22 August 2017

USA: Search efforts continue for USS John S. McCain Sailors

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) sits along the pier at Changi Naval Base, Aug. 21. (U.S. Navy/Grady T. Fontana) >>

SINGAPORE - Aircraft from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) will continue search efforts today for 10 missing Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

Ships and aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy joined search efforts yesterday and continue to provide assistance.

Search efforts are focused on an area east of the Strait of Malacca and Singapore where McCain was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC early in the morning on Aug. 21 (as reported 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time) while transiting to Singapore for a routine port visit.

During the collision, John S. McCain sustained significant hull damage that resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding at sea.

USA: America pulls into Changi Naval Base to support USS John S. McCain

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

USS America (LHA 6) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin A. Schoenberger) >>

SINGAPORE - Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) arrived Aug. 21 at Changi Naval Base and is moored across the pier from the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

While in Singapore, America will provide messing and berthing services to McCain crew members and to support damage control efforts on board. America will also support ongoing searches for 10 missing Sailors. Ship Repair Facility divers are on scene as well to assess the damage to the hull.

McCain was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Strait of Malacca and Singapore early in the morning on Aug. 21 (as reported 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time) and arrived at Changi Naval Base in the afternoon.

Significant damage to the hull resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding.

India: Commissioning of Second Ship of Landing Craft Utility MK-IV ‘IN LCU L52’(GRSE Yard 2093) at Port Blair

Launch of LCU L53 after construction (Image: Wiki Commons)
Dr. Jagdish Mukhi, Lieutenant Governor, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, commissioned IN LCU L52 into the Indian Navy today at Port Blair. IN LCU L52 is the second Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk-IV class to be inducted into the Indian Navy. The ship has been indigenously designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata. The commissioning of L-52 is yet another manifestation of the potential of the country’s indigenous design and ship building capability.

LCU MK-IV ship is an amphibious ship with the primary role to transport and deploy Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore. These ships would be based in the Andaman and Nicobar Command and can be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands.

The ship, commanded by Commander Kaushik Chatterjee, has a complement of 05 officers, 46 sailors and is capable of carrying 160 troops in addition. The ship, displacing 830 Tons, is capable of transporting various kinds of combat equipment such as Main Battle Tanks Arjun, T72 and other vehicles. The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems like Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS).

The remaining six ships of the same class are in advanced stages of construction at M/S GRSE, Kolkata and are scheduled to be inducted in the next two years. The induction of these ships will contribute to the nation’s maritime security needs and is in consonance with the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s drive for ‘Make in India’.

News Report: The Doklam Gambit: How China Lured India into a ‘Diplomatic Trap’

An analyst have suggested that the Chinese and Indian stand-off over the disputed Doklam Plateau may be a Chinese gambit to drive a wedge between India and its smaller ally Bhutan, who has a competing claim on Doklam with Beijing.

According to them, China's sudden move into Doklam to build a road in disputed territory with Bhutan was a clear provocation, but one that was not done needlessly. The border dispute may be between China and Bhutan, but it isn't Bhutanese troops facing off with the People's Liberation Army — it's Indian troops instead. Bhutan's tiny military, which has no Air Force and relies on the Indian Army for training, could not hope to stand up against the might of Beijing. Thus, New Delhi came to their ally's defense.

There's only one problem with India's narrative: their troops are outside of Indian soil. India has no claim to Doklam, which means they have either occupied Bhutan or invaded China, depending on how the dispute shakes out. Neither reflects well on New Delhi.

This has led to the theory that China purposefully provoked India in Doklam to drive a wedge between them and Bhutan. The Land of the Thunder Dragon was never part of the British Raj, but it was once an Indian protectorate and maintains close ties to them. In recent years it has become more eager to increase its independence and be seen as a fully-fledged nation.

News Report: North Korea Warns Australia That Aiding US Would Be ‘Suicidal Act’

North Korea has warned Australia against committing a “suicidal act” by supporting the US and South Korea should those countries attack Pyongyang.

