31 August 2015

AUS: Minister for Defence – Visit to India

From 1-3 September 2015, I (Minister for Defence: Kevin Andrews) will visit India to advance Australia-India defence cooperation. As part of this visit I will meet with my counterpart, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. I will also call on Prime Minister Modi.

Building on the personal relationship of Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Abbott, I am pleased to visit India for the first time as Australia’s Defence Minister.

India is the emerging democratic super power of Asia. It is therefore sensible that the relationship between India and Australia be developed and strengthened.   

Our shared history, coupled with our shared democratic values and a strong interest in a secure Indo-Pacific region, provides us with a firm foundation upon which we can confidently pursue future engagement activities in support of our joint interests.

USA: USS America hosts Japanese Sailors in San Diego for Dawn Blitz

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jacob Holloway, USS America (LHA 6) Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 19, 2015) The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) is underway off the coast of San Diego preparing for final contract trials. America is the first ship of its class and is optimized for Marine Corps aviation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan A. Colon/Released) [Image: Flickr User - Naval Surface Warriors] >>

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) began hosting Japanese Sailors Aug. 17 as they prepare for the annual amphibious assault training exercise Dawn Blitz 2015 (DB 15) in early September.

DB 15 is an annual multinational, scenario-driven amphibious training exercise in which forces plan and execute an expeditionary strike group and Marine expeditionary brigade-sized amphibious assault from the sea in a maritime and land environment .

The training exercise includes four participating nations and four other nations as observers. There are more than 25 commands participating in the exercise in all.

News Story: PLA tests missile to protest Japan's second helicopter destroyer

DDG 138 Taizhou -- the third of four Sovremenny class
destroyers sold to China (Image: Wiki Commons)
In protest over the launch of Japan's second Izumo-class helicopter destroyer, China test-launched its Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missile during a naval exercise held in the disputed East China Sea on Aug. 27, according to the state-run China News Service.

More than 100 warships, including the Russian-built Sovremennyy-class destroyer from the PLA's North, South and East Sea fleets were mobilized for the war game. In addition, PLA Air Force aircraft taking part in the exercise provided the warships an opportunity to coordinate with aircraft and submarines in an environment close to real combat.

It is the third-largest exercise the PLA Navy has launched within the last two months, according to state news agency Xinhua. Some of the hardware mobilized for the exercises are likely to be demonstrated to the public during the military parade in Beijing on Sept. 3 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Taiwan still optimistic about shifting to all-volunteer military

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense on Thursday expressed optimism over its plan to shift to an all-volunteer force by 2017, after it decided recently to push back the target date for ending conscription.

During a press event, Defense Minister Kao Kuang-chi said that the military will continue its plan to push for a volunteer-military system.

Citing statistics, he said the military recruited about 15,000 volunteer soldiers last year, more than its original target.

So far this year, it has recruited more than 10,000, he said, adding that he believes the final recruitment number for the year would exceed the target originally set.

Kao's remarks came two days after the Defense Ministry unexpectedly announced that it would continue to draft eligible citizens born before the end of 1993, enlisting another 23,100 soldiers, with the approval of the Cabinet.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Vietnam Pushes Modernization as China Challenge Grows

A Vietnam built TT400 Patrol Boat 
By Wendell Minnick

TAIPEI — Vietnam’s efforts to modernize its armed forces face numerous political, historical and financial barriers. Many are of Vietnam’s own making — its go-slow policy on human rights issues and democratization, and the Communist Party's reluctance to share power, even though it has embraced foreign investment and capitalism.

Still, growing problems with China are forcing Hanoi to ask hard questions about its future military needs. Since the collapse of the US-backed South Vietnamese government in April 1975, Hanoi has relied on Russian/Soviet-built equipment and support for a wide array of anti-ship missiles, fighter aircraft, tanks and more recently, six Russian Kilo-class submarines.

“Vietnam has a huge military, but most of it is still outfitted with weaponry from the 1970s and 1980s, especially the Army,” said Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow and coordinator of the Military Transformations Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore. Vietnam’s armed forces must now invest steadily in acquisitions for the next decade or two “if it wants to fully recapitalize its military,” he said.

During the 1978 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and China’s 1979 punitive incursion into northern Vietnam, these weapons were adequate for Vietnam’s needs. But with the fall of the Soviet Union, affordable Russian weapons declined as did the quality, while China’s military modernization effort, particularly naval, strengthened.

