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30 Jul 21. US military warns China is building more nuclear missile silos. The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China’s nuclear missile silo fields at a time of heightened tension between Beijing and Washington.
Researchers at the Federation of American Scientists estimate that China has approximately 250 underground missile silos under construction after they used satellite imagery to identify a new field being built in western China.
U.S. Strategic Command tweeted a link Wednesday to a story in The New York Times on the federation’s findings, which were published this week.
“The public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it,” said Strategic Command, which oversees America’s nuclear arsenal.
The field in the Xinjiang region is the second one reported this summer. In June, researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California identified another field under construction in neighboring Gansu province.
China has not commented on the reports. Asked about the latest one, the Foreign Ministry said Friday that it was not aware of the situation.
The reports come at a time when relations between the U.S. and China have plunged to their worst level in decades. The two nations remain sharply at odds over a range of issues, including trade, technology, cybersecurity, human rights and China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy under President Xi Jinping.
The expansion of China’s nuclear force would likely factor into any U.S. calculations for potential military confrontations over flashpoints such as Taiwan or the South China Sea. The outspoken editor of the state-owned Global Times newspaper said this week that U.S. institutions and the media are hyping the reports about the missile fields to pressure China, but that the nation shouldn’t be cowed.
“Look at what American politicians are saying about China and look at the provocative actions of their warplanes and warships near China,” Hu Xijin said. “China must fully step up construction of its military force and nuclear deterrence as the cornerstone of its national security.”
Both sites are around 800 square kilometers (300 square miles). Ground-based silos can house intercontinental ballistic missiles. Spreading the silos across such a wide area makes targeting the field much more complicated. Analysts say some of the silos may serve as decoys as well.
“The Chinese missile silo program constitutes the most extensive silo construction since the U.S. and Soviet missile silo construction during the Cold War,” researchers Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen wrote in the Federation of American Scientists report.
Kuo Yu-jen, a defense studies expert at the Institute for National Policy Research in Taiwan, said it’s very difficult to get an accurate count of the underground silos of any country, but that the recently released satellite imagery looks “very, very similar” to missile silos.
He characterized the findings as a warning by the U.S. to others that China, in developing its nuclear weapon capabilities, is violating an international consensus geared toward nuclear disarmament.
“It’s also to let Russia know. China, if it increases its number of missiles, it threatens not only the U.S., but also Russia and Europe,” said Kuo, the director at the Institute for National Policy Research in Taiwan.
The U.S. and Russia, who have the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, held inconclusive talks this week in Geneva in a bid to avoid a new nuclear arms race.
China’s nuclear arsenal is estimated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute at 350 warheads, while the United States or Russia each has about 6,000. The Pentagon says China will at least double the size of its arsenal in 10 years.
The recent research follows a finding by Kristensen in February of construction of 11 underground silos at a vast missile training range near Jilantai in north-central China. (Source: Defense News)
30 Jul 21. Zimbabwe sending troops to Mozambique. Zimbabwe will be sending 304 soldiers to Mozambique to help train soldiers to fight Islamist insurgents in the northern Cabo Delgado province.
Zimbabwe’s defence minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri on Thursday said, “while other countries have to deploy combat troops, Zimbabwe pledged to assist in the training of Mozambique armed forces to enhance their capability to combat terrorism.”
The troops would be deployed as soon as the necessary documentation (the Status of Forces Agreement) has been signed. Kashiri added that the 304 troops comprise 303 instructors and a Southern African Development Community (SADC) coordination officer.
This will be Zimbabwe’s first major deployment of troops in the region since 1998, when it sent soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo in support of the late Laurent Kabila.
Landlocked Zimbabwe is reliant on neighbouring Mozambique’s ports for its imports and exports and has a long history of involvement in Mozambique.
In June, the SADC’s Extraordinary Summit of Heads of States and Government made the decision to deploy elements of the bloc’s Standby Force to Mozambique and the necessary legal documents to proceed with this were signed in mid-July.
Botswana on Monday formally dispatched 300 troops to Mozambique as part of its contribution whilst South Africa has authorised the deployment of up to 1 495 South African National Defence Force members to Mozambique between 15 July and 15 October. Advance elements from South Africa and Botswana arrived in Mozambique early last week.
On Tuesday, Angola announced it had approved a contingent for Mozambique, for three months. The 30-strong contingent will depart on 6 August.
These SADC forces will join 1 000 Rwandan troops currently in Mozambique as part of a bilateral agreement (Rwanda is not an SADC member). Rwandan soldiers are apparently actively combating Al Sunna insurgents and a Rwandan Defence Force spokesperson said that its soldiers had killed 14 insurgents during several operations this week.
