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26 Nov 21. Japan to supplement military spending in rush to bolster air and sea defences. Japan plans to add $6.75 billion to its already record annual military spending in a rush to bolster air and maritime defences as it becomes more concerned about threats posed by China and North Korea.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government on Friday approved the outlay as part of a supplementary budget. While such additions to defence spending are common, the 774bn yen that lawmakers will be asked to approve is the largest amount ever, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defence.
“As the security environment around Japan worsens at unprecedented speed, our urgent task is to accelerate the implementation of various projects,” the defence ministry said in its spending proposal.
The cash injection will let Japan, three months earlier than planned, upgrade surface to air missile launchers on islands at the edge of the East China Sea and Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries elsewhere that are the last line of defence against any incoming North Korean warheads.
China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan is causing jitters in Japan because Beijing’s control of the island would bring Chinese forces within around 100 kilometres (62 miles) of its territory and would threaten key maritime trade routes that supply Japan with oil and other goods. It would also provide China with bases for unfettered access to the western Pacific.
The extra spending will also let Japan more quickly acquire anti-submarine missiles, maritime patrol planes and military cargo jets, the defence ministry said.
The additional military outlay comes after Kishida’s ruling party in October included a goal of almost doubling defence spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in election pledges. For decades the pacifist nation has stuck to a policy of keeping defence spending within 1% of GDP, easing concern both at home and overseas about any revival of the militarism that led Japan into World War Two. The additional spending plan approved by Kishida’s government on Friday also includes pre-payments to defence contractors for equipment to help them deal with coronavirus pandemic disruptions that have hurt their finances. The proposed supplemental spending combined with defence outlays approved for the year to March 31 comes to about 1.3% of Japan’s GDP. ($1 = 114.6300 yen) (Source: Reuters)
27 Nov 21. Update: air strikes against Daesh. The RAF are continuing to take the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
- Monday 25 October – An RAF Reaper killed a Daesh terrorist in northern Syria.
Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to fly missions over Iraq and Syria in support of the global coalition against the Daesh terrorist movement. On Monday 25 October, the crew of a remotely piloted Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, tracked a known terrorist in northern Syria, near the city of Ras al Ayn, and at a safe moment, when the individual was alone in a field, carried out a successful strike.
Royal Air Force aircraft continue to fly armed reconnaissance missions as part of the Global Coalition Against Daesh’s work to support the Iraqi Security Forces keeping their country safe from Daesh terrorism.
On Monday 6 September, Iraqi ground forces conducting security operations approximately thirty miles south of Erbil came under fire from a Daesh position in an area of heavy vegetation.
Two RAF Typhoon FGR4s responded to a call for assistance and, working closely with the ground forces to ensure no risks were posed to either them or any civilians, used a single Paveway IV guided bomb to successfully eliminate the threat, (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
26 Nov 21. Minister for Africa and Armed Forces Minister travel to Senegal to strengthen economic and security ties in West Africa. Minister for Africa Vicky Ford and Armed Forces Minister James Heappey have travelled to Senegal to strengthen economic and security ties between the two countries.
In the first visit by UK ministers since 2019, the Africa Minister opened the Friends of the Gulf of Guinea conference to reiterate the importance of keeping trade routes flowing freely in West Africa and combating piracy.
In her speech, the Minister committed to being a fierce champion of enterprise and trade and said counter-piracy efforts in the region have been a key part the UK’s G7 Presidency.
On the day the FCDO announced the launch of British International Investment (BII), the UK’s development finance institution, the Africa Minister visited the Port of Dakar to see the transformative impact UK investment will have in Senegal and beyond.
Earlier this year, CDC (to be rebranded as BII in April 2022) committed to invest an initial $320 million in ports and logistics infrastructure across Africa, with a further $400 million over several years, in partnership with DP World.
The planned expansion of port facilities in Dakar as part of this announcement will be Senegal’s largest ever onshore foreign direct investment and will help to drive free trade and economic growth.
The UK aims to mobilise £8 billion of financing a year by 2025 for Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. We are scaling up our finance offer to like-minded partners around the world to support them to grow their economies sustainably and invest in quality, reliable infrastructure, boosting security and prosperity.
Minister for Africa Vicky Ford MP, said: “The UK is committed to deepening our economic and security partnerships with Senegal and nations across West Africa to protect and expand vital free trade routes in the region. We are working closely with like-minded partners, strengthening security ties to build a network of liberty in the region and tackle piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. We have put this issue at the heart of our G7 Presidency, and HMS Trent’s patrol missions are playing a crucial role in deterring attacks on maritime trade.”
