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Transforming Singapore's Military Security Landscape: Problems and Prospects
Unformatted Document Text:  TRANSFORMING THE STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE OF SOUTHEAST ASIA Bernard Loo * (Draft – Not for citation without the author’s permission) For too long, the study of Southeast Asian arms acquisitions has been asking the wrong question – whether or not there is a regional arms race. The typical regional answer, whether from policy-makers or analysts, has been a resounding no, that what has been taking place is force modernisation, which suggests an essentially natural process by which states acquire military capabilities and upgrade them regularly through a natural process of obsolescence and replacement. There is some truth to this answer. Most of the armed forces of Southeast Asian states have been configured to meet internal security challenges that have only recently receded into insignificance. Indeed for some Southeast Asian states, internal security challenges remain the predominant security concern for their armed forces. As such, by the standards of conventional warfare requirements, virtually all Southeast Asian armed forces have been weak and under-equipped. Inasmuch as internal security challenges have receded, the region’s armed forces have had to undergo a process of reconfiguration and restructuring to take on new conventional military capabilities. To a large extent, therefore, the proliferation of conventional weapons in Southeast Asia has reflected these two needs – building up their material capabilities from very low levels, and re-configuring the respective armed forces from counter-insurgency to conventional postures. * Bernard Loo is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, specialising in strategic and war studies. He is concurrently the coordinator of theRevolutions in Military Affairs (RMA) Programme.

Authors: Loo, Bernard.
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TRANSFORMING THE STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE OF
SOUTHEAST ASIA
Bernard Loo
*
(Draft – Not for citation without the author’s permission)
For too long, the study of Southeast Asian arms acquisitions has been asking the wrong question
– whether or not there is a regional arms race.
The typical regional answer, whether from
policy-makers or analysts, has been a resounding no, that what has been taking place is force
modernisation, which suggests an essentially natural process by which states acquire military
capabilities and upgrade them regularly through a natural process of obsolescence and
replacement. There is some truth to this answer. Most of the armed forces of Southeast Asian
states have been configured to meet internal security challenges that have only recently receded
into insignificance. Indeed for some Southeast Asian states, internal security challenges remain
the predominant security concern for their armed forces.
As such, by the standards of
conventional warfare requirements, virtually all Southeast Asian armed forces have been weak
and under-equipped. Inasmuch as internal security challenges have receded, the region’s armed
forces have had to undergo a process of reconfiguration and restructuring to take on new
conventional military capabilities. To a large extent, therefore, the proliferation of conventional
weapons in Southeast Asia has reflected these two needs – building up their material capabilities
from very low levels, and re-configuring the respective armed forces from counter-insurgency to
conventional postures.
*
Bernard Loo is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological
University, Singapore, specialising in strategic and war studies. He is concurrently the coordinator of the
Revolutions in Military Affairs (RMA) Programme.


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