31 August 2012

Editorial: The dragon in our backyard - the strategic consequences of China’s increased presence in the South Pacific

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By Joanne Wallis
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s decision to attend the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in the Cook Islands this week signals the growing strategic importance of the South Pacific. Clinton’s attendance may also be a response to China’s increasing presence in the region. The consequences of China’s advance in our immediate neighbourhood are most significant for Australia, which is facing a situation where it may, for the first time in more than 70 years, find itself with a power with interests not necessary aligned to its own in its backyard.
China has been active in the South Pacific for four decades, mostly driven by its competition with Taiwan for diplomatic recognition. Although a truce (of sorts) has held for the last few years, China and Taiwan have engaged in ‘chequebook diplomacy’ to win the favour of South Pacific states. While this competition remains important, China now appears to have strategic interests in demonstrating its ability to project global power via its increasing influence in the region. And, regardless of their small size, each independent South Pacific state has a vote in international organisations, which China can seek to persuade them to use in pursuit of its interests.
China’s efforts to penetrate the South Pacific were given a boost after Australia and New Zealand’s attempt to isolate the Fijian regime after the 2006 coup. The Fijian regime responded by adopting an explicit ‘look north’ policy and sought a closer relationship with China, which other regional states have followed. After Australia and New Zealand supported Fiji’s suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum, the Fijian regime focused its attention on the Melanesian Spearhead Group, from which Australia and New Zealand are excluded. China seized this opportunity to gain influence, sponsoring the creation of the Group’s Secretariat, and building its headquarters in Vanuatu.
China’s most significant strategic interest in the South Pacific is military access, the most important aspect of which is signals intelligence monitoring. For example, China built a satellite tracking station in Kiribati in 1997, although it was subsequently dismantled after Kiribati switched diplomatic recognition to Taiwan. The Chinese fishing fleet operating out of Fiji is also said to provide cover for signals intelligence monitoring, particularly of United States’ bases in Micronesia. China is also seeking naval access to the region’s ports and exclusive economic zones, engages in military assistance programs, and is negotiating access to facilities for maintenance and resupply purposes.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, has said that: ‘China’s increased presence in the Pacific is fundamentally welcomed by Australia’. However, China’s growing military presence may pose several risks to Australia. As China becomes a more assertive international actor it could respond militarily if members of the Chinese diaspora are threatened, as they were during the riots in Solomon Islands and Tonga in 2006 (PDF). Questions then arise about what would happen if Australia also responded to such an eventuality: would the Chinese and Australians cooperate? Or could the situation lead to a stand-off?
The most serious risk is that Australia’s near neighbours could come to owe allegiance to a power with interests that do not necessarily align with those of Australia. Indeed, the 2009 Defence White Paper noted that Australia has a strategic interest in ensuring that Indonesia and South Pacific states ‘are not a source of threat to Australia, and that no major military power that could challenge our control of the air and sea approaches to Australia, has access to bases in our neighbourhood from which to project force against us’. Given the extensive nature of Chinese involvement, it is not beyond the realms of possibility to imagine such a scenario. The vulnerability of Australia to a major power establishing a foothold in the region was graphically illustrated during World War II, when the Japanese managed to penetrate as far as Papua New Guinea.
Australia (often in cooperation with New Zealand and the United States) has belatedly responded to China’s increased presence in the South Pacific. Australia has increased its diplomacy in the region, on top of its already extensive aid, military, policing and governance assistance. Most positively, Australia announced in July that it is restoring full diplomatic relations with Fiji, and easing sanctions it imposed on the military regime. Given the strategic issues at stake, it is vital that Australia continues to devote its energies to this issue in similarly positive ways.
Joanne Wallis is a lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, where she also convenes the Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Security program.

This article first appeared on the ASPI "The Strategist" Blog and is reposted here under a Creative Commons license.

Editorial: Rafale MMRCA Deal - Last Minute Glitches?

