31 July 2012


HMAS Perth (Click to Enlarge)

As part of Exercise RIM-OF-THE-PACIFIC (RIMPAC 2012), a group of officers from United States Ships Chafee and Crommelin spent the day on HMAS Perth observing and experiencing life onboard an Australian ship.
The visitors were given a tour of the ship, including a walk through of the engine room and observed a damage control exercise.
HMAS Perth has a S70B-2 Seahawk from 816 Squadron embarked which is a variant of the helicopter found on USS Chafee and Crommelin.
USS Chafee Ensign Dan Remus said it was a great opportunity to see what is was like onboard an Australian ship at sea.
“It’s been exciting to come over to the ship and see the Aussies at work. They have a good set up here and everyone has been very friendly,” said Ensign Remus.
Leading Seaman Aircrewman Corey Wright showed the visitors the airframe and said it was a good way to build relationships between the United States and Australian navies.
US Navy MH-60R (Romeo) Seahawk
“It was a great opportunity to speak to the US guys who already have the Seahawk Romeo variant which is to be introduced in the Australian fleet,” said Leading Seaman Wright.
HMAS Perth is one of two Australian frigates participating in RIMPAC 2012. HMAS Perth has conducted flying, boarding and submarine exercises and fired the Evolved Sea Sparrow Surface to Air missile.
Approximately 1100 Australian sailors, soldiers, airmen and women have participated in the exercise from 27 June until 2 August. It is the world’s largest multilateral live-fire maritime training exercise and is held around the islands of Hawaii. There are 22 participating nations including Australia, Canada, France and Russia. The US sponsored exercise is aimed to enhance the interoperability of the combined forces and involves war-fighting exercises, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and maritime security operations.

AUS: HMAS Melbourne transfers maritime security operations to HMAS Anzac

HMAS Melbourne (Wiki Info)

HMAS Melbourne has departed the Middle East Area of Operations after a successful six-month deployment as part of Operation SLIPPER.

Melbourne heads home to Fleet Base East in Sydney, NSW, after conducting maritime security patrols, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations from the Red and Arabian Seas to the Gulfs of Aden, Oman, Aqaba and the Straits of Hormuz and Bab-Al-Mandeb.

HMAS Melbourne also provided maritime security and executed counter-terrorism activities around the Horn of Africa in support of the regional 26 member nation Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

Commanding Officer of HMAS Melbourne, Commander Richard Boulton, said Melbourne’s crew have done themselves, the Navy and Australia proud.

“The men and women of Melbourne have given the mission everything they’ve got,” Commander Boulton said.

“Their performance has earned Melbourne an outstanding reputation in the region and the coalition nations working as part of the Combined Maritime Forces.

“We also had the honour of embarking three sailors from the New Zealand Navy for the deployment.”

“It is certain to be both a proud and emotional homecoming as the ship’s company lines the upper decks when we sail into Sydney harbour and reunite with loved ones,” Commander Boulton said.

HMAS Melbourne is the Royal Australian Navy’s 28th ship to patrol the region since 2001.

Commander Joint Task Force 633, in the Middle East Area of Operations, Major General Stuart Smith, praised HMAS Melbourne on a successful mission.

“HMAS Melbourne has had a crucial role in minimising harmful activity in the Middle East maritime environment; ultimately interrupting criminal support to terrorist organisations and violent extremists further a field, in places such as Afghanistan.”

“She has also provided freedom, security and profitability for legitimate mariners who rely on either transiting through or making a living off the sea lanes,” General Smith said.

HMAS Melbourne and her 230 personnel will return to Fleet Base East in late August where the crew will enjoy some well-earned leave and respite.

HMAS Anzac takes over security operations from Melbourne as part of Operation SLIPPER in the Combined Maritime Forces today.

Sri Lanka: 103 Australia bound Persons arrested

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Sri Lanka Navy arrested 103 persons bound for Australia in 03 multi-day trawlers on 30th July 2012. Two trawlers named “Maria Thindari” and “Ashen Putha” with 25 and 44 persons on board respectively were intercepted off Negombo while the other named “Samantha Thathsarani” with 34 persons was intercepted off Trincomalee. 

All are males and residents of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mullaithivu, Kalmunai, Nawalapitiya, Trincomalee, Chilaw, Negombo, Panadura, Kurunegala and Mannar. They were brought to Modara and Trincomalee Fisheries Harbours respectively to be handed over to CID for further investigations.

