29 November 2014

AUS: HMAS Canberra joins the fleet - HMAS Canberra, among the best in the world

HMAS Canberra joins the fleet

Governor General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, AK, MC (Retd), together with the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Mr Tony Abbott, MP, were the guests of honour today as Australia’s first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) was welcomed into service in the Royal Australian Navy.

The Australian White Ensign was raised for the first time, signaling that HMAS Canberra III was formally commissioned into the Fleet.

Navy, Army and Air Force members of ship’s company lined the aircraft hangar as invited guests witnessed the historic event.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN, said the commissioning was a step towards developing the future of the Navy.

“HMAS Canberra is an exciting addition to the Royal Australian Navy. This very capable ship will serve the nation well for decades to come,” he said.

AUS: Australian humanitarian aid drops continue in northern Iraq

Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft have undertaken multiple humanitarian aid airdrops during the past week to support displaced civilians on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.

Four airdrop missions have delivered more than 32 tonnes of humanitarian aid stores including water, tents and blankets to the beleaguered Iraqi civilians who will face harsh winter temperatures in the coming months.

The sorties were conducted between Thursday, 20 November and Sunday, 23 November 2014 (Iraq time) using Iraqi-supplied stores prepared by coalition forces at Erbil airbase in northern Iraq.

Commander of Australia’s Joint Task Force Headquarters in the Middle East Major General Craig Orme said Australian forces were ready to contribute to any further humanitarian aid missions, particularly in the lead-up to winter.

“These airdrops will help support local Iraqis and are a result of careful planning by the taskforce and our coalition partners,” Major General Orme said.

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

Operation OKRA is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the international effort to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist threat in Iraq.

AUS: 2nd Cavalry Regiment arrives in Townsville

The 2nd Cavalry Regiment started a new chapter in their proud history yesterday when they officially joined forces with Townsville’s 3rd Brigade. Their arrival was marked by a welcome parade at Lavarack Barracks, on 27 November 2014.

More than 300 soldiers and 100 vehicles paraded before dignitaries, colleagues, family and friends to take up residence in Townsville.

The 2nd Cavalry Regiment recently moved from Darwin’s 1st Brigade under Army’s modernisation plan. The unit will form the new Armoured Cavalry Regiment within Army’s 3rd Brigade.

Commander of the 3rd Brigade, Brigadier Roger Noble, DSC, CSC, said that the 2nd Cavalry Regiment would be a welcome addition to the brigade and offer an armoured capability and mobility that had not been available to the soldiers of Townsville in the past.

“What we’ve gained now is a full armoured capability with tanks, light armoured fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers. We now have all the armoured capability we need to enable the combined arms teams to fight, resident here in Townsville on a permanent basis,” Brigadier Noble said.

Sri Lanka: "Galle Dialogue 2014" begins in the port city of Galle

The International Maritime Conference, “Galle Dialogue 2014”, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, gets underway in the port city of Galle on 01st December 2014 for the fifth consecutive year. Local and foreign scholars and experts in maritime and naval affairs representing 39 countries are expected to share their views at this two-day dialogue held under the theme, “Cooperation & Collaboration for Maritime Prosperity”, at the Lighthouse Hotel on 01st and 02nd December.

At the invitation of the Secretary of Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the National Security Advisor of India Dr. Ajit Kumar Doval will deliver the keynote address at the inaugural session where the welcome remarks will be made by the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera. The Chief Guest, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Hon. Prof. G.L. Peiris will address the august gathering under the theme "Towards Blue Economy" during the first session.

India: Visit by the Chief of the Air Staff Indian Air Force to Indonesia

Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force visited Indonesia from 23-26 November on an invitation from Air Chief Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia, Chief of Staff Indonesian Air Force. This was the first visit by an Indian Air Chief to Indonesia in over a decade and happened against the backdrop of the summit meeting between President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the time of the East Asia Summit in Nay Pyi Taw Myanmar, during which enhancement of defence cooperation was one of the key points of discussion. 

During this visit, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had a meeting with his counterpart Air Chief Marshal Putu Dunia and interacted with the Senior Staff of the Indonesian Air Force. The Indonesian Air Force expressed their keen interest to increase the scope of cooperatrion with the Indian Air Force through greater interaction in the future. Indian Air Chief was accompanied by the Indian Ambassador His Excellency Mr Gurjit Singh for his meeting with General (Retired) Ryamizard Ryacudu, the Minister of Defence, RI. The Indonesian Minister of Defence was appreciative of the ongoing initiatives in the field of Defence Cooperation and underlined the immense scope and potential to further the engagement between the two Armed Forces in the future. 

