Le’ Notes #28: Why is it so hard to buy military transformation?

This post discusses the factors that make buying military transformation so difficult.

Why doesn’t the military get with the program? Why does the government seem so reluctant to buy those shiny new Gen-5 planes and ships? These are some of the questions I had when I was a snot-nosed undergrad aspiring to solve all of the country’s defence problems. I thought we could buy our way out of being a big country with a meagre defence force. I thought the government was stupid because it didn’t (or was too slow) to embrace the technological marvels that were on sale. The truth is, defence acquisition may be one of the most convoluted processes within the government, aside from implementing neoliberal macroeconomic policies.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #3: Uphill battle for Indonesia’s defense modernization

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post, 1 November 2016.


The more expert analyses I read on the issue of naval and defense modernization in Indonesia, the more I realize that there are many challenges ahead. Though Jokowi does have a grand maritime vision for the country, there are a lot of challenges ahead before Indonesia can become a global maritime fulcrum in Southeast Asia.

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Le’ Notes #14: Defence White Papers

This post provides a brief summary of what a defence white paper is and how it is constructed.

How do governments communicate their defence interests to others, especially their people and other international actors? While a press released would be the most cost-effective way, it’s kinda hard to cover a lot of ground in five minutes. The most comprehensive way to do so is by publishing a Defence White Paper (DWP) that is accessible to anyone. The DWP supposedly provides information about the many security and defence issues the country is either involved in, interested in, or is simply concerned with.

So, what exactly is a DWP and how is it made?

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Le’ Notes #12: Defence Diplomacy

This post discusses the workings of defence diplomacy, particularly focusing on Southeast Asian defence diplomacy.

Right smack in the middle of writing papers, I still have the brazen gall to procrastinate and blog about this. But as they say, the show must go on and I must continue to deliver content. Mostly for my sake.

Anyway, today’s topic is something that, at first glance, might come across as oxymoronic. Yup, when else do you see the words “defence” and “diplomacy” put together? Seems kinda weird to mix guns and howitzers into a word that’s more often associated with old, white men in suits talking in jargon over tea.

So how did we get from buff military men shooting each other in faces to buff military men talking about security issues over dozens of coffees?

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Le’ Notes #10: The offence-defence balance

This post discusses strategic postures and how they influence the offence-defence balance.

One of the most prevailing dilemmas in international relations is figuring out whether or not that other guy is out to get me. He has weapons, some tanks, some planes, a possible nuclear ICBM… he must be planning to get me. But is that always the case? We can’t be certain 100% all of the time. This condition is known as the security dilemma, which remains an eternal feature in international relations. Where does the security dilemma come from? Realists say it’s from the fact that there’s no “big brother” to call for help, that the world is always in a state of lawlessness, for there is no God to watch over us. These conditions foster the urge to rely on oneself. As they say, “if you want something done, do it yourself”. The result is different strategic postures.

Now, we’ll talk about the offence-defence balance, or ODB for short. The study of ODB tries to figure out how states make their strategic postures and how the interaction between different postures play out.

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SemText #1: Can defence technology make us strategically stupid?

This SemText discusses how defence technology may impair strategic intuition.

It’s August and it’s time for the Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers (APPSMO)! Granted that I’m still a civilian, it’s a great privilege for me to actually be able to attend this event (albeit only the morning seminars). There are supposed to be 3 talks today, but I missed the first one because it took me 2 hours to get to the venue which was located at the east coast of Singapore (I live at the west coast) and the second one was already half-way through. So I decided to just pay attention to the third and final talk delivered by Prof. Pascal Vennesson about how defence technology can make military planners become strategically stupid. His emphasis was on how technology influences strategic decision-making.

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