Editorial: Indonesia-Singapore Submarine Rescue Pact - Promoting Southeast Asian Naval Cooperation

By Koh Swee Lean Collin 


In view of the ongoing quest for submarines in Southeast Asia, the recent signing of a submarine rescue pact between Indonesia and Singapore bodes well for future regional cooperative efforts among existing and future submarine operators in Southeast Asia. 


The signing of a submarine rescue pact between Indonesia and Singapore on 10 July 2012 constitutes a pioneering move amid the ongoing regional quest for submarines. Comprising protocols for resource-sharing and development of joint operating standards, this agreement is one of a handful of new naval cooperation initiatives observed in Southeast Asia in recent years. 

The Submarine in Modern Naval Warfare 

Type 209 
The submarine is long valued for its ability to exert disproportionate impact in naval warfare. A suitably-equipped and skillfully-crewed submarine may allow a weaker navy to create problems for a stronger navy. Notwithstanding the advent of the nuclear-powered submarine, the diesel-electric powered submarine (SSK) remains relevant till this day and continues to feature in the global naval arms market. It remains an attractive choice for smaller navies seeking a credible sea denial capability. 

Modern SSK designs have since evolved to incorporate new capabilities to increase their versatility and lethality. For instance, some can be armed with submerged-launch, long-range standoff weapons such as land-attack cruise missiles. Major international submarine manufacturers nowadays also offer new SSKs equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) which extends submerged endurance for weeks without the need to snorkel. Dubbed the ‘poor man’s nuclear submarine’, an AIP-equipped SSK expands the range of warfighting options for a smaller navy, including a credible power projection capability hitherto unavailable in earlier SSK designs. 

Southeast Asia’s Submarine Quest 

Scorpene class
Therefore, it is little wonder that several Southeast Asian navies eagerly seek modern SSKs, regardless of whether it is a mere token force of one or two boats in service, as part of the overall pattern of regional naval modernisation since the 1990s. Singapore became the second submarine operator in Southeast Asia after Indonesia in the 1990s. Plans by Malaysia and Thailand to acquire their own around the period were stymied by the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98. In the early 2000s, Malaysia revived its submarine program and commissioned a pair of Scorpene-class SSKs equipped with submerge-launched Exocet anti-ship cruisemissile. They were then arguably the most modern SSK in the region until Singapore inducted the first Swedish, AIP-equipped V√§stergotland-class SSK in 2011. 

Probably the most conspicuous was Vietnam’s acquisition of 6 Russian-built Project-636MV Kilo-class SSKs, reportedly armed with Klub-series cruisemissiles, in 2009. In December 2011, Indonesia inked a deal with South Korea for 3 Type-209/1400 SSKs to bolster its existing two-boat force. Even though Thailand recently axed a plan to procure decommissioned German Type-206A SSKs, it continues to express serious interest in acquiring such a capability soon. Even cash-strapped Philippines included at least one SSK in its long-term wish-list as part of its armed forces modernisation program. 

Potential Source of Destabilisation 

Kilo class
With more submarines projected to roam the mostly semi-enclosed Southeast Asian waters, potential risks exist for regional maritime safety and security. Further compounded by the customary lack of transparency in submarine operations, there is greater hazard of at-sea collisions considering that navigable strategic waterways in the region are characterised by shallow waters. 

Equipped with modern signal intelligence suites, submarines can also loiter near or inside foreign waters thus creating a potential source of tension. One may recall the infamous ‘Whiskey on the Rocks’ incident in 1981 when a Soviet submarine ran aground on the Swedish coast near a strategic Swedish naval base in Karlskrona. That incident sparked heated diplomatic exchanges under Moscow’s threat of force to secure the release of the boat and crew. 

Therefore, the potential risk of similar incidents occurring in volatile Southeast Asia remains. In fact, such a danger was well amplified in April 2000 when former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid cautioned Singapore’s submarines not to stray outside designated sea lanes when traversing through Indonesian waters while urging the Indonesian Navy to stay vigilant. 

Progressing Beyond the Bilateral Pact 

Archer/Västergotland class
Prior to the Indonesia-Singapore pact, the primary submarine-related naval activity was Exercise Pacific Reach, a multinational submarine rescue drill first held in 2000. Seen in this context the promulgation of this bilateral submarine rescue pact is significant. It marks not only a furtherance of longstanding cooperation between the two navies but also symbolises increased trust in the traditionally sensitive undersea domain. 

