30 September 2014

USA: Possible Foreign Military Sale to Thailand for UH-72A Lakota Helicopters

UH-72A Lakota (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

WASHINGTON, Sep 29, 2014 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Thailand for UH-72A Lakota Helicopters and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $89 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on September 26, 2014.

The Government of Thailand has requested a possible sale of 9 UH-72A Lakota Helicopters, warranty, spare and repair parts, support equipment, communication equipment, publications and technical documentation, Aviation Mission Planning Station, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $89 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States, by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally.

India: India US Combined Military Training Exercise (Ex Yudh Abhyas) in Progress

Col Rohan Anand, SM
PRO (Army)

The India-US Combined Military Training Exercise YUDH ABHYAS 2014, which commenced on 17 Sep 14 at Ranikhet and Chaubattia, is in progress. The exercise will terminate  on  30 Sep 14.

The exercise brought together troops of a Mountain Brigade of Indian Army and Company and Brigade Headquarter of the US Army.  It is the  tenth exercise in the Yudh Abhyas series, which started in 2004 under US Army Pacific partnership program. The exercise strengthens and broadens interoperability and cooperation between both the Armies and complements a number of other exchanges between the two forces. Over the years, the two countries have decided to progressively increase the scope and content of the combined training. Exercise YUDH ABHYAS 2014 has witnessed a Brigade Headquarter based ‘Command Post Exercise’, an Infantry company carrying out ‘Field Training Exercise’, discussions on strategic issues of mutual concern by experts of both countries and combined training between detachments of Special Forces. The exercise provided an ideal platform for the personnel of the two countries to share their experiences on Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist Operations, under  UN mandated operations.

Commanders and Staff Officers of both sides were exercised to work in close coordination to receive and collate intelligence and to issue suitable operational orders to the combined field training components, who executed these orders on ground. The exercise curriculum was planned progressively where the participants were initially made to get familiar with each other’s organizational structure, weapons, equipment, and tactical drills. Subsequently, the training advanced to Joint Tactical Exercises wherein the battle drills of both the armies were practiced.

A consolidation and validation exercise witnessed by senior officers and observers of both Armies, in which troops of both nations carried out a daring Search and Destroy Mission in the general area of Ghingharikhal near Ranikhet town. The final exercise was reviewed by Major General Lawrence Haskins of US Army and Major General Ashwani Kumar of Indian Army. 

Industry: Lockheed Martin to Establish Asia-Pacific ICT Engineering Hub in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia, Sept. 29, 2014 – Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has announced it is establishing an Asia Pacific Information Communications Technology (ICT) engineering hub in Melbourne in close partnership with the government of Victoria. The new engineering hub is expected to generate up to 150 new ICT jobs in Lockheed Martin Australia’s operations in Melbourne, more than doubling its current workforce.

The new Asia Pacific ICT engineering hub will be operated by Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems and Global Solutions (IS&GS) business. The facility will be equipped to provide a full range of regional research and development and program delivery service. The capabilities that will be based at the facility will expand existing local skills in cyber security, data management, applications development and larger scale ICT services.

Lockheed Martin IS&GS Vice President for Global Solutions, Anne Mullins, said $8 million will be invested to establish the Asia Pacific ICT engineering hub in a new facility at Clayton, a suburb of Melbourne. “This investment adds to our existing footprint in Dandenong and Glen Waverley, and will accommodate 190 staff primarily servicing ICT systems development.  At least 150 of these will be new personnel, doubling our presence in Melbourne and providing high technology jobs to service local customers and capability to expand export opportunities”.

News Report: Fighting Rages on Between Myanmar Military and Karen Rebels

Karen National Liberation Army soldiers near Thai-Burma border

Fighting between Myanmar’s government troops and ethnic Karen armed rebels raged on Monday even as the two groups were making efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement, according to a rebel spokesman.

Government soldiers and insurgents from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) have been fighting for the last four days around the southeastern towns of Kyaikmayaw in Mon State and Myawaddy in Kayin State, close to the border with Thailand.

“Although top-level and low-level officials from both sides have been talking, government troops have continued attacking us,” a DKBA spokesperson identified only as Zayer told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

At the talks, the two sides considered ending attacks on each other and the return of weapons. 