The wake-up call came with China’s increased presence in the South China Sea and its recent efforts to build artificial islands for military grade airfields and naval port facilities. China exacerbated Vietnam’s fears by placing a massive oil drilling exploratory platform within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone in May 2014. Now known as the “Haiyang Shiyou 981 standoff,” the incident caused widespread violence in Vietnam as citizens attacked Chinese-owned factories.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Barriers Impede Revival of Indian Vehicle Project

By Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — India's attempt to revive its homemade Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) project, worth more than $10 billion, is unlikely to succeed because the defense industry views the selection criteria as  subjective and rules covering intellectual property rights will raise objections from overseas partners, analysts said.

Though the FICV is restricted to domestic companies, analysts said collaboration with overseas companies will be needed in several areas.

The Defence Ministry last month floated fresh expressions of interest for the second time in five years,  inviting private and state-owned domestic companies, two of which will be chosen as development agencies (DA) to develop and build the FICV in the "Make in India" category, in which the government funds 80 percent of the cost of the prototype.

After trials of the prototype, one of the DAs would be shortlisted and asked to produce the FICV to replace more than 2,600 Russian-made BMP infantry combat vehicles, for an estimated cost of over $10 billion.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: We Didn’t Provoke North Korea

By Robert Potter

Why suggestions to cease “provocative” acts are misguided.

During each period of tension along the demilitarized zone people inevitably look to the South and the United States to see what might have been done to contribute to the rise of tensions. In the case of the most recent tensions, the focus has turned to loudspeakers and balloons. South Korean activists, often Christian and often defectors, fill balloons with propaganda materials, movies and clothes. Those balloons are then launched across the border. Relations between the organizations involved are often frosty as those involved have a range of political views.

Residents near the border, where the balloons are often launched from, occasionally scuffle with the activists. The people who live in the border town fear North Korean reprisals and Pyongyang has repeatedly threatened “merciless retaliatory strikes” against the launches. As a result, these activities exist within the context of violence and deterrence that exists along the border.

After two South Korean soldiers were wounded by landmines that had been recently placed on their patrol route, Seoul decided to return to using loudspeakers to blast anti-regime messages into the North. The North then fired a rocket at the speakers and the South responded with artillery.

Commentators then draw a line of escalation between these decisions and the resulting moves on the part of the North. The conclusion of some analysts and residents in the area, is that the answer is to stop. Such a view is highly intuitive but also fundamentally misguided.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 August 2015

AUS: ADF renders safe explosives in Vanuatu

The Australian Defence Force has completed a request from the Vanuatu Government to dispose of unexploded ordnance from two separate localities as part of Operation RENDER SAFE.

The ADF deployed a RAAF C-130J with an explosive ordnance disposal team and medical specialists from 24 to 27 August to complete the tasks in coordination with members of the Vanuatu Police and Vanuatu Mobile Force.

Acting Chief of Joint Operations, Major General Shane Caughey, said the Royal Australian Air Force 65 Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Flight disposed of 33 remnants of World War II on Santos Island.

“Operation RENDER SAFE is the ADF’s enduring commitment to the removal of Explosive Remnants of War which continue to pose a potential danger to communities across the South West Pacific,” MAJGEN Caughey said.

USA: USS Ronald Reagan to Depart San Diego for U.S. 7th Fleet

From Commander, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs

In this file photo, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) steams in formation as one of 42 ships and submarines representing 15 international partner nations during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in 2014. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Shannon Renfroe) >>

CORONADO, Calif. - USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) is scheduled to depart Naval Air Station North Island Aug. 31 and proceed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to serve with the U.S. Navy's forward deployed naval forces (FDNF).

"We are sending our most modern West Coast-based aircraft carrier to support the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and our allies," said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces.

Ronald Reagan, which has been a prominent part of the San Diego community for the past 11 years, was one of the first responders to assist in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the east coast of Japan in 2011.

USA: Pacific Partnership Wraps Up in Vietnam

By Mass Communication 3rd Class Mayra A. Conde, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs

USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) sits at anchor off the coast of Da Nang, Vietnam during Pacific Partnership. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Valerie Epler) >>

DA NANG, Vietnam - The crew of the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) wrapped up their 10-day visit in Da Nang, Vietnam, Aug. 28, completing the ship’s last mission stop of Pacific Partnership 2015.

