.

(2008) War as Business: Technological Change and Military Services Contracting, Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, ISBN: 0754671674.


The privatisation of defence assets and the outsourcing of military services from the armed forces to the private sector is an increasing trend. This book shows the extent to which many military functions and activities, ranging from military research to military consulting/training to operational support services, have been outsourced in the US and in Europe. While other books in this field largely cover the issues of Private Military Companies and of security contractors, this book focuses on technical and management services.This detailed study provides new and updated information on the ongoing privatisation of the defence sector and offers an original theoretical explanation of why the most modern armed forces throughout the world have come increasingly to rely on private companies for nearly everything they do. Contributing to a better understanding of military privatisation and its close connection to technological change, this book explains the complexity of the whole phenomenon and discusses its implications for national and international security.

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