Le’ Notes #23: Introducing the revolution in military affairs

This post introduces the origins of the revolution in military affairs.

We are said to be in the middle of a self-conscious revolution in military affairs, or RMA for short. This assumption is grounded in the breakneck pace of technological advancement that’s happening almost on a daily basis. Every now and then, someone in Silicon Valley or DARPA or some whiz kid somewhere comes up with a new thing that promises to shake up or “disrupt” the entire world as we know it. Tesla Motors, for example, is trying out driverless cars. The South Korean military showcased their LEXO exoskeleton systems, which they had been developing since 2013. Suidobashi Heavy Industries have already marketed their Kurata robot, which was unveiled in 2012. The robot, which is basically just a bigger and capable exoskeleton, can be fitted with rapid-firing weapons. Although Suidobashi claims the Kurata only comes with BB guns, in the future, that may change to live ammo. However, the RMA is not just about technology. In the US.

 

Final_Four_Jaegers.jpg
Hell yeah, future warfare

 

However, the RMA is not just about technology. In the US, the Department of Defence has been constantly trying to implement their Third Offset Strategy, which (at the risk of oversimplifying) basically wants to use a combination of technology and operational art to gain an edge over America’s adversaries and maintain their alliances. With President Trump in office, America might just be great again, although the alliances part might not be.

Sure, the future looks amazing. And bleak at the same time, considering we’re developing weapons of war. But, let’s step back for a moment and reflect on this RMA phenomenon. What is it? How did it start? How did we get here?

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #23: Introducing the revolution in military affairs”

Le’ Notes #15: The Indonesian Way of Guerrilla Warfare

This post is a collection of notes on reading A. H. Nasution’s Fundamentals of Guerrilla Warfare.

While most scholarship on guerrilla warfare gravitates around Mao and Giap, the name “Nasution” does not pop up that often. Which is quite unfortunate, considering Indonesia (and by “Indonesia”, I also include colonial Indonesia, though, at that time, Indonesia was yet to be conceived) has had a long history of fighting guerrilla wars against colonists. However, it was not until circa 1928 when the resistance started to consolidate. Prior to 1928, there were only local kings and sultanates organising localised resistance against the Dutch. The experiences of fighting guerrilla wars then became ingrained in Indonesian military thinking, and Nasution’s treatise, Fundamentals of Guerrilla Warfare, was part of that process.

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #15: The Indonesian Way of Guerrilla Warfare”

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?

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #12: Defence Diplomacy”

Le’ Notes #11: Nuclear Strategy

This post discusses the many sides of nuclear strategy.

Ah, the nuclear weapon. That mushroom cloud sure is iconic. We make jokes of nuking China or Russia and morbidly say that “two nukes aren’t enough” (sorry Japan). Even in the world of strategic thought, nuclear strategy has been debated to death; examined from every angle: economics, military, political, etc. Yet the interesting part of it is that, aside from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world has yet to see another nuclear explosion. We may count North Korea’s fifth nuclear test. As such, nuclear strategy remains hypothetical and deductive. We lack the empirical data (fortunately) and information to create sound theories. Most of nuclear strategy is pure speculation; terms such as Mutually Assured Destruction, limited exchange, and second-strike… they’re all hypothetical.

In this day and age, we might say nuclear strategy is dead. That’s almost true, since the world has yet to see another Bernard Brodie or Herman Kahn. But it’s also not so true. You see, the foundations of any future nuclear strategy (hopefully we won’t have to come to that) would rest on the previous groundwork which previous nuclear strategists have already constructed. So, let me present the thoughts of the main nuclear strategists to get a grasp on what nuclear strategy is.

On a side note, you can learn equally as much from science-fiction, pop culture, and games such as Fallout. 

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #11: Nuclear Strategy”

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.

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #10: The offence-defence balance”

Le’ Notes #9: Insurgency and counter-insurgency

This post discusses insurgencies and how to counter them, drawing examples from the Malayan Emergency and Vietnam War.

“These guerrilla operations must not be considered as an independent form of warfare. They are but one step in the total war, one aspect of the revolutionary struggle. They are the inevitable result of the clash between oppressor and oppressed…” – Mao Tse-tung, On Guerrilla Warfare

What is the first image that comes to mind when the word “insurgent” is uttered? A middle-aged man, wearing a black balaclava and battle fatigues, armed with an AK-47 and several IEDs, squaring off against a bunch of well-equipped American soldiers? That might be the most popular description of an insurgent that we have today. For most of the time, we’ve been focused on the “big wars”. Now, let’s take some time to look at the “small wars”, when small armies hold their ground against larger armies. Though there are more examples of small wars around the world, for this post, I learned specifically about the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War.

We’ll learn about what insurgencies are and the different methods to counter them.

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #9: Insurgency and counter-insurgency”

Le’ Notes #7: Deterrence and Coercion

This post discusses the evolution of deterrence thought from the Cold War to the fourth wave (21st century).

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

I find the above quote, written by the genius Isaac Asimov in Foundation, to quite fit the topic that I’m going to write about today, which is deterrence and coercion.

Let me just emphasize the violence in Asimov’s quote. Of course, Hardin (the character that utters the quote) is a cunning fox. When faced with the imminent danger from a nearby “barbarian” empire, violence was never his first option. Rather, he concocted a series of elaborate plans to deter the enemy without even having an army. His plan succeeded and ushered in years of peace. Well, at least for the Foundation.

I’ll write about the different types of deterrence, which is still a part of coercion. And then, we’ll see whether or not deterrence still remains a viable strategy today. If we still need deterrence, then deterrence for whom?

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #7: Deterrence and Coercion”

Le’ Notes #6: Naval warfare and maritime strategy

This post discusses naval thought and maritime strategy from the three renowned thinkers: Mahan, Corbett, and Till.

Ah, maritime strategy. One of those niche areas where I actually didn’t have to read anything for the week’s lecture since I got the basics down. And no, despite the featured image of the Kagero-class destroyer Amatsukaze, I won’t be touching anything Kantai Collection related. I just find Amatsukaze cute, that’s all.

Despite humans being seafaring creatures for a large portion of history (this was especially true for ancient Indonesians and Polynesians), naval thought only became a “real science” when Mahan started out describing elements of naval power. From thereon, we’ve seen naval thought and maritime strategy develop over the years, from warships to merchant fleets.

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #6: Naval warfare and maritime strategy”

SemText #2: Hybrid Warfare – Changing the way we do war?

This SemText discusses how the latest buzzword in military discourse – “hybrid warfare” – changes the way we do war.

I was planning on doing this bit right after the second panel of APPSMO, but I had to prepare some presentations and do some readings. Along the way, I strayed from the path and started playing Overwatch.

Anyway, the second panel of APPSMO discussed hybrid warfare, the newest in the line of buzzwords in military discourse. But what actually is “hybrid warfare”? What is it good for? More importantly, how has and will it change the way we do war?

Three experts were on the panel: Assoc. Prof. Ahmed Hashim, LTG (ret.) Syed Ata Hasnain, and Stephen de Spiegleire.

Continue reading “SemText #2: Hybrid Warfare – Changing the way we do war?”

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