This threat follows comments made by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemning the North’s weapons development, saying in a statement to ABC, "North Korea has shown it has no regard for the welfare of its own population, no regard for the security and good relations with its neighbours and no regard for international law."

He added, "We call on all countries to redouble their efforts, including through implementation of agreed UN Security Council resolutions, to bring North Korea to its senses and end its reckless and dangerous threats to the peace of our region and the world."

Last week Turnbull told a Melbourne radio station that "if there is an attack" on the US, Canberra would send troops by invoking the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security (ANZUS) Treaty. 

The Prime Minister said, "In terms of defence, we are joined at the hip," according to News AU.

News Report: S Korean President Warns of Dangerous Fallout From Any US-N Korea Conflict

South Korean President Moon Jae-in
South Korean President Moon Jae-in believes that even a minor conflict between Washington and Pyongyang may threaten the lives of South Koreans and foreigners, including the US forces stationed on the Korean peninsula, a presidential spokesman said on Monday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The South Korean president also stressed the importance of China's role in bringing North Korea back to negotiations.

"President Moon said he understands why the United States has traditionally said all options were on the table to push North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. But he said even the slightest military action will lead to a clash between the South and North, and it will threaten many lives of not only South Koreans but foreigners, including U.S. forces stationed in South Korea," Park Soo-hyun said at a press briefing, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

The remarks were made during Moon’s meeting with a bipartisan group of US lawmakers. The South Korean president also agreed on the need to exert additional pressure on Pyongyang but pointed out that the conflict must be resolved by peaceful means.

News Report: India Expects China to Break Deadlock on Doklam

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to discuss the crisis with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit to be held in September in Xiamen, China.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Weeks before BRICS summit in Xiamen, India has termed Doklam stand-off as a ‘deadlock' but at the same time has expressed confidence that it would be resolved soon.

"There will be a solution very soon and I am sure China will make a positive move," Rajnath Singh, India's Minister of Home Affairs said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao has reported that Western Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has held a military drill to "strike awe in India". 

News Report: India Expedites Construction of Border Roads Amid Military Conflict With China

Indian Army had asked the defense ministry to expedite construction of roads along the border with China citing it as a crucial requirement for faster movement of troops and uninterrupted supplies of ammunition and other necessities.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — In an unprecedented move, the Indian government has decided to delegate more financial powers to the Border Road Organization (BRO) in order to expedite the construction of roads near the border with China. The BRO is an executive force mandated with the task of constructing and maintaining roads in border areas in keeping with defense requirements.

The move comes shortly after the Indian Army voiced strong concern against the inordinate delay in completion of strategic road projects along China border.

"Across the border, China has built roads which will give them quick access to border posts in case of any eventuality. We have neglected the infrastructure development in the north-eastern states bordering China, but in view of the continuing standoff with China we need to speed up the construction of border roads," Major General G D Bakshi (Rtd.) told Sputnik.

News Report: India’s Main Battle Tanks T-90, T-72 to Become More Lethal

India hopes to add a new dimension to the nation’s defense capability by integrating the locally developed third generation missile system with Russia made T-90 and T-72 tanks which is the mainstay of Indian Army’s offensive formations.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India plans to make the Russian origin tanks T-90 and T-72 more lethal by upgrading their missile systems. The Indian government has approved the purchase of third generation anti-tank missile systems which will make the T-90 & T-72 capable of hitting targets up to 8 kilometers during the day as well as night. Currently, the T-90 fleet of the Indian Army is armed with the INVAR missile system.

The Indian Army has proposed specific features of the missile system that are to be developed by the private defense manufacturers. The missile should be capable of being fired from 125 mm gun barrel and should have the ability to carry out pre-flight programmed maneuvers towards a beyond-line-of-sight engagement target.

News Report: Daesh-Linked Militants Kill 10 in Attack in Philippines' South – Reports

The Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf militant group affiliated with Daesh terrorist group attacked a village in the southern Philippines on Monday, killing 10 people and injuring over three dozen others, The Manila Times newspaper reported, citing government officials.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The attack was perpetrated by about 40 members of the Abu Sayyaf group in the island province of Basilan, the newspaper specified. The militants were also reported to have set fire to houses and a day care center before fleeing.

