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1/31/07

Military Balance 2007 Launched

Press Statement, Arundel House, London, 31 January 2007
 
 
Remarks by Dr John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive
 
 
INTRODUCTION
Welcome to the launch of The Military Balance 2007.
 
Joining me to answer your questions today are: Christopher Langton, Editor of The Military Balance; Patrick Cronin, Director of Studies; Alex Nicoll, Director of Defence Analysis; Dana Allin, Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Affairs and Editor of Survival; Mamoun Fandy, Senior Fellow for Gulf Security; Toby Dodge, Consulting Senior Fellow for the Middle East; Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior Fellow for Non-Proliferation; Rahul Roy Chaudhury, Research Fellow for South Asia; and Bastian Giegerich, Research Associate for European Security.
 
In addition to the regular Chart of Armed Conflict and detailed descriptions of the armed forces around the world and a large array of non-state actors, The Military Balance 2007 offers updates on defence transformation in the US and key defence trends in all the world’s major regions. The IISS has also launched efforts this year that will influence the way that we compile The Military Balance in future years to assess modern military capabilities in more diverse ways. As we modernise The Military Balance this year and next, the IISS will be in a position to offer much more qualitative, as opposed to primarily quantitative, assessments of military capability. In looking at modern capabilities, for example, the level of national ambition and depth of political constraints are important factors. The nature of contemporary warfare is also affecting judgements about the capabilities of traditional armies.
 
The IISS in the 2007 Military Balance again analyses the challenges of complex irregular warfare, this time assessing the psychological component. Our judgement is that military planning procedures need to incorporate so called ‘influence activities’ as an integral part of pre-deployment preparation for complex warfare missions. Without this deeper perception of the mission environment, operations will lack the necessary ingredient for long-term success.
 
The crises in Afghanistan and Iraq, the stand-off  with Iran and North Korea, and the question of China’s geopolitical and military ambitions have been the main themes of recent headlines. That said, Africa continues to serve up a mixture of intense if intermittent conflict coupled with fragile and uncertain peace agreements.
 
AFRICAN CONFLICT
In Sudan, notwithstanding a peace agreement, conflict persisted in Darfur, killing at least 1,000 people this past year. Disarming the Janjaweed militias and rebel forces, effective peacekeeping, and power and wealth sharing all remain more concepts than reality.    
 
Fighting intensified in Somalia, leaving many to view the weak state as ‘jihad’s third front’ after Afghanistan and Iraq. Al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri has commanded the ‘lions of Islam’ to take up arms against the government of Somalia, which was reinstalled in Mogadishu with the help of the Ethiopian military. Forces aligned with the Islamic Courts in Somalia are likely to pursue an insurgency, perhaps fuelled by failed US raids on suspected terrorist hide-outs. Aggression appears far from being quelled.
 
This past year has also seen increased tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The situation in the Temporary Security Zone that is monitored by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea changed from stable to volatile after Eritrean troops first entered the zone last October.
 
Despite this bad news, Africa has seen progress in a number of states traditionally beset with conflict. Unprecedented elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo illustrated progress as much as any other development this past year, promoting a normalisation of relations throughout the Great Lakes region.
 
The climate also improved in Angola thanks to a peace accord between the government and Cabinda secessionists.  The situation in the Republic of Congo remained stable as disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes were implemented and preparations began for parliamentary elections later this year. Peace also held in Namibia, in spite of lingering tensions between the government and former Caprivi secessionists.
 
Two former conflicts in West Africa continued their turn-around: in Sierra Leone, the United Nations placed its mission with an integrated office to oversee elections; in Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has persisted in desperately needed anti-corruption measures and basic state building. The Juba Peace talks between the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army advanced peace in Uganda. Finally, the conflict in Rwanda remained dormant, with not a single conflict-related fatality reported in 2006.
 
The main themes of the year offered, in the main, more troubling news.
 
AFGHANISTAN
On 5 October NATO completed the expansion of its mission in Afghanistan by taking over from the US in the south-east of the country. The so-called Stage 4 expansion has unified the command of international military forces in the country, although the US retains command over the special forces’ anti-terrorist operation, Operation Enduring Freedom.
 
Following a summer of intense combat in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar NATO commanders hoped that the insurgency would die down during the winter, allowing stabilisation efforts to take root. However, the Taliban have continued to pose a serious threat to security through the winter leading to fears of an intensified insurgency re-emerging in the spring.
 
To meet this challenge NATO now proposes to deploy an extra brigade. Defence ministers meet in Seville next week to decide the details. The US has announced that it is extending the deployment of some 3,000 troops already in-country and has committed an extra $2bn in aid for development with a request to Congress pending for a further $8bn.
 
At the same time the eradication of poppy without establishing proper replacement livelihoods appears to be playing into the hands of the insurgency and further complicating the task of stabilising the South.
 
