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【國際戰略年度報告】全球衝突預示未來10年更危險{附·英原文}

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2024-02-14 15:10:52

國際戰略研究所年度報告:全球衝突預示未來10年更危險

https://www.iiss.org/publications/the-military-balance/2024/chapter-1-era-of-insecurity/

英國軍事智庫「國際戰略研究所」(The International Institute for Strategic StudiesIISS)在周二(13)發表的年度「軍事平衡」報告中警告,以色列與哈馬斯戰事、俄烏戰爭以及印度太平洋和非洲日益緊張的局勢,都預示著「這很可能是更加危險的10年」。


這份有關170多國的軍事與國防經濟年度評估報告指出,全球已進入「安全環境高度不穩定」狀態,「當前的軍事安全局勢預示著這很可能是更加危險的10年,特點是一些(政權)肆無忌憚地運用軍事力量謀求(主權)主張」。


報告警告:不安全時代

報告並指,「不安全時代」正在重塑全球國防工業格局,「在經歷數十年的投資不足後」,美歐增加生產導彈和彈藥。

俄羅斯入侵烏克蘭的戰事即將屆滿兩年,報告指,俄方在衝突中損失約3,000輛坦克和裝甲車,數量與戰事剛展開時相約。IISS行政總監吉蓋里奇(Bastian Giegerich)表示,俄羅斯在汰換折損的戰車上是以「質量換數量」,將只能再承受這種損失23年。


報告並指,至今烏克蘭能透過西方捐贈來抵銷軍備損失,並從中提高其武器品質。但吉蓋里奇也指出,「西方政府再度陷入必須決定是否向基輔提供足夠武器以造成決定性打擊,或僅是提供足夠武器讓烏克蘭不要戰敗」。

2022年全球軍事開支增長

此外,報告指出,在部分受到北約(NATO)因應俄羅斯侵略行動的推動下,2022年全球軍事開支增長了9%,達到創紀錄的2.2萬億美元。IISS國防經濟專家麥克格蒂(Fenella McGerty)說:「安全前景毫無疑問地惡化,我們看到各國正對此做出回應。」根據IISS數據,只有10個北約成員國達到將國內生產總值的2%用於國防開支的目標,有19國去年增加支出。

IISS陸戰專家、退役英國陸軍准將巴里(Ben Barry)另警告,與加薩衝突有關的動盪局勢可能蔓延,已影響到也門、紅海、黎巴嫩、伊拉克和敘利亞,「這些衝突都有局勢升溫的風險。戰爭打得愈久,擦槍走火的機率就愈大……導致報復」。


報告提到,伊朗向也門反政府組織「青年運動」(Houthi)供應導彈並向俄羅斯提供無人機,凸顯了伊朗在衝突區域日益重要的角色。

THE MILITARY BALANCE 2024


Chapter 1: Era of Insecurity
An indispensable open-source assessment of the military forces, personnel numbers, equipment inventories and defence economics of over 170 countries.

DOWNLOADFREE TO READ | Chapter 1: Era of Insecurity

Renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas, a resurfaced Houthi missile threat, rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific and the Arctic, turmoil in Sub-Saharan Africa, coupled with Russia’s war on Ukraine that is grinding towards its third year created a highly volatile security environment in the past year. 

The current military-security situation heralds what is likely to be a more dangerous decade, characterised by the brazen application by some of military power to pursue claims – evoking a ‘might is right’ approach – as well as the desire among like-minded democracies for stronger bilateral and multilateral defence ties in response. At the same time, governments are trying to balance appetite for advanced weapons with the need to rebuild industrial-scale ammunition production capacity. The demise of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty highlighted a lack of interest in arms control.

Moscow’s military actions have amplified concerns in other parts of the world, particularly the Indo-Pacific, that a militarily powerful neighbour may try to exert its will over others. In Asia, this has driven Japan and South Korea to seek closer defence ties, the Philippines to re-engage with the United States on military cooperation, Taiwan to bolster its defences, and Australia to embark on an unprecedented expansion of its naval capacity, most visibly through the Australia–United Kingdom–US AUKUS partnership with nuclear-powered submarines at its core. 