Vivek Kapur

Media reports recently surfaced stating that the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal, which had zeroed in on the French Dassault Rafale as the fighter of choice leading to commencement of exclusive negotiations with Dassault for finalising the contract, is far from final. These reports have been attributed to parties that do have a poker in the fire: Germany, which backed the Eurofighter Typhoon; and, Russia whose MiG-35 was also in the competition. German sources claim that there have been discussions between German and Indian officials on the issue and a re-worked offer for the Eurofighter Typhoon may be in the process of being finalised. For their part, Russian sources have claimed that there is strong likelihood of the tender for the MMRCA being refloated by the Indian Government.1

Possible European Compulsions

The majority of European economies continue to be in trouble, with Spain following Greece into financial grief. Italy meanwhile remains on the brink of collapse. The healthier economies of the Eurozone, France and Germany, are hard pressed to support the weaker economies recover their health. While these two economies are healthier, they are by no means anywhere near the robustness of their heyday.2 In this context, the $10 billion MMRCA contract is indeed a juicy prize. As noted in an earlier commentary about the Rafale on this website (IDSA), the final contract value with all options exercised could go up to $ 20 billion. European defence industries facing a slowdown in domestic orders due to economic and financial woes could be expected to do their utmost to win this Indian contract by any means possible as it could be the lifeline that ensures their survival.

IAF’s MMRCA Selection Process

The IAF put the six contenders through a very rigorous evaluation process and assessing them against over 600 specific parameters. It is reasonably certain that the IAF’s final selection of the Rafale and Typhoon from among the MiG-35, Gripen, F-16IN “Viper”, F-18E/F “Super Hornet”, Typhoon and Rafale is technically very sound and that the aircraft that best meets the IAF’s current and future operational requirements has been selected. Earlier disappointment expressed by the United States on the rejection of their F-16 and F-18 fighters from the competition was dealt with firmly by the Indian Government. This was despite US attempts to link the selection of an American aircraft with a possible wider strategic partnership and transfer of other advanced technology to India. Thus far, the Government of India (GoI) and IAF have been very firm on carrying out a transparent and technically correct selection of the aircraft best suited to the MMRCA requirement, which is exactly as it should be. IAF faces a multitude of challenges in the current security scenario and requires the induction of capabilities suited to effectively meeting these challenges. The Rafale deal is especially important as it is IAF’s best bet to stem and even reverse the recent and continuous fall in the combat aircraft squadrons fielded; these have reportedly fallen from a high of 39.5 Squadrons to about 32 Squadrons at present.3

Urgency of Induction

Delays in the Rafale program are not in the IAF’s or the nation’s interest. Hence, it is hoped that the Ministry of Defence (MoD), IAF and GoI will continue to maintain that the negotiations are on track, and attempt to close the deal at an early date to facilitate early induction of the new aircraft.

The French are likely to negotiate hard to maximise their benefits. While, based upon information available in the public domain, it is not possible to comment on the veracity of the recent German and Russian statements on the subject, there should be similar pressure on the French negotiators to successfully close the deal given the European economic situation. In addition, the fact that the Rafale has yet to find a non-French customer should be leveraged by Indian negotiators to push for an early closure on favourable terms. The payoffs to the French of a hotly contested and purely technical merits-based selection of the Rafale over other comparable aircraft could be a useful point in negotiations as this selection, followed by a sale to India, could open the floodgates for Rafale exports to other countries, giving France considerable medium and long term benefits.