According to Portuguese publication Publico, the French government will be paying the Rwandan contingent’s expenses and has offered to finance Zimbabwe’s soldiers. The conflict in Cabo Delgado has displaced 800 000 people, killed 3 000 and brought a natural gas project led by French energy company Total Energies to a grinding halt.
30 Jul 21. Questions coming on SA Mozambique military involvement. Cash-strapped South Africa is not using already stretched financial resources responsibly by committing to a just on R1bn expenditure for soldiers to be “employed” and, at some stage deployed in a foreign country, the Democratic Alliance (DA) believes.
Kobus Marais, the official opposition’s shadow defence and military veterans minister, will ask questions about the use of South African taxpayers’ money and other issues after President Cyril Ramaphosa informed Parliament a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) contingent of just on 1 500 will be dispatched to Mozambique.
As a starter, Marais maintains the Presidential approval was received by National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chair Amos Masondo days after South African soldiers left for Mozambique.
“There are serious concerns regarding the employment, especially its cost. In his letter to Parliament, the President indicated the deployment is expected to cost a staggering R984 368 057. There is no indication where the money will come from and the costs certainly cannot be carried by the South African taxpayer,” he said adding the multi-national force destined for Mozambique is a Southern African Development Community (SADC) one.
“The almost R1bn price tag should be covered by the regional bloc. The notion that the thinly stretched South African taxpayer will foot the bill for this employment is grossly unjustifiable.”
The cost given by Ramaphosa is probably for salaries and other payments, as was the case with the Operation Notlela COVID-19 deployment in 2020.
Marais is also not happy with the duration of the South African military employment in Mozambique.
“The Presidential letter indicates it is for three months and it is going to take significantly longer than three months to defeat the Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique,” he said with the rider that utilisation of South African military elements can be extended with Presidential approval and again asking, if it is, who will foot the bill.
Other questions he has around the Mozambique employment/deployment concern the use of assets such as the Rooivalk combat support helicopter, of which the SA Air Force’s 16 Squadron has 11, and SA Navy (SAN) platforms. “Will a frigate or frigates be despatched to the seas off northern Mozambique for maritime patrol and protection work as well as to deploy shipborne forces? Is consideration being given to tasking a Heroine Class Type 209 submarine?” he asks.
His concerns have the major over-riding concern of the Mozambique involvement not being a repeat of the Battle for Bangui in the Central African Republic in March 2013. Poor logistics and support planning then saw 15 South African soldiers killed.
“We do not want a repeat of that,” Marais said adding he would push for answers from the minister responsible (Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula) and Ramaphosa as Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF and South African president.
30 Jul 21. Philippines’ Duterte fully restores key U.S. troop pact. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has restored a crucial pact governing the presence of U.S. troops in the Southeast Asian nation, the two countries’ defence ministers said on Friday, reversing a decision that had caused increasing concern in Washington and Manila.
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) provides rules for the rotation of thousands of U.S. troops in and out of the Philippines for war drills and exercises. It has assumed additional importance as the United States and its allies contend with an increasingly assertive China.
Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was unsure why Duterte had reversed himself but made the decision after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Manila on Thursday.
Harry Roque, Duterte’s spokesperson, later said the president’s decision was “based on upholding the Philippines’ strategic core interest…and clarity of U.S. position on its obligations and commitments under the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty).”
Duterte’s decision won’t change much on the ground as the pact had not been terminated but it provides stability for both countries.
“This provides certainty for us going forward, we can do long-range planning and do different types of exercises,” Austin said during a news conference with his Philippine counterpart.
The Philippines is a U.S. treaty ally, and several military agreements are dependent on the VFA.
Duterte vowed to terminate the pact after the United States denied a visa to a Philippine senator who is an ally of the president. But he had repeatedly pushed back the expiration date, the last time last month, maintaining it until the end of the year.
For the United States, having the ability to rotate in troops is important not only for the defence of the Philippines, but strategically when it comes to countering China’s assertive behaviour in the region.
“(Duterte’s decision) opens up significant possibilities for strengthening the alliance that were otherwise closed,” said Greg Poling, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
There are long-standing tensions between the Philippines and China over disputed waters in the South China Sea.
The United States this month repeated a warning to China that an attack on Philippine forces in the South China Sea would trigger a 1951 U.S.-Philippines mutual defence treaty.
There are, however, still questions about Duterte’s unpredictability.
