30 March 2013

ITT Exelis to provide electronic support systems to Australian ANZAC and LHD ships

HMAS Perth an ANZAC class Frigate

VAN NUYS, Calif., March 28, 2013 - ITT Exelis (NYSE: XLS) has been awarded a contract valued at more than $102 million to provide the Electronic Support Measures (ESM) suite for Australia’s ANZAC frigates and the Canberra class LHD ships, enhancing the country’s  national defense capabilities throughout the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. With this contract, Exelis continues to extend its leading edge electronic warfare capabilities to international customers.

The Exelis ES-3701 ESM system will significantly improve the Royal Australian Navy‘s capability to detect radars from other surface ships and aircraft. It provides situational awareness, targeting, self-protection and surveillance, and utilizes a Windows-based interface for robust, easy-to-use graphical displays. The selection of the ES-3701 also provides commonality with other large warships in Australia’s fleet, as the system is also being deployed on the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD).

“This award positions Exelis as the premier supplier of ESM systems in the Asia Pacific region and is a critical milestone in the region’s enhancement of its defenses,” said Rich Sorelle, Exelis corporate vice president and president of the Electronic Systems division. 

This is the second major contract in recent years to provide electronic warfare systems to the Royal Australian Navy; Exelis was previously awarded the contract for the ESM suite for the AWD program. The work for these key contracts will be performed by the Exelis Electronic Systems, radar, reconnaissance and undersea systems business area from its Morgan Hill, Calif. location.

 “Our ES-3701 system provides effective mission operations in all weather conditions and against all essential threats,” added Dave Prater, Exelis vice president and general manager of radar, reconnaissance and undersea systems. “It is ideally suited to achieve the operational mission requirements in a dynamic and challenging electronic warfare environment.” 

For more than 60 years, Exelis has been providing leading edge ESM solutions to navies around the world. These precision monopulse, direction-finding ESM systems are ideal for submarines, surface ships and land-based applications. 

News Report: Japanese Study Warns of China's Rising Military Assertiveness

Disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea

A Japanese government-funded study published Friday is warning that China is becoming less afraid of angering its neighbors as it pursues a bolder maritime policy.

The annual report by the National Institute for Defense Studies said China's rising national strength and enhanced military capabilities are helping drive Beijing's rising assertiveness.

China-Japan relations have suffered since September when Tokyo nationalized a group of East China Sea islands that have been the focus of a decades-long dispute.

Beijing responded angrily. It began sending regular government ships to patrol the Japanese-controlled islands, in what observers say is an effort to establish de facto control of the area.

The Japanese report Friday said signs of Chinese aggression were evident before the island purchase. It said China's actions "clearly reveal it was meticulously preparing measures for advancing its claim over the islands from a very early stage."

Ralph Cossa, president of the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum, says the Japanese report is an attempt to "throw the ball back in China's court."

Disputed Regions in the South China Sea
"The Chinese have said the problem was the nationalization of those islands, that this changed the status quo, and that it is all Japan's fault," said Cossa. "So the Japanese are trying to point out that the Chinese were already preparing to do this, they were already flexing their muscles in the South China Sea and they were already doing other things."

Cossa says there is a degree of truth to the argument of both sides. But he says the report will not likely change Japan's foreign policy since it is already well aware of what it is dealing with in China.

He says China may continue to "annoy" and "bully" the Japanese over the island issue, but he does not foresee a wider conflict between the two Asian powers.

"The real question is now that [Chinese President] Xi Jinping has fully come to power, will he want to defuse some of this or will he want to continue to ratchet it up?" asked Cossa. "We've seen some signals in both directions, so I think it's a little too soon to tell."

Observers are also watching Japan's new leader, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is known for his nationalistic views and has taken a firm stance on the island issue since coming to power.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: N. Korea Enters 'State of War' Against South

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un
North Korea says it has entered what it calls a "state of war" against its southern neighbor.

In a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency [KCNA] on Saturday, Pyongyang said "all issues raised between the North and the South will be handled accordingly."

North Korea has been threatening to attack the South and U.S. military bases almost on a daily basis since the beginning of March.

On Friday, tens of thousands of North Koreans held a huge rally in support their leader's threat of a possible military strike against the United States.  

Soldiers, workers and students marched through Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang. The North's leader, Kim Jong Un, was not present.