We are also providing honest and reliable investment in Senegal which will drive growth and create jobs in both the UK and Senegal. I saw this first hand when I visited the Port of Dakar, which will be transformed by UK investment.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey arrived in Senegal from Mali, where he met UK troops protecting civilians under the peacekeeping mission.
In Dakar, he spoke with UK personnel on board HMS Trent, which was conducting maritime security work with the Senegalese Navy ahead of the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea conference and watched joint training between the Royal Marines and Senegal’s marine forces.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey, said: “I am incredibly proud of the work our personnel are doing in West Africa to help promote stability and security in the region, from our troops protecting civilians with the UN in the deserts of Mali to our sailors and marines on board HMS Trent helping our allies to uphold maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. They are demonstrating how Global Britain is out there doing its bit, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners around the world to tackle shared challenges and defend our values.”
Minister Ford also visited a women’s health clinic to see how UK aid has helped women access contraception and family planning to help give them choices over their lives.
Minister Ford also visited Institut Pasteur de Dakar to see the Institute’s impressive work, supported by the UK, in manufacturing COVID-19 rapid diagnostic tests and developing tests for Ebola and Marburg.
She also saw first-hand the work that the British Council is doing in their landmark English Connects programme that builds a bridge between the UK and Africa’s future generation of leaders. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
25 Nov 21. Canada tells Boeing its bid for C$19bn fighter jet contract falls short – source. In a surprise move, Canada has told Boeing Co (BA.N) that its contender for a multi-billion dollar fighter jet contract does not meet the required standard, a defense source said on Thursday.
This means only Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Sweden’s Saab AB (SAABb.ST) are left in the race to supply 88 jets. Ottawa says it intends to make a decision next year on a contract that could be worth up to C$19bn ($15bn).,Boeing had entered its F-18 Super Hornet. The Canadian Press was the first the report the news. Defense analysts had been certain Ottawa would exclude Saab’s Gripen plane. Unlike Canada, Sweden is neither a member of NATO or NORAD, the North American defense organization. Canada belongs to the consortium that developed Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet, which defense sources say is the preferred choice of the air force. The competition is being overseen by the office of Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi, which did not respond to a request for comment. Lockheed Martin declined to comment. No one at Saab was available for comment. Boeing spokesman Paul Lewis said by email that the company would reserve comment pending official notification from Ottawa. Boeing clashed with Canada in 2017 after it complained Ottawa was unfairly subsidizing a passenger jet made by Montreal-based rival Bombardier. Canada responded by saying it would look less favorably on a fighter jet bid from a company that had harmed national interests, but nonetheless allowed Boeing to take part. The Liberals took power in 2015 vowing not to buy the F-35 on the grounds that it was too costly, but have since softened their line.
Canada has been trying unsuccessfully for more than a decade to replace its aging F-18 fighters. The former Conservative administration said in 2010 that it would buy 65 F-35 jets but later scrapped the decision, triggering years of delays and reviews. ($1 = 1.2649 Canadian dollars) (Source: Reuters)
25 Nov 21. Israel signs defence pact with Morocco, as cooperation with new Arab partners builds. Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz meets with Morocco’s defence administration minister, Abdellatif Loudiyi, in Rabat, Morocco, 24 November 2021 – Reuters. Israel signed a defence pact with Morocco on Wednesday, its latest public display of readiness to advance national security interests in tandem with Arab countries that have drawn closer to it amid shared concern over Iran and Islamist militancy. The memorandum of understanding could herald intelligence cooperation, arms deals and joint military training, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said in Rabat. His two-day visit came within weeks of an Israeli-hosted air force drill that was attended by an Emirati general, and naval maneuvers by Israel, UAE and Bahrain. The two Gulf states, along with Morocco and Sudan, forged relations with Israel last year. After the signing ceremony with Abdellatif Loudiyi, Morocco’s defence administration minister, a senior Gantz aide said he saw a Moroccan market for Israeli counter-insurgency know-how.
“This is a deal that will enable us to help them with what they need from us, of course subject to our interests in the region,” the aide, Zohar Palti, told Israel’s Kan broadcaster.
“Morocco has for years been battling terror on several fronts, and is a country that is struggling against al Qaeda and global jihadi groups.”
