30 June 2016

Think Tank: The Natuna Islands matter

Allan Behm

In case anyone thinks that Indonesia’s somewhat diffident assertion of its fishing rights in the waters around the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea is just the usual squabble between fishermen from neighbouring countries, it’s important to recognise the issue for what it is: another potential trigger for serious force escalation in the South China Sea. And in case anyone thinks that China is going to back down and let Indonesian patrol vessels open fire on Chinese fishing vessels and then arrest them, it’s important to recognise that capitulation is about the last thing that China would contemplate.

First, a bit of geography. The Natuna archipelago consists of 272 islands with the largest, Natuna Besar, lying approximately 600 kilometres east of Kuantan (Malaysia) and 150 kilometres north-west of the northernmost tip of Kalimantan and almost 2,000 kilometers south of Hainan. Indonesia’s maritime border extends approximately 20 kilometers north of the most northern island of the group, Pulau Laut. Indonesia’s maritime border is recognised by Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and there are no maritime issues in contention between them.

Second, a bit of geopolitics. China’s ‘nine dash line’, on which it stakes its South China Sea claims, was initially a Taiwanese claim, manufactured in 1947 with the assistance of the US. It includes the Paracel Islands to the east of Vietnam, Scarborough Reef to the west of the Philippines and the Spratly Islands to the west of the Philippines and north-west of Sabah. Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines have conflicting claims to parts of the Spratley Islands, while China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim the lot. The problem for Indonesia, and China for that matter, is that the ‘nine dash line’ is not continuous, and just how the sixth and seventh dashes might be linked is part of the issue. But not all of it.

AUS: ADF exercises interoperability in major maritime exercise

HMAS Canberra during HA/DR operations in Fiji
More than 1650 Australian Defence Force personnel have arrived in the United States ahead of a month of focused military training activities with 27 nations from across the globe for Exercise Rim-of-the-Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016.

Now in its 25th iteration, the ADF has deployed three ships and diving personnel including HMA Ships Canberra, Ballarat and Warramunga, an amphibious landing force from 2nd Royal Australian Regiment and AP-3C Orion aircraft.

About 45 surface ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel will participate in US-led exercise in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California from 30 June to 4 August.

Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston, said the biennial exercise provided valuable training opportunities to validate ADF capabilities and enhance interoperability with international partners.

NZ: NZDF Personnel Join Humanitarian Visit to Timor-Leste

Nine New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel took part in a number of community engagements during a recent two-week humanitarian visit to Timor-Leste as part of the annual Pacific Partnership.

Wing Commander (WGCDR) Michelle White, Senior National Officer of the NZDF contingent and Chief of Staff of this year’s Pacific Partnership mission, said members of the New Zealand contingent worked with counterparts from partner-nations, Timor-Leste’s government, military and civilian agencies, and non-governmental organisations to conduct community health exchanges and medical conferences.

“In addition to helping provide direct medical care ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with local providers, our NZDF members also shared their knowledge and skills on preventative medicine, oral health, nursing, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief planning, including a focus on gender considerations in disasters,” WGCDR White said.

USA: Great Green Fleet arrives at Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC

By Lt. j.g. Emily Wilkin, John C. Stennis Strike Group Public Affairs

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Michael Klimek mans the rails aboard USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) as the ship prepares to moor at Joint Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, June 28. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Ryan J. Batchelder) >>

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The USS John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) arrived in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii June 28 and 29 to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

JCSSG, also known as the Navy’s first Great Green Fleet (GGF) strike group, consists of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 embarked, guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS ChungHoon (DDG 93), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).

“The strike group has accomplished our mission in 7th Fleet, fulfilling a vital role in a region the U.S. Navy has operated in for a century and a half,” said Rear Adm. Marcus A. Hitchcock, JCSSG commander. “I am very proud of our Sailors, and I look forward to watching them excel during the upcoming Rim of the Pacific exercise, when they have the opportunity to operate with maritime professionals from 26 different nations.”

USA: The 4th U.S.-Republic of Korea Bilateral Cyber Consultations

The 4th United States-Republic of Korea Bilateral Cyber Consultations were held in Washington D.C. on June 29, 2016. Christopher Painter, Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the Department of State, led the U.S. delegation, which included representatives from the National Security Council staff, Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense. Ambassador Shin Maeng-ho of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the Republic of Korea’s interagency delegation, which included representatives from the Korea National Police Agency, Ministry of Justice, and Korea Internet and Security Agency.

