Last week, Russia just wrapped up the “Vostok-2018” strategic military exercise. On September 24, Russia launched another large-scale military drill involving over 1,000 soldiers, nearly 10 warships and more than 50 aircraft in the Black Sea.
The frequent military exercises held by Russia have attracted the attention from the international community. In fact, military exercises around the world have grown significantly in number and frequency in recent years. Russia’s “Vostok-2018” is just one of the prominent ones.
From a global perspective, military exercises are held regularly and they have become a phenomenon which attracted wide attention. There is almost a straight line in the increase of the number of military exercises, a natural reaction to the threat of war.
The US has maintained a certain frequency and intensity of outbound military use in recent years. More and more countries feel that the constant threat of war from the US will inevitably lead to an increase in geopolitical tension and bring some countries potential direct conflicts or risk of war.
During the Cold War, the world was divided into two major groups, and the security of each group was guaranteed by the countries that played a leading role. However, the group confrontation has disappeared after the Cold War. As a result, many countries have to rely almost entirely on themselves to stay safe. Even some US allies are under pressure to continuously improve their armaments and overall defense capabilities.
Thus, it is not surprising to see that more and more countries are willing to conduct military exercises and continue to strengthen their defense capability through military exercises in response to potential direct conflicts or strategic geopolitical threat.
In addition, through globalization, national interests of individual countries continue to expand overseas. More and more countries are trying to promote and demonstrate their defense capability in order to protect their overseas interests through national or international military exercises.
In the process of strengthening their own defense capabilities, countries attach special importance to the improvement of the combat effectiveness of the armed forces. An important method to improve combat effectiveness in normal times is to continuously introduce new weapons and equipment for the military. Nowadays, the speed of upgrading weapons and equipment is constantly accelerating. Therefore, military exercise is a necessary method to test the performance of weapons and equipment and transform them into combat power.
Enhancing the combat effectiveness of the armed forces and demonstrating and testing the performance of weapons have become an important bargaining chip among countries who pursue their own interests or face direct conflict and war. Although globalization has promoted the interrelationships and even dependence among countries, competition for national interests has never disappeared and indeed it has become more complex and subtle.
Some countries still rely on military power in such competition. Because in a peaceful time, bargaining based on military power to achieve better outcome and compromises often happen. This is also one of the reasons why the number of military exercises has been significantly increased after the Cold War, especially in recent years. Actually, the US strong military power has been supporting its achievement of political and economic goals.
In this context, the future of military exercises may deeply influence the establishment of relations among countries and the formation of balance of power. In the context of global integration, how to build relations among countries while expanding domestic interests and strengthening integration with others?
That requires an in-depth understanding of each other. In addition to ordinary various bilateral exchanges and interactions, military exercises have become an important means of understanding the dynamics of other countries, especially military developments.
Military exercises can convey the strategic intentions to other countries and can also understand the strategic intentions of the counter party. Military exercises can demonstrate the strength of the host country, especially the military strength, but can also help understand the strength of the other side. Therefore, military exercises have become normal military activities.
Disclaimer: The author is Han Xudong, professor with the Strategic Department of the PLA National Defense University. The article is published on the Global Times and translated from Chinese into English by the China Military online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn. Chinamil.com.cn does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.