Rabat had no immediate comment on Wednesday’s agreement. Its Royal Armed Forces said the countries previously signed an memorandum on cyber cooperation and data security – the latter a possible preamble to purchases of high-end Israeli military technologies.
Israeli media have speculated about possible sales to Morocco of pilotless aircraft or missile defence systems.
The chief of Israel’s air force, Major-General Amikam Norkin, declined to discuss any such specific prospects at a conference on Tuesday, saying only that he favoured “airpower diplomacy” with Arab partners to help offset Iran’s clout.
“I think that this (Gantz visit to Rabat) is an opportunity,” Norkin said, recalling how, at this month’s Dubai Airshow, his Moroccan counterpart had come to introduce himself and “added a few sentences in Hebrew” when they conversed.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid travelled to Morocco in August for the first visit by Israel’s top diplomat to that country since 2003.
(Source: Google/ https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
26 Nov 21. Australia launches ‘one-stop shop’ for local industry. A new organisation has been set up to generate work opportunities for SMEs across the local defence industry. The Commonwealth government has announced the launch of the Office of Defence Industry Support (ODIS) — a new organisation established to foster engagement between Defence, major contractors, and local SMEs. The new organisation — which replaces the Centre for Defence Industry Capability — aims to serve as a ‘one-stop shop’, facilitating stakeholder access to local SMEs with the capability to support defence projects. This is expected to help smaller businesses bolster their market presence and expand their defence footprint. The Office of Defence Industry Support will be represented by stakeholders from the Air Force, Navy, Army and the commercial sector.
“ODIS is a new organisation with a redefined purpose that will be a trusted link between Defence and Australian SMEs,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said following the announcement.
“This new organisation will work directly with state and territory agencies, industry associations, SMEs, and major contractors to build greater sovereign capability, so that our men and women in uniform get what they need to keep Australia safe.
“ODIS will employ a proactive strategy to support businesses, because we need to start dragging the right SMEs through the door with the ability to provide local solutions to Defence’s capability requirements.”
Defence is expected to regularly review key services offered by the ODIS over the first 12 months, to ensure the organisation is meeting its stated objectives.
A dedicated regional support team will also be established to identify regional SMEs with the capability to enter the Defence market.
ODIS staff will be based in locations across the country, housed within local defence precincts.
“I am determined to have a greater focus on increasing opportunities in our defence industry for regional Australia,” Minister Price continued.
“As the Member for an electorate taking in much of regional WA, I know there is potential in regional Australia that needs to be unlocked.
“ODIS will have a presence in each state and territory, with industry engagement teams providing expert advice to assist businesses to integrate into supply chains and grow to become more competitive defence providers.”
In addition to facilitating access to work opportunities, the ODIS will partner with industry associations and registered training providers to deliver ‘Defence Readiness’ training.
“These training programs will help businesses position themselves to win Defence contracts,” Minister Price added.
“Through targeted partnerships, ODIS will be able to engage with a broader group of businesses capable of supporting the Australian Defence Force.
“I invite businesses to contact our industry engagement specialists and together we can build a stronger, more sustainable, and globally competitive Australian defence industry.” (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Nov 21. Taiwan passes USD8.6bn funding law to boost navy and air force capability. Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan announced on 23 November that it has passed a proposed law to allocate TWD240bn (USD8.6n) in additional funding to support the modernisation of the island’s navy and air force.
The law – entitled a special statute to upgrade navy and air force defence capabilities – outlines the requirement to provide the funding through a “special budget” that is in addition to the annual military expenditure.
The proposed law, which provides the funding over five years, was submitted to the Legislative Yuan in early October, having been approved by the Executive Yuan in September.
According to the Legislative Yuan, the funding is required to “enhance naval and air defence capabilities and joint combat effectiveness”. It is also intended to “ensure national security and regional peace and stability, and achieve the enhancement of national defence autonomy”.
In reference to autonomy, the law also states that the funding will support the procurement of locally developed and produced military systems.
In terms of specific systems, the Legislative Yuan identifies several capabilities that will be acquired through the funding. These include unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), ground-based anti-ship missiles, a ground-based air-defence system, naval vessels, and “other urgently needed systems”.
