30 August 2014

News Story: Beijing accuses US over close-in reconnaissance

PLAAF J-11B as seen from a USN P-8A over the South China Sea

The Chinese Defense Ministry has accused the US military of "close-in reconnaissance" in China's airspace in response to US criticism of a Chinese jet intercepting a US Navy patrol plane last Tuesday.

US reconnaissance can easily trigger miscalculation or cause sea and air accidents, ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a regular news briefing. "If the United States does not want to affect bilateral ties, it must reduce and ultimately stop such reconnaissance," Yang said.


It is not "a Chinese intercept" but "US close-in reconnaissance."

"The site of the incident is 220 km from China's Hainan Island, rather than the same distance from Hawaii or Florida of the United States," Yang said.

The Pentagon had claimed China's interception was "dangerous."

"What I need to stress is that the US side has kept talking about the technical issues like the distance between the two aircraft, but ignored a policy issue of highly frequent close-in reconnaissance against China," Yang said.

According to the spokesman, one US anti-submarine plane and one patrol aircraft flew into airspace about 220 km east of Hainan on the morning of Aug. 19, at which point a Chinese fighter jet took off to identify the aircraft in a standard operation.

"The United States calls it an 'unsafe and unprofessional intercept' and 'Chinese provocation,'" Yang said. "But indeed the Chinese pilot's operation is professional and has taken safety into consideration.

"As a developing country, China values its aircraft and pilots' lives, certainly compared to some countries that have their military pilots fly close to other's doorsteps on a daily basis."

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: India Cancels $1 Billion Light Helicopter Tender

Eurocopter/Airbus Fennec AS550 (Image: Wiki Commons)


NEW DELHI — India has canceled the purchase of 197 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) worth $1 billion in which Airbus Helicopter’s AS550 was competing with Russia’s Ka-226T built by Kamov. The cancellation followed lengthy corruption investigations.

Cancellation of the LUH helicopter program, which was a re-tender from an earlier cancellation, would hamper Indian Army logistics operations in the Himalayas above 20,000 feet. The Army has been waiting eight years for new helicopters to replace aging Cheetah and Chetak platforms, said an Army official.

The Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, made by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. under license, are 40 years old and being flown beyond their age limitations, the Army official added.

The decision to cancel the LUH tender was made Friday by the Defense Acquisition Council, which is headed by the defense minister and is the highest Defence Ministry agency that makes decisions on weapon purchases.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: India’s Border Infrastructure - Beyond the BRO

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

India’s lack of infrastructure puts it at a distinct disadvantage in border disputes with China.

The new Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag is visiting the Eastern Command after undertaking a trip to the Ladakh area in the western part of the Sino-Indian border, where there have been repeated Chinese incursions. Suhag was also expected to make a trip to the forward bases in Arunachal Pradesh, depending on the weather conditions.
During the visit, Suhag is also expected to take stock of the progress in the establishment of the Army’s recently sanctioned Mountain Strike Corps (17 Corps), which is likely to be ready by 2018-19. Suhag, who was the Eastern Commander for two years prior to shifting to Army headquarters, played a major role in the formation of the new corps. Undertaken at a cost of 64,678 crore[t1]  rupees ($10.7 billion), the corps will have 90,274 troops, of which 22 major and minor units were made ready in December 2013. According to an army official, the new corps will have “two high-altitude infantry divisions (59 Division at Panagarh and 72 Division at Pathankot) with their integral units, two independent infantry brigades, two armoured brigades and the like. It will include 30 new infantry battalions and two Para-Special Forces battalions.”  While the new corps will be based in Panagarh, West Bengal, the force will be deployed from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, covering all the important trouble spots along the border. During his long tenure, Suhag is also reported to have served in a China-centric unit, the Special Frontier Force, which came up in the wake of the 1962 border war with China. Suhag is reported to have been the inspector general of the SFF before taking over as the Army vice chief.
All this suggests that the new army leadership is more focused on the urgent needs of the border areas. Even as there is a beefing up of capabilities on the border with new combat units, the biggest challenge is going to come from the poor state of border infrastructure. For instance, it reportedly takes 20 hours to drive a distance of 500 km (300 miles) from Guwahati to Tawang – a reflection of the severe condition of the road network in the region. The road density of Arunachal Pradesh is at a significantly low level of 18.65 km per 100 sq km., compared to the national average of 84 km per 100 sq km. Some of the major road projects in the region include making the trans-Arunachal highway from Nechipu to Hoj and Potin to Pangin two lanes, an upgrade of the Stillwell road in Arunachal Pradesh, and four more projects to widen roads including national highway 154 in Assam. The road network in Sikkim, another Indian state on the Sino-Indian border, is no different. The current road density is just 28.45 km per 100 sq km. There is only one road linking the capital Gangtok with the strategically significant Nathu La pass on the border, and one landslide-prone road with a width of 5 meters connecting the state with the rest of India. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Japanese Military Set for Big Budget Gains As Economy Shifts to Neutral

