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16 Sep 21. China tells West to ‘shake off Cold War mentality’ after UK, US and Australia launch major new security pact. The new deal, dubbed Aukus, is set to reshape the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific region amid increasing belligerence from Beijing China on Thursday accused the UK, the US and Australia of fuelling an “arms race” in the Pacific that will make the region more dangerous after the three announced a broad security alliance. The new deal, dubbed Aukus and unveiled on Wednesday, will see London and Washington help Canberra to build nuclear-powered submarines as well as swap knowledge on cyber information, artificial intelligence, undersea technology and other cutting-edge sciences.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said the three countries were “severely damaging regional peace and stability, intensifying an arms race, and damaging international nuclear non-proliferation efforts”
The foreign ministry earlier warned that the alliance would only “shoot itself in the foot” and that it represented an “outdated Cold War mentality”.
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, denied the arrangement was specifically aimed at China, telling the House of Commons: “I think it is important for the house to understand that Aukus is not intended to be adversarial towards any other power.”
In another attempt to defuse Beijing’s fury, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said he remained ready to hold discussions with Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart, despite high-level talks being frozen amid deteriorating relations between the two countries.
The new arrangement, which comes just weeks after US president Joe Biden oversaw a chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, is widely seen as part of a broader refocusing of American military and diplomatic might on countering China.
Mr Biden is due next Friday to host a meeting of the leaders of Australia, India, and Japan, an informal alliance of pro-US allies in the Indo pacific known as the “quad”.
The Aukus partnership will first seek to help Canberra build eight nuclear-powered submarines.
Australia will be the second country after Britain in 1958 to be given access to US nuclear technology to build such military craft.
Nuclear-powered submarines are able to submerge for much longer than their diesel-electric counterparts and will allow the Royal Australian Navy to patrol undetected in disputed South China Sea waters that China currently claims as its own.
The decision saw Canberra ditch a $90 bn contract to buy diesel-electric submarines from France, which condemned the move as “a stab in the back”.
“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do…I am angry and bitter,” said foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, on Thursday denied the arrangement was a betrayal of France, describing the decision purely as a rational response to China’s own military expansion.
“The Australians took a view they wanted a strategic step change in their capability,” he said.
“Fundamentally we all see that China has invested more than anyone else on the planet in increasing its armed forces.
“Australia is joining that very small club of nations that have nuclear powered submarines, and it gives them a strategic advantage.”
China has rapidly expanded its navy in recent years, adding its first ever combat ready aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines to a vast fleet of frigates and other light ships designed to project power into the Pacific.
Beijing has also established a patchwork of military outposts in the region, turning rocks and reefs into artificial islands with airstrips, hangars, ports and surface-to-air missile systems.
It has also significantly escalated its manoeuvres in the contested parts of the South China Sea, buzzing warships over the ocean and deploying maritime militia – moves that have alarmed neighbours including Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.
Mr Wallace said that China’s navy lagged behind the West in terms of combat preparedness. “It doesn’t matter how many secrets you steal, it doesn’t replace 60 years of experience,” he said.
The submarine deal has been viewed as part of the US strategy to protect the so-called “first island chain” which includes Japan and Taiwan, the latter of which Beijing claims as its own and has threatened to invade.
Taiwan’s strategic importance at the critical midpoint of the first island chain, a thread of major archipelagos that runs from Russia’s Kuril Islands to the Malay Peninsula, lies at the heart of Washington’s Indo-Pacific policy.
On Thursday Taipei proposed extra defense spending of $8.69 bn over the next five years, including on new missiles, as it warned of an urgent need to upgrade weapons in the face of a “severe threat” from giant neighbor China.
Vice-President Lai Ching-Te said the Aukus deal represented a “positive” development for peace in the region.
Japan has also become increasingly alarmed at Beijing’s military posturing near its shores, particularly over the flashpoint of the Senkaku Islands, over which it has competing claims with China.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Japan would defend the Senkakus as its own territory, with Tokyo matching any Chinese threat to the islands ship for ship, and beyond if necessary.