Industry: The Australian Navy receives ALHD Canberra, built by NAVANTIA

The Royal Australian Navy has received, on November 28, Commonwealth of Australia the ALHD Canberra, first of two LHD ships Navantia has built for Australia, based on the LHD Juan Carlos I of the Spanish Armada. This ship, the largest that has operated the Royal Australian Navy since its inception in 1913, gives it a new capacity both in the projection of force and increased support their allies and neighbors in missions humanitarian.

This time, as relevant to the Royal Australian Navy, was attended by representatives of Navantia, including President José Manuel Revuelta and the person responsible for the activities that have been performed on pre-delivery Australia team. The President stressed the importance of this moment for the company and the strong bonds of the same with industry and the Australian defense industry.

Editorial: Does China Need to Abandon North Korea?

By Jin Kai

China may not need to “abandon” North Korea, just as China never truly “had” North Korea.

The China-North Korea relationship has always been somewhat hazy, a difficult thing for many people to describe. Particularly after the emergence of the North Korea nuclear issue, as the situation on the Korean Peninsula turns more intense, China seems to intentionally avoid provoking North Korea (although sometimes both diplomatic and economic measures are applied by Beijing). But when tension on the peninsula subsides for a while, these two countries hardly share a true intimacy like the close ties between allies. This poses a question: how close are China and North Korea? Or, to be more pointed, does China need to abandon North Korea?
Domestic opinion in China has been clear, although sometimes antithetical. Some scholars believe that China needs to free itself from the old Cold War regional framework, especially given that North Korea’s importance as a “buffer zone” is actually decreasing as the means of modern warfare and form of competition among countries change. These scholars argue that China thus needs to give up North Korea based on a series of serious considerations, such as North Korea’s persistence in its nuclear program despite China’s deep concerns. Although these scholars do not necessarily speak for the Chinese government, their arguments to some extent reveal certain attitude changes among the Chinese public and even some government officials. Meanwhile, other scholars claim that geopolitical factors continue to prevail especially in Northeast Asia, which can be seen by the consistent or even intensified U.S. military presence. Hence China “abandoning” North Korea might cause a chain reaction in the region, and in a worst-case scenario would force China into a passive role. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Can China Tap Private Sector Innovation in Defense?

By Robert Farley

The United States isn’t the only country looking to inject some civilian-sector innovation into defense technology.

Early last week, the Pentagon announced a new initiative designed to broaden the defense industrial pool by appealing to smaller, non-traditional firms.  This is hardly the first time that DoD has launched such an initiative; over the past decade and a half, the Pentagon has repeatedly made efforts to shift procurement dollars to firms not normally associated with defense technology. The DoD keeps trying to do this because it wants to capture some of the dynamism of the civilian tech economy, reduce costs for key technologies, and introduce additional competition to defense procurement. Rhetorically, proposing to “give the little guy a leg up” appeals to Congress and the media.
So why does the Pentagon keep having to launch these initiatives?  They often don’t work, for several reasons. Traditional defense firms have spent a lot of time and money mastering the byzantine procurement process. Such firms usually have long-standing connections with the Pentagon, often hiring retired DoD civilians and former military officers. Finally, the Pentagon’s system of intellectual property management tends to scare away firms that want to maintain a foothold in the civilian market.
What’s interesting about this latest appeal is that it appears to come alongside a similar appeal from the Chinese military. The PLA has announced an effort to open multiple procurement projects up to civilian technology firms. The PLA’s language sounds remarkable similar to DoD’s: “The public procurements of 108 defense-purpose products is unprecedented in the history of development of the PLA, which will definitely be conducive to raising the effectiveness of military expenditures, optimizing military resource allocation, and boosting national defense modernization.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

28 November 2014

India: Indian Air Force and Russian Federation Air Force Joint Exercise “Avia Indra I” at AF Stn Halwara Concluded

Avia Indra I, Phase II, a joint Indo – Russia Air Force exercise held at Air Force Station Halwara (Punjab) from 17 November successfully concluded today. The Phase I of the ‘AviaIndra I’ was held at Astrakhan near Caspian Sea in Russia in August 2014. 

