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Archive for the ‘Military Transformation’ Category

Will countries be increasingly buying Chinese? A New York Times article (available here) reports that China’s defence industries are starting to market their products much more aggressively than in the past. The report notes that while China’s defence exports in the past have focused on fairly low-end equipment – small arms, in particular – increasingly, Chinese defence industries have been hawking their drones, combat aircraft and other more high-end weapons systems and platforms.

A critical breakthrough was the announcement that Turkey was buying a Chinese missile system to be integrated into its existing air combat platforms. Given that this decision presents serious technological challenges to the Turkish military – there will be technical challenges integrating the Chinese missile system into their existing platforms – the Turkish decision was, to put it mildly, something of a surprise. One report likens this decision as introducing a virus into an existing system.

How can we make sense of this Turkish decision? Zachary Keck suggests that it might represent a geopolitical move by Turkey, to distance itself from NATO to facilitate a move towards a more independent foreign policy.

For countries in China’s immediate vicinity, the question increasingly may be this: how much longer can we avoid buying Chinese???

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A commentary by Conrad Crane, appearing in the latest issue of Parameters (and available here). The first line of the commentary, which is the title of this entry, says it all.

As Crane notes, “Decisionmakers must be careful to maintain enough military power to handle all contingencies, even those involving major ground forces.” These actors, he argues, have to resist the apparent allure of “easy results” by utilising “standoff technology [that] might again lead to an unintended complex conflict in an unexpected place.” Otherwise, the end result will be the loss of “blood and treasure, and perhaps even strategic failure. Those are the costs of an unbalanced force structure and a lack of the full range of military capabilities.”

Wise words!

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One for the techies amongst our readers (available here). The article outlines some of the ore exotic military technologies that the US might bring to bear if it conducts military operations against Syria in the near future.

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A commentary by colleague Paul Mitchell of the Canadian Forces College, published by The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, (and available here) for your reading pleasure. While Paul’s focus is on Canadian strategic requirements, don’t let that fool you into thinking it is irrelevant to other countries. The strategic dilemmas that Paul identifies apply pretty much to any country thinking of acquiring the F-35.

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We have commented on this issue before, but here is a recent offering from the BBC (available here).

I am not too sure about this idea of a cyber Pearl Harbour-style attack though. I think there will be a cyber attack, if only to shut down ISR systems, and then the Pearl Harbour-style attack will happen. It is kind of like the Cylon attacks on humanity in the 21st Century re-imagination of the 1970s classic Battlestar Galactica: a virus shut down the 12 colonies’ computer systems, and then the Cylons attacked.

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Tanks have been the king of the battlefield for much of the 20th Century, and, to badly paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of its demise have thus far been grossly exaggerated. The emergence of precision-guided anti-tank weapons in the early 1970s led to quite a few expectations of the impending demise of the tank, especially after the initial shocks of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Israeli tank forces were shown to be vulnerable to Egyptian anti-tank guided weapons. That being said, a return to simple combined arms operations soon rectified that problem for the IDF.

Now comes this BBC report, which re-examines the role of tank forces, especially in terms of the tank-on-tank battles that were witnessed in Kursk in World War Two and in the Sinai in the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

A pertinent observation made in this BBC report is that in a sense, an armoured knight on horseback, charging in a dense pack towards a another dense pack of heavy infantry, is the historical precursor to today’s armoured forces. It is no accident that some armies refer to their tank forces as cavalry.

My own take: warfare will always exhibit a pendulum swing between offensive and defensive capabilities. World War One witnessed the dominance of defensive capabilities, but once the ‘principles’ of cavalry were adapted into tanks, offensive capabilities regained their lustre. I don’t see any reason why this pendulum swing should ever end.

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Our thanks to reader, Katherine Rose, for this infographic. My own take: it would have been helpful if China’s defence budget growth were compared against China’s economic growth – that might give us a clearer picture as to the extent to which China’s defence growth is a potential problem. Simply put, if the growth of China’s defence budgets have been comparable to China’s economic growth rates, I might be less inclined to be alarmed. If, however, China’s defence budget is growing beyond the Chinese economy, then I might be inclined to be concerned, of not outright alarmed.

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