Defining success for the international effort in Afghanistan is hard, but may loosely be construed as being the creation of an environment which is stable enough to allow the Afghan government to have control of its own security and development. As he nears the end of his time in command, General Richards has said that with more troops there is a real chance of achieving this.
 
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to be complicated by accusations of insufficient activity by Islamabad in dealing with Taliban and other insurgent groups which operate across the Durand Line and in the complex Pushtun federally-administered tribal areas. Islamabad has countered by saying that Kabul does not know what is going on inside its own Pushtun tribal areas.
 
In September a low point was reached when a deal, amounting to a cease-fire, was struck between the Pakistani authorities and pro-Taliban militants in semi-autonomous North Waziristan. The deal was made against a background of rising casualties in the Pakistani army, which has suffered more than 700 fatalities, but it led to accusations from Kabul and Washington of Pakistani complicity in cross-border activity.
 
Pakistan is viewed as being diligent in pursuing al-Qaeda, but has clear problems in dealing effectively with the Taliban, which is woven into society as an indigenous, largely Pushtun, movement. Any major crackdown, therefore, may lead to significant internal unrest. Allegations of active involvement with the Taliban are hard to prove; at worst Islamabad is accused of some direct support, and at best of deploying a lack of rigour in dealing with the problem. In any case, the authorities have to insure themselves against the internal insurgency which may be the result of a more zealous approach to the Taliban and their tribal support base in the semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
 
There are two main areas where Pakistan would like change in order to improve its relations with Kabul. Firstly it seeks a more even-handed approach to the Pushtun communities. It sees a bias by the US and Karzai towards former Northern Alliance groupings. The second is a lessening in what is seen as a tilt towards India which currently has four Consulates in Afghanistan. However, even should changes be made in these two areas, mistrust and traditional animosities run deep. Any effective and long-lasting agreement between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan seems unlikely, at least in the near term.
 
Nevertheless, despite evident tensions between the two countries there has been some improved cooperation between military forces on both sides and a joint command centre has been opened in Kabul.
 
IRAQ
President Bush’s new Iraq policy, announced on 10 January, involves adding a further 21,000 troops to the current 132,000 in country. This would see a new total of 32,000 US troops in Baghdad, a city of 6 million. US commanders would have 1 American solider for every 184 Baghdadis. This is proportionately still well below even the 50 per 1,000 that the new US Army and Marines field manual on counter-insurgency recommends.
 
In addition, simply flooding one area of Iraq, in this case parts of Baghdad, with troops, neglects the subtler aspects of counter-insurgency doctrine. For a surge in troops to be sustainable it has to be married with the second stage of the process. After areas have been cleared of insurgents, the government needs to reconstitute sustainable security, build up its administrative capacity and establish the rule of law.
 
The Iraqi government, beset by political infighting and institutional weakness, is neither willing nor able to follow up the ‘clear’ stage with a ‘build’ stage. Its lack of political will is partly due to the weak position of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. His role is not to be first among equals but to act as a broker, facilitating negotiations within his own coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance and between it, the American ambassador and the other coalitions. Hence the prime minister’s actions are based on the comparative power of the parties and coalitions he is negotiating with, not his own political vision or agenda for rebuilding the Iraqi state.
 
It has been suggested that Prime Minister al-Maliki might be able to strengthen his position by declaring a state of emergency, thus accruing new powers to reduce the influence of the cabinet on his decisions. However, to succeed he would have to sweep away large numbers of ineffective cabinet ministers, negating the results of the 2005 elections. Al-Maliki does not have the political power to carry off such a bold move. Beyond this the institutions of the state, especially the army, are not robust enough to support a martial solution or the emergence of a strong man. The army is still very much a ‘work in progress’ and any attempt to use it politically would break its already fragile coherence.
 
Against this background a sustained process of political reconciliation between Iraq’s community leaders would certainly help stabilise the situation. However, although all political parties in Parliament – Sunni, Shia and Kurd – have publicly committed themselves to the reconciliation process, this had yet to deliver any meaningful progress or a basis for cross-communal consensus. Indeed, the use of inflammatory and overtly sectarian language in parliament has, if anything, increased over the last two weeks.
 
IRAN
In response to the 23 December Security Council Resolution imposing sanctions, Iran announced it would begin installing 3,000 centrifuges in the underground uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. The casings, piping and other infrastructure for the centrifuges is in place. Iran is probably on track to meet its goal of producing 3,000 centrifuges by the end of March or shortly thereafter. It obtained at least 500 disassembled centrifuges from Pakistan through the A.Q. Khan black market network plus the blueprints to produce its own, which Iran was doing overtly before October 2004 and which it resumed doing last January. A significant number of Iran’s centrifuges are indigenously produced, albeit with some crucial raw materials illicitly procured from abroad.
 
Having a stockpile of centrifuges, however, and installing them in linked cascades are two separate matters. Iran is several months away from installing the centrifuges, including connecting the complicated piping and the electrical motors. Getting the centrifuge cascades to function properly is then another task of an entirely different order of magnitude, which would take at least another year but probably longer.
 