While in Da Nang, U.S. and Vietnamese service members and healthcare professionals worked side-by-side to conduct a variety of subject matter expert exchanges on medical and disaster relief topics, and provided direct care to Vietnamese patients during joint replacement surgeries aboard Mercy and several dental engagements in the local community.

One of the highlights of the mission in Vietnam was a restorative medicine summit, where U.S. Navy and Vietnamese military surgeons shared their experiences and insights with each other on a wide range of medical topics, including plastic and reconstructive surgery, battlefield orthopedic injuries and pain management in trauma rehabilitation.

USA: PACFLT Commander Reaffirms Close Ties with Singapore, Thanks Sailors During Southeast Asia Visit

From Task Force 73 Public Affairs

Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, addresses Sailors, civilians and their families during an all hands call in Singapore. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Jay C. Pugh) >>

SINGAPORE - Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, made his inaugural visit to the Republic of Singapore Aug. 26-28 to reaffirm the U.S. Navy’s strong partnership and ties with the Singapore Armed Forces.

The visit followed two days of leadership engagements in Kuala Lumpur, where Swift met with Malaysian defense officials and discussed the Navy’s commitment to peace and stability in the region.

During his Singapore visit, Swift met with the Republic of Singapore Chief of Defense Major-General Perry Lim and Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Lai Chung Han, after inspecting a Guard of Honor at the Ministry of Defense headquarters.

USA: USS Chafee Supports Oceania Maritime Security Initiative

From USS Chafee Public Affairs

In this file photo, USS Chafee (DDG 90) operates in the Western Pacific in July. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Clemente A. Lynch) >>

PACIFIC OCEAN - The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) participated in the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) with the U.S. Coast Guard’s 14th District, Aug. 5 - 21, in the western Pacific Ocean.

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

“We were there to provide key presence in the region and build partner nation capacity for a critical oceanic partner,” said Cmdr. Shea Thompson, Chafee’s commanding officer. “Our presence with the Coast Guard and our partner nation set a new tone of deterrence in the region and will prevent future violations.”

USA: Ashland Arrives in Okinawa and Offloads 31st MEU

WHITE BEACH, Okinawa (April 18, 2014) Landing craft utility (LCU) 1633, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, departs Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) with vehicles assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) after a stern gate marriage. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Raymond D. Diaz III/Released) [Image: Flickr User - U.S. Pacific Fleet] >>

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox, Amphibious Squadron Eleven Public Affairs

OKINAWA, Japan (NNS) -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) arrived in Okinawa, Japan Aug. 27 to offload the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Ashland completed an array of exercises throughout her patrol, which began June 3, that culminated in the bi-annual, joint-force exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 in addition to providing aide to Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor made landfall.

Ashland's final mission will be to offload the embarked 31st MEU's Amphibious Assault Platoon and Command Logistics Battalion (CLB) 7 in Okinawa.

Industry: Boeing Receives $1.49 Billion Contract for 13 P-8A Poseidon Aircraft

US Navy P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft
  • U.S. Navy orders 2nd full rate production lot including first aircraft for Australia

SEATTLE, August 28, 2015 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] will provide the first P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft for Australia and additional P-8As for the U.S. Navy following a $1.49 billion contract award from the Navy for 13 aircraft.

The order includes nine aircraft for the U.S. Navy and four Poseidon aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), a long-time partner to the U.S. Navy on P-8A development.

“By working together since the early stages of P-8A development, the U.S. and Australia have created one airplane configuration that serves the needs of both countries,” said Capt. Scott Dillon, U.S. Navy P-8 program manager. “The U.S. and Australian P-8As will be able to operate with each other effectively and affordably for decades to come.”

Industry: (Australia) Nuship Adelaide completes final sea trials

NUSHIP Adelaide's sister ship, HMAS Canberra departs Sydney
Williamstown, Victoria: NUSHIP Adelaide, Australia’s second Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship, is successfully completing her second and final sea trials in Port Phillip Bay.

The 27,800 tonne warship will return to BAE Systems’ Williamstown shipyard later today where she will then be prepared for delivery to the Department of Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The main focus of the final sea trials was on testing the ship’s combat and communications systems. They were undertaken over a 10 day period throughout the ship’s journey from Williamstown to Jervis Bay, NSW and the return voyage. These areas were chosen to provide maximum flexibility and proximity to the Australian Defence Force assets being used.