“Some of the celebration is premature… (the VFA) will continue to be under threat so long as Duterte remains president,” said Aaron Connelly, with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Philippine presidential elections are set for 2022 and while Duterte is barred by the constitution from seeking re-election, his party has been encouraging him to run again for office, as vice president. (Source: Reuters)
28 Jul 21. Managing China’s missile threat. How should Australia prepare for the potential launch of a missile attack from China? A former deputy secretary of the Department of Defence weighs in. Earlier this year, Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Beijing’s Global Times — which effectively serves as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda mouthpiece — threatened “retaliatory punishment” against Australia if it came to the aid of the US in the event of a clash.
“China has a strong production capability, including producing additional long-range missiles with conventional warheads that target military objectives in Australia when the situation becomes highly tense,” he wrote.
Such threats have prompted observers to examine Australia’s preparedness for a missile strike.
Paul Dibb, emeritus professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University and former deputy secretary of the Department of Defence, says Australia’s current strategy is highly dependent on a US response.
Dibb suggests that Australia consider acquiring a missile system capable of thwarting a potential attack.
“The first step could be to fit this capability to the air warfare destroyers, while noting that a nationwide capability would need to be much more extensive,” he writes in ASPI’s The Strategist.
However, Dibb acknowledges that Australia would ultimately depend on US support, and as such, calls on policy makers to seek a “much clearer commitment” from Washington and a better understanding of its extended deterrence policy for both conventional and nuclear missile attacks.
This is particularly pertinent given uncertainty over China’s readiness to deploy nuclear warheads, with the CCP ramping up proliferation of inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
“US estimates suggest that China is planning to double its strategic nuclear forces and recent media reports claim that Beijing is building more than 100 new silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles in the northwest of the country,” Dibb flags.
“If true, this is a strange development because ICBMs in fixed silos are becoming more vulnerable with the increased accuracy of nuclear strikes. China’s recent ICBMs have been road-mobile for precisely this reason.
“The only rational explanation for new fixed-silo ICBMs is that they’re designed for a new launch-on-warning posture, which suggests new developments in China’s early warning capabilities.”
The former deputy secretary also notes that Beijing possesses approximately 2,000 theatre nuclear missiles capable of targeting much of the Indo-Pacific, most of which are nuclear-armed.
“The main point here for Australia is that unless we acquire missiles with ranges in excess of 4,000 kilometres, we won’t be able to retaliate against any attack on us,” Dibb continues.
“But, in any case, for a country of our size to consider attacking the territory of a large power like China isn’t a credible option.”
As such, Australia would need assurance from Washington that any missile attack would provoke an immediate response by the US.
The United States’ “overwhelming superiority” in precision missile technology, he adds, would serve as an effective deterrent, given China’s population density and the geographical distribution of its population.
“The virtual conurbation that extends from Beijing in the north via Shanghai to Guangzhou and Shenzhen in the south would make it particularly susceptible to massive destruction in an all-out nuclear war,” Dibb notes.
The US currently boasts 1,500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads and another 5,000 stockpiled or ‘retired’, which Dibb says would be “more than enough” in a conflict with both China and Russia.
“In the Cold War, the Pentagon planned on destroying a quarter of the Soviet Union’s population and half its industry. For comparison, a quarter of China’s population is about 350 million,” he observes.
“In such a nuclear war, China would no longer exist as a functioning modern society.” (Source: Defence Connect)
28 Jul 21. UK and Kenya sign new Defence Cooperation Agreement to tackle shared threat from Al-Shabaab. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence Dr Monica Juma signed the deal after agreeing to step up UK support for the key security partner. The UK is stepping up its counter-terrorism and military support to Kenya as the two countries signed a new five-year Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA).
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence Dr Monica Juma signed the accord during her visit to London yesterday.
The agreement will enable the two countries to enhance coordination in their joint efforts to improve regional security in East Africa, including the fight against Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
The UK and Kenya already regularly work together to counter the threat from Al-Shabaab, not only through training as strengthened in the DCA, but also by sharing information and identifying new ways to target the group financially with sanctions, and starve them of new recruits by addressing the root causes of violent extremism.
Building on the existing agreement, the new DCA will provide a basis for the exchange of military personnel for defence activity, allowing for enhanced training opportunities and increased collaboration in peace support work.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “It was great to meet Dr Monica Juma again today. We held very fruitful discussions and agreed a range of measures to keep both of our countries safer. Kenya has long been our defence partner of choice in East Africa and, in a more uncertain world, we will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as we tackle the threats of tomorrow. The two defence secretaries discussed a range of additional enhanced UK counter-terrorism support to Kenya, including increasing protection for tourists on the coast, where many of the 180,000 British tourists who visit Kenya every year travel to.”
