Monday, 25 April 2011

Defence cuts & National Service


An RSIS commentary on why cutting the budget is a bad idea, and why National Service is still needed.

I must first say that I'm biased on both issues. I think the defence budget is not a sacred cow, and that we are better served by a regular force.

I do agree with the last point about engaging the public about defence matters, but that point was not fully developed. All too often, we are told that some defence issues are too sensitive or secret to be discussed in public.

It is too easy for defence planners to hide behind that "shield". One look at the open source material available on some developed countries will show that we are just giving excuses.

Back to the defence budget. Without number crunching, it is premature to dismiss arguments about budget cuts simply by citing that we live in a different neighbourhood.

As for National Service, it is precisely because of our unique features (small land mass, lack of strategic depth) that calls for a regular force. We may not want to admit it, but the majority of our standby Air Force and Navy assets are manned by regulars. Turning into a regular force will also mean turning professional.

Worth more discussion, this debate.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

‘Fighting evil’: Warriors Are Our Achilles’ Heel

Kings of War
A long article, but definitely worth reading. The number of prosecutions for war crimes are few and far between. Often brushed off with excuses like the "fog of war" or "self-defence", military tribunals are often reluctant to prosecute soldiers, let alone their commanders.

Postscript: a special edition of Military Review, mentioned in a comment to the blog post, focuses on ethics in combat.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Doing the simple things right

"Wohlgethan also complains about the lack of qualified training personnel and that driving instruction is given on Unimog trucks before drivers are deployed to Afghanistan, where they have to learn to drive Dingos in country."
Sometimes, it's not about the fancy weapons you have. The real issues on the ground may seem trivial, but they are critical for mission success.

Schwarzbuch Bundeswehr (Black book of the Bundeswehr) by Achim Wohlgethan, a book about the German Army's experience in Afghanistan, highlighted the above issue about using different platforms for training and in theatre. [via Aviation Week's Ares blog.]

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Libya, Cast Lead, and KSK

Quick post; have been following the 3 developments above, but not enough time to write a coherent analysis.

Hope to do so soon, but my initial thoughts below.

Libya - airpower has limits; we seem so forgetful

Cast Lead - Richard Goldstone's "retraction" has overshadowed the new report on that past conflict.

KSK - Going back to Guantanamo is a mistake. A terrorism case does not belong in a military tribunal.