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02 Mar 23. DOD Officials See Real Progress in Indo-Pacific. While China remains America’s “pacing challenge,” there is cause for optimism in this competition, DOD officials said at the Hudson Institute today.
Ely Ratner, the assistant defense secretary for Indo-Pacific affairs, and Lindsey W. Ford, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, are excited that many of the initiatives launched in the past two years are coming to fruition.
The Defense Department has beefed up U.S. presence in the region, shipping in the most up-to-date military capabilities, but even more important is the military-to-military contacts in the region are deepening and expanding, Ratner said.
“In a world of … a lot of challenges, I think the story of the U.S. position in the region is the degree to which we are deepening our partnerships with our allies and partners, and the degree to which they’re investing in their own capabilities,” he said.
Regional allies and partners are building capabilities that tremendously enhance their ability to contribute to regional security. The nations of the region are also working with each other in ways they haven’t in the past. “This is really news for optimism,” Ratner said. “And I think it is creating a more stable and enduring security environment, even as these challenges from become more intense.”
The Indo-Pacific is not Europe and there is no organization like NATO in the region. The United States works bilaterally and multilaterally with the nations of the region to develop military capabilities and protect the rules-based international architecture that China is the only country with the resources and intent to change, Ratner said.
Ford anticipates a “busy season” in her account this next year. Ford has responsibility for a swatch of territory and ocean running from India through Indonesia.
She is pleased with the extent of multilateral cooperation that has happened in the region and anticipates “networking” more nations into this cooperation. Some of these proposals have been in the works for decades. “This has been something that multiple administrations have been working on,” she said.
The security architecture in the Indo-Pacific is more fluid and has multiple institutions. Bringing all these nations and institutions closer together has been a long-term goal for many in the region. “In the past year, some of the things that I think we’ve been most pleased about, is certainly the U.S., Australia, Japan, trilateral cooperation,” Ford said. “I think has been at the leading edge of what we are doing on the multilateral front. We’re looking at ways to integrate Japan into some of the U.S.-Australia force posture work.”
Another trilateral grouping is the United States, Japan and South Korea. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has consistently spoken with his counterparts about this grouping and there has been progress in it, Ford said. “We’re seeing a lot of progress,” she said. “Including things like anti-submarine warfare exercises, ballistic missile defense exercises that we consider really important as we look at how we continue to deter what has really been an increasing pace of provocations.”
Another grouping is the United States, Japan and the Philippines. This is a new development but already the three nations’ Army chiefs have met. “I think you’re going to see a lot of increased high level engagement between those three countries in the coming year,” she said.
All this, of course, is done in close consultation and cooperation with Australia. The nation is working with many countries in Oceana and Southeast Asia to develop military capabilities and improve domain awareness.
“I think a lot of the work that you’ve heard for a very long time around the idea of greater multilateral cooperation is now really beginning to come to fruition in the Indo-Pacific,” Ford said.
Finally, she addressed the Quad initiative of India, Japan, Australia and the United States. “We are particularly pleased that the Indo-Pacific maritime domain awareness initiative — which was something that was launched at the last Quad Summit — we see is exactly the kind of work that the Quad should be doing,” Ford said. “It is just focused on bringing practical public goods to the region.”
The initiative builds a common operating picture in the maritime space that nations in the region will be able to tap into. “For those of us who work on maritime security, this has been ambition for a very long time, and we are now harnessing new technologies … to bring that to Southeast Asia,” she said.
There is a maritime awareness pilot program in Southeast Asia now, and Ford expects that at the next Quad meetings the initiative will expand into other parts of the region. (Source: US DoD)
02 Mar 23. General Cites ‘Broader’ Pattern of Chinese Harassment. Chinese aircraft have buzzed the aircraft of many nations, in one instance flying within 20 feet of a U.S. military plane flying in international airspace, U.S. officials said.
“What you’re seeing here is a broader pattern of activities that represent not only unprofessional behavior, but also encroachment, coercion and lack of transparency,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a Pentagon news conference. “That’s problematic.”
Chinese ships also harass the vessels of other nations, U.S. officials have said. And the nations of the region are working together to stop this harassment of vessels sailing in international waters.