They also discussed expanding UK programmes to prevent extremism in coastal and other key areas – including the appointment of a dedicated Maritime Security officer – providing technical support to Kenya’s first terrorism court, enhancing collaboration to counter terrorist financing and increasing training for Kenyan forces to tackle Al Shabaab in the country’s north-east.
Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Dr Monica Juma said, “Today, the Rt Hon Ben Wallace and I reaffirmed our commitment to continue deepening the defence cooperation between our two nations.
The framework underpinning this strategic relationship is the Defence Cooperation Agreement which has become an invaluable tool for enhancing the competencies of our defence forces. Overall, our cooperation continues to significantly improve the ability of our forces to operate effectively in high-threat environments.”
The recently published Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper outlined that in an age of global and systemic competition, our Armed Forces will be persistently globally engaged with partners around the world to tackle emerging threats at their source. Over £24bn of extra defence spending was also announced over the next four years, giving the UK’s Armed Forces the resources to rise to this challenge.
British troops help to train over 1,100 Kenyan soldiers every year before they deploy to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to fight Al-Shabaab.
The British Army and Kenya Defence Force (KDF) conduct around five joint training exercises every year, involving around 750 Kenyan and 5,000 British troops. The signing of the DCA comes six months after the two defence secretaries met in Nairobi, agreeing a refreshed security compact to deepen cooperation in tackling Al-Shabaab and other shared threats such as cybercrime and human trafficking. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
28 Jul 21. Angola sending military advisors to Mozambique. Angola is the latest southern African country to be sending soldiers into Mozambique, and has agreed to deploy 20 officers and a transport aircraft to Cabo Delgado as part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission supporting Mozambique’s military against insurgents.
Angola’s parliament on 27 July approved the move after President Joao Lourenco requested troops be sent abroad.
The deployment to Cabo Delgado will last three months and cost the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) approximately $575 000. Francisco Pereira Furtado, the Angolan minister of state and head of the security house of the president of the republic, told reporters that the Angolan mission will join the SADC forces on 6 August.
National Assembly Deputy Benedito Daniel said the move is in line with Angola’s commitments as an SADC member. The SADC assistance force, approved last month, is mandated to restore peace and security and contain a possible expansion of the Islamic State in the SADC region.
According to the Mozambican Defence Ministry, in addition to South Africa and Botswana, countries such as Tanzania and Angola have confirmed the deployment of forces.
Botswana officially dispatched nearly 300 troops to Mozambique on Tuesday, the first SADC country to officially do so. President Mokgweetsi Masisi said Botswana Defence Force soldiers would work with Mozambique’s armed forces and soldiers sent by other members of the SADC to help end the insurgency in Cabo Delgado.
The SADC mission in Mozambique will be led by South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Major General Xolani Mankayi, who is in Mozambique as part of an advance deployment that began last week.
South Africa on 23 July committed up to 1 495 members of the SANDF to support Mozambique “to combat the acts of terrorism and violent extremists that affected the area of Cabo Delgado Province.” They will be deployed from 15 July to 15 October at a cost of R984m.
These troops will join 1 000 soldiers non-SADC member Rwanda sent to Mozambique earlier this month under a bilateral agreement.
Reports suggest Rwandan soldiers are making headway against the insurgents. Rwanda’s The New Times on 27 July reported that Mozambican and Rwandan forces had overrun one of the insurgents’ main bases in Cabo Delgado. The base, in the region of Auasse, on the border between Mocimboa da Praia and Mueda districts, was apparently captured on 26 July. Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Sunday said that Mozambican forces had seized terrorist positions at Diaca, Roma and Nantili.
According to The New Times, Mozambican and Rwandan units are still pursuing the insurgents. (Source: DefenceWeb)
26 Jul 21. New Zealand reassesses defence investment priorities. New Zealand’s Defence Minister Peeni Henare has outlined plans to reassess the country’s military modernisation requirements in the light of fiscal constraints stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. Henare told Janes that the review of requirements contained in New Zealand’s Defence Capability Plan (DCP) is intended to ensure the “optimal prioritisation of investments”. The DCP was issued by the government in 2019 and maintains a commitment signalled in the DCP published three years earlier to invest NZD20bn (USD14bn) in defence out to 2030.
