30 April 2013

Think Tank: Thinking about China’s nuclear weapons

By Benjamin Schreer

At a recent ‘track 2’ meeting between Americans and Australians, China’s nuclear arsenal was the subject of considerable debate. In the view of one participant, Beijing’s actual number of strategic nuclear weapons is much higher than the official US intelligence estimate of 300 and could be as much as 1,300. He based his claim on the much-reported 2011 Georgetown University project (PDF) led by Professor Philipp Karber which concluded that China could have as many 3,000 nuclear weapons hidden in its vast ‘underground great wall’.

When Beijing recently released a new Defence White Paper (DWP), the New York Times ran an op-ed which argued that China had abandoned its long-standing nuclear ‘no first-use’ (NFU) policy because it didn’t get a mentioning in the document. If correct, such assessments would signal a major shift in China’s nuclear strategy. A Chinese arsenal of over 1,000 strategic warheads would basically lead to a Cold War-type situation of mutual assured destruction (MAD) in China’s nuclear relationship with the US and also in its dealings with Russia. A change in its nuclear doctrine would signal to the US and the rest of the region that Beijing now assigns nuclear weapons a major priority in its foreign, security and defence policy. It would also display Chinese anxieties about the heightened possibility of a preemptive strike by the US, with either conventional or nuclear weapons, against its nuclear forces.

To be sure, China has worked to improve the survivability of its nuclear strike capability, including the development of a new generation of nuclear-capable submarines. It’s also entirely possible that the number of its nuclear warheads is higher than official estimates. And Chinese strategists have repeatedly argued that there might contingencies when a strict adherence to ‘no first use’ would have to be reconsidered.

Nevertheless, just as we should analyse the PLA’s conventional modernisation in a cool-headed fashion, we should avoid alarmism about China’s nuclear capabilities. Speculation about the true numbers of Chinese strategic warheads is just that: speculation. In other words, Western analyses should avoid turning ‘could’ into ‘is’, as if we learned nothing from the Iraq WMD assessments. Otherwise we run the risk of replaying Cold War threat assessments in which the Soviets were said to be developing all sorts of magic weaponry which never saw the light of day. While it makes perfect sense from a Chinese perspective to improve its nuclear forces, particularly in the face of overwhelming US conventional strike capability, the survivability of its nuclear deterrent will probably depend much more on investments in infrastructure such as secure command and control systems than achieving ‘strategic parity’ with US and Russian nuclear forces in terms of warhead numbers.

Moreover, as analysts have convincingly argued, the omission of the ‘no first-use’ policy in China’s latest DWP doesn’t prove that Beijing’s nuclear doctrine has changed. On 8 April, the Chinese delegation to the UN Conference on Disarmament reiterated Beijing’s NFU pledge. Indeed, it’s hard to see why it would be in Beijing’s interest to unsettle the international community at a time when every PLA development is analysed through the lens of a changing strategic balance in Asia. In fact, the more confident China becomes in its second strike capability, the less the need for a change in its nuclear doctrine.

All good then? Not necessarily. China modernising its nuclear forces could seriously complicate relations with the United States and Asian neighbours. That’s because nuclear weapons rarely exist in a vacuum but are tied to power balances. Recent scholarship (PDF) points out that Beijing appears increasingly assured about its nuclear second-strike capability at a time when it has made considerable progress in projecting conventional military power in its ‘Near Seas’. In combination with a lack of comprehensive Sino-US dialogue on the nuclear balance, the emergence of a so-called ‘stability-instability paradox’ in East Asia looms large. That is, (over-) confidence in its ability to deter US military engagement through the threat of nuclear escalation to encourage the Chinese leadership to conduct conventional campaigns to change the status quo.

Unaddressed, there’s a growing danger of US-Sino crisis instability. From a US perspective, China’s nuclear weapons will become more critical in the emerging strategic competition for leadership in Asia. Note that in January this year, President Obama signed a new National Defense Authorization Act (PDF) (NDDA) which orders the Commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to submit a report by mid-August on the ‘underground tunnel network used by the People’s Republic of China with respect to the capability of the United States to use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralise such tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels’.