The Cyber Consultations affirmed the benefits of a whole-of-government approach between the Republic of Korea and the United States on cyber policy and reinforced cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Korea on a wide range of cyber issues including cooperation on cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, capacity building, information sharing, research and development, military-to-military cyber cooperation, cybercrime, international security issues in cyberspace, and current trends in the international cyber environment. The Consultations also reaffirmed shared principles that support an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable cyberspace.

Industry: New office opening - Raytheon Australia confirms its commitment to Adelaide as the home of Australia's combat system integration workforce

ADELAIDE: The country’s largest Combat Systems Integrator, Raytheon Australia, today opened its Naval and Integration Headquarters, the company’s newest facility in Adelaide, South Australia.

Joined by the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia, Managing Director of Raytheon Australia, Michael Ward said that Adelaide is now the headquarters of Raytheon Australia’s Naval and Integration workforce.

“For more than a decade, Raytheon Australia has had a strong presence in Adelaide. Today’s opening of our newest office – and our ambition to more than double our South Australian workforce within three years – confirms our commitment to Adelaide”, Mr Ward said.

“Raytheon Australia has a proven record of job creation in Adelaide. Building upon our depth of local expertise and investment in people and processes, we will continue to provide the strongest possible focus on Adelaide through the establishment of this new office.”

Industry: Raytheon Australia Announced as Mission Systems Integrator and In-Service Support for the Woomera Test Range System

ADELAIDE: At the opening of Raytheon Australia’s Naval and Integration Headquarters, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today announced that the company will partner with the Commonwealth to develop the Test Range System within the Woomera Prohibited Area of South Australia.

The Managing Director of Raytheon Australia, Mr Michael Ward, said today that he welcomed Prime Minister Turnbull’s announcement.

“As the largest and arguably most capable systems integrator in Australia Raytheon Australia welcomes this investment by the Australian Government in the local defence industry and high skilled Australian jobs. This is an investment in a home grown sovereign capability as well as in the safety and security of our nation.”

News Report: Marines, Navy To Create Southern Pacific ARG/MEU Rotation By 2019

A US Navy ARG underway
By: Megan Eckstein

The Navy and Marine Corps will deploy a second Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) team to the Southern Pacific beginning as early as 2019, to allow the Japan-based forward deployed forces to focus on the northern and eastern parts of the vast Asia-Pacific theater, a Marine Corps official said today.

Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event that the details of where the Marines would come from are still being worked out, but “this is an opportunity to create a presence so the Forward Deployed Naval Force would have sort of the Northern and Eastern region and then that second (ARG/MEU) through two 90-day patrols would be worked out” to cover the Southern Pacific.

A Marine rotational force spends about half the year in Darwin, Australia, but leaves during rainy season to return to Japan and the continental United States, thereby decreasing the Marines’ presence in the Pacific for half the year.

News Story: International Court to Rule in July on South China Sea Dispute

An international court will deliver an eagerly awaited ruling next month on a case filed by the Philippines against China's claim over the South China Sea.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration said Wednesday that it would rule on July 12, but it urged a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

Manila filed the suit against Beijing in 2013 over China's historical claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Several Southeast Asian states have overlapping claims in the sea, and the dispute has sparked concerns of a military confrontation that could disrupt global trade.

China has refused to participate in any hearings and says it will not comply with any decisions by the tribunal. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, "On the issue of territory and disputes over maritime delineation, China does not accept any dispute resolution from a third party and does not accept any dispute resolution forced on China."

Outgoing Philippine President Benigno Aquino said his government decided to take China to international arbitration after the Asian giant took effective control of a disputed shoal and later reneged on a U.S.-brokered arrangement for Manila and Beijing to simultaneously withdraw their ships from the fishing area.

Six governments have overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea: China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

China bases its claim on a "nine-dash line" that dates to the 1940s and stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia, covering hundreds of disputed islands and reefs, rich fishing grounds, and oil and gas deposits.

Washington has taken no side regarding the competing claims in the region, but it has declared that it is in the U.S. national interest for the disputes to be peacefully resolved, and that freedom of navigation and overflight should not be impeded.

Click image to enlarge
This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Story: Vietnam fosters defence links with Laos, US

Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant General Tran Don said he was pleased with the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Department of Finance under the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence and its Lao counterpart on enhancing their cooperation in 2016.