By Clint Richards

Abe’s careful balance of economic growth with military normalization may be falling out of sync.

As The Diplomat reported earlier this week, the Japanese Ministry of Defense and Coast Guard have made record budget requests for fiscal 2015. Meanwhile, economic data released on Friday show further negative effects from April’s consumption tax increase, which hiked the sales tax from five to eight percent. The military’s requests show a robust and growing defense policy designed to address not only the ongoing territorial disputes with China, but also potential missile attacks from North Korea. However, the proposed increases in government defense spending may appear to be out of line with an economy that is underperforming, especially as the government is set to decide by the end of this year whether to follow through with another consumption tax increase to 10 percent in October 2015.
On Friday the defense ministry announced it was requesting 5.5 trillion yen ($53 billion) for its fiscal 2015 budget, an increase of 3.5 percent. After more than a decade of stagnating defense budgets, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has begun raising military spending annually. The big ticket items in the budget like six new F-35 stealth fighters and 20 P-1 patrol aircraft are primarily targeted at defending and maintaining surveillance over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. However, the ministry is also requesting another Soryu class submarine, an improvement over the previous year’s Soryu submarine given new technology that will allow it to submerge for two weeks, a significant upgrade according to ministry officials. The budget also requests new unmanned aerial vehicles and tilt-rotor aircraft (most likely the V-22 Osprey), as well as a seventh Aegis ballistic missile defense destroyer that would be used to target rogue missiles from North Korea.
The Coast Guard’s request, while significantly smaller at 50.4 billion yen ($485 million), is still a doubling of its previous budget. The funds will go toward four new patrol vessels and three jets, as well as an upgrade to the port on Ishigashi Island, which is near the disputed islands with China. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 August 2014

AUS: Navies plan maritime warfare during Exercise KAKADU 2014

Over 1,200 military personnel from the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions have completed collaborative, tactical warfare planning during the first week of the Royal Australian Navy’s largest maritime exercise, KAKADU 2014.

From 25 – 29 August 2014, the Harbour Phase of KAKADU 2014 saw regional navies work side by side in Darwin to plan major warfare serials for the next sea phases of the exercise.

Exercise Director, Captain Heath Robertson, said the deliberate planning and briefings between ships, aircraft and staff focussed on high-end warfare.

“These exercises are essential so we can improve our ability to work together when called on in times of need,” CAPT Robertson said.

“Continued improvement of shared skills, understanding and ultimately interoperability ensures safety and efficiency in real time operations.

“The more we exercise together the better we become at understating how each other work and appreciate different cultures all in the interest of regional security.

AUS: Wedgetail aircraft return from Exercise Red Flag in Alaska

Two Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail aircraft have returned from Exercise Red Flag in Alaska where they participated in the world’s most advanced international air combat training activity.

Fifty-nine personnel from Number 42 Wing at RAAF Base Williamtown participated in world-class air combat training in the skies above Alaska for two weeks from 7 to 22 August.

Officer Commanding Number 42 Wing, Group Captain Antony Martin said that Exercise Red Flag Alaska is one of the biggest exercises the new E-7A Wedgetail aircraft participate in each year, involving a series of air combat and surveillance scenarios that test operational air and ground crews to the highest level.