Henare indicated that the review of the DCP 2019 could result in cost-cutting, although he stressed that procurement programmes already under contract – including the NZD2.4bn acquisition of Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) – will not be affected.
Henare told Janes, “The Defence Capability Plan was drafted in 2019 in a pre-Covid environment. With the current environment of fiscal restraint, I have directed officials to reconsider the proposed Defence Capability Plan future investment programme.”
He added, “It is important that [New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence, (MoD)] ensures the optimal prioritisation of investments, and reconsiders the value and timing of individual projects and decisions.”
According to Henare, he “wouldn’t want to pre-empt the outcome of this process, which is now under way, but I would like to make clear that all projects currently under contract, including the P-8A Poseidon, the C-130J Hercules aircraft, and the Bushmaster protected vehicles, will continue as planned”.
Outlining the rationale of the DCP review, Henare said that the New Zealand government believed it is important that “new investment decisions about defence support New Zealand’s economic recovery”.
27 Jul 21. Austin Discusses Need for Indo-Pacific Partnerships in the Future. While Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke of the need for partnerships to combat COVID-19, he also said these relationships are also necessary to create a stronger, more prosperous Indo-Pacific for the future – one where no one nation calls the shots. Speaking in Singapore as part of the Fullerton Lecture series sponsored by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Austin emphasized that the United States is a reliable partner for the nations of Southeast Asia and detailed American thinking on the environment in this strategic region. Austin emphasized that U.S. efforts in the Indo-Pacific will be a whole of government approach with DOD working alongside State Department diplomats, economic experts and others. ”The Department of Defense will be here to provide the resolve and reassurance that America’s diplomats can use to help prevent conflict from breaking out in the first place,” Austin said in his speech. ”As I’ve said before, it’s always better to stamp out an ember than to try to put out a blaze.” This is about deterrence, but deterrence in many forms. Austin has called this ”integrated deterrence” and gave a fuller explanation of the strategy in Singapore.
”For decades, we have maintained the capabilities, the presence, and the relationships needed to ward off conflict and to preserve the stability that lies at the heart of our shared prosperity,” he said. ”Yet, emerging threats and cutting-edge technologies are changing the face and the pace of warfare. So, we are operating under a new, 21st century vision that I call ‘integrated deterrence.”’
We have long sought to create space for Indo-Pacific countries to realize their highest aspirations and safeguard the rights of their citizens. And these joint efforts with our friends rely on more than just intersecting interests. They draw strength from common principles.” Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense
This concept means using every military and non-military tool in lock-step with allies and partners. ”Integrated deterrence is about using existing capabilities and building new ones and deploying them all in new and networked ways — all tailored to a region’s security landscape, and in growing partnership with our friends,” he said.
Austin said partnership is key. ”Together, we’re aiming to coordinate better, to network tighter and to innovate faster,” the secretary said. ”And we’re working to ensure that our allies and partners have the capabilities, the capacities, and the information that they need.”
Integrated deterrence includes all domains including the new ones of space and cyberspace.
U.S. defense officials are working with Singaporean leaders on cyber defense cooperation. Singapore has opted to invest in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. All this contributes to integrated defense across a spectrum of conflict, Austin said.
This includes deterrence in the ”gray zone” where the rights and livelihoods of the people of Southeast Asia are coming under stress. ”That’s why we’re working to strengthen local capacity and to bolster maritime-domain awareness, so that nations can better protect their sovereignty, as well as the fishing rights and the energy resources afforded them by international law,” he said.
Part of this includes improving interoperability. Austin stressed the need for complex and challenging exercises in all domains to increase partnership. He is particularly pleased to see multilateral exercises and ties increasing among the nations of the region.
Other nations outside the region – such as Britain, the Netherlands, France – are also cooperating, and he pointed to the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth operating in the region now.
These partnerships are vital, he said. The United States is an Indo-Pacific nation and has vital interests best served by a stable, open and prosperous region. ”Our strategic partnerships can carry us all closer to the historic common project of a free and open Pacific — at peace with itself and with the world — a stronger, more stable regional order where countries resolve disputes amicably and uphold all the rights of all their citizens,” the secretary said.
Austin said the United States is working to strengthen long-established alliances and to build new partnerships. The United States is also working closely with regional and multilateral organizations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Quad – a group that includes India, Australia, Japan and the United States. It also includes working through the United Nations Security Council.
