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The best strategy to defending Singapore Island

Discussion in 'Strategy & Tactics' started by Twister, Dec 31, 2008.

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  1. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Firn, as usual, thank you for the interesting responses.

    I would be equally happy if we could just say the looking back from the present, Clauswitz is "unable to satisfy the rigour of analytical philosophy or modern scientific methodology and ends up with a work in which is far from scientific in a modern sense."

    Do you need the concept of a 'post-modern' point of view? This concept is subject to some academic debate. Further, my understanding of the idea of a 'post-modern' point of view is not what you have described. I don't really want to debate the idea of what is 'post-modern' if it is not essential to the point you are driving at. ;)

    If I may, I would like to qualify your basis of analysis further on 2 minor points for your consideration:

    (i) Singapore has over 3 million citizens and close to 1 million PRs or professionals on employment passes working in Singapore. We have a very low reproduction rate, such that, population growth has been achieved by net immigration. So our natural talent pool available for defence is small and we work on the long term assumption of a declining birth rate.

    (ii) Singapore has a self imposed cap on defence spending at 6% of our GDP and historically we have spent around 5% of our GDP on defence. Fortune has favoured our economy since independence, which has allowed our defence spending to enjoy constant real growth, especially from the 1980s onwards. From a planning perspective, in the late 1960s and the 1970s, we initially did not expect to outspend our neighbours in defence matters - outspending our neighbours in defence is a phenomenon that is only self evident after the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

    I am reading with interest and I await further posts from you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  2. Firn

    Firn Active Member

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    I agree that the term post-modern is a best confusing and that is far better to state simply that from a present point of view his work doesn't meet the "present" criterias of the social sciences.

    The first minor point addresses an error of mine, as I wrote 4 million citizien instead of resident. The second minor one excaberates in conjunction with the key characterstic of a very shallow available and relative pool of manpower.

    The point on the percentage spent on defense is a very enlighting one.


    A Grand Strategy for Singapore


    Given the inherent complexity of the geopolitical landscape of SE-Asia this can only be very limited, very sketchy and perishable interpretation of what a effective grand strategy of Singapore might look like.



    The key characteristics of Singapore are:

    - wealthy, indipendent city-state with a population of roughly 4 mill. residents
    - heavily urbanized tiny peninsular/island
    - key economic and financial hub of SE-Asia and of the international trade



    The strategic dimensions


    This inherent characteristics combined with those of neighbouring nations shape the strategic dimensions of the state:

    a) a general lack of strategic depth, absolute and relative to its immediate neighbours
    b) an easily disruptable economy with immediate dire consequences
    c) a relative shallow pool of directly available manpower and ressources
    d) a relative high wealth and a high education and technological level
    e) a stabile democracy and a efficient state

    Note: To a certain extent the position of Athen, especially in the Poleponnesian Wars showed similar characteristics.

    I will analyse the points one by one:


    a) The relative strategic depth

    The strategic depth is overall shallow but varies according to the origin and form of the threat considerably. I use the word strategic depth in a broad way to analyse/describe to which degree the geopolitical scape influences the ability of an external state/actor to achieve a decisive victory.

    (I) Against Malaysia the SD on land is very, very limited. The channel offers an excellent defensive line though. Every inch of Singapore's territory is in possible artillery and SAM reach. However even while Malaysia has far greater SD it's ability to supply itself over land with the ressources needed for war are very limited and depend on Thailand.

    Same goes for the SD of air and sea against the main peninsula, while it is good against the Malayisan part situated on the island. Malaysia is unable to sustain war with its domestic production and ressources expect food and water and trades over the sea. All this routes and the necessary facilities of trade might be endangered by a superior navy and airforce.

    (II) SD against Indonesia

    (III) SD against the PRC

    (IV) SD



    b) An easily disruptable economy

    The deep reliance on external trade for the most basic of goods and for comparable wealth of the city-state of Singapore combined with the shallow strategic depth make it potentially very suscitable to an external attempts to disrupt,severe or block this flow by sea, land and air. The means to do so are many and far from only achievable with military forms.

    However the importance of state as a trade hub and its strategic position increase also the importance of its peaceful existence in the eyes of those interested in free, open and undisturbed trade, transforming this intrinisc weakness into an important pillar of strenght. Out of necessity political, economical and military support are indirectly or directly even present at times of peace. It is quite probable that an external aggressor might have to face the economic and/or military power of various other actors of this region, among those the USA.

    c) A shallow pool of manpower

    The low number of citizien and the low reproduction make the available pool of manpower very shallow relative to most states in the region. A conflict relative close to the ideal of an absolute war against the most states in the region is unwinnable in the long run.

    d) A high level of education and technological know-how


    This allows Singapore to operate (and partly to develop) cutting-edge military hardware in an efficient and effective way and to integrate conscripts/reservists even into demanding roles with relative ease and speed-
    It creates also closer bonds with regional and international partners due to habitual cooperation.

    e) A efficient democracy


    A highly functional and efficient state is able to manage complex tasks and concentrate his forces on objects of his choosing. This holds true for the entire spectrum of services offered by the state to his citizien and residents.