Media from Punjab also had an opportunity to witness the exercise at SK (SidhwanKhas) Range. Such exercises, specially with Russia are of significance as the IAF has a large inventory of Russian equipment. For the diverse defence needs of the two Air Forces there is much to benefit from such engagements for both sides. The Russian team was touched by the warmth of their host and amongst other things, encashed on the opportunity to learn a few steps of ‘Bhangra’ dance. 

The joint Air Force exercise between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Russian Federation Air Force (RFAF) takes the historic and strategic military partnership between India and Russia to a new level. During the exercise, fighter, helicopter and missile crew of the two countries operated together. It included Air to Ground firing and fighter sorties over the mighty Himalayas. Select members of the team were taken to Bengaluru, where they were introduced to indigenous programs, including the LCA Tejas and Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv). 

To commemorate the event, the two commanders Air Commodore PK Vohra VM and Major General Alexander N Lyapkin unveiled a hand carved stone and planted saplings next to the memorial stone to symbolize growth of this unique partnership etched in the stone for posterity. 

News Story: Japan considers creation of a state-backed agency for weapons exports

According to Reuters, Japan is considering creating a government-backed financing arm for weapons exports, a move that would accelerate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shift away from the country's pacifist past and strengthen Tokyo's regional security ties as China's military power grows.

As a first step, the government plans to convene an advisory panel to consider specific proposals to create a way to finance military sales by Japanese firms and fund defense industry cooperation abroad, four people involved told Reuters.

One possibility to be considered is for a government-backed body to provide concessional financing for military projects modeled on the self-financing Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said the people involved.

They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of talks on a move that would likely upset China, where memories of Japan's wartime past run deep and which has already criticized Abe's decision in April to end a decades-old ban on arms exports.

Read the full story at Army Recognition

News Story: China and Russia (may have) sign(ed) agreement on S-400 Triumf air defense missile systems delivery

S-400 Triumf (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Russia is in the process of selling cutting-edge S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to China, which would hand Beijing a defense system capable of deterring even the most advanced air powers from infringing on Chinese airspace, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. The two countries are reported to have recently signed an agreement for at least 6 divisions of the S-400 system.

China this fall signed an agreement with Russia's arms export agency, Rosoboronexport, that calls for the delivery of at least six divisions of the S-400 system costing over $3 billion, the paper said citing unidentified Defense Ministry and industry officials.

The report comes a week after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on a visit to Beijing agreed to deepen military-industrial ties and hold more joint naval exercises with China.

Read the full story at Army Recognition

Editorial: One Year of ADIZ - What Next for China?

By Ankit Panda

China’s East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ) remains ambiguous.

It’s now been a year since China unilaterally declared an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over a large swathe of the East China Sea. Beijing’s decision to do so came at a time of rising tensions between China and Japan over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. While that dispute persists today, tensions were significantly higher a year ago, with the potential for escalation high on both sides. At the time, The Diplomat hosted a wide range of perspectives on why Beijing chose to act as it did and the ramifications the ADIZ decision would carry going forward for the security of the Asia-Pacific region, China-Japan relations, and more. A year later, most of the questions raised then still endure. For example, will Beijing follow up on the mixed signals it’s been sending about a potential ADIZ over the South China Sea? Could Beijing’s enforcement of its ADIZ draw international legal action? Finally, will Beijing’s justification of the ADIZ evolve with time? I’ll mostly focus on the first question here.
We’ve seen mixed signals come out of China regarding the possibility of a South China ADIZ. For example, while a senior PLA official called for China to establish an ADIZ over the South China Sea, noting that it was “necessary for China’s long-term national interest,” these calls had been contradicted by official Chinese foreign ministry statements noting that there were no plans to install an ADIZ over the South China Sea. The geography of the South China Sea and China’s capacious territorial claim to almost the entirety of the region, down to the Borneo coastline, make the decision to declare an ADIZ there more complicated. Specifically, as I’ve discussed here before, the nature of China’s dashed line claim leaves some interesting and strategically advantageous ambiguities that would be threatened with the declaration of a de jure ADIZ. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: India’s Urgent Need for Defense Modernization

By Amit R. Saksena

Years of mismanagement have been disastrous for India’s defense.