The rally came after Kim Jong Un ordered preparations for rocket strikes on the U.S. mainland and American military bases in South Korea, Guam and Hawaii.

29 March 2013

Think Tank: Increasing Risk of North Korean Tactical Attack on South Korea - What U.S. Needs to Do

By Bruce Klingner

North Korea routinely threatens to annihilate South Korea, the United States, and Japan. After its recent successful long-range missile and nuclear tests, Pyongyang now claims it already has the capability to target U.S. bases in the Pacific and the American homeland with nuclear weapons.

As frightening as these warnings are, North Korea would more likely conduct another tactical-level attack to achieve its objectives rather than risk national suicide through a nuclear strike. Discerning bluster from actual North Korean intent is always difficult, but recent actions suggest greater potential for another attack—perhaps imminent—on South Korean military and civilian targets.

The danger of North Korean miscalculation has increased further with new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un emboldened by recent nuclear and missile test successes and the knowledge that Seoul and Washington have never struck back in any significant way after previous deadly attacks. But South Korea is now more likely to strike back after another North Korean assault.

AUS: Adelaide Welcomes Home No. 92 Wing

Seven hundred Air Force personnel have marched through the centre of the South Australian capital to commemorate the conclusion of AP-3C Orion operations in the Middle East.

RAAF personnel paraded through the city centre in a ‘Welcome Home’ march and parade to recognise the efforts of 92 Wing personnel and support staff who were a part of the almost decade-long deployment for Operations FALCONER, CATALYST and SLIPPER.

The Officer Commanding Number 92 Wing, Group Captain Craig Heap, said today’s parade was an important occasion as it recognised the service of many members who have completed multiple deployments over the years.

“Number 92 Wing personnel should be extremely proud of their achievements. Their work has been an important component of Australia’s contribution to Coalition operations in the Middle East,” said Group Captain Heap.

Since 2003, Number 92 Wing has rotated around 3500 personnel on three to eight month tours of duty. The Orion crews have conducted overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks in Afghanistan and Iraq, maritime patrols of the Arabian Gulf and North Arabian Sea and more recently, counter-piracy missions in the vicinity of Somalia, working closely with the US-led Combined Maritime Force and other international task forces.

USA: Hagel, South Korean Defense Minister Discuss Alliance

American Forces Press Service 

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin last night to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the alliance between their two countries during a time of heightened tension brought about by North Korean threats, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement summarizing the call.

"Secretary Hagel and Minister Kim reaffirmed the strength of the alliance, which has been, and continues to be, instrumental in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Little said in the statement.

Hagel highlighted the steadfast U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea, including extended deterrence capabilities, and pointed to the recently signed counter-provocation plan between the two nations as a mechanism to enhance consultation and coordination of alliance responses to North Korean aggression, Little added.

The secretary also expressed his strong confidence in Army Gen. James D. Thurman's leadership of the 28,500 men and women of U.S. Forces Korea and applauded the steps his team has taken to further integrate command and control functions with South Korea, Little said. The leaders also discussed the recently announced plan to increase U.S. ground-based interceptors and early warning and tracking radar in response to the North Korean threat, he added.

"Secretary Hagel thanked Minister Kim for his friendship and noted that his service under two different South Korean presidents -- a first for a [South Korean] minister of national defense -- can only further strengthen the [South Korea]-U.S. relationship," Little said in the statement.


Su-35 Flanker-E (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

In the period from 26th to 30th March 2013 the island of Langkawi, Malaysia, hosts LIMA 2013, the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition, at which Rosoboronexport will present advanced samples of Russian military equipment to its Asian partners.

Russia has been exhibiting at the defence shows held in the island of Langkawi since 1991. It was from the very beginning that Russia offered its full support to the LIMA exhibition, which eventually became one of the largest authoritative defence trade events in the Asia Pacific region and a major venue for discussing prospects of military technical cooperation.

"In 2012 the most significant amount of Russia's defence-related exports went to Asia Pacific countries which received 43 percent of our total foreign military sales, - noted Victor Komardin, deputy director general of Rosoboronexport and head of the joint Rostec/Rosoboronexport delegation to the LIMA 2013 exhibition. - It is an objective process, since developing nations in the Asia Pacific vitally need to secure their development plans and protect national interests, and in this area we render them assistance".

