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05 Dec 21. UAE defence ministry says French warplanes not a substitute for U.S. jets. The United Arab Emirates defence ministry said its purchase of French Rafale fighter jets would complement its planned deal to buy American F-35 warplanes, which has slowed due to Washington’s concerns over Abu Dhabi’s relationship with China. The Gulf Arab state on Friday ordered 80 Rafales made by Dassault Aviation and 12 Caracal military helicopters made by Airbus Helicopters in an arms contract worth 17bn euros ($19.2bn).
Major General Ibrahim Nasser Al Alawi, commander of the UAE Air Force and Air Defence, said in a statement on state news agency WAM late on Saturday that the Rafale jets would replace the UAE’s French-built Mirage 2000 fleet.
“This deal is not considered as an alternative for the forthcoming F-35 deal, it is rather a complementary deal … as we develop our air force capabilities,” Alawi said, adding the UAE had for some time been looking to replace its Mirage fleet.
The sale of 50 F-35 warplanes made by Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) to the UAE has slowed amid concerns in Washington over Abu Dhabi’s relationship with China, including use of Huawei 5G technology in the country.
Last month, a U.S. official said the United States intends to move forward with the sale but that there must be a clear understanding of “Emirati obligations”. read more
The United States under then-President Donald Trump agreed to sell the jets after the UAE last year established ties with Israel. President Joe Biden’s administration has said this year it would proceed with the sale. (Source: Reuters)
03 Dec 21. France says UAE arms deal secures supply chain, jobs. A 17bn-euro ($19.23bn) French arms deal with the United Arab Emirates will secure the industrial supply chain for France’s Rafale warplane for the next decade and directly support 7,000 domestic jobs, a French defence ministry official said. The deal, sealed on Friday, includes the largest ever overseas sale of the French warplane. It brings the number of new or second-hand Rafales sold for export to 236 and will trigger an increase in production for the warplane, the official told reporters.
The sale deepens existing security ties between France and the UAE at a time when diplomats say U.S. allies in the Middle East are increasingly questioning the commitment of the United States to the region following its exit from Afghanistan.
The French official said the contract demonstrated the appetite of several nations to “diversify their security”.
The deal is worth 14bn euros for 80 of Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighters, 2bn for air-to-air and cruise missiles supplied by European consortium MBDA (AIR.PA), (BAES.L), (LDOF.MI) and 1bn for 12 Airbus H225M Caracal helicopters, the official said.
The sale involves the latest F-4 standard of Rafale being developed for the French air force, which aims to increase connectivity and shared target identification between the jets, following the example of the U.S. Lockheed Martin F-35 (LMT.N).
Defence sources have said the Rafale would replace a fleet of Dassault Mirage 2000 jets already deployed in the UAE and is unlikely to displace an order for the F-35 as the UAE continues to hedge its security between two major suppliers.
However, the deal is widely seen as a signal of impatience as the U.S. Congress hesitates on approving an F-35 deal amid concerns about the UAE’s relationship with China, including the prevalence of Huawei 5G technology in the country.
The French official said the deal included no provision to buy back Mirage 2000s or carry out industrial offset investments. ($1 = 0.8839 euros) (Source: Google/Reuters)
03 Dec 21. France’s Macron nears UAE Rafale fighter jet deal. France will sign several major deals with the United Arab Emirates on Friday, with two sources saying Paris could finally seal a multi-billion dollar Rafale warplane sale, as it looks to deepen economic and political ties with Abu Dhabi.
French President Emmanuel Macron begins a two-day trip to the Gulf on Friday, and will also visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia. His visit comes at a time when Gulf Arab states have voiced uncertainty about the United States’ focus on the region even as they seek more weapons from their key security ally.
The French leader has forged a good relationship with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ) with investments flowing between both countries. Paris has a permanent military base in the Emirati capital.
The sources said Abu Dhabi could buy about 60 fighter jets, although they cautioned the deal was not finalised. This would be the biggest bulk purchase of the Dassault-made Rafale, other than by the French army, and comes after deals in Greece, Egypt and Croatia this year.
“I don’t want to spoil the Christmas present with the president,” Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, told reporters ahead of the visit when asked whether Abu Dhabi would purchase the fighter jets.
The French presidency declined to confirm or deny the sale and Dassault could not immediately be reached for comment.
Macron will attend a signing ceremony with MBZ on the sidelines of the Dubai Expo 2020 later on Friday, the presidency said on Thursday in a handout of the French leader’s schedule.
The on-off negotiations for the Rafale fighter jets have been going on for more than a decade with Abu Dhabi publicly rebuffing France’s offer to supply 60 Rafale jets in 2011 as “uncompetitive and unworkable.” Abu Dhabi already has Mirage warplanes.
French weekly business magazine Challenges reported on Nov. 19 that talks were at an advanced stage for between 30-60 planes and could be sealed during Macron’s visit. Neighbouring Qatar has already ordered Rafales.
Defence sources say the Rafale would replace the Mirage 2000 fleet and is unlikely to displace the American F-35 as the UAE continues to hedge its security with two major suppliers, France and the United States.
The deal would nonetheless be seen as a signal of impatience as the U.S. Congress hesitates on approving an F-35 deal amid concerns about the UAE’s relationship with China, including the prevalence of Huawei [RIC:RIC:HWT.UL] 5G technology in the country.
“This is an excellent relationship and various agreements will be signed. After the president’s visit the relationship will be broader in different areas,” Gargash said. (Source: Google/Reuters)
02 Dec 21. Russia to unveil security pact proposals in bid to restrain NATO. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow would soon put forward proposals for a new European security pact which he said he hoped would stop NATO from expanding further eastwards. Lavrov was speaking at a summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Stockholm ahead of talks with his U.S. counterpart Antony Blinken expected to focus on tensions around Ukraine. Blinken, NATO and Ukrainian officials have repeatedly expressed fears in recent weeks that Russia will soon launch a new attack on Ukraine, an idea Moscow has rejected as fear-mongering. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 and has backed pro-Russian separatists who seized a swath of eastern Ukraine that same year. Russian President Vladimir Putin this week complained about Western military aid to Ukraine and what he called NATO’s expansion closer to Russia’s own borders. He warned NATO against placing missile defence systems in Ukraine. read more
In a speech to the OSCE, Lavrov said that Europe was returning to what he called the nightmare of military confrontation and said he hoped that Russia’s proposals on a new European security pact would be carefully considered.
Putin has said he wants guarantees NATO will halt its eastwards expansion and not deploy certain weapons system close to Russia.
“The architecture of strategic stability is rapidly being destroyed, NATO refuses to constructively examine our proposals to de-escalate tensions and avoid dangerous incidents,” Lavrov told the OSCE.
“On the contrary, the alliance’s military infrastructure is drawing closer to Russia’s borders. The nightmare scenario of military confrontation is returning.”
Lavrov said Moscow could not accept new military threats appearing on its borders.
“Turning our neighbouring countries into bridgeheads of confrontation with Russia and deploying NATO forces in direct proximity to areas of strategic importance for our security is categorically unacceptable,” he said.
Lavrov told the OSCE that Western arms shipments to Ukraine were encouraging Kyiv to think it could resolve its territorial problems by force. Kyiv has denied it has such plans.
Lavrov said Moscow also feared that intermediate-range U.S. missiles could appear in Europe. (Source: Reuters)
02 Dec 21. U.S., South Korean Defense Leaders Assess State of Alliance. In a complex and changing security environment in the Indo-Pacific, one constant is the ironclad alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said today in Seoul.
The secretary and Minister of National Defense Suh Wook spoke after the 53rd Security Consultative Meeting between the two allies.
While the alliance is solid, both men stressed the ways the alliance is changing as it responds to new capabilities, new challenges and new conditions.
In the past, the U.S.-South Korea alliance was solely focused on deterring North Korean aggression. While this is still important, South Korea is a rising power and Austin said the nation is a force for stability not only on the Korean peninsula, but throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Suh noted the South Korean military participated in the evacuation from Kabul in August, sending C-130s and personnel.
The meeting covered a variety of issues, Austin said. “We discussed a wide range of topics including our unity in the face of the threat from North Korea, and our progress in our bilateral alliances, readiness and training exercises, and the ways that this alliance contributes to stability throughout the Indo-Pacific,” he said. “We also reaffirmed our shared assessment that is continuing to advance its missile and weapons programs, which is increasingly destabilizing for regional security.”
The two allies remain committed to a diplomatic approach to North Korea, Austin said, but a strong deterrent posture is needed to allow the diplomatic track to work. “We continue to call upon to engage in dialogue, but we also discuss measures to enhance our combined deterrence posture and to defend against the full range of threats,” he said.
The Korean peninsula is one of the places on the globe where conflict could start with little notice, and the forces in South Korea – including 28,000 Americans – must be ready to “fight tonight.” The two defense officials discussed the “fight-tonight” readiness of the combined force and looked at ways to enhance that readiness. “The minister and I also agreed to conduct a full operational capability assessment of our future combined forces command during next fall’s combined command post training,” Austin said. “This represents an important task toward meeting the conditions necessary for transition.”
Operational control, or OPCON, transition would shift wartime command of South Korean forces from the United States to South Korea. This has long been a goal for the two nations and both Austin and Suh said the conditions-based transfer is getting closer. Suh said through a translator that “tremendous progress has been made to satisfy the conditions for OPCON transition and discuss the ways ahead. Considering this changed situation, the ROK and the U.S. have pushed ahead with a comprehensive joint study on conditions-based OPCON Transition Plan capabilities.”
Looking beyond the peninsula, both nations committed to the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. “We also reaffirm the importance of deepening trilateral security cooperation among the U.S., the Republic of Korea and Japan,” Austin said.
Austin and Suh also discussed the size of the U.S. military presence in South Korea, the return of Yongsan Garrison to Korea in 2022 and the transfer of Combined Forces Command headquarters from Yongsan to Camp Humphreys next year.
Austin was asked if China’s hypersonic missile program complicates the situation in Korea. “As we’ve said before, we have concerns about the military capabilities that the continues to pursue,” he said. “And the pursuit of those capabilities increases tensions in the region. We know that China conducted a test of a hypersonic weapon on the 27th of July. It just underscores why we consider the PRC to be our pacing challenge and will continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and to our allies.” (Source: US DoD)
02 Dec 21. Belarus: Joint Statement on coordinated sanctions. The UK, USA, EU and Canada have issued a joint statement on today’s coordinated sanctions in response to continuing attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus. Today, in response to the continuing attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus, disregard for international norms and repeated acts of repression, we have again taken coordinated sanctions action against certain individuals and entities.