Importance of an Early Closure of the Deal

It is imperative that the IAF, MoD, and GoI stand united in staying clear of the canards being spread by interested parties to sabotage the Rafale deal for their own financial benefit. Today the Rafale is important for IAF and the nation and anything that delays the induction of the MMRCA would go against the National Interest. IAF’s falling squadron strength must be arrested at the earliest and with the LCA still at Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) stage and yet to achieve Final Operational Clearance (FOC),4 the Rafale is the best bet for this. In any event, even with the LCA at FOC capability would not have capabilities offered by the Rafale. By design, LCA was to form the light and lower end of the IAF fighter mix, with MMRCA filling the Medium slot, and the Su-30MKI filling the heavy slot. One illustrative parameter of comparison in this regard is that while Rafale will field an Active Electronically Scanned Antenna (AESA) Radar, the LCA will in all likelihood come at least initially with a mechanically scanned radar which too is not ready as of now. So the Rafale is very important for IAF at the current time and all attention must be focussed on an early finalisation of the commercial contract. It should be kept in mind that building of the first aircraft against the India order would commence only after the contract is inked and delays in the latter would delay the delivery of the first aircraft accordingly. Also delayed at the same time would be the establishment of the assembly line in India for building the license production batch of aircraft. Indian negotiators must push for manufacture of all components and sub-components of the Rafale in India. This is important because the import of any sub-components or components would not only entail delay but also introduce possible political and sanction pressure points etc. The current time is the most suited for India since power in the current global economic situation lies with the buyer. Economies of scale and higher cost of making small batches of such components or sub-components could be an argument for opting for import of these. Here, it should be kept in mind that non-availability of an aircraft for a mission carries a far higher cost that those imposed by lack of economies of scale. IAF must have full control over its technology. This can be achieved only through complete manufacture of its equipment within India.


The IAF today faces a depleted number of fighter squadrons. Its plans to stem the fall in numbers hinge to a large extent on the timely induction of Rafale even as the LCA slowly progresses towards FOC. The GoI, MoD and IAF must press ahead towards an early closure of the contract so that aircraft are inducted at an early date.


1. “$10bn Rafale deal not final yet: German leader”, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-23/india/33341513_1_eurofighter-typhoon-india-and-france-defence-ministry, accessed on 27 August 2012.
2. “Eurozone crisis explained”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16290598, accessed 27 August 2012.
3. Air Marshal (Retd.) V.K. Bhatia, “IAF Modernisation - Immediate Needs”, http://spsaviation.net/story_issue.asp?Article=322, accessed on 25 August 2012.
4. Rajat Pandit, “Tejas won't become fully operational before 2013”, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-10-05/india/30246683_1_tejas-mark-ii-tejas-lca-american-ge

Originally published by Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.in) and can be found HERE.

AUS: Giraffes replace Piranhas (CRAM System)

Giraffe (Click to Enlarge)

Piranhas are being replaced by Giraffes in Tarin Kot Afghanistan – not as in a variety of fauna but in the form of serious life-saving hardware.

Leased from Sweden, the Piranha 740 is the name given to the distinctive Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (CRAM) system radar and vehicle that has been providing a reliable indirect fire warning to Multi National Base – Tarin Kot since December 2010.

The incoming Swedish-designed, Australian-owned radar system and transporter that landed this week, is designated as the Giraffe Full Operational Capability System.

With two Giraffes replacing the old system, Senior CRAM Watch Keeper, Captain David Petersen, said the safety on the base will be further improved.

Piranha 740 (Click to Enlarge)
“The system will provide far greater airspace management, sense, warn and locate capabilities,” Captain Petersen said.

The arrival of the Giraffe radars is the last stage of the LAND 19 phase 7A acquisition project. The Giraffe radars are a Swedish made system that is considered one of the best radars in the world for the detection of rocket artillery and mortars.

Bombardier Jordan Haskins who managed the every day functioning of the old system will now oversee its redeployment.

“It was very reliable considering it was radar designed for the arctic environment now operating in desert conditions – preventative maintenance and TLC was the key to its dependability,” Bombardier Haskins said.

“With two systems in place we will have complimentary coverage – it adds to increased safety for all personnel on the ground.”

AUS: Minister for Defence completes visit to Vietnam

I visited Vietnam this week for bilateral discussions with my counterpart, Minister of National Defense General Phung Quang Thanh.