“This exercise was important as we move towards declaring final operational capability,” said GPCAPT Martin.

AUS: Major improvements announced to soldier survivability equipment

More than 20,000 Australian Defence Force personnel are set to be issued with new and improved personal protective equipment, with the announcement today of a $170 million upgrade to the soldier’s kit.

Announcing the roll-out at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Defence Minister David Johnston said the multi-million dollar roll-out would significantly enhance the capability of ADF personnel deployed on military operations.

“Known as Land 125 Phase 3B, the Defence project to improve a soldier’s individual load carriage equipment, draws on the direct experience and feedback derived from 15 years of ADF combat operations,” Senator Johnston said.

“This (program) will increase soldier mobility and endurance through the acquisition of lighter and better integrated components and materiel,” he said.

USA: Rodney M. Davis and U.S. Coast Guard Integrate to Improve Maritime Security in Oceana

USS Rodney M. Davis (Image: Wiki Commons)

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek A. Harkins, USS Rodney M. Davis Public Affairs

AGANA, Guam (NNS) -- The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) visited Guam Aug. 18-19 after finishing a two-week Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) Patrol. 

OMSI is a maritime security operation designed to enhance maritime domain awareness, increase law enforcement presence, and expand at-sea law enforcement capabilities throughout Oceania. 

During the ship's two-week patrol, Rodney M. Davis' Sailors and U.S. Coast Guardsmen from the Tactical Law Enforcement Team Pacific conducted compliant boarding operations and vessel sightings throughout the Oceania region of the Pacific Ocean.

"Rodney M. Davis is only the third U.S. Navy ship to embark a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment in support of OMSI, so this is still a relatively new mission," said Cmdr. Todd Whalen, commanding officer of Rodney M. Davis. "Our patrol was a success because we quickly integrated with our sister sea service to complete tasking and helped improve procedures for future missions."

News Story: China, Russia vow to enhance military ties

Top Chinese and Russian military officers pledged to further enhance military ties on Wednesday.

Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, told Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, the development of relations between the two countries and the two armed forces have maintained good momentum in recent years.

The two sides conducted fruitful cooperation in areas of high-level exchanges, strategic consultation, joint military exercises and others, said Fan.

China is willing to work with Russia to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of states, continue to enhance mutual support and coordination, expand depth and width of cooperation so as to jointly safeguard regional stability and world peace and development, said Fan.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Taiwan urges caution as Chinese planes intrude on ADIZ

Taiwan urged China to refrain from doing anything that could increase the risk of conflict across the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, two days after Taiwan scrambled fighter jets to monitor Chinese aircraft intruding into its air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

Defense authorities disclosed Tuesday that Chinese surveillance aircraft intruded into Taiwan's ADIZ four times on the previous day and were intercepted by Taiwanese fighters each time to escort them out of the zone.

Maintaining peace across the strait and in the region is a common duty of Taiwan and China, said the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the Cabinet agency in charge of China affairs.

The MAC called on China not to take any steps that might escalate tension across the strait and affect the hard-built mutual trust between the two sides.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Lineup of 36 aircraft on China's Liaoning carrier revealed

Z-18F anti-submarine warfare helicopter

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, can carry four Z-18J airborne early warning (AEW) helicopters, six Z-18F anti-submarine helicopters, two Z-9C rescue helicopters, and 24 J-15 shipborne fighter jets, the Chinese-language Shanghai Morning Post reported on Aug. 28.

Cao Dongwei, senior colonel and researcher at the People's Liberation Army Naval Research Institute, said the aircraft carrier could gain the upper hand in any potential battle for air or sea supremacy. The lineup may differ for various missions, however. The full lineup of 36 aircraft shows that the "PLA Navy's era of aircraft" has arrived, the report said.

On the tail of the Z-18F helicopter is the image of a sea eagle sprawling its talons, which suggests that the aircraft's mission is to seek out and attack enemy submarines, according to the paper. Cao said it is common practice to mark aircraft with physically tough and fierce animals to "show the spirit of bravery of the pilot and the craft itself."