    Synthesis - A tentative approach of an grand strategy


    So how could one look like?

    The Politik of the Grand Strategy


    The deep non-aligned military, political and economical cooperation with both "solid" and cooperation in differing forms with "difficult" partners.


    (i) Making Singpore irreplacable for the wider net of "solid" partners and "difficult" partners alike. This means strenghening the already existing and mentioned strenghts of this state. A "neutral" fabric which keeps the web of commerce and finance togheter might be for some an attractive prize to win, but it is also for many more a terrible knot to loose. This investments may be the most fruitful and efficient in the long term.


    (ii) Inform international partners about the importance of the sorrounding tradeflow in general and of city-state in spefic and try to influence the perceptions of their institutions and policy-makers. This can be done in a great many ways and is IMHO a very cost-effective way to vastly increase the "strategic depth" of the state.


    (iii) Cooperate closely with the regional partners to increase the security of the tradeflow and the economic and political freedom. There will be much friction and disaccord as Singapore is widely seen as the great profiteer, but it must be undertaken to decrease the chances of low-level and limited attemps to harass and disrupt the lifelines of Singapore.


    (iv) Inform and influence the perceptions of the surrounding populations and decision makers in your favor by acting as a helping hand in times of crisis for te former and by offering excellent non-binding treatment to the latter



    The Military in the Grand Strategy



    b) A solid military force with the capability to dominate/negate the vital sea lanes and airspace and to defeat immediate threads with rapidly mobilized and modern joint armed forces

    (i) A large number of military trained citiziens which can be integrated in times of crisis rapidly to form a relative large and effecitve fighting force. This allows for the effective concentration of force in time and space to defend the small territory of Singapore, see Clausewitz (Chapter 8, Superiority in numbers):

    "Much more frequently the relative superiority—that is, the skilful assemblage of superior forces at the decisive point—has its foundation in the right appreciation of those points, in the judicious direction which by that means has been given to the forces from the very first, and in the resolution required to sacrifice the unimportant to the advantage of the important—that is, to keep the forces concentrated in an overpowering mass. In this, Frederick the Great and Buonaparte are particularly characteristic." 1


    (ii) Relative limited manpower and relative high wealth mean that the armed forces will have to rely to a great extent on expensive technology, organisation and training to achieve an efficient military force. A high amount of the "Vernichtungsprinzip" (firepower) in combination with the "Bewegungsprizip" (mobility) has all major conflict been able to ease the need for manpower up to a certain extent.Modern, highly mechanized and networked armed forces with overwhelming firepower are even with relative few men fearsome opponents. This raises the stakes greatly for any potential invader. 2


    (iii) A powerful navy and a powerful airforce are able to greatly harrass, disrupt and block the ability of opposing states to operate efficiently, more so in the spefic geopolitical environment of SE Asia. The great importance of trade for the funcition of almost any industrial or even semi-industrial nation is well known. A large number of relative soft targets is needed to allow a modern economy to operate and to sustain the war effort.


    (iv) A powerful navy and airforce are also capable to make an sustainable invasion by almost all nations almost impossible and keep the trade routes, the lifelines of Singapore under most conditions open. They are also able to assist the armed forces in limited and rapid offensive actions.


    (v) The ability to deliver "surgical" strikes on a large scale and to defend itself against sustained air,land and sea attacks by firepower is of great political importance in a limited conflict as it may allow Singapore to contain limited attacks by external forces without being forced to large land offensives. This is especially important because the all of the tiny surface of the island might be under some condition in artillery or bombing range. A effective, yet limited response increases the chances of goodwill and support by parters and allies.


    Notes:

    1. It is of course only a part of the whole, even if a very important one. He continues:

    "We think we have now allotted to the superiority in numbers the importance which belongs to it; it is to be regarded as the fundamental idea, always to be aimed at before all and as far as possible.

    But to regard it on this account as a necessary condition of victory, would be a complete misconception of our exposition; in the conclusion to be drawn from it there lies much rather nothing more than the value which should attach to numerical strength in the combat. If that strength is made as great as possible, then the maxim is satisfied; a review of the total relations must then decide whether or not the combat is to be avoided for want of sufficient force."


    2. See also the following, the concept of which is IMHO timeless (Book V, The relation of the three arms) "Now, if the combination of the three gives the greatest strength, it is natural to inquire what is the best absolute proportion of each, but that is a question which it is almost impossible to answer.