“We are heartened by the discussions that Manila is having with two of our closest allies in the region, Australia and Japan, on the topic of combined operational activities in the maritime domain,” Ryder said. “We’re committed to expanding cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, with allies to include the Philippines, Australia and Japan, that share our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Keeping international sea lanes and air lanes open is in every nation’s interest. “Our activities in the region contribute to what we’ve talked about many times before, which is ensuring security, stability and peace throughout the region working with our allies and partners to ensure that, that countries can continue to sail the international seas, fly the international airways, and operate anywhere that international law allows,” the general said.
Ryder stressed the United States is not seeking any type of conflict with China. “But we do want to ensure that nations can continue to have faith in their sovereign borders,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
02 Mar 23. U.S. Uses Holistic Approach in Africa Relations, General Says.
The U.S. is using a whole-of-government approach in its relationship with nations in Africa, said the commander of U.S. Africa Command.
Marine Corps Gen. Michael E. Langley spoke today to the press from Rome, Italy, on a State Department-hosted website.
That approach, which he called “the 3D,” is diplomacy, led by the State Department; development, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development; and the Defense Department, which hosts multinational exercises and helps nations strengthen their militaries in the face of terrorist threats.
Langley addressed Wagner Group activities in Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic. Wagner is a Russian paramilitary organization, which is also fighting in Ukraine.
“[The Wagner Group has] destabilizing effects in every country that they have set foot on,” he said.
Wagner uses brutal tactics, engages in human rights abuses, and gains wealth through predatory practices, he said.
Langley said the U.S. response to Wagner’s infiltration is to bolster African nations through the whole-of-government approach.
“I think collectively with all those operations and investments and activities, we can achieve long-term goals for these countries,” he said.
Langley said some of the recent military efforts around the continent include:
- Military leaders from 43 African nations and 15 U.S. National Guard units met in Rome this week to collaborate and learn from each other.
- The U.S. is supplying the Somalia military with AK-47 variants and ammunition as it battles al-Shabaab insurgents.
- Exercise Flintlock has 29 nations participating in crisis response and counterterrorism.
- Exercise Obangame Express 23 is aiding maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and building military capacity in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. U.S. forces participating are the Army, Navy and Coast Guard.
- Exercise African Lion is addressing transregional threats and interoperability.
- Kenya is hosting Cutlass Express, a maritime exercise.
(Source: US DoD)
02 Mar 23. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Message to the Force. Today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, published a Message to the Force to reaffirm his three priorities: defending the Nation, taking care of our people, and succeeding through teamwork. The memorandum reinforces the guiding principles and critical priorities in accordance with the National Defense Strategy while recognizing the commitment and hard work of the Department.
Secretary Austin provided his priorities and specific areas of focus:
- DEFEND THE NATION
- Prioritize China as the “Pacing Challenge”
- Tackle the Acute Russian Threat
- Address Advanced and Persistent Threats
- Innovate and Modernize
- Meet the Climate Crisis
- TAKING CARE OF OUR PEOPLE
- Grow Our Talent
- Build Resilience and Readiness
- Ensure Accountable Leadership
- SUCCEED THROUGH TEAMWORK
- Join Forces with Our Allies and Partners
- Strengthen Partnerships Across America
- Build Unity Within the Department
The full memorandum can be read here: https://media.defense.gov/2023/Mar/02/2003171046/-1/-1/0/MESSAGE-TO-THE-FORCE.PDF (Source: US DoD)
02 Mar 23. Pre-emptive sanction planning over possible Chinese lethal aid to Russia heightens policy risk for tech, defence sectors. According to media reports on 1 March, the US is consulting allies to prepare sanctions plans in case China sends lethal military aid to Russia. Preliminary discussions are currently focused on G7 nations and aim to coordinate retaliatory sanctions measures. US officials are also sharing with allies the intelligence suggesting the Chinese government is considering sending military aid to Russia. At the G20 foreign ministers meeting on 2-3 March in New Delhi (India), US and EU officials will meet on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the matter. President Biden is also expected to raise the issue with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a visit to the White House on 3 March. A decision to send lethal aid to Russia by China would mark a significant shift in the conflict. It would likely result in a broad sanctions package enacted by the allied countries, targeting the tech sectors and those with ties to Chinese state security. (Source: Sibylline)
01 Mar 23. Allies, Partners Central to U.S. Integrated Deterrence Effort.
Both Russia and China figure heavily into the content of the 2022 National Defense Strategy, which was released in October. Within the strategy, integrated deterrence — including increased partnerships with American allies and partners — plays a central role to defending against both the acute and strategic threats posed by those two nations.