The clashes came as Myanmar’s armed ethnic rebel groups and the government failed to reach a nationwide cease-fire agreement on Friday after five days of talks, because of squabbles over military issues and a format for discussions on providing greater power to ethnic states.

News Report: US, Philippines Launch Military Exercise Near Spratly Islands

The Philippines and the United States have launched an annual military exercise in the South China Sea, near waters where China is engaged in bitter territorial disputes with its neighbors.

Around 5,000 sailors and Marines from both countries began 11-days of maritime maneuvers on Monday. The Philippine Bilateral Exercises, or "Phiblex" is designed to test the readiness of the two allies to respond to emergencies of any kind.

The two countries will practice boat raids, beach landings, live fire exercises and armored maneuvers near the Spratly islands and Scarborough Shoal, where China has been involved in a string of tense confrontations with rival claimants.

Portions of the resource-rich Spratlys are also claimed by Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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

News Story: China's destroyers using underperforming Ukrainian turbines - Kanwa

Type 052C destroyer (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

The modernization of China's naval fleet has stalled on yet another setback, the use of Ukrainian turbines in all six Type 052C destroyers, according to the Canada-based Kanwa Defense Review.

The two gas turbines in each Type 052C vessel are DN/DA-80s imported from Ukraine. Rumors from the Chinese Navy indicate that Ukrainian generators are extremely hard to maintain and overhaul. Designed to power merchant vessels, they are too heavy for destroyer-class ships. The weight alone has excluded them from the Russian and Indian navies.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: China launches air defense exercise in Guangzhou

Vietnamese Su-30MK2 fighter (File Photo)

The Guangzhou Military Region launched an air defense exercise on Sept. 27 to prevent a potential air strike against Guangzhou and other major cities in Southern China in the event of conflict arise over disputed territories in the South China Sea, reports the Nanfang Daily.

Under the exercise's scenario, enemy air forces carry out an attack on Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport and other major ports and communication lines withint the city. All 12 districts within the city are mobilized to respond to the air attack. Chen Jianhua, the mayor of Guangzhou and the commander of civil defense, was appointed the head of the exercise. The air raid siren began to alarm at 11:30 in the morning to indicate the beginning of the air strike.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: China and Pakistan begin joint naval exercise

Chinese Navy Ships on patrol (File Photo)

After their visit to Iran, the Changchun, a Type 052C guided-missile destroyer, and Changzhou, a Type 054A guided-missile frigate of the PLA Navy's 17th Escort Task Force, arrived at Karachi on Sept. 27 to prepare for a joint naval exercise with Pakistan, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Both vessels from the PLA Navy's East Sea Fleet are on their way to the Gulf of Aden to conduct anti-piracy missions. They stopped by in Iran and Pakistan to conduct a joint naval exercise with the two nations. The Chinese and Iranian navies carried out drills on anti-access and aerial denial strategies against the United States at Bandar Abbas. At Karachi, China is trying to soldify its relationship with Pakistan through launching a joint exercise as well.

Huang Xinjian, commander of the 17th Escort Task Force, said during the welcome ceremony that the people of China and Pakistan are "like brothers from one family." He believes the visit of two Chinese warships to Pakistan will strengthen the partnership between Beijing and Islamabad.

Read the full story at Want China Times

Editorial: Inevitable Partners - Why the US and India Are Still Destined to Cooperate

By Doug Bandow

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to America offers an opportunity for a reset in bilateral relations.