For the Indian armed forces, military modernization was perhaps the biggest casualty under the previous UPA-led government. From numerous procurement scandals to the inability of the government to foster indigenization of research and development, the nation’s defense preparedness is at a nadir. The Air Force’s primary fleet is a shambles, the Navy has yet to put the INS Arihant into operation, and the Army has no definite timeline for implementing the F-INSAS program. All this when India consistently ranks as the world’s largest importer of arms.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have taken a tougher stance against external threats, but if he is to follow up on the rhetoric, he will need to make strengthening the armed forces a top priority for his government. And the first step to take is to modernize the forces.
The BJP’s election manifesto promised to strengthen the country’s defense industrial base. There was considerable excitement in the defense and security sector, which had the impression that to maintain a high level of operational readiness the new government would remedy procurement policies and fast track indigenization by privatizing industry. But to establish a solid military-industrial base and fast-track indigenization, the government needs to have a long-term plan, to guide development. That is precisely what it does not have. In the absence of a defense white paper or grand strategy, the defense focus has been very much short term.
As a recent IHS Jane report notes, India is set to become the fourth biggest military spender in the world by 2020, surpassed only by the U.S., Russia and China. It will be critical for New Delhi to have developed an overarching strategy by that time, to avoid excessive spending and give direction to future development. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 November 2014

AUS: Brisbane welcomes Singapore Navy to the Sunshine State

LCDR Mark Tandy (author), 
Mr Christian Ferguson (photographer)

<< Commander of the Royal Singapore Navy (RSN) Amphibious Squadron, Colonel Thng Chee Meng presents a Squadron plaque to the Governor of Queensland, the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC at Government House in Brisbane. (L-R) CO RSS Persistence, Lieutenant Colonel Sylvan Sumanthiran, Commander of the Royal Singapore Navy Amphibious Squadron, Colonel Thng Chee Meng, Governor of Queensland, the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC and Commanding Officer Naval Headquarters - South Queensland, Commander Peter Tedman.

Brisbane gave a warm welcome to RSS Persistence recently when the Singaporean Navy ship made a port call en route to a joint Australian and Singaporean Exercise being conducted off the coast of Queensland.

The Commanding Officer Naval Headquarters South Queensland, Commander Peter Tedman, said the city was a popular stop over for visiting ships.

"Brisbane provided the Singapore Navy with the ideal location to transfer personnel and equipment arriving from Singapore and a great place for some 'R&R'.

USA: US and Korean Submariners Deepen Understanding During 40th SWCM

By Lt. Cmdr. Aaron Kakiel, Submarine Group 7 Public Affairs

FLEET ACTIVITIES YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Group (COMSUBGRU) 7 conducted bilateral talks with the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) Nov. 24-26 at Chinhae, Republic of Korea (ROK).

The 40th Submarine Warfare Committee Meeting (SWCM) brought together representatives from the U.S. and ROK navies. 

SWCM is a semi-annual flag conference between COMSUBGRU 7 and commander, Submarine Flotilla (COMSUBFLOT) 9. Established in 1994 during the birth of the ROKN submarine fleet, the conference has evolved into a discussion between U.S. and ROKN submarine forces focused on submarine tactics, force integration and future submarine development.

Rear Adm. Stuart Munsch, COMSUBGRU 7 commander, led the U.S. delegation that also discussed planning combined exercises, training and continued development of integrated anti-submarine warfare plans. The underlying theme of the talks was expanding the alliance between the U.S. and ROK navies. 


HANOI, THE REPUBLIC OF SOCIALIST VIETNAM, Wednesday 26 November 2014 -  Brigadier General Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Yussof bin Haji Abd Rahman, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Land Forces led a delegation from the RBLF to Hanoi to attend the ASEAN Chiefs of Army Multilateral Meeting (ACAMM) which takes place at Melia Hotel from the 25-27 November 2014.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Enhance the interoperability of ASEAN Armies in response to non-traditional challenges”. This theme supports the ASEAN vision which is 'ASEAN community 2015' as well as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM).

Every Chief of Army (COA) presented their perspective in a collaborative effort to support the unity amongst the Armies for the years to come. A few recommendations were made such as training and cooperation to be enhanced at all levels in a multilateral concept; every effort will be made for the cooperation of stability and peace of the region; and multilateral activities will be increased as part of an initiative for interoperability between ASEAN Armies. An immediate action as a way forward is to establish a working group to study the various recommendations made and the needs to implement them in more practical ways. The session was officiated by Senior Lieutenant General Do Ba Ty, Chief of General Staff, Vietnam People’s Army.