    If we could form a comparative estimate of the cost of organising in the first instance, and then provisioning and maintaining each of the three arms, and then again of the relative amount of service rendered by each in war, we should obtain a definite result which would give the best proportion in the abstract. But this is little more than a play of the imagination. The very first term in the comparison is difficult to determine, that is to say, one of the factors, the cost in money, is not difficult to find; but another, the value of men's lives, is a computation which no one would readily try to solve by figures.

    Also the circumstance that each of the three arms chiefly depends on a different element of strength in the state—Infantry on the number of the male population, cavalry on the number of horses, artillery on available financial means—introduces into the calculation some heterogeneous conditions, the overruling influence of which may be plainly observed in the great outlines of the history of different people at various periods.

    As, however, for other reasons we cannot altogether dispense with some standard of comparison, therefore, in place of the whole of the first term of the comparison we must take only that one of its factors which can be ascertained, namely, the cost in money. Now on this point it is sufficient for our purpose to assume that, in general, a squadron of 150 horsemen, a battalion of infantry 800 strong, a battery of artillery consisting of 8 six-pounders, cost nearly the same, both as respects the expense of formation and of maintenance.
    "

    Form the same chapter:

    "On the other hand, the nature of a war may have a notable influence on the proportions of the three arms.

    First, a national war, kept up by militia and a general levy (Landsturm), must naturally bring into the field a very numerous infantry; for in such wars there is a greater want of the means of equipment than of men, and as the equipment consequently is confined to what is indisputably necessary, we may easily imagine, that for every battery of eight pieces, not only one, but two or three battalions might be raised.

    Second, if a weak state opposed to a powerful one cannot take refuge in a general call of the male population to regular military service, or in a militia system resembling it, then the increase of its artillery is certainly the shortest way of bringing up its weak army nearer to an equality with that of the enemy, for it saves men, and intensifies the essential principle of military force, that is, the destructive principle. Any way, such a state will mostly be confined to a limited theatre, and therefore this arm will be better suited to it. Frederick the Great adopted this means in the later period of the Seven Years' War."


    @OPSSG: I would once again welcome your criticism.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  3. Firn

    Firn Active Member

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    I will perhaps modify the post further, best if with some input of experienced members.
     
  4. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Save for minor modifications or specific comments below in 'blue', I broadly agree with your attempt to analyse the vulnerabilities.

    See my comments below on each point and I hope you will find my comments helpful.

    In the discussion on strategic depth, I would simply say that:
    Singapore, in physical terms lacks strategic depth viz a viz our immediate neighbours (like Malaysia and Indonesia). Given our small size and population, our country would be logically seen as vulnerable and difficult to defend from a military perspective. ​

    I broadly agree with your idea but would bring across essentially the same point in a simpler manner:

    b) The Singapore economy is dependent on International Trade

    Singapore as a city state is not self sufficient in the production of food, energy and raw materials. Given that Singapore is entirely dependent on trade, any disruption in trade flowing through the region would have an adverse effect on Singapore, Singaporeans and our economy. However, given Singapore's geo-strategic importance, external powers would likewise be concerned with any disruption in the trade passing through the region. Singapore has chosen to align her commercial interests with that of the external powers (like the Australia, Japan, US and even China), such that any unilateral attempt by any immediate neighbour to disrupt trade would be viewed unfavourably by the external powers.​

    Delete the last line in 'blue' and insert the following:

    If Singapore is drawn into a conflict of attrition with any of our bigger immediate neighbours, such a conflict would not be viewed as conventionally winnable.​

    Agreed.

    I believe the modified text above is a more accurate description of Singapore and our government.

    I make no comments here.

    Save for minor addition in 'blue' above, I make no further comments.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2009
  5. Firn

    Firn Active Member

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    I edited my post due to the changes OPSSG proposed.


    A sketchy Grand Strategy for Singapore




    The strategic properties

    The key characteristics of Singapore are:

    - wealthy, interdependent city-state with a population of roughly 4 mill. residents
    - heavily urbanized island
    - key economic and financial hub of SE-Asia and of the international trade



    The strategic dimensions

    This inherent characteristics combined with those of neighbouring nations shape the strategic dimensions of the state:

    a) a general lack of strategic depth, absolute and relative to its immediate neighbours
    b) an easily disruptable economy with immediate dire consequences
    c) a relative shallow pool of directly available manpower and resources
    d) a relative high wealth and a high education and technological level
    e) a stable democracy and an efficient state

    Note: To a certain extent the position of Athen, especially in the Poleponnesian Wars showed similar characteristics.



    a) General lack of Strategic depth

    Singapore, in physical terms lacks strategic depth viz a viz our immediate neighbours (like Malaysia and Indonesia). Given our small size and population, our country would be logically seen as vulnerable and difficult to defend from a military perspective



    b) An easily disruptable economy

    The deep reliance on external trade for the most basic of goods and for comparable wealth of the city-state of Singapore combined with the shallow strategic depth make it potentially very susceptible to an external attempts to disrupt,severe or block this flow by sea, land and air. The means to do so are many and far from only achievable with military forms.