The MoU was inked during a visit by a delegation from the Planning and Finance Department of the Lao Defence Ministry led by its director Major General Khamdeng Phengvilay.

Under the MoU, the two sides will promote experience sharing in building financial plans and those to ensure financial management in the defence industry.

At a reception for the Lao delegation in Hanoi on June 28 , Deputy Defence Minister Tran Don suggested the two sides organize regular meetings to exchange expertise, thus giving valuable consultations to the two countries’ defence ministries in military finance and practically contributing to further boosting bond between the two armies.

On the same day, Senior Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army greeted Rear Admiral Keith Smith , Director of the Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF West ) of the US, who is on a working visit to Vietnam.

Read the full story at VietnamNet

News Story: Beijing invests in "sovereignty extortion" plan

China's Haiyan autonomous UUV
VietNamNet Bridge - China is taking advantage of the power of science and technology to strengthen its claims of "sovereignty extortion" in the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea).

The dual use of sci-tech projects on the one hand helps Beijing confirm the rising power of a maritime power, and on the other hand ensures control of the army in disputed waters.

China’s announcement of the construction of a manned deep-sea platform in the East Sea, which would be located as much as 3,000 meters below sea level, is the latest example to prove the assessment. Currently, the details of this project have not been disclosed yet.

This is an ambitious project. Besides the search for mineral purposes, the laboratory may be used for military purposes such as tracking submarines or establishing military communications channels.

The deep-sea technology is usually used for both civil and military purposes. In addition to being used for scientific research, the submarine communication systems or seabed sensors play an important role in national security. During peacetime, they are used to track foreign submarines or warships. In wartime, they play the role of connecting information systems, improving the system of command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance ...

China's Qianlong No2 autonomous UUV
The field of research and development, especially projects related to the sea, is now China’s focus of investment. The current scientific and technological level, as well as abundant funds, help China pursue different approaches to create their advantage in the maritime sovereignty disputes. Beijing spent about $216 billion in research and development in 2015 while the defense budget was about $145 billion.

The new technology in underwater archeology helps China in the search for or exploration of antiques under the sea. The artifacts "found" in the waters of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago will be used by China as proof of sovereignty.

Some other notable projects include the Jiaolong submarine that reached a record depth of more than 7,000 meters under the sea in 2012. This submarine can be used for different purposes, such as detecting torpedoes, seabed mapping with high precision, reconnaissance, maritime surveillance, biomass collection...

Read the full story at VietnamNet

News Story: Elbit and ST Kinetics introduce LAND 400 CRV contender Sentinel II

by Robert Nutbrown

Team Sentinel, primed by Elbit Systems of Australia, has shown off its offering for LAND 400 Phase 2 in Tasmania, where Elphinstone would manufacture the Sentinel II combat reconnaissance vehicle, if successful.

The 8×8 Sentinel II vehicle – complete with Tassie devil paint scheme – is based on the Singapore Technologies Kinetics (ST Kinetics) TERREX 2 hull and driveline as shortlisted for the US Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle Phase 1, Increment 1 (ACV 1.1) program. Also known as the TERREX 2-35, because it has a gross vehicle mass of 35 tonnes, the Sentinel II is fitted with an upgraded drivetrain and more powerful engine.

The Sentinel II is equipped with a variant of Elbit’s manned (but convertible) MT30 turret, fitted with a 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster cannon. This turret could be changed over to the unmanned UT30 configuration in four to six hours; for instance, such a decision could be made once a vehicle has been deployed. The UT30 Mk2 has been put on vehicles for Brazil, the Philippines and Israel.

Sentinel II is fitted with the latest generation of Elbit’s battle management system, integrated with the weapons systems and defensive systems to create Weapon Integrated BMS (WINBMS).

Read the full story at ADBR

News Story: Law-abusing tribunal to issue award on South China Sea arbitration (China's View)

THE HAGUE, June 29 (Xinhua) -- An arbitral tribunal with widely contested jurisdiction will issue an award on July 12 on the South China Sea case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague said on Wednesday.

"The Tribunal will issue its Award on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 at approximately 11 A.M.," the PCA, acting as the registry of the tribunal, said in a press release.

"The Award will first be issued via e-mail to the Parties, along with an accompanying Press Release containing a summary of the Award," it said.