He added that “stabilizing the situation surrounding Taiwan is important for Japan’s security,” noting that “ninety percent of energy that Japan uses is imported through the areas around Taiwan.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
16 Sep 21. Australia details its nuclear-submarine ambitions. The Australian government has established a Future Nuclear Submarine Task Force which will work with U.K. and U.S. counterparts over the next twelve to eighteen months to determine the best way to acquire the boats.
While a specific type of nuclear submarine is yet to be determined, likely candidates would appear to be either Britain’s Astute-class attack submarine or the U.S. Virginia-class vessel. Construction is slated to take place locally at Osborne in South Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson jointly announced the formation of a new tripartite alliance known as AUKUS on Thursday (local time), under which the first initiative will to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.
Morrison also announced that a previous $90 bn (US$65.88 bn) contract Australia holds with France’s Naval Group for the construction of 12 conventional submarines, which were to have been known as the Attack class in Royal Australian Navy’s service, has been terminated.
A decision on the final number of new submarines is expected to be made by Canberra during the upcoming analysis phase.
“We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide, Australia in close cooperation with the United Kingdom and the United States,” Morrison said, “But let me be clear: Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability and we will continue of meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.”
The change to a nuclear-powered boat in lieu of the conventional submarine Australia was designing in conjunction with Naval Group and Lockheed Martin Australia (for the Combat System) was made as a result of the meeting between the three leaders at the G7 Summit held in the UK in June, during which the AUKUS alliance concept was formulated.
The decision is understood to have been brought about by the deteriorating security environment and rapidly evolving military technologies in the Indo-Pacific region, and it is enabled by new technology which allows Australia to build nuclear-powered boats that do not require a supporting civil nuclear industry.
Australia has spent around AU$2.4 bn (U.S. $1.76 bn) on the Attack-class design so far, but the additional cost of terminating the current contract is yet to be negotiated. The projected cost of the new future nuclear submarine has also yet to be determined or announced.
In a statement following Thursday’s announcement, Naval Group described the Australian decision a “major” disappointment. “Naval Group was offering Australia a regionally superior conventional submarine with exceptional performances. A sovereign submarine capability making unrivaled commitments in terms of technology transfer, jobs and local content,” the company said.
“For five years, Naval Group teams, both in France and in Australia, as well as our partners, have given their best and Naval Group has delivered on all its commitments.”
The company said an analysis of the consequences of the decision will be conducted with the Commonwealth of Australia in the coming days.
The deputy secretary for the national naval shipbuilding program, Tony Dalton, told Defense News that “the decision to not proceed with the Attack Class Submarine Program was driven by a consideration of the strategic circumstances and the impact this has on Australia’s submarine capability requirements.”
“It was not related to the performance of Naval Group or Lockheed Martin,” Dalton added. “Over the coming months, the Department will conduct negotiations with both Naval Group Australia and Lockheed Martin Australia to reach a fair and equitable agreement to wind up the Attack class submarine program. ”
The change of heart is likely to mean the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins-class submarines will now remain in service, in diminishing numbers, until the late 2040s. The six Collins boats will cycle through a further Full Cycle Docking (FSD) activity and Life of Type Extension (LOTE) program to ensure their effectiveness until withdrawal. The scope of the LOTE upgrade has not been made public, but an announcement by South Australian Premier Steven Marshal Thursday revealed the work will also be done at Osborne. (Source: Defense News)
16 Sep 21. Key updates on Australia’s submarine program. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s mid-morning press conference provided much needed strategic direction for Defence and defence industry regarding the recent submarine announcements.
- Australia is expected to become the only non-nuclear nation to possess nuclear submarine capabilities;
- Australia, UK and US expected to undertake knowledge sharing to enable the Royal Australian Navy to attain a nuclear powered fleet, the first time such knowledge sharing has taken place in over six decades;
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the submarines will be built in Adelaide;
- Workers ensured that their skills are still needed, and that submarine construction and sustainment remain critical priorities for the government;
- Leaders have announced the creation of new “trilateral security dialogue” with Australia, UK and US; and
- Naval Group expressed their disappointment with the decision, defending the capabilities of the Attack Class Submarine.
