- Mr Eddie Lim, Senior Fellow, Coordinator of Military Studies Programme
- Dr Thomas X. Hammes, Distinguished Research Fellow, Center for Strategic Research, Institute of National Strategic Studies, National Defense University
- Dr Paul T. Mitchell, Head of Academics and Associate Dean of Arts, Canadian Forces College
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) marks its 51st anniversary on 1st July 2016, and it is celebrated as one of the key guarantors of Singapore’s security and continued success. Its development and growth as a credible armed force, together with the city-state’s stable government, has created a strong foundation for socio-economic growth. However, while the SAF has coped admirably well with the challenges faced so far, its journey, and concomitantly that of Singapore’s, in the years ahead could be more complicated owing to the dynamism and complexity of the contemporary strategic environment.
This panel will discuss two hitherto little-discussed issues that could profoundly shape the trajectory of the SAF. Dr Thomas X. Hammes, a regular commentator on the use of disruptive systems, will assess the military impact of such technologies as 3D printing and drones on small states. If this follows the pattern of previous technological revolutions, the new technology will first support the old, but subsequently it will supplant the old as new systems gain stability. If this is the case, then the key question would revolve around the future of platforms and systems that are considered indispensable today, like main battle tanks and fighter aircraft. What would be their roles in future warfare? Dr Hammes’ presentation will focus on that question for the three services of the SAF, and will make the argument that the convergence of technology will provide relatively inexpensive system that can support all services in peacetime, contingency, and wartime operations.
Next, Dr Paul T. Mitchell will discuss how the contemporary strategic environment is also posing challenges for professional military education (PME) in developed nations with small armed forces, like Canada and Singapore. Such nations often get involved in coalition operations for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the actual military/strategic problem(s) the coalition leader is trying to solve. This state of affairs represents a challenge for PME within the context of traditional war college curriculum. The latter is typically about linking policy to military operations through the “ends/ways/means” construct. In small militaries, however, operational design is generally the purview of the coalition leader, and the policies adopted by the state with the small military may often have relatively little to do with achieving specific strategic objectives, as mentioned earlier. Hence, small militaries find themselves at the wrong end of the professional development and critical time resource matrix. Despite this fundamental epistemic challenge, well-educated military leaders have never been more important in the modern operating environment. So how should they be taught at the highest levels? Dr Mitchell’s presentation examines the experience of addressing this specific pedagogical challenge through the lens of “Design Thinking”.
About the Speakers:
Eddie Lim is the Coordinator of the Military Studies Programme (MSP), Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The MSP is the primary source of professional military education and training (PMET) for the Singapore Armed Forces in the military arts and sciences. The Programme Coordinator ensures the relevant and timely provision of Masters-level courses at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC) and an undergraduate-level course for SAF officers entitled the Undergraduate Professional Military Education and Training (UGPMET) in the area of Military Studies, as well as a spectrum of other courses for the SAF Warrant Officers’ School (SAFWOS) and the SAF Advanced Schools (SAS). Prior to this appointment, he was the Head of Strategic Research at the Centre for Operational Learning (COL), situated with the SAFTI Military Institute (SAFTI MI). In this capacity, Eddie oversaw relevant research at the strategic and operational levels, and contextualised it for educational and doctrinal purposes for the SAF. Prior to COL, Eddie was a Senior Lecturer at the Military Studies Branch (MSB), lecturing the courses which the MSP undertakes today. After serving his bond with the Public Service Commission, Eddie attended then-IDSS and attained a Master of Science (Strategic Studies). Eddie is still serving as a Major in the SAF as an Operationally-Ready NSman, having attended most of the courses at SAFTI MI, culminating in the National Service Command and Staff Course (NSCSC).
Dr Thomas X. Hammes joined National Defense University’s Institute of National Strategic Studies in June 2009, and his areas of expertise include military strategy, future conflict, and insurgency. Dr Hammes graduated with a bachelor of science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975, and holds a master’s in historical research and a doctorate in modern history from Oxford University. In addition, he is a Distinguished Graduate of the Canadian National Defence College. Dr Hammes’ publications include The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century and Forgotten Warriors: the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the Corps Ethos, and the Korean War. He has also published 15 book chapters and over 120 articles; indeed, his publications have been used widely in staff and defence college curricula in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Dr Hammes has lectured extensively at leading academic and military institutions in the United States and abroad. Prior to his retirement from active duty, he served for 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and his appointments included command of an intelligence battalion, an infantry battalion, and the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force.
Dr Paul T. Mitchell holds a BA (Hons) from Wilfred Laurier University, an MA in war studies from King’s College London, and a PhD from Queen’s University. Following the completion of his doctoral studies, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University’s Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, where he assisted with the production of the Canadian Navy’s “Adjusting Course” strategy. He also worked as Directing Staff at the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre on its Maritime Peacekeeping course in 1996 and 1997. He has worked at the Canadian Forces College since 1998, first as the Deputy Director Academics, and later as its first Director of Academics. In this capacity, Dr Mitchell oversaw the development of the Master of Defence Studies degree following accreditation of the Command and Staff Course by the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies in 2001. Between 2005 and 2007, Dr Mitchell was an associate professor at RSIS and also taught at SAFTI’s Command and Staff College.
Organised by the Military Studies Programme