This was my third visit to Vietnam and my second visit as Minister for Defence. I last visited Vietnam in October 2010 to attend the inaugural ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus. During that visit Minister Thanh and I signed the Australia-Vietnam Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation.

In Hanoi I also met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem.

We discussed the growing momentum in our strategic cooperation and our defence-to-defence and military-to-military relationship.

Minister Thanh and I agreed Vietnam and Australia should take further practical steps to enhance our Defence relationship and to progress a range of bilateral defence initiatives.

We agreed to upgrade our bilateral strategic dialogue with an Annual Defence Ministers’ Dialogue. This builds on existing annual Australia-Vietnam Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Affairs and Defence officials at the Vice Ministerial (Deputy Secretary) level and annual Australia-Vietnam Defence Cooperation Senior Officials talks.

We agreed to boost our maritime security cooperation by building on established Navy ship visits to include exercises in fields such as search and rescue. We will also explore possible Australian support for Vietnam’s efforts to locate and render safe unexploded ordnance.

Australia will continue to support Vietnam’s preparations for a future contribution to United Nations peacekeeping missions and build on cooperation in Officer and English language training.

Australia offers nearly 100 places to Vietnam People’s Army personnel to take part in English language training in Australia each year.

Australia also trains over 100 personnel in English each year at the Vietnam People’s Army Commissioning School.

During my visit I opened a new Australian-sponsored English language laboratory at the Military Technical Academy, which will train over 700 Vietnamese students annually.

While in Hanoi, I met with senior Officers at the National Defence College to discuss regional strategic developments and the positive momentum in Australia-Vietnam relations.

I also visited the Special Forces Officer School and the Vietnam People’s Army Commissioning School to observe the benefits of our practical bilateral cooperation.


The Royal Brunei Navy will host the 6th ASEAN Navy Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM6) from the 3rd until the 4th September 2012.  The theme for this year’s meeting is Friendship at Sea for Regional Maritime Peace and Security.  

The ASEAN Navy Chiefs’ and reprsentatives from the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Union of the Republic of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will convene for a two day program at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.  The 6th ASEAN Navy Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM6) will be chaired by First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Abdul Halim bin Haji Mohd Hanifah, Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy.  

Previously known as the ASEAN Navies Interaction (ANI), the first meeting was initiated in 2001.  Since then it has convened every two years.  With effect from the 5th meeting last year hosted by the Vietnam Peoples’ Navy in Hanoi, Vietnam, the ASEAN Navy Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM) replaces the ASEAN Navy Interaction as the official title of the meeting.  It is now held on an annual basis of voluntary rotation among ASEAN Member States.  

ANCM is an initiative by which ASEAN Navy’s leaders meet and seek opportunities to promote regional maritime security and stability through various initiatives and confidence building measures.  ANCM has proven to be an important milestone for ASEAN.  During the two day meeting members will follow up action items such as naval interaction programs and progress of Multi-lateral Information Sharing.  By the end of the two days, it will mark another milestone in the effort towards ensuring security at sea, which is a common aspiration towards creating stability and harmony in the region. It also promotes positive and sustainable economic development regionally.  It is a balance of tasks between protecting national interests and obligations of cooperating and coordinating at sea, in the spirit of solidarity and friendship amongst regional Navies. 

Since the acquisition of the new Patrol Vessels, Fast Patrol Boats and Fast Interceptor Boats, the Royal Brunei Navy has contributed significantly towards maritime security and extends their missions on a much wider scale both regionally and extra regionally.  This was apparent with the Royal Brunei Navy’s involvement with the Brunei International Fleet Review last year.  On top of the existing bilateral exercises, this year alone the Fleet has participated in a multi-national exercises, namely Exercise MILAN in India and currently Exercise KAKADU in Darwin, Australia.  The Royal Brunei Navy will continue to play a significant role in the region and maintains their commitment in contributing towards maritime peace and security.

