30 April 2015

Think Tank: US–Japan defence guidelines - pushing the rebalance

Malcolm Cook

The new US–Japan Guidelines for Defense Cooperation (PDF) and the accompanying joint statement by the two countries’ foreign and defence ministers commit both sides to do more with each other in relation to third countries than did the much shorter 1997 guidelines when the East Asian security situation was less fraught.

The first reading of the guidelines from a Southeast Asian perspective suggest that one of the East Asian goals of the US rebalance is well on the way to being realised, while another one may not be so. On the positive side, as successive US Quadrennial Defense Reviews have repeated, the US has long sought greater support from allies and security partners in East Asia. The rebalance isn’t only a commitment by the US to update its forward defence commitments in East Asia (and ring-fence them from sequestration) but also a reciprocal opportunity for its treaty allies and growing number of security partners to provide greater support to the US.

Think Tank: Australia and Indonesia - will it always be like this?

Peter Jennings

Following the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran last night, it doesn’t pay to let hurt or anger drive one’s thinking about Australia–Indonesia ties. Those who care about the relationship—mostly politicians and officials, not too many ‘average’ citizens in either country—must despair for future prospects. Is it always going to be like this?

A succession of spats and public differences over live cattle trade, spying allegations, turning back the boats and executions have meant that, for half a decade, the relationship has faced repeated crises. Looking further back, it’s clear that our relations since Indonesia’s independence in 1945 have been marked by even deeper problems. Australia spent much of the 1950s and early ‘60s deeply worried about Indonesian susceptibility to Communism. Konfrontasi in the 1960s saw us fighting a counterinsurgency war against Jakarta over Malaysia’s independence. Indonesia’s incorporation of West Papua in 1962 and East Timor in 1975 created deep and lasting instabilities in our nearer region.

Think Tank: China’s ‘great wall of sand' - calling a spade a spade

Benjamin Schreer

In a remarkable public speech (PDF) at ASPI’s Future Surface Fleet conference last month, the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet—Admiral Harry B. Harris—criticised China for engaging in an ‘unprecedented land reclamation’ effort, creating a ‘great wall of sand’ in the South China Sea (SCS). He went on to point out:
‘When one looks at China’s pattern of provocative actions towards smaller claimant states – the lack of clarity on its sweeping nine-dash line claim that is inconsistent with international law and the deep asymmetry between China’s capabilities and those of its smaller neighbors – well it’s no surprise that the scope and pace of building man-made islands raise serious questions about Chinese intentions.’
As usual, China’s government had a different understanding of the augmentation of large features in the Fiery Cross Reef and seven other such locations. For instance, Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared in early March that Beijing was only ‘carrying out necessary construction on its own islands and reefs’. He insisted the measures did ‘not target or affect anyone’, and that China sought to ‘bring harmony, stability and prosperity to the neighbourhood.’

AUS: South Pacific Defence Ministers’ meeting in Papua New Guinea

Tomorrow I (Minister for Defence: Kevin Andrews) will attend the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting (SPDMM) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. I will be accompanied by the Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, AC, who will attend the associated South Pacific Chiefs of Defence Meeting.

The SPDMM involves the Defence Ministers from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga, as well as senior representatives from France and Chile. Representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom and Vanuatu have been invited to attend as observers.

The meeting provides an opportunity for regional Defence Ministers and Chiefs of Defence Forces to discuss common security challenges and identify ways to improve regional security cooperation.

AUS: New United States and Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines

Australia welcomes the announcement on 27 April 2015 by the United States and Japan of new Defence Cooperation Guidelines.

Defence cooperation between Japan and the United States has made a positive contribution to security and prosperity in our region for decades.

The new Guidelines recognise Japan’s growing contribution to promoting a peaceful and stable international security environment, and reflect the changing nature of defence engagement to include cyber, space and global cooperation.

In particular, I (Minister for Defence: Kevin Andrews) welcome the United States and Japan’s commitment to expanded multilateral and trilateral cooperation with Australia, and for closer cooperation with Australia on capacity building activities in South East Asia.

The Guidelines also support a more seamless defence partnership between the Japan Self-Defence Forces and the United States Armed Forces.