China is becoming more assertive, not just in its immediate vicinity. The country flew a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the US and deployed ships near American shores, while its maritime assets had tense encounters with Canadian and Philippine vessels. Beijing sustained its defence modernisation, while also stepping up diplomatic engagement, brokering an effort at detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on 7 October using a combination of ground fighters, rocket fire and other tactics that killed around 1,200 civilians, and Tel Aviv’s assault on Gaza in the aftermath that caused mass civilian casualties have further upset the global security landscape. The fighting arrested efforts at improving relations between Israel and several Arab states and caused diplomatic rifts further afield. The fighting also exposed a potential overreliance by Israel on technology to monitor Hamas, which may have contributed to Tel Aviv not anticipating the attack.

Regional instability also affected other parts of the world. Africa suffered coups in Niger and Gabon, and military regimes now control a belt across the Sahel. The United Nations ended its Mali operations because of political pressure from the new regime, though violence in the country persisted.

All that happened as the costs to Russia of its ill-judged war crystallised during a second year of fighting. The Wagner Group’s attempted mutiny highlighted the internal fissures within Russia; Ukraine has gradually, even if only slowly, recaptured territory, though not as much as it – and its backers – hoped. At the same time, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been badly hit, and Moscow has had to adjust equipment plans to focus on the near-term fight.

Russia’s territorial ambitions also have spurred several governments in Europe to refresh their security thinking. Germany published a first national security strategy, and the UK issued an update to its Defence Command Paper. All made clear that national security is no longer an afterthought and that looming challenges require serious attention. They also highlighted, to different levels, that China is becoming an ever-greater security concern, matching, at least to some extent, Washington’s tone. China’s military developments were also a focus of Australia’s Defence Strategic Review.  

The result has been an uptick in defence outlays. Governments from Canberra to Washington to Oslo have also realised their ammunition stocks have fallen too low and the ability to restock needs fixing. A just-in-time mindset that has persisted for almost three decades is giving way to a just-in-case approach, though delivering on these ambitions is challenging.

Meanwhile, European countries are pursuing air- and missile-defence capabilities with renewed vigour. Uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs) are in strong demand, and defence establishments around globe are trying to harness the speed of development of entrepreneurial start-ups.

Trench warfare

Russia’s assault on Ukraine demonstrated that modern war still has echoes of the past. With its offensive stalled, Russia reverted to trench warfare, highlighting the value of capabilities such as mines and fortifications in defensive belts to slow a Ukrainian counter-offensive underpinned by Western-supplied arms. Some Western armed forces have again realised the requirement to focus on clearing complex obstacles, including trenches, as part of their training syllabus.

In parallel, Moscow and Kyiv have been adapting their operations. Ukraine began launching occasional long-range UAV attacks on Moscow using domestic designs to bring the war home to Russia. Moscow demonstrated its own resilience. It adjusted combat air operations to keep aircraft out of range of Ukrainian surface-to-air systems and paired UAVs and missile raids to overwhelm those defences.

Kyiv has retaken more than 50% of the territory Moscow gained in the early days of fighting, with most ground regained in 2022.

Kyiv’s 2023 counter-offensive, and at times criticism of its slow progress, also exposed some fallacies that have crept into some Western military thinking. After several wars in which Western countries enjoyed overwhelming equipment overmatch, the notion appears to have set in that the fighting phase of a conflict should be over quickly. Ukraine is a reminder that wars, more typically, are drawn-out affairs.

In Ukraine, both sides continued to expend weapons at a high, though in some cases carefully managed, pace. Moscow tried to balance the use of long-range air-to-ground missiles and attack UAVs with its ability to replenish its stocks. Ukraine adapted its air-defence operations to use high-capability surface-to-air missiles principally against Russia’s more sophisticated systems, leaving it largely to anti-aircraft guns and similar systems to take on less sophisticated UAV threats. 

