A collection of discussions with those in the Profession of Arms that tries to understand the issues around how to fight, and succeed, against adversaries in the 2020s. We pose the questions as whether a single Western Way of Warfare (how Western militaries fight) has been successful, whether it remains fit for task today, and how it might need to adapt in the future? It is complemented by the ‘Adversarial Studies’ project that looks at how adversaries fight.
Sarah Ashbridge: Are We Proud of the Contract Between the Military and Society?
Veterans, families, casualties, death and the repatriation of casualties’ remains feature as key themes in a discussion between conflict archaeologist Dr Sarah Ashbridge and Peter Roberts. The key question: is the reverse of the current implicit contract between service personnel and the nation – namely society’s obligation to people in uniform, both living and dead – something we should be proud of or slightly ashamed of?
Justin Bronk: An Unhealthy Dependence on Air Power
Peter Roberts talks to RUSI Research Fellow for Airpower and Technology Justin Bronk about the realities of aircraft availability for contemporary operations, and the risk that Western air forces may ‘design themselves into irrelevance’ because of a flawed set of assumptions about force generation for peacetime duties that just don't work in combat.
Malcolm Davis: Kill the Chicken to Scare the Monkey
In facing down China, Australia is having to make some audacious decisions. Australian defence expert Malcolm Davis from ASPI talks to Peter Roberts about how Australia has been dealing with economic and political coercion from China’s Communist Party, and what this has meant for military capabilities, alliances and postures as Australia has become a hemispheric actor of significance.
Prof Jim Holmes: There is a Problem with Western Navies
US Naval War College Professor of Strategy James C Holmes contends that navies are going to have to fight for command of the sea over the coming decades because of China's adoption of a Mahanian strategy and approach to contests. Peter Roberts challenges Jim over whether Western navies have the intellectual capacity to ’reset’ in time, inviting the retort that it might just be the mavericks in the US Marine Corps that will save the US Navy.
Katarzyna Zysk: Russian Creativity and Risk-Taking
Russian theories of war and warfare have never been one-dimensional. In conversation with Peter Roberts, Norwegian researcher Prof Katarzyna Zysk talks about Russian industrial innovation, military modernisation, power projection and political control. Unscrambling some of the nonsense spouted about Russia, Katarzyna deciphers the subtleties of the Sino-Russian military relationship, tensions in the Arctic and Russian activities abroad.
Anant Mishra: Street Smart Warfare
As Western militaries transition their forces towards a posture of great power contests, there will be a temptation to gloss over the last 20 years of combat experience as irrelevant to future fighting. Peter Roberts talks to Indian scholar Anant Mishra about why this would be dangerous. Not only will the combat experience from Afghanistan and Iraq remain highly relevant, but in learning from campaign-level failure, we might identify advantages that we can leverage in order to prevail in the coming decades.