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The relevance of airpower for the defence of small states like Singapore

Singapore Armed Forces2023
In this essay, the author states that despite the increasing focus on irregular conflicts, today’s threat environment is really a hybrid of conventional and irregular warfare. In his opinion, small states need to retain the ability to deter and prevail in conventional conflict as their geostrategic realities provide them with little margin for error. Against the use of irregular warfare, they need to look beyond airpower’s traditional role as a primarily offensive tool to unlock other applications that can more aptly contribute to the objective of achieving legitimacy and influence over the relevant population. The author feels that one must understand that airpower has its limitations and cannot be the sole solution to all problems. Today’s conflicts are increasingly protracted and won by those who can control the narrative. The author concludes that airpower will be unsustainable and counter‐ productive for small states in today’s environment, if it is not complemented by other levers such as strategic communication.
Singapore, 2023
Monthly, July 2023
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