News Report: Chinese Naval Fleet Heads Deep Into Disputed Waters

Simone Orendain

MANILA — A small fleet of Chinese naval ships recently concluded drills in a disputed part of the South China Sea, some 80 kilometers from Malaysia’s shores. The People’s Liberation Army’s naval foray so far south is a first in recent memory.

The fleet of four ships headed to the Spratly Islands and made their way to James Shoal - less than 100 kilometers from Malaysia - to carry out their drills. The fleet included two guided missile frigates and a guided missile destroyer.  The Xinhua news agency says the vessels did formation exercises with some land-based aircraft, which were fighters and fighter-bombers.

Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies says the number of ships involved was “not significant.” 

“This, again, is designed to send a message that China has the capabilities to operate far from the mainland and also to land forces and retake these islands in order to resolve the dispute, should it so wish to do so,” Storey said.

News Report: Survey Shows S. Koreans' Concern About Pyongyang

With nearly daily threats coming from North Korea, many South Koreans are taking a tough stance toward their country’s nearest neighbor.

A Gallup Korea poll done last week in South Korea shows nearly half of those surveyed (47 percent) say they think North Korea either will carry out a limited action aimed at provoking the South, or will start an all-out war. The same percentage (47 percent) think the North will not provoke a war.

The poll asked if South Koreans agree with a military official’s recent statement that any provocation by the North should bring a 10-times greater response from Seoul’s forces. A majority (72 percent) agreed.

However, most respondents think the South Korean government is not prepared well to respond to North Korea.

North Korea has issued a stream of threats against South Korea, the United States and Japan in recent weeks. Late last year, Pyongyang launched a rocket that the U.S. says was a disguised missile test. Last month, North Korea conducted its third nuclear weapons test, violating United Nations sanctions. The U.N. has responded by increasing economic sanctions on the isolated communist nation.

News Report: Analysts - North Korean Threats Raise Tensions

Mike Richman

In recent weeks, North Korea has been directing new vitriol at the United States and South Korea, threatening to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire" and launch nuclear strikes on U.S. targets.

Two Washington-based analysts said it is unlikely North Korea will go to war with the United States. The greater danger, they said, is that Pyongyang does something to provoke a conflict between the two Koreas.

Concern in Yellow Sea

Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation said fighting could occur in the Yellow (West) Sea near the maritime boundary created at the end of the Korean War in 1953. North Korea has never recognized the boundary and redrew it in the late 1990s, bringing five South Korean islands into its own sphere.

"There are five islands just south of the Northern Limit Line, the disputed maritime boundary, and recently North Korea has moved additional artillery down to that area," Klingner said. "[North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un visited several of the islands. The rhetoric is very specific about the South Korean Sixth Marine Brigade on one of the islands. So that is causing growing concern both here and in Seoul.”

Major instability in the region last surfaced in 2010, when a torpedo sank the South Korean warship Cheonan, killing 46 sailors. Seoul blamed the attack on Pyongyang, which denies carrying it out. Also that year, the North fired artillery at Yeonpyeong, one of the five South Korean Islands, and killed four more people.

News Report: Thailand in Key Peace Talks with Muslim Insurgent Representatives

Ron Corben

BANGKOK — Thailand opened informal peace talks Thursday with separatist representatives. The meeting marks a major breakthrough after nine years of sectarian violence in the largely Muslim southern provinces.  Analysts and Muslim leaders hope that, despite ongoing attacks, the talks may lead to a decline in bloodshed.

The talks in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur followed months of background diplomacy between the Thai and Malaysian governments, in a bid to end years of bloodshed in Southern Thailand.

The Thai delegation of 15 representatives, which included human rights groups, held informal talks with up to nine Muslim separatist groups led by the National Revolutionary Front, known by its Thai acronym-BRN, as well as another key group, known as PULO.  

Thai delegation leader, National Security Council Secretary General Paradon Pattanathabutr, says the initial aim is to reduce levels of violence in the provinces.

Paradon says the BRN - seen as the main group - may help reduce the violence using its influence to talk with other armed groups. But, he adds it will take time to reduce the numbers of incidents.

News Story: US Flies Stealth Bombers Over South Korea

SEOUL — The United States said two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers flew “deterrence” missions over South Korea on Thursday, defying apocalyptic threats of retribution from North Korea against ongoing war games.