    However the importance of state as a trade hub and its strategic position increase also the importance of its peaceful existence in the eyes of those interested in free, open and undisturbed trade, transforming this intrinsic weakness into an important pillar of strength. Out of necessity political, economical and military support are indirectly or directly even present at times of peace. It is quite probable that an external aggressor might have to face the economic and/or military power of various other actors of this region, among those the USA.



    c) A limited pool of manpower


    The low number of citizen and the low reproduction make the available pool of manpower very limited [delete:shallow] relative to most states in the region.



    d) A high level of education and technological know-how


    This allows Singapore to operate (and partly to develop) cutting-edge military hardware in an efficient and effective way and to integrate conscripts/reservists even into demanding roles with relative ease and speed-
    It creates also closer bonds with regional and international partners due to habitual cooperation. A conflict relative close to the ideal of an absolute war against the most states in the region is unwindable in the long run.



    e) Singapore is a capable state with a capable government


    A highly functional and efficient state is able to manage complex tasks and concentrate his forces on objects of his choosing. This holds true for the entire spectrum of services offered by the state to his citizen and residents.



    The Politik of the Grand Strategy


    The deep non-aligned military, political and economical cooperation with both "solid" and cooperation in differing forms with "difficult" partners.



    (i) Making Singapore irreplaceable


    Do so for the wider net of "solid" partners and "difficult" partners alike. This means strengthening the already existing and mentioned strengths of this state. A "neutral" fabric which keeps the web of commerce and finance together might be for some an attractive prize to win, but it is also for many more a terrible knot to loose. This investments may be the most fruitful and efficient in the long term.



    (ii) Spread the word


    Inform international partners about the importance of the surrounding trade flow in general and of city-state in specific and try to influence the perceptions of their institutions and policy-makers. This can be done in a great many ways and is IMHO a very cost-effective way to vastly increase the "strategic depth" of the state.



    (iii) Cooperate and help regionally

    Cooperate closely with the regional partners to increase the security of the tradeflow and the economic and political freedom. There will be much friction and disaccord as Singapore is widely seen as the great profiteer, but it must be undertaken to decrease the chances of low-level and limited attempts to harass and disrupt the lifelines of Singapore.


    (iv) Inform and influence people and nations

    Shape the perceptions of the surrounding populations and decision makers in your favor by acting as a helping hand in times of crisis for the former and by offering excellent non-binding treatment to the latter



    The Military in the Grand Strategy


    A solid military force with the capability to dominate/negate the vital sea lanes and airspace and to defeat immediate threads with rapidly mobilized and modern joint armed forces is a pillar in the grand strategy.



    (i) Welltrained and Organized citizien-soldiers


    A large number of military trained citizens which can be integrated in times of crisis rapidly to form a relative large and effective fighting force (but this force is untested in war). This allows for the effective concentration of force in time and space to defend the small territory of Singapore, see Clausewitz (Chapter 8, Superiority in numbers):



    (ii) Networked Hightech - capable Soldiers

    Relative limited manpower and relative high wealth mean that the armed forces will have to rely to a great extent on expensive technology, organisation and training to achieve an efficient military force. A high amount of the "Vernichtungsprinzip" (firepower) in combination with the "Bewegungsprizip" (mobility) has all major conflict been able to ease the need for manpower up to a certain extent.Modern, highly mechanized and networked armed forces with overwhelming firepower are even with relative few men fearsome opponents. This raises the stakes greatly for any potential invader. 2



    (iii) Keep the lifelines open


    A powerful navy and a powerful airforce are able to greatly harrass, disrupt and block the ability of opposing states to operate efficiently, more so in the spefic geopolitical environment of SE Asia. The great importance of trade for the funcition of almost any industrial or even semi-industrial nation is well known. A large number of relative soft targets is needed to allow a modern economy to operate and to sustain the war effort.



    (iv) Deny invasions by Sea and Air


    A powerful navy and airforce are also capable to make an sustainable invasion by almost all nations almost impossible and keep the trade routes, the lifelines of Singapore under most conditions open. They are also able to assist the armed forces in limited and rapid offensive actions.