Before becoming prime minister, India’s Narendra Modi was barred from receiving a visa to visit the U.S. A rising leader in the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he was tied to deadly sectarian violence. But now he leads one of Asia’s most important powers and the Obama administration is rolling out the red carpet.
India long was ruled by the dynastic Indian National Congress Party, which enshrined dirigiste economics as the state’s secular religion. As a result, a land which spawned a global network of entrepreneurs and traders remained desperately poor.
Eventually, however, reality seeped into New Delhi. The Congress Party liberalized the economy. The BJP broke the Congress monopoly on power.
New Delhi appeared ready to follow the People’s Republic of China to international superstar status. But then enthusiasm for economic reform ebbed, economic growth slowed, and conflict with Pakistan flared.
However, on May 26 Narendra Modi became prime minister. He is visiting the U.S. to speak before the United Nations and meet with President Barack Obama. The trip could yield rich benefits for both countries.
Of course, there was that embarrassing visa ban, the only one ever issued for that reason by Washington. The matter was quietly forgotten, though the underlying issue never was resolved. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Afghanistan Inaugurates New President, Chief Executive

By Ankit Panda

Afghanistan inaugurated Ashraf Ghani as its 13th president, marking its first successful democratic transition of power.

Ending a six month stalemate over the results of its presidential run-off election, Afghanistan inaugurated Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as its new president on Monday. Ghani, a former finance minister, will succeed Hamid Karzai as the 13th president of Afghanistan. With Ghani’s inauguration, Afghanistan marks its first peaceful and democratic transfer of power between two governments. Alongside Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah was inaugurated as the country’s chief executive — a new role that was created as part of a U.S.-brokered unity government deal to defuse the electoral stalemate between the once rival presidential candidates.
Somewhat surprisingly, the inauguration ceremony lacked high-level representation from several powers, including the United States. For example, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the man who helped broker the agreement that led to the unity government being formed, remained in Washington D.C. where he will receive Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is currently on a state visit to the United States. White House advisor John Podesta led a 10-person U.S. delegation to the ceremony. Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussein and Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari were in attendance representing their countries. China sent its minister of human resources, Yin Weimin, to the inauguration. The absence of other notable regional leaders and foreign ministers was likely due to the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York City. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Can Vietnam’s Maritime Strategy Counter China?

By Carl Thayer

Just how developed and credible is Vietnam’s counter-intervention strategy?

Ever since Vietnam took delivery of two enhanced Kilo or Varshavyanka-class conventional submarines from Russia defense analysts have differed over how quickly Vietnam could absorb these weapons into its navy and create a credible deterrent force to China.
For example, Admiral James Goldrick (Royal Australian Navy retired) noted, with respect to Vietnam’s purchase of conventional submarines, that “the Vietnamese are trying to do something very quickly that no navy in recent times has managed successfully on such a scale from such a limited base.”
The answer to whether or not Vietnam can absorb submarines and create a credible deterrent is now becoming clearer with reports by diplomatic observers that Vietnam’s submarines are undertaking patrols along its coast. In addition, Vietnamese crews are currently undergoing training in undersea warfare doctrine and tactics at India’s INS Satavahana submarine center.
The views of defense analysts range from skeptical to cautiously optimistic about Vietnam’s ability to develop an effective counter-intervention strategy to deter China in Vietnam’s maritime domain. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: What to Expect If the US Lifts Its Vietnam Arms Embargo

By Ankit Panda

What are the expected short-term effects of the U.S. lifting its arms embargo on Vietnam?

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion at the Asia Society with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, who was in New York City to attend the United Nations General Assembly. During the Q&A portion of the event, Min called for the United States to lift its embargo on lethal arms sales to Vietnam, describing the embargo as “abnormal.” He went on to imply that relations between Vietnam and the United States will be normal once the ban is lifted:
“Nearly 20 years ago, we normalized relations with the United States and in 2013 we set up a comprehensive partnership with the United States. So the relation[ship] is normal and the ban on the lethal weapons to Vietnam is abnormal. So we lift the ban, meaning that the relation is normal, even though we have normalized the relation[ship] 20 years ago.” 
Minh is heading to Washington D.C. in early October for discussions with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry while U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is scheduled for a trip to Vietnam later this year.
Minh’s remarks came less than 24 hours after a Reuters exclusive report cited comments by senior U.S. officials suggesting that the embargo would be on the agenda during Minh’s visit to the United States. According to that report, the Lockheed P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft may be one of the first items on Vietnam’s wish-list. The P-3 would be a major capability boost for the Vietnamese navy as it seeks to increase its maritime patrol and reconnaissance capabilities. The P-3 is also adept in anti-surface ship and anti-submarine warfare. The P-3 has an estimated unit cost of $36 million. Within the United States, there is broad support in both the executive and the legislative for bringing the U.S. and Vietnam closer amid increasing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. Lifting the embargo represents one of the surest ways for the United States to reap important diplomatic dividends from Vietnam in the region as it seeks to bolster its pivot to Asia. One other such critical area for increasing cooperation is Vietnam’s potential accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which remains a work-in-progress. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China's Hopeless Quest for 'Friends' and 'Enemies'

By Kerry Brown

China can no longer easily classify people and political movements as “friends” or “enemies.”

“Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” Mao Zedong called this “a question of the first importance” and fittingly so. These words acted as a fundamental creed throughout the revolutionary and Maoist period. If there is one consistency in Communist Party behavior, both in and out of power, it is the ability to identify perceived enemies and deal with them.
In the moral universe that used to prevail for the CCP, this was an easy enough business. There were those that were for it and those that were against it. In this context, it is pretty simple to pick whom to target. The Party has had enemies outside itself and enemies within it. But historically it has been able to decide on where to fight and where to compromise. If survival is the benchmark of success, after over nine decades in existence we could say that the Party picked a successful strategy, at least up till now. The CCP continues to exist and on many levels thrives. Its enemies were either neutralized or eliminated. It won.
But these days, the enemies are becoming harder to identify. Events in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the mainland itself over the last half year illustrate this. Take Taiwan. For the Party, the situation was simple enough– until 2014. The KMT became a sort of “friend who was once an enemy.” The CCP could do deals with and tolerate the KMT; the DPP, meanwhile, was an “enemy” the CCP largely  shunned. The Party worked for outcomes in democratic Taiwan that it felt helped its “friend” (short of overt, open support, which Beijing knew would backfire), signing trade deals that even analysts in Taiwan agreed benefited the island more than the mainland, at least in immediate returns. And the CCP quietly agitated against the return of its “enemy,” the DPP.
But the Sunflower Movement belonged to neither of these camps. Led by disaffected and largely young activists, these protestors expounded a set of demands and grievances that were critical of both established parties. The protesters were fed up with the establishment, period. And the long term impact on Taiwanese politics will be more complexity: a new, more amorphous third force that resists easy categorization as either DPP or KMT. How does the mainland deal with this? Who are its Taiwanese friends and enemies now? 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: An Elegy to Indonesian Democracy

By Aria Danaparamita

With the scrapping of direct elections for local leaders, Indonesia’s hard-won democracy is under threat.

Earlier this month, Indonesia was what The New York Times lauded as Southeast Asia’s “role model for democracy.” By Friday night, one couldn’t be so sure.
After a fiercely lengthy debate, the Indonesian House of Representatives voted Friday 226 to 135 in favor of eliminating direct popular elections for local and regional leaders, placing the task instead in the hands of each region’s legislative councils. RIP Indonesian democracy, many Indonesians posted and tweeted online.
Indonesia is the third-largest democracy in the world, behind India and the U.S. Or at least it was. Calling the new law, dubbed “UU Pilkada,” a step back for Indonesia may be an understatement, for Indonesia’s path to democracy had not been a mere step – it was an arduous path marked by violence and bloody repression.
The country survived decades under the rule of dictator Soeharto before achieving democracy through the protests of 1998. Today, democracy in Indonesia may seem a given. But it certainly did not come without a price. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Don’t Let Pakistan's Military Hijack Democracy

By Haider Ali Hussein Mullick

It may be messy, but Pakistan’s democracy is worth saving.

