31 May 2014

News Story: Dempsey - Asian Nations Need to Dial Back on Provocations

Gen Martin E Dempsey

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SINGAPORE, May 30, 2014 – Tensions have ratcheted up in the Asia-Pacific region, and countries need to dial back on provocative acts to avoid the dangers of miscalculation, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during an interview here today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the Japanese television network NHK that “the region is less stable principally because of the actions of certain countries and their coercion and provocation in an attempt to solve territorial disputes.”

Dempsey is visiting Singapore to participate in the Shangri-La Dialogue regional security conference.

Though the United States takes no position on these territorial disputes, “we do have some definite thoughts on behaviors, and the behaviors have changed,” he said.

Two years ago, regional nations didn’t demonstrate their military power to pressurize what rightly is a diplomatic issue, the chairman said. “That dynamic has changed, and now there is military power being used. That’s not a positive outcome,” he said. “We have to confront the fact that that is a path that will inevitably lead to less stability and probably make a diplomatic solution far more complicated.”

USA: Hagel: Meetings in Singapore Will Build on Relationships

US SecDef Chuck Hagel

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2014 – At an annual Asia security conference in Singapore that he helped to create while he was a U.S. senator, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will lay out challenges the participating nations face and will meet with many fellow defense leaders to strengthen their military-to-military relationships with the United States.

Speaking with reporters traveling with him to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Hagel noted that this is his fifth trip to the Asia-Pacific region since he took office in February 2013, and that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry have visited the region in recent months.

“So we continue to build on the relationships that are part of showing our commitment, and the visits are part of showing our commitment to this Asia-Pacific rebalance,” he said.

Hagel said that in a speech at the conference, he will talk about some specific challenges, Thailand being one, as well as the China-U.S. relationship and tensions in the South and East China seas.

Industry: ROKAF Receives Additional C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft

MARIETTA, Ga., May 30, 2014 – Two additional C-130J Super Hercules aircraft operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) ferried from the Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] facility here today.

These C-130Js will join the ROKAF’s other two Super Hercules aircraft, which were delivered in March. ROKAF aircrews also currently operate a fleet of C-130H legacy aircraft.

The ROKAF’s new Super Hercules is the longer fuselage or “stretched” combat delivery variant. Lockheed Martin is also contracted to provide a two-year support program, including C-130J aircrew and maintenance training. South Korea is the 14th country to fly the proven C-130J.

News Story: Beijing slams Japanese 'intrusion' into East China Sea ADIZ

China on Thursday criticized Japan for entering its East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), calling the move another example of Japan's repeated provocation.

"Japanese Self-Defense Forces jets' intrusion into the East China Sea ADIZ poses a threat to our air defense and security," defense ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng said at a monthly press briefing.

Geng's comments came in response to Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera's remarks that Japan conducted regular warning and surveillance activities according to international law.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: PLA to up number of Type 041 submarines to at least 60 in 10yrs

Chinese Type 041 submarine
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Experts have predicted that China is likely to increase the number of its type 041 conventional submarines to 60 or 70 over the next decade. The Japanese navy also plans to increase the number of its Soryu-class diesel-electric powered submarines from 16 to 22 in response to a perceived threat from China, reports our Chinese-language sister newspaper Want Daily.

Soryu-class diesel-electric powered submarines are the latest model of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. The vessel has a displacement of 2,000 tonnes and is equipped with an air-independent propulsion system. Japan will purchase another five of the submarine and will get delivery of one per year, increasing the total number of its Soryu-class submarines to ten.

China is preparing to test its latest type-041 diesel-electric submarine in the water recently. The vessel is similar to Germany's new submarine and equipped with an extra sonar system. Its displacement is likely to reach 3,500 tonnes.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Japan & Australia consider submarine deal that could rattle China

Japanese Soryu class submarine (File Photo)


(Reuters) - Japan will get the chance to pursue an unprecedented military export deal when its defense and foreign ministers meet their Australian counterparts in Tokyo next month.