AUS: Defence increases support to Nepal

Defence has increased its support to Nepal with a second RAAF C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft supporting the delivery of aid assistance as part of Operation Nepal Assist 2015.

Two C-17As departed RAAF Base Amberley this morning, carrying nearly 15 tonnes of Australian aid, including:

 – Six tonnes of tarpaulins

 – 5 tonnes of wool blankets

 – 80,000 Aqua Tab water purification tablets

 – Over six tonnes of health supplies

USA: US, ROK Navies Strengthen Partnerships through ASW Cooperation

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Abraham Essenmacher

<< Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, center, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, prepares to deliver opening remarks to Republic of Korea Navy leadership during an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) cooperation committee meeting in Busan. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Abraham Essenmacher)

BUSAN, Republic of Korea - Senior Leaders from the U.S. and Republic of Korea navies met at the headquarters of the Republic of Korea Fleet April 27 for a series of staff talks on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) cooperation.

The bilateral ASW cooperation committee is designed to exchange knowledge and develop training scenarios that enhance combined capabilities across all ASW domains from subsurface, surface, and air. Subject matter experts from both the U.S. and ROK navies meet quarterly to discuss the development of ongoing ASW initiatives.

USA: Japanese and U.S. Submarine Forces Bolster Alliance in Guam

JS Hakuryū (SS-503) visiting Guam in 2013
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds, Commander, Submarine Group 7 Deputy Public Affairs

FLEET ACTIVITIES YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Rear Adm. William R. Merz, commander, Submarine Group 7, and Vice Adm. Masakazu Kaji, commander, Fleet Submarine Force of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) visited Naval Base Guam April 26-28.

Merz and Kaji toured Naval Base Guam, the JMSDF submarine JS Hakuryu (SS 503), and observed the Hakuryu team conduct a brief mission in the Submarine Multi-Mission Team Trainer (SMMTT) during the visit. 

"This was a great opportunity for us to visit a deployed Japanese submarine moored at a U.S. base," said Merz. "Events like this help Adm. Kaji and me realize the importance of our alliance and how we can work together to ensure peace and stability in this part of the world." 

SMMTT enables submarine crews to rehearse tactical missions in environmental and tactical conditions that realistically simulate those found while deployed. It provides shore-based training for submarine combat control and sonar systems. 

Kaji and Merz also met with Rear Adm. Babette Bolivar, commander, Joint Region Marianas, during an office call visit.

USA: Carter Discusses Cooperation With Japanese Counterpart

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani met for an hour at the Pentagon yesterday to discuss implementation plans of the newly released guidelines for U.S.-Japan defense cooperation, regional situations, the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan and defense equipment and technology cooperation, Defense Department officials said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, officials noted this was the second meeting between the two defense leaders.

Keeping Up Momentum

“Secretary Carter and Minister Nakatani emphasized the importance of keeping up the momentum from recent milestones to modernize the alliance, such as enhancing cyber and space security cooperation,” the statement said, adding that Carter also thanked Nakatani for Japan's continual support for the Futenma Replacement Facility in Okinawa as part of the realignment of U.S. forces.

The two leaders expressed their commitment to a strong working relationship, the statement said, and noted that they are looking forward to meeting soon at the upcoming Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual security conference held in Singapore.

USA: Under Secretary Wendy R. Sherman Travel to India and Bangladesh

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman travelled to New Delhi, India on April 28, and will travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh on May 1. Ambassador Sherman will meet with government officials to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, including regional efforts to provide assistance to Nepal.

In New Delhi, Ambassador Sherman met with senior government officials and civil society leaders. She is accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson, and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield. The trip is an opportunity for Ambassador Sherman and the Assistant Secretaries to engage their Indian counterparts on broader regional cooperation. They will also participate in a panel discussion on bilateral and regional issues at the University of Chicago Center.

In Dhaka, Ambassador Sherman will lead the U.S. delegation to the fourth U.S.-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue during the plenary session. She plans to raise issues related to the political situation with the government and other interlocutors. Ambassador Sherman previously led the U.S. delegation to the third U.S.-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue in October 2014.

