Security News Today – 9/10/10

Posted by Chris van Avery on 10Sep10.

Long time readers of mine will recognize this as the old “read board” posting I made for several years. It in no way represents an official view, but just the opinion of what one Asia-Pacific FAO and security analyst thought was interesting on any given day. Hopefully you’ll find it useful, too.

Japan Defense Paper Highlights China’s Growing Military Reach
Japan voiced concern over China’s growing military muscle in a defense paper Sept. 10, as a right with Beijing continued over the arrest of a Chinese trawler captain in disputed waters.

Referendum in Turkey raises fears of too much Islam in government
Largely Muslim Turkey is split over a referendum on changes to the Constitution. Once again, critics warn of the secular state going Islamic. Prime Minister Erdogan needs to build trust among those who fear he and his religious party have a secret agenda.

Flooding deepens age-old fissures in Pakistan
Even in the best of times, Pakistan is a tenuous federation riven by regional, ethnic, sectarian and class rivalries. These are not the best of times. The South Asian nation is struggling to cope with cataclysmic floods that inundated every province, destroying infrastructure …

Hezbollah in South America
Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Iran-sponsored Shi’i Muslim terrorist organization, has established global networks in at least 40 countries. Its growing presence in South America is increasingly troublesome to U.S. policymakers, yet there are few experts on Hezbollah and fewer still on Hezbollah Latino America. Hezbollah’s operatives have infiltrated the Western Hemisphere from Canada to Argentina, and its activity is increasing, particularly in the lawless Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Taliban and US get down to talks
Preliminary peace talks between the Taliban and the United States have begun, with the Pakistan military and Saudi Arabia acting as go-betweens. An early concession from the US could be the release of Pakistanis detained at Guantanamo Bay. Much thornier issues include a continued US presence in northern Afghanistan and what to do with al-Qaeda, which is busy extending its reach.

India’s food inflation hardens
Food price inflation in India has climbed to 11.5%, squeezing most of the population in a country that is increasingly unequal in terms of wealth, but in particular the more than 400 million poor. Meanwhile, the government ignores the realities of a grossly inefficient food network.

China’s High Risk India Gamble
China loves to keep the pot boiling with countries it perceives as potential rivals, a fact no more evident than it is with its dealings with India in recent years. China’s recent decision to deny a visa to Indian Lt. General B. S. Jaswal, head of the Northern Command, is therefore just another example of its determination to find new issues to further complicate the already complex web of India-China differences. The game is being played at multiple levels with Jammu and Kashmir, which is seen by China as an area of ‘international dispute’ in the same way as Arunachal Pradesh. At first glance, it seems a relatively recent diplomatic gambit.

Captain Risks Japan-China Ties
It’s been barely a month since Japan and China finally started discussing the details of jointly developing gas fields in the disputed waters of the East China Sea. After two years of waiting since an initial agreement was reached, probably the last thing the negotiators wanted to see were reports of a Chinese ship ramming two Japanese patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by both countries. But that’s what happened on Tuesday. Apparently, an uncooperative Chinese fishing ship’s captain refused to be inspected or to leave the sea around the uninhabited islands. Not only that, he also took it upon himself to crash into the two Japan Coast Guard ships issuing the orders for good measure.

China’s Emerging Debate on Military Transparency
A reconsideration of traditionally skeptical attitudes about military transparency appears to be underway in China. Whereas Beijing formerly rejected Western calls for greater military transparency—arguing that transparency benefits the strong at the expense of the weak—a new calculus seems to be emerging that reflects China’s greater confidence in its own strength. As Chinese military capabilities have improved in both relative and absolute terms, the same logic that justified wariness of military transparency now recommends it as a useful tactic. Recent comments by Chinese officials and experts, along with some adjustments to military practice, suggest that greater transparency is now seen as an instrument capable of serving useful political and deterrent functions.

China’s Evolving Anti-Access Approach: “Where’s the Nearest (U.S.) Carrier?”
China’s military planners covet the ability to prevent U.S. and allied forces from intervening effectively in the event of a future Taiwan Strait crisis and to constrain the latter’s influence on China’s maritime periphery, which contains several disputed zones of core strategic importance to Beijing. In order to achieve the aforementioned goals, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been pursuing a two-level approach to military modernization, with consistent focus on increasingly formidable high-end ‘anti-access/area denial’ (A2/AD) capabilities to support major combat operations in China’s ‘Near Seas’ (Yellow, East, and South) and their approaches, and relatively low-intensity but gradually growing capabilities to influence strategic conditions further afield (e.g., in the Indian Ocean) in China’s favor.

Ryukyu Chain in China’s Island Strategy (Jamestown Foundation)
In late August the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) intend to stage their first-ever island defense exercises in December. The maneuvers will be held in concert with U.S. Navy forces to refine plans for recapturing the lightly protected Ryukyu Islands from a hostile—presumably Chinese—invading force (Yomiuri Shimbun, August 20). To date, the response from China has been rather muted considering the stakes it faces (Asia Times, August 31). As the first installment in this series on Japanese maritime strategy demonstrated, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been making efforts to break out of the first island chain and operate freely in the Western Pacific, either to threaten the east coast of Taiwan or for some other purpose. Occupying one or more of the Ryukyus offers one way for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to do so. Once ensconced within the island chain, PLA forces could drive off allied navies, keeping Tokyo and Washington from slamming the nautical gateway shut.