Viewed in the wider context of naval activities in Southeast Asia, this bilateral pact is even more significant since previous regional initiatives mostly revolved around more ‘traditional’ modes such as information sharing and intelligence exchange; ship-to-ship communication and maneuver; as well as surface gunnery and missile firing exercises – but never before in the undersea realm. The implementation of the bilateral pact thus heralds advancement towards broader intra-Southeast Asian naval cooperation. 

ASEAN Information-sharing exercise
However, for this bilateral pact to expand into a wider regional initiative, three ingredients are needed. First, bilateral-level trust needs to proliferate among all navies in the region. Second, information-sharing in submarine operational safety needs to gain traction. The recent ASEAN Maritime Security Information-Sharing Exercise co-hosted by Indonesia and Singapore is notable in this respect and may serve as a useful basis. 

Lastly, in view of the considerable expanse of Southeast Asian waters wherein submarines are envisaged to operate, it is necessary for all submarine operators in the region to each establish at least a rudimentary submarine rescue capacity. This will facilitate effective pooling and sharing of submarine rescue know-how and resources in Southeast Asia. 

Such future initiatives may hold huge promise for regional maritime safety and security, for they provide for not merely better submarine operational safety in the region but also further promote mutual confidence and trust as well as enhanced interoperability amongst Southeast Asian navies. 

The writer is an associate research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

News Story: Debate Renewed Over Taiwan’s Need for Tanks

M1A1 Abrams MBT (File Photo)


TAIPEI — Debate over the practicality of procuring more main battle tanks (MBTs) for Taiwan has intensified since the Ministry of National Defense confirmed last week it was negotiating with the U.S. for surplus M1A1 Abrams MBTs left over from the Iraq War.

The announcement renewed debate over the need for a heavy MBT, said a Defense Ministry source, “but they are cheap and available now.” The deal would include refurbishment, but not an upgrade, he said. In 2011, Vice Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang was quoted by the local media saying the Army needed 200 new MBTs.

Since the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis, Taiwan has focused on improving air-sea battle capabilities, and the Army has watched its grip on power and influence slip since the end of the Cold War. The Army maintained a large invasion force to retake mainland China during the Cold War.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: (New Zealand) Successful NH90 trial onboard Canterbury

Australian NH-90/MRH-90 (File Photo)

The Air Force's newest helicopter, the NH90, has successfully completed its first landing on the Navy's multi-role vessel, HMNZS CANTERBURY.

The interface trial is the first stage of a process intended to integrate helicopter and ship operations - an important step towards the New Zealand Defence Force goal of establishing a Joint Amphibious Task Force (JATF) by 2015. While the JATF will be structured for the deployment of combat forces, the most likely contingencies it will be used for are disaster relief and conducting exercises in our region in support of nation building.

HMNZS Canterbury (File Photo)
"The NH90 is a complex helicopter with significant capability and sophisticated systems and it will form an important part of the Defence Force's new Joint Amphibious Task Force," said Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell, Chief of Air Force.

Read the full story at Voxy

Editorial: S. Korea-Japan: Time for Outside Mediation?

By Ralph A. Cossa

“Forget the past and lose an eye; dwell on the past and lose both eyes!”

This old Russian proverb comes to mind whenever I think of current Japan-South Korea relations.
The Japanese, it would appear, are eager to forget the past, while the Koreans can’t seem to see beyond it. Isn’t it time for America’s two key Northeast Asian allies to work toward a better future with both eyes open?
It some instances the flare-ups represent mere political opera with little of real substance at stake. But the latest cause for tension – the ROK government’s cancellation of both the June 29 signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and its plan to pursue an equally sensitive (but sensible) military Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) with Japan – has serious national security implications and also affects Washington’s relations with both nations. It also cost one of South Korea’s more forward thinking strategists, senior presidential secretary for national security strategy Kim Tae-Hyo, his job. His “sin”? He put Korea’s national interests ahead of public opinion.
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: High Stakes in the South China Sea

By Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt

Coverage of the South China Sea territorial dispute has tended to paint the story as that of a giant China flexing its muscle over a handful of smaller Southeast Asian states. But while China’s increasingly assertive behavior shows its willingness to exploit the weaknesses of other claimants, the picture is not as simple as it is often portrayed. Vietnam and the Philippines are pushing back against China, and many countries are stoking tensions in the sea. Together, their actions leave plenty of room for open conflict to break out.