We remain committed to supporting the democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus and stand together to impose costs on the regime – and those who support it – for its efforts to silence the voices of independent civil society, media, and all Belarusians seeking to speak the truth about what is happening in their country.
We again demand that the Lukashenka regime immediately and completely halt its orchestrating of irregular migration across its borders with the EU. Those, in Belarus or in third countries, who facilitate illegal crossing of the EU’s external borders should know this comes at a substantial cost.
We call for the regime to unconditionally and without delay release its almost 900 political prisoners, end its campaign of repression, and implement the recommendations of the independent expert mission under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism and take meaningful action to address the concerns raised under the OSCE Vienna Mechanism. The regime should promptly enter into comprehensive and genuine political dialogue with representatives of the democratic opposition and civil society, facilitated by the OSCE, leading to new free and fair presidential elections under international observation. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
02 Dec 21. China’s test of hypersonic weapon raised regional tensions, says US defence chief. Lloyd Austin warns advances highlight why Beijing has become the top challenge for American military. US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has said China’s development and test of a hypersonic weapon had increased tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and underscored why China was the top challenge for the American military. “We know that China conducted a test of a hypersonic weapon on the 27th of July,” Austin said in his first confirmation of the test that was initially reported by the Financial Times. “We’ll continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and our allies,” he added during a visit to Seoul. China flew a hypersonic glide vehicle — a manoeuvrable spacecraft that travels at more than five times the speed of sound — on an orbital rocket system, demonstrating the ability to hit any part of the US with nuclear weapons. The HGV launched a missile as it flew over the South China Sea, revealing a capability that stunned the Pentagon because of the difficulties of firing a projectile while flying at such a speed. Austin was speaking alongside Suh Wook, his South Korean counterpart, after annual talks about the military alliance between the countries. The discussions included General Mark Milley, chair of the US joint chiefs of staff. In a joint communique, Austin and Suk acknowledged the “importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”. That language reinforced a statement issued by President Moon Jae-in and President Joe Biden issued in May, which reflected escalating concern in the region about China’s increasingly assertive military activity around Taiwan. Shinzo Abe, the hawkish former prime minister of Japan, suggested on Wednesday that Tokyo would support the US in a conflict with China over Taiwan if Beijing invaded the country. China views Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory. The Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday summoned the Japanese ambassador to complain, saying Abe had offered “brazen support” for pro-independence forces in Taiwan. Xi Jinping, China’s president, told Biden last month that anyone who supported independence forces in Taiwan would be “playing with fire”. The South Korean defence minister declined to say if the country, a US defence ally, would help defend Taiwan in a conflict with China. US and South Korean officials also discussed North Korea and agreed to start the process of updating their plan for any potential military clash. Austin said the allies reaffirmed their view that Pyongyang was “continuing to advance its missile and weapons programmes which is increasingly destabilising for regional security”. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un outlined his nuclear ambitions in January, which include tactical weapons, undersea-launched long-range nuclear arms and hypersonic weapons. North Korea has since tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile and a train-launched ballistic missile. In September, it claimed to have tested a new hypersonic missile that it suggested was capable of delivering a nuclear warhead over long ranges. Recommended China Chinese hypersonic weapon fired a missile over South China Sea Milley and Austin also held talks about a long-term goal of South Korea commanding the joint forces that the nations have on the peninsula. The US has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. Seoul has also been pushing Washington to support a move to declare the Korean war over, which ended with an armistice in 1953. The progressive administration of Moon, whose successor will be elected in March, wants to secure diplomatic support for an end-of-war declaration. The US has entertained the idea but has not offered its full backing because it does not see what benefits this would bring, particularly as it struggles to get North Korea to hold talks over its nuclear programme.(Source: FT.com)
01 Dec 21. U.S. tells Russia to pull back from Ukraine or face painful sanctions. The United States urged Russia on Wednesday to pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border, warning that a Russian invasion would provoke sanctions that would hit Moscow harder than any imposed until now.
“We don’t know whether President (Vladimir) Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“Should Russia follow the path of confrontation, when it comes to Ukraine, we’ve made clear that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high impact economic measures that we have refrained from pursuing in the past.”
Blinken was speaking in the Latvian capital Riga after conferring with foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine on how to respond to what Kyiv says is a Russian build-up of more than 90,000 troops near its border.
Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 but denies aggressive intent in the current crisis and says it is responding to threatening behaviour by NATO and Ukraine.
The Kremlin said it feared Ukraine was gearing up to try to recapture by force areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region in the east of the country – something Kyiv denies – and accused it of “very dangerous adventurism”.
It said Russia could not take any steps to de-escalate because of a large concentration of Ukrainian forces close to the border.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Europe faced a critical moment and Russia was trying to shift the blame onto Ukraine.
“I would like again to officially state that Ukraine does not plan any military offensive in Donbass. This is Russian propaganda nonsense in order to cover up Russia’s own preparations for a potential attack.”
Blinken declined to spell out what sanctions Russia might face and encouraged both Moscow and Kyiv to return to diplomacy and revive a 2014 peace plan for eastern Ukraine.
Russia has blunted the impact of sanctions imposed over its invasion of Crimea by reducing its borrowings on foreign financial markets and maintaining large currency and gold reserves.
But the West has more potential leverage now if it were to target the newly built Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea, through which Russia is keen to start pumping gas as soon as it gets the green light from a German regulator.
Ukraine has centuries of shared history with Russia and Moscow keenly resents its westward tilt since a pro-Russian president was ousted in a revolution in 2014.
It current aspiration to join both the European Union and NATO has made it the main flashpoint in Russia’s deteriorating relations with the West.
Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow wanted serious negotiations with the United States and its allies to extract legal guarantees that would rule out any further NATO moves to the east and the deployment of weapons systems close to Russian territory.
A day earlier, the Kremlin leader said Russia was ready with a newly tested hypersonic weapon in case NATO crossed its “red lines” and deployed missiles in Ukraine.
Blinken told a news conference: “The idea that Ukraine represents a threat to Russia would be a bad joke if things weren’t so serious. NATO itself is a defensive alliance, we’re not a threat to Russia.”
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg rejected accusations the alliance was provoking Moscow with military exercises in the Black Sea.
“The problem with Russia is that they are not transparent, that they have a very aggressive rhetoric and a track record showing they have used military exercises before as a disguise for aggressive actions against neighbours,” he told the Reuters Next online summit.
Russia said it had started regular winter military drills in its southern military district, parts of which border Ukraine, and that 10,000 troops had relocated to training grounds across the huge area. Its ally Belarus has also announced joint military drills with Russia on the Ukrainian border.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said direct talks with Moscow were needed to end the war in the east, which Kyiv says has killed more than 14,000 people.
“We must tell the truth that we will not be able to stop the war without direct negotiations with Russia, and today this has already been recognised by all, all external partners,” Zelenskiy told parliament. read more (Source: Reuters)
01 Dec 21. For Contingencies in Indo-Pacom, Army Will Serve as ‘Linchpin’ for Joint Force. While the U.S. was involved for 20 years in the Middle East with conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the Chinese military studied how the U.S. military operates and also embarked on its own large-scale modernization effort.
“A more powerful Chinese military helps to underwrite Beijing’s strategy to achieve the ‘great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation’ by 2049 — to include development of the PLA into a ‘world class military’ by midcentury,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said during a conversation today with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“China’s focus on modernizing its military capabilities will strengthen its ability to coerce Taiwan and rival claimants in territorial disputes, project power globally, and counter interventions along the PRC’s periphery,” she said.
Right now, the Chinese military is manned with about two million service members — 975,000 of them in army combat units. It also has the most ships of any navy in the world, Wormuth said. And within the Indo-Pacific region, the Chinese military also has the largest air force.
China now has the ability to attack U.S. sensors and communication links in space and also has missiles that can sink U.S. ships and take down aircraft, Wormuth said.
“They have missiles that can reach U.S. bases in Japan and Guam, exposing our planes and runways to attack,” she said. “Not only does China have advanced precision weapons, it has them in large and growing quantities. And just recently, China conducted a missile test that sent a missile around the world, dropping off a hypersonic vehicle that glided all the way back to China where it then struck a test target.”
Considering the advancements made by the Chinese military and the challenges it poses to the U.S., Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has identified China as a “pacing challenge” for the Defense Department.
The entire U.S. military must be prepared to meet that pacing challenge, Wormuth said, but as the secretary of the Army, she laid out capabilities she thinks the Army will be able to bring to that joint effort.
“In my view, the Army will have at least five core tasks if a conflict breaks out, and these are tasks the Army can usefully perform without presuming substantial expansion of Army permanent presence in the region in the near term future,” Wormuth said.
First, she said, the Army will serve as the ‘linchpin” service within the joint fight.
“The Army will establish, build up, secure and protect staging areas and joint operating bases for air and naval forces in theater,” Wormuth said. “We will be prepared to provide integrated air and missile defense, both for fixed sites and using mobile elements. We will provide area security and quick reaction forces where needed.”
The Army will also use its vast logistics capacity to sustain joint force partners across the Indo-Pacific region, she said.
“The Army, for example, will provide much of the secure communication network background. We will generate intra-theater distribution networks to keep the joint force supplied from dispersed locations, and we will maintain munition stockpiles and forward arming and refueling points,” she said.
The Army can also provide command and control capability at multiple levels to ensure coordination and synchronization across the joint force.
“The Army, with its substantial planning and operations capacity at the division and corps level, is uniquely well placed to provide command and control for the joint force,” Wormuth said.
Beyond just mission support, Wormuth also said the Army brings substantial combat capability to the joint force. For instance, she said the Army will provide ground-based, long-range fires to enhance the joint force’s strike capability.
“Using our long-range hypersonic weapons, mid-range capability and precision strike missiles — all of which we will begin fielding in fiscal year 2023 — we will be able to interdict fires across sea lines of communication, suppress enemy air defenses and provide counter fires against mobile targets.”