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Australia signals readiness to help U.S. in Iraq air strikes

RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet (File Photo)

Australia has signaled willingness to contribute its Super Hornet fighter jets to U.S.- led air strikes in Iraq, with the defense force "at a high state of readiness." Defense Minister David Johnston outlined the position on Wednesday night, saying Australia was ready to assist the U.S. with further airstrikes targeting ISIS terrorists in Iraq.

Johnston said the Australian defense force had started to develop its readiness after the emergence of "beheadings, mass executions, genocidal villages wiped out, ethnic cleansing."

He said the U.S. was already carrying out air strikes in Iraq with the purpose of "preserving civilian lives."

"Now, if this situation continues, I think it's incumbent upon nations that have a strong, clear and understandable reputation and sense of right and wrong to do the right thing here and assist a stable Iraqi government if we can get one to defend itself and to retake and assert some reasonable level of legitimate control over these villages," he said.

Read the full story at Army Recognition

News Story: Russia to supply India with Beriev A-50 AEW aircraft

Russia and India plan on signing a contract to supply India with A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, Beriev Aircraft Company General Director-General Designer Igor Garivadsky told journalists Tuesday, 26 August.

“We plan on signing a deal with the Republic of India to deliver the A-50 aircraft,” Garivadsky said. 

The A-50 aircraft are intended to detect, track and determine the origin of air and surface targets, as well as conduct surveillance, command, control and communications functions for command posts of automatic control systems, and give guidance in hitting air and surface targets.

Read the full story at Air Recognition

News Story: Japanese Defense Ministry Requests 2.4% Budget Hike

Kawasaki P-1 (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)


TOKYO — Japan’s Ministry of Defense has requested a budget increase of 2.4 percent in 2015 for a total budget of ¥4.9 trillion ($47.25 billion), returning the budget to its 1990s peak levels and solidifying a reversal from a decade of declines during the 2000s.

Citing the need to counter growing instability in East Asia, the MoD said its most pressing need is to improve its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), particularly regarding maritime and ballistic missile threats, and to deter potential aggression to the nation’s far-flung southern island chain.

Accordingly, among its biggest items, the MoD is requesting ¥378.1 billion to deploy 20 of the PC-3 replacement Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft in groups of five between 2018 and 2021. The second big-ticket item is two new Atago-class Aegis destroyers, with the MoD expanding Japan’s Aegis fleet to eight ships by the end of fiscal 2020.

The third is a request for ¥131.5 billion for six F-35A joint strike fighters for the air self-defense forces, up from the four requested for the current year.

The Japanese fiscal year runs April through March. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: India-Japan Talks To Focus on Strategic Ties, Possible Aircraft Deal

ShinMaywa US-2 (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)


NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Japan will include talks on possible joint production of amphibious aircraft and other matters related to strategic and defense ties between the two countries.

Modi, who leads a new government here, personally extended his stay in Japan from a planned four days to five, beginning Aug. 30. He will be accompanied by a 20 high-ranking officials of all Indian industry, signaling the importance the new government places on ties with Japan, a source in India’s External Affairs Ministry said.

India and Japan propose to begin an early resumption of trilateral strategic talks with the US, the source added. Tokyo has been cautious toward a proposal, first mooted in 2009, to begin the trilateral talks, fearing they could upset Beijing, the External Affairs Ministry source said.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: China Defense Ministry Tells US To Stop 'Close-in' Surveillance

By Kelly OLSEN

<< This image of the Chinese J-11B fighter was taken from a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft over the South China Sea on Aug. 19. / US Defense Department 

BEIJING — China's military on Thursday told the United States to end air and naval surveillance near its borders, saying it was damaging relations between the Pacific powers and could lead to "undesirable accidents."

The US should "take concrete measures to decrease close-in reconnaissance activities against China towards a complete stop," defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a monthly briefing.

