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.

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 France and Mali, and in the air above the Sinai Peninsula, adding to earlier incidents in Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other locations. Grinding conflict and relentless instability continued in Syria, Libya, Yemen and the Sahel, not just acting as a recruiting tool for terrorist groups, but also feeding into a narrative used in their sophisticated information operations. These groups were – together with other non-state groups – both driving these conflicts and deriving energy from them. At the same time, this increasingly diverse range of actors was making conflict resolution even harder. 

Heightened instability and savage violence added to the factors propelling populations to leave. For instance, it was apparent that in 2015 a large part of Syria’s middle class had had enough of war. Events also indicated that terrorist groups, perhaps unsurprisingly, took advantage of this vast population movement. In late year this caused pause for thought in the West, notably in Europe where some countries had opened their doors to refugees. Europe’s periphery had been in turmoil for years; in 2015, Europe’s ability to secure its borders came under increased scrutiny.

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