Further, allies in East Asia will look to their American ally to provide more visible nuclear extended deterrence commitments. While they’ll point to North Korea’s nuclear program, China’s new mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities will increasingly concern them. This suggests that nuclear weapons in Asia will be of growing not decreasing importance. Moreover, China, the US and its allies need to engage in serious dialogue at the political, military and academic level about what ‘strategic stability’ means in 21st century. Like it or not, some Cold War concepts and debate related to nuclear strategy, such as the question of whether and how nuclear war can be controlled, will make a surprising comeback.

Benjamin Schreer is a senior analyst at ASPI.

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

Think Tank: Indo-UK Joint military exercise concludes

Indo-UK Joint Military training aimed at enhancing counter terrorism skills code-named Exercise Ajeya Warrior was conducted in Belgaum, India from 04 April 2013. 100 personnel of the Royal Welsh Regiment of the UK Army and a similar strength of a battalion of the Kumaon Regiment of Indian Army participated. The first week comprised of familiarization with the organisation, weapons and equipment of both the armies. In the second week tactical drills of the two countries were demonstrated and practiced. The third week saw exercise in Search and Destroy operations and the fourth and last week of training marked culmination with joint exercises on Cordon and Search operations. The drills & procedures of the two most experienced armies in the domain of counter insurgency will be dovetailed into one integrated force as per a press release by Lt Col N N Joshi, PRO Defence Tezpur.

This Article first appeared on Security Risks and is reposted here under a Creative Commons license.

AUS: Minister Kelly inspects Australia’s first LHD ship

NUSHIP Canberra at BAE Shipyard (Click to Enlarge)

Minister for Defence Materiel Dr Mike Kelly MP today toured the BAE Williamstown shipyard and Australia’s first Amphibious Assault Ship Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) NUSHIP Canberra.

“BAE Systems Australia are the prime contractor for the LHD ships and are building the sizable superstructures, integrating the combat and communication systems, and finalising the internal fit-out of the Canberra to prepare her for sea trials,” Dr Kelly said.

The Williamstown shipyard has a long tradition of building ships for the Royal Australian Navy, and is currently involved in both Air Warfare Destroyer and Landing Helicopter Dock shipbuilding projects.

“There is a substantial and skilled workforce here at Williamstown of approximately 900, including BAE Systems and subcontracted planners, welders, fitters, electricians, plumbers, painters and mechanics. All the trades are working steadily towards completing the first of the LHDs for delivery to Defence early next year,” Dr Kelly said.

AUS: Defence Minister Smith to visit New Zealand for bilateral discussions and Tonga for inaugral South Pacific Defence Minister’s Meeting

Stephen Smith; Minister for Defence

Today I (Stephen Smith; Minister for Defence) depart for New Zealand to hold bilateral talks in Auckland with my counterpart, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman, and for Tonga for the inaugural South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting. 

I will be accompanied by the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney and the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley. 

Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Defence Minister, Dr Fabian Pok, will also accompany me to New Zealand and Tonga.  Dr Pok and I will conduct a formal bilateral meeting en route to Auckland from Australia. 

This evening I will conduct a formal bilateral meeting with Minister Coleman in Auckland.   

Dr Coleman and I will discuss how we can identify opportunities for enhanced engagement in Australia and New Zealand’s bilateral defence relationship. 

Australia and New Zealand are natural allies.   

USA: Hagel, Onodera Discuss U.S.-Japanese Security Concerns

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2013 – North Korea, the East China Sea and creating a new working group for joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities were on the table as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera met here today.

The U.S.-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone of security and prosperity in Northeast Asia, Hagel reaffirmed following Pentagon meetings.

The most obvious threat to stability in Northeast Asia is North Korea. The two men agreed to close cooperation and coordination to monitor and respond if needed to North Korean provocations. This will most definitely include increased cooperation on missile defense.

“Today we made progress on plans to deploy a second TPY-2 radar to Japan, which will help protect both of our nations from the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles,” Hagel said during a news conference following the meeting. “The United States remains steadfast in our defense commitments to Japan, including extended deterrence and a further nuclear umbrella.”

