Partaking in the book launch was two of its editors, IFS scholars Jo Inge Bekkevold and Ian Bowers, while the many contributing authors were represented by Austin Long, Katarzyna Zysk, and Paal Hilde.
After some welcoming remarks by Jo Inge Bekkevold, book editor and Head of IFS Asian Security Studies, co-editor Ian Bowers, Assistant Professor at IFS, introduced the volume by presenting its analytical approach and some of its key findings. Bowers noted a key motivation for the development of the volume is that we are currently witnessing a fundamental shift in the international security environment characterised by a shift in geographic priorities towards Asia, a change from the continental to the maritime, and from asymmetric challenges to great power politics. Bowers explained the volume's analyses draw upon contending schools of thought in explaining military change and that in addition to the great powers China, India, Russia and the US the editors opted to include studies also of smaller and rising states often overlooked in the existing literature as well as transnational institutions such as NATO and the EU.
Bowers' volume introduction was followed by presentations of military change in NATO, Russia, and Asia. Paal Hilde, Associate Professor at IFS, outlined his analysis of military change in NATO, focusing on evolution, success and failure of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept from a political and a military perspective. Katarzyna Zysk, Associate Professor at IFS, then outlined her volume chapter on military change in Russia, addressing the political, economic and technological drivers of the radical change observed since 2008 as well as the challenges for Russia going forward with this process of military reform. Finally, Jo Inge Bekkevold outlined contrasting narratives on the broad patterns of military change witnessed thus far in 21st century Asia as a backdrop to a set of undeniable facts about China's rise and security in East Asia.
Session 2 of the book launch featured a longer presentation by Austin Long, Assistant Professor at Columbia University, and a panel discussion. Long's presentation highlighted military change in the US and the challenges it is currently facing. While US defence spending and military personnel are decreasing, he noted the US military has evolved into more capable fighting force over the last 15 years, importantly acquiring the capability to operate discretely and discriminately across the globe. He then moved on to briefly discuss China's emerging anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) and cyber capabilities, European austerity, ISIS, Russia, and Japan. Finally, Long outlined three issues for US defence policy going forward, namely maintaining a global operational posture capable of deterring and reassuring, the need to recapitalise the US nuclear force, and Afghanistan as a continuing challenge.
The session was concluded with a panel discussion wherein the contributors responded to a broad range of questions from the audience, including recent developments in Syria and Ukraine, deterrence in the 21st century, and US military installations in Asia.
by Bjørn Elias Mikalsen Grønning