    (v) Precise and Effective Firepower


    The ability to deliver "surgical" strikes on a large scale and to defend itself against sustained air,land and sea attacks by firepower is of great political importance in a limited conflict as it may allow Singapore to contain limited attacks by external forces without being forced to large land offensives. This is especially important because the all of the tiny surface of the island might be under some condition in artillery or bombing range. A effective, yet limited response increases the chances of goodwill and support by partners and allies.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2009
  6. Firn

    Firn Active Member

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    After having written "A sketchy Grand Strategy for Singapore" I also understand why Israeli were considered to be the best trainers and advisers for the creation of the armed forces of Singapore. :D
     
  7. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Territorial disputes between neighbouring countries like Vietnam and China, if mishandled can lead to armed conflict. In this case, Vietnam shares a 1,400 km land border with China and both parties signed a bilateral land-border treaty (LBT). On 1 Jan 2009, both parties signed an aide memoir on the completion of the land border demarcation, which has significantly reduced the chance of armed conflict between Vietnam and China over their joint land border. RSIS has issued a working paper on 'The Implementation of Vietnam-China Land Border Treaty: Bilateral and Regional Implications' and I have enclosed the link if for those are interested in China-ASEAN developments.
     
  8. Firn

    Firn Active Member

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    I gave it a quick look, perhaps a more closer one will follow.

    Such territorial disputes are a constant source of uneasiness and may be like the rough surface of a matchbook in times of crisis. It seems that the treaty has smoothened it considerably.
     
  9. G00dEgg

    G00dEgg New Member

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    Not to challenge anyone's view in this very long and meaningful thread. My view is somehow different from most. (At least I think so.)

    To put is simple, Singapore is nothing but a piece of rock. If you going to look at the whole region (put singapore in the middle and draw a perfect circle of around 35 nautical miles.) If talking about the land available to be developed into something like singapore. We could put Johor, bintan, tebing tinggi and riau island in the radar. All it takes is determination.

    Can someone tell me honestly that if Singapore is really irreplaceable? My answer to this question is that Singapore is expensive to replace.

    I believe that the post Sketchy Grand Strategy is very comprehensive one and a good strategy. Which basicaly it is based on the fundamental of Total Defense.

    All the talking is based on the traditional warfare that all of us can remember from movies like saving private ryan. A full scale war like that can escalate. only if the following chain of event happens.

    1. North Korea carry on firing its satelites that normally fail to orbit and drop off the sea of korea and japan. With NK naval vessals carry on harassing South Koreas fishing vessals.
    2. Japan is increasingly irritated by the move and eventually decided to send some warships to check out on the activity of the lanuch. China is unhappy of such high performance naval vessel coming too close to China and suspect them of doing surveillance.
    3. Korea peninsula conflict is imminent as NK threaten to use untested and unproven Nuclear tech.
    4. US companies like Lockheed Martin will try to push Taiwan to buy expensive system by using the Korea conflict as an environment to justify the purchase. If Taiwan disagree, LM will make it a public matter.
    5. With such progression, the two carrier battle group will be activated to oversee the progress of the Korea peninsular and Taiwan's conflicy. China will view this as a chance to take Taiwan using military might when US military influence is at the weakest point.
    6. With no Carrier presence in SEA. Things will be interesting.

    Above senario will unlikely to happen but highly possible. Unlikely is because the Obama administration is trying hard to avoid this.

    So can we rely on the Americans on Singapore Defense issue? Well it had been pointed out in previous post that Singapore is not intending to do so.

    Conventional warfare is highly not possible in the next 20 years. With Malaysia thinking of biting Singapore. Thailand would start to react againest the South Thailand Muslim Radicals as Malaysia would be highly involved with the fight with Singapore. If Indonesia wants to join the fun will have a strong tug on the eastern side where Australia is. Australia will join the fun too from the Papua N.G side.

    No matter whose flag fly in the end. Singapore will perish for sure. Because a war torn Malaysia can slowly get back on its feet with its support from internal consumption and internal production. War Torn Indonesia could face problems like seperatist movement out of control. Still Indonesia would still be Indonesia.

    The best strategy for Singapore to survive is no doubt a strong Defense Force. It is important for Singapore to get ASEAN going with these few important factors.
    1. Build the foundation of the ASEAN economy to be inter reliant. We could build industries that are interreliant. For eg. Ship building, Ship protection
    - As I know that Malacca straits has characteristic that not all dry bulk could pass thru due to depth limits and such. We could have a Ship coy just to address this problem and create new limits for bigger ship to transverse this strait so that such trade can benefit all members
    2. We have to draft an ASEAN human rights standard into the constitution that is on par with the Western World. We need absolute determination to do this and once it is done actually we have no fear that burma and vietnam wouldn't comply. It is like EU dealing with eastern European pro soviet nations. If trading as ASEAN member is attractive enough burma problem could be solved.

    Bottomline. Singapore Survival is basically based on the whole Asia's military balace and stablility. Any Taiwan or Korea or Both conflict could jeopardise Singapore's survival. Our Military force is based on a model that no one can threaten us with Military might. And any Military might against us could worst case become a Mutally Assured Destruction with WMD and nuclear is not used.

