Security News Today – 9/23/10

Posted by Chris van Avery on 23Sep10.

U.S., Asean To Push Back Against China
The U.S. and its Asian allies are starting to push back at China’s growing assertiveness in the region, strengthening security ties and taking more robust positions in territorial disputes in the East and South China seas.

Israeli Official Says Strikes on ‘Bottlenecks’ Could Cripple Iran’s Nuke Program
Israel’s Warning Comes After Ahmadinejad’s Threat of ‘War Without Boundaries’. A top Israeli warned today that Iran’s vast nuclear program could be crippled for years with airstrikes on just a “few bottlenecks, important ones.”

Diplomats: Iran seeks seat on U.N. nuke agency board
Iran is seeking a seat on the decision-making board of the same U.N. nuclear agency probing its activities for evidence that Tehran may be interested in making atomic weapons, officials said Thursday.

Critical Questions on Iran
A confluence of events in the next few weeks again will put Iran at the top of the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda and could shape its course in the months ahead.

Russia’s Putin says he wants peaceful division of Arctic
At a conference that included the US, Canada, Denmark, and Norway, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the area should be a ‘zone of peace.’ But Russia is bolstering its claim to a large tract of the Arctic seabed.

Counter-Terrorism Offensive in Indonesia
This past weekend, Indonesia’s police counter-terrorism unit, Special Detachment 88, conducted a series of dramatic raids across North Sumatra province targeting a 33-strong band of terrorists who had perpetrated a series of bank robberies since mid-year. Thus far, 20 suspects have been caught and three shot dead.

Turkey after the Constitutional Referendum: Implications for Washington
On September 12, Turkey went to the polls to vote on constitutional amendments proposed by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP). Of the twenty-six amendments weighed by voters, several stipulate significant changes on key issues.

Turks Look East, Polls Confirm
Two recent international surveys confirm Turks’ changing perceptions on international matters in favor of the East and their disillusion about the West.

Energy demand hits water scarcity
Efforts by the United States and other countries to use cleaner energy such as solar power will not resolve threats to the environment. To the contrary, vast amounts of increasingly scarce water will still be required by power plants. The consequences could fuel international tensions.

Obama Administration Takes On Development Reform
The Obama administration has decided that promoting economic development around the world is essential, but it seems to be doing the same things to tackle the same problems as the Bush administration.

Senate Panel Again Cuts Funds for Conventional Trident Missile
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee last week zeroed funding for Conventional Trident Modification, a proposed Defense Department program to allow a small number of the Navy’s D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles to carry a non-nuclear payload (see GSN, May 21, 2009).

Chris van Avery is an Asia-Pacific FAO and Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and blogs on a variety of topics at The Yankee Sage .

  Security News Today – 9/15/10

Posted by Chris van Avery on 15Sep10.

China ire at sea chase signals wider reach
Beijing’s reaction to the incident in the East China Sea involving a Chinese commercial fishing boat and the Japanese Coast Guard may seem overblown, given all available evidence. Yet it signals that Beijing may be preparing to extend the focus of its expression of core maritime interests to beyond the South China Sea.

Shariah a danger to U.S., security pros say
A panel of national security experts who worked under Republican and Democratic presidents is urging the Obama administration to abandon its stance that Islam is not linked to terrorism, arguing that radical Muslims are using Islamic law to subvert the United States.

India-China Ties in Deep Freeze
The deep chill that India-China relations have entered following Beijing’s refusal of travel permission to a senior Indian army commander responsible for Jammu and Kashmir is more widespread than the frustrations expressed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. As mentioned on China Power, talking to Indian editors, Singh pointed to China’s new assertiveness and alleged that Beijing wanted to keep India at a ‘low-level equilibrium’ and suggested it also wanted Pakistan kept antagonistic towards it. But Singh certainly isn’t alone in his concerns. His views were echoed by India’s defence minister, A.K. Anthony, at a combined commanders’ conference in Delhi, and were also apparently reflected in the notes shared by visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada with his Indian counterpart, S.M.Krishna, last month.

China’s public opinion gap: Chinese youth are starting to mistrust Beijing
Economic success has kept China calm and public opinion high. But trust in government is eroding just as demands on Beijing for more political rights are likely to rise.

Why a US-Vietnam Nuclear Deal?
The visit of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS George Washington to Vietnam last month was more than just a highly visible symbol of the United States’ re-engagement with its former nemesis. It was, in fact, an indication that Washington is intent on still relying on its ‘4.5 acres of sovereign territory’ in its dealings with Asia, rather than falling back on a G-2 arrangement with China. But the engagement with Vietnam that the visit also demonstrated goes deeper than just this show of force—Washington is looking to move beyond symbolism to engage in a genuine strategic partnership, the cornerstone of which will be the US-Vietnam 123 nuclear cooperation agreement.