The deployment of the stealth bombers was intended to send a potent message to Pyongyang about the U.S. commitment to defending South Korea against any aggression, as military tensions on the Korean peninsula soar. It came shortly after the North severed its last-remaining military hotline with South Korea and put its rocket units on combat status with a threat to target U.S. bases in the Pacific region.

The two B-2s, from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, flew the 13,000-mile (20,800-kilometer) round-trip in a “single continuous mission,” dropping dummy ordnance on a target range in the South, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Analysts Question India’s Future Combat Capability


NEW DELHI — The small increase recently announced in India’s defense budget has raised questions about the military’s combat readiness in the near future and underscores the need to push weapon buys through an overcautious bureaucracy.

“Combat capability needs to be redefined. In terms of pure holdings of equipment, we may appear to be far better off than Pakistan, but when we compare the decision-making process and the heavy bureaucratic interference, Pakistan will score better and hence an overall capability matrix may indicate a par. In terms of China, we are definitely far behind,” said K.V. Kuber, a retired Indian Army colonel and the CEO of a consulting firm based here.

Indian defense spending will increase 5.2 percent in 2013-2014, totaling $38 billion, compared with a jump of nearly 11 percent by China, which will spend $115.7 billion.

While no officer would openly say India’s combat worthiness is inferior to either China’s or Pakistan’s, in private they admitted the slow pace of spending on new weapons in the past five years has eroded capabilities.

A senior Army officer also said the blacklisting of several foreign companies in recent years has proved counterproductive and has favored “our enemies.”

Read the full story at DefenseNews

28 March 2013

AUS: Australian personnel complete Timor-Leste operation

The Australian Defence Force has formally concluded Operation ASTUTE in Timor-Leste and has redeployed all troops and equipment to Australia.  

Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Ash Power said a small number of Australian Defence Force personnel returned home to Australia on 27 March 2013 marking the end of the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force. 

The last commander of Joint Task Force 631, Lieutenant Colonel Mick Sasse, flew into Australia after the final handover of Australian bases to the Government of Timor-Leste.  

Lieutenant General Power said the latest mission in the fledgling nation started on 25 May 2006 in response to a request from the Government of Timor-Leste and had been a success in restoring public order and stability.  

Philippine Navy Signs Contract For Three AW109 Power Helicopters

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce the signing of a contract with the Philippine Navy for three AW109 Power maritime helicopters plus two options. The helicopters will be used for a wide range of naval missions including economic zone protection, surface surveillance, SAR and maritime security. The aircraft will be delivered in 2014 and will operate from both shore and ship bases. The contract includes initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel.

Vincenzo Alaimo, AgustaWestland’s Head of Regional Sales for SE Asia, said “We are delighted that the Philippine Navy has selected the AW109 Power as part of its armed forces modernisation programme after an extensive evaluation of competing types. The AW109 Power’s multi-role abilities and high performance will provide the Philippine Navy with an enhanced maritime operational capability.”

The AW109 Power is a three-tonne class eight seat helicopter powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW206C engines with FADEC. The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles. The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines. The AW109 Power has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions. The AW109 Power’s superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class. For shipboard operations the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures. The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW109 Power to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar. Over 550 AW109 Power and AW109 LUH helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.

The Alenia Aermacchi ATR 72MP - Ensuring Security and Sovereignty over Malaysia's seas

Security and sovereignty over the nation's maritime zones it is not an easy task to accomplish. Malaysia is a country with a total land mass of about 330,000sq km and 4,675km of coastline. Its waters included in the Economic Exclusive Zone are about 574,000sq km, nearly twice the size of peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia combined. Moreover, the distance between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia is roughly 1,200 km, forcing maritime patrol aircraft, ships and personnel to be based in both parts of Malaysia.

For Malaysia, patrolling and protecting its 200 nautical miles of the Economic Exclusive Zone, the Spratly Islands, the Malacca Straits and the waters between Sabah and the Philippines is a significant security task.

The Alenia Aermacchi ATR 72MP is the perfect solution for this requirement. The ATR 72MP is a maritime patrol aircraft developed by Alenia Aermacchi and based on the new ATR 72–600 series.

Thanks to its maximum endurance (at 5000 ft) of about 10 hours, the ATR 72MP is capable of patrolling Malaysia’s EEZ at extremely low operational costs. The ATR 72MP can perform search and identification of surface ships, SAR missions, anti-narcotic, piracy, and smuggling operations and provide environmental protection and EEZ patrol. The ATR 72MP can also implement crew and paratroopers transport.