The newspaper noted that some victims with grave injuries had been sent to a hospital in the city of Zamboanga, located on the nearby island of Mindanao.

The deadly attack took place after the Philippines’ military freed Do Trung Huiqe, a Vietnamese sailor, who was taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf in the Basilan province. The man was kidnapped by the group in November 2016, along with five other crew members of cargo ship MV Royale 16. The media reported that it was unknown whether or not the rescue operation and the attack were linked.

The news comes amid the Philippine army's operation against terrorist groups linked with Daesh. Martial law was declared on the island in May by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after a conflict broke out between Philippine security forces and Islamists affiliated with Daesh.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: US Navy Orders Operational Pause for Up to 2 Days Following Collision

USS John S. McCain (Image: Wiki Commons)
Jeff Seldin

PENTAGON — The U.S. Navy is promising to take "a much more aggressive stance" as it tries to determine what led to a second collision between a U.S. guided-missile destroyer and a commercial vessel in as many months.

Ten American sailors are missing and five injured, with the USS John S. McCain sustaining "significant damage" as a result of Monday's collision with a tanker near the Strait of Malacca.

Photos released by the U.S. Navy show a gaping hole, below the waterline, on the John S. McCain's port side. A statement from the U.S. 7th Fleet said the damage was "significant" and that some sleeping areas and communications rooms flooded as a result.

In response to the incident, the Navy ordered an immediate operational pause across the U.S. fleet.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said the pause, lasting one to two days, will give commanders a chance to evaluate everything from how officers conduct themselves on the bridge to shipwide working conditions.

News Story: S.Korean peace activists demand to stop war game with U.S. for dialogue with DPRK

SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- South Korean peace activists on Monday demanded to stop the ongoing joint war game with the United States for dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as the war game kicked off earlier in the day.

A group of peace activists, affiliated with 13 advocacy groups, held a press conference outside the presidential Blue House, saying the DPRK's nuclear and missile tests would be stopped through dialogue only when the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) joint military exercise is stopped.

The UFG computer-assisted simulation exercise began earlier in the day, mobilizing about 17,500 U.S. soldiers and some 50,000 South Korean troops. The U.S.-South Korea joint war game will last till the end of this month.

The DPRK has denounced the war game as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion. Pyongyang tended to test-fire missiles or conduct provocation to show its force in response to the U.S.-South Korea military drills.

The activists said both Pyongyang and Washington should stop intimidating each other as the war of words created the crisis of war on the Korean Peninsula, claiming the first suspension of the South Korea-U.S. joint war games to launch talks with the DPRK.

The DPRK test-launched what it called an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) twice in July. It was followed by the exchange of belligerent rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington, which escalated tension on the peninsula.

Some local experts claimed the halt of the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises in exchange for the suspension of the DPRK's further provocation, in a bid to open talks for the denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

Another group of peace activists held a press conference in central Seoul to demand the suspension of the ongoing UFG joint military exercise.

They said the war exercise and the mobilization of U.S. strategic assets should be stopped to peacefully resolve the peninsula issue, citing the halt of the U.S.-South Korea war game in 1992 that led to the launch of the inter-Korean talks and the joint declaration of the Korean Peninsula denuclearization between the two sides.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: DPRK says U.S.-South Korea joint drill plunges Peninsula situation into critical phase

PYONGYANG, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Monday said the U.S.-South Korean joint military drill has plunged the Korean Peninsula into a critical phase.

The DPRK's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the scale of the U.S. military involvement in the exercise known as Ulchi-Freedom Guardian "far outnumbers the one in the last year."

"What is more serious is the fact that brass hats of the U.S. military, including the commanders of the U.S. forces in the Pacific and the Strategic Forces, visited South Korea on the eve of the rehearsal," the KCNA said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: DPRK says increasing coal production to fend off sanctions

PYONGYANG, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Monday that it is increasing coal production to fend off international sanctions.

"Coal miners of the DPRK have turned out in a drive to foil the U.S. reckless sanctions and provocation with increased coal production," said official Korean Central News Agency.