Editorial: Dr. Strangelove’s Advice to U.S. and Russian Nuclear Planners

By Walter C. Clemens, Jr.

A recent report offers some disturbing advice for nuclear weapons policy.

Relations between Washington and Moscow are strained for many reasons. And advice from the ivory tower, no matter how well intentioned, can sometimes make things even worse. This year, a  working group of U.S. and Russian academics deliberated on how to make their two countries’ strategic forces more “compatible.” The lead authors, a American and a Russian professor – neither a specialist in security issues – looked for ways to assure stable deterrence despite a widening gap in each country’s economic and technological capabilities. Their report takes for granted that Russia has come to rely heavily on nuclear weapons rather than on modernized conventional forces to defend its borders (against whom is not clear, perhaps Estonia or Afghanistan?). As if taking its cues from a resurrected Dr. Strangelove, the report asserts:
Reliance on a first-strike nuclear capability, missile defenses, launch-on-warning systems, and other security policies considered destabilizing during the heightened tensions of the Cold War are much more stabilizing in the current context, and would be feasible ways to reduce nuclear arsenals while providing greater security and transparency.
It is strange to find seekers of strategic compatibility endorsing plans to launch on warning, if only because radar screens can mislead and have on occasion nearly provoked a nuclear first strike. The report could instead have backed calls to terminate such plans.
The folly of continuing a posture of launch on warning is underscored by a recent Pentagon report detailing the material and human shortfalls of America’s strategic missile forces. Crews have one wrench to affix warheads for 450 intercontinental missiles. Aging blast doors for sixty year-old silos do not seal shut. Submarine lack spare parts. Human weaknesses are probably more serious. Poor morale and boredom are also issues. Looking to bolster spirits, some reviewers recommended restoring “select crew” patches. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: A Blueprint for India-Australia Collaboration

By Mohamed Zeeshan

Beyond geopolitics, the two countries have the potential to work together in a number of areas.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently concluded a highly successful visit to Australia. Not only did he take part in the G20 Summit in Brisbane this week, but – in a typical Modi move – he added a state visit. It was in fact the first visit to Australia by an Indian prime minister in 28 years.
Given the great potential in the Indo-Australian bilateral relationship, the long gap between visits is hard to fathom. India and Australia today both have significant roles to play in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, even if as part of the U.S. “pivot.” Australia is also part of Modi’s “Act East” policy push and this visit follows close on the heels of his recent engagements with the likes of Japan and Myanmar. But his outreach to Australia is about much more than just geopolitics. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: For SAARC to Work, India and Pakistan Must Resolve Differences

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri

Despite Modi highlighting South Asia’s problems at the SAARC summit, SAARC fails to progress.

This year’s long-awaited South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting kicked off in Kathmandu, Nepal on Wednesday. This year’s summit is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first SAARC meeting and it has been eagerly anticipated. This is because Modi and other South Asian regional leaders have been pushing to make SAARC actually relevant by advocating for regional cooperation and trade.
In fact, Modi highlighted both the problems and promise of South Asia during his speech on Wednesday. Speaking about his region, Modi said:
Today, less than 5 percent of the region’s global trade takes place between us. Even at this modest level, less than 10 percent of the region’s internal trade takes place under SAARC Free Trade Area. Indian companies are investing billions abroad, but less than 1 percent flows into our region. It is still harder to travel within our region than to Bangkok or Singapore; and, more expensive to speak to each other. 
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China Makes Inroads Into India's Backyard

By Shannon Tiezzi

At the SAARC summit in Nepal, China seeks deeper relationship with South Asian countries.

The 18th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is underway in Kathmandu, Nepal. SAARC consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The prime ministers and presidents of each of those countries gathered in Nepal for the summit, along with diplomatic representatives from SAARC observers – including China.
China has been an observer at SAARC since 2006, but is interested in pursuing full membership. China’s “all weather friend” Pakistan helped push for China’s full inclusion during the SAARC summit but, as has happened in the past, reluctance from India kept the proposal from moving forward. For now, China remains a SAARC observer, a status also claimed by the U.S., Australia, South Korea, Iran, and the European Union.
China’s delegation to the SAARC summit was headed up by Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin. While in Nepal, Liu pledged that China will seek deeper ties with South Asia, especially on the economic front. “China has put forward a series of initiatives, (including) increasing trade between South Asia and China to 150 billion U.S. dollars and investment to 30 billion U.S. dollars in the next five years,” Liu said. The $30 billion will go to road construction, Liu said. 
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China-US Relations - The Return of Mao’s Noose

By Zach Przystup

‘The U.S. and China are locked in a great power competition, and their primary goals are incompatible.’

