Participants in the Counter-Drone FVEY Policy Forum Workshop pose for a group photo in front of the flags of their countries.

The increased lethality and use of drones is why the State Department and Bureau of Counterterrorism strongly endorse the creation and implementation of a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach as the most effective way to counter the use of drones for terrorist purposes.

Jeffrey GiauqueDeputy Coordinator for Crisis Response and Technology

The Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism hosted the first in-person workshop of the Counter-Drone Five Eyes (FVEY) Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. August 22-24.  FVEY partners and U.S. government stakeholders gathered to engage in counter-drone dialogue with a focus on national policy development and implementation, advanced cooperation amongst FVEY partners, and plan for the future of the Counter-Drone FVEY Policy Forum. 

The FVEY delegations consisted of representatives from the United Kingdom’s Home Office and Ministry of Defence, Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Transport Canada, Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development Communications and the Arts, and New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport.  The U.S. delegation comprised representatives of the National Security Council; the Department of Homeland Security, and its component agencies Customs and Border Protection and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Federal Aviation Administration; and the Department of Defense. 

Understanding each Country’s Current Challenges and Status of Creating and Implementing Counter-Drone Policy 

The first day convened attendees at the Department of State’s George C. Marshall Center for introductions, presentations from the FVEY partners on their current challenges, and panel discussions on defining the threat of drones and current mitigation practices.   The Bureau of Counterterrorism’s Senior Bureau Official Chris Landberg and Deputy Coordinator for Crisis Response and Technology Jeffrey Giauque provided opening remarks, thanking participants for their dedication and multilateral coordination in countering drones and related emerging technology threats.  Additionally, Senior Bureau Official Landberg reiterated the Department of State’s dedication to countering terrorist misuse of technology and stressed the necessity of a whole-of-government approach in countering this technology as it increasingly becomes a part of the future of modern warfare and society. 

The panel members sit at a table in front of the flags of their countries.
Multiple panels provided an opportunity for FVEY partners to discuss the challenges they are facing and
approaches they are taking to address those challenges. [State Department photo]

Following opening remarks, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States presented their national perspectivesx on nefarious and illegal use of drones, current policies and regulatory frameworks, and their domestic counter-drone strategies.  Department of Homeland Security’s Director for C-UAS Program Management Office Brent Cotton presented on behalf of the United States and detailed the 18-month process of developing new counter-drone legislation and policies across the interagency.  Participants gained insight into the similarities – as well as key differences – across the FVEY partners regarding current challenges and approaches associated with countering drones, the intricacies in developing simplified counter-drone legislation, authorities, policies, technical requirements, and implementation of all the above. 

Sean Austin, Program Managerfor the Bureau of Counterterrorism’s TPOP office, addresses FVEY partners at the British Embassy.
Sean Austin, Program Manager for the Bureau of Counterterrorism’s TPOP office, addresses FVEY partners at the British Embassy. [State Department photo]
Identifying Areas for Cooperation in Countering Emerging Technologies and Threats amongst the FVEY Partners 

As the official co-host of the FVEY Counter-Drone Policy Forum, the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. provided the venue for the second day of the workshop as participants continued discussions on emerging threats and trends as they relate to drones.  FVEY partners and U.S. government stakeholders also participated in panels to discuss the positive use of drones, each country’s current state of integrating drones into their legislative and regulatory frameworks, and the challenges associated with integrating aerial drones into civil society and the national airspace.   

A technical demonstration takes place outside. The participants are standing.
Technical demonstrations showcased some of the current technology, tactics, techniques, and procedures that are being employed by both drone threat actors and counter drone law enforcement. [State Department photo]
Technical Demonstration at the Department of Homeland Security’s St. Elizabeths Campus 

On the final day of the workshop, the Department of Homeland Security hosted participants at the St. Elizabeths campus for a technical demonstration with displays from State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Customs and Border Protection, and MITRE.  

The technical demonstration featured drones flying at high speeds, dropping payloads to simulate attacks, drone swarms, and fixed-wing drone operations.  The demonstration showcased both the extraordinary benefits of drones, as well as contrasted the concerning and evolving threat that drones pose to national security.  Most importantly, the demonstration showcased the need for strong FVEY collaboration moving forward, with the Counter-Drone FVEY Policy Forum serving as a critical first step in effectively developing consistent policy to counter the nefarious use of this technology.  The workshop concluded with participants from all five countries resolving to formalize the FVEY Counter-Drone Policy Forum as an enduring body focused on counter-drone policy evolution and implementation, and agreeing that the significant value gained from this face-to-face meeting means that future meetings should be established as an annual event.  

Participants in the Counter Drone FVEY Policy Forum Workshop pose for a photo outside.
The first Counter Drone FVEY Policy Forum Workshop concluded with a technical demonstration featuring drones flying at high speeds, dropping payloads to simulate attacks, drone swarms, and fixed-wing drone operations.[State Department photo]

About the Authors: Mary Pieters and Sean Austin are Program Managers in the Office of Technical Programs and Operations Policy, Bureau of Counterterrorism.

U.S. Department of State

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