Vietnam and the Philippines are no strangers to confronting China over the South China Sea. Vietnam and China fought two wars in the 1970s and 1980s over the Paracels, while China occupied a Philippine-claimed reef in the mid-1990s in the Spratlys. Tensions have run high again in recent years, driven by resource and strategic interests.
Beijing is more determined than ever to ensure that its Southeast Asia rivals do not come between it and its territorial claims. In the face of Beijing’s growing confidence, Hanoi and Manila are actively enlisting the aid of ASEAN and the United States.
Read the full story at The Diplomat

30 July 2012

Sri Lanka: 28 Australia-bound Persons drifting in South-eastern Deep Sea rescued

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Sri Lanka Navy rescued 28 persons, who were illegally heading for Australia, while drifting in the deep sea off South-eastern Sri Lanka. They were safely brought to the Galle Fisheries Harbour on 29th July 2012, having rescued from the 11-day drifting ordeal at sea. Among the rescued are 23 men, 04 women and a child residing in Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mullaithivu, Batticaloa and Wellawatte.

The group had met with the harrowing experience at deep sea when the multi-day trawler they were travelling had developed an engine failure 300 nautical miles off Valachchenai. The trawler named “Star Brothers 2” had left from Valachchenai on 13th June with the group onboard and begun to drift on 15th July due to the mechanical mishap after a month’s sailing in rough seas.

On information received of the situation, SLN alerted the French tanker, “MT Famenne”, which was en route to UAE from China, to render assistance. The trawler in distress was located by the French tanker on 26th July and the group was subsequently rescued. Thereafter, Sri Lanka Naval Ship Samudura took them over on 28th July 10 nautical miles off Galle for transfer ashore.

The incident is a clear indication of the risks involved in illegal migration. If not for SLN’s timely action, 28 precious lives would have perished on the high seas with no one taking responsibility, leaving only the kith and kin to lament over the folly. Therefore, the Public are reminded not to fall for traps laid by the unscrupulous human smugglers, who amass vast sums of money on false promises of lucrative employment opportunities and financial gains overseas. SLN, on humanitarian grounds, has rescued a number of victims from tragedies at sea in its Search and Rescue Region, using its assets and professional expertise for the SAR missions.

Sri Lanka: 51 Australia bound Persons arrested

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Sri Lanka Navy arrested 51 persons bound for Australia on 28th July 2012. They were taken into naval custody on 02 separate occasions. Thirty-one persons were intercepted in a multi-day fishing trawler named “Shayan Putha 2” ten nautical miles west of Negombo while 20 persons were taken into naval custody close to the Lellawa beach. All are males and residents of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mullaithivu, Point Pedro, Trincomalee and Negambo and Mannar.

News Story: Should India Be Building Another Carrier?

CGI of the 1st Indigenous Carrier "Vikrant"

NEW DELHI — Observers are questioning the wisdom of India’s decision to begin design work on its second homemade aircraft carrier, even as its first indigenous carrier faces more than two years of delays due to technical snags and its quest to refit a Russian-built carrier has been beset by years of delays and billions in cost overruns.

Sources said the second indigenous carrier, to be named the Vishal, will have a displacement of 65,000 tons, 25,000 tons heavier than the first indigenous carrier, called Vikrant.

Vishal will feature steam catapults, operate larger fighter aircraft, and carry an airborne early-warning (AEW) system and aerial refuelers.

An Indian Navy official said Vishal will also fly naval versions of the Light Combat Aircraft, which is in development.

The decision to go ahead with such a complex and costly project has evoked mixed reactions among analysts here.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: China, RI (Indonesia) begin missile talks

Margareth S. Aritonang and Novan Iman Santosa

China and Indonesia have started talks on the ambitious local production of C-705 anti-ship missiles as part of Indonesia’s efforts to achieve independence in weapons production. 

The defense cooperation reflects strengthening ties between both countries amid heightening tension in the South China Sea involving China and a number of Indonesia’s ASEAN neighbors.

Defense Ministry chief spokesman Brig. Gen. Hartind Asrin said that the initial talks were conducted during the first China-Indonesia defense industry cooperation meeting held in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The ministry’s defense potential director general Pos M. Hutabarat hosted the Chinese delegation which was led by Liu Yunfeng, a deputy director general at the Chinese State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND).

“The meeting discussed various efforts to improve cooperation between the defense industries of both countries,” Hartind said on Thursday. “We’ve already prepared an area for the [missile] production site that faces the open sea for trials.” 