Sri Lanka: 24 Australia bound Persons arrested

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Sri Lanka Navy intercepted 24 persons illegally bound for Australia in a multi-day trawler on 30th August 2012. The trawler named “Saumya” was intercepted 10 nautical miles off Batticaloa by a Fast Naval Patrol Craft attached to the Eastern Naval Command.

The arrested persons are Tamils residing in Vavuniya, Jaffna, Killinochchi and Mullaithivu. They were escorted to Trincomalee Harbour to be handed over to the CID for further investigations.

India: Delay in Construction of Six Submarines

Scorpene class Submarine (Wiki Info)

The original delivery schedule of the first submarine was December 2012 and remaining submarines were to be delivered with a gap of one year each. Consequent to the approval of Government for revision in cost and delivery schedule in 2010, the delivery of the first submarine has been revised to June, 2015 and that of the last (6th) submarine to September, 2018. The delay in construction of the submarines is attributable to initial teething problems in absorption of new technology, delay in augmentation of Industrial Infrastructure at M/s Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) and delay in procurement of some items by MDL due to their high cost as compared to the earlier indicated cost. Complexities of the issues involved have resulted in cost escalation. 

Government constantly reviews the security environment and accordingly decides about induction of appropriate defence equipment / platforms including submarines and surface / air assets to ensure India's naval capabilities. The thrust areas for modernization include induction of Frigates, Destroyers, Fast Attack Craft, Submarines, Surveillance aircraft, Aircraft Carrier, etc. 

This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri N. K. Singh in Rajya Sabha today.

News Story: S. Korean Navy Operates 3rd Aegis Ship

Click to Enlarge (Wiki Info)


SEOUL — South Korea’s Navy took over its third Aegis-equipped destroyer from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) on Aug. 30.

Built in September 2009, the KDX-III 7,600-ton Sejong the Great-class ship has undergone two years of sea trials and other operational tests, Navy and DAPA officials said.

The third ship was named after Ryu Seong-ryong, a prime minister of the Joseon Kingdom of Korea.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

30 August 2012

Editorial: Negative Views of Civilian and Private Security Contractors

PMC/PSC (Wiki Info)

Concerns over their cost effectiveness and strategic value make the deployment of PMSCs a risky proposition. More worryingly, argues David Isenberg, is that they may permit governments to circumnavigate democratic debates over the necessity of sending armed forces into battle.