Reid Adds Controversial Immigration Measure To Defense Bill
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he will add the DREAM Act, a controversial immigration measure, to a defense policy bill the Senate will take up next week. The decision means the defense bill, which often passes with bipartisan support, will be home to two major, thorny political issues – the other being the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

U.S. Embassy in Jordan warns of threat in Aqaba
The U.S. embassies in Jordan and Israel warned Americans on Wednesday of a “possible imminent threat” in the Red Sea port of Aqaba and recommended avoiding the Jordanian resort city for the next 48 hours.

DoD Unveils Buying Guidelines for ‘New Era’
The program managers who develop and buy U.S. weapons will soon need to weigh affordability as they would performance attributes such as speed and lethality, according to new rules unveiled Sept. 14 by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter.

Bahrain continues crackdown on Shiite opposition
Eid ul-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, is supposed to be a joyous occasion. But in the U.S.-allied Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain, where the Sunni-dominated government has arrested scores of Shiite opposition activists in recent weeks, many celebrated in fear.

Navy pulls patrol ships over wear, cracks
The Navy is pulling its entire fleet of coastal patrol ships from service, including the five forward-deployed to the Persian Gulf, to repair hull cracks and other damage associated with long service and hard use, Navy Times has learned.

  What “Standardization” Means In The Navy

Posted by Chris van Avery on 30Jul10.

Here’s something that always frustrated me during 13 years aboard ships: “standardization” never seems to mean what a normal person would think. For example, read this post to one of the forums to which I belong:

SUBJ: [7-meter Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats] come in 4 Different Sizes

Did you know there are 4 different manufacturers of 7M RHIBS? And each boat has a different hull profile which means it won’t rest properly in the skids unless it has the boat davit shoes meant for that particular hull. I didn’t know this until we found a ship that had the improper boat davit shoes held in place with duct tape. If you change a boat out, it’s up to the ship to recognize whether you got a boat from a different manufacturer and the procedure is to put a 2K [a request to change the configuration of your boat cradle] in to get new boat davit shoes made.

This doesn’t make sense to me as that means you’ll have the wrong shoes for a couple of months until the 2K gets acted on. [emphasis added]

At a more fundamental level, it doesn’t make sense to me that we have four different boats built to the same spec and represented as interchageable, that aren’t actually…you know… interchangeable . As a veteran of two tours as a 1st LT, though, I saw this sort of stupidity all the time.

  Green Ships On The Way?

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 01Jun09.

No, really :

[NAVSEA] is pursuing modifications to the destroyers’ power plants, with the eventual goal of turning an Arleigh Burke into a “hybrid,” like a Toyota Prius.

One step on the road to a full gas-electric hybrid warship is an upgrade floated by defense contractors General Atomics and DRS Technologies that would add electric motors, wired into the ship’s power, to a destroyer’s main reduction gears. The ship’s service generators could provide the power to drive the propellers at low speeds, instead of the main gas turbines.

“These ships spend most of their time at certain speed ranges. If they’re tooling around on certain missions and not going above 30 knots, this makes a whole lot of sense,” said Glen Sturtevant, NavSea’s director of science and technology for surface ships. “You want to align the engineering plant in a more efficient manner so you’re not burning gas.”

The ship’s service turbine generators run more efficiently at the high setting used to drive the screws, said Tony Kopacz, the program manager for General Atomics; this saves burning fuel in a ship’s thirsty main gas turbines. General Atomics’ engineers estimate the hybrid power plant would save about 12,000 barrels of fuel per year, per ship.

The system is in the initial phases of development, and Big Navy hasn’t yet formally said it has a need for the upgrade. If it did, Navy, General Atomics and DRS engineers expect the new setup could sail on a Burke by 2014. If it works, it could be added to cruisers and other ships in the fleet.

Sturtevant said the hybrid plant could drive a destroyer at up to 14 knots, although he cautioned that it hasn’t begun full tests. And NavSea already has its eye on the next component for a complete “Prius” destroyer — batteries, or some other technology, to store energy produced by the main engines and save even more fuel.

Engineers are considering other technical upgrades, from more hydrodynamic hull coatings to sky sails, to get the most good out of every drop of fuel, Sturtevant said — even wind turbines and solar panels.

“We’re asking ourselves, ‘Why wouldn’t we accommodate those on ships?‘“ he said. “We’re thinking, ‘What would we use if fuel goes from $62 [a barrel] to $147?’”

I guess you’ve got to find some way to keep the shipyards (and their unions) employed.

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