Russian weapon at Malaysian exhibition

Pantsir-S1 (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Rosoboronexport is to show its advanced antimissile and antiaircraft facilities at LIMA-2013.

The international naval and aerospace exhibition is held on the Malaysia Langkawi island on March, 26-30.

The Rosoboronexport goods delivered overseas include the state-of-the-art antimissile and antiaircraft facilities. Foreign customers take a keen interest in the Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery weapon system produced by KBP of Tula (Vysokotochnye kompleksy). Tor-M2E, Antey-2500, Igla-S and Buk-M2E, air defence missile system, are also displayed at the exhibition.

Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery weapon system is the leader among air-defence systems, one of the most advanced smart weapon specimens of 21 century. The system has implemented all the elements of Tula KBP multipurpose close air defence weapon system conception, which helps its superiority over the foreign analogues. Employing Pantsir-S1 in the antiaircraft forces results in efficiency boost, electronic and fire countermeasures survivability enhancement, improvement of the whole air-defence system adaptability to the alterations of air threat performance and tactical employment methods.

News Report: North Korea Cuts Key Military Hotline with South

Steve Herman

SEOUL — North Korea says it is cutting a key military hotline with the South. It is the latest setback on the peninsula, amid an escalating war of words between the two Koreas.

South Korea's Unification Ministry confirms the North Koreans are no longer answering the military hotline at the Kaesong industrial complex, just north of the Demilitarized Zone.

North Korea says heightened tensions on the peninsula amid joint U.S.-South Korean military drills this month justifies severing the link.

An announcer on Pyongyang's central broadcasting station Wednesday afternoon says "under the situation where a war may break out at any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications."

This comes two weeks after the North also cut the Red Cross communications link to the South.

Lone link 

An aviation hotline is now the only remaining direct communications link between the two Koreas, which have no diplomatic relations.

South Korea's transport ministry confirmed that the aviation hotline is still working.

News Report: Burma's Military Rejects Rights Abuse Charges

Burma’s military chief on Wednesday rejected charges that the armed forces had committed war crimes in the past, following calls for international accountability for blatant rights violations by government soldiers during the five decades under military junta rule.

“We are a military that adheres to not only civil and martial laws and regulations, but also the Geneva Convention,” Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said in an address to mark Armed Forces Day at a ceremony attended for the first time by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Speaking in front of more than 6,000 troops gathered near the presidential palace, he said the military, known as the Tatmadaw, has never committed genocide and abides by international conventions.

"There is no such thing as genocide in the history of our Tatmadaw,” he said at the ceremony as jets, artillery, and tanks paraded through the capital Naypyidaw in a show of strength of the country’s military.

“Since we train our Tatmadaw men to acknowledge and adhere to the Geneva Convention, our Tatmadaw have never committed any war crimes and soldiers who [committed punishable acts] have had effective action taken against them according to military regulations.”

News Story: Bangladesh is planning to buy 24 Russian-made Yak-130 trainer aircraft

Yak-130 (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki)

Bangladesh is planning to buy 24 Yak-130 Mitten jet trainers on $1 billion credit from Russia, Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

“Bangladesh has a whole list of arms it wants, but so far that is a state secret. I will reveal one little secret: The purchase of Yak-130 warplanes is a very significant subject of negotiations between Russia and Bangladesh,” Rosoboronexport Deputy Chief Viktor Komardin said at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition (LIMA-2013) that opened in Malaysia on Tuesday.

He added that negotiations on Yak-130s are due to begin later this spring.

Read the full story at Air Recognition

News Story: Taiwan To Get U.S. Anti-sub Aircraft in 2015

P-3C Orion (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

TAIPEI — Taiwan is on track to take delivery of 12 anti-submarine aircraft from the United States by mid-2015 as it seeks to beef up its naval defenses against China, a report said Wednesday.

Navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Hsu Pei-shan spelled out the timeframe when asked by a lawmaker about a possible delay in the delivery of the aircraft, the state Central News Agency reported.