The uneasy U.S.-China relationship as strategic partners and competitors was on full display at the recent APEC summit. Although encouraging, agreements on climate, trade, and maritime security cannot mask a fundamental geopolitical reality: The U.S. and China are locked in a great power competition, and their primary goals are incompatible. The U.S. wants to keep its seat at the head of the table in East Asia, and China wants to reclaim it. To achieve this goal, Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken a page out of the playbook of Mao Zedong:  tightening the noose to test the U.S. commitment to its allies.
During the 1950s, Mao engineered two international crises in the Taiwan Strait by bombarding the nearby Jinmen islands. In both instances, he sought to dial up pressure on the U.S., or “tighten the noose,” by drawing attention to what he deemed its overextension and over-commitment to an island halfway around the world. In a speech at the Supreme State Council, Mao boasted, “At present, America has committed itself to an ‘all-round responsibility’ policy along our coast. Someday we will kick America, and it cannot run away, because it is tied up by our noose.” Ultimately, Mao’s noose strategy failed. He earned bragging rights for standing up to the U.S., but the Strait crises led to a security treaty between the U.S. and Taiwan, accelerated the Sino-Soviet split, and deepened China’s isolation.
Times have changed; China’s noose strategy has not. Now Xi has his hands on the rope. Since 2012, China has repeatedly challenged Japan’s control over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands by sending ships into its surrounding waters and declaring an ADIZ over the East China Sea. In the South China Sea, Xi has used a nine-dash noose to lasso the Scarborough Shoal and park an oil rig in Vietnamese waters. Beijing is once again probing the bottom line on the U.S. commitment to its allies. America proved it was not overcommitted against Mao’s weak China. But what about against Xi’s rising China? 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China’s Friendship Treaty - A Distraction from South China Sea Diplomacy

By David Gitter

Why ASEAN states should think twice before signing on to China’s treaty of friendship and cooperation.

As China once again offers ASEAN states billions of dollars and promotes another treaty for “Good Neighborly and Friendly Cooperation” (which sounds an awful lot like the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation), Southeast Asian nations should consider how China perceives ASEAN and what goals it hopes to gain from its interactions with the bloc. By and large, China has maintained a favorable view of ASEAN since opening relations with it in 1991. Two factors contributing to Beijing’s positive perception of the Association include its flexible and non-binding “ASEAN Way,” and its openness to Chinese win-win overtures that help Beijing secure its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea (SCS). Given China’s exploitation of these characteristics in pursuit of its expansionist goals, ASEAN should seriously consider whether it wants to sign on to another vague deal when diplomatic capital might be better spent on alternative frameworks.
Perhaps unexpectedly, China finds ASEAN a favorable diplomatic partner in part because its diplomatic style is compatible with China’s. American criticisms that are directed at both ASEAN forums (PDF) and the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue are remarkably similar, describing both bodies as talk shops that lack substance and are at times largely symbolic. However, these very characteristics of the “ASEAN Way” offer Beijing a non-confrontational, consensus-based mechanism for addressing regional issues that is in stark contrast to the expectations levied on Beijing in Western diplomatic forums. Like ASEAN, China’s own diplomatic style has traditionally tended to focus more on form than on substance. Although the ASEAN Way may frustrate Western governments that seek to achieve concrete decisions after attending the Association’s many meetings, Chinese diplomats likely find ASEAN diplomacy preferable for its comparatively ambiguous, hard to enforce agreements. This inclination mirrors the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) domestic preference for guidelines and regulations versus detailed, enforceable laws that could threaten to control Party actions. In the SCS, this preference is reflected through Beijing’s vocal support for vague and easily circumvented agreements such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) and the Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea (DOC), and its relative lack of enthusiasm for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea (COC). Beijing has even less regard for the SCS plan of the only other non-ASEAN claimant, Taiwan’s East China Sea Peace Initiative, which Taipei asserts is applicable to the SCS and has successfully guided the island’s diplomacy towards maritime dispute resolution with Japan and the Philippines (PDF). 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US-Japan Defense Guidelines Likely to Be Delayed

Image: Flickr User Official U.S. Navy Page

By Ricky Hough

For now, Japan’s domestic political turmoil and economic woes are trumping its regional security challenges.