The agency quoted Kim Chang Sok, department director of the Ministry of Coal Industry, as saying the Tukjang Area Coal-mining Complex is a leading unit which has carried out the daily assignment at 105 percent.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: U.S., Japan military cooperation should not harm third party's interests - Chinese Foreign Ministry

BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Military cooperation between the United States and Japan must not harm any third party's interests or regional peace and stability, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday.

Media reported that Japan wants to introduce a land-based missile defense system, and in response the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said the United States will help Japan in this regard, noting that it is important to integrate their ballistic missile defence capabilities.

In response, spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Chinese government holds that the missile defense issue is related to global strategic stability and mutual trust between major countries, thus it should be handled with caution.

Read the full story at Xinhua


Story Quote: "She said all countries should not only consider their own security interests, but also respect other countries'"

PacificSentinel: If that's how China feels, get rid of your Nuclear Ballistic Missiles, because they infringe the "security interests" of other countries, including Japan. No...then shut up, other countries will do what they need to in order to protect them selves.

Story Quote: "Due to historical factors"

PacificSentinel: Pifft...the only countries still concerned about 72 year old grudges is China & South Korea, most countries can see that Japan today is nothing like they were back then and have moved on, maybe China should grow up and stop whinging about the past.

News Story: Singapore Air Force to train in Australia for another 25 years under new treaty

SINGAPORE, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will conduct training at an airbase in Western Australia for another 25 years, under a new treaty signed here Monday at a high-level dialogue between the two countries.

During the 10th Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee (SAJMC) meeting, the Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne signed the pact that will allow the RSAF to maintain and operate its Flying Training Institute in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Pearce for another 25 years.

The meeting was jointly presided by the Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, which also attracted the ministers for trade from both countries.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China, Indonesia to further comprehensive strategic partnership

BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- China and Indonesia held the sixth meeting of vice-premier-level dialogue on Monday, vowing to improve the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership.

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and visiting Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto co-chaired the meeting in Beijing.

Yang called on both sides to implement the consensus reached by their leaders.

China-Indonesia ties have seen rapid development and the two countries have maintained frequent high-level visits, while expanding cooperation in various fields, Yang said.

As major developing countries, both China and Indonesia shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding national security and boosting economic development, Yang said, noting that China is willing to work with Indonesia to integrate development strategies and enhance pragmatic cooperation.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Chinese troops injured by Indian border troops' fierce action - foreign ministry

BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Some Chinese troops suffered injuries from Indian troops' fierce action in the western part of the border area, the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday.

This came after a video showing border troops from the two countries pushing and throwing stones at one another near Pangong Lake.

Last Tuesday, Indian border troops obstructed Chinese border troops, who were carrying out normal patrols on the Chinese side of the actual line of control in the Pangong lake area, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistan to firmly support China on core interests - foreign secretary

BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan firmly supports China on issues concerning its core interests, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said when meeting with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi in Beijing Monday.

During their meeting, Yang said it is especially important for China and Pakistan to enhance strategic communication under current global and regional circumstances.

He called on both sides to maintain close high-level contacts, promote the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative, forge ahead cooperation in different areas and intensify coordination in multi-lateral organizations such as the United Nations and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, according to a press release issued after the meeting.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistani forces kill 52 terrorists in cleanup operation in tribal region

ISLAMABAD, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani forces have killed 52 terrorists and injured 31 others in an offensive in a mountainous region in Khyber tribal region, the military said on Monday.

The forces had launched the major ground and air offensive in Rajgal valley in Khyber in northwestern Pakistan bordering Afghanistan in July to clear the rugged and difficult terrain of the terrorists who use the area for cross-border movements.

Military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told a news conference in Rawalpindi that in the operation codenamed "Khyber-4" the army has cleared the area and the terrorists can no longer use the area to cross the border.

The spokesman said that 52 terrorists have been killed and 31 injured while four surrendered in Rajgal and Shawal area in North Waziristan during the operation.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Rocket fired into central Kabul

KABUL, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- A rocket was fired onto a diplomatic district in central Kabul Monday night, sources and witnesses said.