Yang's comments came with Beijing and Washington at odds over an incident last week in the skies 220 kilometers (135 miles) off China's Hainan island.

The US said that an armed Chinese fighter jet flew dangerously close to a US military aircraft, while China countered in a ministry statement carried on state media that the allegations were "totally groundless".

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Is North Korea’s Summer of Hostility Winding Down?

By Clint Richards

As joint US-ROK military drills close, now is the time to gauge Pyongyang’s appetite for dialogue.

North Korea, isolated from even its traditional allies like China for most of this year, appears to be making another periodic or cyclical turn toward opening up to its neighbors, as more signs of economic problems and food shortages emerge. Importantly, its neighbors and other interested regional powers are showing an interest in facilitating such an opening. Whether the nascent overtures will turn into something more substantial is a matter of speculation at this point, but it is worth looking at what has happened so far in order to measure those prospects.
Last Friday a North Korean official made furtive statements to a South Korean politician that Seoul has taken to mean Pyongyang is interested renewed dialogue. The North Korean official said Seoul should implement their past agreements, and remember that South Korea had said it “would discuss any issues arising between the two Koreas.” Another South Korean official said Pyongyang is interested in the removal of economic sanctions, and that “it [North Korea] will respond in some form once the ongoing joint exercises come to an end.”
Concerning those ongoing joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, codenamed Ulchi Freedom Guardian, the Combined Forces Command (CFC) said it had completed its drills ahead of schedule this year. Sources who spoke with Yonhap News said the early finish may have been intended to reduce tension with North Korea that had flared before the drills started, just as Seoul had proposed high-level talks. While the lack of an official reason for the early finish leaves its relation to North Korea ambiguous, it allows the North to infer what it likes, and perhaps use it as domestic justification for later cross-border talks. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Afghanistan and Pakistan Crises Throw US Planning Into Flux

By Ankit Panda

U.S. foreign policy will need to react flexibly and creatively to possible outcomes in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As the United States’ planned deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan fast approaches, the situation on both sides of the Durand line is far from optimal. In Kabul, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah just boycotted the hard-brokered power-sharing deal and audit that temporarily defused a broader crisis over the future of Afghanistan’s democracy. In Islamabad, Nawaz Sharif’s democratically elected government is under siege from Imran Khan and his supporters. For the United States, everything is not going to plan in the perpetually troublesome “Af-Pak” region.
In Washington’s ideal scenario, Afghanistan’s presidential palace would have had a new occupant by this time, who’d have been settled in and acclimated to the demands of running Afghanistan. This person would have presumably signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), thereby eliminating a great deal of ambiguity about the United States’ future role in Afghanistan (both candidates in the run-off, Ghani and Abdullah, have said that they would sign the BSA if elected). With Pakistan, Washington has gotten somewhat used to never having an ideal state of affairs, but it at least expected Nawaz Sharif’s government to maintain order and rein in the military. Neither has proven true. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China Hosts SCO’s Largest-Ever Military Drills

By Shannon Tiezzi

The anti-terrorism drills involved troops from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

7,000 troops from five countries are in China this week as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) “Peace Mission 2014” military drills. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a regional multilateral body consisting of China, Russia, and the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This year’s military drill included troops from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in what Chinese media called the largest SCO drill yet.
China is hosting Peace Mission 2014, which opened August 24 and will conclude on the 29, in Inner Mongolia.Xinhua underscored that the drill was unprecedented, both in terms of scale and in terms of the weaponry being used. The drill involved multiple branches of the various militaries, including ground and air forces as well as units devoted to special ops, electronic countermeasures, and reconnaissance. The list of hardware was even more extensive: drones, early-warning aircraft, air-defense missiles, tanks, and armored vehicles. There were Su-25 jets and MI-8AMTSh armed assault helicopters from Russia, and China sent some of its “most advanced military hardware” as well, including the armed WZ-10 and WZ-19 helicopters. With the extensive array of technology and troops, Xinhua described the drills as “close to real combat.”
The drill was designed to counter what China calls the “three evil forces”: terrorism, separatism, and extremism. As China has grown increasingly concerned about these “evil forces,” particularly in Xinjiang, it has highlighted these issues in multilateral forums as well as in its own domestic policies. The SCO, as its name implies, is China’s pet project, and thus a perfect place for Beijing to shift the agenda to emphasize its core concerns. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China Might Just Be an Assertive Status Quo Power

By Robert Farley

On balance, Beijing’s policies suggest it is looking to carve out a special role for itself within the current order.