Late this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, flanked by the Secretary of the Department of Defence Greg Moriarty and Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell addressed the nation to provide a strategic update on the ground breaking cancellation of the SEA 1000 contract with Naval Group and the decision to build nuclear powered submarines.
At the heart of the decision, the PM confirmed, was the deteriorating strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific.
“The relatively benign security environment that Australia has enjoyed over many decades in our region is behind us. We have entered, no doubt, a new era,” the PM said.
GEN Campbell concurred with the Prime Minister, explaining that the strategic environment faced by Australia within the Indo-Pacific was worsening at “an accelerated pace”, requiring the creation of new capabilities and alliances.
To counter this, the PM explained that the new AUKUS agreement was just an alliance, but an alliance among “oldest and most trusted of friends” in the spirit of a “forever partnership”, a phrase the PM repeated a number of times throughout his conference.
However, it is evident that the move to nuclear powered submarines was not an isolated act by the Commonwealth government, rather it forms part of a wider set of strategic deterrence capabilities.
“We will be enhancing our long-range strike capability, including Tomahawk cruise missiles to be filled on the Royal Australian Navy Hobart Class destroyers and joint air to surface stand-off missiles extended range for our Royal Australian Air Force capabilities.”
For the meantime, however, the Collins Class submarines will continue to undergo their life of type extension to ensure that Australia maintains its stop gap submarine capabilities.
The PM announced that Australia expects to commence the construction of the new nuclear powered submarines within 10 years. It is likely that for the first 18 months, Australia and the new AUKUS partners will be examining and researching the capabilities that Australia will require to maintain a naval fleet.
This will be spearheaded by a new commonwealth taskforce, alongside our UK and US forever partners to oversee waste, regulation, workforce constraints and force structure. The PM explained that Australia was well placed to meet these tough challenges, with a long history of working with nuclear reactors, such as the one located at Lucas Heights as well as submarine capabilities.
The PM continued by reassuring the people of Adelaide and people currently employed in Australia’s submarine industry, outlining that he construction of a sovereign built nuclear powered submarine will take place in Adelaide, and that the skillsets of those current submarine workers are still vital for Australia’s future naval capabilities.
Why nuclear powered submarines?
The PM did not mince his words when he explained that the deteriorating environment in the Indo-Pacific, coupled with US willingness to support Australia’s acquisition of the nuclear technology, prompted the step change.
“Nuclear submarines have clear advantages. Greater endurance, they’re faster, they have greater power, greater stealth, more carrying capacity. These make nuclear submarines the desired substantial capability enhancement that Australia has needed. It’s helps us to build regional resilience,” PM Morrison explained.
“It is the first time this technology has ever been made available to Australia,” he continued.
In fact, the PM noted that capability and technology sharing of this scale is so rare that nuclear powered submarine technology had only been made available once before, with the US providing the UK with nuclear submarine technology in 1958.
Australia is indeed lucky to be the recipient of such technological and research sharing, the PM suggested. “This is a one off”.
Though, the PM nevertheless defended the position of the Turnbull government, which selected Naval Group to oversee the Commonwealth’s SEA 1000 program and construct the Attack Class submarine.
“Australia was not in a position at the time we took the decision back in 2016 to build and operate a nuclear powered submarine. That wasn’t on the table,” the PM said.
“So the decision we have made not to continue with the Attack Class submarine and to go down this path isn’t a change of mind, it’s a change of need.
“Contractual gates were built into the Attack Class project, necessarily.
“As we were looking towards that next gate we have decided not to enter through it as part of the Attack Class program.”
The Prime Minister confirmed that he informed France’s President Emmanuel Macron of the government’s decision to cease the Naval Group contract.
However, the benefits of nuclear-powered submarines in enhancing Australia’s naval capabilities simply could not be mimicked by traditional diesel engines offered by the Attack Class program.
“Australians would expect me as Prime Minister to ensure that we have the best possible capability to keep them safe, and to be unhindered in pursuing that as best I possibly can,” the PM continued.
“Next generation nuclear power submarines will use reactors that do not need refuelling during the life of the boat. A civil nuclear power capability her in Australia is not required to pursue this new capability.”