Hartind said the C-705 had a range of 120 kilometers.

Read the full story at The Jakarta Post

News Story: (Philippines) DND wants frigate with 'surface-to-air' missile power

BRP Gregorio del Pilar, acquired from USA

MANILA, Philippines - Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced on Friday that one of the frigates to be acquired by the Philippines will have "surface-to-air" capabilities. That is, the ship will have the capability to fire missiles, guided by radar or heat sensors, at airborne targets.

"Aside from this, our latest frigate will have heavier gun armament and other equipment that will make it very effective in patrolling and securing the country's waters," Galvez said in Filipino.

He declined to state the particular country the Philippines will acquire this ship but stressed that acquisition will be done through a government-to-government transaction.

Read the full story at InterAksyon

28 July 2012

USA: Carter Assesses Results of Asia-Pacific Trip

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, July 27, 2012 – Heading back to Washington yesterday after a 10-day Asia-Pacific tour, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said he had succeeded in informing allies and partners about specific aspects of the U.S. strategic rebalance, and had, in turn, received strategic and practical information about what the shift means to other nations.

“I think that what our partners and allies in this region are looking for is confirmation that the United States is serious and concrete about shifting … a great deal of our emphasis from the places we have been -- of necessity -- preoccupied for the last decade, namely Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Asia-Pacific region,” Carter noted.

He told American Forces Press Service that during his travels, he gave allies a level of planning detail and a number of examples relating to specific U.S. strategic rebalancing events that helped them understand “that we are, as I said at the beginning of the trip, walking the walk and not just talking the talk.”

During his travels since July 17, the deputy secretary has told high-level ministers in Japan, Thailand, India and South Korea, as well as senior military officials in Hawaii and civilian and uniformed leaders in Guam, that the United States will increase its regional naval presence over time, invest in technologies relevant to the region’s needs, and increase forward-deployed presence or troop rotations in several key areas of the theater, from Australia to Guam to Singapore.

Partnered training and exercises will also deepen U.S. strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, he added. Carter said there are two reasons he’s confident DOD can carry out the strategy even with a constrained defense budget.

First, he said, a lot of excess capacity has been freed up from Iraq and more will become available as resource commitments in Afghanistan ease. Pentagon leaders can re-invest that capital to build U.S. military posture in the Asia-Pacific region, the deputy secretary said.

“The second reason is that we are prioritizing capabilities that are particularly relevant to this region in our budget,” the deputy secretary continued. “Even though we don’t have all the money we want, we have all the money we need for the Asia-Pacific … re-posturing.”

Carter said he received valuable input from government ministers across the Asia-Pacific region and from U.S. military commanders.

“I got a lot of useful thinking -- strategic and practical -- about how we can carry the rebalance to the next level. Because this isn’t a one-year thing; this isn’t just a fiscal [2013] issue,” he said. “We have to keep going. This is a transition that our department will undergo for several years.”

“From our commanders out there, who are on the scene every day -- all of whom are superb -- I got lots of good ideas,” Carter added.

The deputy secretary said the U.S. commanders he spoke with also discussed their operations and plans, including multinational exercises with partner and allied forces.

“[The commanders] are wonderful executors of the strategy, and also wonderful ambassadors for our department,” Carter said. “All of them are spectacular.”

Allied and partner senior officials he has spoken with this month offered suggestions to improve U.S. military-to-military or government-to-government cooperation, the deputy secretary said.

“For example, in India, which was very important … I discussed with all of the senior leadership in the Indian government ways that we can strengthen our cooperation and deepen it technologically,” he said, noting the Indians don’t want to just buy American weapons systems.
“They have a proud technological heritage,” Carter said of the Indians. “and they want a relationship that enriches that, and enables that -- not just a buyer-seller relationship.”

Such technology-sharing partnerships are long-established with Japan, South Korea and Thailand, the deputy secretary noted. “We’ve had longer partnerships with them,” he added. “So much more is established, but much more remains to be done. So I discussed with the ministers of defense and other leaders in Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand ways that we can step up our cooperation with them in a way that reflects the rebalancing.”

As part of an overall force posture adjustment in the Asia-Pacific, DOD plans to relocate some U.S. troops based in both Japan and South Korea over the next several years. DOD officials have described those moves as intended, in part, to ease pressure on populations in congested urban areas. These kinds of responses to partner nation conditions are part of what the new strategy aims for, Carter said.

