The CSS Blog Network

Danger in Shifting Patterns in Global Militarisation

Courtesy of BKL/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was written following the release of the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index 2017.

While the world has successfully lowered overall levels of militarisation over the last 30 years there has been a dangerous increase in the world’s most unstable areas

The conflict in Syria is a stark reminder of the devastating potential of state based armed conflict and the destructive capability of conventional heavy weapons. One need only look at the gulf between the numbers of lives lost from terrorism versus armed conflict globally to be reminded of this fact –in 2016, it is estimated that approximately five times more people were killed in armed conflict than in terrorist events.

While charting trends in militarisation is difficult due to the constantly evolving destructive capability of heavy weapons technology, IEP has tried to develop a data driven approach by compiled 30 years of heavy weapons data based on the authoritative International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Military Balance. The data have then been codified based on a methodology developed by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

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Artillery Returns to the Battlefield in the War against ISIL

152-mm howitzer 2A65 «Msta-B» in Saint-Petersburg Artillery museum

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 11 January 2016.

Amid Russian air and cruise missile strikes, civilian casualties, proposed no-fly zones, air-to-air shoot-downs, and new surface-to-air missiles in Syria, relatively few news stories have discussed the introduction of Russian artillery into the theater. Though the introduction of artillery may seem less significant than aerial attacks, remember that Napoleon observed: “With artillery, war is made.” By reintroducing artillery to Syria to support combined arms operations, the Russians may have revealed something about the war they and the Syrians envision. Together with increased air attacks, the Syrians and their Russian advisors seek to revitalize combined arms forces, and artillery is critical to their vision of such forces. Artillery is particularly important for offensive operations, providing a continuous presence that current Russian air deployments cannot sustain. The Syrian ground forces are now taking and holding ground, fighting urban and village battles where they must, but posing a threat of encirclement and maneuver where they can.

The Syrian military was once a large, well-equipped, Soviet-model Arab army capable of executing combined arms operations. While not often victorious, it was usually competent. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was not then the principal internal guarantor of Bashar al-Assad’s regime — that was the responsibility of other military and security organizations. Primarily oriented against Israel, the conscript-based SAA drew on all sects and functioned as a key secular institution of a largely secular state.

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Clausewitz in Orbit: Spacepower Theory and Strategic Education

Artistic depiction of an anti-satellite weapon of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Image: Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Defence-In-Depth on June 10, 2015.

The politics of war and peace in space is an overlooked field. Space is a quiet and lonely place in war studies – despite space systems performing critical infrastructure roles in war, peace, politics, economics, and nuclear stability. In the mid-1990s John Sheldon and Colin Gray bemoaned the fact that there is no ‘Mahan for space.’ Neither writer apparently considered the possibility that they had answered their own plea, or in other words, that there is a Mahan for space: it’s Alfred Thayer Mahan. The 19th century navalist is one of a constellation of strategic theorists (such as Clausewitz, Castex, Corbett, to name the most prominent) whose work I am applying to create a spacepower theory intended to inform the diverse strategic problems conflict in this new medium might pose. » More

Sick Defense: How to Foster an Affordable, Innovative Defense Industrial Base

Two fighter jets refueling while in the air. Image: Defence-Imagery/Pixabay.

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 19 March, 2015.

The U.S. defense industrial base provides America and its allies with the capabilities to deter, engage, and defeat adversaries decisively. This “arsenal for democracy” must be a source of technological advantage at a price tag the taxpayers can afford. A healthy U.S. defense enterprise has proven a decisive lever in America’s success in past conflicts and a critical tool to maintaining the peace. Yet the relative strength and vitality of our industrial base is at risk. The Department of Defense (DoD) has reacted with alarm at flagging research and development (R&D) across industry. This has motivated U.S. defense officials to increasingly reach out to commercial technology providers for solutions. However, as their recent visit to Silicon Valley demonstrated, not everyone is chomping at the bit to work with the Pentagon. » More

From Russia without Love: Russia Resumes Weapons Sales to China

Sukhoi Su-35S

Sukhoi Su-35S. Photo: Alex Beltyukov/Wikimedia Commons.

In March 2013, Russian and Chinese media reported that Beijing was acquiring significant quantities of advanced military equipment from Russia. Among the multi-billion dollar systems to be bought by the Chinese military are six Lada-class attack submarines and 35 SU-35 fighter jets. These acquisitions are significant because they are sophisticated systems and it has been more than a decade since China purchased any significant weapon systems from Moscow.

After making substantial purchases from Russia from the mid-1990s to the early-2000s, China began to reverse engineer weapons such as the SU-27 multirole fighter, the NORINCO T-90 tank, and several components of its most advanced conventionally powered submarines. Occasionally, China legally purchased licensing rights to Russian systems. Achieving self-reliance in military technology has long been a major priority of China s defense policy. » More

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