China has refused to participate in the proceedings and declared that it will never recognize the verdict, stressing that the tribunal has no jurisdiction because the case is in essence related to territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation.

Beijing has pointed out that territorial issues are not subject to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and that as early as in 2006 it declared -- in line with UNCLOS -- to exclude disputes concerning maritime delimitation from mandatory dispute-settlement procedures. Some 30 countries have also filed declarations of this kind.

After the PCA set date for the issuance of the final award, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case and the relevant subject-matter, and that it should not have heard the case or rendered the award.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Singapore steps up security measures following Istanbul attack

SINGAPORE, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Singapore has stepped up security measures at checkpoints after Istanbul's Ataturk Airport that killed 41 people and injured many others, local media reported on Wednesday.

In response to media queries, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the country's security agencies have stepped up checks and patrols at air, land and sea checkpoints, as well as at key transport nodes.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistan PM extents Afghan refugees' stay for six months

ISLAMABAD, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has extended Afghan refugees' stay in the country for six months, the PM office said on Wednesday.

The period of the Proof of Registration (PoR) cards that allow Afghan refugees to stay in Pakistan was scheduled to be expired on June 30.

Afghan Ambassador in Islamabad Omar Zakhilwal and spokesperson for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Dunya Khan, also confirmed the decision.

The Prime Minister directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and States and Frontier Regions to immediately engage with the UNHCR and Government of Afghanistan for gradual relocation of refugee camps in Pakistan to Afghanistan.

"In order to facilitate relocation and as a gesture of continued goodwill, Pakistan shall commit provision of wheat for the relocated camps in Afghanistan for a period of three years, free of cost," the statement said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 37 militants killed in S. Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Up to 37 Taliban militants have been killed in Miwand district of the southern Kandahar province over the past two days, provincial police chief General Abdul Razeq said Wednesday.

"Security forces launched operations against Taliban in Band-e-Timor area on Tuesday and so far 37 rebels have been killed and several others injured," Razeq told Xinhua.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Indian anti-terror police busts Islamic State cell, arrests 10 suspects

NEW DELHI, June 29 (Xinhua) -- India's anti-terror police Wednesday claimed to have busted an Islamic State militant cell in the southern city of Hyderabad and arrested 10 suspected operatives.

"The Islamic State module was busted in the old quarters of Hyderabad during raids by sleuths of the National Investigation Agency, following a tip-off by intelligence agencies," a senior police official said, on condition of anonymity.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Philippines-Indonesia border crossing arrangement consistent with pact - official

MANILA, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government justified its decision Wednesday to allow Indonesian forces to enter its territory in the event that another kidnapping of Indonesian nationals takes place.

Department of National Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said the border crossing arrangement is consistent with the 1975 agreement of the two neighbors.

"Indonesian security forces are allowed to enter Philippine maritime zones under the concept of hot pursuit in the same way that Philippine forces are allowed to enter Indonesian maritime zones," he said.

The spokesman said that in such incidents the Philippine security forces are as well immediately informed so that a coordinated and joint operation could immediately be undertaken.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Indonesia warns foreign ship against illegal fishing

JAKARTA, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesian government on Wednesday gave a warning to foreign ships wishing to intrude the country's waters for illegal fishing.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo told a cabinet meeting that stern actions will be applied to the intruders of the country's territory.

The president disclosed that the government has stepped up efforts to anticipate such violation at sea, including establishment of a special force (Satgas 115) to face the criminal acts, and a settlement of several weaknesses in efforts to fight against the foreign intruders in the past.

"Now, please intrude (Indonesia's waters), if they want to take risks from the Satgas 115," President Widodo said at the State Palace.

Under President Widodo's leadership, Indonesia has sunk 162 foreign ships engaging in illegal fishing in the country's waters, according to fishery ministry.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Indonesia to boost security at airport, seaport after suicide bombing in Turkey

JAKARTA, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesian government will step up security at several airports and sea ports in the country following suicide bombing attacks in Istanbul of Turkey on Tuesday that killed 36 people.

The plan comes as the flow of people has been rapid ahead of the celebration of Islamic festivity, Eid-al-Fitr, on July 6 and 7 in the world's largest Muslim country.

"We will raise the status of airports to yellow. Yellow means alert. Their security will be put at higher level," Indonesian Transport Minister Ignatius Jonan said at the State Palace on Wednesday evening.