Brunei: RBAF sends relief effort team to Nepal

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Wednesday 29 April 2015 – Brunei Darussalam, in particular the Ministry of Defence and Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) is sending a team of one RBAF medical officer, four RBAF paramedics and three personnel from the Gurkha Reserve Unit (GRU) to Nepal to support the humanitarian relief assistance after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country last Saturday, 25 April 2015 which left more than 5, 000 dead and more than 10,000 injured.

This relief effort mission is codenamed ‘OPERASI KUKRI’.

The OPERASI KUKRI team is led by Lieutenant Colonel Dr Muhd Hiza Wardy bin Haji Abd Halim.

It is made up of Sargeant Mahadir bin Sata, Corporal Mohd Luqueminol Hakimi bin Haji Ahmad, Lans Corporal Mohd Hafedi bin Kunal and Corporal Muhd Hidayat bin Abu Bakar, whom  are from the Combat Service Support Royal Brunei Land Force (RBLF).

Meanwhile personnel from GRU are Major Bishankumar Rai Dewan, Dr Santosh Giri and Sargeant Gorakh Raj Rai.

Sri Lanka: SLN joins emergency relief mission to Nepal

A contingent of fourteen (14) Sri Lanka Navy personnel joined the emergency relief mission in earthquake-hit Nepal. They flew on a special Sri Lankan airline flight, UL 4195 on 29th April 2015 to render assistance to the earthquake relief operations in Kathmandu.

The SLN medical team under a medical officer includes a Public Health Inspector, a Medical Technician and a sailor who is qualified in life saving. They were dispatched to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected Nepalese people in their hour of need.

They carried medical equipments weighing over 500kgs for their first ever relief operations overseas where they will be sharing their expertise in disaster response and emergency medical aid with the fellow SL forces personnel deployed to Nepal in the immediate aftermath of its devastating earthquake, which has claimed over 5,000 lives and injured over 10,000 people.

Sri Lanka: Senior Officer Present Afloat (SOPA) and Commanding Officer of the visiting Bangladesh naval ship call on the Commander of the Navy

Bangladesh navy frigate Somudro Joy

The SOPA, Commodore AA Mamun and the Commanding Officer, Commander AKM Afzal Hossain of the visiting Bangladesh ship "SOMUDRA JOY", which is on the way from Bangladesh to Qatar to participate in “EXERCISE FEROCIOUS FALCON – 2015”, paid a courtesy call on the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera at the Naval Headquarters in Colombo on 29th April 2015. The Bangladesh Defence Adviser, Commodore S Aslam Parvez was also present at the occasion in which they exchanged views on various fields of mutual interest. The fruitful discussion came to an end with the exchange of mementos to mark the interactive short stay in Sri Lanka. 

Bangladesh naval ship, "SOMUDRA JOY" arrived at the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka on a goodwill visit on 28th April 2015. The ship was welcomed by the officials from the High Commission of the Republic of Bangladesh and the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions on arrival.

The ship will stay in Sri Lanka till 01st May and the crew members are scheduled to take part in several special programs arranged by the Sri Lanka Navy during their stay to enhance the friendly relations between the two navies.

NOTE: The A Bangladesh naval ship arrives at the port of Colombo on goodwill visitLink in the above was added by PacificSentinel for clarity & context.

Industry: NAVANTIA put afloat the last landing ship to Australia

A newly built Landing Craft being lowered into the water

Navantia San Fernando-Puerto Real has refloated on April 27, 2015, at 12 am, the twelfth and final landing craft LLC has built for the Australian Navy. The design of these boats is based on those built by Navantia for the Spanish Navy and delivered between 2006 and 2008.

The contract, which was signed in December 2011, envisaged the construction Navantia whole of the twelve units, representing a workload for the Bay of Cadiz estimated at 350,000 hours.

The boats are designed to operate with the LHD "Canberra" and LHD "Adelaide" strategic projection ships similar to the "Juan Carlos I", also built by Navantia. It is anticipated that delivery of the final four boats occur in the summer of 2015.

