The Military Balance 2016 includes new equipment analysis graphics, a wall chart detailing Gulf region missile defence and essays on armoured vehicles, Chinese ballistic missiles and cyber deterrence.

MB 2016

The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data.

Regional and select country analyses cover the major developments affecting defence policy and procurement, and defence economics. The opening graphics section displays notable defence statistics, while additional data sets detail selected arms orders and military exercises, as well as comparative defence expenditure and personnel numbers. The Military Balance is an indispensable handbook for anyone conducting serious analysis of security policy and military affairs. 

New Features in The Military Balance 2016:

  • Complementing analysis of regional military dynamics, such as the wars in the Middle East in Syria, Yemen and against ISIS, the book carries detailed analysis on defence matters in the US, China, Russia, France and the UK and also this year on Poland, Australia, South Africa and Mexico.
  • New thematic analytical texts on armoured fighting vehicles, China’s ballistic missiles and deterrence in cyberspace.
  • A new Military Balance Wall Chart, with a focus on Gulf region missile defence.
  • New technical equipment-focused graphics, including on Europe’s Meteor air-to-air missile, Russia’s T-14 Armata main battle tank and China’s new Type-052D destroyer.
  • Updated graphics feature on comparative defence statistics, with a focus on defence economics, defence industry and major land, sea and air capabilities.
  • Updated summaries of national military capability.
  • Updated selected non-state armed group ‘observed equipment’, including Hizbullah, separatist forces in eastern Ukraine and the ISIS, among others.
  • An updated table of military training exercises, arranged by region.
  • Updated entries on select national cyber capabilities.
  • New maps and tables, including military dispositions in Crimea from 2014–15, NATO’s developing activities in Eastern Europe, and operational deployments in the Middle East by regional and extra-regional powers.

‘Amid continuing conflict and broadening insecurity, The Military Balance provides essential facts and analysis for decision-makers and for better informed public debate.’ Dr Robert M. Gates, former US Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence

‘Because military affairs are inevitably clouded in fog, the IISS Military Balance is an essential companion for those who seek to understand.’ Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, former UK Defence Secretary and Secretary-General of NATO

The Military Balance 2016 was launched on Tuesday 9 February 2016.

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  • Editor’s Introduction

    The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data. A surge in high-profile terrorist attacks at the end of 2015 added to the increasing crises, conflicts and sense of uncertainty preoccupying the planning staffs of defence ministries worldwide.  Major attacks by Islamist terrorists took place in...
  • Chapter 1, Part I: Armoured fighting vehicles: renewed relevance; technological progress

    The year 2015 saw the hundredth anniversary of the first prototype tank, a vehicle originally designed to provide infantry with fire support and to breach barbed wire and cross trenches. In 1918, two years after British tanks first appeared on the battlefield, the United Kingdom was developing armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to transport accompanying infantry. Subsequent decades saw a steady growth in the roles undertaken by armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs)...
  • Chapter 1, Part II: China’s ballistic missiles: more systems; improved designs

    At its September 2015 military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of victory in the Second World War, China showed several new or upgraded ballistic-missile systems for the first time. The appearance of weapons including the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) and the DF-5B (US reporting name: CSS-4 Mod. 3) liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) served as a reminder that Beijing is continuing to make significant strides in ballistic-missile research and...
  • Chapter 1, Part III: Deterrence in cyberspace

    How to deter the actions of others in cyberspace, and indeed whether it is possible to do so, is a question of increasing importance for defence and security policymakers. The issue has become more pressing because of increasing awareness of the vulnerabilities, as well as the benefits, that stem from the degree to which information and communications technologies have become integral to all aspects of modern existence. In particular, concern has...
  • Chapter 2: Comparative defence statistics

    Comparative defence statistics Defence budgets and expenditure  China’s defence exports to Africa: observed new deliveries by type, 2005–15  Key defence statistics  Western Europe: the dramatic decline in combat battalion numbers, 1990–2015  Tactical combat aircraft: Russia’s planned and projected fleet in 2020  Numbers of naval platforms capable of firing land-attack cruise missiles: 1989–2015 ...
  • Chapter 3: North America

    An increasingly complex international security situation meant there was little space for radically new strategy initiatives in 2015. Indeed, the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) were still relatively recent, and as the Obama administration winds down, its main defence priorities are unlikely to change. It will be content to avoid a budgetary showdown with Congress and to find some way to sustain its preferred military...
  • Chapter 4: Europe

    Across the continent, policymakers were in 2015 preoccupied with the uncomfortable reality that while the threats and risks to European security had increased during recent years, the means to address them had not recovered from the long cycle of defence cuts that began after the Cold War and accelerated after the 2008 financial crisis. Russia’s actions had, as they saw it, brought conflict and a disregard for the established principles...
  • Chapter 5: Russia-Eurasia

    Russia’s decision, in September 2015, to deploy combat forces to Syria resharpened focus on the capabilities of the Russian armed forces and the results of Russia’s ongoing military-reform programme. A year after they occupied Crimea and deployed in support of separatists in eastern Ukraine, Russian troops have remained active near the border with Ukraine – and some, it is widely reported, are still in eastern Ukraine itself. The decision to militarily...
  • Chapter 6: Asia

    In 2015, the military dimension of the Asia-Pacific’s international politics was as prominent as ever, with China adopting an increasingly assertive posture in relation to its territorial claims in the East China and South China seas, the United States maintaining its ‘rebalance’ towards the region, tensions continuing on the Korean Peninsula and many regional states expanding their capability developments. South China Sea Tensions significantly escalated during 2015 over China’s accelerating construction...
  • Chapter 7: Middle East and North Africa

    Regional security further deteriorated in 2015. The security and humanitarian situations in Libya, Yemen and Syria worsened, while Iraq saw no decisive improvement. Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) extremists remained in control of significant swathes of territory in both Syria and northwestern Iraq. Despite setbacks, and the attentions of an American-led air coalition that had been attacking ISIS in Syria since September 2014 (and in Iraq since earlier...
  • Chapter 8: Latin America and the Caribbean

    Organised criminal and narco-trafficking groups intensified their attacks against security forces in several Latin American countries during 2015, and the activity of these groups again dominated regional defence activity. Criminal and guerrilla groups deliberately targeted military forces, especially in the slums of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and in parts of Mexico and El Salvador. In response, regional armed forces were increasingly involved in internal security deployments. Meanwhile, although regional...
  • Chapter 9: Sub-Saharan Africa

    Security and defence affairs in Sub-Saharan Africa have again been dominated by complex challenges arising from long-standing security, stability and development issues. While there continues to be an upward economic trajectory, these issues in combination impede progress in many areas, and their effect is to highlight the fragility of progress on the continent. Ebola was one example of how quickly a crisis could unfold and affect regional security dynamics; the...
  • Chapter 10: Country comparisons - commitments, force levels and economics

    The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data.
  • Explanatory Notes

    The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data.
  • Reference

    The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data.
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