"The attack occurred at around 10:10 p.m. local time, and the rocket struck the Wazir Akbar Khan locality in Police District 10 of the city," witness Farouq Shah told Xinhua.

Casualty was unknown yet.

He said the foreign embassies' sirens were heard shortly after the rocket landed at the fortified area.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Taliban militants overrun Kham Ab district in Afghan northern province

SHIBERGHAN, Afghanistan, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Taliban militants overrun Kham Ab district in Afghanistan's northern Jawzjan province along the border with Turkmenistan on Monday, district governor Ahmad Khan said.

"Taliban militants overrun Kham Ab district in the wee hours of today and the district headquarters is in their control at the moment," Khan told Xinhua.

Without giving more details, the official said that the government forces had retreated.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 5 Taliban militants killed in fresh airstrike in eastern Afghanistan

Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano Ground Attack Aircraft
KABUL, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Five Taliban militants were killed following an airstrike conducted by Afghan Special Forces in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar on Monday, the government military said.

"On Monday morning, on a confirmed tip off, Afghanistan Operational Coordination Group (AOCG) carried out an airstrike on a Taliban position in Sherzad district, Nangarhar province, killing five members of Taliban terrorist group," AOCG or command of Special Forces said in a statement.

The elimination of the targeted militants would further improve the public security in the eastern provinces, the statement added.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 48 militants killed in Afghan forces' operations

KABUL, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- As many as 48 militants were killed during operations launched by Afghan forces in two restive provinces, authorities said Monday.

In one operation, an Afghan Special Force unit launched an offensive against Taliban in Jannat Bagh area of Aqtash district in northern Kunduz province Sunday night, according to provincial police spokesman.

"The cordon and search operation left 36 Taliban insurgents dead and injured 10 others," spokesman Inamuddin Rahmani said in a statement.

Those among the killed were six insurgent's local commanders and the security forces also defused 20 landmines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) besides seizing several militants' motorcycles and one round of mortar, said Rahmani.

"After the raid, Jannat Bagh village and its adjacent area of Behsos were cleared of the militants," he said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Taliban Suffer Heavy Casualty Toll in Chemtal

By Samim Faramarz

The Taliban has suffered a heavy casualty toll during the two day joint military operation, between government forces and public uprising forces, in Chemtal district of Balkh province, provincial governor Atta Mohammad Noor said on Sunday as fighting rages on in the northern town.

Scores of Taliban fighters were eliminated and six security personnel also lost their lives, he said.

But, the Taliban has claimed that their fighters have foiled an offensive by government forces in Chemtal.

Noor however accused some elements of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar-led Hizb-e-Islami group of being involved in what he called “destructive activities”  in Chemtal.

Hizb-e-Islami spokesman in response termed Noor’s allegations baseless and false.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Heavy Clashes Ongoing In Jawzjan’s Khum Aab District

Heavy clashes are ongoing close to Khum Aab district governor's compound in the northern Jawzjan province, local security officials confirmed on Monday. 
The clashes started on Monday morning when dozens of Taliban fighters attacked security forces' outposts in Khum Aab district, local officials said.

Army media officer in the north, Nasratullah Jamshidi, said heavy clashes are ongoing between government forces and the Taliban and that reinforcements have been sent to the area.  

Airstrikes continue to target Taliban strongholds in the district, Jamishid said.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: China showcases weapon systems to possible foreign buyers

by Richard Tomkins

China this week presented its newest land-based weapons systems available for export to foreign military officers and procurement officials.

China Daily reports that the presentation held by the state-owned China North Industries Group Corp, or Norinco, was made at a firing range on Wednesday in Inner Mongolia.

About 230 officers from more than 50 countries -- mostly military attaches in Beijing -- attended the show, which included live-fire demonstrations by battle tanks and anti-tank missile firings.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Chinese investments may lead to greater military purchases

Security analyst says it is no different to western countries selling arms but suggests parliamentary oversight be made compulsory for huge military purchases.

Robin Augustin

PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya may be more inclined to purchase arms from China given its “over reliance” on Chinese money for multi-billion ringgit mega-projects.

