ASPI suggests
16 Jan 2015|

Edge of TomorrowWelcome back for the second 2015 round-up of new reports and recommended links.

Not to be outdone by the Army, the US Navy is now looking at Iron Man suits aka military exoskeletons (like the ones featured in the 2014 movie Edge of Tomorrow). To read more on the issue, check out a new CNAS report, ‘Between Iron Man and Aqua Man’, by Andrew Herr and Scott Cheney-Peters that gives a brief history of the exoskeleton before delving into its potential for maritime uses including HADR and amphibious ops scenarios.

While the Paris attacks dominated headlines last week, Boko Haram launched an attack on towns in Nigeria’s northeast in early January and was reported to have carried out ‘indiscriminate killing’. While the government and humanitarian organisations dispute death toll figures (which range from 150 to 2,000), Amnesty International has resorted to ‘before and after’ satellite images to show clearly the extent damage inflicted on the towns.

Our colleagues at NBR have produced ’15 for 2015: forecasts for the Asia-Pacific’—15 essays that highlight things to watch in the year ahead, including what the Ukraine crisis means for Asia, Xi Jinping’s new foreign policy, changes to the global energy landscape, and cyber insecurity. See here for the full list of essays, all of which can be read online or downloaded for free.

Another forecast read is Vijay Sakhuja’s new CIMSEC piece that looks at maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean for 2015, which kicks off with analysis on the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s change of chair from Australia to Indonesia.

Sticking with the Asia Pacific, two pieces on defence budgets: the first is on Japan’s newly announced budget increase to US$42bn, with funds going towards new amphibious vehicles, surveillance aircraft and F-35 fighters. For more, see this VOA article for analysis on what this means for relations with China and coverage in The Diplomat and at the CATO Institute blog. The second from CogistAsia looks at the shift in Malaysia’s national security focus in the 2015 defence budget towards its eastern flank of Sabah which shares a porous maritime border with the Philippines.

Russia plans to build 10 more Arctic airfields in addition to the existing four by this year’s end, according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. This follows news in December that Russia’s new military command centre in the Arctic had become operational, which is part of an overall trend to exploit the new trade routes and potential oil reserves that melting ice have provided. For greater detail on Russia’s Arctic strategy, read this SIPRI report from September 2014 (PDF).

Turning to domestic capability, blogger Gregor Ferguson over at Rumour Control has a post on Australia’s defence industry which distills insights from his research on the projects that developed the Vickers Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane aircrafts into 12 lessons. One of those is ‘A group of people in overalls and a factory building with some machinery inside it do not an industry capability make unless and until they embody the technical, design and management skills and equipment necessary to design, develop and manufacture the product (or service) the market requires.’ Keep reading here.

On veterans’ issues, a magnetic resonance therapy (MRT) technique which ‘zaps’ the brains of veterans with PTSD appears to be working. Although unproven in the case of PTSD, the procedure has also been used for those with Alzheimer’s, anxiety, addiction and tinnitus, and works by ‘realign[ing] and synchroniz[ing] the firing of neurons in each patient’s brain depending on the condition’. For more on the story, keep reading here.

Two photoessays from around the world this week. In the first, BBC Indonesia shows powerful images of students in Peshawar returning to school after December’s shooting in which 133 students were killed. The second from We Are The Mighty showcases what it’s like to live on a US Navy nuclear submarine. Check out how submarines cook up a few snags on the barbie!


Monash University’s Andrew Zammit spoke to Lowy’s Sam Roggeveen this week on ISIS and al Qaeda involvement in the attacks in Paris last week, in which Zammit provides a bit of background on networks operating in Western countries and the nature of extremist violence (7mins).

CSIS’ blog CogitAsia has launched a new podcast series: in episode one, host Colm Quinn discusses key news stories in Asia including the impact of the AirAsia crash and MH370’s disappearance on Southeast Asia’s air travel infrastructure, and the US rebalance (31mins).


Canberra: Don’t forget, the results of the Global Go To Think Tank Index compiled annually by the University of Pennsylvania will be released on Friday 23 January at the AIIA’s national offices in Canberra. The event is co-hosted by AIIA, ASPI and the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. For more info and registration, see here.

Natalie Sambhi is an analyst at ASPI and managing editor of The Strategist. Image courtesy of Flickr user Chris.