By David Isenberg for the ISN

From the outset, it needs to be established that the use of private military and security contractors (PMSC) – whether in wars or humanitarian and stabilization operations – is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, even if this was the case, the United States is unlikely to decrease its reliance on them in the future, if for no other reason than the fact that contractors are now essential to maintaining the U.S. military’s vast network of overseas bases and facilities. But it is also true that the deployment of PMSCs does not always make sense. Indeed, just because contractors are often unfairly vilified doesn’t mean that their claims should be taken at face value. Yet, like any other issue worthy of debate the devil is always in the details. Questions concerned with how PMSCs will be used, who monitors contracts for proper implementation – not to mention the challenge of developing transparency and accountability processes – are questions that have far too often been answered by trial and error.
A Checkered Past
Advocates of the modern private military and security contracting industry – particularly its trade associations – often correctly state that the use of contractors in conflict is nothing new. Many support this argument by pointing to historical examples such as the deployment of Hessian units during the American Revolutionary War. Moreover, a cursory understanding of history makes it clear that, at least in the West prior to the Napoleonic wars, war was largely a commercial business.
But even back then not everyone thought that contractors were a positive. Adam Smith – hardly someone opposed to the private sector – denounced the British East India Company as a bloodstained monopoly: “burdensome”, “useless” and responsible for grotesque massacres in Bengal. P.J. O’Rourke further elaborates on this case in his book on Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations:
Smith understood the potential of privatization: Public services are never better performed than when their reward comes only in consequence of their being performed, and is proportioned to the diligence employed in performing them. But his experience of the corporations that were contracted to perform British government services—such as the East India Company, the Halliburton of its day— left him too skeptical to suggest privatization: “These companies...have in the long-run proved, universally, either burdensome or useless.”
Different Goals
Perhaps Smith intuitively understood that the goals of private sector companies and state organized military forces are very different and often mutually exclusive. For a military unit the only priority is accomplishing the mission. For a company it is making money. Those goals are not always reconcilable. As a former Marine Corps infantry officer who worked as a private security contractor in Iraq wrote a few years ago that “money, profit, the bottom-line, whatever you choose to call them” is the sole driving force behind PMSCs. The officer goes on to state that while the contractors cloak themselves in patriotic terms this is nothing more than window dressing.
Yet, were such contractors truly motivated by service to their country the officer further argues that they would surely provide their services at a deep and significant discount.And neither is it true that everyone in the military thinks that reliance upon PMSCs is a good thing. In 2010, for example, a U.S. Army officer raised concerns that the Army was "selling" large tracts of its professional jurisdiction to PMSCs. Indeed, as armed forces increasingly outsource core functions, “it not only cedes professional jurisdiction to private enterprise, it loses some of its ability to sustain and renew its expertise, to develop the next generation of professional officers, and to nurture the ability to think creatively about new problems”.
As a result, the officer argues, an army that chooses short-term expediency over long-term professional health also chooses slow professional death. It may even be the case that the officer would point to deployment of PMSCs in Iraq to add substance to his argument. In the aftermath of the 2003 conflict, the US military was concerned, for example, that contractors would not show up to perform their job. There were also tensions between soldiers and security contractors, issues relating to military command and control of contractors, not to mention difficulty in answering such a basic question as to how many contracting were operating in theater.
Questions of Effectiveness
Another argument that PMSC advocates make is that because many of their employees had previously served in the military they are already highly professional. There has always been an element of unreality about this argument. One would never find military leaders implicitly basing trust upon their troops simply on the fact that they are soldiers or marines. Instead, military leaders understand that part of professionalism means constantly checking and double-checking as well as (re)training to ensure that personnel act accordingly. Consequently, it is never assumed that once a soldier achieves a certain degree of professionalism that it stays that way without continued effort.
Defenders of private contracting also recycle arguments that the private sector is more cost-effective than the public sector. In part this is due to the sheer repetition of the belief that government is fundamentally inefficient and unproductive. Yet there has not been a whole lot of empirical evidence to back up the claim. In some cases, such as security contractors working for the State Department, there is limited evidence to suggest that contractors are cheaper. Indeed, with respect to the overall market in private military services, there is reason to believe that outsourcing increases the cost of military functions. There are two major reasons for this. First, a transparent and competitive market is needed, so that clients can pick and choose among different suppliers. Second, contracts must be subject to transparent bidding procedures, competing offers must be systematically compared and the performance of suppliers on the contract terms has to be closely monitored, and, if necessary, sanctioned.
In general, the environment surrounding military interventions is not conducive to cost savings and efficiency. Warfare is usually characterized by secrecy, heavy time constraints and the imperative of victory and little time available to partake in complex bidding procedures. Indeed, transparency is often lacking, which, in turn, makes it difficult to assess contract performance. Moreover, military commanders prepare for worst case scenarios, thus always having a backup (or two or three) at hand. For the military commander the priority is accomplishing the mission, not saving money.
To the extent that increased privatization and outsourcing has been driven by considerations of lower cost and greater efficiency, problems arise when cost reductions are assumed, or when statistics measuring savings from outsourcing are based on hypothetical projections. It is, in fact, quite difficult to compare the relative cost of private versus public security services. Economists disagree on how to solve this problem at least in part because they use different variables. For example, when measuring the savings made by using retired special operations forces personnel, how do you factor in the hundreds of thousands of tax dollars used to train these ex-soldiers?
Even more difficult can be attaching a dollar value to in-house military services. Since military establishments often have a monopoly on service delivery and information regarding cost, obtaining accurate comparative information is not easy. Accordingly, there have been occasions where private contractors (usually logistics service providers) have stayed within budget to the detriment of their employees’ working conditions.
Although it receives less attention than issues relating to cost and effectiveness, using PMSCs may also be a strategic liability. Retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel T.X. Hammes, for example, identifies inherent characteristics of contractors that create problems for the government. Firstly, despite PMSCs often relying upon former armed forces personnel, the government does not control the quality of the staff that the contractor hires. Moreover, unless the government provides suitably qualified personnel for each project involving PMSCs, it has little control over the contractors’ daily interactions with the local population. This latter point is crucial because populations hold the government responsible for everything that the contractors do or fail to do. Since insurgency is essentially a competition for legitimacy between the government and insurgents, this factor elevates the issue of quality and tactical control to the strategic level.
Shaping Public Opinion
Beyond concerns over effectiveness and strategic value, PMSCs have an additional - perhaps unintended - function that ultimately brings into question their place within modern military operations. A final more worrying observation from Colonel Hammes is that PMSCs provide opportunities to initiate and sustain long-term conflicts without the political effort necessary to convince a society based on democratic foundations that a war is worth fighting. This reflects that most wars no longer require full-scale national mobilization, but rather selective mobilization of both military and civilian assets. Indeed, both proponents and opponents admit that without contractors, the United States would have required much greater mobilization efforts to generate and support a force of 320,000 in Iraq (the combined troop and contractor count) or a force of over 210,000 in Afghanistan. The use of contractors, therefore, has the potential to facilitate the conduct of conflict without a significant amount of public consensus or domestic political debate.