As Washington mulls the Islamic State’s advances and Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, Pakistan’s democratically elected government is facing massive protests backed by some in the military and intelligence community. Led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, thousands of protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a year after his victory in an imperfect but nationally and internationally accepted election. With covert military support, Khan is also demanding new elections and Qadri a utopian political system overhaul.
Pakistani democracy is messy but military dictatorship – direct or indirect – is not the answer. So the protesters should stop currying favor with the army, and Prime Minister Sharif should work with the protestors to find a constitutional solution that covers electoral and governance reforms.
Washington should support democracy so nuclear-armed Pakistan, next door to Afghanistan, can focus on combating Al Qaeda and its partners. In the last 12 years the likes of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, sectarian terrorists and violent separatists have killed nearly 20,000 Pakistani civilians and 6,000 security personnel. Civilian leadership over the Pakistani military will decrease provocative policies towards India like supporting insurgents today only to fight them tomorrow. Moreover, a stable South Asia needs more democracy, not less. Democracies are less likely to go to war with other democracies.
The current showdown between the protestors and the government is due to last year’s national elections, the prime minister’s attempt to reign in the generals by supporting peace with India, and the trial of former military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf. Indeed, Javed Hashmi, Khan’s number two, who was recently fired, said that Khan and Qadri plotted with the Army and its intelligence agency, ISI, to oust Prime Minister Sharif. Demanding Sharif’s resignation is the military’s attempt to regain lost power. 

Read the full 2 page story at The Diplomat

29 September 2014

News Story: US confident of countering nuclear threat of PLA's Type 94 sub

PLAN Type 94 Jin class Submarine
China's Global Times says the United States has studied various ways to counter the nuclear threat of China's Type 94 Jin-class submarine. The report comes after a satellite image indicated three of the ballistic missile sumbarines had been deployed to Yalong Bay in Hainan province.

The Type 094 has a displacement of 8,000 tons surfaced and 11,000 tons submerged. With a top speed of over 20 knots, the submarine is powered by a nuclear reactor can remain submerged for 90 days. Designed as a ballistic missile submarine, a Type 094 can carry between 12 and 16 JL-2 second-generation intercontinental submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Though the Type 094 is noisy compared to its US counterparts, its other specs are on a par with other advanced ballistic missile submarines around the globe. The Tokyo-based Ships of the World magazine said that with a range of 8,000 kilometers the JL-2 missile is capable opf striking the continental United States even when fired from waters close to the China coast.

The US Office of Naval Intelligence predicted China will be capable of operating 75 ballistic missile submarines by 2020.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: US-Taiwan defense conference to discuss arms sales, sub programs

Taiwan will send officials to participate in this year's US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Virginia in early October to examine Taiwan's national security plans, indigenous submarine programs and bilateral security cooperation.

The annual conference is slated for Oct. 5-7 and will focuses on US-Taiwan defense and military cooperation, as well as on Taiwan's future defense and national security needs, said the US-Taiwan Business Council, the organizer of the event.

Taiwan will appoint an "appropriate" official to lead the delegation to attend the conference, according to Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he, spokesman for Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, this week.

The Taiwanese delegation will talk about the country's major defense policies, such as the efforts to shift toward an all-volunteer force and defense budget allocation in effort to boost mutual trust, he told CNA.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: India To Push Joint Weapons Development During US Visit


NEW DELHI — India’s leader will seek joint development of high-tech weaponry when he visits the White House on Sept. 30, in a shift from the country’s “buy and supply” relationship with the US, an Indian official said.

New Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also discuss greater participation of US and Indian defense companies when he visits with US President Barack Obama, said the official with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Defense analysts here say the Modi government will not give big-ticket weaponry orders to the US on a government-to-government basis, as was done by the previous United Progressive Alliance government. Instead, Modi will push for greater participation by US defense companies in forging partnerships with domestic defense companies to boost the domestic defense industry.

In the past decade, India has bought US $10 billion in weapons from the United States, mostly through foreign military sales.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: India, Vietnam and $100 Million in Defense Credit

By Amruta Karambelkar

Stronger ties will give Hanoi a boost and strengthen New Delhi’s hand.

