Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR_Feb2013 Contents Asia Pacific Defence Reporter FEBRUARY 2013 29
across the globe contributed billions to help those in need, at the end of the
day, military platforms – and often airborne platforms – were the only ones
capable of delivering aid in the volume needed where it was most needed.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
As the Australian Defence Force (ADF) did in its Defence White Paper,
looking to the future is just as important as understanding geography and
history, and in the case of deciding which new platforms, systems, sensors
and weapons to procure, perhaps the most important thing governments and
militaries must do. And as most of these officials know, taking a clear-eyed look
at the future involves vastly more than merely extrapolating current trends years
and decades hence.
This is important, and oftentimes counter-intuitive, for as John Maynard
Keynes said over three-quarters of a century ago:
The idea of the future being different from the present is so repugnant to our
conventional modes of thought and behavior that we, most of us, offer a great
resistance to acting on it in practice.
Importantly, though, this is not about “predicting” the future. This is crucial,
because many so-called “strategic thinkers” and organizations contend
that they can do just that – and do it better than anyone else. Sadly – and
predictably – they cannot. But what nations and militaries do is conduct a fair
bit of analysis and determine what mega-trends and major shifts are happening
and what potential game-changers might happen, and as best as possible,
hedge their bets on what platforms, systems, sensors and weapons to procure
based on what they know and what they believe will happen. It is an inexact
science to be sure.
Here in the United States, our government and military officials – as well
as a host of others – depend on the work of our National Intelligence Council
and especially their unclassified and widely-distributed Global Trends series
of publications to identify these mega-trends, major shifts and potential
game-changers that are occurring. And importantly for readers of Asia-Pacific
Defence Reporter, far from being a U.S . -only publication, the most recent
edition of this series, Global Trends 2030, released just a few months ago,
incorporated input from government officials, businesses, universities, think
tanks, and experts in 20 countries, many of them in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
While space does not permit a full description of the 160-page Global
Trends 2030, the mega-trends and major shifts this comprehensive report
describes do – when viewed through the prism of the kinds of missions regional
militaries have had to deal with in the last decade – tell us a great deal about
what kind of missions will be important over the next several decades.
These major changes include population increases; more competition for
increasingly scarce food, water and energy; potentially accelerating climate
change (a root cause of some natural disasters); continued demographic
shifts towards coastlines; demographic shifts away from failing states (read,
refugees); a diffusion of power with no world “hegemonic” power at least
through 2030; instability and conflict now largely confined to the Middle East,
South Asia and Africa potentially “spilling over” to other regions; the diffusion of
technology putting new technologies into the hands of rouge nations or groups;
and other trends, shifts and changes.
But what does this mean for governments and militaries as they examine
all the potential aviation “kit” they can potentially procure that is on display at
Avalon? Unfortunately, for most militaries on fixed – or declining budgets – their
funds will only go so far and one aircraft purchased represents an opportunity
cost of another equally “dazzling” one not purchased. It is a wicked-hard
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