Earlier drafts of the law also outlined a plan to procure locally developed Wan Chien (‘Ten Thousand Swords’) stand-off air-to-surface missiles and Hsiung Feng IIE (‘Brave Wind’: HF IIE) surface-to-surface cruise missiles. (Source: Janes)
24 Nov 21. Russia says nuclear readiness needed amid NATO activity near borders -agencies. Russia’s nuclear capabilities and armed forces need to maintain combat readiness in light of the increased activity of NATO countries near Russia’s borders, Russian news agencies cited Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Wednesday.
Shoigu on Tuesday complained that U.S. bombers had rehearsed a nuclear strike on Russia from two different directions earlier this month and complained that the planes had come too close the Russian border, drills the Pentagon said had adhered to international protocols
Russia’s defence minister on Tuesday accused U.S. bombers of rehearsing a nuclear strike on Russia from two different directions earlier this month and complained that the planes had come within 20 km (12.4 miles) of the Russian border.
But the Pentagon said its drills were announced publicly at the time and adhered to international protocols.
Moscow’s accusation comes at a time of high tension with Washington over Ukraine, with U.S. officials voicing concerns about a possible Russian attack on its southern neighbour – a suggestion the Kremlin has dismissed as false.
Moscow has in turn accused the United States, NATO and Ukraine of provocative and irresponsible behaviour, pointing to U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine, Ukraine’s use of Turkish strike drones against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, and NATO military exercises close to its borders.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow had noted a significant increase in the activity by U.S. strategic bombers, which he said had carried out 30 flights close to Russia this month. That, he said, was 2.5 times more than the same period last year.
Shoigu complained in particular of what he said was a simulated U.S. nuclear strike against Russia earlier this month.
“The defence minister underlined that during the U.S. military exercises ‘Global Thunder’, 10 American strategic bombers rehearsed launching nuclear weapons against Russia from the western and eastern directions,” Shoigu was quoted as saying in a defence ministry statement.
“The minimum proximity to our state border was 20 km.”
Shoigu was quoted as saying that Russian air defence units had spotted and tracked the U.S. strategic bombers and taken unspecified measures to avoid any incidents.
The Pentagon pushed back.
“These missions were announced publicly at the time, and closely planned with (Strategic Command), (European Command), allies and partners to ensure maximum training and integration opportunities as well as compliance with all national and international requirements and protocols,” said Lieutenant Colonel Anton Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesperson.
The top Russian and U.S. military officers, Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, spoke by telephone on Tuesday but neither side disclosed the contents of the conversation.
Global Thunder, which this year put U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bombers through their paces, is the U.S. Strategic Command’s annual nuclear and command exercise designed to test and demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear capabilities.
President Vladimir Putin referenced the apparent episode briefly last week, complaining of Western strategic bombers carrying “very serious weapons” close to Russia. He said the West was taking Moscow’s warnings not to cross its “red lines” too lightly. read more
Shoigu made the comments in a video conference with Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe. He said that U.S. bomber flights close to Russia’s eastern borders were also a threat to China.
“Against this backdrop, Russo-Chinese coordination is becoming a stabilising factor in world affairs,” said Shoigu.
Russia and China agreed at their meeting to step up cooperation between their armed forces when it came to strategic military exercises and joint patrols, the defence ministry said. (Source: Google/Reuters)
23 Nov 21. Japan reviews key defence strategies in light of ‘severe’ security landscape. Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has told Janes it will review the country’s primary defence policies over the coming year given the Indo-Pacific’s increasingly “severe” security situation.
A spokesperson from the MoD said an assessment of Japan’s National Security Strategy, the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG), and the Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP) has been requested by new prime minister Fumio Kishida. The review is expected to be complete by 2022.
“In order to respond to the severe security environment Prime Minister Kishida recently ordered a revision [of the policies],” said the MoD spokesperson.
The spokesperson added that “discussions among the relevant ministers have begun” but that a “detailed schedule and scope of the revision” have not yet been determined. The review will be conducted through co-ordination between the “relevant ministers”, said the spokesperson.
Outlining the rationale for the revision, the spokesperson said that the National Security Strategy – Japan’s first such document – was formulated more than seven years ago and, in the meantime, the “balance of power in the world has shifted”.
The revised National Security Strategy is expected to provide an outlook for the ensuing 10 years, although this has not been confirmed by the MoD.
The spokesperson added, “The security environment surrounding Japan has changed dramatically, including accelerated military build-up and a growing threat of cyber attack.