“I would say that our partners out here are overwhelmingly welcoming of our attention to them, and effort on [their] behalf,” he said. “I emphasized, as I always do, that our perspective is regional and global. It’s to keep a good thing going in the Asia-Pacific region.”

For 70 years the region has enjoyed peace and stability “for everyone,” Carter noted.

“I say ‘everyone’ because people always ask me about China, and I always say the rebalancing is not about China,” he said. “It’s not about the United States. It’s not about any one country; it’s about regional security. It’s that environment of security that has led to 40 years now, in Asia, of remarkable progression in lifting people from poverty: first Japan, then South Korea, then Southeast Asia, now China and India.”

“It’s a great story of human progress, and it doesn’t come automatically,” Carter continued. “There has to be security for progress, [and] we have been an important part of providing that for decades. And we intend to do that for decades in the future.”

The deputy secretary acknowledged that in some ways the rebalancing strategy is a “back to the future” approach to the region.

“We have been playing this role in the Asia-Pacific theater for many decades,” Carter said. “And all we’re saying is that we intend to continue to play it.That needs to be emphasized, because many people in the region and also in our own country have been preoccupied, very understandably, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“And they may have lost sight of the fact that an anchoring commitment of global security is here in the Asia-Pacific region,” he added, “and we are that anchor.”

USA: Export Control Reform Nears Finish Line, Shapiro Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2012 – After years of problems and delays, the reform of the U.S. government’s export control process is nearing completion, said Andrew J. Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political military affairs.

Shapiro told reporters at the Defense Writers Group today that reform of the process will be good for defense industries, for allies and for U.S. military relations with allies around the world.

President Barack Obama ordered reform of the process in 2009, and U.S. government agencies are working in close consultation to change the way the United States shares technology with allies.

“The reason why this effort is going to be successful is because this time the Pentagon has been one of the leading proponents of export control reform,” Shapiro said.

The reform effort is based on the premise that it doesn’t help national security to try to protect everything. “We really need to protect the things that are most important to us,” Shapiro said. “The goal has been to focus our efforts on the so-called ‘crown jewels.’”

Some examples, he said, are night vision systems, stealth and cloaking technologies, and satellite and communications technologies.

Today, there are two lists, one maintained by the State Department and one by the Commerce department, Shapiro said, and this alone causes confusion for allies, industries and some in government. The department lists, he added, do not use common definitions.

“There is a lot of ambiguity as to what is on the State Department list and on the Commerce list,” the assistant secretary said. “Early on in the process, I was stunned that the agencies even had difficulty agreeing on facts. The engineers at one agency and the engineers at another would be diametrically opposed.”

The long-term goals are to improve enforcement and information technology systems, eventually having a single list and a single licensing agency, Shapiro said.

“We’re close to the point of being able to publish those first categories of the revised export control system and those efforts are on-going,” he said. “While the entire list will not be completed by the end of the year, … it’ll be so close to the goal line that it will be just up to the next administration to spike the football.”

Shapiro said he expects tens of thousands of parts and components that currently have to be licensed by the State Department will move over to Commerce, and this will make the process much easier for all.

Editorial: Strategy for an Unthinkable Conflict

By T.X. Hammes

The Obama administration’s “rebalancing to Asia” has generated a great deal of discussion about how it impacts the defense acquisition budget but little about the military strategy necessary to support the shift. Although conflict in the Asia-Pacific is unlikely and extremely undesirable, the United States still needs a strategy.  The primary strategic goal is to deter such a conflict.  An effective military strategy can reduce the probability of conflict by achieving four objectives:  (1) assuring Asian nations that the United States is both willing and capable of remaining engaged in Asia; (2) deterring China from using military action to resolve disputes; (3) achieving victory with minimal risk of nuclear escalation in the event of conflict; and (4) credibility in peacetime.  A strategy should consist of critical assumptions, ends-ways-means coherence, and a theory of victory.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

News Story: Vietnam Ready to Host Russian Maritime Base

RIA NovostiVietnam will allow Russia to set up a ship maintenance station in the port of Cam Ranh, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang saidVietnam Ready to Host Russian Maritime Base
12:55 27/07/2012 Vietnam will allow Russia to set up a ship maintenance base at its port of Cam Ranh, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang said on Friday.> Read the full story HERE <

27 July 2012

AUS: Exercise Pitch Black 12 takes off in Northern Territory

RAAF Super Hornet

Up to 100 military aircraft will be in the Northern Territory from July 27 until August 17 as the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) hosts international partners for Exercise Pitch Black 12.