Lessons emerging from the fighting are starting to influence the thinking of many armed forces. They include a heightened appreciation for the value of artillery, loitering munitions and counter-UAV systems, and both the value of and the threat from uninhabited maritime vehicles (UMVs). Interest in UMVs, already on the rise before the war, has grown within many armed forces, also propelled by a recognition that those systems can serve to monitor vulnerable critical national infrastructure that passes along the seabed floor that is not well monitored and is sometimes subject to attack.

NATO renewed

Russia’s actions have reinvigorated NATO, with Finland completing its rapid Alliance accession process in April 2023 and amplifying how Moscow misjudged the impact its attack on Ukraine would have on the regional security landscape. Russia’s border with NATO members is now more than 1,300 kilometres longer. Germany and Canada have made commitments to bolster their presence in the Baltic states, with Berlin pledging to permanently keep a brigade in Lithuania and Ottawa earmarking additional forces to Latvia. On the eve of the Vilnius Summit in July 2023, Turkiye agreed to forward Sweden’s accession application to its parliament for approval after months of stonewalling.

That is not to say NATO does not suffer areas of disagreement. Alliance members closest to Ukraine left little doubt going into the Vilnius Summit that they wanted to grant Ukraine membership, but the outcome was merely the promise for a truncated accession process with no clear timeline. NATO and Ukraine also established a joint council to work more closely together. But the summit provided further evidence that the Alliance was looking to strengthen its deterrence and defence posture, with a series of regional defence plans agreed that contain ambitious targets for force size and readiness.

Rethinking plans

Governments and their defence planning staffs have also embarked on adapting tactics and policies to prepare for the new security environment. Australia, Finland, Germany, Norway and the UK are among those to issue new defence-related strategy documents. In 2023, Germany’s first-ever national security strategy came after Chancellor Olaf Scholz the year before declared a turning point, a Zeitenwende, soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The document calls Russia ‘the most significant threat to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area’. And while short on detail in many areas, it says the government will ‘promote the development and introduction of highly advanced capabilities, such as precision deep-strike weapons’. Britain’s Defence Command Paper refresh, an update to a document a mere two years old, similarly puts the emphasis on the Euro-Atlantic.

Although Russia is typically identified as the primary threat in the Western strategy updates, Germany, the UK and others are also signalling a more cautious approach toward China. Berlin described its relationship with Beijing as dealing with a ‘partner, competitor and systemic rival’. Canberra was somewhat blunter in the public unveiling of Australia’s Defence Strategic Review in April, criticising Beijing for a lack of transparency around its defence plans. New Zealand also, for the first time, produced a National Security Strategy. It emphasised partnerships with others to maintain regional security.

Asian focus

Security tensions in Asia also are rising. North Korea pursued another busy year of missile launches. It unveiled and later tested what appeared to be a road-mobile, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-18. South Korea’s president briefly floated the idea of the country pursuing its own nuclear programme, and China’s nuclear arsenal is expanding. Beijing also applied pressure on the Philippines over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, routinely deploying its maritime militia there and to other areas in the South China Sea that it claims. Japan’s defence ministry published a new White Paper that calls for a significant boost in expenditure for the armed forces.

Western states are trying to balance their focus on the war in Ukraine with their largely trade-driven strategic interests in Asia. The UK, for instance, made Europe the centrepiece of its Defence Command Paper, but held firm to its plans to return an aircraft-carrier battlegroup to the Indo-Pacific in 2025. Under the AUKUS partnership, the UK has said it will forward-deploy an attack submarine to Australia. Canada, in 2023, said it intends to boost its naval deployment in the region to three ships from two. Germany’s defence minister said the country plans to dispatch two military vessels – a frigate and a supply ship – to the Indo-Pacific in 2024 and boost other activities. 

The US also stepped up its efforts to strengthen regional ties and counterbalance a more assertive Chinese foreign policy. Lloyd Austin became the first-ever US secretary of defense to travel to Papua New Guinea to bolster ties. Washington tried to enhance links with India, the Philippines and others. The US also committed to providing Australia with Virginia-class attack submarines under AUKUS, in advance of the delivery of the Australian–UK-built SSN-AUKUS boats, and Washington opened foreign- military- inancing funding channels to Taiwan to help the island state in its bid to strengthen its defences in the face of increased Chinese military activity. 