Finally, she said, the Army can provide counter-attack capability using its maneuver forces. Infantry stryker elements or combat aviation brigades, for instance, can be used to restore territorial integrity of allies and partners.
While Wormuth said the Army is currently capable of providing such capabilities to the joint force without changes in its existing permanent presence in Indo-Pacom, some changes would be useful. Right now, the U.S. military footprint in Asia is oriented towards the northeast, in places like Japan and Korea, for instance.
“I think there is very much a desire to be able to expand our access and basing arrangements more into Southeast Asia; because, if we were able to do that, we would have … a more dispersed posture that would give us much more flexibility,” she said. “I think it is very much in our interest, and in the interest of our allies and partners, to explore how we can shift that posture over time.”
Nevertheless, considering where the U.S. operates now in Asia, she said it’s important to maintain realistic assumptions about where the U.S. will be operating from, at least in the near future.
“The Indo-Pacific … is a region of great opportunity for the United States, but also real challenges,” she said. “The Army is stepping up to that challenge, both in terms of how we contribute to the country’s ability to compete with China and our ability to deter coercion and aggression in the region.” (Source: US DoD)
01 Dec 21. NATO on guard against Chinese, Russian missiles that can hit allies. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the Western alliance was working closely to protect allies against new Chinese and Russian missiles that can reach Europe and North America.
“Russia, but also China, now invest heavily in nuclear-capable systems that can reach all NATO countries,” Stoltenberg told a Reuters Next conference.
“It is something we have to take very seriously,” he said, citing Russian investment in extremely long-range, high-speed, manoeuvrable missiles. (Source: Reuters)
01 Dec 21. NATO Warns Russia of ‘Serious Consequences’ for Ukraine Actions. NATO allies are concerned about Russia’s military build-up along the border with Ukraine, and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia will face serious consequences if it once again invades the country.
Stoltenberg spoke to the Reuters NEXT Global Conference at the conclusion of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Riga, Latvia, earlier today.
NATO nations have seen a significant Russian buildup and unusual concentration of forces in and around Ukraine. Stoltenberg also highlighted the increasingly bellicose rhetoric emanating from the Kremlin about Ukraine. “What we do know, is that not only has Russia increased its military presence closer to Ukraine’s borders, but … they’ve used military force against Ukraine before,” Stoltenberg said. “They did that in 2014, when they invaded and illegally annexed Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, and they continue to support the armed separatists in Donbass in eastern Ukraine.”
The secretary general said NATO — the most successful defensive alliance in history — has called on Russia to de-escalate the situation. “We can hope for the best and call on Russia to not once again use military force against a sovereign, independent Ukraine, but we need to be prepared for the worst,” he said.
Stoltenberg scoffed at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that Russia is only responding to Ukraine’s warlike action. “The whole idea that Ukraine represents a threat to Russia is absolutely wrong,” the secretary general said. “Ukraine has been attacked by Russia. Russia is occupying parts of Ukraine. Crimea is part of the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine.”
In 2014, Russia invaded, occupied and illegally annexed Crimea. Russia also provides military support to militant separatists in eastern Ukraine. “On top of that, we know that Russia is responsible for aggressive hybrid attacks cyber attacks against Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said. “So, the whole idea that Ukraine is a threat to Russia is turning the world upside down. It is Russia that over many years now has been responsible for many types of aggressive actions against Ukraine.”
Individual NATO nations — including the United States — have provided aid to Ukraine in its struggle. NATO, as an alliance, has provided training to Ukrainian service members and advised Ukrainian officials on ways to improve their capabilities.
Stoltenberg called the Russian build-up “unexplained and unjustified,” and the NATO nations want the Russians to stop the provocations. “If they do the opposite, and actually decide to once again use force against Ukraine, then we have made it clear … during the NATO Foreign Minister meeting in Latvia today that Russia will then have to pay a high price; there will be serious consequences for Russia,” he said. “And that’s a clear message from NATO.” (Source: US DoD)
02 Dec 21. 53rd Security Consultative Meeting Joint Communique.
- The 53rd Republic of Korea (ROK)-United States (U.S.) Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) was held in Seoul on December 02, 2021. ROK Minister of National Defense Suh Wook and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III led their respective delegations, which included senior defense and foreign affairs officials. On December 01, 2021, ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Won In-Choul, and U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, presided over the 46th ROK-U.S. Military Committee Meeting (MCM).
- The Minister and the Secretary reaffirmed the vision of the leaders of both nations, for a region governed by democratic norms, human rights, and the rule of law, as affirmed in the May 2021 ROK-U.S. Summit. They shared a common understanding that the U.S.-ROK Alliance is stronger than ever, and is based on shared values of mutual trust, freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
The Minister and the Secretary noted that the SCM has played a pivotal role in the continued development of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, and will continue to be a cornerstone venue to discuss and affirm national commitments. Both sides pledged to continue to develop the Alliance—the linchpin of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Indo-Pacific region—in a mutually reinforcing and future-oriented manner.
- The Minister and the Secretary reviewed the current security environment on the Korean Peninsula and in the region and discussed cooperative measures between the two nations. The Minister and the Secretary assessed that the ROK-U.S. Alliance is strong and reaffirmed the two nations’ mutual commitment to a combined defense as agreed in the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty to defend the ROK.
The leaders discussed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK’s) recent missiles launches and emphasized the importance of increased cooperation to posture for and defend against omnidirectional threats. The Secretary reiterated the firm U.S. commitment to providing extended deterrence to the ROK utilizing the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities. Both leaders committed to strengthening the Alliance’s deterrence posture by leveraging all available Alliance capabilities, including cyber and space capabilities.
The two sides pledged to continue coordination and cooperation toward their shared commitment to the complete denuclearization of and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as their common objective to address the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The Minister and the Secretary stressed the importance of efforts to resume diplomacy and dialogue, and called for full implementation of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions by the international community, including the DPRK. They reaffirmed their common belief that diplomacy and dialogue, based on previous inter-Korean, U.S.-DPRK, and multilateral commitments—such as the inter-Korean 2018 Panmunjom Declaration and the Pyongyang Joint Declaration, the 2018 U.S.-DPRK Singapore Joint Statement, and the 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement—are essential to achieve the complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. The leaders committed to supporting diplomatic efforts by maintaining combined readiness and international sanctions. Both leaders urged the DPRK to uphold its international agreements.
- The Minister and the Secretary noted that the various measures carried out by the ROK and DPRK military authorities for the implementation of the Armistice Agreement, Panmunjom Declaration, and the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) set conditions for easing tensions, reducing the threat of war and preventing accidental border clashes on the Korean Peninsula.
The Minister and the Secretary also shared a common understanding that the implementation of the CMA has effectively contributed to preventing accidental clashes on the Korean Peninsula.
Secretary Austin expressed support for robust inter-Korean dialogue, engagement, and cooperation, and pledged to continue close coordination and cooperation between ROK and U.S. defense authorities on this matter.
- The Minister and the Secretary reaffirmed the role of the United Nations Command (UNC) in maintaining and enforcing the Armistice Agreement. Both leaders reaffirmed that the UNC has contributed to the successful maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula for 68 years, and that it will continue to carry out its mission and tasks with the utmost respect for ROK sovereignty.
The Minister additionally conveyed the ROK position that the Northern Limit Line (NLL) has been an effective means of separating ROK and DPRK military forces and preventing military tension to date.
- The Minister and the Secretary assessed that U.S. forces in the ROK have played a critical role in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula for more than 68 years, and reaffirmed that going forward, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) are to continue to play an important role in preventing armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and in promoting peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
Secretary Austin noted that the Indo-Pacific region is the Department of Defense’s priority theater, and reaffirmed the unshakable commitment of the United States to the combined defense of the ROK—as enshrined in the Mutual Defense Treaty. He also highlighted the U.S. commitment to maintain current USFK force levels in order to defend the ROK.
In particular, the Minister and the Secretary assessed that the ROK-U.S. Deterrence Strategy Committee (DSC) tabletop exercise (TTX) held at the 20th Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue strengthened the Alliance combined deterrence posture and enhanced the Alliance’s ability to execute the Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS).
The Secretary reaffirmed that the U.S. extended deterrent remains ironclad. He and the Minister pledged to enhance the Alliance combined deterrence posture through the TDS to more effectively account for advancing DPRK nuclear, other WMD, and missile threats.
Moreover, the Minister and the Secretary noted ROK efforts to establish the conditions for the stable stationing of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery at Camp Carroll and committed to continuing close cooperation toward the final goal of routine and unfettered access.
- The Minister and the Secretary received a report on the results of the ROK-U.S. MCM from the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) Commander, General Paul J. LaCamera. On this basis, the leaders pledge to maintain Fight Tonight readiness, enhance combined defense capabilities, and update relevant operation plans (OPLANs). They also assessed that there was significant progress in effectively responding to a variety of security challenges following changes to the strategic environment.
- On this basis, the Minister and the Secretary approved new Strategic Planning Guidance (SPG) to guide Alliance planning efforts—which reflects changes to the strategic environment. The Minister and the Secretary assessed that the updated planning guidance will guide military OPLANs to more effectively deter—and as necessary respond to—DPRK threats to the U.S.-ROK Alliance.
- The Minister and the Secretary reaffirmed the need to continue to conduct combined exercises and training events on the Korean Peninsula to strengthen Alliance readiness. Both sides assessed that the 21-1 and 21-2 Combined Command Post Trainings (CCPT), despite the COVID-19 pandemic, were conducted successfully in compliance with social distancing measures. They also assessed that in addition to CCPT, other combined training events performed throughout the year in a balanced manner added strength to the ROK-U.S. combined defense posture and military readiness. Both leaders pledged to closely cooperate to conduct both CCPTs in 2022, noting that they are critical component of maintaining Alliance readiness. The two sides assessed that the ROK-U.S. Alliance must continue to focus on military readiness and on the combined defense posture to address dynamic changes on the Korean Peninsula.
- The Minister and the Secretary emphasized that continuous training opportunities for USFK are critical to maintaining a strong combined defense posture. The Secretary and the Minister concurred in the importance of communication and cooperation between the ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) and USFK to coordinate for more effective and productive joint use of ROK facilities and airspace for the USFK training required to maintain readiness within our strong combined defense posture. The two leaders also committed to continued cooperation toward the development of a combined joint multi-purpose live-fire training complex.