visit earlier this month by its President Pranab Mukherjee saw India sign several memorandums of understanding with Vietnam. Among them, the extension of a line of credit worth $100 million on defense procurement is particularly significant. This deal gives defense relations between India and Vietnam another shot in the arm, and has important implications for both countries.
India: Asserting Itself
As India enters the third decade of its Look East Policy, its engagement with its eastern neighbors has both widened and deepened. India has comprehensive bilateral partnerships in the region, as well as multilateral relationships through ASEAN. New Delhi’s defense diplomacy in the region has made strides in the last two decades, such that India is now considered an important and welcome security partner in Southeast Asia. India’s regional cooperation in defense has generally entailed high-level visits, participation in multilateral exercises, port calls, assistance in maintaining military hardware, and cooperation in training.
Defense ties with Vietnam are already robust, with India helping Vietnamese forces, especially the navy, build capacity. Bilateral cooperation is comprehensive, facilitated by the fact that both India and Vietnam largely rely on Russian military hardware. For example, India is able to repair Vietnam’s MiG aircraft. Since 2011, India has been providing the Vietnam People’s Navy with submarine training. The Indian Navy has also assisted in technical training and vessel construction, and India may start training Vietnamese air force pilots on the Sukhoi 30-MKI fighter and sell Hanoi the BrahMos cruise missile.
The extension of credit to Vietnam furthers this defense engagement. India is emerging as a credible partner, with frequent requests that it play a more active role in regional security. Through defense cooperation, India can entrench itself in the regional security architecture and assert itself in the east. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Taiwan, Asia’s Secret Air Power

Taiwanese Leshan early warning radar

By Ian Easton

A look at what Taiwan is doing to ensure its air defense and why it matters for the United States and the region.

When current and former world leaders, including Bill Clinton, visit Taiwan, they often stay at the Grand Hotel Taipei, an opulent Chinese architectural landmark perched atop Yuan Mountain. With spectacular views of the downtown riverfront and a palm-lined swimming pool surrounded by lush green jungle, guests at the Grand Hotel could be forgiven for thinking they had arrived at one of the most peaceful spots in East Asia.
In fact, just under their feet lies a vast underground command center from which Taiwan’s top leadership would direct their nation’s armed forces in the event of a war with China. This facility, like many around the high-tech island, shows that when it comes to the defense of Taiwan, there is much more than meets the eye (PDF).
Known officially as the Tri-Service Hengshan Military Command Center, the sprawling tunnel facility stretches through the mountain in a line that starts near the Grand Hotel and goes down to the giant Ferris wheel in Dazhi. Built to defend against China’s growing fleet of ballistic missiles, this hardened nerve center is designed to allow Taiwan’s government (and thousands of military personnel) to live and work for months, riding out air raids above while organizing the defense of Taiwan from below.
Linked to a large network of subterranean command posts and military bases around Taiwan and its outer islands – as well as the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii – the Hengshan Military Command Center is the ultimate redoubt for Taiwan’s president. It is so important, in fact, that China’s strategic rocket force, the Second Artillery, has actually simulated missile attacks on the bridges that connect it to the Presidential Office.
On the other side of the city, buried inside a wet rocky outcropping near the campus of National Taiwan University, lies another tunnel complex, the Air Operations Center. Known affectionately as “Toad Mountain” by Taiwanese air force officers, this facility oversees one of the most robust air and missile defense networks on the planet. Fed vast quantities of information by airborne early-warning aircraft, long-range radars, listening posts, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites, Toad Mountain stands constant watch over all of Taiwan’s airspace, ready to scramble fighters or assign surface-to-air missiles to intercept intruders. And, like every other Taiwanese military facility, it has multiple back-ups. Just in case. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 September 2014

Think Tank: Indonesia’s ‘global maritime nexus’ - looming challenges at sea for Jokowi’s administration

By Scott Bentley

As Indonesian president-elect Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, prepares officially to begin his term later next month, there remains a degree of uncertainty regarding the future policy settings of his administration both at home and abroad. One thing, though, seems increasingly clear: momentum is building toward the realisation of Indonesia’s long-dormant potential to emerge as a maritime power.

The vision of Indonesia as a ‘global maritime nexus’ (poros maritim dunia) gained prominence during the presidential campaign and seems set to become a central focus of the upcoming Jokowi administration. While Indonesia’s emergence as a maritime power is by no means assured—it will face many challenges ahead—we may be witnessing the dawn of a new era in Indonesian history.

The precise details of that maritime vision remain a work in progress, but some preliminary observations can be made. The foundation of the ‘global maritime nexus’ concept is primarily economic: it seeks to increase maritime connectivity and thus economic equality between the various Indonesian provinces. That argument has been convincingly advanced by Faisal Basri, a leading economist and member of Jokowi’s expert team on the economy. Yet according to Basri, the vision of Indonesia as a maritime power isn’t limited to the economic dimension alone, and can also contain a security or defence function, including the protection of state sovereignty.