Mara Karlin, who performs the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy and who also serves as the assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, spoke today at the Center for a New American Security to discuss how the department is enabling integrated deterrence in regards to both China and Russia.
China, Karlin said, has both the intent and, increasingly, the capability to challenge the United States militarily, economically, technologically and diplomatically. While Russia doesn’t pose the same long-term strategic threat, it does pose a more urgent short-term threat. Because of this, and as evidenced by the now yearlong Russian invasion of Ukraine, the department has identified Russia as an “acute threat.”
“We very much see Russian aggression threatening our interests and values and those of our allies and our partners,” Karlin said. “Russia’s reckless war of choice against Ukraine has made that very clear and very real for the entire world. And we can’t help but watch the Russian alignment with the People’s Republic of China. Both seem to favor a world in which they can trample over the sovereignty of their smaller neighbors and have a free hand in their self-declared spheres of influence.”
Spotlight: Support for Ukraine
One example of how the U.S. has operationalized integrated deterrence as it relates to Russia, Karlin said, includes the U.S. response following the Feb. 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We did a lot to surge U.S. forces to Europe as the conflict was kicking off and surge from 80,000 to 100,000 troops in Europe to reinforce our posture and frankly, that was doable because of our very close relationship with so many of those countries, because of preposition equipment,” she said.
As Russia continued to wage war against Ukraine, Karlin said, the U.S. and American allies and partners worked to defend their own interests in Eastern Europe by strengthening Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.
“We’ve been able to build Ukraine’s military and asymmetric capabilities through robust security assistance,” she said.
NATO allies, Karlin said, have stepped up to enhance their presence in Eastern Europe, and as part of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group — led by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III — some 50 nations have banded together to help meet Ukraine’s current and future defense needs.
“I would also just note that … the United States has worked really hard to ensure we can maintain our bedrock commitment to NATO’s collective defense and we do that working hand-in-hand with our allies,” she said.
When it comes to China, Karlin said, the department is investing in a combat credible force and investing in critical capabilities across domains such as cyber and space.
“You’ve seen this in terms of our construction of new ships, our modernization of the Army and the Marine Corps and the advancement of air power and key investments and in various aircraft,” she said.
In space, she said, the department is investing in the fielding of resilient satellite constellations and in boosting U.S. resilience in cyber.
When it comes to partnerships, Karlin said the U.S. is working with key allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region to build and deepen security cooperation efforts.
“We’re forming new geometries for cooperation, such as AUKUS … Australia, the U.K. and the United States,” she said. “It’s really a strategic partnership that’s focused on enhancing regional stability and safeguarding a free and open Indo-Pacific, and it’s going to provide Australia with a conventionally armed nuclear powered submarine capability.”
Spotlight: Focus on Indo-Pacific
As part of AUKUS, she said, the three partnered nations develop and exercise joint, advanced military capabilities.
“We’re accelerating the advancement of a bunch of different capabilities across areas as wide-ranging as artificial intelligence and autonomy and cyber … to ensure that our warfighters can retain and expand their competitive edge,” she said.
Also in the Pacific, Karlin said, the U.S. has worked to optimize its force posture there, including a more capable Marine Corps presence in Japan, increased rotational presence in Australia and better access in the Philippines.
“That’s all really meaningful when you look at our ability to project power,” she said.
The U.S. military is also expanding the number of exercises it holds with partners in the Indo-Pacific, Karlin said.
“What we’re really trying to do is change and enhance the size, scope, scale and character of these exercises,” she said. “A great example would be Garuda Shield, which was an exercise of 14 nations that occurred a couple of months ago.” (Source: US DoD)
01 Mar 23. Readout of Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Dr. William LaPlante’s Visit and Meetings With Senior Israeli Ministry of Defense Officials.
Department of Defense Spokesperson Jeff Jurgensen provided the following readout:
Under Secretary of Defense of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Dr. William LaPlante traveled to Israel this week, February 25-28, 2023, to meet with senior security officials and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to security cooperation between the United States and Israel and discuss a range of issues of mutual importance. This was Dr. LaPlante’s first trip to Israel as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.