Like this morning’s joint conference between Prime Ministers Morrison and Johnson and President Biden, the Prime Minister warned potential opponents to the scheme that the new nuclear submarines were nuclear powered, and not armed with nuclear weapons – in violation of nuclear non-proliferation treaties.
“This is about propulsion, not about acquiring nuclear weapons … it’s not on our agenda,” PM Morrison explained.
“We will continue to meet all of our agreements on the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as our partners in this exercise will also do.” (Source: Defence Connect)
16 Sep 21. New Zealand to uphold ban on nuclear vessels despite Australia’s submarine program. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern told reporters that the country intends to uphold its ban on nuclear powered vessels within its territorial waters, the same policy that fractured ANZUS in the 1980s. Speaking at a COVID-19 press conference today, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that the country will maintain its ban on nuclear powered vessels within their territorial waters, despite the Australian government’s announcement this morning regarding the construction of nuclear powered submarines.
“New Zealand’s position in relation to the prohibition of nuclear powered vessels in our waters remains unchanged,” PM Ardern told reporters.
“New Zealand is first and foremost a nation of the Pacific and we view foreign policy developments through the lens of what is in the best interest of the region.”
The snub stems from a 1984 policy from the New Zealand government not to allow nuclear powered vessels into the nation’s territorial borders, which saw New Zealand partially suspended from the ANZUS treaty.
“Certainly they couldn’t come into our internal waters. No vessels that are partially or fully powered by nuclear energy is able to enter our internal borders,” she said.
However, PM Ardern’s criticism stopped there, acknowledging her broad support for the new alliance.
“We welcome the increased engagement of the UK and US in the region and reiterate our collective objective needs to be the delivery of peace and stability and the preservation of the international rules based system,” she said.
PM Ardern expects that New Zealand’s ongoing role in the Five Eyes alliance will remain firm, despite the creation of a new bloc. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Sep 21. US to ramp up military presence in Australia. Bases across Australia are set to host a larger contingent of US troops and military equipment as part of a new deal struck between the nations.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne have confirmed plans to bolster the United States’ military presence in Australia after meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin as part of AUSMIN discussions.
As an extension to the bilateral Force Posture Working Group convened in May 2021, the counterparts endorsed areas of expanded co-operation across the air and maritime domains.
- enhanced air co-operation through the rotational deployment of US aircraft of all types in Australia and appropriate aircraft training and exercises;
- enhanced maritime co-operation by increasing logistics and sustainment capabilities of US surface and subsurface vessels in Australia;
- enhanced land co-operation by conducting more complex and more integrated exercises and greater combined engagement with allies and partners in the region; and
- the establishment of a combined logistics, sustainment, and maintenance enterprise to support high end warfighting and combined military operations in the region.
Minister Dutton shed more light on the deal earlier on Friday morning, revealing US personnel and military assets would be based in key strategic locations across the country.
In addition to hosting troops in the Top End, Australia is set to welcome US maritime and air platforms in the southern states.
This is expected to include submarines, bombers, and surveillance aircraft, the latter of which could be sustained at RAAF Base Richmond and RAAF Base Amberley.
“We’ve got thousands of troops based in the north of Australia, in Darwin, but there’s more that we can do in the maritime space [and] in the air space,” Minister Dutton told the media.
“There’s also a big opportunity for Australian industry — the sustainment of personnel and the equipment they bring with them.
“There are many elements to it, but really, it’s all about trying to keep us as a country safe and that’s the first objective.”
The nations are yet to confirm the size of the expanded US presence, with representatives in discussions to iron out details.
This announcement follows the establishment of a new trilateral partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS).
The new multinational agreement will see nuclear-powered submarines built in Adelaide, leveraging skills and resources provided by stakeholders in the US and UK. Further details regarding the fleet’s capability, project logistics, and the delivery timeline are to be fleshed out over the next 18 months.
The new plan scuppers France-based Naval Group’s multi-decade contract to deliver 12 diesel-powered Attack Class submarines to replace the ageing Collins Class fleet as part of its $90 bn SEA 1000 contract. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Sep 21. U.S. says Kabul drone strike killed 10 civilians, including children, in ‘tragic mistake.’ A drone strike in Kabul last month killed as many as 10 civilians, including seven children, the U.S. military said on Friday, apologizing for what it called a “tragic mistake”.