Washington agreed in 2007 to sell Taiwan the refurbished P-3C Orion patrol aircraft, which reportedly will expand the surveillance range of Taipei’s anti-submarine fleet tenfold. The P-3C fleet, which will cost just under $2 billion, is intended to replace the island’s aging S-2T anti-submarine aircraft.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Third anti-submarine warfare corvette for Indian Navy launched

Lead ship of the Kamorta class corvette (Wiki Info)

KOLKATA (BNS): The third anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, designed under the ambitious Project-28 (P-28) by the Navy's Directorate of Naval Design, was launched in Kolkata on Tuesday.

The warship will be fitted with indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including a medium range gun, torpedo tube launchers, rocket launchers and close-in weapon system.

Being built by one of India's leading shipbuilders, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), it has been named after an island - Kiltan - in the Lakshwadeep archipelago of India. The ASW Corvette was launched by Chitra Joshi from GRSE mainyard in the presence of Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral DK Joshi, Chairman and Managing Director, GRSE, Rear Admiral (Retd) A K Verma and other officials from the Ministry of Defence, Armed Forces and West Bengal administration.

Read the full story at Brahmand

Editorial: The Chinese Navy Has a Problem

By Robert Farley

Debates over China’s anti-access system of systems and its desire to pierce the successive Pacific Island chains often overlook the fact that China faces a very basic set of maritime problems. The PRC draws its most important resources from across an ocean that it cannot control, and exports most of its finished goods to overseas partners who similarly lay beyond the reach of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).  Whether or not the PLAN can deter or defeat the U.S. Navy (USN) in China’s littoral, the organization’s true test lies in its ability to secure the PRC’s critical lines of communication.

The concept of the Sea Control Ship builds on the World War II experience of escort carriers; small, slow aircraft carriers with air wings focused on anti-submarine missions. The Royal Navy and the United States Navy pioneered development of these ships, designed to cover the gaps in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) air coverage over the Atlantic.  Escort carriers were remarkably successful in forcing German U-boats to remain submerged, or destroying them outright. 
The United States played with the concept (espoused most vigorously by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt) during the Cold War without ever embracing it outright, although it did convert several old Essex class carriers to perform anti-submarine duties. The USN also experimented with converting USS Guam (an Iwo Jima class LPH) to sea control duties, although the experience was not widely regarded as a success. Nevertheless, healthy debate in the Navy continued into the late 1970s and 1980s.
Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 March 2013

Think Tank: Henny Youngman and Indonesian military reform: part I

By Gary Hogan

One of the routines of 1950s American stand-up comedian Henny Youngman was to have his sidekick ask: ‘So, Henny, how’s your wife?’ Youngman would face the audience, roll his eyes to the roof and fire back: ‘Compared to what?’

Many critics of post-New Order reform of Indonesia’s National Defence Forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, or TNI) could take a leaf from Youngman’s book of one-liners. Those who challenge the nature, extent and pace of TNI reform over the past 15 years mostly frame their judgments in absolute terms, unleavened by context or comparisons. The process of reform is viewed as an end in itself rather than a means of achieving the important goal of military professionalism. Those critics would do well to heed Youngman’s question; compared to what?

Some criticism of TNI reform is entirely valid. Serious contemporary scholarship, particularly out of the ANU, has highlighted Indonesia’s vulnerability to a Thai-type reversal, with Indonesia statistically facing the real chance of experiencing a military coup in the next two decades. While recognising the progress made by Indonesia in sector reform across the board, some analysts point to shortcomings that could jeopardise the consolidation of democracy in the world’s fourth largest nation.

But much of the criticism of TNI reform is selective and one-dimensional, presents only half a picture and is viewed through a Western liberal democratic lens.

One of the laments is that TNI lacks civilian control. This undersells the authority and reforms over the past decade by civilian defence ministers, professors Juwono Sudarsono and Purnomo Yusgiantoro. It ignores the oversight and budgetary approval function of Commission I of the Indonesian National Parliament. It also fails to grasp the important leadership role of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

True, the chiefs of TNI and the national police occupy seats in Cabinet alongside the defence minister, unlike democracies in the West. Although this differs from the Westminster and Jeffersonian systems, it’s consistent with good government, Indonesia-style.

Criticism is also frequently levelled at the Indonesian Army’s territorial system, whereby the majority of the standing army is assigned throughout the archipelago, across 12 geographic Military Area Commands, comprising both conventional army units and largely locally-drawn, territorial units. This is seen by critics as anachronistic and unwanted by the populace, and a vestige of the oppressive Suharto-era system of internal control. But there are several inconvenient truths about this characterisation.