The hike of the status would also be applied at seaports which have a terminal for passengers, he added.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Cambodia wishes to see peaceful reunification of Korean Peninsula - FM

PHNOM PENH, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said on Wednesday that the country wished to see the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula and urged all parties to return to the long-stalled six-party talks, a spokesman said.

The minister made the remarks during a meeting with visiting South Korean vice defense minister Hwang In-moo, according to Chum Sounry, a spokesman for the Cambodian ministry of foreign affairs, who told reporters after the meeting.

In regard to the nuclear tests launched by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the minister said that Cambodia condemned every provocative action that could affect peace, security, and stability in the Korean Peninsula.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Cambodian PM reiterates "no support" for arbitral tribunal's decision over South China Sea

PHNOM PENH, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen reiterated on Wednesday that the country would not support an arbitral tribunal's upcoming decision over the South China Sea issue.

In 2013, the Philippines unilaterally filed compulsory arbitration against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague with respect to the two sides' disputes in the South China Sea. The Chinese government has reiterated its non-acceptance and non-participation stance in the case.

"Cambodia does not support, and more so is against, any statement by ASEAN to support the court's decision," Hun Sen said in a speech during the 65th anniversary of founding the Department of Customs and Excise.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Arbitration cannot solve South China Sea dispute - Austrian expert

VIENNA, June 28 (Xinhua) -- An Austrian expert has said that arbitration cannot solve the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines.

"It is a principle of international law that all sides must agree on the arbitration," Padraig Lysaght said in a recent interview with Xinhua. "Otherwise, the result of the arbitration is not binding."

The Philippines unilaterally filed in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, the Netherlands, an arbitration case against China over South China Sea disputes in January 2013.

China maintains that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case, which is in essence about territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation.

"It is perfectly legal to simply not accept this award. I don't think the award can solve the problem," Lysaght said, adding that modern international law cannot provide a suitable solution to every problem.

Meanwhile, Lysaght, a historian who wrote his dissertation about the South China Sea, said historical arguments should not be completely discarded in the South China Sea dispute.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Xu Lin replaces Lu Wei as head of cyberspace authority

BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Xu Lin has replaced Lu Wei as the head of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs, according to an official statement on Wednesday.

Citing decisions made by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the statement also said Lu Xinshe replaced Qiang Wei as secretary of the CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee.

Read the full story at Xinhua

29 June 2016

USA: Trilateral Pacific Dragon ballistic missile defense exercise concludes

From U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs

In this file photo, Pearl Harbor-based USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), the nation's ballistic missile defense test ship, departs Joint Base Pearl-Harbor-Hickam for an at-sea period. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Nardel Gervacio) >>

KAUAI, Hawaii - Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet is wrapping up the third biennial exercise Pacific Dragon from June 20-28 off the coast of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii.

Pacific Dragon is a trilateral ballistic missile defense (BMD) tracking event between the U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Republic of Korea Navy. The biennial exercise focuses on improving tactical and technical coordination among its participants, including the detection, tracking and reporting of ballistic targets.

Pacific Dragon 2016 active participants included the Pacific Missile Range Facility, USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), USS Shoup (DDG 86), JS Chokai (DDG 176), ROKS Sejung The Great (DDG 991) and ROKS Gang Gam Chan (DDH 979).

USA: Task Force Koa Moana to start training exercise in Fiji and Tonga

Approximately 200 Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) and III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), U.S. Navy 7th Fleet, and U.S. Coast Guard's 14th District enforcement staff and Maritime Safety and Security Team, Honolulu personnel will participate in Exercise Koa Moana 16-2 and 16-4 scheduled from May to December. The service members will conduct theater security cooperation events in Asia-Pacific with several partner nations, including Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Fiji with exercise in Fiji and Tonga scheduled for July.

Exercise Koa Moana, meaning ocean warrior, is designed to improve interoperability and enhance military-to-military relations. The exercise will give U.S. service members exposure to different types of terrain and familiarity of the region to improve their ability to respond in the event of a natural disaster. Koa Moana provides a unique training opportunity for building stronger relationships and promoting capacity for training.

The current 16-2 iteration will focus primarily on enhancing partnerships, improving U.S. Marines’ expeditionary proficiency and military engineering capabilities between the partners, while follow-on iterations will also feature U.S. Pacific Fleet forces and other units assigned to Marine Forces Pacific. Through continued multilateral training, the partnership between the U.S and its regional partners is enhanced and strengthened to ensure the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Koa Moana 16-2, like all multilateral training exercises, is dedicated to maintaining a flexible and effective force in readiness and is not connected to any current events. 