The Pentagon had said the Aug. 29 strike targeted an Islamic State suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops at the airport as they completed the last stages of their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Even as reports of civilian casualties emerged, the top U.S. general had described the attack as “righteous”.
The head of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, said that at the time he had been confident it averted an imminent threat to the forces at the airport.
“Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake,” McKenzie told reporters.
He said he now believed it unlikely that those killed were members of the local Islamic State affiliate, ISIS-Khorasan, or posed a threat to U.S. troops. The Pentagon was considering reparations, McKenzie said.
The killing of civilians, in a strike carried out by a drone based outside Afghanistan, has raised questions about the future of U.S. counter-terrorism strikes in the country, where intelligence gathering has been all but choked off since last month’s withdrawal.
And the confirmation of civilian deaths provides further fuel to critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal and evacuation of Afghan allies, which has generated the biggest crisis yet for the Biden administration.
In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the drone strike had killed a Mr. Ahmadi who worked for a non-profit called Nutrition and Education International.
“We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced,” Austin said in the statement.
“We apologize, and we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake.”
While it is rare for senior Pentagon officials, including the defense secretary, to apologize personally for civilians killed in military strikes, the U.S. military does publish reports on civilians killed in operations around the world.
Reports had emerged almost immediately that the drone strike in a neighborhood west of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport had killed civilians including children. Video from the scene showed the wreckage of a car strewn around the courtyard of a building. A spokesman for Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers, Zabihullah Mujahid, said at the time that the attack killed seven people, and that the Taliban was investigating.
The strike came three days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians who had crowded outside the airport gates, desperate to secure seats on evacuation flights, after U.S.-trained Afghan forces melted away and the Taliban swept to power in the capital.
Following the suicide bombing at the airport, the U.S. military launched a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan that it said killed two Islamic State militants. That strike is not under review.
The second, mistaken strike came as the U.S. military was on heightened alert, with officials warning they expected more attacks on the airport, including from rockets and vehicle-borne explosive devices, as the Pentagon wrapped up its mission.
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared to blame the fog of war, even as he acknowledged in a statement that the civilian deaths were “heart wrenching”.
“In a dynamic high threat environment, the commanders on the ground had the appropriate authority and had reasonable certainty that the target was valid,” Milley said.
The authority to carry out strikes in Afghanistan — against al Qaeda or Islamic State — will not rest any more with U.S. commanders in the region, a U.S. defense official told Reuters, adding Austin himself will have to authorize any future strikes.
Still, the intelligence failure exposed in America’s last military strike of its war in Afghanistan raises hard questions about the risks going forward. These include whether the United States can keep track of al Qaeda and Islamic State threats, and act quickly on any information it gets.
McKenzie played down the impact the latest civilian casualties would have on future actions in Afghanistan.
“I don’t think you should draw any conclusions about our ability to strike in Afghanistan against ISIS-K targets in the future based on this particular strike,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
16 Sep 21. UK defence industry will get a boost from Australia submarine pact, minister says. Britain’s defence industry will get a boost from a new nuclear submarine pact to share U.S. and British technology with Australia, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday.
Wallace said the pact was not a “betrayal” of the French, whose own submarine contract with Australia was cancelled.
“There will be a boost for the British defence industry in this collaboration because we have sub-systems that Australia doesn’t have that we will be able to offer into that”,” Wallace told the BBC.
17 Sep 21. Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the Results of Central Command Investigation Into the 29 August Airstrike.
General McKenzie briefed me this morning about the findings of his investigation into the 29 August Kabul airstrike.
The investigation concluded that the strike — conducted to prevent what was believed to be an imminent threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport — resulted in the deaths of as many as 10 people, including up to seven children.
On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed, including Mr. Ahmadi, and to the staff of Nutrition and Education International, Mr. Ahmadi’s employer.
We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced, and that Mr. Ahmadi was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed.
We apologize, and we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake.
