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Land, Air and Maritime Strategy — Which is More Decisive in Warfare?
MAJ Sean Paul Magness

Land power has been regarded as the dominant form of military power since the main objective of territorial states is to conquer and control land. And, land power has been the main military instrument for achieving this aim. In this essay, the author explores the importance of not just land strategies but air and maritime strategies in a battlefield, concluding that the latter 2 can be impactful as well. The author feels that both air and maritime strategies have proven decisive giving examples like the 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) campaign in the Yugoslavia. War. In this essay, the author presents his views in three parts. In the first part he explains the concept of strategy and the importance of understanding the types of political objectives which military force can fulfil. In the second part, he examines how force utility and a nation’s strategic culture shapes its military strategy and predisposes a nation into favouring particular domains of military strategy. The third part discusses the case study of the Pacific War during World War II (WWII) and the 1999 NATO campaign in Yugoslavia, Operation Allied Force (OAF), to demonstrate how force utility and strategic culture resulted in their respective strategies being assessed either independently from land strategy or, in the case of Yugoslavia, without any land strategy at all. Furthermore, the Pacific War has been regarded as the only great-power war in modern history in which the outcome was not determined by land power alone, and one in which air and maritime power played more than an auxiliary role. On the contrary, OAF is often held up as the example of the effectiveness of independent airpower.

What are the Past, Present and Future Challenges to Singapore’s National Security?
MAJ Alex Phua Thong Teck

In the essay, the author discusses Singapore’s operating environment and examines how her national security strategies have adapted to challenges to stay relevant and effective in defending her national interests. He briefly outlines Singapore’s national interests, based on her geography and history. He then frames her national security strategies with a Grand Strategy framework of Defence and Security, Nation Building, and National Development, to crystallise the discussion and explore pertinent challenges from independence, to the future. The author feels that while Singapore’s national interests remain constant, the proposed national security strategies can still be used to frame and respond to challenges in new operating environments.

The Persistence of Violence in the Cyber Age
MAJ Jeffrey Ng Zhaohong

According to the author, with the advance of technology, cyber space has become the new battleground for war. It has provided huge opportunities for many countries to further their political agendas without resorting to violent conflicts. In fact, similar to the threat of nuclear destruction, cyber attacks' threat of widespread devastation can deter and compel against violent escalations. Furthermore, cyber space's high cost-effectiveness and difficulty in attribution provide a viable non-violent avenue to achieve political gains. Besides manipulating rational calculations, cyber information operations can subvert people's passions and soften the psychological battlefield, thereby reducing the violence involved in achieving one's political goals. However, the author highlights that historical examples have shown that in a clash for survival and critical interests, man will exhaust all means, including physical violence and destruction, to exploit vulnerabilities in all dimensions to preserve his interests. He concludes that violence will continue to persist as part of the nature of war.

How Singapore and the SAF can get Ready for the Era of Swarm UAVs
CPT Daryn Koh Wei Ren

The author believes that Swarm Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have the potential to pose a real threat when used for malicious purposes, citing examples to prove the capabilities of such technology. The author feels that Singapore may be susceptible to attacks from Swarm UAVs due to its small geographical size. He also highlights that swarm UAVs can continue with the mission even with the loss of a sizeable portion of members as a it is possible for a large enough swarm to overwhelm a small country’s air defence system. In this essay, the author proceeds to discuss Current Counter Swarm UAV Technologies as well as Current Measures in the Singapore Armed Forces. He also briefly discusses possible solutions to Swarm UAVs, namely, Deterring Rogue Drone Operators and Disrupting Swarm UAVs. The author concludes that there is no one size fit all solution to the threat of swarm UAVs and highlights that continuous efforts and resources have to be committed in order to deal with such a threat.

Are the Goals of Belligerents in ‘New Wars’ Really Different from the Goals of Earlier Wars?
Ivan Ng Yan Chao

‘New wars’ is a term advanced by British academic Mary Kaldor to characterise warfare in the post-Cold War era.1 It had been claimed that in ‘New Wars’, the struggle is not about geopolitics but about identity politics instead. The intent of this essay is to analyse this claim and argue that while it is true that identity politics plays a greater role in New Wars compared to wars in the past, the claim is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, even in the case of New Wars, geopolitics remains an ever-present consideration and has not simply been supplanted by identity politics. Secondly, wars in the past were also arguably driven by identity politics, thus, identity politics is not unique to New Wars. This essay proceeds to first define and discuss the key terms discussed. It then considers how identity politics is a prominent feature in the goals of belligerents in New Wars today. Thereafter, two objections to the claim will be examined after which the author concludes that both identity politics and geopolitics are important components of New Wars, and indeed, Old Wars as well.

The Importance of Context for Military History and Education
Ian Li

According to the author, military history as a field has significant benefits to military education, but, it should be properly contextualised. He feels that for there to be any meaningful interpretation, accounts must be critically analysed to understand the perspectives in which they have been written and the assumptions that inherently underlie them, particularly those that arise from the particular piece being written for the specific purpose of nation-building or education. Ideally, a healthy variety of perspectives are used in conjunction with one another so that the reader is presented with a complete picture of the event with which to then form his own interpretations and conclusions.

Last updated on 21 January 2021
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