Is China a status quo or a revisionist power?
This question dominated 20th century geopolitics. Attempts to discern whether competitors intended to adjust the existing international order in their favor, or to overthrow that order and install something new, sat at the heart of statecraft and diplomacy at the openings of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.  The question goes to the heart of the willingness of people and statesmen to make the sacrifices necessary to defend national interests. World War I might have been worth fighting against a revolutionary power, rather less so against states that merely desired a reshuffling of the deck.
Unsurprisingly, this question has animated (if often implicitly), U.S. discussion of the problems created by the rise of China.  We can agree on certain things. Chinese pilots are not going rogue; there is a logic behind these intercepts, and it’s worthwhile to expose Chinese provocations. All of this tells us less about China’s long-range aims than we might think, however. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

28 August 2014

India: Defence Minister Reviews Progress of Indigenous Submarine Construction at Mazagon Docks Limited, Mumbai

Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Shri Arun Jaitley accompanied by Admiral RK Dhowan Chief of the Naval Staff visited Mazagon Docks Limited, Mumbai today and reviewed the progress of the Project 75 (Indigenous submarine construction project) as well as the other ongoing warship building projects including P-15 B class stealth destroyers . The visit of Raksha Mantri, within 3 months of taking over amply demonstrates the importance being accorded by the Government to the indigenous construction of submarines and warships. 

During his visit the Defence Minister inaugurated the Mazdock Modernisation Project (MMP), which would significantly enhance the warship and submarine construction capability of the shipyard. M/s Haskoning Nederland B.V. (HNBV), world renowned consultants in the field of marine construction, were appointed as consultant for this project. The major components created under MMP include a new Wet basin with level luffing cranes, 300-Ton Goliath Crane, Module Workshop, Stores Building, Shipyard transporter and Cradle & Assembly shop at a cost of Rs. 800 Crores approx. 

News Story: Drone fires missiles at Inner Mongolia SCO anti-terror drill

China's military drones participated in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) anti-terror drills in Inner Mongolia for the first time on Tuesday.

Participating in the live fire drills, one drone, which was not identified by its model number, shot off several missiles during the rehearsal, said Shen Jinke, spokesperson of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.

"Drones, tasked with surveillance, reconnaissance and ground attacks, will play a vital role in fighting against terrorism," he said.

The aerial vehicle has yet to miss a shot since joining Peace Mission 2014, a multinational drill which began on Aug. 24, said Feng Aiwang, commander of the air force battle group.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Taiwan to carry out further military downsizing next year

A planned program to further cut the country's military personnel to below 200,000 by the end of 2019 will be formally implemented from next year, as Taiwan moves forward with its efforts to streamline the military, the country's defense minister, Yen Ming, said Tuesday.

The military is finalizing the details of the new downsizing program and it is scheduled to be formally implemented in July 2015, Yen told reporters.

He said the program will be carried out through 2019, with the goal of cutting the number of troops to between 170,000 and 200,000, from the 215,000 target for the end of 2014 under the current streamlining program.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: US plane interfered with Chinese sub before intercept - Global Times

A Chinese fighter jet that made a controversial intercept of an American reconnaisance aircraft earlier this month may have been forced to do so because the US plane had been "seriously interfering" with a Chinese submarine, says the Chinese-language version of the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.

In yet another staunch defense of the intercept by the Chinese J-11 fighter from the People's Liberation Army on the US Navy's P-8A reconnaisance plane on Aug. 19, the Global Times questioned what other alternatives were available to China when the US had been conducting highly frequent close-in surveillance near Chinese waters and airspace.