- The Minister and the Secretary expressed appreciation for the CFC, which has played a central role in deterring war on the Korean Peninsula and defending the ROK since its establishment in 1978. The Minister and Secretary reviewed preparations for—and acknowledged joint efforts towards—the relocation of the CFC Headquarters (HQ) to Camp Humphreys.
The Minister and the Secretary reaffirmed that the CFC HQ relocation to Camp Humphreys will contribute to enhanced combined operational capabilities and a strengthened combined defense posture, and pledged to closely cooperate in order to complete the relocation by next year.
- The Minister and the Secretary reviewed the progress on directed tasks from the Conditions-based Operational Control Transition Plan (COTP). The two sides noted progress made in the COTP and discussed the way forward for wartime operational control (OPCON) transition to the Future Combined Forces Command (F-CFC)
The Minister and the Secretary reaffirmed that the conditions stated in the bilaterally approved COTP must be met before the wartime OPCON is transitioned to the F-CFC. The Minister and the Secretary pledged to conduct a Full Operational Capability (FOC) assessment of the F-CFC in 2022.
In parallel, the two leaders committed to complete the comprehensive joint study on COTP capabilities as well as the annex and appendix rewrites to COTP Change 1 by the Spring 2022 Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue. They also pledged to complete a ROK-U.S. bilateral assessment on ROK critical military capabilities and Alliance comprehensive response capabilities against DPRK nuclear and missile threats by the 54th SCM.
- The Minister and the Secretary acknowledged that progress has been made toward meeting the conditions for wartime OPCON transition through ROK-U.S. joint efforts. Minister Suh emphasized that he will systemically and actively pursue the critical military capabilities necessary for wartime OPCON transition, while continuously expanding defense capabilities of the ROK military that are necessary for leading the future combined defense. Secretary Austin reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to bridging capabilities—until the ROK acquisition of these capabilities are completed—as well as enduring capabilities consistent with the COTP. Furthermore, the two leaders noted that the ROK plans to acquire and develop critical military capabilities, and decided to closely coordinate on ROK acquisitions plan for these capabilities.
The two sides committed to engage in regular evaluation and review of progress in OPCON transition implementation at the annual SCMs and MCMs in order to maintain a steadfast combined defense system.
- The Minister and the Secretary decided to continue strengthening cooperation in various areas, including space and cyber, in order to ensure an effective response to emerging threats and to bolster comprehensive Alliance response capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister concurred that developing and cooperating in new domains will enhance the Alliance’s combined defense posture against a range of adversary threats.
The Minister and the Secretary acknowledged the efforts of the respective defense authorities working to promote critical infrastructure, including information and space systems, and to improve the security of such systems. The two leaders expressed their shared vision of fostering closer cooperation in high-tech domains such as cyber and space.
The two sides pledged to explore measures to strengthen space capabilities as an Alliance through the Space Cooperation Working group and the associated ROK-U.S. space policy joint study. This includes exploring means of improving space situational awareness information-sharing systems, and expanding bilateral and multilateral combined exercises and training events to improve the Alliance space operation capabilities. They also committed to exploring opportunities to develop Alliance space professionals.
The two sides committed to maintaining close communication and coordination regarding the cyber domain—including the Cyber Cooperation Working group scheduled to meet in February 2022—in order to share trends of cyber threats and discuss corresponding policy updates. They also pledged to progressively develop cooperation and exchanges between the respective cyber commands with the aim of discussing and promoting mutual interests.
- The Minister and the Secretary pledged to continue exchange activities between ROK-U.S. consultative bodies that address defense research and development, as well as industrial cooperation, capability acquisition, lifecycle logistics, and technology security, and concurred on the necessity to advance Alliance priorities in the areas of capability development, interoperability, acquisition, and sustainment.
The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to prioritize revisions of bilateral consultative bodies in order to strengthen efficacy and timeliness of cooperation in areas of defense industries and research and development. The two leaders reaffirmed that ROK-U.S. science and technology cooperation has expanded in various domains such as space, quantum, sensor/electronic warfare, cyber defense, artificial intelligence, automation, and directed energy. They also pledged to seek cooperative measures in the area of 5G and next-generation mobile communications (6G). The two sides assessed that such cooperation is continuing to develop in a way that furthers ROK-U.S. mutual interests.
- In consideration of complex regional and global security situation, the Minister and the Secretary pledged to continue promoting defense and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and the world where mutual interests align, in order to better respond to regional and global security challenges. In this context, the two leaders committed to seeking cooperation between ROK’s New Southern Policy and the U.S. vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the rules-based international order and adherence to international rules and norms, including those of freedom of navigation and overflight. They further expressed their intent to work together for that purpose. Additionally, the Minister and the Secretary acknowledged the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, as reflected in the May 2021 Joint Statement between President Biden and President Moon. They also reaffirmed support for Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) centrality and the ASEAN-led regional architecture.
The two leaders decided to promote human rights and the rule of law both at home and abroad. They jointly condemned violence by the Myanmar military and police against civilians, and committed to continuing to press for immediate cessation of violence, the release of political prisoners, and a swift return to democracy. They called on all nations to prohibit arms sales to Myanmar.
The two sides highlighted their commitment to the UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) and pledged to work together towards the success of the upcoming UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in Seoul. They also reiterated their commitment to efforts including counter-piracy operations, stabilization and reconstruction efforts, regional security cooperation initiatives, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Minister Suh expressed appreciation for the COVID-19 vaccine that the U.S. Government provided to the ROK military this year, and lauded this as a manifestation of the robustness of the ROK-U.S. Alliance. The two sides committed to continuing close cooperation to address this global pandemic. Moreover, Minister Suh noted the close communication and coordination by the U.S. Department of Defense to actively support the ROK government’s “Operation Miracle,” during which Afghans who assisted the ROK Government, as well as their families, were transported to the ROK. Minister Suh expressed appreciation to the U.S. Government and all U.S. service members for their dedicated support in realizing humanitarian values.
- Secretary Austin expressed appreciation for the ROK’s dedication and contribution to various global security efforts, including the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).
The Minister and the Secretary applauded the ROK-U.S. Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) efforts to enhance the Alliance’s combined response capabilities to prevent the acquisition and use of WMD, and, if necessary, to respond to mitigate WMD threats.
They resolved to continue strengthening cooperation to enhance CWMD capabilities through measures including ROK-U.S. Counter WMD Committee (CWMDC) and U.S. DoD Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs, which have enhanced Alliance CWMD capabilities.
- The Minister and the Secretary assessed that trilateral security cooperation among the ROK, the United Sates, and Japan remains critical to regional stability, and committed to continuing trilateral defense cooperation such as information-sharing, high-level policy consultation—including the defense trilateral talks (DTT) and Trilateral Defense Ministerials—combined exercises, and personnel exchanges to achieve the complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, as well as to advance the peace and security of Northeast Asia.
- The Minister and the Secretary reaffirmed that expedited USFK base relocations and land returns, including those of the Yongsan Garrison, are in the interest of both countries and pledged to work together closely on relevant matters, including environmental conditions and security requirements, to ensure timely base returns in accordance with the ROK-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
In particular, the two leaders reaffirmed that both sides will seek to return considerable portions of Yongsan Garrison by early 2022, following ROK construction of appropriate security fencing. The two sides also pledged to pursue the return of sections of Yongsan Garrison no longer in use by the United States that can be returned, when all required transfer and force protection actions are complete.
The Minister and the Secretary applauded that various measures were discussed through SOFA channels, and pledged to continue discussion on relevant issues through the established processes of the ROK-U.S. SOFA Joint Committee.
- Secretary Austin emphasized that the ROK is contributing toward ensuring a stable stationing environment for U.S. forces in Korea, and offered his appreciation for consent to the ratification of the 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) by the ROK National Assembly. Furthermore, the two leaders assessed that the SMA has greatly contributed to the strengthening of the ROK-U.S. combined defense capabilities.
- Minister Suh and Secretary Austin expressed appreciation for the courtesy, hospitality, and work by both sides that contributed to the success of this year’s SCM. The Minister and the Secretary both affirmed that the discussions during the 53rd SCM and the 46th MCM contributed to substantively strengthening the ROK-U.S. Alliance and further developing the bilateral defense relationship into a comprehensive and mutually-beneficial Alliance. Both sides expect to hold the 54th SCM and 47th MCM in Washington, D.C., at a mutually convenient time in 2022. (Source: US DoD)
01 Dec 21. Rules of war need rewriting for the age of AI weapons. ‘Killer robots’ combine mass destructive power with cheap production. Whoever becomes the leader in artificial intelligence “will become the ruler of the world”, Vladimir Putin said in 2017, predicting future wars would be fought using drones. Even then, for all the Russian leader’s own ambitions, China and the US were the frontrunners in developing the technology. Yet four years later, the vision of autonomous fighting units is becoming a reality, with potentially devastating consequences. The computer scientist Stuart Russell — who will devote a forthcoming Reith Lecture on BBC radio to the subject — met UK defence officials recently to warn that incorporating AI into weapons could wipe out humanity. AI promises enormous benefits. Yet, like nuclear power, it can be used for good and ill. Its introduction into the military sphere represents the biggest technological leap since the advent of nuclear weapons.
While atomic bombs were used on real cities in 1945, however, it took more than two decades before the first arms control treaties were signed. Nuclear weapons are also difficult and expensive to develop or obtain. By contrast, AI-aided arms — used at scale — could combine the power of weapons of mass destruction with the scope for cheap production of the AK-47. That opens the possibility of their use, even if not in their most sophisticated forms, not just by advanced economies but by “rogue” states and terrorists. And the world is starting to wrestle with how to control them while the technology is still evolving at lightning speed. The most immediate concern is “lethal autonomous weapons systems” (Laws), often dubbed “killer robots”. In fact, the term means any mobile platform — drone, android, self-flying plane — carrying a machine that can perceive its environment, make decisions on tactics and targets, and kill. Rudimentary versions exist today. The UN says Turkish-made Kargu drones incorporating image-processing capabilities were used in Libyan conflicts last year to home in on selected targets. Academics warn of swarms of cheap miniature drones armed with facial recognition and tiny bombs being used as mass killing machines. Many experts have demanded a ban on developing lethal autonomous weapons. A UN body has drawn up guidelines and worked on a potential embargo. Several military powers oppose a ban, fearing the loss of a chance to gain a military edge or that others would ignore a prohibition that would be near impossible to enforce.