Japan is considering selling submarine technology to Australia – perhaps even a fleet of fully engineered, stealthy vessels, according to Japanese officials. Sources on both sides say the discussions so far have encouraged a willingness to speed up talks.

Any agreement would take months to negotiate and remains far from certain, but even a deal for Japan to supply technology would likely run to billions of dollars and represent a major portion of Australia's overall $37 billion submarine program.

It would also be bound to turn heads in China.

Read the full story at Reuters

Editorial: Abe’s Attempt to Corner China Through Diplomacy

By Clint Richards

Japan is reaching out to Southeast Asia and seeking to control the discourse around its new security policy.

Japan appears to be gearing up to make another public push for the right to assert itself militarily, and make larger contributions to regional security. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statements before the Diet Wednesday, and an expected keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday, frame the direction he intends to take on these matters.
Speaking to the Diet, Abe described China’s increased military spending and its “extremely dangerous” recent actions in the East China Sea as necessitating his push for a change in the role of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF), according to Bloomberg. “Under these circumstances, to protect the lives of the Japanese people, we must further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance. The world security environment is changing a great deal. Now, no one country can defend itself alone.”
While responding to questions from the Diet, he said the near mid-air collision of Chinese and Japanese aircraft on May 24 inside China’s disputed Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) could lead to unintended consequences. Abe is seeking to strengthen the ruling LDP’s stance on changing Article 9 of Japan’s pacifist constitution while it is undergoing discussions with its coalition partner New Komeito, in order to create a unified position to put before the Diet later this year. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Thailand’s Coup – Will ASEAN Answer?

By Kerstin Radtke

ASEAN must decide how to respond to the ongoing struggle for democracy in Thailand.

Recent weeks have brought forth a slew of unfortunate developments for the “land of smiles,” as Thailand likes to brand itself. Political turmoil – first in the form of a half-coup on May 20, when General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared martial law, and then finally the full seizure of power by the army on May 22 – has led to some alarming developments. These events should be of special concern to Thailand’s Southeast Asian neighbors, with which Thailand forms the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Thailand is one of the most active and central players in ASEAN, representing Southeast Asia’s second biggest economy. This coup is far from uncommon news for Thailand. In fact, it constitutes the twelfth effective coup d’état in Thailand since 1932, besides seven other attempts. The pattern of political instability that Thailand has shown over the last couple of years seems almost continuous, and one could argue that the country’s regional neighbors are  somehow used to these ups and downs in the Thai political landscape. However, the fact that the very popular, and in the past conciliatory, King Bhumibol Adulyadej seems to have stayed out of the game this time makes this coup special, with the route back to stability and democracy much more uncertain.
Why should we expect any ASEAN comment at all though, since ASEAN prefers to stress the policy of non-interference and a hands-off approach concerning member states’ domestic issues? The answer is that the non-interference norm has lately seen some recalibration. Domestic issues that have regional implications, or the potential to threaten regional stability and security, are no longer taboo. Instead, facing comments by other ASEAN members might be tolerable or acceptable. One prominent example was the ASEAN response to cyclone Nargis in 2008 in Myanmar. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: N. Korea Won’t Cause a Nuclear Domino in Asia (But China Might)

By Zachary Keck

If there is a nuclear arms race in Asia, China’s conventional military power will be to blame.

On Thursday the Wall Street Journal published excerpts from an interview it conducted with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
One article from the interview discusses the dire consequences President Park foresees if North Korea goes through with a fourth nuclear weapons test.
“North Korea would effectively be crossing the Rubicon if they were to conduct another nuclear test,” WSJ quotes Park as saying. President Park has also suggested that the six-party talks over North Korea’s nuclear program could end for good if Pyongyang goes through with its threat to conduct a new kind of nuclear test.
The article goes on to say that President Park also claimed that a fourth nuclear test by North Korea could spark a nuclear arms race in the region, where non-nuclear weapon states decide to acquire a nuclear deterrent in response to Pyongyang’s growing atomic capabilities.
“It would be difficult for us to prevent a nuclear domino from occurring in this area,” were North Korea to conduct another test, Park is quoted as saying. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: To Lead In Asia, Japan Must Take China to Court

By Zachary Keck

Acknowledging the Senkaku dispute and appealing to international law would benefit both Japan and ASEAN.