A retired brigadier-general said this in the wake of reports that China was seeking to supply weapons and other military equipment to Malaysia.

Speaking to FMT, Mohd Arshad Raji said the reports should come as no surprise.

“Given the increasingly warm ties and influx of Chinese money in the country, it would be natural for the government to buy more arms and military equipment from Beijing,” Arshad said.

Chinese investments in mega-infrastructure and property development projects, such as the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the RM43 billion Melaka Gateway among others, have raised questions about Malaysia’s security and neutrality in a region which is being closely watched by the world’s superpowers.

Arshad said traditionally, Malaysia bought weapons and military equipment from western countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, and he believed that a shift towards buying arms from China could affect Malaysia’s bilateral trade with the US and UK.

“But my biggest concern is that a pivot towards China in terms of defence could affect our neutrality and military ties with our traditional western allies.

“China is adopting an aggressive and dominant stance, particularly in the South China Sea, where it is increasing its military presence.”

Arshad also voiced concern that a greater dependence on Chinese arms and military equipment could open the doors for China to spread its military doctrine in Malaysia.

“Malaysia, being a Commonwealth country, has been more inclined towards a western military doctrine.

“In essence, a military doctrine acts as a guide to help us standardise our operations. It represents our central beliefs and principles on how war should be waged.”

Arshad said he wasn’t sure China’s military doctrine was suited for Malaysia.

Read the full story at Free Malaysia Today

News Story: Malaysia fits China’s bill to become emerging arms supplier

Military researcher Collin Koh says Beijing seeks to peddle military wares by couching it as promoting defence and security ties with Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: A Singapore-based military researcher says China’s reported attempt to supply weapons and other military equipment to Malaysia is part of the superpower’s move to become a strong global arms provider, especially among countries that are buying from western nations.

Collin Koh, a research fellow with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, was quoted by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) today as saying that there were reasons to surmise some kind of discussions on military purchases had taken place between China and Malaysia.

“If China wants to showcase itself as an emerging, credible global arms supplier, it’ll need to start sealing successful arms deals especially with countries that have been buying Western.

“Malaysia fits the bill,” he was quoted as saying.

“Naturally, therefore, Beijing will seek to peddle a wider array of arms to Malaysia, couching it within a broader ambit of promoting defence and security ties with the country,” Koh added.
Reports emerged earlier this month that Malaysia was considering China’s proposal to set up a regional counter-intelligence centre in Johor equipped with radar surveillance and a missile system.

An aide to Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein reportedly responded by saying that the ministry was unaware of any such offers made by China to Malaysia

Read the full story at Free Malaysia Today

News Story: Esperon denies Chinese occupation of Sandy Cay

By Alexis Romero

MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. yesterday denied that China has occupied the Sandy Cay off Pagasa Island in the West Philippine Sea and stressed that the government would not give up an inch of the areas claimed by the Philippines.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Saturday bared that China has virtually occupied Sandy Cay, an area situated around 2.5 nautical miles off Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.

Two frigates, a Chinese coast guard vessel and two military fishing boats were reportedly seen in the area. 

Carpio urged the Duterte administration to “vigorously protest” what he described as an “invasion” of Philippine territory by China. 

Esperon admitted that foreign fishing boats were seen in the Sandy Cay, but denied that China has seized the Sandy Cay.

“China has not seized sand bars in Pagasa Atoll,” Esperon said in a text message.

“There should be no alarm on that as long as they don’t occupy any of the sandbars. There are many Chinese as well as Vietnamese fishing boats in and near Pagasa Island and its nearby sandbars, collectively called Pagasa Atoll,” he added. 

Esperon said the Chinese ships came “too near” the Sandy Cay but did not seize it. He also maintained that the government would continue to assert the country’s maritime claims.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Philippines, Thai defense officials link up vs terrorism

By Michael Punongbayan

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine and Thai defense officials have vowed to continue helping each other in addressing security and other concerns in Southeast Asia through cooperation and coordination between the two neighboring countries. 