    I wonder who will read this lengthy post of mine. . . . . :nutkick
     
  10. FutureTank

    FutureTank Banned Member

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    Singapore need not be attacked territorially, or even militarily to be attacked.
    Its value is primarily in its strategic position relevant to global trade networks. Blockading this position will affect a large number of global actors, but primarily China and Japan, but also India. However, breaking this blockade would require fixed wing air support, and neither Japan nor China currently possess this capability. On the other hand neither Malaysia nor Indonesia have the naval capability to conduct a naval blockade opposed by either Japan or China. So who does?

    India is the only state in the region that has the capability to conduct a naval blockade, and to oppose either Japan or China in relief of such a blockade. India can do so by blockading the Great Channel exit from the Andaman Sea without even having the need to challenge Malay or Indonesian navies, and forcing the Singaporean naval forces to negotiate operations through Malay or Indonesian territorial waters, a precarious political situation.

    Who has interest in the demise of Singapore? Only a state that sees itself as a potential replacement of Singapore. Neither Indonesia (in Ache), nor Malaysia or Thailand have the money to create such an infrastructural replacements. On the other hand India can make this infrastructure investment in the Andamans, and if it concludes some sort of agreement with China, a logistic hub can be created in Yangon to allow the entire trade lane to be moved from sea to land, bypassing Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and making Japan, South Korea and Vietnam and of course Taiwan dependent on the Chinese land route connected to Hong Kong and Shanghai. Strategically it would be a considerable economic shift in regional power positions, particularly from Chinese perspective, and would bring India as a far more relevant participant in the economics of South and East Asia than it is now.

    When the Chines start building high capacity high speed railway lines into Burma, and India announces expansion of the port facilities on the Andaman islands Singapore should consider the campaign to have begun. Until then there is no reason to worry about Singapore's "Grand Strategy" :)
     
  11. Wooki

    Wooki Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    stick to models

    This is flat wrong.

    Singapore is important because it sits on the global trade"Mother" SLOC--- period. India and the Andamans sit on the same SLOC, so a "blockade" of that SLOC also destroys India and the Andaman's ability to take advantage of it. They feed off the same oxygen. Cut it off they both suffer.

    As to political difficulties in going through Indonesian waters; there are none as there is a thing called "free passage" in International law. Look it up, as it disqualifies your position.

    As to unloading a ship and railing it across country only to be reloaded in Hong Kong, so it can get to Japan (as that is where the SLOC goes) It is inefficient in the extreme and will never happen.

    The only place on the global mother SLOC (that circumnavigates the globe) where unloading; transit across land; and then reloading to continue on the journey is in the USA where cargo is unloaded at Longbeach and then reloaded at Newark for transit to Europe or the other way for transit to Japan.

    This rail link has to compete with the Panama Canal. It has only become competitive since Maersk bought our Sealand, but now there are plans to expand the Panama Canal and Oh, the Chinese (COSCO) have created a hub 50 miles offshore from Miami.

    In other words if you don't rail, you have two options:

    1. Panama Canal
    2. Drake's Passage

    In your scenario you have Selat Sunda and every other strait to Torres Strait that will out perform your high speed rail link to everywhere except the Western Chinese Provinces.

    Rail, even though it delivers at approx. 430 ton miles per Gallon, cannot compete against a 100Kton mother ship on a liner trade that delivers same cargo at approx. 3500 ton miles per gallon. In other words the ship can afford to sail around your "blockade" of Singapore.

    Therefore your premise is incorrect and your thought process ill informed.

    Let's talk about something you know about; For example: Making plastic models. I have a passing interest and I am sure you can make a better contribution to the DT community if you actually start discussing a topic that is within your skillset.

    cheers

    w
     
  12. FutureTank

    FutureTank Banned Member

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    It seems to me you misunderstood

    "Mother" SLOC? You forget how Singapore was created. It was created to allow European trade to reach Asia, and European, or British power to be projected in Asia. Singapore doesn't serve either role now, particularly so in the last decade at least.
    The "oxygen" you speak of used to be pumped in, and now it largely flows out.

    I was talking about warships going through Indonesian waters in time of war.

    Oh really? Its a lot easier to power trains with electricity derived from Chinese or Indian nuclear reactors than to have ships sailing around the Malay Peninsula and the coast of Vietnam.

    In case you had not noticed, the traffic is increasingly FROM China and India, so the transloading done in Singapore is often minimal. What Singapore does provide is administrative, technology support and logistic services to the vessels. There is also the refinery business. And of course Singapore is a significant exporter itself. However, mostly it is a competitor to China and India. A smaller competitor, but one none the less that provides an additional distraction to SE Asia where India used to be the economic core before the arrival of the British and other Europeans.
    China on the other hand is more interested in bringing Taiwan, South Korea and other East Asian states, maybe even Japan, into its sphere of economic power, as it was before European arrival.