On Friday Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue, one of Asia’s most important security conferences. As my colleague Shannon noted, Abe used the speech to bolster his ongoing effort to reestablish Japan’s leadership position in the region, and anchor it in international law.
With the notable exception of South Korea, Abe’s effort to reassert Japanese leadership has been remarkably successful. In his first year and a half in office, Abe has noticeably strengthened Japan’s ties to important countries like Taiwan, Russia and India. Nowhere has Abe been more successful than in Southeast Asia, however. As I noted last year, Japan’s reemergence in Southeast Asia was one of the most important developments of 2013.
Abe himself was integral to this effort. In his first year in office alone, he personally visited all 10 ASEAN states. Abe also strengthened Tokyo’s position in Southeast Asia by joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations despite the strong domestic opposition he faces on this issue, including from factions within his own political party. Many of his controversial efforts to remove Japan’s security restrictions will also improve Tokyo’s ability to play a leadership role in ASEAN. For example, by removing the self-imposed arms export embargo, and embracing collective self-defense, Tokyo will be able to arm and come to the defense of ASEAN nations threatened by China.
Despite these accomplishments, there is still one glaring shortcoming in Japan’s effort to strengthen its position in ASEAN: namely, its position on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island dispute with China. Dropping its currently policy and embracing international law would significantly benefit both Japan and Southeast Asia. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Shangri-La Dialogue Highlights Regional Tensions

By Shannon Tiezzi

With numerous Asia-Pacific spats going on, the annual security dialogue in Singapore revealed intra-regional fractures.

This year’s edition of the annual Shangi-La Dialogue was bound to be testy. China-Japan relations are in tatters, as they have been since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine last year (and, going even further back, since 2012, when Japan nationalized the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands). China-Vietnam relations aren’t much better off; the confrontation over a Chinese oil rig near the Paracel Islands shows no sign of abating. And U.S.-China relations recently took a nosedive as well with the announcement that the Department of Justice has indicted five PLA officers for hacking and economic espionage.
Against this backdrop, officials from around the Asia-Pacific arrived at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore for the annual gathering of defense ministers, diplomats, and security experts. China was represented by Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of the PLA general staff, and by Fu Ying, the chairwoman of the National People’s Congress’ Foreign Affairs Committee. From the U.S., Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and commander of Pacific Command Samuel Locklear were in attendance. Vietnam’s Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh attended, as did Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave the keynote speech on Friday.
The scene was set on Friday before the dialogue even officially opened. During a televised debate, Fu Ying was not shy about lambasting Japan and the Philippines for their conduct in separate territorial disputes with China. Fu accused Abe of constructing a “myth” about China “posting a threat to Japan” — a myth she said Abe was now using as a pretext to alter Japan’s security policies. Fu also accused the Philippines of being the cause of increased tensions between Beijing and Manila. Referencing the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff, Fu said that the Philippines had created a “unilateral provocation to the status quo” by sending “a naval vessel to harass fishermen.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

30 May 2014

Think Tank: F-35B JSF for the ADF—a viable option in the 2015 White Paper? (Part 2)

By Malcolm Davis

In my last post, I considered the operational and technical challenges of Australia acquiring F-35B STOVL Joint Strike Fighters and operating them from the Canberra class LHDs. In an ideal budget environment, were the decision to acquire the F-35B in the 2015 Defence White Paper to be made, the Abbott Government would also acquire two or three dedicated aviation support vessels to support them, and leave the LHDs purely for undertaking amphibious operations. But as the May 2014 budget has made clear, Australia doesn’t live within an ‘ideal budgetary environment’ and it seems unlikely additional ships will be forthcoming. If Australia does acquire the F-35B, they’ll have to operate from the LHDs (with all the technical and operational challenges that that would involve) or from forward land-bases as part of an expeditionary operation.