It would not be logical from a technical point of view to install 3,000 centrifuges in the underground module until the Iranians can get the two 164-machine test cascades in the above-ground pilot plant running smoothly on a continuous basis – a capability they have not yet demonstrated. Standing up the 3,000 centrifuges thus would be a political act, designed to demonstrate technological achievement at home and defiance abroad. Having more centrifuges in place – even if not operating – would also put the programme at a higher plateau in the event negotiations resumed and Iran made an offer to cap the size. Numbers are less important, however, than the operational tempo of the testing programme.
 
If and when Iran does have 3,000 centrifuges operating smoothly, the IISS estimates it would take an additional 9–11 months to produce 25 kg of highly enriched uranium, enough for one implosion-type weapon. That day is still 2–3 years away at the earliest. Meanwhile, however, Iran has continued to make progress in the production of feed material for enrichment. It has stockpiled 250 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride, enough, when enriched, for 30–50 weapons. The main bottleneck to producing such weapons remains learning how to run UF6 through the cascades for extended periods. If Iran overcomes the technical hurdles, the possibility of military options to stop the programme will increase. There are signs, however, that political and financial pressure is having an impact in Tehran. A growing number of opponents of President Ahmadinejad castigated his economic leadership and the rhetorical excesses that contributed to Iran being at the losing end of a 15–0 Security Council vote. Whether the internal debate will lead to a suspension in the enrichment programme that would provide the basis for resumed negotiations remains to be seen.
 
NORTH KOREA
The next round of Six Party Talks will be held in Beijing next week, following meetings there this week between financial officials from the United States and North Korea. If the meeting between financial experts can produce a mechanism for resolving the stand-off on the frozen North Korean bank accounts in Macao, it could set the stage for movement on the nuclear weapons issue.
 
The fact that US Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill and North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gwe-gwan met for three days of bilateral talks in Berlin two weeks ago shows a new flexibility in Washington’s posture, at least on tactics, and suggests that some substantive progress may be in reach.
 
At a time when so many other conflicts are on the boil, the resumption of talks can therefore be seen primarily as a confidence-building measure by other means, in order to give an assurance of conflict management on the Korean peninsula.
 
North Korea reportedly has floated the prospect of a halt in its production and reprocessing of plutonium, of which it already has enough for 5–10 weapons. The US seeks more far-reaching moves to implement the 19 September 2005 agreement in principle to dismantle the weapons programme, although there is little prospect that North Korea will give up the weapons it so recently proved it possesses. That said, there is fresher life to the negotiating pace than might have been anticipated some months ago.
 
CHINA
Beijing in the last year again signaled its determination to match its military might more closely to its commercial and diplomatic strengths. It announced a further, and now familiar, double-digit increase in defence spending. This drew from the US the equally customary complaint of an understatement of investment and a deliberate concealment of the true dimensions of the military build-up. Explanation was demanded. China’s 2006 Defence White Paper argued that American military relationships in Asia, especially with Taiwan and Japan, loomed as prominent and unattractive features on the security landscape as seen from Beijing. Their purpose was questioned. Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke of the need for greater preparedness for ‘military struggle’. American commentators saw in the White Paper confirmation that the US is the focus of Chinese defence planning, especially in respect of any potential military contingencies over Taiwan. In this reading, combinations of increased air and naval forces are to push out from China an ever-extending perimeter into which American forces cannot intrude except at uncomfortable levels of risk; asymmetrical and disruptive measures are ranged against the high-technology assets without which the US military would falter; and deterrence is enhanced through energetic modernisation of China’s strategic forces.
 
The destruction in January by China of one of its satellites, demonstrating the means to attack US communication and surveillance assets, was cited as evidence of Chinese intent. China confined itself to public lamentation of an American ‘militarisation of space’ and Washington’s diffidence towards prospective international treaties to limit this. Confidence still seems too low and suspicions too high to allow for meaningful engagement on these or broader military matters between China and the US. China and the US are giving every impression of being participants in a classic security dilemma.
 
CONCLUSION
That intriguing relationship invites one concluding comment about the nature of great power relations today.
 
There has been much commentary over the last few years as to whether we live in a uni-polar or multi-polar world.
 
The fact is that we live in an non-polar world. US power is strong enough to establish an agenda for international activity but is too weak effectively to implement that agenda globally. The power of others, whether states or sub-state actors, is strong enough to resist an American agenda, but too weak to shape an internationally attractive alternative or to implement an enduring local agenda free of outside influence.
 
In these circumstances, many place hope in the resuscitation or re-creation of multilateral institutions. But the paradox is that when international power is in such flux, powers both on the rise and on the decline are reluctant to concede long-lasting new constraints on their current ability to exercise influence. Jockeying for power, seeking new alliances and friends, dealing for influence, will more likely be the norm. As the numbers in The Military Balance suggest, geopolitics has not gone out of fashion.


 

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