News Story: Philippines' second warship to arrive in June - DND chief Gazmin

By: Abigail Kwok

MANILA - The Philippines' second warship, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, is expected to arrive in the country by end of June or early July, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Monday.

Gazmin said it will take some time for the Hamilton-class cutter to arrive in the country as it will travel from Charleston, South Carolina passING through the Panama Canal.

Fernando Manalo, Defense Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materiel, said the ship would be "limited" in terms of equipment and arsenal but was "better than the first one," referring to the first Hamilton-class cutter acquired by the Philippines, the BRP del Pilar.

The arrival of the second warship is expected to boost Philippine naval presence, especially with the ongoing dispute at the West Philippine Sea.

Read the full story at InterAksyon

29 April 2013

Sri Lanka: Commander of the Navy visits China

At an invitation extended by Commander of the PLA Navy, Admiral Wu Shengli, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage visited China from 21st to 26th April 2013.

During the visit, the Commander of the Navy was able to hold wide ranging discussions on matters of mutual interests and bilateral importance with the Commander of the PLA Navy and officials. He called on The Chief of General Staff PLA, General Fang Fenghui, Commander of the South Sea Fleet Vice Admiral Jiang Weilie and President of Navy Marine Academy, Captain Shen Changfeng. During his stay in South Sea Fleet Headquarters he was able to visit PLA Navy Frigate 569.

The Commander of the Navy and President of the Sri Lanka Navy Seva Vanitha Unit, Mrs. Srima Colombage also attended a dinner hosted by Commander of the PLA Navy Admiral Wu Shengli and Commander of the South Sea Fleet Vice Admiral Jiang Weilie.

The visit has strengthened the relations between Sri Lanka and China which maintain close, cordial and mutually supportive relations in a number of fields. PLA Navy offers advanced and specialized training to SLN personnel and both forces have friendly relations which reflect their camaraderie and professional commitments.

News Story: N. Korea to launch large-scale air and land exercise

North Korea is preparing to carry out a large-scale combined air and land exercises along its Yellow Sea coast, Yonhap News Agency quoted a government source in South Korea saying.

The source claims that South Korean intelligence believes its neighbor may conduct an exercise around the city of Nampho involving aircraft and field artillery units. Nampho is the most populous port city in South Pyongan Province, and lies southwest of the North Korean capital Pyongyang.

"There is no way to tell when the drill will actually kick off, but there is a chance the North may opt to launch short-range missiles as part of a show of force," an anonymous official said.

Other sources in Seoul said that while there are clear signs of movement of military forces, there is no evidence that the exercise is imminent.

"A large part of the North's military is currently being used to help spring farming, although the South remains on guard against potential blitzkrieg-like attacks," an officer said.

News Story: Philippines accuses China of 'de facto occupation'

The Philippines on Friday accused Beijing of engaging in the "de facto occupation" of a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, following a face-off that began last year.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said three Chinese government ships remained in the vicinity of the Scarborough Shoal, scaring off local fishermen.

"The Chinese have tried to establish a de facto occupation," he told reporters.

The Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, as recognised by international law.

However China insists the shoal is Chinese territory as part of its claim to almost all of the South China Sea -- including waters up to the coasts of other countries.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Chinese Signaling for Conflict - A Predictive Pattern


TAIPEI — As things heat up in the East China Sea over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, it might be wise to know the signals China uses to warn of war and how Beijing handles crisis management.

A new report released in April by the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University looks at the history of Chinese threat and retaliation signaling. It offers up a future signaling scenario involving the South China Sea that should be required reading for the US Pacific Command and the US National Security Council.

Written by Paul H.B. Godwin and Alice L. Miller, “China’s Forbearance Has Limits: Chinese Threat and Retaliation Signaling and Its Implications for a Sino-American Military Confrontation,” looks not only at signaling but also at China’s crisis decision-making process and management.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Returning to the Land or Turning Toward the Sea? India’s Role in America’s Pivot

By Evan Braden Montgomery

China is pushing the U.S. and India closer. Are they focusing on the wrong set of challenges?