USA: LCS 2 Tests 57 mm Gun in Preparation for RIMPAC

USS Independence (LCS 2)

From Naval Sea Systems Command

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Independence (LCS 2) successfully completed a test event with the ship's Mk 110 57 millimeter gun May 20. 

Held at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu Range, the test demonstrated Independence's surface warfare capabilities by engaging a stationary target using the ship's core combat system.

As part of the test plan, Independence crew members tracked a surface balloon, also known as a Killer Tomato, with SAFIRE, the ship's electro-optical/infrared camera, and the Sea Giraffe radar prior to engaging the target with the 57 mm gun. 

"I'm pleased with the outcome of this test on a number of levels. Not only did we validate the current combat system software and the procedures for safely firing the core weapon system, but the crew also received valuable training time, improving their proficiency with the ship's sensors and weapons," said Capt. Tom Anderson, LCS program manager. 

Independence, the lead ship of the Independence variant of littoral combat ships, will operate off the coast of Hawaii as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise, in July. USS Freedom (LCS 1), the lead ship of the Freedom variant, participated in RIMPAC in 2010.

PEO LCS is responsible for delivering and sustaining credible littoral mission capabilities to the fleet and is working with industry to achieve steady production to increase efficiencies and leverage cost-savings. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation's maritime strategy.

USA: JS Kunisaki Departs Japan for Pacific Partnership 2014

By MC2 Karolina A. Oseguera

<< U.S. Navy Sailors assist as JS Kunisaki (LST 4003) departs Yokosuka for Pacific Partnership. (U.S. Navy/Lt. Jesus Uranga)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - The JS Kunisaki (LST 4003) departed Yokosuka, Japan, May 29 for the ninth annual multilateral humanitarian mission Pacific Partnership 2014 (PP14), taking place in five Southeast Asia host nations.

“This is a 60 day exercise to better prepare the joint effort of several nations at a time when humanitarian aid is requested,” said Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Capt. Yoichi Matsui, PP14 deputy commander.

PP14 will be the first time a partner nation will provide the primary mission platform. The ship will feature a multinational command and control (C2) structure that will work together to train in simulated crisis-conditions as well as provide medical care, veterinary services and infrastructure development.

USA: Dempsey Arrives in Singapore for Asia Security Summit

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SINGAPORE , May 29, 2014 – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey arrived here today to participate in the 13th annual Asia Security Summit.

Sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Shangri-La Dialogue as it is known, is an opportunity for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to meet with his counterparts from the region and around the world.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will arrive for the summit tomorrow and will meet with fellow defense chiefs and deliver an address on U.S. contributions to regional stability.

Hagel and Dempsey also will hold trilateral meetings with Japanese and Korean defense officials in addition to their meetings with other regional leaders.

Dempsey arrived here from Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, where he participated in the Joint Strategic Military Meeting. He will later travel to Saudi Arabia for consultations with Saudi defense leaders.

News Story: Beijing responds to deployment of missile system to South Korea

Qin Gang, spokesperson for China's foreign ministry, expressed the nation's opposition to the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile defense system to South Korea at a press conference on May 28, reports the Chinese-language Beijing Morning Post.

Sources from the Pentagon told the Wall Street Journal on May 27 that Washington had made its decision to deploy the system to South Korea. Designed by Lockheed Martin, the primary purpose of the system is to intercept enemy ballistic missile at high or medium altitude. On the battlefield it can coordinate with the PAC-3 missile designed to destroy ballistic missiles or aircraft at low altitude. The US plans to purchase seven of the systems; only three of them are currently in service.