“In [this] situation, where the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming more severe, it is necessary to resolutely defend Japan’s territory, territorial waters and airspace, as well as the lives and property of the people.” (Source: Janes)
24 Nov 21. China, Russia approve 2021–25 road map to increase military co-operation. China and Russia have agreed to expand military collaboration over the coming five years, Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 23 November. The move will facilitate deeper co-operation in joint patrols and military exercises. The ‘road map for military co-operation for 2021-2025′ was approved in a video conference chaired by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe, said the MoD. It said the road map will focus on increasing bilateral collaboration on “strategic military exercises and joint patrols”.
China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said the road map will also support “strategic co-ordination” in joint military activities, which safeguard the interests of the two countries and protect regional security.
Citing “military observers”, China’s state-run Global Times – a newspaper that operates under the People’s Daily , the mouthpiece of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China – said the road map could facilitate joint sea-air patrols for the first time. It added that the agreement will “normalise” joint military drills and patrols between the two countries. (Source: Janes)
24 Nov 21. Djibouti substantially expands navy. Djibouti’s Navy formally took delivery of four vessels in a ceremony attended by President Ismail Omar Guelleh on 22 November. Photographs released by the Armed Forces of Djibouti (FAD) and local television coverage showed two Damen FCS 5009 high-endurance patrol vessels, a landing ship similar to the Chinese Type 074 Yuhai class, and a smaller patrol boat that looked like the 27 m vessel China delivered to Côte d’Ivoire in 2017.
The 53 m-long Damens are named Capt Elmi Robleh and Adj Ali M Houmed . Ship tracking data shows they arrived from Cape Town, where Damen has a shipyard, on the day of the ceremony.
They each have two Damen 1102 FRP interceptors that can be launched and recovered using davits and a Rheinmetall Searanger remotely operated weapon station (ROWS) on their foredecks, although their 20 mm guns were not fitted for the ceremony.
Satellite imagery shows that the 66 m landing ship and patrol boat have been docked in Djibouti since April. The landing ship has a Norinco 30 mm H/PJ17 ROWS, a cargo crane, a small boat that can be launched from davits on its starboard side, and two pintel-mounted heavy machine guns either side of its bridge.
“Two of these ships are intended to carry out surveillance and deterrent missions both in the territorial waters of Djibouti and in the strategic maritime areas, including the strait of Bab al-Mandab,” the president said in his speech.
He described the third as “a ship specialising in transporting mechanised units of the infantry” and said the fourth would monitor Djibouti’s territorial waters. (Source: Janes)
22 Nov 21. Socom Commander Says Taliban Aren’t Counterterrorism Partners in Afghanistan. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of August, the only semblance of government remaining there is the Taliban. But the Taliban are not partners in defeating terrorism there, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command said.
“I don’t see them as a partner — I’ll just be frank,” Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said Friday at the annual Halifax International Security Forum event in Nova Scotia, Canada. “I think we have an interest from the U.S. perspective that the ISIS threat that is in Afghanistan is disrupted, that it can’t roost
That doesn’t mean that the U.S. or its allies are without recourse should threats in Afghanistan arise that could harm the U.S. homeland or that of allies, Clarke said. The U.S. and its allies have options they’ve developed over 20 years of war.
“We built up amazing counterterrorism capabilities over the last 20 years,” he said. “Some of those capabilities can still be used in Afghanistan today.”
Clarke said those capabilities involve working with partner Afghans who still remain in Afghanistan and also working with regional allies as well.
There are also embassies in Afghanistan that have insight into what’s going on, and there are other intelligence assets that the U.S. can be relied on, as well.
“The most important thing for us in Afghanistan is to ensure we understand the intel picture of where ISIS-K that exists there today actually is, and if it becomes such a threat that it could come back to the United States or could come to one of our allies and partners — we’ve built up capability,” he said. “We can go to where the enemy is. We’ve proven that time and time again with the counterterrorism forces that all of us have built up.”
The U.S. has said that it retains over-the-horizon capabilities that can be used in Afghanistan, even if it doesn’t have a presence on the ground. Clarke said it’ll be tough, but not impossible, for the U.S. military to accomplish the things it might be asked to do without boots on the ground.
“It’s going to be harder. Anytime you have physical presence on the ground, it stimulates the enemy forces — you see and sense, you’re with partner forces,” he said. “It is going to be harder. However … the unique capabilities that we’ve built with airborne unmanned aerial vehicles, presence with Afghan partners, the ability to talk with them and continue to work with allies — it’s going to be what we’re going to continue to do. While hard, we’ve done hard, and we can do hard, and we’re going to continue to persist.”