News Report: Pakistan on Pace to Become Third-Largest Nuclear Power

Pakistani Nasr Missile (TEL) Transporter Erector Launcher
Pakistan is building 20 nuclear bombs a year and could become the world's third-largest nuclear power within a decade, according to a new report.

The U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center say Pakistan could possess at least 350 nuclear warheads. Only the United States and Russia would have more.

The report cites Pakistan's perceived need to keep pace with arch rival India.

"If deterrence fails, it appears that Pakistan has no intention of losing a nuclear war with India," the report stated.

But it said Pakistan would pay a high price for its aggressive nuclear buildup.

News Story: PLA Navy tests armaments in East China Sea

The Chinese navy conducted a live fire drill in the East China Sea on Thursday.

The exercise involved more than 100 warships, dozens of aircraft and several missile launch battalions, navy sources said.

It was the third drill on such a large scale in two months. The previous two were conducted in the Yellow Sea and South China Sea.

They are regular drills in the navy's annual training plan, the sources said.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: PLA's DF-26 can reach targets in the Central Pacific - expert

Chinese Ballistic Missile (TEL) Transporter Erector Launcher
In an article published in Moscow-based Sputnik News, Russian military expert Vassily Kashin said that China's new DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile has the capability to hit American military facilities in the Central Pacific.

The military parade to be held in Beijing on Sep. 3 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of China's vistory over Japan will be the first time for the People's Liberation Army to demonstrate many of its advanced weapon systems including DF-16 short-range, solid propellant ballistic missile and DF-26 to the public. Kashin also said that some upgraded versions of China's DF-21 anti-ship missile and DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile may also be shown to the world during the event according to Kashin.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Four ways for Japan to put pressure on China's maritime expansion

Japan has four ways to try to prevent China from projecting its maritime power into the disputed South China Sea to protect its economic interests if negotiation is rejected, according to Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao on Aug. 24.

First, Japan can hold multilateral or bilateral talks with those members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations who also have territorial claims in the South China Sea to put greater diplomatic pressure on China. Second, it can bring a legal battle against Beijing in international courts. Third, Japan can provide technical support to the coast guards of nations in territorial disputes with China such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

Last, Japan can hold joint naval exercises with the United States and other regional powers to pressure China militarily.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: (Malaysian) Army to go ahead with buying assets

Dassault Rafale Fighter Aircraft

KUALA LUMPUR: The Defence Ministry will proceed with acquiring the armed forces’ assets under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) despite the current economic challenges.

Its minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that the ministry and the armed forces (ATM) will continue giving their undivided attention to 11MP despite facing global, regional and national economic challenges.

“This is important. We can’t deny that the economic situation globally, regionally and nationally is challenging. But I am confident that with careful planning by the ministry and the ATM, we will be able to overcome these challenges,” he explained.

According to Hishammuddin, the economic situation will not harm the core of the ministry’s “business” which was to ensure national security and boost the morale of ATM personnel and its veterans.

Read the full story at The Star

Editorial: Bangkok Bombing Spotlights Uyghur Woes in Southeast Asia

By Michael Clarke

Uyghurs have become a thorny issue for Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations in their relations with China.

Following the attack on the Erawan Shrine on August 18 in central Bangkok, which killed 20, including a number of Chinese tourists, and injured more than 100, Thai authorities and media speculated that the attack could be the work of Uyghur extremists from China’s restive Xinjiang province.

Given the fact that there are other Thai actors with immediate motives to undermine the current military junta, such as disaffected “Red Shirts” (supporters of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin) and Muslim separatists from southern Thailand, a Uyghur link would appear on the surface to be unlikely.

Yet the Uyghurs have in fact become a thorny issue for the Thai government and other Southeast Asian nations in their relations with China, and further investigation into the extent of the region’s “Uyghur problem” reveals the extent of Beijing’s reach.

Southeast Asia has emerged over the past five years as a major transit zone for Uyghur refugees seeking asylum in Turkey (a country with a well-established Uyghur exile community) and Europe, as their traditional migration routes via Central and South Asia have been closed off by ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and greater security cooperation among governments in those regions with Beijing.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Does Japan Need to Be More Assertive With Europe?

By Jonathan Davis

It is time for Tokyo be clear on what it wants from relations with Europe.

