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The Viability of Deterrence Strategies for Non-Nuclear States
LTC Harris Tan Nan An

In this essay, the author seeks to examine the viability of conventional deterrence strategies for non-nuclear states. In particular, he explores whether non-nuclear states can employ conventional military forces as an effective deterrent against state and non-state actors. The essay begins by providing an overview of the theoretical concepts of deterrence, and its different forms of strategy. Thereafter, it sets out to make three arguments. First, conventional deterrence failures can be overcome. Second, conventional deterrence strategies remain useful despite their limitations. Third, non-nuclear states can enhance their security by complementing deterrence with other forms of statecraft. In this essay, cyber threats are excluded, given the issues of attribution and the lack of retaliatory capabilities on the part of most states.


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Challenges to Regional Security and Co-Operation in The ASEAN Region
LTC Benson Chian

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been a resilient regional, intergovernmental organisation for many decades. In this essay, the author highlights that intra-regional and extra-regional challenges to regional security and co-operation are significant and require ASEAN’s member states to work closely together in overcoming them. While some of the challenges are structural in nature, he feels that there are issues which pertain to history, culture and most of all, territorial integrity. Faced with seemingly intractable challenges, ASEAN needs to maintain unity in order to avoid eroding the organisation’s long-term centrality in resolving common problems. Notwithstanding the range of challenges, the ASEAN region has achieved past successes in solving common security threats through like-minded approaches and shared awareness. As ASEAN looks forward to the next lap, there are opportunities to progress towards a ‘security community’ architecture and leverage on soft power to reinforce the organisation’s value as a ‘catalyst’ for regional peace. In conclusion, the author states that ASEAN must exploit these opportunities to retain its centrality in regional affairs and convince extraregional actors to trust the organisation’s ability to shape a friendly strategic environment for sustained peace and prosperity.


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The Non-Viability of A Non-Offensive Defence Strategy
Lt. Col. Mark E. Enriques

In this essay, the author discusses Non-Offensive Defence (NOD) as an ineffective national defence strategy. He feels that the conditions required for a complete NOD posture are too limited for a realistic application to national security strategy. From his brief analysis of New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, the author considers Switzerland to be the only real example of a successful NOD in practice. Though each state’s force structure meets NOD’s posture, the author highlights that only Switzerland is capable of sustaining a deterrence-by-denial strategy. If NOD only works for one state with very specific geography, neutrality and homogeneity, it has little value in the field of security policy. By analysing the application and limitations of NOD, the author concludes that NOD has little practicality as a defence strategy.


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Airpower — A Universal Solvent of Modern War or An All-Purpose Glue That Makes Combined Armed Operations Possible?
ME6(DR) Reuben Lim Chi Keong

In this essay, the author explores the idea that airpower should not be viewed as polar states of ‘universal solvent’ versus ‘multi-purpose glue’, but rather a continuum that spans both and the proportion of each is dependent on the context of the employment. When operating as combined arms in joint operations, airpower plays important roles, not just for kinetic effects by agile precision firepower but in a wide range of non-kinetic ones as well. In irregular war, it is clear that land power has a dominant role in being ‘up close and personal’ to both the insurgents and the civilian population in shaping political outcomes. Nonetheless, the author feels that airpower is a key enabler for Counter-Insurgency (COIN) and Counter-Terrorism (CT) efforts by creating favourable conditions amidst ‘malleable and complex’ situations. With the growth of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and its developments in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and autonomous vehicles, the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres are being blurred. As technology advances in accuracy and autonomy of drones and munitions, geographical limitations by each service is reducing. The conventional equipment, doctrines and mind set of the services may become irrelevant as technology dominates the outcome in war. The author concludes that in the end, technology may well be the ‘universal solvent’ that dissolves the relevance of land, sea and airpower as separate entities.


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Time — An Important Element for a Successful Insurgent Campaign?
MAJ Tan Lih Soon

In this essay, the author explores time as an importance element of a successful insurgent campaign. He emphasises that time is the most important factor in determining insurgency victories, but, only when viewed as an interaction between ‘duration’ and ‘timeliness’, and as an opportunity-maker for other factors contributing to successful insurgencies. In the essay, he first defines the key terms: ‘Insurgency’, ‘Duration’, and ‘Timeliness’, and elaborates on the various factors for successful Insurgencies. Using the Chinese Communist Revolution as a case study of a successful insurgency, the author then examines how time—in terms of duration and timeliness-enabled the critical factors to be achieved to allow the Communist Party of China (CPC) to accomplish its goal. To provide a holistic discussion, the author also discusses the Malayan Emergency to determine how duration and timeliness, or the absence of it, had contributed to the failure of the insurgents. The author concludes by highlighting how time remains the most important element to an insurgency campaign despite the different environments today.


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Last updated on 28 September 2020
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"Decision-making is both an art as well as a science." COL Ong Yu Lin
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