In November 2009, the International Society of Military Sciences held its first annual conference on the theme of “Security in 2020 in a Multi Polar World”. The Society was established “to further research and academic education in military arts and sciences in the broadest sense”.

Here’s some ‘highlights’ from the conference:

  • Painless war: An illusory pipe-dream or a practice-based development? [Col. (ret.) Dr. Jan van Angeren (Netherlands Defence Academy]: There is a lot of attention from western media for the enemy’s pain (collateral damage, civilian casualties). Therefore, military forces are less inclined to inflict “pain” and more careful how to inflict it (e.g. precision bombardments etc.). There is a need for force in war, not only to defeat the enemy but to hurt (punish) him and to threaten him with. Because of the need of force in war and our disinclination to use it, our credibility to engage in coercive strategies is undermined.
  • Developing Future Counterinsurgency Doctrine [Dr. James Corum (Baltic Defense College)]: As a military we love “rapid, decisive operations,” yet there are no quick fixes in COIN and irregular warfare. Lead document: FM 3-24 – Strategic and Operational Requirements for COIN
  • Hybrid Wars (Leadership in contemporary armed forces) [Prof. Eyal Ben –Ari (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)]: Face of war/paradigm shift is cumulative/incremental. Changed context: Casualty aversion, Military humanitarianism, Media wars, Global Surveillance; Internal changes: Loose and temporary coalitions, ‘Hyphenated’ roles, Amalgamated organization, Privatization; Changed frameworks: Gender, Technology, Education, (Sex-Orientation); Challenges: Leaders as Center of Gravity, Career path (different influences) instead of Career Ladder
  • Surveillance systems with Multi-modal Sensors [Dr. Ir. Zhenke Yang (Delft University)]: Dr. Yang gave an interesting presentation about his promotion subject, which he had just finished. He studied the detection of aggression in trains by using camera’s and microphones. The goal was to decrease the human watch keeping, which is very expensive. He created a software model, which was able to detect aggression by only using these two sensors. When aggression was detected a watch keeper was informed. This application, although context sensitive, could be useful in military surroundings.
  • Self-Location of Sensors in Networks of Randomly Distributed Sensors [Ir. R.R. Hordijk (Netherlands Defence Academy)]: Mr. Hordijk gave an enthusiastic technical, presentation about his research. These days, sensors are getting so small that they could be thrown as a ‘cloud of smart dust’ in any location to gather information about this location (i.e. a conflict zone or an unknown area to measure temperature, pressure etc.). The problem he solved was how to find out the location of each sensor (or node). He created a model, using the ‘Hop-count-method’, to find out the distance to any node in the field.
  • Role of tissue simulants and their physical properties in the evaluation of non-lethal weapons [Dr. L. Koene (Netherlands Defence Academy)]: Dr. Koene gave a technical presentation about his research concerning mechanical non-lethal weapons. In his research he used ballistic gelatin as a tissue simulant for the human body.
  • Distinguishing extremism from terrorism: implications for social policy and military strategy [Shahzad Shafqat (University of Cambridge – UK)]: Words carry meaning; There is no exact definition for extremism; There are all kinds of extremisms (all kinds of extreme behavior): for example extreme ironing (just Google it…); Experiment result: the given background information determines whether extremism is seen as terrorism. The give background information shapes our response more than the act itself. So context is important; Without “threat” extremism isn’t terrorism
  • Perfect soldiers of the future: on chemical enhancement of the American military [Dr. Lukasz Kamienski (University of Krakow)]: Five area’s for future transformation of soldiers: (1) drugs (2) genetic engineering (3) cyber war soldier (4) robots (5) nanotechnology; Drugs for enhancing stamina of injured soldiers, against fatigue, suppressing battle stress, overcoming limitations of body and sleep-action regulation; Doping which are designed for sports (and can’t be used) are used by soldiers; Amphetamines (go-pills) for endurance for missions longer than 8 hours; Danger of genetic engineering; Genetic engineering will lead to redesigning human nature and therefore change nature of war. We are entering post-human era; It will lead to virtualization of war. Redesigned warriors will  become deadly machines; These solutions benefit tactics, not strategic thinking; Discussion: is a drug really that different from using a tool of weapon? Is both enhances our abilities to work, function or fight; Conclusion: chemical solutions are only temporarily effective. Let us keep it that way.

Soldiers on drugs? Surely it’ll never catch on…

Read the full proceedings here (word doc). reports that the outgoing chairman of the European Union Military Committee wants more assets to combat piracy in the Somali basin because of the vast area that needs to be covered.

“The EU has committed three or four frigates, in 2010 but we probably need between six and 10 to cover that vast area,” Gen. Henri Bentegeat said at a news conference following a meeting of the EU Chairs of Defense Staff (CHODs). He insisted that there was coordination between the EU and NATO naval assets in the area and “certainly no duplication.”

See also EU NAVFOR mission website and Maritime Security Centre website.