While in Israel, Dr. LaPlante signed the U.S.-Israel Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA) and celebrated the establishment of the U.S.-Israel Defense Industrial Base Working Group. Through the SOSA, the United States and Israel agree to provide reciprocal priorities support for goods and services that promote national defense. The Arrangement will enable both countries to acquire the industrial resources they need from one another to resolve unanticipated supply chain disruptions to meet national security needs.
Under the auspices of the U.S.-Israel Defense Acquisition Advisory Group (DAAG), the newly established Defense Industrial Base Working Group will be co-chaired by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy and Director of International Defense Cooperation at the Israeli Ministry of Defense. This group will discuss industrial base issues, potential areas for cooperation and joint efforts, and issues or concerns that inhibit opportunities for defense industries.
Additionally, Dr. LaPlante toured Israeli military installations and defense industrial sites to learn more about capabilities and opportunities to continue to strengthen bilateral efforts in context of the security environment.
“This week, I was pleased to visit Israel and meet Eyal Zamir, the new Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, for the U.S.-Israel DAAG,” LaPlante said. “We discussed the breadth and depth of the bilateral armaments cooperation and programs, efforts to deepen industrial cooperation, and priority procurement initiatives.”
(Source: US DoD)
28 Feb 23. Biden admin grilled over $23bn in licenses for blacklisted Chinese. Biden administration approved more than $23bn worth of licenses for companies to ship U.S. goods and technology to blacklisted Chinese companies in the first quarter of 2022, a Republican lawmaker said on Tuesday. The data comes amid growing pressure on the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden to further expand a broad crackdown on shipments of sensitive U.S. technology to China from Republican lawmakers, who now control the House of Representatives.
“Overwhelmingly, (the Commerce Department) continues to grant licenses that allow critical U.S. technology to be sold to our adversaries,” Republican Representative Michael McCaul, chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said at a hearing on combating the generational challenge of Chinese aggression, as he grilled U.S. officials for allowing the licenses to be approved.
“How does this align with your statement that ‘we’re doing everything within (the Commerce Department’s) power to prevent sensitive U.S. technologies from getting in the hands of (Chinese) military, intelligence services or other parties?”
McCaul said the Commerce Department, which oversees export controls, denied only 8% of license requests to sell to companies on the U.S. trade blacklist during the January to March period last year.
Commerce Department official Alan Estevez, who oversees U.S. export policy, told the hearing that a Trump-era policy that allows China’s blacklisted telecommunications equipment maker Huawei to receive some U.S. technology below the “5G level” is “under assessment.”
Estevez also described TikTok as a “threat,” noting that a powerful committee that reviews foreign investments in the United States was dealing with how to handle the popular Chinese-owned social media app.
TikTok said in a statement the company has been working with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States “for over two years on a plan to address national security concerns about TikTok in the U.S.”
Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks cautioned against reading too much into the licensing numbers, noting that the approval and denial data provides no information about the transactions.
The data comes a week after the Biden administration added new Chinese companies to the trade blacklist for aiding Russia’s military and months after announcing a sweeping new policy aimed at dramatically curbing shipments of chips and chipmaking tools to China.
Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd was added to a trade blacklist known as the entity list by former Republican President Donald Trump in 2019, amid allegations of sanctions violations, spying capabilities, and intellectual property theft.
Suppliers of most companies added to the entity list see their requests to ship to the targeted firms denied, but the Trump administration implemented a special policy for Huawei, pledging to deny it access to some things like 5G chips but allow it to receive other items, such as 4G chips. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
28 Feb 23. State, Commerce, and Justice Impose Up to $27m Fines on 3D Systems Corp. The U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Justice have announced the following respective settlements with 3D Systems Corporation (3D Systems) of Rock Hill, South Carolina: The U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) has concluded an administrative settlement with 3D Systems pursuant to ITAR § 128.11 to address alleged ITAR violations occurring during the period of 2012 – 2018 involving unauthorized exports of technical data to Germany, unauthorized exports and retransfers of technical data to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a proscribed destination under ITAR § 126.1, unauthorized reexports of technical data to Taiwan, unauthorized exports of technical data to foreign-person employees, and the failure to maintain ITAR records. Under the terms of the 36-month Consent Agreement, 3D Systemsn will pay a civil penalty of $20,000,000. DDTC has agreed to suspend $10,000,000 of this amount on the condition that the funds will be used for DDTC-approved Consent Agreement remedial compliance measures to strengthen 3D’s compliance program. In addition, the company will engage an external Special Compliance Officer for at least the first year of the Consent Agreement and will conduct two external audits of its ITAR compliance program and implement additional compliance measures. The company cooperated with DDTC’s review and has been undertaking corrective actions to address this historic conduct by expanding the scope of its internal investigation to cover exports of technical data; implementing remedial compliance measures; selling its business unit primarily responsible for ITAR activity; and signing a statute of limitations agreement tolling the statutory period. For these reasons, DDTC has determined at this time that it is not appropriate to administratively debar 3D Systems Corporation. Click here for copies of the Charging Letter, Consent Agreement, and related DDTC Order. (Source: glstrade.com)