Few diplomatic overtures have generated loftier expectations in recent years than Washington’s rapprochement with New Delhi. Frequently at loggerheads during the Cold War, then kept apart by the U.S. commitment to counter-proliferation and India’s pursuit of a nuclear deterrent, the two sides have never had a warm relationship. That began to change during the George W. Bush administration, a transformation that was symbolized by a controversial agreement allowing the United States to sell civilian nuclear technology to India, despite its status as a nuclear-armed nation that is not recognized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Obama administration has since picked up where its predecessor left off. The president, for example, has called India a “natural ally”of the United States, while his former secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, declared that India was “a linchpin” of America’s pivot to the Asia-Pacific.

While there were many reasons for the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy to mend fences, perhaps the most important reason was the one that few officials could point to in public: the rise of China. In modern times, tensions between New Delhi and Beijing date back to their border war in 1962. In fact, the contested boundaries between these two powers are some of the only land border disputes that China has yet to resolve. To keep up with Beijing’s growing military power, India needs to modernize its armed forces, which means moving away from its reliance on Russian hardware and looking toward Europe and the United States. Meanwhile, Washington is searching for ways to preserve its position in the Asia-Pacific as China’s strength continues to increase. Having the region’s other rising power on its side is a good place to start.

If a partnership between the United States and India makes sense on paper, so far improved relations between the two nations have hardly been game changing. There are a host of explanations why the fruits of strategic collaboration have been relatively modest, from bureaucracies on both sides that have impeded potential arms sales, to broader considerations such as the fear of antagonizing China. One important factor, though, is the mismatch between what the United States wants India to do and what New Delhi is best suited to do.

Read the full 2 page story at The Diplomat

27 April 2013

USA: Chairman Urges More Japan, South Korea Defense Cooperation

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

TOKYO, April 26, 2013 – During the question-and-answer period following his speech here today at the National Institute for Defense Studies, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey urged Japan and South Korea to collaborate more closely in the face of sustained North Korean provocation.

Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke here near the end of a weeklong Asia trip that also included visits to South Korea and China.

He remarked to NIDS faculty and students that his visit to Japan’s Air Defense Command headquarters yesterday left him “very impressed” at the integration of radars with aerial reconnaissance, sea platforms including “both sensors and shooters,” and land-based Patriot missile battalions.

The chairman noted the U.S. military and Japanese Self Defense Forces have “a tremendous level” of air defense interoperability.

“We have an exquisite common operating picture, and we have a great deal of capability that is working together on both sides,” he said. “I also have that same relationship on the Korean Peninsula between U.S. Forces Korea and the Republic of Korea forces. I have the same exquisite common picture of air defenses. We have many of the same capabilities working there, as well.”

USA: Dempsey Discusses Regional Issues With Japanese Leaders

Gen. Dempsey (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki)

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

TOKYO, April 26, 2013 – North Korea and China led the list of topics Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, discussed today in a series of meetings with senior Japanese leaders here.

Dempsey, who is wrapping up a weeklong visit to the region that also included stops in South Korea and China, attended separate meetings today with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida and Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the Japanese Self Defense Forces Joint Staff.

During brief remarks at the top of the chairman’s meeting with Onodera, the minister said he welcomed the chance to exchange views on North Korea. Onodera, through an interpreter, noted North Korea’s missile launch in December, its subsequent underground nuclear test in February and repeated ensuing threats.

He also noted that Dempsey just completed a visit to China, “and China’s position on North Korea is also important.” Onodera said he was interested in exchanging views with Dempsey on China, as well.

The chairman said he and the senior Japanese leaders “have many things to talk about,” adding that all topics would be discussed “in the framework of our strongest alliance in the Pacific, Japan.”

News Story: INS Vikramaditya poised to meet latest deadline

Aleksandr Emelyanenkov

The aircraft carrier will once again take to sea in July; flight tests are scheduled a month later.

The INS Vikramaditya has undergone a complex operation at Russia’s Sevmash shipyard ahead of the final stage of trials and delivery to the Indian Navy later this year. 