All boats are being delivered to the customer, meeting the requirements of quality, manufacturing budget in hours and improved three months on the contractual delivery period.

News Story: US may need new fighter to take on China's J-20 - expert

Boeing F/A-XX concept design as of 2013 (File Photo)

Some US experts believe that the development of the F/A-XX, the next-generation carrier based fighter, should be carried out as soon as possible since Lockheed Martin's F-35C may not be able to compete against Russia's T-50 and or China's J-20, according to Beijing's Science and Technology.

Experts close to Lockheed Martin said that both the F-35C Lighting and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet would be unable to prevail in aerial combat against the T-50 and J-20. One of the experts even said that improvements in the Russian and Chinese missile launching systems indicate that the US is losing its advantage in the development of military aircraft. They added that currently the F-22 Raptor is the only type of fifth-generation fighter the US has with overwhelming superiority.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: China develops new coast guard ship based on Type 056 corvette

photo of a new coast guard vessel that strongly resembles
the Type 056 corvette (Internet Photo)

The People's Liberation Army is developing a new coast guard vessel based on the design of the Type 056 corvette, reports Duowei News, a US-based Chinese political news outlet.

Recently leaked photos which show several military vessels being manufactured at a shipyard in Guangzhou reveal a new coast guard ship that strongly resembles the design of the Type 056 corvette, which entered service with the PLA Navy in 2012 as a replacement for the Type 037 series of patrol vessels.

The Type 056 corvette, with the NATO codename Jiangdao, has a displacement of nearly 1,500 tons and is equipped with anti-ship missiles, short-range air defense missiles and a 76mm main naval gun, as well as a landing pad for Harbin Z-9 helicopters.

Read the full story at Want China Times

Type 056 Corvette (File Photo)

News Story: PLA cannot surpass US military even if it stood still - general

China will not be able to overtake the United States in military might in the next two decades even if the latter stands still, Major General Zhang Zhaozhong from the PLA National Defence University in Beijing said in an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television.

Zhang criticized US media for overstating the power and therefore threat of the People's Liberation Army to attract attention. "American media like to make claims about how fast China's military will surpass the United States," Zhang said. "What I have to say is that China is not going to catch up with the United States even if it stopped all military projects." He also said internet users in China should not get carried away concerning the country's military capability.

Read the full story at Want China Times

Editorial: Australia - National Security Innovation Priorities

By Greg Austin

How much should Canberra invest in cyber security, including S&T innovation?

As Australia prepares the next iteration of its national cyber security strategy, one of the questions it must grapple with is the role of domestic innovation, including the national science and technology (S&T) base in information technology. The challenge is compounded by many factors, not least the globalized (non-national) character of the underlying information and communications technologies (ICT). Australia is a rich developed country, and a member of the G20, but it is tiny in size and relatively lacking in venture capital.

The Cyber Threat

In May 2014, the country’s Defense Science and Technology Organization (DSTO), part of the Department of Defense, published a study, Future Cyber Security Landscape. DSTO is not the lead agency for cyber security, but its threat analysis in this document probably cannot be faulted. It highlights the following:
  • “Attacks will become more opportunistic and difficult to detect or predict”
  • “Threats will become more potent”
  • “Effects or outcomes of attacks will …. have longer term flow on effects”
  • “There will be a move from code exploitation to manipulation of data … and the introduction of systemic effects”
  • security will continue to lag behind the technological potential of attackers and emerging vulnerabilities.
This is a very bleak picture.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Taliban Onslaught - What is Happening in Afghanistan?

Afghan Special Forces (File Photo)
By Franz-Stefan Gady

The fighting season in Afghanistan began with a vengeance this year.

This year’s fighting season in Afghanistan began with a vengeance. Last week, hundreds of Taliban fighters attacked army and police installations around the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. The battle is still raging, with heavy casualties on both sides.

Two weeks prior to the offensive in Kunduz city an estimated 1,000 Taliban fighters overran Afghan army positions in Jurm District in Badakhshan Province. Additonally, heavy fighting has been reported in several other provinces, including Sar-i-Pul, Jowzjan and Faryab the New York Times reports.

