Asia: Regional military roles; The South China Sea and Washington’s regional role; Southeast Asian states’ defence cooperation; Indian Air Force: fleet-recapitalisation challenges remain; Southeast Asia: capability enhancements; Northeast Asia; THAAD deployment in South Korea; Defence Economics; Macroeconomics; Asian defence spending; Procurement; Defence industry
Australia
China: National-security legislation; Organisational reform; Theatre commands: responsible for war fighting; Armed services: responsible for building the force; Work in progress; PLA training in 2016; PLA Army organisation; People’s Liberation Army Air Force; People’s Liberation Army Navy; Defence Economics; Overhauling defence R&D; Realising the potential of civil–military integration; Diversifying defence-budget sources; China and the Third Offset Strategy
Japan
Myanmar’s armed forces: privileges maintained
Vietnam: New strategy document; Twelfth National Congress; Defence policy and capability; Foreign defence relations; Defence economics

Regional military roles
Armed forces in the Asia-Pacific region typically undertake a broader range of roles than their Western equivalents. This is particularly true in Southeast Asia, where armed forces – and armies in particular – sometimes remain central players in national politics (notably in Myanmar and Thailand) and retain significant internal-security responsibilities (as is the case in Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand). In the region’s single-party states – China, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam – the institutional nature of civil–military relations and military doctrine means that the preservation of domestic stability and party rule are vital concerns of the armed forces. From a Western perspective, the wider role of Asian forces may often seem to detract from their military capabilities, particularly in terms of their capacity to deter and defeat external adversaries, and to mount expeditionary operations. However, it should be remembered that they and their governments often employ notions of capability that differ substantially from Western norms.

Nevertheless, the development of greater capacity for conventional warfare is the dominant theme in regional defence policymaking. While rising tensions in the East China and South China seas, as well as on the Korean Peninsula, may have bolstered the case for developing conventional military capabilities, recent military developments should be seen as the latest phase in long-term defence-modernisation programmes and as such do not simply reflect external security preoccupations. These programmes are also shaped by increased financial resources resulting from sustained economic growth, strategic cultures rooted in the awareness of past conflicts and the perceived dangers of military weakness, and a pervasive long term sense of strategic uncertainty deriving in large part from real and anticipated changes in the regional security roles of the major powers.

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