    So explain why this rail link will compete with the Panama Canal? The PC was built in a different age.

    Surely you jest! Drake's Passage? Are you familiar with modern port technology? Containers can be offloaded onto rail and be off to Shanghai in a matter of 3-4 hours after vessel's arrival, moving overland that is largely independent of weather the vessels have to cope with. More important is the pressure this will place the other states in the region to cou-tau to China and India.

    I'll check your figures unless you would like to quote your sources.

    Your opinion...
     
  13. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    G00dEgg, welcome to DT. You should take a moment to post an intro on your background, so that the other DT members can get to know you. If you are inclined to read more to further inform your posts, I would recommend 2 additional articles including:

    (i) a 2004 article called 'Straits, Passages and Chokepoints' by Jean-Paul Rodrigue on the topic of petroleum distribution; and

    (ii) a older article called 'Chokepoints: Martime Ec Concerns in SE Asia' by John Noer with David Gregory prepared for the US National Defense University / Institute for National Strategic Studies.

    These articles are recommended readings by a blogger called Eaglespeak.

    The Strait of Malacca supports the bulk of the maritime trade between Europe and Pacific Asia, which accounts for 50,000 ships each year. The strait is approximately 800 km long and between 50 to 320 km wide (2.5 km at its narrowest point) and has a minimum channel depth of 23 metres (roughly 70 feet). It is the longest strait in the world used for international navigation. Close to 30% of the world’s trade and 80% of petroleum imports to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan transit through the strait. As the main passage between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Malacca is an unavoidable bottleneck, with the Strait of Sunda (Indonesia) being the closest alternative.
     
  14. kupukupumu

    kupukupumu New Member

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    This is the best answer. Also, after the Cold War era and especially today, Indonesia take no hostile view on Malaysia. And as been started by some before, Indonesia never see Singapore as a threat nor should be part of Indonesia. In general, although both Indonesian and Malaysian have more similarities in culture and religion, most of Indonesians prefer Singapore to Malaysia in many aspects.
     
  15. spikehades

    spikehades Member

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    A massive and sustained SRBM/MLRS and artillery barrage should render Singapore's air superiority obsolete in double quick time. Then overwhelm their land based defences with a much larger force. Job done.
     
  16. Marc 1

    Marc 1 Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Spike old mate, even without checking your post count I think I can tell you are new here....:)

    Can you tell me how many SRBM/MLRS Malaysia has? Can you tell me why Singaporean Intelligence wouldn't detect a buildup of artillery assets just across the causeway?

    Now can you tell me why Malaysia (the only country in range of Arty and MLRS) would want to attack Singapore and what the 5 power defence agreement partners would make of this?
     
  17. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    Funny enough, most Malaysians I know, 'prefer' and have fonder sentiments for Singapore rather than Indonesia. But I really think that personal opinions on off topic subjects should best be left out, don't you?

    The Malaysian Armed Forces [MAF] is not structured or equipped for power projection or extended combat operations beyond Malaysian borders and Malaysia's main concern is the threat of terrorism and her territories in the disputed Spratleys, not the possibility of conflict with her neighbours. The MAF has no SRBMs [the only country in the region which has ever publicly expressed an interest for SRBMs was Indonesia in the mid-1990's], only 28 155mm howitzers, about 150 short range Model 56 105mm howitzers and 36 ASTROS launchers, with another 18 on order, which will reportedly be based in East Malaysia. Just to give you some background, for more than 20 years, the priority of the MAF was counter insurgency [against the Communist Part of Malaya in Peninsular Malaysia and the North Kalimantan Communist Party in Sarawak] and assisting the government in the task of nation building. Serious efforts to devote attention to external rather than internal security, only started to be made in the mid-1990's and procurement plans have often been postponed due to cuts in the budget and the need to address other priorities.

    Despite the potential for border clashes between ASEAN countries [like the ones in the past involving Thailand, Laos and Myanmar which saw the use artillery and air power], IMO the biggest danger facing ASEAN countries is not the possibility of a full scale war with other ASEAN countries but the threat of international terrorism and the possibility that an incident in the South China Sea in the Spratleys area could turn ugly and rapidly spiral out of control, effecting the whole region.
     
  18. spikehades

    spikehades Member

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    My post was based solely on tactical considerations. I did not take into account strategic reasoning of any sort - it was just a method of achieving the goal of neutralising Singapore's air superiority, if a neighbouring country chose to do so.
    Having said this, I will humor your questions.