During the signing of the Terms of Reference (TOR) on the Joint Committee on Military Cooperation (JCMC) at the Department of National Defense (DND) at Camp Aguinaldo on Friday, delegates from both countries discussed current and emerging security issues such as violent extremism and terrorism, maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response. 

The DND said both the Philippines and Thailand expressed mutual support for each other’s advocacies and initiatives within the ambit of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting and the ADMM-Plus.  

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Moon warns N. Korea not to use Korea-U.S. exercises as pretext for provocations

SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in warned North Korea on Monday not to use joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States as a pretext for provocations, saying the maneuvers are purely defensive.

Moon made the remark during a Cabinet meeting as the allies kicked off the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise that the communist nation has long denounced as a rehearsal for an invasion of the northern country.

"The Ulchi exercise is a defensive drill conducted annually. We have no intention at all to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said. "The Ulchi exercise is aimed at checking on defense readiness aimed at protecting the lives and property of our people."

Moon also said the North shouldn't use the exercise "as a pretext for aggravating the situation."

"North Korea must understand that it is because of its repeated provocations that South Korea and the U.S. have to conduct defensive exercises, which in turn keeps the vicious cycle going," he said.

Moon said the current situation is more grave than ever before.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: S. Korea, U.S. begin military drills amid N. Korea's threats

SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean and U.S. militaries on Monday started their first major combined training since North Korea's test-firing of two long-range missiles and threat to shoot ballistic missiles toward Guam.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise will run through next Thursday, focusing on a "tailored joint deterrence strategy" based on the Operational Plan 5015 of the Combined Forces Command, officials said.

In an unusual gesture, three top U.S. military commanders -- Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, Strategic Command head Gen. John Hyten and Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves -- will observe the command-post exercise in person.

It involves tens of thousands of South Korean soldiers. In a press statement, the Ministry of National Defense did not specify the number. Ministry officials said the size is similar to that of last year, roughly 50,000.

The U.S. has reduced the number of its participating service members to 17,500 from 25,000, according to the Pentagon. The troops include some 3,000 coming from off-peninsula.

Seven other member states of the United Nations Command -- Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Britain -- are also taking part in it.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: PM calls Moon's drawing of N.K. red line 'political ultimatum'

South Korean President Moon Jae-in
By Song Sang-ho and Sung hye-mi

SEOUL, Aug. 20 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon has cast President Moon Jae-in's recent proclamation of a red line for North Korea's provocation as a "political ultimatum," stressing it aims to advise the recalcitrant regime not to go any further with its nuclear adventurism.

On Thursday, the liberal president made a rare declaration that the North would be crossing the red line if it weaponizes a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. Critics called it a "strategic mistake," arguing it could limit Seoul's policy flexibility.

"It is not that the president is unaware (of the criticism about the red line) as it has been discussed many times at the National Security Council," the prime minister said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

"I believe he made some sort of an ultimatum politically. (He might have meant) a situation beyond his control could actually take place if the North were to cross it, though he does not want any military clash," he added.

Moon's supporters said the declared red line could serve as a strong warning against the North, which has sharply raised military tensions by launching two long-range missiles last month and hardening its warlike rhetoric against Seoul and Washington.

But detractors said Moon had broken with the long-held stance of "strategic ambiguity," while others noted he failed to note Pyongyang had already passed the line by developing nuclear-capable short-range missiles that put the South within range.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Top S. Korean, U.S. defense officials stress robust alliance

SEOUL, Aug. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense minister and the top U.S. military official in charge of the Asia-Pacific region agreed Sunday to step up joint efforts to counter North Korea's threats.

In a meeting with Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Defense Minister Song Young-moo said it's more important than ever to maintain a strong combined defense posture against North Korea's rapid development of nuclear bombs and missiles, according to his ministry.

The admiral arrived in South Korea earlier in the day to discuss North Korean threats and inspect the allies' joint military drills.

Song noted the North's recent test-launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

He emphasized that the North's provocations are a serious threat and an urgent challenge to the international community.

Harris agreed that the regional security conditions are in danger due to the North's weapons ambitions and reckless provocations.

Read the full story at YonhapNews