In the far-flung extremities of Indonesia, the army’s presence is the only tangible manifestation of national government. Contrary to the view of many critics, the overwhelming majority of Indonesians don’t support separatism within their borders and most Indonesians support their armed forces. In an annual opinion poll by Indonesia’s largest circulation national newspaper,Kompas, which solicits popular views on Indonesia’s various government agencies, TNI is regularly rated by Indonesians among the top two most respected and trusted organs of government.

The ability of the central government to mobilise the Army’s territorial system is also critical in time of natural calamity. When earthquake or floods strike, the president’s first ‘000’ call is to the commander of TNI, not his chief of police. Even with the establishment of a relatively new National Disasters Organization, the territorial system provides the skeletal framework onto which disaster response efforts can be grafted. In late 2010, TNI concurrently deployed some 20,000 troops in response to a tsunami off western Sumatra, an explosive volcano in central Java and major floods in the province of West Papua. This is thanks largely to the territorial system.

Much is made of the ‘impunity’ of TNI members, who don’t fall under the jurisdiction of civil law. This is where most critics stop, implying that soldiers are somehow above and beyond any form of justice or legal censure. There’s little recognition of the fact that Indonesian soldiers, like our own, are subject to disciplinary action under a code of military justice which has legal standing within the hierarchy of Indonesia’s national laws.

Those commentators who recognise the military code of justice rarely credit that nowadays charges are laid, offenders convicted and sentences handed down more than ever before. Some critics complain that courts martial are infrequent, inconsistent and lack transparency. Justice is seen as slow in coming and sentences are slammed as lenient. Compared to what?

If the corollary is that the civil legal system is better equipped and able to mete out justice swiftly and incorruptibly to TNI offenders, this isn’t a perception shared by Joe Citizen across Indonesia. Many Indonesians hold their legal system in very low regard. In a 2010 article, New Straits Times columnist John McBeth reported that sentences imposed on TNI soldiers convicted of human rights abuses in Papua were harsher than those imposed by a US court martial on all but three of the eleven military police convicted of torture and abuse at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison.

TNI is still in the business of doing business, much of it camouflaged nowadays as ‘cooperatives’ or ‘foundations’ and an indeterminate proportion of TNI businesses operate illegally. And herein lays another (perhaps legitimate) layer of dissatisfaction with the course of TNI reform. It’s often argued that denying TNI such funding sources will increase civil control, on the grounds that whoever holds the purse strings will necessarily call the shots.

That argument is tenuous. To see why, we need to look no further than the experience of our neighbours in Papua New Guinea and East Timor for lessons on how restive troops can become when they are underpaid, underfed and underemployed. Most of Indonesia’s defence budget is spent on salary increases and on replacing obsolete equipment. The operational budgets of military commanders, which cover everything from barracks maintenance to the training and sustainment of forces, are often, at least to some degree, self-funded. Until this is properly addressed, extracting TNI from business enterprises will be difficult. It’s clear that the inter-ministerial body set up in October 2009 to oversee the takeover of TNI enterprises by other government departments has had little impact. TNI Inc. will likely be around for some years yet.

Most critics concede that the lion’s share of military reform achieved since the start of the reform era has been at the initiative of the TNI leadership itself, notably General Wiranto and General Endriartono Sutarto. When reform was thrust upon it, TNI responded by abruptly withdrawing from all forms of active politics and disassociating itself from the former ruling Golkar Party, by abolishing the system of sinecures in provincial government and civil administration for high-ranking officers, surrendering its one-third of seats in the People’s Consultative Assembly and formulating its own philosophical basis to guide future reforms, known as the ‘New Paradigm’.

But in recent years the pace of reform has stalled and some commentators warn of possible backsliding, noting that military reform is reversible. They’re right, of course, but they’re less accurate in sheeting home blame to TNI for this drift. Instead, the administration and the National Parliament must bear the principal responsibility for enacting and enforcing legislation, which has been painfully slow in all public sectors during President Yudhoyono’s second term.

In my next post, I’ll address what yardsticks we might employ to better gauge the extent of TNI reform.