Europe faces multiples crises, from the dramatic influx of immigrants on its southern shores to the continuing Greek financial tragedy. Add the crisis in Ukraine and ISIS’s new order in the Middle East and Europe’s relative inertia in Asia becomes understandable. Nonetheless, it is in this climate that Japan would like more from leading European partners, not least France and the U.K. Taking into account the challenges Europe is facing, it is perhaps up to Japan to be more assertive in its relationship with Europe, articulating clearly what Japan can offer, and what it hopes to gain in return.

A key issue for Japan is the enforcement of international norms to check PRC moves, an issue that has been heralded as Europe’s entry-point into Asia-Pacific security issues. Following U.S. pressure, Tokyo kept step with Western sanctions on Russia and sanctioning individuals. Tokyo’s toeing of the line was understandably reluctant as it dealt a blow to the hoped-for rapprochement with Moscow, an important component of Tokyo’s strategy to counterbalance Beijing.

It is likely Tokyo will want Europe to reciprocate, and commentators are quick to draw parallels between Russia’s actions in the Donbass and Crimea and Chinese actions in the South China Sea in providing an answer to how Europe can respond. Given Europe’s extreme reluctance to apply sanctions against Russia, it seems unlikely to lead the way in reciprocating Japan’s efforts in the South China Sea, nor do Europeans see the benefit of picking sides. The many kowtow missions of European premiers to Beijing demonstrate that confronting China is not on the agenda in Europe.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Japan Launches New Helicopter Destroyer

JS Izumo, first of the Izumo class helicopter carriers
By Prashanth Parameswaran

Tokyo unveils its second Izumo-class helicopter carrier.

Japan launched its second Izumo-class helicopter carrier, the largest warship built by the country since World War II, media sources reported August 27.

The 24,000-ton ship, named Kaga, was unveiled at Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama. The name Kaga, derived from former Kaga province in present-day Ishikawa Perfecture, originally belonged to a WWII aircraft carrier that took part in the Pearl Harbor attacks and was lost at the Battle of Midway. The ship is expected to be commissioned in March 2017.

Kaga is the second Izumo-class carrier to be launched, with the first being JS Izumo which was launched in August 2013 and commissioned in March 2015. According to IHS Jane’s, both vessels are nearly identical. Details provided by Japan Marine United suggest the only differences are a draught of 7.1 m rather than 7.3 m, and a complement of 520 rather than 470. Both vessels displace 19,500 tons (24,000 tons at full load), and Kaga will likely also be armed with two Raytheon Sea RAM RIM-116 systems and two Mk 15 Vulcan Phalanx close in weapons systems.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Taiwan and Its South China Sea Peace Initiative

By George W. Tsai

President Ma Ying-jeou’s South China Sea Peace Initiative merits global attention.

For many years, the international community has been less than fair in its treatment of Taiwan. Nevertheless, the government and people of the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan are committed to having their nation be a capable, responsible stakeholder as well as a facilitator and protector of peace in the region and across the Taiwan Strait. On May 26, ROC President Ma Ying-jeou put forth the South China Sea Peace Initiative. This important policy follows up on his 2012 proposal of a similar peace plan for the East China Sea and reflects a longstanding ROC philosophy and approach; as such , it merits global attention.

Under the premise that ROC territory and sovereignty are safeguarded, the South China Sea Peace Initiative – which mirrors the East China Sea plan – calls on all parties concerned to shelve sovereignty disputes, exercise restraint, and agree to resolve disputes peacefully, establish a code of conduct, respect the UN Charter and Convention on the Law of the Sea, and jointly develop resources. It also urges the parties to work together on such nontraditional security issues as recue at sea, combating piracy, and humanitarian assistance. Taiwan firmly adheres to this position and offers a viable path that deserves affirmation.

President Ma mindfully chose this moment to introduce the South China Sea Peace Initiative. The world is now waiting to see whether further action will be taken, and how the parties concerned react to the proposal.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Can President Xi's September Visit Save US-China Relations?

By Shannon Tiezzi

The US and Chinese governments will have to fight a tide of negative publicity to make Xi’s September visit a success.

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice arrived in China on Friday for a two-day visit expected to finalize preparations for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States in September. On Friday, Rice met with Xi as well as with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and General Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission.

According to the White House, on her visit, Rice will “underscore the United States’ commitment to building a more productive relationship between our two countries as well as discuss areas of difference in advance of President Xi’s state visit to the United States in September.”

In recent months, the “areas of difficulties” have overshadowed the “productive relationship” – and it’s not even close. Tensions are rife over the South China Sea, cyberespionage (particularly in the wake of a massive hack into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management), and now the economy, with China’s renminbi devaluation re-sparking the usual U.S. complaints about currency manipulation.