Yet many countries have joined conventions on biological and chemical weapons, though these also offer cheap routes to mass lethality. The scientific community says it has ideas and lessons from other arms control efforts on how to devise and police a Laws ban. Beyond killer robots, AI could be used to enhance or replace human skill in everything from operating weapons to intelligence gathering and analysis, early warning systems, and command and control. Dialogue is needed not just between the biggest military powers but more broadly on rules of engagement, what sort of wars countries are prepared to countenance in an AI era, and how to impose some transparency and constraints. Agreements are needed to keep humans “in the loop” in all forms of military decision-making. Establishing such contacts will not be easy; China is reluctant to engage with the US even on nuclear arms. But past leaders agreed on “rules” of war, with at least some limited success, because they saw it as in their mutual interests to do so. It should be more than a naive hope that those rules can be updated for an age when humans are combining awesome destructive force with machines that can calculate faster than they can. (Source: FT.com)
01 Dec 21. Former PM Abe says Japan, U.S. could not stand by if China attacked Taiwan. Japan and the United States could not stand by if China attacked Taiwan, and Beijing needs to understand this, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday.
Tensions over Chinese-claimed Taiwan have risen as President Xi Jinping seeks to assert his country’s sovereignty claims against the democratically ruled island. Taiwan’s government says it wants peace, but will defend itself if needed.
Speaking virtually to a forum organised by Taiwanese think tank the Institute for National Policy Research, Abe noted the Senkaku islands – which China calls the Diaoyu Islands – Sakishima islands and Yonaguni island are a mere 100 km (62 miles) or so away from Taiwan.
An armed invasion of Taiwan would be a grave danger to Japan, he added.
“A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-U.S. alliance. People in Beijing, President Xi Jinping in particular, should never have a misunderstanding in recognising this,” Abe said.
Japan is host to major U.S. military bases, including on the southern island of Okinawa, a short flight from Taiwan, which would be crucial for any U.S. support during a Chinese attack.
The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, though there is ambiguity about whether it would send forces to help Taiwan in a war with China.
The United States and its allies would take unspecified “action” if China were to use force to alter the status quo over Taiwan, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month.
Abe, who stepped down as prime minister last year, is head of the largest faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and remains influential within the party.
On Sino-Japanese relations going forward, Abe said Japan should advance its ties with China while firmly saying to its giant neighbour what needs to be said, echoing incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“Japan, Taiwan and all the people who believe in democracy need to keep urging President Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist Party leaders repeatedly not to step onto a wrong path,” Abe said.
Japan and Taiwan must work together to protect freedom and democracy, added Abe, speaking to an audience that included Cheng Wen-tsan, mayor of the northern Taiwanese city of Taoyuan, tipped as a possible future presidential candidate.
“A stronger Taiwan, a thriving Taiwan, and a Taiwan that guarantees freedom and human rights are also in Japan’s interests. Of course, this is also in the interests of the whole world,” Abe said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
30 Nov 21. UAE to sign major deals during French president’s visit – Emirati official. The United Arab Emirates and France will sign major contracts when President Emmanuel Macron visits Dubai on Dec. 3 , a senior Emirati official said on Tuesday, as the two close allies look to deepen economic and political ties.
“I don’t want to spoil the Christmas present with the president,” Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, told reporters when asked whether Abu Dhabi would purchase French Dassault Rafale fighter jets.
“This is an excellent relationship and various agreements will be signed. After the president’s visit the relationship will be broader in different areas,” he said, adding these included technology and healthcare.
Macron begins a two-day trip to the Gulf, which also includes Qatar and Saudi Arabia, on Friday. It comes at a time when Gulf Arab states have voiced uncertainty about the United States’ focus on the region even as they seek more weapons from their key security ally.
The French leader has forged a good relationship with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan with investments flowing between both countries. Paris has a permanent military base in the Emirati capital.
The on-off negotiations for the Rafale fighter jets have been going on for more than decade. Abu Dhabi already has Mirage warplanes.
Challenges Magazine reported on Nov. 19 that talks were now at an advanced stage for between 30-60 planes and could be sealed during Macron’s visit. Neighbouring Qatar has already ordered Rafales.
Briefing reporters on Tuesday, a French presidential official declined to confirm or deny the Rafale deal saying only there would be contracts signed during the visit.
A UAE deal to buy American F-35 fighter jets has slowed amid concerns about the UAE’s relationship with China, including the prevalence of Huawei 5G technology in the country.
“France is a reliable ally and we see it as an important player in the region. We’ve had a consistent relationship with France over four decades. President Macron’s visit will consolidate that,” said Gargash. (Source: Reuters)
30 Nov 21. U.S. in hypersonic weapon ‘arms race’ with China -Air Force secretary. The United States and China are engaged in an arms race to develop the most lethal hypersonic weapons, the U.S. Air Force secretary said on Tuesday, as Beijing and Washington build and test more and more of the high-speed next-generation arms.
“There is an arms race, not necessarily for increased numbers, but for increased quality,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told Reuters during an interview in his Pentagon offices. “It’s an arms race that has been going on for quite some time. The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”
In October, the top U.S. military officer, General Mark Milley, confirmed a Chinese hypersonic weapons test that military experts say appears to show Beijing’s pursuit of an Earth-orbiting system designed to evade American missile defenses.
This year the Pentagon has held several hypersonic weapons tests with mixed success. In October, the Navy successfully tested a booster rocket motor that would be used to power a launch vehicle carrying a hypersonic weapon aloft.
Hypersonic weapons travel in the upper atmosphere at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 kilometers (3,853 miles) per hour.
Kendall noted that while the U.S. military has focused funds on Iraq and Afghanistan, it has taken its eye off the ball in terms of hypersonic weapons. “This isn’t saying we’ve done nothing, but we haven’t done enough,” he said.
As the Pentagon enters the 2023 annual budget cycle, Kendall hopes to raise funds with the retirement of older and expensive-to-maintain systems in favor of new systems, including hypersonic development programs.
“I love the A-10. The C-130 is a great aircraft that’s been very capable and very effective for a lot of missions. The MQ-9s have been very effective for counterterrorism and so on. They’re still useful, but none of these things scare China,” Kendall said, referring to a more than 40-year-old combat aircraft, a plane for carrying cargo, and widely used drones, respectively.
Defense contractors hope to capitalize on the shift to hypersonic weapons not only by building them, but also by developing new detection and defeat mechanisms.
Arms makers Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) and Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N) have all touted their hypersonic weapons programs to investors as world focus shifted to the new arms race for an emerging class of weapon.
Still, the Pentagon wants defense contractors to cut the ultimate cost of hypersonic weapons, the head of research and development has said, as the next generation of super-fast missiles being developed currently costs tens of millions per unit. (Source: Reuters)
30 Nov 21. Weighing up the options — Astute or Virginia Class? Which nuclear-powered submarine capability would be best suited for the Royal Australian Navy? A fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines have been promised under the newly established AUKUS partnership between Australia, the UK and the US. Minister for Defence Peter Dutton recently co-signed the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement — a legally-binding arrangement granting Australia access to advanced nuclear technology from partner states.
The agreement establishes a framework for the disclosure and use of information related to naval nuclear propulsion, supporting the local construction of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.
However, Defence is yet to select a platform, with the UK’s Astute Class and the US’ Virginia Class submarines proposed as options.
The Commonwealth government has established a Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force, responsible for working with US and UK stakeholders over the next 18 months to determine a procurement pathway for Australia.
The group’s considerations are expected to include requirements for design, construction, maintenance, infrastructure, industry capacity, nuclear safety, environmental protection, crewing and training.
The Task Force will also advise on building timeframes, costs and supply needs.
Sam Goldsmith, director of Red Team Research and PhD on Australian defence industry innovation, weighs up the pros and cons of the Astute and Virginia Class submarines.
Goldsmith notes that both designs are fitted with nuclear reactors that never need refuelling; feature advanced pump-jet propulsors; support Tomahawk cruise missiles; and require Australia to “field a rigorous no-fail regulatory and safety regime”.
Goldsmith observes that only the Virginia Class platform natively supports the RAN’s “presumably preferred” AN/BYG-1 combat system and Mk-48 torpedoes.
“Modifying the Astute to accommodate the RAN’s preferences could upset the fine-tuned space, weight, buoyancy, balance, power and cooling attributes, potentially triggering a cascade of unintended issues,” he writes.
“Modifying existing designs can cost hundreds of millions and take years: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Alternatively, Goldsmith adds, the RAN could consider adopting the UK’s combat system and Spearfish torpedoes.
The analyst points out that both the Astute- and Virginia Class vessels are larger than the diesel-powered Collins Class fleet they’re expected to replace.
“Accommodating either of them may require significant upgrades to Australian assembly halls, slipways, dry docks and berths, and that won’t be cheap,” Goldsmith notes.
The Astute Class platform is a 97-metre-long, 7,800-tonne vessel, while Block V Virginias are 140.5 metres long and weigh approximately 10,364 tonnes.
In comparison, Collins Class boats are 77.8 metres long and 3,407 tonnes.
According to Goldsmith, this also presents crewing challenges, with the RAN already struggling to crew the Collins Class fleet, which requires approximately 60 personnel.
The Astute Class vessels are expected to require roughly 90 personnel, while the Virginia Class subs require a crew of around 130.
Additionally, the platforms vary in payload capacity, with Block V Virginias built with a significantly larger payload than the Astute vessels.
Goldsmith notes that the Virginia Class can also “ripple-fire dozens of Tomahawks” and potentially support future payloads.
“The British sub only supports torpedo-tube-launched weapons, with a magazine of 38 Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawks,” he continues.
“The Virginia Block V carries around 65 weapons — 25 torpedo-tube-launched weapons, plus 12 Tomahawks in two payload tubes forward of the sail and 28 Tomahawks in four wide-diameter payload tubes aft of the sail.
“The Virginia’s wide-diameter payload tubes can also support future payloads such as autonomous vehicles, AIM-9X surface-to-air missiles and hypersonic boost-glide missiles.”
When considering the timeliness of delivery, Goldsmith expects the Virginia Class to edge ahead.