”We have long sought to create space for Indo-Pacific countries to realize their highest aspirations and safeguard the rights of their citizens,” Austin said. ”And these joint efforts with our friends rely on more than just intersecting interests. They draw strength from common principles. Now, these differences and disputes are real. But the way that you manage them counts. We will not flinch when our interests are threatened. Yet, we do not seek confrontation.” Lloyd J. Austin III , Secretary of Defense
These common principles include belief in national sovereignty and the right for countries and peoples to make their own decisions. It is a belief in the rule of law and freedom of the seas. It is a commitment to human rights and dignity, and it is an insistence that disputes will be resolved peacefully, Austin said.
”Yet, this region has witnessed actions that just don’t line up with those shared principles,” the secretary said. ”Beijing’s claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea has no basis in international law. That assertion treads on the sovereignty of the states in the region. We continue to support the region’s coastal states in upholding their rights under international law. And we remain committed to the treaty obligations that we have to Japan in the Senkaku Islands and to the Philippines in the South China Sea.”
China has been aggressive against India, it threatens the people of Taiwan. It is engaging in crimes against their own citizens, the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
”Now, these differences and disputes are real,” Austin said. ”But the way that you manage them counts. We will not flinch when our interests are threatened. Yet, we do not seek confrontation.
”So let me be clear: As secretary, I am committed to pursuing a constructive, stable relationship with China – including stronger crisis communications with the People’s Liberation Army,” he said. ”You know, big powers need to model transparency and communication, and we hope that we can work together with Beijing on common challenges, especially the threat of climate change.”
Austin said that even in this great power competition, the United States is not asking the nations of Southeast Asia to choose sides. The United States will work with like-minded states, and work with regional organizations to encourage all nations to work together.
The U.S. will continue to work with ASEAN – an organization that gives every nation a voice. ”I’ll say personally that I’m proud that my predecessors and I have attended every single meeting of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus – a venue that is increasingly central to the region’s security architecture,” he said.
”Even in times of challenge, our democracy is a powerful engine for its own renewal,” Austin said. ”We’ve embarked upon an ambitious program to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic. President Biden likes to tell the world leaders he meets with that it’s ‘never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America.”’
Austin said the alliances in the Indo-Pacific region are an unmatched and unrivaled source of strength and security. ”Our countries share the shores of the Pacific, but we also share an understanding of the power of partnership.” (Source: US DoD)
27 Jul 21. Austin Emphasizes Partnership in Singapore Speech. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III today emphasized partnership with the United States during a speech in Singapore, saying America is a reliable friend to countries in Southeast Asia.
The secretary delivered the International Institute of Strategic Studies 40th Fullerton Lecture, and he used U.S. efforts to combat COVID-19 as examples of America’s commitment to the region.
The pandemic had kept Austin from traveling to the region sooner, but this is still his second trip to the Indo-Pacific region since taking office in January. He is the first cabinet-level official in the Biden administration to visit the crucial Southeast Asia area.
”We are meeting in difficult times,” Austin said. ”But we’re working with our friends so that we all come out of the pandemic stronger than before.”
At its heart, Austin’s speech emphasized the advantages that partnership with the United States brings to the region. He called it a ”strategic imperative.”
”I learned a core lesson over four decades as a soldier in peace and in war: That lesson is nobody can go it alone, at least not for very long,” he said. ”We are far stronger, and for far longer, when we come together than when we let ourselves be split apart.”
The international, rules-based order that has allowed the nations of Southeast Asia to prosper, and the U.S. presence in the region helps ensure security via partnerships with the nations involved.
But Austin said there are still threats and problems in the region.
”Together with our friends, we face a range of challenges in this region that demand common action,” the secretary said. ”There are transnational threats, like the pandemic and the existential threat of climate change, the specter of coercion from rising powers, the nuclear dangers from North Korea, the struggles against repression inside countries such as Myanmar and leaders who ignore the rule of law and abuse the basic rights and dignity that all people deserve.
”We will meet those challenges together,” he said.
Austin said the purpose of his visit to the region is to listen to friends, allies and partners. ”Our network of alliances and friendships is an unparalleled strategic asset,” he said. ”And I never take an ally for granted.”
The region needs to address the COVID-19 pandemic together, Austin said, and it is doing that. He noted Singapore has provided emergency supplies to stricken countries in the region, and that countries are working together because the virus knows no borders.
”Together, this region can rebuild from the pandemic and move forward to an even brighter future in an even stronger rules-based international order,” the secretary said. ”And that means more security, more stability, more prosperity, more resilience and more openness.”
COVID-19 is taking a terrible toll around the world, but history shows what the region – and the world – can do together. Austin pointed to the efforts in the recovery from the 2004 earthquake and tsunami as an example. ”The countries of the Indo-Pacific resisted the temptation to turn inward and instead forged strong ties and built a more inclusive and secure and prosperous region,” he said.