Clarke also said the special operations community has realized that it can’t always be the answer — that others are capable and must also be part of solutions. This is different, he said, than the way special operations were used immediately following 9/11.
“At a certain point after 9/11 — if any group raised their hand and said ‘I’m part of al-Qaida,’ or … ‘I’m part of ISIS,’ we generally would send special operations teams to that location to try to disrupt or defeat, and found that that’s not a sustainable approach,” he said, adding that the special operations community must now prioritize where it responds.
Now, he said, it’s important to work more closely with other capable communities to see who is best able to respond.
“What we have to do is work with allies, and particularly indigenous partners from that region, to actually defeat that threat and try to contain it inside their borders, so that it doesn’t, in fact, grow,” he said. “So, we have gone to a more sustainable approach to the counter-VEO approach.”
The answer doesn’t always need to be a kinetic response either, Clarke said.
“It doesn’t always have to be the warhead on the forehead to defeat this, but really, it has to be an entire government approach, and it has to be … ensuring allies and those partner nations are capable to the threat.”
(Source: US DoD)
22 Nov 21. Rules-Based International Order Must Be Protected With Allies, Partners, Indo-Pacom Commander Says. The 80-year-old rules-based international order has done everything it’s designed to do for all nations by enabling security, stability and prosperity for all around the globe, Navy Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said.
Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, the commander said the Indo-Pacific region represents global security and prosperity, but international norms are under direct attack.
It is an “absolute necessity,” he noted, “for all nations to defend the rules-based international order for their benefit and for the benefit of all.”
Aquilino emphasized the relative military and economic situations existing today are much different from 20 years ago.
“We adapted to a post-Cold War environment,” the commander said. “And we presented with a focus on terrorism. In the past two decades, I would make the argument the military and economic centers of gravity have shifted to the Indo-Pacific.”
The region hosts four of the most populous nations, three of the largest democracies, three of the largest economies, he said. It’s responsible for 60% of the world’s gross domestic product. Two-thirds of the present, global economic growth is driven from the Indo-Pacific.
On a military level, he added, seven of the world’s 10 largest armies, five of the world’s declared nuclear nations and the most-sophisticated navies all reside in the Indo-Pacific. The sea lanes support the world’s nine largest ports, and every day, half of the global container cargo and 70% of the shipboard energy supply flows through those maritime spaces, Aquilino said.
” didn’t happen by itself — the rules-based international order facilitated this dramatic growth and its development,” he said. “The important work of the regional nations in the Indo-Pacific fostered an environment for all to prosper. Adherence to those international norms and our other values — to include mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, human rights, resolving disputes peacefully, and freedom of navigation — all have created greater stability.”
The importance of the Indo-Pacific is not an anomaly, because the world has benefited from rules-based international order, the commander said, but added that the order is under attack by revisionist, autocratic powers that seek to disrupt and displace the order in ways that benefit themselves at the expense of all others, Aquilino said.
Coercion and intimidation are the tools they use to achieve their objectives, he said, adding, “This assault on the rules-based international order should be concerning to all of us.”
On a positive note, Aquilino said, the vast majority of countries throughout the region and the globe continue to strive for a free and open Indo-Pacific. “This is defining the security landscape of the 21st century, and how we deal with this will matter,” he said, adding that working together with like-minded nations, allies and partners is critical..
And in working with other nations, such collaboration proves what can be achieved when allies and partners work together, Aquilino said. “Individually, we are strong, but together, we are stronger. So as we go forward into the future, we need to continually confront … challenges.”
(Source: US DoD)
22 Nov 21. The FT reported today about a Chinese hypersonic weapon fired a missile over South China Sea. Pentagon struggles to understand how Beijing mastered technology. China’s hypersonic weapon test in July included a technological advance that enabled it to fire a missile as it approached its target travelling at least five times the speed of sound — a capability no country has previously demonstrated. Pentagon scientists were caught off guard by the advance, which allowed the hypersonic glide vehicle, a manoeuvrable spacecraft that can carry a nuclear warhead, to fire a separate missile mid-flight in the atmosphere over the South China Sea, according to people familiar with the intelligence.