To that end, I have directed a thorough review of the investigation just completed by U.S. Central Command. I have asked for this review to consider the degree to which the investigation considered all available context and information, the degree to which accountability measures need be taken and at what level, and the degree to which strike authorities, procedures and processes need to be altered in the future.
No military works harder than ours to avoid civilian casualties. When we have reason to believe we have taken innocent life, we investigate it and, if true, we admit it. But we also must work just as hard to prevent recurrence — no matter the circumstances, the intelligence stream or the operational pressures under which we labor.
We will do that in this case. We will scrutinize not only what we decided to do — and not do — on the 29th of August, but also how we investigated those outcomes.
We owe that to the victims and their loved ones, to the American people and to ourselves. (Source: US DoD)
16 Sep 21. BAE Systems says ready to support new U.S., UK, Australia defence partnership. British defence company BAE Systems (BAES.L), which makes nuclear submarines for the UK, said it was ready to support a new defence partnership between the United States, Australia and Britain called AUKUS. “As a company with a significant presence in all three markets we stand ready to support the AUKUS discussions as they progress,” a spokeswoman for BAE Systems said in a statement on Thursday.
Under the new AUKUS deal, Australia will build eight nuclear-powered submarines. (Source: Reuters)
15 Sep 21. Australian, U.S. Defense Leaders Discuss Future of Alliance. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III thanked Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton for his country’s steadfast support over the long course of the conflicts sparked by the 9/11 attacks, and said the two nations must work even more closely together for the future. Dutton met Austin at the Pentagon a day before the Australian-U.S. Ministerial Consultations with the State Department scheduled for tomorrow. The defense leaders discussed the state of the alliance, the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and steps the countries can take together. That the alliance is close is an understatement. The United States and Australia shared battlefields from Hamel on the Western Front in 1918, to New Guinea in World War 2, through Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the war on terrorism. The United States and Australia are treaty allies under the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty, also known as the ANZUS Treaty, signed 70 years ago.
“This past weekend, we commemorated the 20th anniversary of [the] 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that cast a special light on the 70th anniversary of ANZUS,” Austin said. “Australia, one of our oldest allies, invoked the ANZUS Treaty for the first time, and the only time, after 9/11, sending your forces two decades ago to fight shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the United States.”
Dutton also invoked 9/11 saying he was in New York soon after the attacks. He said 9/11 “is a reminder of the need for us to continue our relationship to stare down that evil and to deal with whatever the next century might hold.”
Dutton said the situation in the Indo-Pacific is “deteriorating” and the only way to defend the international rules-based order that has served so well is through alliances. He said this is the only way to protect the nations and the people of the region.
Dutton finished by thanking Austin for the American service members who supported Australia’s evacuation of 4,100 Afghans from Kabul last month. “No other country in the world had the capacity to hold that airport,” he said. “Despite the criticism, despite those with 20/20 hindsight, we achieved success in withdrawing those people … and I’m grateful for that.”
The two nations share values, outlooks and freedoms, Austin said. “We’re looking forward to continuing our close cooperation,” he said. “I’m hoping that our discussions today will further strengthen our alliance in new and unique ways. The alignment between our countries has never been greater than it is today. We see the same challenges, we share the same sense of urgency, and we’re cooperating closely on force posture, strategic capabilities, regional engagement and military operations.”
(Source: US DoD)
14 Sep 21. Regional superpowers seize initiative in Afghanistan. The recent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has provided a unique opportunity for regional superpowers to leverage the unfolding political chaos. Few analysts were surprised with the immediacy with which Turkey and Qatar acknowledged Afghanistan’s new Taliban regime. Indeed, both nations positioned themselves as a gateway between the West and the Taliban to capitalise on the chaos; playing host to US-Taliban conferences, and facilitating the evacuation of Westerners and humanitarian visa holders from Afghanistan. The tumultuous change of government in Afghanistan provided the Turkish-Qatari alliance with a new opportunity to bolster their sphere of influence into central and southern Asia. Just last year, Jonathan Spyer in the Jerusalem Post hypothesised that Turkey was building its own Islamist global alliance alongside Pakistan, Qatar and Malaysia. Considering the Taliban’s longstanding relationship with the Pakistani government, the country is a natural fit in this alliance.