This deployment will strengthen the military cooperation among the United States, Japan and South Korea in anticipation of potential conflict with North Korea or even China.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: USMC Cannot Meet All Its Amphibious Needs, Top Marine Says

Gen Jim Amos (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)


The US Marine Corps cannot meet its amphibious assault needs with its current stable of ship-to-shore connectors, according to Commandant Gen. Jim Amos in a recent article he penned for the June edition of Proceedings Magazine.

Amos says the service must explore future options, despite austere budgets and cautions against letting the service’s amphibious capability atrophy further.

“Simply put, our current and proposed surface-connector inventory does not meet the current or future requirements and ability to maneuver from increased range beyond the threat,” Amos writes.

To fill the gap in ship-to-shore capabilities Amos proposes revising current programs like the Joint High Speed Vessel by modifying them to have ramps that can launch amphibious vehicles.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Abe To Put Forward Japan as Counterweight to China

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

TOKYO — Japan’s prime minister will lay out a vision of Tokyo as a counterweight to the growing might of China this weekend, at a major security forum set to be dominated by escalating regional disputes.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will tell the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue that Japan and its partner the United States stand ready to jointly bolster security cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported.

He will stop short of singling out China, the paper added, but there will be little doubt about where he thinks the blame lies for the various rows in the South China Sea, and in Japan’s own battle with Beijing over East China Sea islands.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Not aware of US' plan to deploy missile def system - SKorea

SEOUL (BNS): South Korea said Thursday it is not aware of any plans by the US Government to deploy an advanced missile defence (BMD) system in its territory as reported by the media.

Reiterating its long-held position of not joining any US-led missile defence shield, Seoul said it does not consider deploying any missile defence system.

The reaction came a day after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the Pentagon was reviewing plans to position a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) battery for which a site survey for a possible location in South Korea has been conducted.

"As of now, the South Korean defence ministry is unaware of whether the US is reviewing a plan to send the THAAD battery here," defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

"We do not consider (the introduction) of the THAAD system, which is for the upper-tier defence system," different from "our own lower-tier one," Kim was quoted as saying by the official Yonhap news agency.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: Pinaka rockets successfully test-fired

BALASORE, ODISHA (PTI): Indigenously developed Pinaka rockets, capable of destroying enemy positions at 40 kms-ranges with rapid salvos, were on Thursday successfully test- fired thrice from a multi-barrel launcher at an armament base in Chandipur-on-sea, near here.

The rockets, which have undergone several tough tests since 1995, have been already inducted into the armed forces and the present trials were conducted with some improvements in the weapon system, defence sources said, adding some more tests are likely to be held.

"Three rounds of Pinaka rockets were successfully tested from the proof and experimental establishment (PXE) today at Chandipur," about 15 km from here, they said.

Read the full story at Brahmand

Editorial: India’s Security Policies Under Modi

Narendra Modi (Image: Flickr user narendramodiofficial)

By Arun Sahgal

How will the new government approach its regional and international security challenges?

As the new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government forms its cabinet, it is worth considering the implications of the electoral verdict on India’s security calculations. Importantly it can be expected that India’s strategic and security calculations will be driven by nationalist and more decisive political leadership revolving around enlightened self interest. What this means is that India centric concerns and imperatives on larger global or regional issues will be the hallmark of a new BJP-led NDA government.
In practical terms, relations with the U.S. as well as major Asian players like China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN will be driven by perceptions of their impact on long-term Indian economic and security interests. This implies that the U.S. pivot to Asia and Chinese assertiveness will be evaluated in terms of how they affect Indian interests, with the policy responses shaped accordingly, rather than being driven by the demands of larger collective security or economic groupings.
This does not mean that India is suddenly going to chart an independent course; rather, what it implies is that all options within the broader strategic framework of the Asia-Pacific will be closely analyzed from Indian perspectives and the policy response crafted accordingly. This is hardly unprecedented, but the emphases will shift, backed by greater political conviction and in concert with a defined national agenda and Indian vision. There is every likelihood that the new government may go ahead and issue a white paper on India’s national security strategy. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Pakistan, China Conclude Shaheen-III Air Exercise

Pakistani Air Force JF-17 Fighter

By Ankit Panda

The Pakistani and Chinese air forces honed their interoperability with the Shaheen-III exercise.