AUS: ADF delivers fifth shipment to Iraq

RAAF C-130 Hercules (Image via Flickr)

The Australian Defence Force has completed its fifth air shipment of military stores to Erbil in Northern Iraq.

A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules flying from Plovdiv, Bulgaria completed the delivery to Erbil on 26 September 2014.

The mission was completed without incident and the C-130J has returned to Australia’s main support base in the Middle East.

The delivery of 11.5 tonnes of weapons and associated stores was inspected and cleared by Iraqi officials in Baghdad.

Australia’s contribution in Iraq continues to be coordinated with the Government of the Republic of Iraq, regional countries and our international partners.

Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster aircraft remain available to assist with further tasks.

AUS: DMO awards sustainment contract for landing helicopter docks

A key contract for supporting Australia’s new Landing Helicopter Dock ships (LHDs) has been awarded to BAE Systems Australia Defence Pty Ltd.

Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), Mr Warren King, today announced the contract to support the two LHDs over the next four years.

“BAE Systems will provide a continuity of knowledge and experience as they maintain the LHDs during this vital transition period from the acquisition project to full operational service with Navy,” Mr King said.

He said BAE Systems are best placed to ensure that sustainment requirements of engineering maintenance and supply support for the LHDs are met in an efficient, effective and economical manner.

The LHD Transition In-Service Support Contract has a budget of approximately $220 million over four years.

The majority of the work is expected to take place in Sydney where the LHDs will be home ported, resulting in the creation of over 40 new jobs.

News Story: KFX to benefit from F-35 offsets

KFX Model from last year’s Seoul lnternational
Aerospace & Defense Exhibition


In return for obtaining 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, South Korea will receive technologies related to its long-planned KFX indigenous fighter programme.

Following Lockheed’s announcement on 24 September that Seoul was on the verge of signing an order for 40 F-35s, state news agencyYonhapquoted a spokesman from South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) as saying that the F-35 technologies will play a key role in KFX.

Under the F-35 deal – which will cover deliveries to run between 2018 and 2021 – Lockheed will transfer key fighter technologies from “17 sectors”, he says.

The DAPA spokesman adds that Seoul will build 120 KFX aircraft for deployment from 2025. South Korean officials indicate the fighter will be a twin-engined design that is more capable than advanced versions of the Lockheed F-16, but less capable than leading Western fighters such as the F-35. 

Read the full story at Flightglobal

Editorial: In ISIS Fight, Iran an Adversary Not a Partner

By Lt. Cdr. Esmaeil Abnar

In going after ISIS, Obama shouldn’t ignore the threat posed by the regime in Iran.

On September 10, U.S. President Barack Obama laid out the U.S. strategy for confronting the emerging threat from ISIS, the terrorist extremist group that market itself as an “Islamic State” and is also known as ISIL. The objective was clear, to “degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
The outlined U.S. strategy consisted of four parts, but nowhere did it address the theocratic regime in Iran, the root cause of the current rise of extremist terrorist groups, like ISIS, in Syria, Iraq and Middle East. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reiterated this reality in a recent interview with NPR on September 6, saying, “Iran is a bigger problem than ISIS.”
The financial and material support the Iranian regime has provided for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s slaughtering of his people, as well as Tehran’s political backing and interference in Iraq in favor of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s sectarian and authoritarian rule, created the conditions for the rapid rise of ISIS.
In 2010, U.S. General Ray Odierno warned that an Iranian-backed Shia terror group continued to remain a threat in Iraq. In 2011, then Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said with regard to leaving behind U.S. Forces in Iraq, “Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shia groups which are killing our troops …. And there’s no reason … for me to believe that they’re going to stop that as our numbers come down.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Philippine Islamist Militants Threaten German Hostages

By Ankit Panda

The Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines has threatened to kill two German hostages.