Notably, in the public comments made by Rice and various Chinese officials, the South China Sea and cyber issues were not mentioned. Instead, the two sides tried to accentuate the positive, talking about shared interests and the potential for cooperation. “We stand ready to work with the United States to further boost our practical cooperation bilaterally, regionally and globally, and effectively manage the sensitive issues between us in a constructive way,” Xi told Rice.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Can China Assert Itself in Afghanistan?

By Raffaello Pantucci and Kane Luo

Beijing needs to play a stronger leadership role in Afghanistan.

Confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death has confused an already difficult picture in Afghanistan. Precarious relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been pushed even closer to breaking point, and the one bright spot, that of increased regional support, seems to have slipped onto the back burner. Beijing in particular needs to wake up and play a stronger leadership role in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Ufa with high hopes of again bringing the support of regional powers to bear on helping resolve his country’s ongoing civil war and the growing emergence of ISIS related terrorism within his country. On the face of it, the SCO would appear to be a very promising lead. Now expanding to include both India and Pakistan, the multilateral organization is one that manages to bring together almost all of the regional elements that are likely to be needed if we are to see a genuine local push to resolve Afghanistan’s problems. Its security architecture further offers a set of existing regional structures to discuss and implement some sort of regional response to Afghanistan’s perennial security threats. But thus far the organization has singularly failed to deliver much in terms of action on Afghanistan. The reality is that the real driver of a regional shift on Afghanistan is going to come from Beijing.

Looking solely within an SCO context, Afghanistan has only ever really been a focus under Chinese leadership. It was under Chinese stewardship that the SCO-Afghanistan contact group was created – when Beijing held the chairmanship in 2006. Six years later, it was at the 2012 Summit in Beijing at which the country was more formally accorded ‘Observer’ status. But very little activity has flowed from these shifts, and where we have seen action on Afghanistan from SCO members it largely appears to be at a bilateral level.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: What Japan’s Defense White Paper Says About North Korea

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program is “profoundly worrisome” to Tokyo.

The 2015 defense white paper [PDF], compiled by the Japanese Ministry of Defense titled “Defense of Japan 2015,” highlights Tokyo’s growing concern over the radicalization of North Korea’s military in the face of Kim Jong-un’s personnel politics, including the dismissal of a number of senior military officers and the execution of Vice-Chairman Jang Song-thaek.

“This in turn could propel North Korea to turn to military provocative actions without making sufficient diplomatic considerations. Accordingly, uncertainty is deemed to be rising,” the paper reads. The execution of Jang Song-thaek, in particular, has been seen as victory for North Korean military hardliners and advocates of the continuation of the country’s “military first” policy.

Looking at North Korea’s ballistic missile program, the white paper emphasizes that Pyongyang – heavily investing into research and development as well as increasing its general operational capabilities – is progressively more capable of surprise launches, which as a corollary increases the overall missile threat for Japan. “North Korea’s ballistic missile issue has become more realistic and imminent for Northeast Asia, including Japan, and for the international community from the perspective of both the improvement of the capability and transfer and proliferation, and such developments are profoundly worrisome,” the publication notes.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: South Korea's Militarization, as Seen on Facebook

Image: Fluckr User -  USAG- Humphreys
By Steven Denney

Younger South Koreans tend to be “national security conservatives,” and their social media posts reflect this.

Katherine Moon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, observed in a recent interview on Japan-South Korea relations that “South Korea is one of the most militarized societies in the world.” Given its perception of vulnerability and the prerogative of nation building (and nation maintaining), conscription in South Korea has been mandatory since 1965. The current Conscription Law, although modified several times since its implementation, is still a defining characteristic of South Korean society.

Among other studies, Seungsook Moon’s Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea explores the politics of belonging and identity in South Korean society. Moon shows how an anti-communist national identity was cultivated and men instrumentalized by the state through mandatory conscription. Women were treated as reproducers of the nation – a “good wife and wise mother,” as the saying goes.

While the growth of South Korea’s civil society, and efforts to make a more inclusive, less-militaristic society have somewhat succeeded, it would be wrong to suggest that South Korean society is no longer militarized, as Katherine Moon points out. Indeed, as I argue in my comparison of theatrical reproductions of Ahn Jung-geun and the Clint Eastwood film American Sniper, both South Korea and the United States share the common characteristics of glorifying battle and valorizing violent struggle.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Who Will ‘Win’ in the Philippines’ South China Sea Case Against China?

