Think Tank (5/2022)
23rd Asia Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers (APPSMO 2022)
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The Return of Conventional War?
16 Oct 2022

More than 40 senior military and defence officials attended the 23rd Asia Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers (APPSMO 2022) from 16 to 20 October 2022.  The participants came from over 20 countries, spanning across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Organised by RSIS and its component unit, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS), APPSMO 2022 was particularly significant for the programme as it was the first in-person APPSMO since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theme of APPSMO 2022 – “The Return of Conventional War?” – addressed the return of war in Europe, as well as some of the world’s most pressing traditional and non-traditional security issues. The keynote address was delivered by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Manpower. He addressed on-going geopolitical issues such as COVID-19 and the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War, while also highlighting the asymmetrical impact to small states and middle powers in light of intensifying great power contestation between China and the United States. Mr Zaqy Mohamad also emphasised the importance of protecting the prevailing rules-based international order, and pointed to multilateralism as a path forward for states to address security challenges together. Major-General Kelvin Khong, Singapore’s Chief of Air Force, was the guest-of-honour at the programme’s opening dinner.

Professor Barry Desker, Distinguished Fellow at RSIS and Nanyang Professor of the Practice, Nanyang Technological University, was the Distinguished Speaker for this year’s APPSMO, delivering a speech titled “New Security Dimensions in the Asia-Pacific”. In addition to RSIS researchers and faculty members, other panel speakers included Dr Kori Schake, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Associate Professor Matt McDonald, Director of Teaching and Learning at the University of Queensland, and Dr Evan Laksmana, Senior Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. This year’s APPSMO also featured speakers such as Professor David Capie, Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies and Professor of International Relations with the Victoria University of Wellington, and Mr Dinesh Sathisan, Director (Strategy and Planning) of the Defence Policy Office, Singapore Ministry of Defence.

APPSMO participants attended a series of panels addressing issues such as Singapore’s defence policy, regional military and non-military threats, and the possibility of war in the Asia-Pacific region, while also engaging in smaller syndicate-level discussions. Participants also had the opportunity to visit the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre, Information Fusion Centre, and even embarked on a tour showcasing Singapore’s military heritage.

First started in 1999 as a summer camp for senior military officers, APPSMO continues to provide a valuable platform for military practitioners, policymakers, academics, and other subject matter experts to engage in discourse on a wide range of topics relating to defence and security.

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