On Wednesday, the southern Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group threatened to kill two German hostages unless Germany ceased all support for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. The group’s threat speaks to the increasingly global appeal of the Islamic State. Abu Sayyaf has known links to Al Qaeda, which itself denounces IS. The Philippines-based militants are additionally demanding 250 million pesos ($5.6 million) for the hostages. The group has a set a deadline of October 10 for their demands to be met.
The report that the militants were threatening to kill the German hostages was released by the SITE Intelligence Group, a monitoring service that tracks terrorist communications. “A message attributed to the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf group threatened that two German hostages will be killed unless it is paid a ransom and Germany stops its support to the United States against Islamic State (IS),” SITE claimed. According to Reuters, the Philippines authorities are attempting to verify the demands. Meanwhile, Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin vowed to contain the militants: ”What the Abu Sayyaf (group) is doing is propaganda to force the government to give in to their demands. We will not be intimidated by their gestures and actions. We will continue to contain them.” The German government and the German embassy in Manila remain silent on the matter at the time of this writing. 

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Editorial: China's Choice - India or Pakistan?

By Mu Chunshan

Which South Asian country is more important for China’s future?

Among China’s relations with Asian neighbors, its ties with the countries in South Asia are generally considered to be the weakest. Now, with Sino-Japan tensions over the East China Sea and conflict with many Southeast Asian countries over the South China Sea, the role of South Asian countries has become more prominent. South Asia is now a focus in China’s regional strategy, as shown by President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the area.
When it comes to South Asia, people think of India and Pakistan first. China has an “all weather friendship” with Pakistan but an ambivalent, often testy relationship with India. But the future is sometimes different from both the past and the present. Moving forward,  which country is more important for China? Even without a clear answer, just puzzling through this question can help make many issues clear.
In fact, we only to need to answer two questions to know whether India or Pakistan is more important for China. First, which one is a major power? Second, which one can better help China realize its interests?
Which is the major power, India or Pakistan? The answer is relatively simple — India. When it comes to international influence, India is part of BRICS and the G20 and is a leader of the developing world through the G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement. India is well poised to become a major power in the world arena. 

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Editorial: China and the ISIS Threat

By Gary Sands

Already grappling with a home-grown terrorism problem, should Beijing fear the Islamic State?

The Islamic State (IS), also widely known as ISIS and ISIL, is apparently attempting to make good on its promise to attack nations who oppose them. A week ago, in the largest counterterrorism operation in Australian history, 800 federal and state police officers raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney, sparked by intelligence that IS was planning a public street killing as a demonstration of its reach.
The arrests in Sydney follow the arrest of two men in Brisbane last week for allegedly preparing to fight in Syria, recruiting jihadists and raising money for the al-Qaeda offshoot group Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front. Australia estimates about 60 of its citizens are fighting for IS and the Nusra Front in Iraq and Syria. To date, 15 of those fighters had been killed, including two young suicide bombers. Within Australia, the government believes around 100 Australians are actively supporting extremist groups, recruiting fighters and coaching suicide bombers, as well as providing funds and equipment.
Australia is not alone in taking the threat from IS seriously: The New York Police Department’s top counterterrorism official stepped up security in Times Square on Wednesday following a recent Internet posting – purportedly authored by IS – that urged “lone wolf” terrorists to attack Times Square and other tourist spots. Also this week, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen living in upstate New York, arrested earlier this year on charges of plotting to kill members of the U.S. military and others, faces new charges that he tried to aid the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
Obama’s decision to go after IS, announced on September 11, deliberately harked back to the response of George W. Bush on that same day 13 years ago, when he promised to “find those responsible and to bring them to justice.” And much as world leaders in Israel, Russia, the Philippines, Algeria, Egypt, India and Tunisia followed Bush’s lead in cracking down on terrorist activity back then, world leaders will again consider the emergence of IS as a rallying call to heighten counteroffensive action against domestic terrorism.
The U.S. and Australia are obvious targets for IS, but how dire is the threat for China? According to comments made in July by Wu Sike, China’s special envoy to the Middle East, up to 100 Chinese citizens may be fighting for IS. Wu believes the Chinese fighters are Uighurs from Xinjiang, a Muslim Turkic-speaking ethnic minority group. 

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