While Pentagon press secretary John Kirby labeled the intercept, in which the two planes came within nine meters of one another, as "aggressive" and "dangerous," the Global Times said China had no choice, adding that the primary role of the P8-A is anti-submarine warfare, meaning it is designed to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines.

Read the full story at Want China Times

Editorial: Changing the Narrative in Northeast Asia

By Jeffrey W. Hornung

South Korean and Japanese leaders need to change the history narrative and focus on common security challenges.

Ties between Japan and South Korea remain frozen. Korean President Park Geun-hye continues to refuse to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Military exchanges remain curtailed. Even economic relations have been curbed, such as a lapsed bilateral currency swap and reduced Japanese investment in Korea.
At root are disagreements over the facts of Japan’s colonization of the Peninsula (including issues of the Japanese military’s recruitment of women to provide sex for soldiers—comfort women—and the ownership of the Liancourt Rocks in the Sea of Japan), how Japan remembers and shows contrition for this colonization, and to what extent South Korea acknowledges Japan’s reconciliation efforts. These disagreements dominate the bilateral narrative. This narrative, however, is in dire need of change toward one that prioritizes the interdependent nature of their security.
This situation predates the current administrations. During the Cold War, U.S. security guarantees to South Korea and Japan froze bilateral discussions on the role, if any, the other country played in their security. While disagreements over history existed, the necessity of a united front against global communism meant disagreements rarely disrupted relations. Occasionally they sprung up, such as controversies over Japanese history textbooks, but these were quickly resolved.
The Cold War’s departure, coupled with the democratization of South Korea and the death of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, meant the parameters of debate widened considerably. North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments highlighted Pyongyang’s threat. Likewise, the Tiananmen Square events and the Taiwan Strait crisis demonstrated that Beijing was willing to use force at home and engage in military coercion. While these events led to revised relations with the United States, they failed to motivate Tokyo and Seoul toward serious bilateral security discussions. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Australia May Help US Bomb Syria

RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet (File Photo)

By Zachary Keck

U.S. officials believe that Australia and Great Britain will participate in airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.

Australia may help the U.S. conduct airstrikes against the Islamic State of al-Sham and Iraq (ISIS) in Syria, according to the New York Times.
On Tuesday night, the New York Times published an article that said “the United States has begun to mobilize a broad coalition of allies behind potential American military action in Syria.” The report went on to say that, “White House began its diplomatic campaign to enlist allies and neighbors in the region to increase their support for Syria’s moderate opposition and, in some cases, to provide support for possible American military operations.”
Most of the countries the report listed were indeed ones from the region, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. However, the report also cited unnamed Obama administration officials as saying that they believe that Great Britain and Australia would be willing to actually join the U.S. in mounting the air assault in Syria.
This assessment, if accurate, isn’t a complete surprise. After all, Australia was one of the most active members of the “coalitions of the willing” that the U.S. organized to help fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
More notably, as Kevin Placek reported on Oceania last week, Australian security officials have grown increasingly concerned over the threat of homegrown terrorism in recent months. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Security or Investment - Balancing Japan’s Long-Term Foreign Policy

Image: tsuna72 via Flickr

By Clint Richards

Sea lane security and new partners are key to protecting Japan’s far-flung assets.

Part of Japan’s new push to normalize its military stems from a long-term imperative to ensure its sea lines of communication (SLOC) and to protect its deepening interests in Southeast Asia and the greater Indian Ocean. Recent investments and partnerships show how Japan sees this interaction unfolding. While the U.S. has been Japan’s (and indeed the world’s) guarantor of blue water navigation and access since the end of the Cold War, some nations now question its long-term commitment and ability to fulfill that role. Even as Japan seeks to draw itself closer to the U.S. within their alliance, it is looking for new regional partners to not only generate economic growth (which will continue to stagnate domestically as the population declines), but also to protect Japanese trade and energy imports through waters that are increasingly contested with China.
While The Diplomat has noted Japan’s latest moves to build security relationships in Southeast Asia with countries like Australia, the Philippines and Vietnam, mainly through the sale of military hardware and technology, it is also attempting to do the same in the Indian Ocean. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan next week, the two leaders are expected to strengthen their security relationship by signing a “two-plus-two” mechanism to ensure regular meetings between their foreign and defense secretaries. The two will also likely sign deals for sea lane cooperation, joint navy drills, and the sale of Japanese hardware like the US-2 amphibious aircraft.
On Tuesday the Nikkei reported that Japan plans to offer aid for maritime security to Sri Lanka during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit next month. This strategy is mainly intended to counter China’s already large investments in the country and elsewhere in the region, particularly in infrastructure like ports. Japan plans to offer advisors to Sri Lanka’s coast guard as well as making assessments about the possible supply of patrol ships at a later date. A friendly Sri Lanka could help protect future Japanese natural gas imports from Mozambique once they come online, as well as mineral exports from central and eastern Africa. 

