Thursday, 26 May 2016
Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
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What do we do on the 24th of June? What should be the first tasks of Her Majesty's Government when the Prime Minister walks in front of the Press early on that morning when the result of EU referendum is announced? asks Capt BS Forethought

Whatever the result what we can be sure of is whatever the result the political oxygen is going to be absorbed with candidates positioning themselves for the upcoming Leadership election. However, I am not going to discuss here the differences between the outcomes of the respective votes, both campaigns are covering this with gusto. What I mean to discuss on the next page is what is true however we vote.

We mark the passing of those who served this country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome

Four years ago I wrote of my quiet optimism for Yemen (says Charlie Pratt. See A quiet optimism for Yemen? published in Defence Viewpoints 13th September 2012). Its nascent, idiosyncratic democracy, powered by tribal shaykhs and patronage, had conspired to produce a relatively fair and free election. Out of it had ascended a President from the marginalised and underdeveloped South of the country; a potent symbol of the unified Yemen and a hopeful portent of practical unity to come.

The problems that Hadi faced were colossal. The writ of the government extended only a few miles outside of the capital Sana'a, at which point a patchwork of tribes and political systems took over. His civil service was full of ghost employees and the country was still struggling to recover from the endemic corruption and patronage of his predecessor as President, 'Ali 'Abdallah Salih. But at the same time a political dialogue featuring all parts of Yemeni society had begun, the elections had still occured and a strange and unique civil society still existed.

While the 2015 Spending Review confirmed a stabilisation in the total defence and security budget after a period of sharp decline, a new RUSI report reveals a substantial shift in the way this is being spent across the government.
'Spending Matters: Defence and Security Budgets after the 2015 Spending Review' by RUSI Deputy Director-General Professor Malcolm Chalmers, examines for the first time the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) through the framework set by the 2015 Spending Review. The full paper can be accessed at There's an introduction on the next page.

A review of the previous 12 months shows that 167,000 people died in armed conflict around the world. This is one of the key findings of the 2016 Armed Conflict Survey published by the London based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The Survey also notes that 2015 was the year when ‘the state struck back in many of the world’s largest armed conflicts, making territorial gains in the face of considerable resistance’ Nick Watts reports.
The Survey reflects upon the interconnectedness of events in the Middle East. The situation in Syria no longer seems to be only about replacing the Assad regime. While the authors of the Survey do not foresee the Middle East situation spiralling into a major inter-state war, the calculations of the various actors in the region (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the US) are clearly complicated by the multi-dimensional nature of the situation.

Northern Ireland's economy, security and its delicate peace process will be negatively affected should the UK vote to leave the EU, argues a new article published in the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute. As the referendum debate intensifies, it claims that politicians in Westminster and Stormont have failed to address the risks to Northern Ireland associated with Brexit.

'Who Will Speak for Northern Ireland? The Looming Danger of an Ulster Brexit' by Edward Burke, argues that 'Northern Ireland, with its 300-mile land border, its fractured political structures, weak economy and enduring terrorist threat' requires urgent attention in the debate on a potential Brexit. While the debate focuses on trade and English and Scottish issues, 'inattention in the case of Northern Ireland, particularly on Brexit, is complacent and dangerous; Northern Ireland's departure from conflict remains brittle.'

We mark the passing of those who have served this country in its armed forces. Contributions from comrades and families welcome, plus requests for inclusion

Francis Tusa, esteemed editor of Defence Analysis, reviews John Terraine's "Business in Great Waters: The U-Boat Wars 1916-1945".

Apart from being a simply superbly written account of the anti-submarine campaigns on both sides, it has some passages which chime appallingly well to our ears with events that happened close to a century ago in some cases, but which seem to be spring fresh today. Even if one is not that interested in anti submarine warfare, Defence Analysis feels that a few, selected quotes are worth considering ....

"At the root of the matter by the simple fact; the sheer lack of anti-submarine vessels and anti-submarine aircraft; and at the root of that lay the far less simple fact of a two-ocean war, with a second enemy of a totally different kind, who posed no submarine threat to trade but challenged American sea-power with capital ships, and against whom it was not American anti-submarine craft but American submarines that promised to be an effective weapon."

Daesh's evolution and eventual professionalisation are crucial to understanding what its overall strategy represents in its thinking. It can no longer be taken as a coincidence that as it loses substantial ground in Syria and Iraq it has taken to more ravenous attacks outside of its main area of operations. The attacks within Europe and other parts of the globe, from Turkey to Pakistan, represent not an invincible strength, but the true start of Daesh's decline, writes Cory Turner

Before the predatory attack on Charlie Hebdo, Daesh had relied principally on the less direct fear of it and the resultant xenophobia and other social tensions after its attacks. It had allowed its own brand of soft power, not to mention the perception of it being untouchable despite its atrocities, to wage the psychological battle. It is no coincidence that as the group loses ground in Syria and Iraq, it has launched a series of attacks against innocent civilians more intensely than it ever has done before.

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