Taiwan’s Military Shores Up Indigenous Defense Capabilities
While Taiwan is stepping up calls for the United States to sell the island new F-16 jets and diesel submarines, there are signs that the Taiwanese military has been shoring up the island’s indigenously developed military capabilities. Recent pronouncements by a prominent Taiwanese legislator from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party revealed that the Hsiung Feng “Brave Wind” 2E surface-to-surface cruise missile system developed by the Chunghsan Institute of Science and Technology may be deployed around the end of 2010. According to KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who chairs the Legislative Yuan’s National Defense Committee, the Wan Chien “Ten Thousand Swords” cluster bomb has also passed the air force’s “initial operational testing” and will eventually be employed to augment the combat capabilities of its Indigenous Defensive Fighter (IDF) (China Times, August 30; September 8; Liberty Times, September 8).

Russia Using Bait-And-Switch Tactics in Mistral Negotiations With France
French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, received Russia’s defense and foreign affairs ministers, Anatoliy Serdyukov and Sergei Lavrov, at the Elysee Palace on September 7, capping a regular meeting of the Franco-Russian Council for Security Cooperation. This body brings together the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers and some military officials. The council’s September 7 meeting resolved, inter alia, to upgrade and regularize future military representation.

Russia Launches International Tender for Warship Procurement
On September 7 in Paris, a regular session of the Franco-Russian Council for Security Cooperation turned into another French embarrassment over Russian procurement of Mistral-class warships. Russia is using bait-and-switch tactics. The defense and foreign affairs ministers, Anatoliy Serdyukov and Sergei Lavrov, officially informed their French counterparts and President Nicolas Sarkozy that Moscow is launching an international tender for the construction of two Mistral-analogue power-projection ships for the Russian navy. Shipyards from at least two other NATO countries and Russia are being invited to compete, alongside the French, for Moscow’s procurement order (Interfax, September 8, 9).

  Naval News Today

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 16May08.

US pushes for helicopters to ferry Myanmar relief

The door is open. But just a crack.

Myanmar’s isolationist ruling junta is now allowing U.S. military cargo planes to regularly fly relief supplies into their largest city to provide aid to cyclone survivors.

But if the aid is to get out to the estimated 2 million people who need it most, Myanmar is going to have to make another big concession: letting the U.S. start flying helicopters directly into the hardest-hit areas and allowing boots on the ground.

So far, that is where the junta draws the line.

Myanmar, whose ruling military generals are intensely sensitive to what they see as outside meddling, has limited the U.S. military to the Yangon airport, where emergency supplies must be unloaded by hand.

US admiral reassures LatAm military on fleet deployment

The commander of US Southern Command, Admiral James Stavridis, sought Thursday to reassure Latin American military chiefs that reinstating the US Fourth Fleet in the region posed them no threat.

“It is not an offensive force in any way,” he told reporters after a meeting of military chiefs from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in Brasilia.

“The IV Fleet’s entire purpose is cooperation, friendship, response to natural disaster, missions of peace and, yes, there will be counter narcotics work, as is traditional.”

The Navy’s announcement last month that it was reviving the fleet after a nearly 60-year slumber, to direct increasing American naval presence in the Caribbean and Latin America, has provoked concern among leaders in the region.

Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro said it signaled a return to gunboat diplomacy, while Bolivian President Evo Morales called it “the Fourth Fleet of intervention.”

Georgia criticizes statement by Russian Navy’s commander

Georgian Foreign Ministry has decried a statement by the Chief Commander of the Russian Navy, Admiral Alexander Zelinin, who mentioned a possibility of setting up a Russian military base in the Abkhazian region.

A press release the ministry issued Thursday described Admiral Zelinin’ s words as “irresponsible”.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry issues one more reminder to the Russian authorities that Abkhazia is an inalienable part of the Georgian state and that plans regarding the deployment of a Russian military base there contradict the commonly recognized international law norms and put international peace and stability into jeopardy, the press release said.

Admiral Zelinin said in Moscow earlier in the day that “the setting up of a Russian military base on the territory of Abkhazia would raise of the quality of guarding the Russian state border.”

Georgia, US begin sea exercises

Georgian-American sea exercises began in the basin of the port of Batumi on Thursday.

Search operations will be drilled for two days.

The US frigate John Hall arrived in Batumi for a four-day visit on Wednesday.

A spokesman at the Batumi department of the Coastguard Service told reporters that the John Hall, and several ships of the Georgian navy and the coastguard service would take part in Georgian-American sea exercises in the basin of the Batumi port on May 15-16.

The programme of the US ships’ stay includes meetings of American sailors with chiefs of the Georgia navy and members of the city administration, as well as sport and cultural functions.

Russia joins ‘Bold Monarch’ submarine rescue exercise

Russia is to participate for the first time in a live NATO-led submarine escape-and-rescue exercise, according to Allied Maritime Component Command (MCC).