Experts at Darpa, the Pentagon’s advanced research agency, remain unsure how China managed to fire countermeasures from a vehicle travelling at hypersonic speeds, said the people familiar with details of the demonstration. Military experts have been poring over data related to the test to understand how China mastered the technology. They are also debating the purpose of the projectile, which was fired by the hypersonic vehicle with no obvious target of its own, before plunging into the water. Some Pentagon experts believe the projectile was an air-to-air missile. Others think it was a countermeasure to destroy missile defence systems so that they could not shoot down the hypersonic weapon during wartime. Russia and the US have also pursued hypersonic weapons for years, but experts say the firing of countermeasures is the latest evidence that China’s efforts are significantly more advanced than either the Kremlin or the Pentagon. The White House declined to comment on the countermeasure, but said it remained concerned about the July 27 test, which was first reported by the Financial Times last month.
“This development is concerning to us as it should be to all who seek peace and stability in the region and beyond,” said a spokesperson for the National Security Council. “This also builds on our concern about many military capabilities that the People’s Republic of China continues to pursue.”
The NSC added that the US would “continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of threats” from China. What is a hypersonic glide vehicle? A Long March 7 orbital launch vehicle used to send a Chinese cargo spacecraft into orbit in 2017 © AFP via Getty Images There are two kinds of hypersonic weapons. The first is a highly manoeuvrable missile propelled by an engine. The second is a glide vehicle. The hypersonic glide vehicle is a spacecraft — not unlike the space shuttle — that is launched into orbit on a rocket. It then re-enters the atmosphere and flies towards its target at more than five times the speed of sound. The HGV can act as a conventional weapon by using its speed to destroy a target on impact. But China is developing HGVs that can carry nuclear warheads. Pentagon officials have been increasingly public with their concerns about the July test. The hypersonic glide vehicle was propelled into space on an “orbital bombardment system” rocket that can fly over the South Pole, putting the weapon out of reach of US missile defence systems, which are focused on ballistic missile threats coming over the North Pole. The orbital bombardment system gives China more ways to hit US targets. Moscow deployed a system called “fractional orbital bombardment system” during the cold war, but it was less advanced and did not carry a manoeuvrable hypersonic glide vehicle. US officials are well aware that China is ahead of the Pentagon in hypersonic weapons. But the July 27 test showed that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force was making even faster progress than many had projected.
That has been reinforced by Beijing successfully combining an orbital system with a hypersonic weapon that can shoot a missile. The hypersonic test comes as China rapidly expands its nuclear forces, in a way that suggests it is abandoning the “minimum deterrence” posture it has maintained for decades. The US recently said it would quadruple its nuclear warheads at least 1,000 weapons this decade. The Chinese embassy said it was “not aware” of the missile test. “We are not at all interested in having an arms race with other countries,” said Liu Pengyu, the embassy spokesperson.
“The US has in recent years been fabricating excuses like ‘the China threat’ to justify its arms expansion and development of hypersonic weapons.” Beijing dismissed the FT’s first disclosure of the hypersonic weapons test, saying it was instead a test of a reusable space vehicle. But a test of that space vehicle occurred 11 days before the hypersonic weapons test, according to people familiar with both launches. The FT has also reported that China conducted another hypersonic weapons test on August 13. General David Thompson, vice-chief of space operations at the US Space Force, said the US was “not as advanced” as China or Russia in hypersonic weapons. “We have catching up to do very quickly.
The Chinese have had an incredibly aggressive hypersonic programme for several years,” Thompson told the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday. General Mark Milley, chair of the US joint chiefs of staff, recently called the weapons test close to a “Sputnik moment”, a reference to the Soviet Union becoming the first to put a satellite in space in 1957. Lloyd Austin, defence secretary, this week said he would not use the same language. But earlier this week as he prepared to retire as vice-chair of the joint chiefs, General John Hyten voiced significant concern. “Sputnik created a sense of urgency in the United States,” Hyten told CBS News. “The test on July 27 did not create that sense of urgency. I think it probably should create a sense of urgency.” (Source: FT.com)
20 Nov 21. Russia preparing to attack Ukraine by late January: Ukraine defense intelligence agency chief. Russia has more than 92,000 troops amassed around Ukraine’s borders and is preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February, the head of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency told Military Times. Such an attack would likely involve airstrikes, artillery and armor attacks followed by airborne assaults in the east, amphibious assaults in Odessa and Mariupul and a smaller incursion through neighboring Belarus, Ukraine Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov told Military Times Saturday morning in an exclusive interview. Russia’s large-scale Zapad 21 military exercise earlier this year proved, for instance, that they can drop upwards of 3,500 airborne and special operations troops at once, he said. The attack Russia is preparing, said Budanov, would be far more devastating than anything before seen in the conflict that began in 2014 that has seen some 14,000 Ukrainians killed.