China and Pakistan concluded the three-week-long Shaheen-III air exercise on Wednesday. The exercise was the third installment of the Shaheen (Falcon) series of bilateral exercises between the two countries’ air forces, according to Defense News. The exercise is intended to boost cooperation between China and Pakistan and is a source of valuable experience for pilots on both sides. The exercise is “multi-dimensional” and involves operations in “near real [scenarios].”
“A contingent of People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), comprises combat pilots, air defence controllers and technical ground crew besides a Pakistan Air force (PAF) contingent are participating in the exercises[sic],” noted Air commodore Tariq Mehmood of the Pakistan Air Force. The PLAAF used its Chengdu J-10 and J-7 combat aircraft while the PAF used its JF-17 Thunder, Mirage, and F7 PG fighters. “The Air Exercises between the two professional Air Forces would not only cement the already existing friendly bonds but would also give an opportunity to learn from each other’s combat experience,” said one PAF spokesperson during the exercises. Shaheen-III is the first exercise in the series to involve the PAF’s JF-17 Thunder. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Are China and Russia Moving toward a Formal Alliance?

By Dingding Chen

Unlikely in the near future, but the U.S. should not make the strategic mistakes necessary to make it happen

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China last week, China and Russia signed a huge natural gas deal that is worth about $400 billion. The natural gas deal is a win-win for China and Russia, as China secures a long-term (30 years) provision of natural gas from Russia and Russia can reduce its dependence on the European markets as well as strengthen Russia’s position against Western sanctions. In the meantime, China and Russia conducted a joint naval drill in East China Sea, sending a deterrence message to Japan and the U.S. This also indicates that Russia is now moving closer to China’s side with regard to the territorial disputes between China and Japan. Furthermore, China and Russia last week vetoed a draft UN resolution to send Syria to the International Criminal Court for war crimes. China and Russia had vetoed three previous UNSC resolutions condemning Syria.
In the joint statement issued by China and Russia, the main message is that China-Russia relations have reached a new stage of comprehensive strategic partnership and this will help increase both countries’ international status and influence, thus contributing to a more just international order. Of particular importance is the agreement that China and Russia will deepen cooperation under the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building in Asia (CICA), a new security framework in Asia-Pacific that conveniently excludes the U.S. and Japan. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 May 2014

Think Tank: A fraying Asian security order?

By Rod Lyon

The Asian security architecture has long been defined by two sets of arrangements: a US-centred set of alliance arrangements, and an ASEAN-centred set of institutions. The conundrum of the modern Asian security environment is that both sets of arrangements—devised during an era of relatively weak Asian powers—are struggling for leverage in an era of stronger Asian powers.

China’s rise lies at the heart of the problem. While scholars debate the extent to which Beijing even has a deliberate grand strategy, I think China currently pursues two distinct objectives. It seeks a culture of deference towards China’s interests among its neighbours, and a Great Wall at Sea to hold US naval power away from the Asian mainland. Those objectives are of course related: it’s easier for China to create a deferential regional hierarchy if a maritime buffer zone makes a US naval presence in the western Pacific less assured. The Great Wall at Sea pursues that goal of a weakened US presence in the maritime domain, and President Xi Jinping’s advocacy last week of a region free from US alliances is intended to pursue it on the land.