With all the political turmoil taking place in Tokyo this week, Japan’s central government has announced plans to delay talks with Washington on revising and finalizing the U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines. The announcement comes as no surprise given the political vacuum caused by the dissolution of the Lower House of Representatives and the upcoming snap elections to be held on December 14. Indeed, delaying the revision process has been discussed publicly for some time. According to the Jiji Press, Tokyo hopes to have the guidelines completed by spring of 2015, several months after the year-end deadline. Top officials from Japan’s Defense Ministry Policy Bureau, led by director-general Tetsuo Kuroe, are set to travel to Washington this weekend to hold talk with U.S. defense officials. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Vietnam, the US, and Japan in the South China Sea

By Alexander L. Vuving

Prospects for regional security hinges heavily on how these actors relate to the South China Sea issue.

Between May and July 2014, China unilaterally deployed a giant drilling rig in waters claimed by Vietnam as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The move led to a fierce confrontation between Chinese and Vietnamese government vessels and saw relations between the two countries deteriorate to their lowest point since 1988. The standoff also served as a litmus test to identify who will side with whom in this conflict. While most of the world remained neutral, several states came out in support of Vietnam in one form or another. Among these supporters, the United States and Japan stood out as the most powerful and staunchest.
The fault line between Vietnam, the U.S., and Japan on one side and China on the other can be seen as one between status quo and revisionist powers. The former share the same objective of maintaining the balance of power that has kept the region in peace for the last two decades. China, with its long period of rapid economic growth in the last three decades, appears to be determined to use its newfound power to assert its sovereignty claims, which in end effect would amount to its dominance of the region. The prospects for regional security hinges heavily on how these actors relate to the South China Sea (SCS) issue. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

26 November 2014

Think Tank: Sri Lanka tilts to Beijing

Author: David Brewster, ANU

A sea change is occurring in Sri Lanka’s strategic orientation. Recent developments suggest that Sri Lanka is becoming China’s new best friend and security partner in the eastern Indian Ocean. This would represent a major change in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy and could have significant consequences for regional security.

The immediate cause célèbre is the visit of a Chinese submarine and announcement of a new Chinese-built port in Colombo in September, followed by another visit in early November. A third is rumoured for later this month. These are no ordinary naval visits: their nature, frequency and timing are extraordinary. The first occurred during state visits by Japanese Prime Minister Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Claims by Beijing that its nuclear-powered attack submarine is on deployment against Somali pirates are risible. Despite Colombo’s initial attempts at secrecy, the visits seem to be a deliberate signal by China that it intends to maintain a submarine presence in the Indian Ocean and that Sri Lanka will play an important role that strategy.

Sri Lanka has a longstanding policy of showing accommodation and reassurance towards India. In particular, Sri Lanka will not allow itself to be used by other powers to threaten India’s security interests. This policy has been followed more or less since independence. It was reflected in a 1987 agreement under which Sri Lanka committed not to allow any of its ports to be used by any country for military purposes in a manner prejudicial to India’s interests. Overall the strategy has served Sri Lanka well in dealing with its huge and sometimes difficult neighbour.


KUALA LUMPUR, Monday 24 November 2014 - The Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN), First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz bin Haji Mohd Tamit made a courtesy call to Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz bin Haji Jaafar, Chief of Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) at the Naval Headquarters in Wisma Pertahanan, Kuala Lumpur today to strengthen and enhance bilateral relations and regional cooperation in maritime security aspect for both countries.

First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz and his delegation is on a three day introductory visit to Malaysia from 23 November to 26 November 2014. He is also accompanied by his spouse, Datin Sakdiah binti Haji Mohammad Noor. Upon arrival at the Royal Malaysian Navy Headquarters, the RBN Commander was accorded with the Guard of Honour at the Dataran Wisma Pertahanan.

During the courtesy call, apart from exchanging views and opinions, the discussion also touched on technical cooperation and training involving both navies. This cooperation will be reinforced with joint training activities and an enhanced cooperation to improve security in our respective waters by the exchange of timely intelligence information and discussions.

The Royal Brunei Navy and The Royal Malaysian Navy enjoy the strong defence cooperation through a wide range of interactions and activities such as bilateral exercises, regular visits and professional exchanges.