With 10 weeks still left until July 3, 2013, when the final sea trials are due to begin, tug boats carefully manoeuvred the giant ship to a drainable pool. There the Vikramaditya will once again be put on a frame. Once the water has been drained, engineers will inspect the hull of the ship and all its outboard parts and components.

According to the head of the commissioning team, Igor Leonov, all the procedures in the dry dock - which are compulsory for a ship after repairs - will take two months. So far, the project remains strictly on the latest schedule.The April 25 deadline for putting the ship in the dock has been met, Leonov said.

Ekaterina Pilikina, spokeswoman for the Sevmash shipyard, gave the media details of the elaborate operation. The main complication was that there were only a few centimetres to spare between the hull of the enormous ship and the sluice gate. To make matters worse, the team worked in strong winds and had only an hour at the peak of the high tide to complete their task.

The operation was observed by senior Sevmash executives; the head of the White Sea naval base, Vladimir Vorobyev; the captain of the Indian crew of the Vikramaditya, Suraj Berry and the head of the Indian observation team, Kudaravalli Srinivas. Both Indian representatives were impressed with what they saw.

Read the full story at Russia & India Report

Editorial: Should Middle Powers Integrate or Go it Alone?

CF-18A (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki)
By Robert Farley

How does coalition-building affect procurement?  To what extent do (or should) states anticipate operating in a multilateral environment, and choose their weapons accordingly? A recent FlightGlobal article examined Canadian military procurement policies, especially with regard to plans to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 fleet with F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The F-35 purchase has generated a great deal of controversy because of the heavy price tag and the contracting process. Much of the debate turns on how Canada expects to become involved in foreign conflicts, and consequently on what tasks are required from Canadian military forces.
The process sheds light on how Canada, a state which has long conceived of its security interests as being embedded with the United States and the United Kingdom, thinks about the design of its military institutions. The question of integration with foreign partners has long bedeviled aspects of Canadian defense policy; the disconnect between Canadian civilians and military commanders during the Cuban Missile Crisis played a role in the eventual decision to unify the Canadian armed forces. Because the services were intimately tied to their counterparts in the UK and the United States, Canada ran the risk of going to war without sufficient civilian deliberation.
Canada’s dilemma in this regard is hardly unique. The broader question involves the degree to which military procurement policies will be guided by expectations of integration into a multi-lateral military framework. Middle powers have a choice between procurement policies that maximize their unilateral security, and policies that maximize their ability to contribute to multilateral operations. For example, the United Kingdom faces a choice between preserving its nuclear deterrent (at this point a fundamentally unilateral project), and maintaining viable conventional forces capable of operating at the sharp point of NATO.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: India and China’s Border Spat

By Nitin Gokhale

On April 23, eight days after 25-30 soldiers of  China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) walked across an unguarded portion of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China in Ladakh, military delegations from both sides met again to try and resolve the standoff. But a four hour long meeting failed to break the deadlock, prolonging the latest flashpoint between the two nuclear armed powers.
China and India fought a brief but bitter war in 1962 over the non-demarcated border, but even half a century after that conflict ended the boundary dispute remains unresolved, leading to episodes like the current face off. 
Both sides have put in place several mechanisms to ensure that small incidents on the border do not get out of hand despite continued incursions and intrusions by both sides. In a break from the pattern, however, the Chinese troops have setup tents and stayed in position six miles inside Indian Territory for more than a week, posing a dilemma for Indian decision makers.
While neither Beijing nor New Delhi wants the current situation to escalate beyond the local level, domestic factors in both countries makes it difficult for the two governments to devise a solution that doesn't look like one side has conceded too much to the other.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

26 April 2013

Think Tank: A US Base in the Maldives?