The Ukraine military’s assessment of a how a potential attack by Russia would play out shows the country ringed by Russian battalion tactical groups, or BTGs. (Courtesy of Ukraine military)
Speaking to the Washington Post on Friday, Ukraine’s new Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said it was unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet decided to attack.
But Russia is building capacity to do so, Budanov told Military Times, increasing troop levels and weapons systems in occupied Crimea and staging systems like Iskandar short-range ballistic missile systems and other weapons elsewhere near the border. And he scoffed at suggestions that the brutal weather conditions during that time of the year would dissuade the Russians from attacking.
“It is no problem for us and the Russians,” Budanov said of fighting in the frigid weather.
Any such attack, however, would first follow a series of psychological operations currently underway designed to destabilize Ukraine and undermine its ability to fight, said Budanov, speaking through an interpreter.
“They want to foment unrest, through protests and meetings, that show the people are against the government,” he said.
Those efforts include ongoing anti-COVID-19 vaccination protests that Budanov said have been organized by Russia, which is also trying to stoke unrest related to the economy and energy supplies.
In addition, Budanov said Russia is trying to whip up anti-government sentiment over an incident dubbed “Wagnergate” — a controversy involving about 30 members of the Russian private military group responsible for attacks inside Ukraine. The Wagner group members, who made their way to Belarus, were supposed to be brought back to Ukraine to be detained, but instead wound up being sent to Russia with the help of the Belarus KGB, Budanov said.
Russian psychological operations are being used to show “our authorities betrayed the people,” said Budanov.
The ongoing border conflict between Poland and Belarus, which is trying to send refugees into Europe through Poland’s border, is part of that effort, he said.
“They want to make the situation inside the country more and more dangerous and hard and make a situation where we have to change the government,” said Budanov. “If they can’t do that, than military troops will do their job.”
Budanov said U.S. and Ukraine intelligence assessments about the timing of a Russian attack are very similar.
“Our evaluations are almost the same as our American colleagues,” he said.
The Russian embassy did not respond to a request for comment Saturday. The Pentagon on Saturday declined to comment on Budanov’s assessments about the timing and nature of any potential Russian attack, instead pointing to comments made Wednesday and Thursday by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The U.S. continues to see “troubling behavior from Russia,” Austin told reporters Wednesday.
“We are not sure exactly what Mr. Putin is up to,” he said. “But these movements certainly have our attention. And I would urge Russia to be more transparent about what they are up to take steps to live up to the Minsk agreements.
“Our support for Ukraine sovereignty territorial integrity remains unwavering.”
After meeting with Reznikov on Thursday, Austin said the U.S. will “continue to advance our shared priority to counter Russian aggression and to deepen our cooperation in such areas as Black Sea security, cyber defense and intelligence sharing.”
Ukraine Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of that nation’s defense intelligence agency. (Courtesy Ukraine Ministry of Defense).
Budanov said that ideally, the U.S. would help deter any Russian incursion, through additional military aid and increased diplomatic and economic pressure, including more sanctions against Russia and the seizure and blocking of Russian banking accounts.
Also, in addition to U.S. aid already promised and delivered, including Mark VI patrol boats, Javelin anti-armor systems and AN/TPQ-53 light counter-fire radar systems, Ukraine seeks additional air, missile and drone defense systems and electronic jamming devices, Budonov said. Patriot missile batteries and counter rocket, artillery and mortar systems are on Ukraine’s wish list.
The AN/TPQ-53 systems were used to great effect, Ukraine military officials have previously told Military Times. Budanov said the Javenlin systems have also been used against Russian forces. Those, along with Turkish-manufactured drones, used against Russian-aligned separatist artillery troops, have a significant psychological deterrent value, said Budanov, making Russians think twice about attacking.
Still, he said, Ukraine needs more help from America.
“I think it’s not enough for us right now,” he said of current and promised U.S. aid to Ukraine. “We need more. No countries except Ukraine have open war with Russia. And we have for seven years. That’s why we’re sure the U.S should give us everything we didn’t get before. And right now. It’s the right time for this. Because after it could be very late.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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