US Embassy - Suva/Fiji/Kiribati/Nauru/Tonga/Tuvalu

USA: Deputy Secretary Blinken to Give Keynote Remarks at Center for Strategic and International Studies on U.S. Alliances in the 21st Century

On June 29 at 10:00 a.m., Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken will give remarks at a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) event on the value of U.S. Alliances in the 21st Century.

With the recent British referendum on EU membership and the upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw, it is clear that Europe is being pulled between two poles – between the natural desire to resist change by turning inward and the imperative to capitalize on it by facing boldly outward. The same tension is evident in Asia and indeed here in the United States, as government institutions and societies struggle to adapt to a rapidly shifting international landscape.

Deputy Secretary Blinken will assess this shared challenge and give a defense of the Obama Administration’s commitment to reaffirm alliances and partnerships as the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. He will explain why the international order that we have fostered over the last 70 years remains more important than ever – and why U.S. alliances and partnerships are the indispensable core of that order. Now, more than any other time in recent history, the United States must redouble its efforts to strengthen its alliances across both the Atlantic and the Pacific. He will also call upon the foreign policy community writ large to engage with local communities at home and abroad on the value of continued international engagement.

After delivering his remarks, the Deputy Secretary will engage in a moderated discussion with Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks, CSIS Senior Vice President, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and Director of the International Security Program.

The Deputy Secretary’s remarks will be livestreamed at www.state.gov and on the CSIS website here.

News Report: Pakistan Builds Checkpoints, Plans Fence on Afghan Border

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN—Pakistan plans to fence its long, porous border with Afghanistan after construction of checkpoints at all established crossings is completed, a top government adviser said Tuesday.

Tariq Fatemi, a close aide to the prime minister on foreign policy, said in Islamabad that “border management mechanisms” were being implemented not to close the frontier but to facilitate "an orderly and documented" cross-border movement, and to ensure safety and security of the two countries.

“For this purpose, we are establishing proper, well-organized and professionally manned check posts," Fatemi said. "We also intend eventually to have the Pakistan-Afghanistan border fenced. We believe that good fences make good neighbors. It is the absence of a well-defined border that is at the root of many of our problems.”

Pakistan has been constructing checkpoints at several locations on the 2,600-kilometer border, known as the Durand Line. Activity at the main Torkham crossing this month triggered deadly clashes between border forces of the two countries. The fighting left several soldiers dead and dozens more wounded on both sides.

The latest and previous border tensions have all stemmed from Afghanistan’s historic opposition to the 1893 demarcation by former British rulers of the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan, however, maintains it inherited the frontier after gaining independence from Britain in 1947 and believes the Durand Line is an international border.

News Story: Japan’s Self Defence Force delegation on Vietnam visit

Senior Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, hosted a reception in Hanoi on June 27 for a visiting delegation from Japan’s Self Defence Force.

According to the Quan doi Nhan dan (People’s Army) newspaper, the delegation, led by Major General Takayuki Onozuka, director general of the Defense Plans and Policy Department of Japan's Joint Staff, is on a visit in the framework of the fourth Vietnam-Japan defence exchange.

At the reception, Sen. Lt. Gen. Tuan applauded the outcomes of friendship exchanges between the delegation and several VPA units.

Read the full story at VietnamNet

News Story: Vietnam raises East (South China) Sea issue at UNCLOS member states’ meeting

Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, head of the permanent Vietnam mission to the United Nations, has called on parties concerned to immediately stop actions that change the status quo, destroy marine environment and further complicate the East Sea issue.

The ambassador made the call at the 26 th meeting of States Parties to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) held in New York from June 20-24, attracting 79 out of 168 member states, international organisations and 10 observer countries.

Speaking at the meeting on June 23, Nga affirmed the significance of the UNCLOS in creating a legal framework to adjust member states’ rights and interests in terms of the peaceful, fair, stable and effective use of the sea and the oceans.

She hailed the Resolutions on the Law on the Sea and Oceans, and sustainable fishing adopted by the UN General Assembly last year, as well as the working outcomes of the Preparatory Committee on marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction.

Nga also expressed concern over the recent complicated developments in the East Sea, particularly large-scale construction and upgrade that changes the nature of several structures in the East Sea, as well as militarised actions that erode trust, exacerbate tension and seriously impact peace, stability and security in the region.