28 Feb 23. President Biden Signs Presidential Waiver of Statutory Requirements for Supply Chain Resilience.
President Joe Biden signed a presidential waiver of some statutory requirements (Waiver) authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to more aggressively build the resiliency of America’s defense industrial base and secure its supply chains. Specifically included in the Waiver are defense organic industrial base supply chains critical to the DoD as well as critical supply chains for electronics, kinetic capabilities, castings and forgings, minerals and materials, and power and energy storage. This authority also affords the ability to invest in strategic areas that enable the industrial base such as workforce development.
Since many of the investments needed in areas like mining and processing of critical minerals can be very costly and take several years, the Waiver permits the DoD to leverage DPA Title III incentives against critical vulnerabilities, and removes the statutory spending limitation for aggregate action against a single shortfall exceeding $50 m. This in turn allows the Department to make more substantial, longer-term investments.
The supply chains covered by the Waiver are directly tied to President Biden’s Executive Order 14017, “America’s Supply Chains.” (E.O. 14017) which highlights vulnerabilities in multiple defense-critical supply chains and provides recommendations on how to increase their future resilience.
“This authorization allows the Department of Defense to act with urgency and efficiency in shoring up America’s supply chains and strengthening our national security,” said Anthony Di Stasio, Director of the Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization (MCEIP) office. “This flexibility will allow the Department to act strategically to protect the United States’ military and commercial interests, while maintaining our superiority over competitor nations.”
The organic industrial base is a network of government-owned industrial facilities that produce, store, and dispose of many of the conventional munitions used by the DOD and military services. With multiple industry partners, these facilities maintain, overhaul, and repair weapon systems and defense equipment. The capabilities produced by the organic industrial base are essential to numerous critical supply chains and require modernization and improvements to increase capacity in the same manner industry-owned capabilities require.
Issues that contribute to supply chain vulnerabilities include insufficient U.S. manufacturing capacity, misaligned incentives, and a focus on short-term returns in private markets, industrial policies of other nations, geographic concentration in global sourcing, and limited international coordination
The DOD’s Defense Production Act Investment (DPAI) Office will administer the efforts exercised under the Waiver. Section 303 of the DPA (codified at 50 U.S.C. § 4533) allows the President to waive certain statutory requirements when “action is necessary to avert an industrial resource or critical technology item shortfall that would severely impair national defense capability.”
About the Department of Defense’s Defense Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization Office:
The mission of the MCEIP office is to prioritize and address supply chain and industrial challenges identified by the DoD and other stakeholders. The office determines appropriate authorities to address critical shortfalls, and through prioritization, incentivization, and resource allocation, MCEIP supports domestic industry with direct engagements and investments. (Source: US DoD)
27 Feb 23. New intelligence assessment concludes Covid-19 lab leak is likely; increasing risk of sanctions. According to a report on 26 February, the White House recently issued a classified intelligence assessment to certain Congressional members concluding that the Covid-19 virus was most likely accidentally leaked from a Chinese lab. The report, authored by the Department of Energy, relies on new intelligence and alters its prior ‘undecided’ assessment. Its current assessment is rated as ‘low confidence’. The new report also roughly aligns with the FBI’s assessment that a lab leak is the most likely explanation, which it made with ‘moderate confidence’. The Department of Energy has a high degree of scientific expertise and maintains overseas research labs including those for advanced biological research. Press coverage surrounding the new intelligence assessment is likely to exacerbate tensions with China, and possibly precipitate retaliatory sanctions against US firms producing critical technology or those associated with national security. (Source: Sibylline)
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