Already, the the burgeoning alliance has withstood extreme posturing from regional actors. In fact, in the face of a Gulf blockade on Qatar, Turkey came to the aid of their partner with military and humanitarian assistance in a stark rebuke to traditional Gulf unilateralism.
Although, this isn’t the first time the pair sought to flex their muscles in the region.
“Both Doha and Ankara supported the Arab Spring uprisings and the initial electoral victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its resurgence elsewhere in the Arab world, especially in the Gulf kingdoms, led by Saudi Arabia,” Professor Amin Saikal wrote in ASPI’s The Strategist this week.
“Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose desire to be a central player in the Middle East and the Muslim world has caused Saudi Arabia and its allies to be wary, backed Qatar to overcome the difficulties and fear arising from the blockade. He beefed up Turkey’s military base in Qatar and provided it with whatever assistance it required, including facilitating its transactions with Europe and beyond.”
Dina Esfandiary explained to the BBC that the political mood across the Middle East had shifted back toward Islamism, with the Turkish-Qatari alliance with the Taliban only strengthening their position as leaders within the Islamist world.
“It is for Afghanistan, it doesn’t mean it’s the case for the [Middle East]. Over the course of the last 10 years the region has gone back and forth non-stop between Islamist groups and non-Islamist groups,” Esfandiary explains.
Amazingly, President Erdogan hasn’t even sought to downplay his ideological affiliations with the Taliban.
Speaking at a press conference, President Erdogan announced that “because Turkey does not have anything against [the] Taliban’s ideology, and since we have nothing conflicting to [the] Taliban’s belief, I believe that we can better discuss and agree with them on these issues”.
Twitter user Alex Galistky shared the clip of President Erodogan at the press conference.
As the Taliban begins consolidating its brutal rule, remember that Turkey’s president Erdogan endorses their ideology.
Don’t for a second think our good friend and NATO ally won’t seek to take advantage of Afghanistan’s collapse to enrich itself at the expense of civilians. pic.twitter.com/pwXjNRGud2
— Alex Galitsky (@algalitsky) August 15, 2021
However, the relationship between the Turkish-Qatari alliance and the Taliban is likely to extend beyond political posturing, with the pair building deep inroads into the Afghan economy.
Professor Saikal continues, “[Qatar] has also indicated a willingness to make a substantial financial contribution to the Taliban’s coffers and activate the dying Afghan economy.”
Afghanistan is a natural ally to the emerging Turkish-Qatari axis in the Middle East and Asia. Such an alliance will hasten Pakistan’s willingness to step out from the shadow of their Saudi benefactors and join a newer, more brazen Islamist-Sunni power base. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 Sep 21. North Korea tests new long-range cruise missiles. The missiles are said to have successfully hit targets 1,500km away before falling into North Korea’s territorial waters. North Korea has reportedly test fired newly developed long-range cruise missiles that triggered new concerns about Pyongyang’s weapons programme.
The missiles, launched from a transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicle, flew to hit targets around 1,500km away and fell into the country’s territorial waters, a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) statement said.
The tests demonstrated the technicalities, including the thrust of the newly developed turbine-blast engine and the missile’s flight manoeuvrability among others.
Notably, the reclusive nation tested the missiles just ahead of a scheduled meeting between the US, South Korea and Japan to discuss the stalled denuclearisation process of the Korean peninsula, reported Reuters.
This is said to be North Korea’s first missile test since March when it tested tactical short-range ballistic missiles.
KCNA further added that the weapon system offers ‘strategic significance of possessing another effective means of deterrence for more reliably guaranteeing the security of the state and tightly containing the military manoeuvres of the hostile forces’.
Pak Jong Chon, a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, supervised the launch.
The US armed forces’ Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) noted that it is aware of reports of cruise missile launches by North Korea and is currently monitoring the situation.