By Truong-Minh Vu and Trang Pham

A look at what the case could mean for Asia and Beijing’s ‘peaceful rise.’

China’s military might, economic power, and cultural sway might be enough to make the country a great power. Yet these resources are not sufficient to help Beijing achieve its political and strategic goals through coercion or going it alone. In military terms, China is still behind America. Economically, its power is reliant on other states, especially with neighboring countries.

China’s paradox, therefore, is that while its rising capabilities may seem to afford it the opportunity to pursue alternatives to the existing rules, its reputation and credibility are insufficient to establish new rules altogether which can be widely accepted by its Asian neighbors. Chinese approaches to international institutions and rule of law in the South China Sea, especially with respect to the arbitration case initiated by the Philippines, is one of the most significant examples supporting this argument.

Since the case between Nicaragua and the United States, the situation of non-appearance was virtually non-existent for more than 25 years. Then came the Arctic Sunrise case, with Russia refusing to appear in proceedings in 2013. That same year, the world witnessed another similar case with respect to the South China Sea when Beijing expressed its disinterest in appearing before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

After a series of failed negotiations with China concerning the disputes in the South China Sea, the Philippines decided to employ the Arbitral tribunal under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to challenge China’s claims. China refused to join the arbitration case and warned that the Philippines’ approach could damage the bilateral relationship.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: A Military Game of Chicken in the South China Sea?

By Piin-Fen Kok

The South China Sea problem has been militarized and internationalized: what now?

Despite China’s protestations against discussing the issue, the South China Sea was front and center at this month’s meetings between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional players in Kuala Lumpur. Amid criticisms of China’s island-reclamation activities, the U.S. and China continued to trade accusations that the other is militarizing the South China Sea. Meanwhile, China maintained its objection, to no avail, to internationalizing the South China Sea issue through the involvement of non-ASEAN members.

The ship has sailed on both fronts. Now, more than ever, the South China Sea has become both a military and international issue. Given how all parties appear to have dug deeper into their positions, the situation looks unlikely to change anytime soon.

While Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told his ASEAN counterparts that China has halted its reclamation of artificial islands on atolls and reefs in disputed parts of the Spratly Islands, it is proceeding with the construction of military installations on some of those islands.

Alarmed by the unprecedented scale on which China has conducted its reclamation activities (and is seeking to project force from these reclaimed features), the U.S., the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and others have engaged in a flurry of maritime patrols and joint exercises. The Chinese navy itself recently conducted large-scale air and sea drills, although it states that those were routine drills planned far in advance and not aimed at any third parties.

Southeast Asian countries are also building up their maritime military capabilities as part of a broader trend of increased defense spending in the region. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, defense expenditures in Southeast Asia rose by 44 percent, in real terms, between 2005 and 2014, reaching $35.9 billion in 2014. Vietnam, whose territorial claims overlap the most with China among all Southeast Asian claimants, increased its defense spending by 128 percent during this period and by 9.6 percent in 2014 alone.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Why Did Bangladesh Just Launch a Raid Against Myanmar Separatists?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Dhaka cracks down following an attack on its forces.

Bangladesh has launched a raid against Myanmar separatists following a gun battle between local forces and the Arakan Army, local media sources reported August 27.

The remote hills on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border have been home to a range of separatist groups from neighboring Myanmar for decades. The groups – including the Arakan Army which was formed in 2009 and fights for the independence of Arakan state – have long posed a problem for Bangladesh’s security forces along a poorly-policed border.

This particular raid comes after an attack by the Arakan Army on Bangladesh border forces in Thanchi in Bandarban. On Wednesday (August 26) morning at around 9:30am local time, members of the Arakan Army opened fire on a team of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) when they were on patrol with army members on a vessel. The incident came just a day after Bangladesh forces had seized 10 Arabian horses from Arakan Army men.

In response, BGB Director General Maj. Gen Aziz said that Bangladesh had immediately sent in reinforcements – including troops and a jet of the Bangladesh Air Force – in a gun battle that continued until around 3:00pm.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

28 August 2015

AUS: Exercise Kowari 15 begins in Northern Territory

Australian, Chinese and American troops are arriving in Darwin to begin Exercise KOWARI 15, a survival training exercise designed to build cooperation, friendship and trust between the three nations.