Exercise ‘Bold Monarch’ 2008 is due to be staged near Kristiansand, in the Northern Skagerrak region of Norway, from 26 May to 6 June.

Three submarines – one each from the Netherlands, Norway and Poland – will be positioned on the seabed to simulate ‘subsunk’ casualties.

Support personnel and equipment from Canada; France; Germany; Greece; Israel; Italy; the Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Russia; Turkey; Ukraine; the UK; and the United States will endeavour to solve complex rescue and medical problems in a variety of scenarios.

The phased exercise will culminate with a “large-scale co-ordinated rescue and evacuation of survivors from a disabled submarine”, said the MCC in a release issued by its headquarters in Northwood, UK.

Indonesia military focusing on disasters -minister

Indonesia does not need or have the funds to build up a large and threatening military, and is more concerned with equipping itself better to respond to natural and man-made disasters, the defence minister said on Thursday.

“We don’t have the money to build a large threatening force in Indonesia. First because we don’t need it, second we can’t afford it and third because” a large proportion of the country’s budget is focused on economic development and social protection, Defence Minister Juowno Sudarsono told foreign correspondents.

“So forget about building up a 200-ship navy, or a three squadron airforce, that’s not on,” added Suhdarsono, who had a previous career as an academic.

“Our focus is on transport ships, transport aircraft, transport vehicles because the role of the defence force is more of an emergency response to help Indonesians affected by natural disasters, man-made disasters,” he added.

  Naval News Today

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 29Apr08.

U.S. warship takes on a peaceful Latin American mission

The last time the USS Boxer deployed, it was to take 2,200 Marines to the Persian Gulf to be ready for combat in Iraq in the fall of 2006.

On Monday, the amphibious assault ship set sail again, with a different crew and different purpose: taking Navy doctors, nurses, dentists, medical technicians, veterinarians and Seabee construction sailors to Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru for a mission called Continuing Promise 2008.

Though such missions — to Latin America and elsewhere — are not new to the Navy, the top brass has promised an increased emphasis on humanitarian efforts under an updated global strategy approved last fall.

The Boxer and its crew of 1,500 will be gone for two months. Navy personnel will work with their counterparts in the three countries to deliver medical care, improve the health of farm animals and build schools and roads.

The medical facilities aboard the Boxer are second only to those on the Navy’s hospital ships. Several nongovernmental agencies are also part of the project to deliver services and supplies to remote areas.

Navy reclaims river patrol mission

For just over a year, Navy patrol boats have been trolling the Euphrates River, uncovering caches of weapons and guarding a dam that provides electricity to 1.2 million Iraqis.

It’s work that requires sailors to be “up-close-and-personal with an enemy, which we haven’t done for a while,” said Capt. Michael Jordan, commodore of the riverine group’s three squadrons.

The Navy stopped active-duty inland and coastal patrols after Vietnam. Last year, they reclaimed the mission, taking over river patrols for an overburdened Marine Corps.

On Sunday, about 150 sailors from Riverine Squadron 3 left for Iraq – the third unit to deploy since last March. Jordan left the command Monday in a ceremony at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base.

Zumwalt Readies For Production After Successful Navy Review

Raytheon Company has successfully completed the mission system design readiness review for the Zumwalt-class destroyer program. The review confirmed that the mission system design for America’s new multi-mission destroyer is mature and meets U.S. Navy requirements.

To date, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) and the Zumwalt National Team have completed more than 2.7 million lines of software code and 10,127 drawings, conducted detailed design reviews of 92 percent of the program’s detail design and integration elements, and transitioned 56 percent of those elements to production. Raytheon has also completed extensive land- based and onboard-ship testing of the prototype dual band radar.

“The team has done an outstanding job to ensure the mission system design meets the end-to-end requirements and is producible and affordable,” said U.S. Navy Captain James Syring, Zumwalt program manager. “I was very impressed with the design maturity of the mission system and its readiness for production.”

  Naval News Today

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 25Apr08.

US Navy Re-Establishing Presence In Caribbean, Latin America

The U.S. Navy said Thursday it has re-established the U.S. Fourth Fleet to direct an increasing U.S. naval presence in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The move comes as popularly elected leftist regimes, including that of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, pose a growing challenge to U.S. influence in Latin America.

Beginning July 1, the fleet will have operational responsibility over navy ships assigned to the region from the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, the navy said.

Admiral Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, said the decision to establish a separate fleet for the region “recognizes the immense importance of maritime security in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere.”

British Somalia draft eyes increased U.N. presence

Britain has circulated a draft resolution on Somalia to members of the Security Council that would open the door to a stronger U.N. presence and a possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers.

Somalia’s transitional government has been urging the council to send U.N. peacekeepers to help stabilize the lawless Horn of Africa country.

While the 15 Security Council members agree the situation is dire, most have been reluctant to send U.N. peacekeepers to Somalia, where warlords, Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali government forces are battling.

The draft text, obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, asks the Security Council to “welcome” a recent report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on preparations for a U.N. force to replace African Union peacekeepers, known as AMISOM.

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