In a brief statement, INDOPACOM said: “This activity highlights DPRK’s continuing focus on developing its military programme and the threats that poses to its neighbours and the international community. The US commitment to the defence of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.” (Source: army-technology.com)
13 Sep 21. DSC opens its Higher Degree grants scheme. The WA Defence Science Centre has opened its annual ‘Research Higher Degree Student Grants’ scheme. Applications close at 4:00pm on Friday 22 October 2021.
The Research Higher Degree Student Grant program supports WA students working on collaborative Defence-relevant projects, and/or undertaking defence industry placements as part of their study.
Grants are available for students from Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, and the University of Western Australia. The proposed project or placement must align to the themes of:
- maritime maintenance and sustainment
- one of the nine Defence Science and Technology Group’s Next Generation Technology Fund priorities, or
- one of the 15 suggested-project topics published on the DSC grants program page.
Three categories of grant are available, based on level of study:
- PhD – $15,000
- Masters – $10,000
- Honours and fourth-year engineering – $7,500
This is the third round of the ‘Research Higher Degree Student Grants’ which has been administered by the Defence Science Centre since the Centre’s inception in 2019. Across the program, $172,500 has previously been awarded to 13 Western Australian students. Previous recipients have included research into the decision making of military personnel, a study into preventing musculoskeletal injuries in Special Operations Forces, and the development of a safe and secure Cyber Range to provide real-time training for security operations centre analysts.
Applications close at 4:00pm on Friday 22 October 2021. More information including how to apply, is published on the DSC grants program page. (Source: Rumour Control)
13 Sep 21. David Peever to review Defence Innovation. One of the successes of Defence’s innovation system has been Boeing’s Loyal Wingman project – but are Defence’s innovation and acquisition processes equal to the challenges of sustained, high-technology innovation for the ADF? Photo: Boeing Defence Australia. The Australian Government has appointed Naval Group Australia chair and former Rio Tinto CEO David Peever to undertake a comprehensive, independent review of Defence innovation, science and technology. David Peever also led Defence’s First Principles Review in 2015.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the review, to be completed by the end of this year, will help ensure the ADF has access to the most cutting-edge capability in the world. It will examine the Defence organisation in its entirety to establish how it can more effectively deliver home-grown, innovative capabilities for the ADF.
The review will also seek to:
- Strengthen and improve the links between academia and industry to solve Defence’s unique capability challenges
- Simplify contracts to support more rapid acquisitions and transitions from concept to capability
- Establish how Defence-funded research and innovation can be more effectively commercialised to give Defence a unique capability edge
Minister Price said the wide-ranging review would seek to ensure the Defence organisation was more commercially driven and outcomes focused.
“We must ensure that we are taking full advantage of Australian innovations to maintain Defence’s capability edge while ensuring innovative businesses are given every chance of commercial success,” she said.
“We need a Defence organisation that can capitalise on the knowledge and skills of Australian industry and academia to develop mission-focused technology that can solve Defence’s unique capability challenges.
“Now, more than ever, we are looking to drive fit-for-purpose innovation where Australian industry and academia are partners in this critical mission.”
The review continues Minister Price’s push for substantial change to grow Australia’s defence industry. Defence has published the Terms of Reference for the review
- Governance, management (the administration) and funding of all Defence-funded innovation programs across the Defence organisation. Particular focus should be given to the Next Generation Technologies Fund and the Defence Innovation Hub.
- Defence organisational structure, governance and funding of the Defence innovation ecosystem.
- How the Defence innovation system be adapted to create a greater link between academia and industry to solve Defence’s unique capability challenges.
- How to more effectively commercialise Defence-funded research and innovation and stimulate Australian innovation for the development of mission focused technology solutions that could give Defence a unique capability edge.
- Development of a simplified suite of contractual arrangements to support rapid acquisition and transition from concept-to-capability.
- Refinement, consolidation and streamlining of the research, innovation and technology development priorities and topics with the aim to strengthen participation of Service Capability Managers to direct ‘mission-set’ specific innovation.
- Transition between Defence and other department’s innovation and manufacturing programs to support the continued development and commercialization of technology that does not meet a direct Defence requirement.
Defence innovation programs, including the Next Generation Technology Fund and Defence Innovation Hub, will continue to operate as usual for duration of the review. (Source: Rumour Control)
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