AUS: Australian Defence Force members honoured with Philippines service medals

HMAS Tobruk & an LCM8 (File Photo)

Representatives from the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Tobruk, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) were awarded Military Civic Action medals today by the Philippines Government for their assistance following Typhoon Haiyan in late 2013.

Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Philippines, General Emmanuel Trinidad Bautista, presented the medals onboard HMAS Tobruk alongside Fleet Base East, Sydney.

The Honourable Darren Chester MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, congratulated the Defence personnel on their award.

“The Australian Defence Force made a large contribution to Australian Government assistance following the impact of Typhoon Haiyan through Operation Philippines Assist,” Mr Chester said.

USA: Disaster Planners Test Capabilities in Indonesia for Pacific Partnership

By MC1 Stephen Oleksiak

KUPANG, Indonesia — Service members and community disaster planners from Indonesia and the United States conducted a medical evacuation drill aboard the Kupang Marine Base in support of Pacific Partnership (PP14) 2014, May 27.

"In case of an emergency or civil unrest, we can move our forces from where they're working such as engineering or medical projects back to a designated safe-haven point," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Daniel Rodriguez, force protection officer for PP14. "[The Indonesian services] had excellent coordination since it was the first time they had ever worked together and we have the utmost confidence they'll be able to move us in the event of an emergency."

During the event, Indonesian Marines, local law enforcement and PP14 medical personnel provided aid to a U.S. Sailor with a simulated leg injury by providing onsite basic first aid and then transporting the Sailor to a local medical facility.

News Story: PLA could commission four carrier battle groups - Kanwa

The Liaoning Underway

The People's Liberation Army Navy will commission between three and four carrier battle groups over the next 15 years, reports the latest issue of Kanwa Defense Review, a military magazine run by Andrei Chang also known as Pinkov, a defense expert from Canada.

Photos on the internet revealed new facilities and vehicles on the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier which is now undergoing maintenance at Dalian Shipyard. The magazine called this evidence that the PLA Navy has gained more experience in operating an aircraft carrier in the 18 months since the Liaoning was commissioned.

China is also quicker at constructing large surface combat vessels than the United States, according to the magazine, which stated that China already has plans to build two domestic aircraft carriers after the Liaoning. Over the next 15 years, the PLA Navy may be able to maintain four carrier battle groups. For the US Navy, meanwhile, there is currently debate over whether it is necessary to keep 11 aircraft carriers in active service.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: US Seeks Greater Missile Defense Cooperation By Japan, South Korea

North Korean Missile Range

WASHINGTON — A top US military official on Wednesday called for better missile defense cooperation between Japan and South Korea, in the face of strained ties between America’s two closest Asia allies and a belligerent North Korea.

“We’re encouraging our allies and partners to acquire their own missile defenses and to strengthen regional missile defense cooperation that will result in better performance than individual countries acting alone,” said Adm. James Winnefeld, vice-chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff.

“We will continue to emphasize the importance of developing regional ballistic missile defense systems,” Winnefeld said during a speech at the Atlantic Council think tank.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Defence modernisation had slowed down, will be speeded up - Jaitley

NEW DELHI (PTI): The defence modernisation had "slowed down" in the last few years and providing the required equipment to the armed forces in a speedy manner would be the top priority of the Modi government, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.

"Speeding up the (procurement of) equipment required for their support is going to be priority areas as far as our Government is concerned.

"We are certainly concerned that in last few years, some of these areas had actually slowed down and therefore expediting them would be a matter of top priority," he said while taking the "additional charge" of the ministry here.

Read the full story at Brahmand

Editorial: Obama’s Nixon Doctrine

President Barack Obama
(Image: Wiki Commons)

By Zachary Keck

President Obama’s speech in West Point reaffirmed his commitment to adopting the Guam Doctrine.