To make matters worse, the Islamic State (IS) may be making headway into the country as illustrated by a recent suicide attack in Jalalabad on April 18, although the Afghan Analysts Network cautions that IS “has been prominent in Afghanistan largely on social media and in reports by the media and Afghan officials.”

The New York Times notes that the Taliban’s move against Kunduz is the cornerstone of his year’s Taliban spring offensive. Ever since the withdrawal of the German Bundeswehrin October 2013, the security situation has deteriorated in the province.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Hope and History - Shinzo Abe's Speech to Congress

By Shannon Tiezzi

The Japanese prime minster’s anticipated speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered his long-awaited speech (in English) to a joint session of the U.S. Congress today, becoming the first Japanese prime minister to do so. Abe’s speech took on epic proportions due to the timing – with his August 15 statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II looming, analysts are looking to his congressional speech for clues on what the “Abe Statement” will look like. Meanwhile, Abe himself wanted to use his speech to highlight the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, both in the security realm and on trade issues. Abe would use his speech to make the case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which faces steep opposition in Congress (ironically, largely among President Barack Obama’s own Democratic Party).

Below, I examine each of these elements in more detail.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US and Japan - Another Step Forward on Security

Image: Flickr User - Official U.S. Navy Page
By Kevin Wang

The new U.S.-Japan defense guidelines open the door to a more aggressive take on regional security.

The United States and Japan on Monday took one significant step further towards closer security cooperation in the increasingly contested Asia-Pacific, issuing new defense guidelines that lay the foundations for a more expansive approach to regional threats.

The 24-page document (PDF) published by the Pentagon revised previous defense guidelines the two governments adopted in 1997, adding new criteria that allow for coordinated military actions.

The announcement, which came while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on a state visit to the U.S., aimed to strengthen Tokyo’s economic and military ties with Washington. It has also quickly angered China, which has been aggressive in modernizing its military and taking up territorial disputes in the past few years. Responding in Beijing Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said the U.S. and Japan are responsible for ensuring their alliance does not harm the interests of a third country, like China, or regional peace and stability.

The new guidelines appeared to take a more liberal interpretation of when the two governments should activate a series of readiness measures to deter a potential attack. Previously, the measures were to be enforced only when an attack against Japan is “imminent.” In the latest guidelines, they will be applied as long as an attack is “anticipated.”

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Rethinking Japan's Record on Apologies

By Ken Marotte

Although hardly without blemish, Japan has been remarkably forthcoming about its wartime past.

As the world prepares to commemorate the 70th anniversary of World War II’s conclusion, countries victimized by Japan are renewing their demands for an honest reckoning of history. Such pleas, though understandable, are misplaced; for although Japan stands as one of the twentieth century’s most egregious offenders, it has also become one of the most persistently remorseful countries in recent history. This stands particularly true in light of other atrocities whose anniversaries we recognize in 2015.

Almost exactly 100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire began a systematic effort to deport and destroy the Armenian minority in its eastern provinces. The setting was World War I, and the German-allied Ottomans had grown deeply worried that its Armenian community might prove susceptible to Russian influence. To preempt such an alliance, more than 1.5 million Armenians were uprooted and deported to Syria and Mesopotamia. “We will not have Armenians anywhere in Anatolia,” the Ottoman minister of the interior remarked to a U.S. ambassador. “They can live in the desert, but nowhere else.”

For most of these individuals, however, relocation was only the beginning. En route to their place of exile, starvation, abduction, rape, and murder ensued on a massive scale. A U.S. diplomat in northern Syria wired Washington with news of massive burial grounds containing tens of thousands of Armenian bodies, while the U.S. ambassador to Turkey reported an “attempt to exterminate a race.” Between 600,000 and 1.5 million are believed to have perished as a result.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 April 2015

USA: Leaders Discuss U.S.-Australia Defense Cooperation

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2015 – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work met yesterday with Australian Assistant Minister for Defense Stuart Robert at the Pentagon to discuss the deep bilateral defense cooperation between the U.S. and Australia, according to a Defense Department news release.

During the 30-minute meeting, Work conveyed his gratitude for Australia’s current and past contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the release said.

