Defense News Outlook 2016

The coming year is going to be one dominated by all the crises that made headlines in 2015. Terrorism, great power politics, the White House race, budget battles and structural reforms will lead the defense agenda worldwide as nations grapple with how best to respond to a fast-changing world.

And after a string of deadly attacks directed or inspired by radical groups like al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, or ISIS, the world is bracing for a far more dangerous 2016. Western leaders are vowing to crush ISIS, but it’s unclear how, exactly, they intend to achieve that aim with a group that is fast spreading its tentacles worldwide.

It will be in 2016 that passionate rhetoric will have to be matched by a meaningful, global strategy to counter an increasingly dangerous group that has a region from North Africa to Afghanistan in turmoil.

Meanwhile, great power politics are in full swing, with Moscow and Beijing playing their parts to set entire regions on edge. Russia remains involved in Ukraine and is now embroiled in Syria while continuing to threaten Europe, fanning tensions from north to south.

In Asia, China’s sweeping claims combined with its island-building program and more active military are worrying neighbors that either claim or administer the territories Beijing wants.

All this uncertainty has been good for defense spending. Budgets in Europe and Asia are rising to match growing threats. The scourge of terrorism has spurred Europeans to boost support for security spending while in Asia, nations worry about their giant neighbor’s intentions.

In America, still the world’s leading power, a budget deal appears to have averted another fiscal fiasco, but the Pentagon continues to live with budget caps as it seeks to modernize its force while driving technological innovation and revamping its workforce.

As we did last year, Defense News asked government, military, think tank and industry leaders from America to Europe and from the Middle East to Asia for their perspectives about their region. Their charge was simple: Look at the events of 2015 and what they tell us about what’s to come — and needs to be done — in 2016.

The result is a comprehensive collection of 19 views to shape the coming debate. These essays will be compiled into Defense News’ first ever e-book, which will be available online on Dec. 16.

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