David Isenberg is the author of Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq. He writes the blog The PMSC Observer and previously the Dogs of War column for UPI from 2008 to 2009. He has been researching and writing about private military and security contractors since the early 1990s.   

This Article first appeared on ISN and is reposted here under a Creative Commons license

AUS: Almost 700 jobs in the Hunter created by AWD (Destroyer)

AWD is based on the Spanish F100

The workforce in the Hunter for the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) Project has now hit almost 700 across Forgacs’ two Newcastle facilities in Tomago and Carrington.

Three AWDs are being built for the Australian Navy.

Construction of the AWDs involves the fabrication of 90 separate steel blocks, 30 for each ship, as well as three additional sonar blocks at a number of shipyards in Australia and overseas.

Forgacs is contracted to build almost half of the 93 blocks.

Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare and Member for Newcastle Sharon Grierson today visited the Hunter company to review progress on the construction of the blocks.

The first blocks will be shipped from Newcastle to Adelaide in the next few weeks and seven blocks are expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

Example of AWD block construction
When complete the AWD will be one of the most capable warships of its size in the world.

“Each AWD will have anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability as well as the ability to embark a helicopter at sea.

“Forgacs is playing a key role in delivering AWD and is also making a valuable contribution to discussions about the future of naval shipbuilding in Australia through the Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan,” Mr Clare said.

“The Air Warfare Destroyer project currently employs around 700 workers across Forgacs’ Hunter sites compared with 400 this time last year,” Ms Grierson said.

“Forgacs are continuing Newcastle’s great contribution to shipbuilding and Naval work.”

USA: Pacom Strives to Strengthen Alliances, Build Partnerships

Adm Locklear (Wiki Info)

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

CAMP SMITH, Hawaii, Aug. 29, 2012 – Calling alliances and partnerships the bedrock of U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command said he’s committed to building on them as he implements the new defense strategy focused on the region.

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III told American Forces Press Service his theater engagement plan centers on strengthening the U.S. alliances with Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand. “These alliances are historic, and they underpin our strategy in the region,” he said.