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Editorial: Modi’s Course Correction on Pakistan - Lessons from China’s Tibet Policy

By Abanti Bhattacharya

Separating Kashmir from Pakistani relations could help solve India’s sovereignty problem.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cancellation of ministerial level talks with Pakistan this week has drawn wide criticism and is being seen as inept and short-sighted. The majority of the criticism is focused on the impact that it would have on the Kashmir issue. While indeed this issue is a primary irritant in Indo-Pakistani relations, and cancellation of the talks would certainly not sit well with either the Pakistani establishment or separatists groups, Modi’s decision to cancel the meeting is essentially a signal to Pakistan that India is not going to play by Islamabad’s rules any longer.
Pakistan has indelibly impaired India’s national security, not simply by supporting and sponsoring cross border terrorism, but also by openly colluding with separatists flouting India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In other words, while the Pakistani military has been condoning a low intensity conflict with India, its government is engaged in separatism in Kashmir. What Modi essentially did was to end the tripartite nature of the Kashmir issue, which hitherto defined the otherwise bilateral relations between India and Pakistan.
By involving the Hurriyat group, the earlier UPA government essentially included the Kashmiris as a third party to the question of Kashmir. This has ominous security implications for India. For one, it legitimated not only the separatists’ role in the decision-making process, but more importantly extolled separatism in the narrative of the nation. Second, it emboldened the Pakistani government to openly challenge India’s national integrity. Third, it has convinced the Kashmiris that their problems cannot be solved by their government but by outside forces, thus distorting the Kashmir issue itself. Under the patronage of Pakistan, the Kashmir problem, which hitherto was a governance problem, soon metamorphosed into an identity issue and coalesced into a separatist movement. After which those Kashmiri leaders who dared to discuss the Kashmir issue within India were assassinated, in attacks linked to Pakistan. It is no wonder that a solution on the Kashmir issue remains elusive. 

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Editorial: Xi Jinping Meets Vietnamese Leader

By Shannon Tiezzi

Vietnam and China have smoothed over tensions, but a long-term solution remains elusive.

As The Diplomat reported earlier, Vietnam sent a special envoy to China for bilateral talks this week. Politburo member Le Hong Anh, acting as a special envoy from Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) General-Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, met with high-ranking Chinese leaders. Anh’s visit was embraced by both sides as a chance to mend bilateral ties that soured earlier this summer during a standoff over the placement of a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters.
Anh met with Chinese President (and CCP General-Secretary) Xi Jinping on Wednesday afternoon. During their meeting, Xi emphasized the common bond between the two countries, as neighbors and communist regimes. As Xi put it, “A neighbor cannot be moved away and it is in the common interests of both sides to be friendly to each other.” This, in essence, is the root of China’s “neighborhood diplomacy” policy — acknowledging that friendly ties with the countries in China’s immediate area will be the most important factor in providing a peaceful environment for China’s continued rise.
In terms of concrete solutions, Anh’s meeting with Liu Yunshan, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, had more to offer. Liu said that both Hanoi and Beijing were “unwilling to see” the relationship continue to be “tense and difficult.” To move forward, Chinese and Vietnamese officials agreed to avoid actions that might exacerbate maritime disputes. 

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