He writes that Australia could acquire an initial tranche of Virginia Block Vs off the shelf earlier than the Astute alternative to facilitate nuclear-safety and crew training, command courses and nuclear qualifications.
“Concurrently, a full production run of eight boats could take place in South Australia. A 2018 ASPI report determined that a ‘critical mass’ of 10 Australian SSNs would be required to sustain sufficient certified personnel, at sea and ashore,” he continues.
This plan would require USN support in terms of reactor supervision, at least in the early years, and the allocation of USN production slots to the RAN — but only if the US amended its priorities. The USN operates 19 Virginia Class boats with plans for 66.
“This concept could work with the Astute, but it would require the UK to keep building them beyond the planned seven boats and to delay production of its new Dreadnought Class submarines.”
Operation and sustainment
According to Goldsmith, the Virginia Class design may be easier to sustain and operate, given the resupply interoperability of the growing USN fleet.
“Research and development of leading-technology upgrades is always costly and justifying high R&D costs might be more difficult if there are fewer boats of a certain type,” he adds.
“If we assume that Australia eventually acquires eight to 10 SSNs, that would mean a total fleet of 17 Astutes versus 76 Virginias. In fact, the USN is already planning for a stealthier Virginia Block VI.”
Moreover, the Red Team Research director flags wartime resupply benefits, claiming that the Virginia would allow RAN and USN submarines to be resupplied with ordnance in Australia, Japan, Guam, Hawaii and San Diego.
However, Goldsmith acknowledges that as part of the AUKUS arrangement, a cache of Spearfish torpedoes could be stored at select RAN/USN facilities.
As noted, the Astute Class requires fewer crewed personnel than the Virginia Class.
Accordingly, Goldsmith notes that this could shorten the time required to train new Australian commanding officers and executive officers.
“RN COs and XOs are seaman officers who have completed the requisite nuclear systems course and are supported by specialist RN nuclear reactor engineers who don’t go on to command submarines. By contrast, USN COs and XOs are all nuclear reactor engineers who have stood watch over a submarine reactor at some point in their careers,” Goldsmith states.
“This difference is significant because it could take 15 years for an Australian nuclear engineer to gain sufficient at-sea experience to become an Australian SSN CO.”
Goldsmith warns there may be export-control challenges associated with selecting the Virginia Class boars, given the US State Department’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
“Under ITAR, naturalised Australian citizens could be deemed dual nationals and might have difficulty in obtaining US government approval,” he writes.
“A person who is a dual national from a proscribed country would likely be rejected outright.
“Ignoring ITAR isn’t an option because penalties are severe and extraterritorial — for example, a US$1m fine per breach and/or 10 years in jail and/or placement on US government denial lists.”
This could be particularly challenging for Australia, he adds, which is a nation of immigrants.
“By contrast, the UK government’s export controls might be more flexible concerning dual nationals and particularly naturalised Australian citizens,” he writes.
Irrespective of the ultimate choice, the program is set to be “incredibly technical, complex and difficult”.
“Even the most optimistic delivery timeline will take years, and it’s likely to be 15 years before qualified Australians are able to run the boats in a self-reliant manner,” Goldsmith observes.
“Getting this decision right will determine how difficult it is for Australia to operate, sustain and maintain its SSNs well beyond the 2060s.”
He concludes: “Few government decisions have so many long-term implications with so little margin for error. This is one of them.”
(Source: Defence Connect)
01 Dec 21. War in Taiwan – Strategy, characteristics and methodology. Over recent years, the United States’ qualitative military superiority has declined relative to its potential adversaries. Amid rising tension between China and Taiwan, what military avenues can the US and its allies exploit to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty? In years gone by, discourse on the threat of Taiwanese-Chinese conflict was intentionally ambiguous. Few openly discussed the West’s role in defending the island against an invading force, and even fewer developed operational-strategic level insights into how the West could militarily protect Taiwan. These hushed conversations morphed over recent years, with the defence of Taiwan and the broader South China Sea the centrepiece of Australian and American military policy.
Just last week, Australian and American posturing on the role of China in the region reached apotheosis. Minister for Defence Peter Dutton drew a definitive line in the sand ruling out the policy of appeasement, marking a new era of frank and overt dialogue on Chinese ambitions in Taiwan and beyond.
“In my view, acquiescence or appeasement is a tactic that ends in a cul-de-sac of strategic misfortune or worse,” Minister Dutton said at a National Press Club address.
“Just look at how China has exploited prolonged efforts to agree a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to expand its territorial occupation and militarisation of the region at cost to the security of ASEAN and to the region.”
Minister Dutton’s speech reflected a sober assessment of the ever evolving characteristics of Chinese competitive control and coercion, implicitly noting the impact of Chinese initiatives such as Belt and Road on China’s global influence and the standing of the rules-based order.
“Does the Chinese government wish to occupy other countries? Not in my judgement,” Minister Dutton suggested.
“But they do see us as tributary states. And that surrender of sovereignty and abandonment of any adherence to the international rule of law is what our country has fought against since Federation.
“It has come at great human cost and any repeat of the mistakes of the 1930s would again exact a great cost on our country and many more.”
The fiery address was delivered merely weeks after the minister asserted that it would be “inconceivable” for Australia not to support Taiwan’s sovereignty in the face of a Chinese invasion.
While politicians and military theorists in the West have come to terms with supporting Taiwan against armed conflict, it is not immediately clear which path the US-led coalition would choose.
Jacquelyn Schneider in War on the Rocks this week analyses the changing attitudes in the US towards defending Taiwan, and how the West could mount a successful defence of Taiwanese sovereignty.
“Recent polling suggests that, for the first time in many years, a majority of the American public supports defending Taiwan in the case of a Chinese invasion. Given the potential for this conflict to include American soldiers, the public deserves to know what they are buying when they make this decision,” Schneider notes.
Schneider references recent findings from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to demonstrate the changing attitudes in the US.
“The American public supports a range of US policies in support of Taiwan. Majorities favour US recognition of Taiwan as an independent country (69 per cent), supporting its inclusion in international organisations (65 per cent), and signing a US-Taiwan free trade agreement (57 per cent),” findings from the Chicago Council found.
“A slimmer majority (53 per cent) support the United States’ signing a formal alliance with Taiwan, and a plurality (46 per cent) favour explicitly committing to defend Taiwan if China invades.”
Traditionally, analysts have understood conflict in Taiwan to be characterised by the United States’ qualitative advantage in which the US Navy and Air Force would overwhelm invading forces. This qualitative edge has diminished.
“Department of Defense concepts like AirSea Battle and the “third offset” all envisage high-tech fights in which, faced with an onslaught of Chinese missile volleys, air attacks, and destroyers, the United States comes to the defense of Taiwan with stealth fighters, long-range missiles, and stealthy submarines,” Schneider argues.
“Meanwhile, as both sides battle for air and sea superiority, they simultaneously try to blind one another with cyber operations, electronic warfare, and space attacks.”
With the narrowing qualitative edge, the US may simply to be able to overcome China’s initial invasion force.
“There is a reasonable chance that China wins the first round of high-tech conflict. Declassified wargaming results, think tank reports, and congressional testimony all warn that the US military — which will ostensibly be fighting to defend Taiwan from behind the island while dependent on fragile logistics chains — could lose the first volleys (or at least find itself seriously disadvantaged) in a Chinese quest to retake Taiwan,” Schneider argues.
Schneider outlines that not only has the capability of the US military to overcome their adversaries narrowed, but years of insurgency focused warfare within the United States’ military apparatus and lack of training with their Taiwanese counterparts would create difficulties for US-Taiwanese interoperability. Simply, many of the skills required to undertake conventional war have not been employed for decades.
“And while the battles of World War II and Korean War are from a different time technologically, these skills — mass landings, retaking lost territory, defending coastal positions, and warding off invasions of thousands of troops — have become historical relics rather than campaigns the US military is prepared to conduct,” Schneider wrote.
Schneider provides a very sobering – and perhaps humbling – analysis of potential conflict in Taiwan. But there are numerous avenues to victory.
How can the West fight a war in Taiwan?
The US’ adversaries have always been incredibly adept at asymmetric warfare, using grey-zone activities and exploitable vectors to undermine US credibility or military capabilities.
Look no further than the Russian Gerasimov Doctrine. Over recent years, Russia cultivated pro-Russian terror organisations in Eastern Europe, allegedly provided the Taliban with bounties for killing US soldiers and developed information campaigns to influence the behaviour of international populations. Speaking on cyber-enabled information warfare, Major General Mick Ryan succinctly described the information vector – which can be applied to asymmetrical warfare in its broadest sense – as creating an environment in which your enemies “no longer want to fight you”.
The US-led coalition must rely on the exploitation of three key asymmetric vectors to make the invasion of Taiwan simply too costly, and make the invaders “no longer want to fight you”. The three vectors are: SOF-coordinated regional participation, cyber-enabled warfare and a Taiwanese insurgency.
SOF: Speaking in a podcast with the Modern War Institute, Admiral (Ret’d) James Stavridis and Marine turned author Elliot Ackerman argue that the US enjoys a competitive advantage regarding alliances and relationships in the region. The pair note that American SOF teams could leverage and foster relationships with allied militaries in the lead up to the conflict, who can not only support the US’ narrative but also provide clandestine kinetic benefits.
Cyber: Further, many analysts have posited that the US still maintains cyber superiority over China. In a Defence Connect Podcast with Dr Peter Layton in October, it was revealed that Chinese systems and networks possess a far lower resilience against cyber threat actors than Western networks, as the Chinese government has built in inherent exploitable loopholes in Chinese computer systems to enable the government to easily hack their own citizens. Such loopholes, coupled with a large pool of public-private investment into the cyber security industry, provide easily exploitable opportunities for the US for both espionage and subversion.
Insurgency: Finally, despite overwhelming military superiority, the costs of a PRC invasion of Taiwan and effectively suppressing the Taiwanese population will be significant. Wang Mouzhou in The Diplomat explained, “Ship-to-shore and shore-to-shore landings are extremely hazardous for the invasion force. In the first Gulf War, American military planners were rumored to estimate that an amphibious invasion of Saddam Hussein-occupied Kuwait would cost up to 10,000 American lives… A 2015 RAND study estimated that United States submarines alone could sink 41 per cent of Chinese amphibious ships in a theoretical 2017 conflict.” Taiwan is considerably better defended than Hussein’s Iraq, and the cost of human capital would likely send shockwaves throughout the region and at home in China.