But Austin said the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the region anew. ”We face another choice between the power of partnership and the dangers of division,” he said. ”I am confident that — through our collective efforts — the Indo-Pacific will again rise to the challenge. And America will be right at your side, just as an old friend should.”
The United States has rushed critical assistance across the Indo-Pacific, including testing equipment, oxygen supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators and storage for vaccines. DOD has provided logistics assistance, mobile clinics and more in some hard-hit areas.
The United States is now rushing life-saving vaccines to the region. ”President Biden has committed to deliver more than 500 million shots world-wide over the next year, and the Indo-Pacific is a top priority,” Austin said. ”You know, in just the past two months, we have shared more than 30 million doses throughout the region, including Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.”
Austin called the U.S.-developed vaccines ”medical miracles,” as they have proven remarkably effective at preventing illness or lessening the severity of an infection. ”And you know what? They’re free,” Austin said. ”No conditions. No small print. And no strings attached. Because this is an emergency. And that’s what friends do.”
The secretary noted Singapore aided India when COVID-19 threatened to overwhelm that nation. He also pointed out that Singapore has three new vaccine-production facilities planned or under construction.
Meanwhile, India, Japan, Australia and the United States have committed to producing and delivering a billion vaccine doses in the Indo-Pacific, he said. ”South Korea is aiming to produce up to a billion vaccine doses this year,” Austin said. ”To help, the United States and South Korea have established a comprehensive global vaccine partnership.”
The pandemic is still raging. Some areas are affected more than others. But the way through this scourge is via partnership, the secretary said. ”[The partnerships] reflect our common determination and our common humanity.” (Source: US DoD)
27 Jul 21. Defence Secretary praises UK-France co-operation as RAF helicopters help Mali recovery mission. RAF Chinooks supporting the French-led counter-terror operation in Mali assisted recovery operations after a French Mirage 2000 jet crew ejected from the aircraft
The growing spectre of diverse threats such as terrorism, hostile state activity and climate change underlines the vital importance of the UK-France relationship, the Defence Secretary has said in Paris.
During talks with his counterpart, French Minister for the Armed Forces Madame Florence Parly, in France on Monday alongside the UK and French Foreign Secretaries, Ben Wallace pointed to the shared challenges the two countries face on the European and global stage.
They addressed key security and foreign policy issues including new fields of co-operation on emerging technologies, European security and joint work concerning Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific.
The UK has enjoyed strong co-operation with France since the 2010 Lancaster House Treaties, including tackling Daesh’s terrorism in the Middle East and supporting the stabilisation of the Sahel region of Africa.
The UK-France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) has reached full operating capability, meaning it is able to deploy 10,000 or more personnel on combat operations under one command. Meanwhile, France and the UK are collaborating on ground-breaking capability from next generation missiles technologies to future combat air systems.
Just last week, RAF Chinook helicopters serving in Mali in support of the French-led counter-terror operation supported recovery operations after a French Mirage 2000 jet crew ejected from the aircraft.
The UK helicopters, providing a heavy lift combat support role in Mali, were ideally placed to transport around 60 French troops to secure the area. The Chinooks later lifted a French accident investigation team and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team to the location south of Hombori. Throughout the sorties the RAF helicopters were escorted by French Tiger attack helicopters.
After meeting his counterpart Mme Florence Parly, the Defence Secretary said, “United by our shared beliefs, I look forward to our continued cooperation with France as we take on the shared threats and challenges we face in an age of constant competition.”
During the talks, the Defence Secretary pointed to the ambition of the UK’s recent Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper, bolstered by £24bin of extra government investment. He said that as leaders in NATO and nations who share truly global interests, the UK and France have a responsibility to stand together, whether through unprecedented cooperation on nuclear issues, championing NATO reform or by supporting collective security from the Black Sea to the High North.