BOLKIAH GARRISON, Tuesday 25 November 2014 – SHHBIDSS held the Regional Strategic Environment Series this morning at Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (SHHBIDSS) Lecture Hall which showcased a panel of renowned experts in Asia-Pacific namely Dr Carlyle Thayer, Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales, Australia Defence Force Academy, Australia, Dr Tim Huxley, the Executive Director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), Singapore, Dr Jim Rolfe, Director of the Center of Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, Dr Mark Rolls,  Senior Lecturer and Director of the International Relations and Security Studies Programme at University of Waikato, New Zealand, and Dr Li Mingjiang, Associate Professor from Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

The talks focused on power dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region which contributes to the patterns of today’s military modernisation, the prospects of escalating tensions stemming from misperceptions, and the importance of defence diplomacy both at the bilateral and multilateral to ensure regional stability. The Series sought to provide a scanning exercise for strategic planning, in turn allowing participants to get a clearer understanding of the growing and complex defence and security challenges as well as appreciate the implications to Brunei’s interests.

Present at the seminar were the Deputy Minister of Defence, Dato Paduka Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohammad Tawih bin Abdullah as well as members of the Defence Executive Committee, service commanders, directors and officers from the Ministry of Defence and officers of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

India: Joint Military Exercise Hand-In-Hand 2014 Culminates

The fourth India China Joint Training Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2014 culminated on   25 November 2014 after a Joint Tactical Exercise and a closing ceremony held at Aundh Military Camp, Pune. Twelve days of joint training included understanding of transnational terrorism, developing interoperability and conduct of a joint tactical operation controlled by a Joint Command Post.

Lt General Ashok Singh, Army Commander, Southern Command of the Indian Army and Lt General Zhou Xiaozhou, Chief of Staff, Chengdu Military Command, People’s Liberation Army of China witnessed a Joint Tactical Exercise conducted at College of Military Engineering, Pune, on 25 Nov. The exercise involved insertion of troops by slithering from helicopters and destroying a terrorist hide out. It demonstrated the commitment of both Armies in working closely with each other to eradicate the menace of terrorism in all its forms.

Later, Lt General K Surendranath, Chief of Staff of Southern Command of Indian Army & Lt General Zhou Xiaozhou, Chief of Staff, Chengdu Military Command, People’s Liberation Army of China jointly reviewed the parade commanded by Colonel MS Khan,  Commanding Officer of the 9 Rajputana Rifles. Fly past by Sukhoi-30 aircrafts added colour to the impressive parade displayed by the joint contingent.

Lt General K Surendranath of the Indian Army after addressing the parade declared the joint training closed. Observers of both the nations which included senior military officials complimented the participants on the professional conduct of training.

India: Indo-Russia Bilateral AirForce Exercise Avia-Indra I

An eighteen member Russian Air Force team at Air Force Station Halwara in Punjab is participating in Phase II of the Indo-Russian bilateral exercise‘AVIA – INDRA I’. The Russian delegation headed by Major General Lyapkin Alexander N consists of Fighter and Helicopter aircrew among other members. 

Russian aircrew have flown IAF Su-30 MKI, Mi-35 & Mi-17 along with our aircrew. Earlier, members of the Russian delegation visited Bengaluru, where they were exposed to indigenous projects such as Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas), Light Combat Helicopter and Advance Light Helicopter (Dhruv). 

Today, the media witnessed ‘air to ground’ firing by aircraft and helicopters jointly flown by pilots of Indian Air Force (IAF) and Russian Federation Air Force (RFAF) at Sidhwan Khas range near Halwara. The joint exercise will further strengthen the relations between the two Air Forces taking forward the India – Russia strategic partnership. The Russian team will be in India till 28 November 14. 

Industry: Boeing Delivers Sixth P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft to India

>> On-schedule arrival in India reinforces in-country partnership

SEATTLE, Nov. 25, 2014 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] delivered the sixth P-8I maritime patrol aircraft to India, on schedule, on Nov. 24, arriving at Naval Air Station Rajali to join five others being used by the Indian Navy.  

The P-8I is part of a contract of eight awarded in 2009. The final two deliveries are scheduled for 2015.  

“The P-8I’s arrival in India is another key milestone for the program and marks our final delivery of the year,” said Dennis Swanson, vice president, Boeing Defense, Space & Security in India. “The Indian Navy is currently conducting missions with the first five aircraft, and this newest P-8I will begin flight trials in the coming months.”