The deputy secretary and assistant minister discussed opportunities for collaboration on the department’s Defense Innovation Initiative, progress on Australia’s 2015 Defence White Paper, and business reforms within their respective organizations, according to the release.

The two leaders also discussed progress implementing the U.S. force posture initiatives in Australia’s Northern Territory, the release said.

This was Work’s first meeting with Robert, according to the release.

USA: Possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler Aircraft Sustainment

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

WASHINGTON, Apr 28, 2015 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler Aircraft Sustainment and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Australia has requested a possible sale of follow-on sustainment support and services for twenty four (24) AF/A-18Fs Super Hornet and twelve (12) AEA-18G Growler aircraft. The sustainment efforts will include software and hardware updates, Engineering Change Proposals, System Configuration upgrades, system integration and testing, engine component improvement, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, aircrew trainer devices upgrades, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $1.5 billion.

USA: Possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for Hobart Class Destroyer Sustainment

Spain's F100: Design base for the Hobart class Destroyer

WASHINGTON, Apr 28, 2015 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for Hobart Class Destroyer Sustainment and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $275 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Australia has requested a possible sale of follow-on sustainment support and services in support of three (3) Hobart Class Destroyers. The sustainment efforts will include AEGIS computer software and hardware updates, system integration and testing, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, aircrew trainer devices upgrades, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $275 million.

Sri Lanka: A Bangladesh naval ship arrives at the port of Colombo on goodwill visit

Bangladesh navy frigate Somudro Joy
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Bangladesh naval ship, "SOMUDRA JOY" arrived at the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka on a three-day goodwill visit on 28th April 2015. The ship was welcomed by the officials from the High Commission of the Republic of Bangladesh and the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions on arrival.

The Commanding Officer of the ship, Commander AKM Afzal Hossain paid a courtesy call on the Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Dayananda Nanayakkara at the Western Naval Command Headquarters in Colombo today. They held cordial discussions on matters of mutual interest and exchanged mementos to mark the occasion.

The Bangladesh ship will stay in Sri Lanka till 01st May and the crew members are scheduled to take part in several special programs arranged by the Sri Lanka Navy during their stay to enhance the friendly relations between the two navies.

Prior to the departure, the ship’s Commanding Officer is scheduled to call on the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy at the SLN Headquarters in Colombo on 29th April 2015.

News Story: Global Strike Command is USAF's new weapon against China - expert

B-2 Spirit (Image: Wiki Commons)

A pure bomber command is likely to be established for the first time in US military history after the Air Force made the announcement last week to reassign all its heavy bombers to the Global Strike Command last week, James Hasik, a senior researcher from the Washington-based Atlantic Council wrote in a piece for National Interest magazine.

The USAF put the nuclear-capable B-52Hs and B-2As bombers of the 8th Air Force and the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles of the 20th Air Force under the Global Strike Command in 2009. However, the de-nuclearized B-1B bombers stayed with the Air Combat Command's 12th Air Force. Such policy reconfigures the newly established Global Strike Command as a Bomber and Missile Command according to the author.

Hasik said that the consolidation of heavy bombers under the Global Strike Command will provide a single organizational home to all big bomber crews, including those of the forthcoming Long-Range Strike Bombers. "With that art of the possible emerging, the organizational heft of this new 'Bomber Command' may then spur some really new thinking, which the USAF genuinely needs for dealing with the mounting threat from China," Hasik said.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Kerry reiterates US commitment to Taiwan Relations Act

US Secretary of State John Kerry recently reiterated Washington's commitment to helping Taiwan defend itself under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and also commended a peace initiative proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou to address territorial disputes in the region.

Consistent with the TRA, "we continue to make available defense articles and services to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," Kerry said in a written statement in response to questions from the House Committee of Foreign Affairs.

The TRA was enacted in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other unofficial relations between the US and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The TRA also requires the US "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character."

In response to questions on maritime disputes in Asia, Kerry noted that the historic fishery agreement signed between Taiwan and Japan in 2013 can serve as a model for promoting regional stability despite conflicting maritime claims. The existence of competing maritime claims "does not and should not preclude claimants from finding peaceful and effective ways to share and manage resources responsibly," he said.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Japan to play broader role under new defense guidelines

The US and Japan announced on Monday new guidelines for bilateral defense cooperation, allowing Japan's self defense forces to take on a more ambitious global role that the Shinzo Abe administration has been seeking.

