RUSI in the News - January 2010

Citations of RUSI experts, analysis and events in the global media from January 2010

Afghan talks continue at London conference

This month, London hosted a conference where representatives discussed strategies to target persisting issues of corruption, lack of governance and instability in Afghanistan.  With various European countries re-assessing their military commitments to the war, RUSI's Malcolm Chalmers notes that, 'military burden sharing is less central to the Americans now'.  He suggests that the US shift away from Iraq provides a more prominent focus on Afghanistan.  Regardless, head of the Land Operations and Capabilities Programme at RUSI, Olivier Grouille, stresses that, 'the key is the professionalisation of the Afghan army and the police'.  Amidst speculation that troops are struggling to meet the demands of the war, RUSI director, Professor Michael Clarke notes that the 'infantry heavy' campaign in Afghanistan was largely unforeseen.  He says, 'nobody in the MoD or the armed forces anticipated that we'd deploy 10,000 troops for five years or more in a far away country' and we must adjust accordingly.

As talks continue, experts are questioning ideas of possible reconciliation with Taliban members.  Director of Military Sciences at RUSI, Michael Codner, notes that success with the Afghan reintegration program could hinge upon the expected surge of US and NATO forces this spring.  'We're talking about late spring', Codner says, 'if a tipping point is achieved, where the reconcilable Taliban decide this is in their interests and the interests of the communities that are supporting them'.

Coverage: Stars and Stripes, Deutsche Welle, Canadian Press, Napa Valley Register, Monsters and Critics, Post Zambia

For more RUSI research on Afghanistan, click here.

Hubris and optimism exposed by Chilcot enquiry

As the enquiry into the motives for the Iraq war continues this month, RUSI's director, Professor Michael Clarke, commented on the impending historical legacy that ex-Prime Minister, Tony Blair will leave by his participation on 29 January.  Whilst arguing Blair's 'confused optimism', Clarke remarks upon 'his instinct in tough circumstances that a British prime minister should back the administration in Washington'. 

Coverage: Channel 4 News

'Capability Cost Trends: Implications for the Defence Review'

As the Ministry of Defence continues to plan for the future amidst speculation of spending cuts and the ever-changing risks facing the Armed Forces in modern warfare, RUSI's Malcolm Chalmers this month published the paper, 'Capability Cost Trends: Implications for the Defence Review'.  Chalmers outlines scope for the UK to alter its global role, particularly in Afghanistan, based on potential cuts in spending and military personnel. 

In light of growing public suspicion of the Government's mismanagement of finance affecting the budget for defence, RUSI fellow, Trevor Taylor suggests that the system of expenditure results in projects often taking longer and costing more.  He notes, 'because you can't afford everything you want to buy this year you slow down projects, and when you slow them down the cost increases'.

Speculation has risen this month about the 'clash' of views between General Sir David Richards and Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope on their respective visions for the UK military.  RUSI's Michael Clarke, however, argues that this 'row' has been misconstrued and sensationalised.  He notes, 'this is not a row, it's a discussion that we as a country must now have about our role in the world'.

To read 'Capability Cost Trends: Implications for the Defence Review', click here.

Coverage: Independent, Guardian, Times, Daily Telegraph, BBC, Financial Times, New Statesman, UPI, News of the World, Press Association, Shields Gazette, Reuters, The Engineer, Defence Management,, 'The News' (Portsmouth), Gant Daily, Bristol Evening Post, Press and Journal UK, Ekklesia, Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette, UK Net Guide, This Is London, Two Circles, Channel 4 News,           

'The limits of NATO solidarity'

As Moscow endeavours to expand its military capacity via weapon deals with nations of Western Europe, debate has been raised about NATO's obligation to its member states with regard to their 'territorial integrity'.  Though RUSI's Jonathan Eyal, Director of International Security Studies, is quick to point out that 'neither Russia nor NATO is currently interested in an arms race', he also notes that Russia's bids with European countries form 'part of the huge debate that is going on about the new NATO strategic concept'.

Coverage: Radio Free Europe

Delhi's hosting of the Commonwealth Games raises fears for security

Indian and Commonwealth Games Federation organisers have reacted angrily in recent weeks to suggestions that athletes face a risk of terrorist attacks during the upcoming October games.  Whether or not participants during the event are at risk of terror attacks, some experts suggest that India faces a bigger risk in the run up to the games, where militant groups might seek to disrupt preparation.  Head of RUSI's Asia Programme, Alexander Neil, agrees.  He notes that, 'the big question will be whether a group like Lashkar-e-Toiba decides to do another Mumbai-style attack with the Commonwealth Games approaching'.

Coverage: The Australian


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