With 2200 participants coming from across Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, New Zealand and the United States, Exercise Pitch Black will be held from RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal.

Air Commander Australia, Air Vice Marshal Mel Hupfeld, said the biennial exercise would this year feature a mix of first-time and returning participants, making it the most advanced in the event’s 22-year history.

“For the first time at Exercise Pitch Black, Australia will be fielding the Super Hornet, Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, and KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport,” he said.

“The Indonesian Air Force will make its debut appearance at Exercise Pitch Black 12, and we’re very excited to see it attend with its Sukhoi Flanker fighter aircraft.

“Singapore has been a regular participant and will this year bring its F-15SG Eagle and Gulfstream G550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning aircraft,” AVM Hupfeld said.

Participants at Exercise Pitch Black 12 will utilise massive military training areas near Bradshaw and Delamere to practice offensive counter air and offensive air support operations with large formations of foreign aircraft.

“Regionally and geographically, the Northern Territory is ideally placed for exercise participants to bring together large formations of aircraft to conduct complex operations,” AVM Hupfeld said.

“Conducting Exercise Pitch Black 12 is a massive undertaking, not just for aircrews and maintainers but also for the planning that is involved.”

During Exercise Pitch Black 12, Air Force will conduct a handling display with an F/A-18 ‘Classic’ Hornet over Mindil Beach Markets on August 9. An Open Day at RAAF Base Darwin will be held on August 11 for the Darwin community.

“Air Force has a deep bond with the Northern Territory extending back to 1938, and holding these events is our way of extending a sincere thank you to the public for its support,” AVM Hupfeld said.

Editorial: China is Asia region's Predominant Spoiler State

By Dr. Subhash Kapila

China by all contemporary deductive analysis emerges as Asia Region’s predominant spoiler state. China’s Grand Strategy is premised on two major postulations both strategically targeting the United States. The first strategic objective is to minimise United States undisputed strategic and military predominance in the Asia Pacific and to compel the United States to make an exit from East Asia. The second strategic objective of China is as a consequence of the above to emerge as the strategic co-equal of the United States on the global stage.

China’s evolving into the regional spoiler state was first reflected in my SAAG Paper No. 1104 dated 2004. China was providing indicators then on the likely trajectory it would follow in the years to come. Eight years down the line China has not shaped for the better.

In the last decade it had become fashionable in US and Western think-tanks and academic circles to predict that as China gained in stature and power, China would become a more responsible stake-holder in Asian and global affairs. Retrospectively, those now seem to be pious hopes of those who are oblivious to the brazen impulsiveness of rising powers intent on a ‘revisionist course’.

Contemporaneously reviewed, it can be safely asserted that China poses a direct strategic threat to the United States and figures as the most powerful threat in Japanese and Indian threat –perceptions. Despite their current strategic convergences, China will in due course also emerge as a ‘strategic irritant’ for Russia if not a threat.

The China Threat to Japan and India is more potent simply for the reason that China perceives Japan and India as its challengers for Asian leadership and therefore figure heavily in China’s threat perceptions and also meriting special Chinese attention in terms of China’s political and military coercion.

The United States was not asleep to the emerging China Threat to its national security interests. As far back as 2004, once again, it needs to be pointed out that then President Bush had also directed redeployment of troops from Europe. The concerned White House Fact Sheet of 2004 stands quoted in my Papers of 2004. Deflections from that policy may have occurred due to events in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reverting to the main theme of this Paper, a brief survey of the security environment and security and stability in Asia Pacific and how it is being impacted by Chinese spoiler-state strategies would be a logical exercise. This is being attempted in terms of East Asia, South East Asia, the Indian Sub-Continent and Indian Ocean Region.

East Asia is the prime focus of China strategic planners as starting from the Korean Peninsula down to Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines, this chain of peninsula and island chains constitute a barrier to China breaking-out into the Pacific Ocean. All of them provide the United States with security network connectivity by virtue of them being tied to the United States in bilateral security treaties, besides enabling forward military forces presence of the United States for an immediate response to any Chinese military adventurism.