Azra Naseem, Editor of Maldivian blog Dhivehi Sitee [http://www.dhivehisitee.com] claims in a report dated 24 April 2013 that Maldives government is in the process of signing a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States which will allow the country to establish a military base in the atoll nation. The author has also posted a PDF copy of the Draft Agreement on the web site. Meanwhile Minivan News a mainstream news channel of the country has reproduced the report and a confirmation from the United States Embassy in Sri Lanka of discussions on the subject but the Embassy indicated that the agreement is yet to be finalized. [Both reports have not been confirmed by other sources so far]

United States interest in the Indian Ocean is well established and is closely linked to the Asia Pacific pivot. Thus SOFA with Maldives should not come as a surprise. Senior Maldivian ministers were invited aboard a United States aircraft carrier on 27 March 2013 as it passed by the Maldives. The visit was followed by signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Maldives and the US government to install a free border control system. Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen, were flown to the USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier. The United States is also expanding relations with Maldives with the grant of free border control system that is a boon to the country after it has been engaged in costly negotiations for the same with a Malaysian company in the past. US forces have prepared joint security plan for the country and have been carrying out small scale exercises with Maldives military that have led to continued interaction with Male at different levels.

The draft agreement purportedly provides US unfettered access to all aerial and sea ports in Maldives with designated areas sealed off for exclusive use. This agreement will require the approval of the Maldives parliament as the Article 77(3) of the 2008 Maldives Constitution stipulates that, “ No part of the territory of the Maldives shall be given to a foreign person or party for a military purpose for any period without the approval of the People’s Majlis,” states Naseem in the article.

Maldives is undergoing major political upheaval with the present administration under President Mohammad Waheed accused of a having toppled his former boss Mohammad Nasheed in what the latter has called a coup. The country is due for fresh elections in September 2013, where Nasheed is expected to sweep the same. Nasheed is also known to be close to US President Barack Obama.

Coming in the wake of the likely extension of the agreement for use of the island of Diego Garcia by the US by December 2014, Maldives will provide another base of operations and also an alternative in case UK does not agree to the extension as per Naseem. The presence in Maldives fits into the US Asia Pacific shift as it would provide a major pivot in the Indian Ocean. Analysts in the West have been frequently accusing China of plans to acquire a base in the Maldives, but Washington may have pipped Beijing in the Indian Ocean.

Interestingly Minister of Defence and National Security of Maldives, Mr. Mohamed Nazim had a one hour long meeting with the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony at South Block on, 15 April, 2013, followed by a meeting with the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and CAS and the Vice Chiefs of Army and Navy and DG, Coast Guard. Nazim a former colonel of the Maldivian defence forces was on a 4 day official visit to India. Shri Antony also hosted a banquet for his counterpart. The agreement with the US would have come up for discussion.

India’s relations with Maldives have been a subject of some debate after the government evicted Indian company GMR abruptly terminating a long term contract. Former President Mohammad Nasheed also sought refuge in the Indian High Commission in February 2013 fearing arrest over case of detention of a Judge during his tenure in office.

India had been chary of foreign bases in the region and how New Delhi will react to these developments remains to be seen?

This Article first appeared on Security Risks and is reposted here under a Creative Commons license.

News Report: US Military Official Seeks Stronger US-China Ties

General  Dempsey (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki)

William Ide

BEIJING — A top U.S. defense official says that, although America wants a stronger relationship with China it will not come at the expense of ties Washington has with Japan.

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey told a group of several hundred soldiers stationed in Japan Thursday that, when he met with Chinese officials this week, he made the point to them that improving ties with Beijing cannot be an “either or” question for the United States. 

"Would we trade off our relationship with Japan in order to have a stronger relationship with China? The answer is 'No'," Dempsey said.

Tensions between Tokyo and Beijing have been rising once again this week as Dempsey and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns paid visits to China.

On Wednesday, more than 160 Japanese lawmakers paid their respects at the Yasukuni Shrine. Three government ministers made a similar visit to the Shinto site in Tokyo last week.

The shrine honors 2.5 million of Japan's war dead, including some convicted war criminals from World War Two.

China has lodged "solemn representations" to Japan about the visit. China’s foreign ministry says Japanese leaders should learn to "respect the feelings of the people of China and other victimized countries."

China has also criticized plans by the United States and Japan to hold a island recapture drill in late June off of California.

News Story: Russia to train Indian fighter pilots

New Delhi: Russia will train Indian fighter pilots for carrier-based operations, a top Russian official said.

The Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RAC MiG) has signed a contract with India's defence ministry on the training of Indian pilots on operating carrier-based aircraft, RAC MiG Director General Sergei Korotkov told Itar-Tass in an interview.

"On April 20, the contract was signed between the ministry of defence and the RAC MiG, under which we will train Indian pilots on the MiG-29K/KUB planes," said Korotkov.

"The training comprises two stages. The first will start in Russia two and a half months before the departure of the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier (former Russian cruiser Admiral Gorshkov) that our country is to hand over to the Indian Navy this year."

According to him, the continuation of the training, "which meets all the modern requirements" will be held in India.

Read the full story at NDTV

News Story: Russia ready to negotiate with India on MiG-35 fighters

MiG-35D Fulcrum-F (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

New Delhi: Russia is keen that India buys its MiG-35 fighter aircraft, a top Russian official said. 

The Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RAC MiG) has proposed to India to consider the possibility of concluding a contract on the supply of the MiG-35 multipurpose fighter jet, RAC MiG Director General Sergei Korotkov told Itar-Tass in an interview. 

"Despite the fact that we lost the tender for the supply of 126 multipurpose fighters to the Indian Air Force, the RAC MiG fulfilled all the requirements set the tender committee," Korotkov said. "The aircraft has demonstrated good results, sometimes even exceeding expectations." 

According to him, the corporation hopes that "India will consider the possibility of concluding a contract on the supply of the MiG-35 fighters." 

Read the full story at ZeeNews

News Story: Domestic Firms Allowed in India Gun Contest


NEW DELHI — For the first time, domestic private sector defense companies will be allowed to compete alongside foreign companies in the forthcoming 155mm/52-caliber mounted gun tender, expected to be floated in the next two to three months.

Before, only overseas original equipment manufacturers could participate in the tender, according to the categorization of the program.

The Defence Ministry allowed the participation of domestic defense firms after those companies demanded that the ministry change the categorization of the competition from “Buy and Make Global” to “Buy Global.” The designation allows domestic companies to compete.

Under “Buy and Make Global,” only overseas companies can participate, with the requirement that those companies transfer technology to the state-owned Ordnance Factories Board.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: China plans to build larger aircraft carriers

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (File Photo)

BEIJING (PTI): Amid deepening territorial disputes with its neighbours, China said it will have more aircraft carriers, far bigger than the one that was launched last year, to put in place its plans to emerge as a major maritime power.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy said on Tuesday that "China will have more than one aircraft carrier," Song Xue, deputy chief of staff of the PLA Navy, told foreign military attaches at a ceremony to celebrate the Navy's 64th founding anniversary in Beijing.

"The next aircraft carrier we need will be larger and carry more fighters," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Song as saying.

However, Song said some foreign media reports that China is building new aircraft carriers in Shanghai were not accurate.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: 2 new Army airborne units for deployment near China border

NEW DELHI (PTI): Against the backdrop of China strengthening its capability to airlift soldiers, India is planning to raise around 1,500 more airborne troops for deployment in the northeast along the China border.

Under the 12th Defence Plan, India is planning to raise two new battalions of the airborne troops with around 1,500 personnel under the elite Parachute Regiment of the Army, Defence Ministry sources told PTI here.

The new raisings would be apparently used to check any move by any adversary to airdrop their troops within Indian territory and capture that area, they said.

The new units would also be used for the conventional roles in counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in that area and would also be capable of being dropped behind enemy lines in case of any future war, they said.

Read the full story at Brahmand

Editorial: Another Twist in the China-Japan Island Dispute

By James R. Holmes

Uncharacteristically blunt language issued forth from Tokyo on Tuesday, after the news broke that eight Chinese maritime-enforcement ships had entered the waters around the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. While a Chinese presence in these waters has become commonplace in recent months, this was the largest flotilla to fly the PRC flag near the archipelago. The deployment reportedly came after Japanese nationalists ventured near the islands in small craft. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reported instructing Japanese forces "to take resolute measures against attempts to enter our territorial waters and make a landing." If Chinese personnel landed on the islets, added Abe, "then of course we will forcibly expel them."

