Saturday, April 16, 2011

Global Military Data

6 The Military Balance
2011, Editor's Foreward
October 2010, Rasmussen refused to rule out cyber attacks
as an Article V issue (where an armed attack against one
or more members in Europe or North America ‘shall be
considered an attack against them all’). Instead, he argued,
each situation had to be assessed by Allies on a case-by-case
basis. But mention of such issues, together with the need to
balance the divergent perspectives of NATO member states,
opened the Strategic Concept up to the criticism that – like
the QDR – it was unfocused and vague.
As militaries address an ever-expanding range of potential
tasks, it is perhaps to be expected that they face criticism
for losing focus on previously core roles. If armed forces are
unsure of the range of potential contingencies they will face
in future, the same is true of the policymakers who oversee
them. There remains a tendency to try to direct forces, even if
these are reducing in size, to carry out an increasingly wide
range of tasks. But it is likely that, for some nations, current
force reductions and financial considerations will eventually
necessitate hard decisions about levels of ambition and stra
priorities. Thus, the currently diffuse defence debate
in many countries, while perhaps reflecting contemporary
strategic complexity, merely postpones the need for such
decisions. Many militaries are being asked to do more with
less money, and with less focused strategic guidance.
Developments in
The Military Balance
The complexity of global defence debates has over the years
been reflected in the content of
the first edition in 1959, an 11-page pamphlet entitled
Soviet Union and the NATO Powers: The Military Balance
The Military Balance. FromThe,
the book has increasingly enumerated military inventories
around the world. It has also displayed a growing appre
of military developments outside Europe and North
America as significant in their own right and not simply in
relation to the Western defence debate. The way the data has
been presented has also changed, and this edition heralds a
period of further change to both the way the IISS presents its
defence data, and the range of data presented.
The newly constituted Defence and Military Analysis
Programme at the IISS has implemented several changes
to this year’s
book has always been the ability it gives its users to generate
comparisons between the military capabilities and defence
economics of different nations. This remains a central objective
in the Institute’s presentation of data within the book.
Military Balance. One of the key benefits of the
The Military Balance
has long contained a reference segment
at the back of the book, where presentation of comparative
information on military deployments and manpower, and
defence economics, for example, has resided.
To this we have now added a new segment at the start of
the book. These tabular and graphical features seek to highlight
key defence issues that are pertinent in light of current
defence issues, as well as particularly relevant thematic
issues, inventory developments or comparisons between
nations, and defence economic developments, that may not
have been analysed, presented or extrapolated in similar
formats elsewhere. This year’s essays comprise detailed analyses
of the war in Afghanistan, developments in unmanned
aerial vehicles, and the military dimension of cyberspace.
In terms of regional data coverage, the section on Europe
now combines NATO and non-NATO Europe, while Asia
combines the previous South and Central Asia and East Asia
and Australasia sections, in order to better reflect the military
and economic ties across these continents.
Meanwhile, there has been a change in understanding
of the factors constituting military capability.
and equipment inventories. However, quantitative indica
are of limited utility as indicators of military capability,
The Militaryhas traditionally focused on key combat capabilitiestors
and we are consequently including more qualitative judgements.
The Military Balance
to equipment holdings such as ‘serviceability in doubt’,
has historically applied caveats
‘combat capable’ and ‘in store’. This year we have adopted
and added a new defintion for equipment judged obsolescent,
namely equipment whose basic design is 40 or more
years old and which has not been significantly upgraded
(factors which may limit its usefulness in conflict). So far this
definition has only been applied to guided weapons, but it is
intended to extend its usage, where relevant, across all military
branches in the future.
The 2011 edition also sees some equipment change category
in the air and naval inventories. In the air fleets, UAVs
are now broken down by weight, and transport fleets by
role, allowing the reader to determine more easily the particular
capabilities available to nations using such equipment.
For naval forces, a classification system has been developed
based on full-load displacement rather than role. This will
allow for easier and more useful international comparisons
of navies according to the tonnage of vessels. (More detailed
information can be found in the Explanatory Notes beginning
on p. 483.) For
The Military Balance 2012, the IISS will
engage in a thorough reassessment of the presentation of
ground forces information.
Looking towards the structure of future editions of
The Military Balance
these qualitative judgements as well as graphical and
, it is planned to develop and expand
tabular features, and to include further innovative means
of assessing and displaying defence data. We will of course
retain the core inventory assessments that have proven of
such value to defence analysts and policymakers since the
for expanding the range of inventory information presented.
Military Balance appeared. Indeed, there are arguments
The equipment categories traditionally counted remain
of critical importance in assessing defence capability, but
consideration is being given to adding other categories of
information such as selected logistic assets. How effective
are armies, for instance, if they cannot effectively deploy
and sustain their personnel or equipment, or force entry,
overcoming opposition forces, difficult terrain and logistical
However, adding further content may mean that the
place of existing information has to be questioned. Feedback
from readers has always been welcomed. Please address
such communications to the editor, at

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