Further, many of Taiwan’s citizens will simply become ungovernable for the occupying forces. Mouzhou argues, “The United States has spent significant blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan and has achieved relatively few results. An invasion of Taiwan could provide the PRC with an object lesson in the difficulties of counterinsurgency… It is extremely difficult to pacify an invaded region. Unlike, say, Crimea, individuals in Taiwan are quite likely to actively resist their occupiers.” As with the Allies in World War II, it is likely that fomenting a local insurgency would be a cornerstone of American policy to pacify superpower.
While a diminishing qualitative edge, and little quantitative advantage, the US nevertheless possess the capabilities to rely on exploitable vectors of asymmetric warfare for the defence of Taiwan. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Nov 21. US, S. Korea to Write New War Plan to Counter N. Korean Nukes, Missiles. During visit, defense chiefs also expected to announce Seoul will test for long-awaited operational control of joint forces in 2022. The U.S. and the Republic of Korea are expected to announce this week they will begin writing a new war plan for North Korea that takes into account Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile launch advances, two U.S. senior defense officials said Tuesday. At their annual Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul on Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Republic of Korea Defense Minister Suh Wook will announce new strategic planning guidance “to start the process of developing a new operational war plan,” said one of the officials, who briefed reporters traveling with Austin to Seoul.
“The DPRK has advanced its capabilities. The strategic environment has changed over the past few years,” the official said. “It’s appropriate and necessary that we have an OPLAN that is updated.”
The officials noted that the current war plan for North Korea is around 10 years old. While the upcoming revision was not prompted by any immediate threat, “we have seen, certainly, advances in North Korean capabilities, particularly with respect to missile delivery capability. That is one set of issues that a new OPLAN would need to address,” the first official said.
The new war plan will also take into account South Korea’s recent military advancements “and their ability to contribute to the plan” to counter North Korea, the second official said.
Since September, the North has conducted a cruise missile test; a rail-launched short-range ballistic missile test; a reported hypersonic glide vehicle test; and a submarine-launched ballistic missile test, the officials noted.
“We’re obviously in a period of somewhat heightened tensions,” the first official said.
The release of strategic planning guidance directing a new OPLAN “will inaugurate an extensive and intensive effort where we review all of our assumptions, objectives, and end states with our ROK allies,” the first official said.
Austin and his counterpart are also expected to announce that they will conduct a full operational capability, or FOC, assessment next year of Korea’s ability to command combined U.S.-Korean forces under a wartime scenario. This test of operational control is “a significant milestone on the way toward OPCON transition, something that’s very important to our ROK allies, something that is also very important to us,” the official said.
But transfer hinges on more than next year’s FOC test; Korea must also show that it has acquired certain military capabilities “related to ballistic missile defense,” the official said.
News of the OPLAN re-write comes days after the Biden administration approved a new Global Posture Review, which calls for moving military resources from other theaters to bolster U.S. influence in the Indo-Pacific.
One of the goals of that review was to return diplomatic norms to overseas force posture decisions; Korea was one of several nations the U.S. consulted during the review for input.
That has already resulted in the Pentagon approving permanent stationing of a previously rotational attack helicopter squadron and artillery division headquarters in Korea, in addition to the approximately 28,500 U.S. forces based there. Additional force posture decisions may come from this week’s consult, the officials said.
Over the last few months, the U.S. and South Korea have also settled a cost-sharing special measures agreement that was stalled under the Trump administration.
“Where we had issues that had been impediments and irritants, such as the special measures agreement related to U.S. forces on the peninsula, discussions about the size of the U.S. posture, that had been holding back progress in the alliance over the last couple of years— those have been resolved over the last several months,” the second official said.
While wider regional security will also be discussed, the officials did not offer many specifics on how they would further engage Korea to counter a rising China. Korea conducts more trade with China than it does with the U.S. and Japan combined, and the rising tensions between the two world powers has put it in a tough spot, Korea’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong Kun said Nov. 15 at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event.
“Interaction between Beijing and Washington, as it gets more competitive, we get really high tension within our foreign policy communities,” Choi said. “What kinds of impact will it have on our exporters, our market actors?”
“Foreign policy also should serve the needs and interests of Korean citizens, namely middle income class,” he said.
That sensitivity is noted, the first U.S. official said.
“We don’t ask our partners in the region to choose between the United States and China. We ask our partners to contribute to the rules-based order,” the official said. (Source: Defense One)
29 Nov 21. Improvements planned for US military bases in Guam, Australia to counter China. The Pentagon wants to improve bases in Guam and Australia to counter China following a review of U.S. military resources around the globe. The Global Posture Review (GPR), of which an unclassified version is set to be released later on Monday, “directs additional cooperation with allies and partners who advance initiatives that contribute to regional stability and deter Chinese military aggression,” including “enhancing infrastructure in Guam and in Australia,” a senior defense official told reporters. Such improvements are set to start next year and include airfields that would aid the Defense Department in quickly moving troops in and out of the region for drills, deployments or a possible conflict. Notably, the review does not significantly reshuffle forces to confront Beijing or tackle other challenges, including an aggressive Russia and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa. Asked about any planned troop movements based on these threats, the official would not comment “on specific force numbers or assets” but emphasized that the Indo-Pacific region is a “priority theater.”
“China is the pacing challenge for the department and I think you’ll see a strong commitment in the forthcoming [National Defense Strategy] … that will guide further posture enhancements,” the official said
Ordered by President Biden in February, the GPR is one of several defense-policy reports set to be released in the next several months that will influence where the administration places its assets and forces worldwide.
Such reviews are made all the more important with recent upheavals in the world, including the Biden administration’s disastrous end to the United States’ military presence in Afghanistan, China’s increased military aggression toward Taiwan and a threatening Russian military buildup near the border with Ukraine.
Though they could not offer any concrete details on where U.S. defense assets might be moved, the defense official stressed that the GPR’s guidance “will manifest itself through dozens if not hundreds of routine posture related decisions over the next two to three years.”
The review also has prompted Biden to rescind a cap of 25,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany, a restriction put in place last year by the Trump administration.
The defense official also said the Pentagon in August notified Belgium and Germany that the United States will keep its forces at seven sites previously designated for return to host nations under an infrastructure consolidation plan.
In addition, the review examined requirements to support French-led counterterrorism efforts in Africa “and has a set of recommendations that are classified moving forward to support our allies and partners on the continent.” (Source: https://thehill.com/policy/defense)
30 Nov 21. Taiwan’s secret submarine project with 7 other countries has left China rattled. Taiwan is building eight state-of-the-art submarines. The first submarine is expected to be delivered to the Taiwanese military by 2025. Taiwan has chosen extremely stealthy submarine designs which can exert a heavy toll on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The island nation will build diesel-electric submarines, instead of nuclear-powered ones. Diesel-electric submarines are cheaper and even more importantly, the electric motors produce less noise when submerged in water, as compared to nuclear reactors. The stealthy submarines will help Taiwan in intercepting and attacking Chinese troops trying to cross the narrow Formosa Strait in case of any invasion plans.
But Taiwan is not alone. Taiwan is being helped by seven countries from around the world, and China is spooked. Let’s deal with the Chinese reaction first. Here’s how the Chinese Communist Party reacted to news of seven democratic countries collaborating with Taiwan for the manufacture of submarines. China’s foreign ministry said the Taiwanese “authorities are colluding with external forces” on the program. In a statement, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the countries should refrain from participating in the submarine effort, “stop military ties with Taiwan and stop supporting the ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces.”
It added that these countries are “playing with fire, and those who play with fire will get burned themselves.”
Which Countries are Helping Taiwan Build Submarines?
The United States, United Kingdom, India, Australia, South Korea, Canada and Spain are the nations that have been helping Taiwan build cutting-edge submarines which can blow a Chinese invading naval fleet up in smoke. According to Reuters, the United States has provided key technology, including combat-system components and sonars. The United Kingdom has provided crucial help as well. A veteran of Britain’s Royal Navy submarine fleet, retired Commodore Ian McGhie, was a key figure in the drive to recruit submarine expertise, according to a person familiar with his role. Britain also has approved multiple export licences in the past three years for UK companies to supply submarine components, technology, or software to Taiwan.
Read more: Taiwan’s indigenously developed submarines aren’t just lethal but basically everything that China doesn’t want
The Reuters report added, “Taipei also succeeded in hiring engineers, technicians and former naval officers from at least five other countries: Australia, South Korea, India, Spain and Canada.” These experts are guiding the submarine builder – CSBC Corporation Taiwan on how to go about accomplishing the mission at hand.
From refusing to have anything to do with Taiwan, to refusing it submarines, to now helping the island nation build its own submarines – the world has definitely come a long way. Already, Japanese, American and possibly even British submarines are prowling in the hotly contested South China Sea region, in a bid to push back against Chinese belligerence. By helping Taiwan build its own submarines, the democratic world is ensuring that Taipei is made self-sufficient.
The time is not far when Taiwan will also lay its hands on nuclear-powered ballistic submarines, which would effectively put China at a disadvantageous position. Already, China will have to face geographically adverse conditions in case of an attempted Taiwan invasion. The PLA will have to transport hundreds of soldiers through the narrow Taiwan Strait into hostile landing beaches. Thereafter, Chinese troops will find it hard to sustain themselves while finding their way through dense mountains to reach Taipei. All of this, while Taiwanese defences rain fire on the invaders.
Also, Taiwan has been giving China nightmares in Lithuania, Honduras and the Solomon Islands. While the Solomon Islands are at the brink of a civil war because of increasing Chinese influence, Lithuania has taken many steps to hurt Chinese interests, ranging from campaigning against Chinese smartphones, to opening the first “Taiwan Representative Office” in the capital city, with the name Taiwan on it. In Honduras, a pro-China leader seeking to rise to power has been strong-armed by the U.S. and Taiwan into rectifying her rather friendly tone towards Beijing.
The spree of diplomatic defeats that Taiwan and Tsai Ing-wen have dealt on Xi Jinping has left no room for the paranoid authoritarian to save face. (Source: https://tfiglobalnews.com/)
29 Nov 21. Taiwan says China military trying to wear it out, but it can respond. China’s military is trying to wear out Taiwan’s armed forces with its repeated missions nearby, but Taiwan is capable of responding, Taipei’s defence minister said on Monday after a renewed spike in Chinese air force activity. Taiwan scrambled fighters again on Sunday after 27 Chinese air force planes again entered its air defence identification zone, or ADIZ.