“We are going to put more time and effort into making sure that those relationships are built for the future,” the admiral said. “The challenge is, how do we ensure that they are durable and satisfactory for the security challenges of the region?”

While addressing that issue, Pacom is widening its aperture to reach out to the other 30 nations in the region, particularly those that share the United States’ interest in security, economic prosperity and human rights.

In a globalized world, no one nation can stand alone – economically, diplomatically or militarily, Locklear said.

“It requires a security environment that has to be collective,” he said, citing the array of transnational threats and challenges. “It can’t be just one country providing the security environment for everyone else’s benefit.”

That’s the value of alliances and partnerships, a central theme in the defense strategic guidance announced in January. “We are going to put more time and effort into making sure that those relationships are built for the future,” the admiral said.

Locklear said he welcomes the “rebalance” in the region, particularly new rotational forces in Australia and Singapore that will increase engagement opportunities with allies and partners.

“What they provide is an ability to work with our allies and to leverage the capabilities of the allies across all aspects of peace to conflict,” he said. The additional presence rotational forces provide creates more regional footholds that could pay off if the United States had to flow more forces to protect U.S. for allied interests there, he said.

Meanwhile, Pacom is going beyond traditional bilateral relationships to encourage closer multilateral relationships among regional nations and organizations. Working together toward common goals, they are “pulling on the same plow, addressing the same problems together and coming up with better solutions for the region,” Locklear said.

“In the end, what we are looking for is regional stability and security,” he continued. “So for our national interests, it is better when everyone pulls together, instead of pulling one against each other or pulling all, just one for one.”

In support of this effort, Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael A. Keltz, who leads Pacom’s strategic planning policy directorate, weaves intensified alliance- and partnership-building initiatives throughout the command’s planning processes.

The nature of the engagements varies widely. But from smaller-scale training focused on building capability within partner militaries to major exercises to promote regional interoperability to health engagements that support regional stability, all help lay the foundations for strong bilateral, trilateral and multilateral partnerships, Keltz said.

In many cases, these efforts focus on common challenges that cross national borders: concern about illicit trafficking and extremism, about protecting international trade routes and lines of communication and about improving resilience against natural disasters.

“We want to be better situated across the entire Pacific to react to these challenges and build those partnership capacities,” Keltz said. “Everyone gains because we are infinitely stronger, working together.”

To maximize the impact of its activities, Pacom is striving to ensure they build on each other and the efforts of other federal agencies and nongovernmental agencies.

“This gives us purpose and direction and a better understanding of the construct where we are going,” Keltz said. “It ensures that everything we do is tied in a synchronized, coordinated way to support U.S. national objectives in the region”

Air Force Brig. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, Pacom’s deputy director for operations, puts Locklear’s theater engagement strategy, and supporting plans developed by the strategic planning policy directorate, into action across a vast area of operation that spans half the globe.

“We do a lot of coordinating, across the spectrum, to make sure that we have the forces in the right place at the right time to support whatever is going on and whatever might come up,” he said. “We want to make sure that our forces are postured in the theater so that they are available and ready to go in the event that there is a contingency that they have to respond to.”

U.S. engagements occurring across the theater boil down to one basic goal, Wilsbach said: building understanding and trust across the region, and allied and partner military’s ability to work with the U.S. military and with each other. It’s a process he said doesn’t happen overnight and requires regular engagement and communication.

“If you play golf, you know that if you only play once a year, you are going to be pretty terrible at golf,” he said. “But if you play golf once a week or three times a week, you get pretty good at it. So the bottom line is repetition helps.”

The same is true with relationships, he added. “If you only talk to your spouse once every six months, the relationship is probably pretty thin,” he said. “But if you talk to your spouse every day, you’re likely to have a better relationship.”

These principles – repetition and frequency – underscore Pacom’s theater engagement strategy, Wilsbach said. “It focuses on improving performance while promoting relationship-building,” he said. “And those are the side benefits of readiness.”