    If a second country seriously wanted to attack singapore:

    SRBMs and MLRS systems are readily available and are tried and tested technology - thus they are effective. These systems can be bought easily and quickly - sometimes off shelf or even from seller countries' reserve stock. They are easy to use and maintain and thus can be inducted quickly, perhaps within 18 months. They are also very good value for money and thus cost-effective. Ideally the warheads have a good cluster munitions/HE mix. The very fact that Singapore has sought ABM defences indicates that they themselves have considered this threat as credible.

    Singapore would easily notice a build up of missile and artillery forces - questions is what would they do about it? Initiate pre-emptive strikes against dispersed targets? How would the 5 power agreement play out in that scenario? Suffice to say a Singaporean attack on the second country's military assets would just give a cassus belli for an overwhelming missile and artillery barrage against Singapore and thus Singapore would only be helping the second country in achieving their goals.

    The five power agreement is an unknown quantity - and one can only speculate on how that would play out once hostilities ensued.
     
  19. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    I realise your post was directed at Marc 1 but I decided to give my thoughts on the subject.

    For a start, if neighbouring countries wanted to do as you indicated, they would have to significantly increase their defence budget, which would not be possible in the short term as it would be damaging to the national economy as a whole. After that, they would need time, and lots of it, to train and develop the skills and support infrastructure needed to operate beyond their borders, in high tempo, extended operations. And they would be operating against the Singapore Armed Forces [SAF], which unlike the Malaysian Armed Forces [MAF] and theTentera Nasional Indonesia [TNI] has been able for several decades to focus on external security, is much more networked, has numerical superiority in many key areas and unlike the MAF and the TNI, has much smaller operational peacetime responsibilities, due to Singapore being a much smaller country.

    To date, neither Malaysia or Indonesia has taken any steps to ensure that it has the capability to threaten any other country in ASEAN - for the reason that they do not have to - and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. And as I mentioned before, the MAF for the past few decades was focused on counter insurgency, not in external security - the same goes for most ASEAN countries - and this is still reflected in the way their armies are organised and equipped.

    Yes they are readily available but haven't been taken up by any ASEAN countries due to political reasons and because they might not be very useful things to have, given the threat perceptions of various ASEAN countries. This is not the Middle East and things haven't reached a point where ASEAN countries would want to acquire ballistic missiles.

    We can speculate as to the reasons why Singapore got the Iron Dome. Many on various forums and blogs are of the opinion that it was to counter Malaysia's ASTROS. My personal opnion is that it was to cater to the possibility that certain countries in the near future might acquire cruise missiles such as Brahmos. Anyhow, the whole of SEA is well within range of Chinese ballistic missiles and has been for some time now.

    If things had reached a point where diplomacy had failed and ASEAN, the UN or the U.S. had been unable to defuse tensions, the leadership of Singapore - if convinced that hostilities were imminent and that there was a clear threat to Singapore - would have no choice but to launch a pre-emptive strike.

    It is not an unknown quantity. It role is clearly defined and it provides a platform where discussions can be undertaken as to how to proceed in event of an external threat on Malaysia and Singapore. It replaced the Anglo Malayan Defence agreement [AMDA] and does not compel the U.K, Australia or New Zealand to come to the aid of Malaysia and Singapore, as it is not a binding alliance like NATO.

    In event of a full scale conflict involving Malaysia and Singapore, the FPDA might be able to play as role as a mediator, alongside ASEAN, apart from that there is not much it can do as it was not intended to cater for such an eventuality. As part of the FPDA, there are staff from all 5 FPDA members [including several Republic of Singapore Air Force officers] attached to the IADS HQ [commanded by a Australian officer] in Butterworth, a liasion officer from the Royal Malaysian Air Force at Changi, a Royal Australian Air Force presence at Butterworth and a Rifle Company from the Australian army permanently deployed at Butterworth, so achieving strategic surprise will be a bit hard. And as part of the FPDA, members also share intel under the ANZMIS arrangement.
     
  20. spikehades

    spikehades Member

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    Up until now the debate has been centred on the fact Malaysia and Indonesia at the moment are not strategically geared to focus on this type of operation. And that they don't have the capability - which is all well and good as a status quo argument.

    My point is: IF either of these countries seriously wanted to neutralise Singapore's air capability for 7hatever reason - a missile strike and artillery barrage would be the way to go. As for the 5 power agreement , it is pretty vague in terms of the mondus operandi of any military intervention in response to an initiation of hostilities in the region.

    Any intervention would mean a large and costly expeditionary force.

    N.B: Although Malaysia and Indonesia do not have the said missile capability as yet, they can acquire this capability very quickly and cheaply! Especially if the purchases were made on easy credit terms.

    Russian BM-30 SMERCH or the Chinese A100 systems would be more than adequate as they are capable of employing a variety munitions and has sufficient range (y0KM and 120KM respectively). They are also relatively cheap, India have recently bought ~ 60 BM-30 systems for $750 million.