There are a few question marks to the encounter. First consider the Chinese side. Some news reporting attributed the Chinese action to Japanese officials' recent visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. Such visits are guaranteed to raise hackles not just in China but in South Korea. It stands to reason that there may have been some link between the two events. But correlation isn't causation. Beijing made no explicit connection between Yasukuni and the Senkakus. This week's maritime incursion, moreover, differed from previous Sino-Japanese encounters only in scale, not in kind. And China's leadership has vowed to maintain a regular if not standing presence in waters that lap against the archipelago. 
Read the full story at The Diplomat

25 April 2013

USA: US-Australia Agreement Promotes Space Situational Awareness

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., April 24, 2013 – A new agreement made between the United States and Australia represents the first in what U.S. Strategic Command’s commander hopes will be many that promote transparency in the space domain.

Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler signed the agreement on behalf of the United States, short-cutting the process for the Australian government to request data through Stratcom’s Space Situational Awareness Sharing Agreement Program.

The agreement represents another step in the November 2010 pact between the two countries to cooperate on space situational awareness activities.

It streamlines the process for the Australians to make specific requests about space data gathered by Stratcom’s Joint Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. This information, which includes locations of some 23,000 man-made objects in space, is critical in planning launches into the increasingly crowded space domain.

News Story: South China Sea - a decades-long source of tension

Bandar Seri Begawan

Competing claims to the South China Sea have for decades been a source of tension in the region.

China's increasing assertiveness in staking its claim in recent years has caused concern for neighbouring countries, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam.

The South China Sea issue will be a top priority for Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) leaders during their two-day summit in Brunei beginning on Wednesday. Below are key facts on the sea and the competing claims:

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: ‘Strong army’ policy builds China maritime threat

The Chinese administration of Xi Jinping has reiterated its intention to push ahead with a “strong army” policy. This policy centers on building China into a maritime power.

In its biennial defense white paper released last week, Beijing declared: “It is an essential national development strategy to exploit, utilize and protect the seas and oceans, and build China into a maritime power. It is an important duty for the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) to resolutely safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests.”

The white paper also emphasized China has developed a policy of bolstering cooperation between its navy and the State Oceanic Administration’s surveillance vessels and others.

Read the full story at China Defense MashUp

News Story: PLA must protect China’s overseas interests

China’s latest national defense White Paper spelled out the duty of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to protect the country’s overseas interests, as security issues involving marine energy and resources, strategic sea lines of communication, and Chinese nationals overseas are becoming increasingly prominent.

First, the PLA should protect Chinese people overseas. It should participate in international peacekeeping operations to provide a safe environment for overseas Chinese workers. When there is a war, riot or political disturbance, the army should be able to evacuate Chinese people swiftly. The PLA is also responsible for rescuing Chinese hostages in the event of such crises, and this is especially pertinent at a time when pirates, terrorists and armed kidnappers are operating on a greater scale in many parts of the world. The army should also act as a deterrent against those who attempt to harm Chinese people. We will not allow any repeat of such tragedies as the May 1998 riots in Indonesia, in which some 1,200 ethnic Chinese were killed.

Second, the PLA should protect national and personal wealth overseas. So far, China’s total investment abroad has reached US$50 billion and by 2020, the figure will surpass US$1 trillion. In addition, the total value of all overseas real estate owned by Chinese people stands at around US$3 trillion. The economic interests China has in other countries are crucial to the sustainable development of Chinese economy.

Third, the PLA should ensure the security of marine energy and resources. The oceans are abundant with energy and resources. China currently has 1,628 deep-sea fishing boats operating in the exclusive economic zones of 37 countries, as well as the open seas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, and the waters near the South Pole. However, the oceans and coastal regions are susceptible to attacks by pirates, terrorists, illegal armed forces and political disturbances. This makes it hard for the PLA to maintain maritime security.

Fourth, the PLA should ensure the security of strategic sea lines of communication. China relies heavily on foreign trade and more than 90 percent of China’s exported cargos are freighted by sea.

Read the full story at China Defense MashUp