Read the full story at VietnamNet

News Story: ASEAN and the East (South China) Sea dispute

VietNamNet Bridge - There will be no free lunch, especially in difficult decisions. ASEAN and the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) is also a similar case.

Last August, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) celebrated the 48th anniversary.

Also during that time, the debate among scholars, policymakers and observers, both inside and outside the region, about the importance of this bloc to the regional security and the foreign policy of each member country, heated up.

Referred to as the "linking forum" through its regional mechanisms such as the ASEAN + 1's, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN creates dialogue and solutions.

This connection makes ASEAN's central role in addressing various regional issues, even the most sensitive and thorny ones.

Views on the central role of ASEAN have been challenged in recent times, when the association seems to be increasingly drawn in many directions by the competition between the major powers, particularly the US and China.

This is evident in the East Sea dispute, which has more than once challenged the solidarity and central role of this bloc.

The concern has become more clearly since early 2012, when for the first time in the history of ASEAN, at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Cambodia, ministers could not make a joint statement.

And most recently it was the story of the "joint statement" at the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Yunnan early this month.

The absence of internal consensus resulted in the situation that any updates from ASEAN on the joint statement, and a joint declaration between ASEAN and China, were not through.

The tense situation in the East Sea has put ASEAN and its mechanisms before opportunities as well as important challenges.

Read the full story at VietnamNet

News Story: U.S. and China warships to participate in massive Pacific war games

Kirk Spitzer, USA Today

TOKYO — Warships from a record 26 nations — including the United States and China — converge near Hawaii this week for a five-week series of exercises to promote international security, goodwill and cooperation on the high seas.

Well, good luck with that.

The massive Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games will take place amid increasing tension and competition in waters of the Asia-Pacific region and will include warships from at least seven nations with competing claims or interests in the region.

China will take part in the RIMPAC exercise, held every two years, for just the second time.

Some members of Congress and the U.S. defense community have called for the invitation to be withdrawn because of China’s assertive territorial claims and island-building program in the South China Sea.

China has claimed sole ownership over virtually all of that key waterway, through which passes an estimated $5 trillion in annual trade. In just the past two years, China has built at least seven landfill islands in the South China Sea, including some with military-grade runways, deep-water ports and extensive land facilities.

The U.S. does not support individual sovereignty claims, but the Obama administration has expressed concern that China could use the islands to restrict air and sea navigation. China has promised not to do that.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: "A to Z" of China's diplomacy under Xi's leadership

BEIJING, June 28 (Xinhua) -- A "major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics" has taken shape since Xi Jinping became the top leader in late 2012.

Following are 26 key words or phrases that relate to this new style of diplomacy.


The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a new development bank proposed by China, started operation on Jan. 16, 2016.

The new global multilateral financial institution, to support infrastructure projects in Asia, was formally established in Beijing on Dec. 25, 2015. Headquartered in Beijing, it now has 57 founding members.

AIIB also means a great deal to the global economic governance system. It is a product of the evolving economic landscape, and will help make the global economic governance system more just, equitable and effective.

Belt and Road Initiative

The Belt and Road initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was first promulgated by Xi in 2013, who envisioned a trade and infrastructure network that connects Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. Over 70 countries and organizations have voiced support for and willingness to join the initiative.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China, ROK pledge to strengthen relations

BEIJING, June 28 (Xinhua) -- China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) should respect each other's core interests and major concern, and strengthen communication to well maintain the overall situation of their strategic partnership of cooperation, Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday.

The premier made the remarks in his talks with ROK Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn in Beijing.

Peace and stability in Northeast Asia is important for the region and the world. China is willing to work with all relevant parties for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and for the region's development and prosperity, Li added.

Hwang said the ROK is willing to maintain the general situation of the bilateral relations, strengthen strategic communication with China, and to jointly safeguard peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Singapore navy ship sails out to join 2016 RIMPAC drills

RSS Steadfast (Image: Wiki Commons)
SINGAPORE, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Singapore navy frigate RSS Steadfast is leading two other warships in a multinational group sail from Japan's Okinawa to Hawaii to participate in the Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise, said the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on Tuesday.

The Singapore navy conducted naval warfare serials with the two other naval ships en route, in preparation for the high-intensity sea phase during Exercise RIMPAC.

Read the full story at Xinhua