Archive for January, 2012

Another very interesting piece, also from the BBC, which can be accessed here. It is about a Japanese soldier who had survived on the island of Guam for years after the end of World War Two.

It reminds me of an article I published at the Journal of Strategic Studies (April 2009, VOlume 32, No. 2), entitled “Decisive Battle, Victory and the Revolution in Military Affairs”, in which I argued that if war is a clash of wills (see Clausewitz), victory in war comes when the opponent decides to give up. Battles are decisive inasmuch as they bring about this collapse of the opponent’s will to resist. But will can be a difficult thing to understand. This story of a Japanese soldier found in the jungles of Guam many years after the end of the war resonates with the argument I made. Indeed, many American soldiers fighting in the Pacific in World War Two often could not get their heads around the refusal of their Japanese opponents to surrender, even though it was patently obvious (at least to American soldiers) that the Japanese had already lost specific battles.


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A very interesting piece, courtesy of the BBC, which can be accessed here. It shows snipers as very ordinary humans, who tend to think of the people they have killed as human beings (rather than dehumanising them as animals or machines).

This piece brings out a whole range of issues. SLA Marshall’s Men Under Fire – which argued that most soldiers never discharge their weapons they way they were trained to do, and that most soldiers can go through entire wars without ever knowing that they actually killed an enemy combatant – comes immediately to mind. The portrayal of the Somalis in the film Blackhawk Down, which was criticised by some scholars, as nameless masses also comes to mind.

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Associate Research Fellow Collin Koh pens this Diplomat article on Indonesian Navy’s (TNI-AL) attempt to “catch up” with the rest of the region in subsurface defence capabilities. Collin argues that despite the acquisition of three Type 209 1,400-ton diesel-electric submarines from South Korea, the capability that TNI-AL can derive from the new submarines is probably no better than the platforms other regional navies have deployed or are acquiring.

However, Collin warns that this development still presents serious implications for regional defence relations. The Asia-Pacific’s tight, geographical underwater terrain and heavy commercial traffic poses considerable challenges for less experienced submarine operators. Compounding this issue is the scarcity of submarine rescue services, particularly in the immediate waters of Southeast Asia. Might the proliferation of submarines eventuate in a fender bender in the depths, with grave political consequences?

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An interesting analysis from RUSI, courtesy of the BBC. The analysis suggests an increasingly powerful PLA (no quarrels with that!), and one that can increasingly challenge the US, at least within the vicinity of China’s identified second island chain. Not sure I agree with the analysis. As I have argued before in earlier posts, I believe the Chinese military has serious qualitative and technological problems to overcome before it can seriously challenge the US in the Asia Pacific.

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