“Their intention is to slowly exhaust, to let you know that we have this power,” Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told reporters on the sidelines of a parliamentary briefing for lawmakers, when asked about the latest incursion.
“Our national forces have shown that, while you may have this power, we have countermeasures.”
Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force near the democratically governed island and in its ADIZ – not its territorial air space, but a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.
Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force, calls China’s activities “grey zone” warfare
Chiu, who described the situation as “very serious”, said Taiwan will continue to analyse the types of aircraft China uses to inform future plans.
The latest Chinese mission included 18 fighters jets plus five nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, as well as, unusually, a Y-20 aerial refuelling aircraft, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said.
The bombers and six of the fighters flew to the south of Taiwan into the Bashi Channel which separates the island from the Philippines, then out into the Pacific before heading back to China, according to a map the ministry provided.
Those aircraft were accompanied by the refuelling aircraft, suggesting China refuelled the shorter-ranged fighters inflight, a skill the country’s air force is still working to hone to enable it to project power further from China’s shores.
Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn away the Chinese aircraft, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, the ministry said.
China has previously said such missions are designed to protect the country’s sovereignty. (Source: Reuters)
29 Nov 21. Britain and Israel to sign 10-year trade and defence deal. The deal comes amid mounting allegations that Israeli spyware was used to hack foreign officials and journalists. Britain is set to sign a 10-year trade and defence pact with Israel on Monday in which they will cooperate on cybersecurity and commit to stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons on the eve of new talks. The deal comes amid mounting evidence that Israeli spyware was used to attack Middle East Eye and spy on British lawyers advising Princess Haya, the ex-wife of the ruler of Dubai. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid announced the memorandum of understanding on Monday in a joint article for the Telegraph newspaper. Both ministers said the pact would “spur technological breakthroughs” and that “Israel will officially become a tier-one cyber partner for the UK” with this deal. The UK and Israel will begin talks on a full trade deal early in 2022, Truss and Lapid said. Trade between the countries currently is worth $5bn. The pact also doubled down on Britain’s commitment to stamping down on antisemitism by condemning protests against Israel’s ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, outside the London School of Economics and supporting the UK’s decision to proscribe Hamas as a terrorist group.
“There is no place for anti-Semitism around the world. That is why the UK has moved decisively to support Israel in this fight by proscribing Hamas in its entirety,” the pair wrote.
They highlighted UK support for the recent normalisation agreements between several Arab states and Israel, overturning decades in which ties were kept under wraps.
“The UK was one of the first countries to publicly celebrate this historic step towards normalisation in the Middle East led by Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco and mediated by the United States,” they wrote. “One year on, the UK is continuing to play its part in supporting Israel as it works more closely with partners in the region.”
Lapid arrived in London on Sunday for a two-day trip to the UK and France, a day before nuclear talks with Iran will resume.
The Israeli foreign minister is expected to sign the deal with Truss on Monday before meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where they will both give speeches.
Israeli Channel 13 reported that Lapid’s visit aimed to ensure banking sanctions were not lifted during talks with Iran.
UK silence on Israeli spyware
Earlier this month, the UK government refused to say whether it has or will complain to Israel following reports that MEE was among targets of an alleged cyber-attack linked to Candiru, a Tel Aviv spyware firm sanctioned in the United States.
The alleged attack, which a cybersecurity firm said has “strong links” to Candiru, a highly secretive Israeli firm that only sells its spyware to governments, follows earlier reports that the NSO Group’s Pegasus software was used to target phones in the UK.
Britain’s High Court also found that Fiona Shackleton and Nick Manners, the lawyers advising Princess Haya during her court hearing, was hacked using software from Israeli spyware firm Pegasus.
The court believes the Pegasus hack on Princess Haya and her lawyers was ordered by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed who denies the claim.
The military and defence pact comes as the UK has strengthened military ties with Israel under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with a $137m contract between the British military and Israel drone technology company Elbit Systems to supply remote targeting systems agreed in January.
The RAF also took part in a training exercise with the Israeli air force over the Negev Desert in October, a first since 1948, according to The Times.
The pact comes as the international community enters talks with Iran to restart nuclear talks after a five-month gap in Vienna. (Source: News Now/https://www.middleeasteye.net/news)
28 Nov 21. UK and Israel join forces to stop Iran gaining nuclear weapons. Foreign Minister Liz Truss and her Israeli counterpart say they are ‘transforming our close friendship into an even closer partnership’
The UK and Israel’s foreign ministers have declared that they will work “night and day” to stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon as they sign a “historic” 10-year plan for deepening ties.
In a joint article for The Daily Telegraph (see below), Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, and Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign affairs minister, preview their new “memorandum of understanding”.
The agreement, which will be signed on Monday, will enable the UK and Israel to work more closely on issues such as cybersecurity, technology development, defence, trade and science.
It will see Israel become one of the UK’s most trusted allies in thwarting cyber attacks, according to a Foreign Office insider. Talks on a trade deal are also set to begin early next year.
“We believe that a democracy rooted in freedom – which empowers citizens with the opportunity to innovate, create and fulfil their dreams – is the finest form of government,” the two ministers write.
One of the most eye-catching aspects of their joint piece is a renewed commitment to stop Tehran ever getting nuclear weapons – a subject of talks that start again this week.
Negotiators from the UK will join those of other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal as talks restart in Vienna today.
The original agreement was struck in 2015 and saw Iran agree to stop pursuing its nuclear programme in return for economic sanctions being lifted by the other countries.
However, Donald Trump withdrew America from the deal during his presidency and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to push ahead with its nuclear advancement once again.
Since Joe Biden has taken over the White House there have been hopes of a renewed deal with Tehran but talks remain at an impasse.
The original signatories to the JCPOA were China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, the UK, the US and the European Union.
Barack Obama hailed the original agreement as one of his most significant foreign policy achievements but Mr Trump dubbed it the “worst deal ever” and made it a campaign issue in the 2016 election, which he won.
Israel and the UK have a trading relationship worth £5bn. Rolls-Royce supplies jet engines to Israel’s national airline and the Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva provides one in six of the NHS’s prescription medicines.
Ms Truss was closely involved with preparations for trade deal talks as international trade secretary, the role she held until Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle in September.
Still only two months into her job as Foreign Secretary, Ms Truss has said she wants to put economic diplomacy at the heart of her approach to reshaping Britain’s foreign policy.
Many fear the skies are darkening worldwide due to the pandemic, the threat of terrorism and hostile actors seeking the upper hand. But we believe that with the right approach, freedom and democracy will prevail over malign forces.
That is why Israel and the United Kingdom are today coming together in London to take a major step forward: transforming our close friendship into an even closer partnership by formally agreeing a new strategic plan for the next decade spanning cyber, tech, trade and defence.
This pact will spur technological breakthroughs which have the potential to change the world, create high-quality jobs in both our countries and provide tools to our security forces. But more than that, it is a victory for optimism.
We believe that a democracy rooted in freedom – which empowers citizens with the opportunity to innovate, create, and fulfill their dreams – is the finest form of government. As outward-looking patriotic nations, we know that the best way forward lies in building stronger economic, technological and security ties with like-minded partners.
Our great nations can do so much more to create jobs and fuel economic growth
Our recovery from the pandemic will be fuelled by free enterprise, free trade, and investment. We have built up a trading relationship worth £5bn, led by companies like Rolls-Royce supplying jet engines to Israel’s national airline and the Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva now providing one in six of the NHS’ prescription medicines.
But our great nations can do so much more to create jobs and fuel economic growth. That is why we will pave the way to negotiating a bespoke UK-Israel free trade agreement, which would help us seize new opportunities in the industries of the future like services, science and technology.
We know the opportunities of the future will come from technology, which is why Israel and the UK are going further and faster to push new frontiers of innovation. Our partnership will keep us at the forefront of the technological revolution and maximise our competitive advantage. The UK will also open its doors to high-growth Israeli tech firms, offering a gateway for them to realise their ambitions in areas like AI and quantum computing.
With the world increasingly threatened in cyberspace, we will work closer to defend ourselves. Israel will officially become a Tier One cyber partner for the UK, recognising how much more we can achieve together as tech leaders with world-class cybersecurity expertise.
This is testament to the forward-leaning ethos at the heart of Israel and the UK’s partnership. Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president, was also a renowned scientist who once lectured at the University of Manchester. He said: “Science will bring to this land both peace and renewal of its youth.”
As science and tech superpowers, Israel and the UK are putting our prowess into action, leading the world in our vaccine rollouts and in developing billion dollar tech unicorns. It is no surprise that the UK was the first country to establish a special mission to Israel to boost tech cooperation, helping us set the standard for modern business.
We stand united in condemning the appalling attacks on Israel and its representatives
Of course, we know the world has to be safe for freedom-loving democracies. That is why we are working robustly as security partners. Our air forces now conduct regular exercises and HMS Richmond showed the strength of our ties when docking in the crystal blue waters of Haifa’s port, as part of the Carrier Strike Group’s global deployment.
We stand united in condemning the appalling attacks on Israel and its representatives, from the shooting in Jerusalem last week by a Hamas militant to the unacceptable hounding of Israel’s ambassador Tzipi Hotovely outside the London School of Economics.
There is no place for anti-Semitism around the world. That is why the UK has moved decisively to support Israel in this fight by proscribing Hamas in its entirety. The Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre planned near Parliament will stand as a constant reminder, and answer to the question of why we must stamp out anti-Semitism and hate wherever and whenever it is found.
We will also work night and day to prevent the Iranian regime from ever becoming a nuclear power. The clock is ticking, which heightens the need for close cooperation with our partners and friends to thwart Tehran’s ambitions.
There is no greater sign of what can be achieved through open dialogue than the Abraham Accords. The UK was one of the first countries to publicly celebrate this historic step towards normalisation in the Middle East led by Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco and mediated by the United States. One year on, the UK is continuing to play its part in supporting Israel as it works more closely with partners in the region.
Israel and the UK are the closest of friends, and today we are deepening that partnership to become even closer. Together, we will forge ahead and ensure the future is defined by liberal democracies who believe in freedom and fairness. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
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