Under the new guidelines, revised for the first time since 1997, Japan will have the right to exercise collective self-defense and be able to defend other countries that may come under attack, said the US Defense Department in a news release. It also allows for increased regional and global cooperation in the US-Japanese alliance.

A joint statement of the New Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation was released after the US and Japanese foreign and defense ministers met in New York City Monday morning.

The US welcomes and supports the ongoing efforts to develop the legislation, which is to reflect Japan's policy of Proactive Contributions to Peace and its July 2014 cabinet decision, the statement said.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Indian Air Force likely to receive four more Tejas light combat aircraft by 2015-end

The Indian Air Force is likely to get four more indigenously made light combat aircraft Tejas by the end of the current financial year from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, National Aerospace Laboratories' Director Shyam Chetty has said. "The four aircraft may adhere to international standards on end-to-end accuracy," Chetty said, adding, further research was on to meet the parameters stipulated by the IAF.

IAF had some concerns with Tejas's end-to-end accuracy and efforts have been made to rectify it, he said speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 68th CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute Foundation Day Celebrations here on Saturday.
"The Indian Air Force wanted eight aircraft every year. We will be handing them four more aircraft by the end of this financial year," he said.

The country got its first indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas in January this year, three decades after the Centre gave nod for its development, said the Indian-based newspaper Economic Times.

Read the full story at Air Recognition

News Story: Philippines Orders Ten Multi-Role Response Vessels from Japan for the Coast Guard

The MRRV is used by the Japanese Coast Guard

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has awarded a project to enhance the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) ability to protect our seas, particularly the construction of ten (10) 40-meter multi-role response vessels or MRRVs and their staggered delivery from the third quarter of 2016 up to the third quarter of 2018.

"This project is part of government’s program to equip our forces with necessary assets to protect the national marine interest. These 10 new vessels will help the Coast Guard in its functions of maritime law enforcement, search-and-rescue operations, and upholding maritime security within Philippines seas,” said DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya.

The project, formally called the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project, was awarded by the transportation department to the Japan Marine United Corporation (JMU) last week. It is being implemented as an Official Development Assistance (ODA) project, via a tied loan extended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The loan facility covers P 7,373,700,000.00 out of the total project of P 8,807,700,000.00. The balance will be sourced from the Philippine counterpart of P 1,434,000,000.00.

Read the full story at Navy Recognition

News Story: (Thailand) Cabinet mulls buying subs


The navy's plan to buy submarines has been proposed to the cabinet for consideration, according to navy commander Kraisorn Jansuwanit.

The matter is now in the hands of the Secretariat of the Cabinet, and it should be forwarded to the cabinet soon, Adm Kraisorn said.

The navy has set up a committee to decide which country will manufacture the submarines for Thailand, he said. The panel is chaired by Adm Narongpol na Bangchang, assistant navy chief. 

The navy chief said the panel will look at systems, maintenance and training for the submarines.

The move comes after some people in the navy raised concerns over a reported proposal to purchase Chinese submarines.

Read the full story at Bangkok Post

Editorial: China 'Gravely Concerned' by ASEAN Statment on South China Sea

By Shannon Tiezzi

China rejects the ASEAN statement on the South China Sea, accusing the Philippines of taking the bloc “hostage.”

It’s been a rough week for China’s diplomats. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting the United States, leading to a litany of overt or implied criticisms of China’s ‘assertive’ behavior in disputed maritime regions. And even as Abe began his U.S. travels, the ASEAN Summit, held in Malaysia, inevitably had to address the issue of China’s actions in the South China Sea.

The resulting ASEAN statement criticized land reclamation activities as having the potential to “undermine peace, security, and stability in the South China Sea.” ASEAN members also “reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation in and over-flight over the South China Sea” and urged the speedy conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Those words, though tougher than past statements, are still relatively toothless. As The Diplomat’s Prashanth Parameswaran put it, “the South China Sea question received significant attention but saw little progress.” But even that scant progress has earned China’s wrath.