Gary Hogan is a former Professor of Grand Strategy at the US National Defense University. He was the first foreigner to graduate from Indonesia’s Institute of National Governance (Lemhannas) and was Australia’s Defence Attaché to Indonesia 2009 to 2012. Image courtesy of Flickr user #PACOM.

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

News Report: Pentagon Condemns North Korean Threats

Luis Ramirez

PENTAGON — The Pentagon is warning North Korea to stop threatening to fire artillery at South Korea and U.S. bases in the Pacific.  U.S. defense officials say U.S. forces are ready to respond to any aggression by the North.  

North Korea’s statement said it is assigning rockets and long-range artillery to attack U.S. targets in places like Hawaii, Guam, and South Korea is rhetoric of the type that has been heard before.  But Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters the Defense Department is taking the threats very seriously.

“North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric and threats follow a well-worn pattern designed to raise tensions and intimidate others," said Little. "North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia.”

Little said U.S. forces are ready to respond to any contingency.

As a signal to the North, Little said the U.S. flew a B-52 bomber over the Korean peninsula on Monday - the third such flight since March 8.

North Korea says it has assigned its rocket and long-range artillery units to strike U.S. bases on the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii, Guam and other points in the Pacific, as well as South Korea - saying the bases would be “reduced to ashes and flames.”

The threat from the North came as U.S. and South Korean forces have been carrying out annual routine joint exercises that are scheduled to continue through next month.

Officials of the two countries have also been working on an agreement that Little said will enable the South Korean military and U.S. Forces in Korea to respond quickly to a North Korean attack.

“We are moving forward to take new steps on combined command and control structure for the U.S.-ROK (S.Korea) alliance," said Little. "And this combined counter provocation plan is yet another instance in which our cooperation is growing even stronger and we are able to help enable the South Koreans with their potential responses to North Korean threats.”

Details of the plan are classified.

Pentagon officials also did not discuss intelligence on what kind of attack North Koreans may be prepared to launch.

Independent analysts said they do not believe the North is capable of striking Hawaii or the U.S. mainland with artillery, and they said Pyongyang has yet to develop a missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Story: France says Malaysia can build jets if it buys Rafale

France dangled Tuesday the possibility of manufacturing its Rafale fighter plane in Malaysia if the nation selected the aircraft as its new combat jet.

"We are considering an assembly line in Malaysia," said Eric Trappier, chief executive of the Rafale's builder Dassault Aviation, in a telephone interview from the Langkawi air show in northern Malaysia.

Malaysia is looking to buy 18 combat fighters to replace its ageing Russian Mig-29s, with the Eurofighter, Boeing's F-18 and Saab's Gripen also in the running.

The multi-role Rafale, which entered service in the French military in 2001, can carry out air-ground or air-sea attacks, reconnaissance, aerial interception or nuclear strike missions.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: PLA Navy amphibious task force ‘to defend South China sea’

A fully equipped PLA amphibious task force has reached China’s southernmost claimed possession in the South China Sea in an unprecedented show of force that is raising eyebrows across the region.

The four-ship flotilla headed by the landing ship Jinggangshan visited James Shoal – some 80 kilometres from Malaysia, less than 200 kilometres from Brunei and 1,800 kilometres from the mainland coast – close to the outer limits of China’s “nine-dash line”, by which it lays claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.

A Xinhua report yesterday described marines and crew gathering on the deck of the Jinggangshan – one of the PLA Navy’s three 200-metre landing ships – to pledge to “defend the South China Sea, maintain national sovereignty and strive towards the dream of a strong China”.

Read the full story at China Defence MashUp

News Story: Russia goes all out at Malaysia (LIMA 2013) exhibition

Su-35 Flanker (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

MOSCOW, March 26 (UPI) -- Russia is going all out in showcasing and marketing its military products to Asian nations at a maritime and aerospace exhibition in Malaysia.

That's not surprising. Russian company Rosoboronexport said, Asian customers last year accounted for 43 percent of Russia's foreign military sales.

India, Indonesia, China, Malaysia and others operate Russian aircraft, air defense and naval systems as well as use Russian-made infantry weapons and equipment.

"In 2012 the most significant amount of Russia's defense-related exports went to Asia-Pacific countries, which received 43 percent of our total foreign military sales," said Viktor Komardin, deputy director general of Rosoboronexport and head of the joint Rostec/Rosoboronexport delegation to the LIMA 2013 exhibition.

Read the full story at UPI