China’s spoiler- state demonstrated actions in this region amount to not restraining its protege North Korea from military provocations in the region eg. sinking of a South Korea Navy ship by a North Korea naval ship sometime back, Chinese Navy submarines prowling around in Japan’s Inland Sea waters, Chinese Navy provocative incidents with Japanese Navy ships in the Senkaku Island’s waters Earlier the Hainan Island incident and buzzing of US Navy ships by China especially in the South China Sea were extreme acts of Chinese military brinkmanship against the United States.

The main aim of these Chinese actions was part of brinkmanship strategies against the United States with a dual aim, namely belittling US image amongst American regional allies and secondly to test the limits of US military forbearance. Towards this dual aim China is not acting as a responsible stake-holder in the region, endangering regional stability in East Asia and generating regional political and military tensions.

In South East Asia there was a strategic vacuum till recently when the United States awoke to the creeping inroads made by China and the Americans went into an over-drive to reclaim lost strategic-space in South East Asia. China’s main spoiler-state activities in this region revolve around the South China Sea disputes with virtually all the South East Asian countries and more prominently Vietnam and the Philippines.

China has designated the South China Sea as Chinese waters and a ‘Core Issue’ of China along with Taiwan and that it is ready to go to war those challenging Chinese assertions. Implicit in this is that the United States too should back-off on this issue.

This is yet another manifestation of China’s new military aggressiveness aimed at the dual aims stated in earlier paragraphs against the United States. China has also embarked on issuing stern warnings to Vietnam on its growing proximity to the United States. Chinese military literature abounds with articles espousing “teaching military lessons” to Vietnam and India also.

Curiously similar warnings have yet to emerge against Myanmar which is opening in a big way to the United States and may open a land-approach to China’s underbelly.

On the Indian Sub-Continent region, China has shown no inclination to change its gears in terms of sustenance of Pakistan as the regional spoiler-state acting as a proxy for China against India. Conversely, China seems headed to further stiffen Pakistan’s spoiler- state capabilities against India besides now aiming at embedment of Chinese military manpower in the sensitive regions opposite India’s J&K State.

Hemmed-in in the Pacific Ocean and with the aim of ensuring security of her energy supply-lines, China has made a significant presence in Seychelles Islands.  China is reported to be establishing a naval base for her Indian Ocean movement besides Gwadur in Pakistan and one in Sri Lanka.

China seems to be at odds with virtually all its neighbours in different regions of the Asia Pacific. In East Asia military tensions exist with South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. In South East Asia, China has a serious military confrontation with the Philippines and Vietnam more notably besides problems with Indonesia and Malaysia

In the Indian Sub-Continent, a significant military stand-off exists between China and India along the over 3000 km long Himalayan mountain chain. China-Pakistan military nexus acts as another destabilising factor and threat to India’s security.

In the Indian Ocean Region, China has failed to recognise that it has not only to run the gauntlet of the India Navy but also the Navies of the United States and NATO Countries as exemplified by the French Defence Minister assertions at the 2012 Shangri-La Dialogue 2012 in Singapore a month  ago.

Now what does the above picture all add upto? In all of China’s demonstrated disruptive and threatening activities recounted above is there even one grain of optimism that suggests that China has benign strategic and military intentions to contribute to Asia’s security and stability?  In all of the above survey can one find even one strand that would suggest that China in the interest of Asian solidarity, China would rise above parochial nationalistic impulses and attempt conflict resolution by climbing down from her territorial claims based on Imperial China formulations lost in antiquity?

Regrettably for Asian counties, China has not shown any reasonable inclinations to be at peace with her neighbours across the entire length and breadth of the Asia Pacific. China has not exhibited any sign of being a responsible stake-holder in Asian stability and security.

Can China go to war on its designated “Core Issues’” like Taiwan, South China Sea, Tibet and Xingjian? Can China realistically come out successfully in any military conflict with the United States in the 21st Century? Can China realistically hope that it will be able to establish a “China Hegemony” on Asia?

The realistic answer to all of the above questions is a resounding No. Then what has China embarked on?

Concluding, one would like to suggest is that China’s assumption of the ‘Asia Region’s Predominant Spoiler State’ role lies in the strategic reality that unable to enter into an all-out military conflict with the United States in the Asia Pacific, China has adopted spoiler-state strategies to keep the Asian security environment simmering constantly with the dual aim of belittling and minimising United States strategic status and image in Asia Pacific and hoping thereby in that process that China can induce a strategic fatigue in the United States where it double-thinks on its security commitments and security presence in Asia Pacific.

In short, it is China’s asymmetric strategic response against United States global and regional strategic predominance in the Asia Pacific.