This is the second time the trilateral exercise has taken place, this year involving 30 soldiers and marines working closely together in the harsh Australian outback. Participants will conduct team building activities around Darwin before deploying to an area near Daly River for the survival and field phases of the training.

Deputy Commander of the 2nd Division, Brigadier Damian Cantwell said the three-week activity would see the troops undergoing specialist training from NORFORCE, the Army’s survival experts, followed by a survival exercise to put their skills to the test.

News Story: U.S.-India Joint Working Group for Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation Held First Meeting

CGI of INS Vikrant
In a sign of the deepening U.S.-India defense relationship, the United States Navy hosted a delegation of senior Indian naval officers for the inaugural Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Cooperation on the U.S. eastern coast from 12-14 August. 

During a three-day visit, the Indian delegation, led by Vice Admiral S.P.S. Cheema, Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, visited the U.S. Navy's state-of-the-art aircraft carrier, PCU Gerald Ford, currently under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, received briefs on U.S. Navy management of aircraft carrier programs, met with senior Pentagon officials, and toured the U.S. Navy's research and development facilities for aircraft carrier launch and recovery systems as a first step to exploring opportunities for cooperation.

During the working group the U.S. and Indian navies held candid and open discussions on various aspects of aircraft carrier development, including design, integration, test, evaluation, management and oversight of carrier construction?.

Read the full story at Navy Recognition

News Story: Japan may name second helicopter destroyer after WWII carrier

Lead ship in the Izumo class shortly after launch
The possibility that Japan may name its second Izumo-class helicopter destroyer Kaga may start another diplomatic row with China as it was formerly the name of an aircraft carrier that sent planes to bomb Shanghai in the Second Sino-Japanese War, reports China's Global Times.

Global Times said countless civilians lost their lives to the bombers taking off from Kaga and other carriers. For this reason, the original Kaga was known more commonly as the "vessel of demons" from the perspective of the Chinese people, the report said, implying it would appear intentionally hurtful to revive the name.

The original Kaga, named after an old Japanese province, was one of 20 aircraft carriers Japan lost to American aircraft, warships or submarines over the course of World War II. Some of these vessels had previously been deployed to the eastern China coast in the summer of 1937 to launch aerial bombardments against cities including Shanghai and Nanjing. Before 1937, the carrier had also provided support to Japanese ground troops in the Shanghai Incident of 1932.

News Story: New US steath bomber can stay in Chinese airspace for one hour

CGI of the Lockheed Martin/Boeing variant of LRS-B
With a combat radius between 2,000 and 2,500 nautical miles, the US Air Force's new stealth bomber, known as the Long-Range Strike Bomber or B-3, is capable of flying in Chinese airspace for one hour, reports China Aviation News.

The new bomber has been developed to reach targets located deep in the interior of Russia and China, according to a Forbes article by defense expert Loren Thompson. The bomber must have a single-fuel range of over 5,000 nautical miles to accomplish such a goal and needs to be able to fly around heavy threat concentrations rather than in a straight line to its intended targets.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Russian help needed for China to have a blue-water navy - Reklama

Chinese Navy Warships on patrol
If China wants to have a blue-water navy in the next 20 years, the People's Liberation Army Navy must use its joint exercise with the Russian Navy to gain new experience of deploying warships to the open sea, the Moscow-based Reklama wrote on Aug. 24.

The Russian newspaper said the PLA Navy is not able to challenge the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force despite the restrictions on the latter imposed by the country's pacifist constitution. China's navy also lacks a tradition of operating a fleet of warships far from its shores. Since its establishment in 1949, the PLA Navy has focused on how to destroy threats near the coast, the report said.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: PLA set to acquire 24 Su-35s from Russia

A Russian Air Force Su-35S 
A deal for the People's Liberation Army to acquire 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia could be completed this week, China's Global Times reports.

Discussions on the acquisition have been ongoing for some time and it remains unclear whether there are still points on which the two sides disagree on. It appears likely, however, that an outcome will be revealed at the MAKS-2015 international aerospace show to be held Aug. 25-30 at Zhukovsky, 40 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

According to Ivan Goncharenko, the first deputy director general of Russia's arms exporter Rosoboronexport, the contract is currently at an approval stage. "We are holding talks with our Chinese partners on agreeing a draft contract for the supply of fighter jets," Goncharenko said Monday.

Read the full story at Want China Times