Various countries in the region are pursuing other partnerships with the clear aim of improving their security situation. Japan and Australia are working together more on defence matters, in parallel with Tokyo’s involvement with the UK and Italy in the Global Combat Air Programme, intended to develop a sixth-generation fighter by 2035. South Korea and Japan held talks to mend ties brokered by US President Joe Biden.

Building Back

Fighting in Ukraine has exposed how far armed forces and defence industries have fallen in their ability to rapidly replenish munitions stocks. In the aftermath of the Cold War, many Western forces drew down or largely relinquished stockpiles amid pressure from politicians to eliminate inventories that were judged excessive in the absence of a clear threat. Now, military leaders and some politicians acknowledge that was a mistake and are reversing course.   show more

Tapping Tech

Ukraine’s creative use of commercial and defence technologies, often introduced at breakneck pace, has amplified appetite among other armed forces to better harness systems offered by start-ups that have not traditionally been part of the defence-industrial base. Kyiv’s ingenuity played out visibly last year, for instance, in Ukrainian uninhabited maritime vehicle attacks on Russian ships, as well as uninhabited aerial vehicle attacks on targets in Russia.   show more

AI Anxiety

The release of a chatbot using generative artificial intelligence (AI) that can carry out tasks such as producing passable essays for high-school students has over the past year galvanised the debate over what to do about AI in defence.   

The director of the United States’ Defense Information Systems Agency, US Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, called it ‘probably one of the most disruptive technologies and initiatives in a very long, long time’. To punctuate his point, he added during an address at the TechNet Cyber 2023 conference that ‘those who harness that and can understand how to best leverage it but also to best protect against it are going to be the ones that have the high ground’. The US requested USD1.8 billion for AI-related capabilities for fiscal year 2024 alone.

Defence organisations, for decades, have grappled with what the advent of AI could mean for armed forces, from improving the management of supplies to generating more autonomous capability in weapons. Those discussions have ebbed and flowed but gained intensity again because of ChatGPT, which was followed in quick succession by numerous other commercial software vendors embracing the technology.

The large language models that underpin generative AI could, for instance, aid intelligence analysts in sifting through often vast amounts of collected but unstructured data. But the advent of generative AI comes with potential risks, too, particularly when it comes to cyber security. Cyber attackers can potentially use generative AI tools to generate more diverse and sophisticated attacks with relative ease and speed. 

In August, the Pentagon established a task force to analyse and integrate generative AI tools across the services. The Department of Defense also said it is eager to assess how adversaries may employ the technology to counter US efforts to harness AI. ‘We must keep doing more, safely and swiftly, given the nature of strategic competition with the PRC [People’s Republic of China]’, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said.

AI is becoming somewhat of a battleground. The US placed restrictions on some chip exports to China in a bid to slow the country’s military AI advances.

Perhaps one of the biggest questions around generative AI, at least for now, is the technology’s accuracy. When Microsoft and Google deployed versions of the technology to users, the algorithms famously produced inaccurate or misleading responses. In one case, Microsoft put limits on its chatbot after it said it harboured interest in obtaining nuclear codes. Such so-called hallucinations can be comical or troubling in civil applications. They hold the potential to be devasting in a military setting by misidentifying targets.

Armed forces, just like their civilian counterparts, also need to discern where the bulk of the AI work should be done. Many of the applications being popularised now run on large-scale cloud infrastructure operated by private-sector companies. But there is a view that relying on the cloud to deliver the capability has its downsides and that instead running AI on each device – a laptop or smartphone in the commercial world, but perhaps a tank or an aircraft in the military domain– provides greater data security and system resilience.

The rapid pace of change has fuelled discussions over how to place controls on the technology. But it quickly became clear that establishing any sort of arms-control mechanism to manage the development and deployment of AI would not be easy, in part because the technology is not fully defined and is largely dual use. The questions around setting guardrails for generative AI illustrate what one Asian defence planner argues is the modern world’s reality: that control mechanisms simply cannot keep up with the pace of technological change.  

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