Last month saw the two aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and the Charles De Gaulle sail side-by-side in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. The UK looks forward to strengthening the partnership with greater cooperation in space, cyberspace, Artificial Intelligence and autonomy. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
26 Jul 21. Georgia outlines defence procurement priorities. The Georgian government has revealed its defence procurement priorities up to 2030, which includes acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), new artillery systems, and a revitalisation of its defence housing infrastructure. At a ceremony for the release of the Action Plan of the Georgian Defence Forces 2020–30 on 22 July, Minister of Defence Juansher Burchuladze revealed that the country would be acquiring additional Javelin anti-tank missiles in 2021 from the United States. Negotiations are also under way with Polish and South African companies to establish joint ventures (JVs) in the country with the Ministry of Defence (MoD)-owned company Delta STC in 2022. The JVs would be established to manufacture small and large UAVs in country as part of efforts to bolster its intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities. Georgia will also be regenerating its artillery capabilities from 2024, including the procurement of mortar systems from local companies, and acquiring other artillery systems from other countries. Delta STC displayed a 120 mm mortar carrier variant of its Didgori vehicle at the IDEX 2019 trade show, with the company noting at the time that it was in line for a “significant” contract with the Georgian MoD. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Jul 21. Botswana officially deploys troops to Mozambique. The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has officially deployed troops to Mozambique to take part in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission there.
Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi saw off the troops at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport north of Gaborone on Monday morning as Commander-in-Chief of the Botswana Armed Forces and Current Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence & Security.
“Complex as the security situation in the SADC region may be, as in the past, Botswana’s foreign policy goals have been and remain very clear. Botswana’s security cannot be attained without that of her neighbours,” he said.
“Today we witness yet another milestone in our set out objectives of propelling the peace agenda to our region in following through on the SADC Mandate aimed at facilitating the peaceful conditions in the northern part of the Republic of Mozambique.
“It is for this reason that I am here this morning to address members of the Botswana Defence Force who as part of the SADC Standby Force will be deployed to provide regional support to the Republic of Mozambique to combat the looming threat of terrorism and acts of violent extremism in the Cabo Delgado Region in the northern part of that country, as an element of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM).”
Troops are being deployed via Air Botswana aircraft, and appear to follow on from a pre-deployment team that arrived in Mozambique last week. Photos showed Botswana Defence Force C-130 Hercules aircraft offloading troops and light vehicles at Pemba last week and over the weekend.
Botswana’s Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, said a total of 296 soldiers will today leave for Mozambique to join SADC standby force. It is believed that Tanzania and Angola may also take part in the Standby Force deployment.
In a statement, the Office of the President of Botswana said “The BDF contingent will work intently with the Forcas Armadas de Defesa de Mocambique (FADM) and other forces from the Southern Africa Development Community to include countries that have bilateral agreements with the Republic of Mozambique in designated sectors of responsibility within the Cabo Delgado Region.”
The mention of bilateral agreements refers to Rwanda, which has 1 000 troops in Mozambique. Soldiers from Rwanda, which is not a member of the SADC, would fight alongside Mozambique’s forces and SADC troops, the Rwandan government said on 9 July when the deployment began.
Rwandan troops appear to have started patrols in at least the Nangade district of Cabo Delgado as well as near Afungi, the site of a natural gas processing plant. It has been reported that late last week Rwandan and Mozambican forces launched offensives around Mocímboa da Praia.
South African special forces, meanwhile, appear to have arrived in Mozambique last Monday, with photos showing a South African Air Force (SAAF) C-130BZ Hercules (406) unloading soldiers and Hornet vehicles (the Hornet is used by South Africa’s Special Forces).
Military sources told the Daily Maverick last week that leading elements of the SADC standby force, including its South African commander, were in Mozambique. The Deployment Commander is believed to be Major General Xolani Mankayi, who served as Commander of the SANDF Peace Mission to Burundi.
The advance team is not expected to be immediately involved in direct combat operations against al-Sunna insurgents. Their main mission is to gather intelligence, conduct reconnaissance, advise the Mozambican military, and prepare command and control structures for a potential deployment of a full SADC brigade.
The timing and size of the SADC deployment, as well as the number of soldiers sent by each member, is not yet known.
According to the opposition Democratic Alliance party, South Africa has 1 500 troops in Mozambique but this has not been confirmed. Parliament has not yet been informed about the South African National Defence Force deployment to Mozambique.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said on Sunday that troops fighting the Islamic State-linked insurgency in its northern province of Cabo Delgado were gaining ground and the enemy was retreating.
Nyusi was addressing the nation on the crisis that was triggered when the insurgents in March attacked the coastal town of Palma, near natural gas projects worth $60bn that are meant to transform Mozambique’s economy.
The insurgency has caused total paralysis in mineral activity, agriculture and infrastructure development in the region, he said.
“We should not fear the presence of foreign forces in our country,” he said. “We should be afraid of being alone in fighting terrorism.”
“Rwandan troops have come to save lives in a province where we have people being killed and beheaded every day,” the president said. “We couldn’t deny any available assistance.” (Source: DefenceWeb)
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