The Asia Pacific is a region marked by rapid economic growth, as well as nascent and historic security risks. Civil and military institutions have a shared interest in the management of security concerns and for building durable peace in the region. Through dialogues and consultation, Asia Pacific states can develop an acute understanding of regional security dynamics and insights into the political and strategic culture of individual states. Mutual understanding contributes to the building of confidence and the avoidance or resolution of conflicts. At the inter-governmental level, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM plus) are experimental mechanisms for confidence building and conflict resolution. At a military-to-military level, the Asia Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers (APPSMO) organised by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and its component Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS), provides an informal forum for military officers from the Asia Pacific and beyond to interact on a pan-regional scale.
APPSMO enables leading senior military officers to meet and establish personal relationships as well as share knowledge about military and security developments that would be of professional interest to them. Through this process the military officers can make a contribution towards fostering a dynamic yet stable environment conducive to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region – an activity which has hitherto been the preserve of diplomats, officials and academics. In his keynote address for APPSMO 2014, the then Second Minister for Defence of the Republic of Singapore, Mr Chan Chun Sing, said that: “The Shangri-La Dialogue, APPSMO and many such dialogues are useful platforms for countries and officers to meet, even if their respective countries are not on the best terms.” In this regard, APPSMO serves as an important instrument of defence diplomacy.
RSIS is proud to be able to organise and oversee the successful running of APPSMO for the past 17 years. APPSMO provides a venue and opportunity for promising senior military officers of the region to acquaint themselves with their counterparts. This objective dovetails with the IDSS/RSIS remit of fostering closer ties and working relationships among defence officials, military officers and strategic studies analysts in the region, and of nurturing a network of defence thinkers and planners. The objective will be achieved via two main activities:
One is through lectures and informal discussion. These activities will give participants the opportunity to learn about and update their knowledge of the key trends in defence and security-related issues. The interactive discussions will enable them to get a feel of regional security developments, which are of professional relevance to the participants. This year’s theme, Hybrid Warfare and the Role of the Military: Challenges and Implications, addresses questions and issues on the core functions of armed forces today and in the near future. Participants will be encouraged to explore and discuss fundamental questions about the role of the armed forces and how they should be structured and organised in a security environment that increasingly demands a whole of government approach rather than a military-centric one.
The programme for each day will focus on a sub-theme that frames the panels and discussion points for the day, and culminate in a syndicated discussion where participants and speakrs can interact in an informal setting. RSIS will bring together prominent scholars and practitioners in the field of military-security affairs to speak at panels with the following topics: Dimensions of War and Strategy; Hybrid Threats and the Future of Warfare; Information and Cyber Warfare: The Military Dimension; and The Military in a Whole-of-Government Approach towards Security. Two roundtable discussions on “Security Challenges in the Asia Pacific” will bookend the proceedings, whilst the Keynote Address, Luncheon Conversation and Distinguished Dinner Talk completes the APPSMO workshop component for 2016.
The other group of activities provides social interaction and recreation. These activities will give participants the opportunity to interact with one another in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. Activities such as ice-breakers and excursions will be planned for the afternoons. Through a week of social and intellectual exchanges, APPSMO aims to facilitate the building of lasting professional and personal relationships among participants. As APPSMO will be held during the period of Singapore’s National Day celebrations, participants are also invited to the National Day Parade, which is Singapore’s marquee event of the year. It is hoped that such interactions will promote mutual understanding and goodwill among the militaries of the Asia Pacific and Europe.