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Editorial: Japan, US Talk Okinawa, South China Sea at Ministers' Meeting

Image: Flickr User - U.S. Department of State
By Mina Pollmann

A 2+2 meeting in New York set the stage for Japanese PM Abe’s visit to the U.S. What issues were on the agenda?

Japan and the United States held a “two-plus-two” meeting on Monday in New York City between Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. At the meeting, the two sides agreed to update the bilateral defense guidelines, as Ankit reported for The Diplomat’s Asia Defense blog.

In addition to coming to an agreement about the guidelines (PDF), the ministers discussed the plan for U.S. forces in Okinawa. Both sides affirmed that relocating the Futenma facilities from Ginowan to Henoko is the “only solution” for U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa. Even though Kishida and Nakatani showed determination to go forward with the relocation, they asked for greater U.S. understanding to reduce the burden on Okinawa, through policies such as increasing transfers to Guam and returning Okinawan land to Japan.

However, no mention was made of Okinawan local politics — Okinawa, under Governor Takeshi Onaga, has become increasingly hostile toward the relocation. The U.S. side reciprocated Japanese overtures by showing willingness to cooperate with Japan, but did not mention any specific measures for reducing the burden on Okinawa.

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Editorial: Abe's Visit Marks 'New Era' for US-Japan Alliance

By Mina Pollmann

A joint statement released with Obama and Abe’s meeting reveals the focus of the alliance moving forward.

One of the major objectives of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ongoing seven-day tour of the United States is to reaffirm the “common vision” that the two sides have for the U.S.-Japan alliance: an alliance that can credibly uphold peace and stability in Asia and around the world. This was openly acknowledged at the summit meeting between President Barack Obama and Abe when Obama proclaimed, “The United States has renewed our leadership in the Asia-Pacific … Prime Minister Abe is leading Japan to a new role on the world stage.” In response, Abe affirmed that revitalizing the U.S.-Japan relationship is “the top priority of my foreign policy” and that the relationship is now “more robust than ever.”

That common vision was defined in the U.S.-Japan Joint Vision Statement issued alongside the Obama-Abe meeting. It included a strong emphasis on shared values. “Together we have helped to build a strong rules-based international order, based on a commitment to rules, norms, and institutions that are the foundation of global affairs and our way of life,” the statement intoned.

The Statement described the meeting between Obama and Abe as a “historic step forward in transforming the U.S.-Japan partnership” by affirming and endorsing Abe’s doctrine of “Proactive Contribution to Peace.” Specifically, the new Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation will “update our respective roles and missions within the Alliance and enable Japan to expand its contributions to regional and global security.” Even though Japan does not face a traditionally defined “threat,” according to Japan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae, it does face significant strategic challenges that will require Japan to upgrade its own capabilities and its ability to cooperate with the United States.

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Editorial: Shinzo Abe’s High-Wire U.S. Visit

Image: Flickr User - U.S. Department of State
By Bruce Klingner

Can the Japanese prime minister address the past and provide a vision for future cooperation?

History will be made on April 29. For the first time, a leader of Japan will address a joint meeting of Congress. Such recognition of a critical U.S. ally in Asia is long overdue.

Japan’s phoenix-like rise from the devastation of war is a testament to the country’s policymakers and citizens. It has blossomed into a vibrant democracy and the world’s third largest economy. Yet amidst the excitement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s U.S. visit, there is also some trepidation over the degree to which he will handle still contentious issues of history.

There is much ground for Abe to cover in his address. During the last 70 years, Japan has been an exemplar of a responsible nation. Eschewing the violent militarism that led to catastrophe in the 20th century, Tokyo embraced passive foreign and security policies. The bilateral alliance has been a linchpin of American national interests in Asia, including maintaining peace and stability. But Japan has come to depend upon the United States for much of its defense.

Washington has long urged Tokyo to assume a larger role for its own defense and to be more active in addressing regional and global security concerns. Abe has overcome Japan’s national lethargy to fulfill some long-promised revisions to its national security posture.

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