As my colleague Shannon has noted, President Barack Obama gave a commencement address at West Point today as part of the White House’s “we still care about national security” week. Shannon analyzed the speech from an Asia-Pacific standpoint, or lack thereof.
I was struck primarily by two aspects of the speech. The first was the lack of novelty in it. The White House had been marketing the speech as an effort to better explain President Obama’s broader vision of U.S. foreign policy, which many pundits have rightly criticized this administration for lacking. As Politico reported earlier this week: “President Barack Obama will use his speech at the West Point commencement Wednesday to lay out a broad vision of American foreign policy.”
In one sense, the speech succeeded in articulating a vision for foreign policy and, in particular, national security. However, if the speech was meant to better explain the Obama doctrine, it almost certainly failed. Nothing in this speech differed substantially from countless foreign policy-oriented speeches Obama gave earlier in his presidency. For example, his rationale for when America will use force—unilaterally when the U.S. is directly threatened, and multilaterally when indirectly threatened—was taken from the speech he gave justifying the intervention in Libya in 2011. If critics did not understand what Obama’s vision for foreign policy was before the speech, it’s hard to see how they would better comprehend it from this speech. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Where Was the Rebalance to Asia in Obama’s West Point Speech?

President Barack Obama
(Image: Wiki Commons)

By Shannon Tiezzi

Obama’s foreign policy address offered little clarity (or emphasis) on America’s role in the Asia-Pacific.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama gave the commencement address at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.  The speech was billed in advance as a major foreign policy address, a chance for Obama to both defend his past foreign policy moves and to lay out his vision for the future. The speech is just the beginning of what is expected to be a major administration push to shape messaging on its foreign policy decisions, past and future. Given that Obama’s signature foreign policy slogan is the “rebalance to Asia,” a general foreign policy address has direct implications on the Asia-Pacific. What role does the U.S. seek to play there and around the world? What are its priorities and goals?
The major theme of Obama’s address was that America continues to be “the one indispensable nation.” With its global network of alliances and peerless capabilities, the U.S. is the only country capable of global leadership, according to Obama’s view. “America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will,” he said during his commencement speech. Obama also dismissed those “who suggest that America is in decline” by arguing that “America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world.”
This unabashed portrait of American exceptionalism is sure to rankle in China, which has long denounced U.S. “hegemony.” Beijing envisions a new world order, a “more just” international order, where developing nations have an equal seat at the table and the U.S. no longer dominates international systems. Obama continues to claim the global leadership role as solely American domain. As galling as this will be for China, smaller nations in the Asia-Pacific (who look to the U.S. to balance China’s rise) will be relieved to hear that Obama has no interest in relinquishing U.S. leadership. 

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Editorial: Amid South China Sea Tensions, Vietnam Seeks Closer Ties with US

By Shannon Tiezzi

Against the backdrop of China’s maritime claims, Hanoi and Washington are drawing closer together.

With the sinking of a Vietnamese boat yesterday in the South China Sea, tensions between Vietnam and China continue to climb. Vietnam has accused Chinese fishing boats of ramming its vessel; China places the blame on Hanoi. Against this backdrop, Vietnam has called on the international community to denounce China’s moves in the disputed maritime territories.
The U.S. has been quite willing to lend at least vocal support to Vietnam, even though Hanoi (unlike Japan and the Philippines) is not a U.S. ally. Yesterday, when asked for clarification on Washington’s view of the current China-Vietnam tensions, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that “the provocative actions have largely been from the Chinese side.” Earlier, Psaki described the placement of the Chinese oil rig as part of “a pattern of unilateral moves by the Chinese Government in the region.” Though the U.S. maintains its neutrality on the actual question of sovereignty, public comments by officials have left no doubt that the U.S. disapproves of China’s efforts to exert control over disputed areas.
With friendly rhetoric coming from Washington, Vietnam sees a chance to boost its position in the disputes by edging closer to the U.S. As Carl Thayer wrote yesterday for Flashpoints, Vietnam has few strategic options open to it in its dispute with China — and developing closer ties with both the U.S. and America’s regional allies appears to be its strategy of choice. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat