Author Topic: The Indo-Pacific  (Read 2809 times)

Crafty_Dog

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The Indo-Pacific
« on: June 13, 2022, 08:10:32 AM »


June 13, 2022
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A New Trade Pact in the Indo-Pacific
The IPEF is an economic structure with security overtones.
By: Victoria Herczegh
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the U.S.-led effort to counter China and foster economic engagement in the region, has officially launched. India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines have joined Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia to participate in the framework negotiations, which will aim to divert trade away from China to the United States. For the new pact to succeed, it will need to leverage existing security alliances as new economic components and opportunities arise.

Economic Allies

Crucially, it will also need the participation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states, which are strategically essential for anyone hoping to control the Indo-Pacific. Washington has some catching up to do in this regard. Over the past few decades, U.S. priorities were in the Middle East and North Atlantic. The countries of Asia-Pacific took note, understanding that they could not expect much in the way of economic support from the U.S. This gave Beijing a chance to strengthen ties with ASEAN. For China, the bloc may be an important economic ally, but its true value is the maritime access it provides China’s export-oriented economy. It’s no coincidence, then, that Washington is homing in on ASEAN.

ASEAN and the IPEF
(click to enlarge)

The current economic climate favors the U.S. Put simply, the only way ASEAN members can develop their economies is to ally with a stronger economic power. China's economic trouble has put its reliability in question as investment projects stall, as trade flows grow more erratic, and as environmental and social problems imperil the Belt and Road Initiative. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, ASEAN needs a stable partner more than ever. The U.S. economy is comparatively stable, and Washington is already trying to pivot to Asia in part to contain China.

As important, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) means to spur economic activity among its members, albeit in a way that aligns ASEAN countries with U.S. rules and standards. So far, IPEF participants have pledged only to continue negotiations, which cover digital trade and trade facilitation, clean energy and decarbonization, supply chain resilience, and anti-corruption and taxes. Signatories will determine what will be negotiated in each area, and they can opt in or out of any area. (Flexibility is key in these early phases – ASEAN members want to make sure they don’t anger or jeopardize their ties with China – and while this may risk diluting any agreement IPEF makes, opting in and out could mitigate the problem.)

China-ASEAN Trade & Investment
(click to enlarge)

Cornerstones

But there is an undeniable security component to the IPEF. In fact, Washington’s strategy for securing the participation of its members revolves around shared security interests and consists of three efforts: shoring up existing security allies, improving ties with India and improving ties with South China Sea claimant countries.

Existing security allies are a natural cornerstone of the IPEF. These include Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, all of which want to see a stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade and increased commercial political and military action.

Japan’s and South Korea’s geographic positions are particularly important. Located along the Yellow and East China seas, they help restrict China’s direct access to the Pacific Ocean. Japan and South Korea have their differences, especially with regard to historical grievances and their latitude in countering China, but they support the U.S. military presence in the region, have extremely developed economies and have an interest in preventing China from becoming a regional hegemon. Through the IPEF framework, trade routes can be pushed in Japan and South Korea’s favor, anchoring regional states that previously were dependent on China firmly into Japan and South Korea’s economic orbit.

Australia and New Zealand are even more closely integrated into the U.S. security apparatus. Along with the U.K. and Canada, they are members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and share historical roots, aligned cultures and shared security interests. The U.S. and Australia cooperate closely on maritime Pacific issues; Australia provides strategic locations for U.S. naval assets, and the U.S. provides additional military support to protect Australian commercial interests, which are highly dependent on maritime trade. Canberra is especially enthusiastic about the IPEF as an alternative to Beijing. Notably, New Zealand is a little more skeptical of the IPEF because of its trade relations with China. New Zealand wants its options within IPEF formulated in a clear and detailed way in order to dive into further negotiations, which allow it to more easily judge potential consequences. The agreement can likely still offer a feasible alternative to China by providing trade links and new supply chains with ASEAN countries. Still, for New Zealand, like South Korea, relations with China need to be managed carefully.

The second effort, shoring up ties with India, is similarly vital. India’s geographic location makes it critical to the U.S. strategy to contain China westward by land. India may participate in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with the U.S., Japan and Australia, but it has long been the most reserved member of the group. Washington hopes the IPEF could be the economic incentive it needs to foster more security cooperation. For its part, India sees the IPEF as an opportunity to extend its influence farther east and southeast than it otherwise could, specifically by moving transportation and supply lines there that currently run elsewhere. Moreover, IPEF initiatives align with many of India’s national economic development initiatives such as transitioning to a net-zero economy, converting India into a global hub for making electric vehicles and transitioning to a pattern of energy consumption that relies more on clean renewables.

As important, India’s participation in the IPEF will draw in the participation of Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore, countries for which Indian trade is increasingly important. Inflation in these countries is soaring, and they need steady imports of food and fuel, which India can provide. If India can provide that through the IPEF, it will have greatly lessened these four countries’ reliance on China.

The remaining IPEF participants – the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia – are countries that are disillusioned with failed Chinese promises and are thus ripe for the U.S. to peel away. These countries need a steady inflow of foreign direct investment to modernize their infrastructure with well-timed and structured projects. Belt and Road projects have been stalled in the Philippines and Malaysia, while Brunei has not received its promised amount of investment. The U.S., Japan and South Korea have already pursued ad hoc efforts to counter China’s Belt and Road efforts in these countries through the frameworks of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, a promising but not well-structured set of mechanisms meant to improve the well-being of the region’s states. The IPEF supports improved economic activity for these countries as well as greater ties and access to developed economies capable of meeting their infrastructure needs.

But as with other countries in the IPEF, there are security dimensions to improved economic ties. All these countries are claimants of some maritime territories in the protracted South China Sea dispute. This, of course, makes their relations with China strained, especially now that China has once again become more assertive in the region. Individually, there is little these three countries can do to confront or sway China. Support from the U.S. and its stronger security allies in the region such as Japan and South Korea could induce them to veer from China and pull closer to the U.S.

Of course, there are ASEAN members that are not included in the IPEF: Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. These countries are the least developed in the bloc and the most dependent on China, particularly in terms of foreign direct investment, and as such were not invited to join the group. They are simply too close to China, and their domestic affairs would present too many obstacles for Washington to overcome.

The other countries may well be more promising candidates, but they are not without their doubts. Their participation will depend on the rules and structures of the pact, and the extent to which those rules and structures indeed help them steer clear of China, which is still a wealthy, eager and geographically convenient partner. As far as the U.S. goes, the timing couldn’t be better.

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2022, 08:25:24 AM »
Pacific Nations Reproach China for Its Push to Extend Regional Sway
Island leaders commit at a summit in Fiji to share information on issues of cross-border significance after Solomon Islands-China security pact raised concerns

Pacific island leaders, meeting in Fiji on Thursday, are worried about being dragged into a great-power rivalry between China and the U.S.
PHOTO: SAMUEL RILLSTONE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
By Rhiannon HoyleFollow
July 14, 2022 9:21 am ET


ADELAIDE, Australia—Pacific Island nations on Thursday rebuked China for its heavy-handed push for a regionwide agreement deepening security and trade ties, while committing to sharing information on issues that risk destabilizing the strategically important region.

At the conclusion of a leaders’ summit in Fiji’s capital, Suva, a senior Pacific Island official said China had overstepped in May with a sweeping proposal that would have extended Beijing’s influence to areas including law enforcement and cybersecurity. A group of nations with diplomatic ties to Beijing deferred action on the proposal at the time.

“They came here with their own prepared outcomes document,” Pacific islands Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna said of China. “It was that that our members reacted against because, the thing is, if anybody knows what we want and what we need and what our priorities are, it’s not other people, it’s us.”

The rebuke underscores concerns among small island nations of being dragged into a great-power rivalry between China and the U.S., which has military bases across the Pacific that could be used in a conflict in the region, including any clash over Taiwan if the U.S. were to become involved. It also shows the limits of China’s diplomatic strategy, despite a recent security pact with Solomon Islands that has alarmed Western governments because it could lead to Chinese warships docking in the country.


China has sought to gain influence in the Pacific, home to major shipping lanes and fisheries, by funding infrastructure projects through its Belt and Road Initiative, expanding aid programs and deepening relationships with local officials. In late May to early June, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a 10-day tour of the Pacific that he hoped would be crowned by the regionwide deal.


The meeting’s host, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, didn’t invite China to address Pacific island leaders.
PHOTO: STAFF/REUTERS
Tepaeru Herrmann, foreign secretary of the Cook Islands, said island nations weren’t given enough time to discuss the proposal in advance. One of the Chinese plan’s harshest critics, Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo, called it the “single-most game-changing proposed agreement in the Pacific in any of our lifetimes.”

China wasn’t invited to address this week’s Pacific islands Forum by Fiji President Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, the summit’s host. In contrast, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris was allowed to give a virtual speech that included a series of new initiatives to expand U.S. engagement in the region.

Ms. Harris said the U.S. plans to open new embassies in the Pacific and could triple funding for economic development, while also returning the Peace Corps program to the region and expanding its aid presence.

The challenge for the U.S. and its allies, including Australia, is engaging with Pacific islands in ways that blunt China’s clout while also ensuring the region remains unified in its approach to security. Maintaining unity is complicated by several Pacific countries having diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China’s Communist Party considers to be part of its territory.

Illustrating the difficulties that could lie ahead, Kiribati withdrew from the Pacific islands Forum before it took place. Mr. Bainimarama said he spoke to Kiribati’s president on Thursday, seeking to smooth ties and return it to the group.

Kiribati, which in 2019 switched diplomatic ties to Beijing from Taipei, is one of the countries where Washington is eager to open an embassy. The country encompasses vast stretches of ocean and island chains, some of which are about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii.


Crafty_Dog

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Chinese squeeze in/on Solomon Islands
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2022, 01:13:30 AM »
US Coast Guard Vessel Denied Port Call in Solomon Islands
By Daniel Y. Teng August 28, 2022 Updated: August 29, 2022biggersmaller Print


U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) vessel the Oliver Henry was greeted with silence when it requested permission for a scheduled port call in the Solomon Islands, forcing the crew to Papua New Guinea instead.

The incident comes amid mounting concerns about the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the region and the ongoing weakening of democratic institutions in the Solomon Islands with the Pacific nation’s leader relying heavily on Chinese support to weather domestic turmoil.

The USCG cutter Oliver Henry was participating in Operation Island Chief, along with Australian, New Zealand, and UK vessels, to monitor and prevent illegal fishing activities in the South Pacific. The operation ended on Aug. 26.

The U.S. Coast Guard vessel had tried to make a scheduled stop at Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, for refueling and reprovisioning, according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

Solomon Islands Democracy Beginning to Weaken

The radio silence from Solomons authorities follows a series of incidents suggesting the government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is not only deepening ties with Beijing, but also steadily eroding the country’s democratic institutions to strengthen his position.

The Sogavare government signed off on a major deal with Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei on Aug. 18 to build 161 mobile towers in the country with a 448.9 million yuan (US$66.15 million) loan from the state-owned Export-Import Bank of China.

On Aug. 8, the prime minister’s team submitted a new law to delay national elections, which some experts have suggested could be a way for the prime minister to avoid a potential election defeat.

These actions come after Sogavare signed off on a security pact with Beijing to allow the CCP to station weapons, troops, and naval ships in the country. This would give Beijing a military presence close to Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. territory of Guam.

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has recently met with Sogavare and other leaders in the region, calling for a “stand against the Chinese Communist Party.”

“The Indo-Pacific region is the next frontier for the New Axis of Evil,” Blackburn said in a statement. “Meeting with leaders from Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea was an important step in showcasing America’s commitment to the region and expanding our strategic relationships.”

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WT: Chinese bribery in Marshall Islands
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2022, 03:20:23 AM »
U.S. indicts 2 people in bribery scheme

Chinese government linked to case

BY BILL GERTZ THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Two Marshall Islands nationals of Chinese descent were indicted by the Justice Department on charges of bribing government officials of the Pacific island-state with funds from China.

Cary Yan and Gina Zhou were extradited to the United States from Thailand to New York and charged in a federal indictment unsealed on Friday, accused of using a United Nations-approved NGO to bribe officials of the Marshall Islands government.

The bribes sought to convince the Marshall Islands government to create a separate autonomous economic zone, the Justice Department announced Friday. The charges include violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and money laundering.

Mr. Yan and Ms. Zhou pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. Edward Y. Kim, a lawyer for Mr. Yan, declined to comment. Lawyers for Ms. Zhou did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two charged in the case are naturalized Marshall Island citizens also known by their Chinese names as Hong Hui Yan or Chen Hong, and Chaoting Zhou or Angel Zhou, respectively. Court papers did not identify their original nationality, but revealed they required a Mandarin language translator at the plea hearing. The Justice Department declined to comment on the indictment.

The indictment states that the two used “funds from China and elsewhere” to attempt to bribe six Marshall Islands government offi cials in promoting the Rongelap Atoll project that was announced in Hong Kong in 2018.

China’s government is engaged in a major program of seeking to expand its influence in Pacific island nations as part of a strategy to counter a push by the U.S. and its regional allies.

Cleo Paskal, an Indo-Pacific affairs expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said China is covertly working in the Marshall Islands.

“Gaining influence, if not control, in the Marshall Islands is very important to Beijing,” she said. “It is strategically located between Hawaii and Asia, it recognizes Taiwan, and it is in ‘free association’ with the U.S., which means the U.S. is fully responsible for its defense and security.”

The Marshall Islands also host the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site.

The allegations in the indictment suggest the activities are part of a Chinese covert influence operation using surrogates, since there is no Chinese embassy in the Marshall Islands, she said.

“Yan and Zhou allegedly engaged in a multiyear scheme to bribe elected officials in the Marshall Islands and to corrupt the legislative process,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Alex Gray, a former White House National Security Council official, said the Chinese are stepping up sophisticated influence operations and United Front activity in strategically significant Pacific Islands.

“The Marshalls operation is extremely concerning because of the U.S. military presence there,” he said.

Mr. Gray said the Biden administration should renew critical U.S. “compacts” with the Marshalls, Palau and Micronesia.

“These arrests show that renewing the compacts must remain the highest Pacific priority for the United States and directly impact the rest of the region,” he said.

Marshall Islands officials first disclosed the activities to the U.S. government. The case was delayed by the lengthy extradition process from Thailand, which began in 2020.

“Significant aspects of the current [Republic of Marshall Islands] government were or are aligned or implicated,” said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity. According to the indictment, Mr. Yan and Ms. Zhou sent “funds from China and elsewhere” to the United States and then to the Marshall Islands. The funds were then used to bribe numerous officials in the government.

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Re: The Indo-Pacific
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2022, 04:29:38 PM »
Indian-Japanese defense cooperation. India and Japan are jointly conducting naval combat exercises in the Bay of Bengal. The JIMEX drills focus on combat submarine maneuvers and aerial attacks. India and Japan are also participating in Australia’s multinational Kakadu exercise this month.

U.S. replies to India. Following reports of private objections from India, the U.S. defended its $450 million deal to maintain Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, saying it will support counterterrorism operations and strengthen the U.S.-Pakistani relationship.

Indian chips. India’s Vedanta and Taiwan’s Foxconn will invest $20 billion to build India’s first semiconductor production plant.

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GPF: France-India
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2022, 09:36:59 AM »
Trip to New Delhi. India and France agreed to strengthen defense and trade cooperation during a visit to New Delhi by French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna. The two countries will establish a regional development fund and hold trilateral talks with both Australia and the United Arab Emirates in the coming weeks.

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Japan-Australia; Philippines-Japan
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2022, 08:40:34 AM »
GPF

Security pact. Australia and Japan signed on Saturday a new security agreement that covers military, energy, intelligence and cybersecurity cooperation. Under the agreement, which updates a security pact signed 15 years ago, Japan said its Self-Defense Forces will train in northern Australia for the first time. Australia is a key energy and resources supplier for Japan and is seeking to fortify its position in regional export markets. Beijing, meanwhile, said the agreement threatens regional peace.


Defense talks. The Philippines and Japan held their first military dialogue in three years in Manila on Friday. The Philippines is also participating in the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center Rotation, combat drills testing large-scale combat capabilities, in Hawaii.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2022, 08:46:26 AM by Crafty_Dog »

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D1: How to keep war with China from being a pick-up game
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2022, 04:24:12 AM »
How to Keep War With China From Being a Pick-Up Game
INDOPACOM needs a joint force headquarters now, not when crisis arrives.
BY BRYAN CLARK
SENIOR FELLOW, HUDSON INSTITUTE
NOVEMBER 2, 2022 09:50 PM ET

A parade of senior defense leaders argued over the last few months that China is on the precipice of invading Taiwan. They may be right. Fresh off his elevation to permanent leader during the recent Communist Party Congress, Xi Jinping may see the next few years as his best window to absorb Taiwan and cement his legacy. But the Pentagon is not acting like an assault on Taiwan is imminent, especially when it comes to command and control.

If conflict arises across the Taiwan Strait in the next year or two, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would have to scramble to assemble forces and defend allies in the region—the military equivalent of assembling a pick-up squad to face a well-prepared team. Although the U.S. military has extensive plans for responding to Chinese aggression, they assume adequate warning and availability of the right units at the right time. Both assumptions could be wrong given China’s ability to rapidly escalate and the overall erosion of U.S. military readiness.

One way the Defense Department avoids going to war with pick-up teams is by establishing Joint Task Forces. These fill a gap left by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, which created the joint force but did not provide a way to integrate and manage units from different services in the field. One such task force was the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s JTF-519, which for a decade developed and assessed responses for a potential conflict against China and considered ways of better dissuading Chinese aggression.

JTF-519 was disestablished in 2013 but the need for it remains. The new National Defense Strategy and Joint Warfighting Concept suggest the U.S. military can deter or defeat Chinese aggression by making and enacting decisions faster and more effectively than opponents. Given the Pentagon’s time and fiscal constraints, this concept of expanded maneuver may also be the only way for U.S. forces to succeed against a numerically superior PLA if war comes during the next few years.

But the processes and systems needed for decision-making advantage cannot be built on the fly.  New command-and-control centers require time and practice to become effective. And establishing a headquarters as tensions rise could accidentally escalate a confrontation by implying U.S. and allied militaries are preparing to act preemptively.

JTF-519 was led by the Navy’s Pacific Fleet commander since a war with China was seen as primarily a maritime conflict. A decade later, the challenges and opportunities of joint warfighting are much greater. Recent wargames show U.S. forces can counter the Chinese threat, but only by seamlessly combining actions across domains and services because the range and speed of action exceed what a single service component like U.S. Pacific Fleet can execute. 

Building command-and-control structures and kill chains spanning multiple domains will therefore demand sustained effort by operators in the only completely joint setting DoD has: the combatant commanders’ theaters. The difficulties experienced by DoD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative make this clear, having only modestly grown the force’s variety of kill chains after three years of experimentation.

Section 1046 of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s National Defense Authorization Act would help the Pentagon regain its multi-domain momentum. The provision would establish a joint force headquarters at Indo-Pacific Command to assess command and control architectures and kill chains needed for a future war with China through ongoing experiments, exercises, and demonstrations.

The location and reporting chain for the new headquarters are critical. DoD’s military services and support agencies are incentivized to further institutional equities in their experimentation. A generic joint force headquarters in Washington would not keep up with the increasing sophistication and specialization of threats worldwide or reflect China’s nature as DoD’s pacing challenge. Only Indo-Pacific Command is seized with the need to deter and potentially fight China in the near-term.

The new joint force headquarters would also provide a transition partner for some of the DoD’s highest-priority projects, which today lack a customer equipped to assess the product. For example, JADC2 is languishing because its top-down requirements and service-driven implementation will take decades to yield a highly interoperable force. A joint force headquarters focused on addressing the threat from China around Taiwan could focus JADC2 on the most advantageous kill chains for confrontations that could happen in the next year.

While its most important task would be preparing for combat, a standing joint force headquarters could also help the DoD dissuade aggression. The new defense strategy identifies as one of its three main lines of effort campaigning, which seeks over time to frustrate enemy efforts and produce allied advantages. Exercising command and control and demonstrating novel kill chains are part of campaigning, but the expertise and focus of a joint force headquarters would also be essential to developing and managing campaigns that orchestrate U.S. operations, posture, and engagement to undermine Chinese plans and support U.S. and allied capabilities.

Pentagon bureaucrats are sure to resist the idea of a distant joint force headquarters leading campaigns and driving priority efforts such as JADC2. They were right during the last 30 years of post-Cold War stability, when moving the nexus of capability development to the field would produce custom solutions ill-suited for other theaters. But the urgency of today’s China’s challenge—as described by the DoD’s own leaders—demands a different approach. Unless the U.S. military organizes for campaigning and conflict in the Indo-Pacific today, it risks playing a pick-up game against a larger and better-prepared home team.

Bryan Clark is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Director of the Hudson Center for Defense Concepts and Technology

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Pentagon pulls f-15s from Okinawa
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2022, 07:05:24 AM »
The Pacific’s Missing F-15 Fighters
The Pentagon pulls fighter jets from Okinawa without a permanent replacement.
By The Editorial BoardFollow
Updated Nov. 2, 2022 7:33 pm ET

The Pentagon is pulling F-15 fighter jets from Okinawa after decades on the Japanese island, and the news has received too little attention. American air power is spread thin across the world, and the U.S. is in a precarious position even as it needs to put more hardware in the Pacific to deter China.

“Starting in November, the Department of Defense will commence a phased withdrawal of F-15 C/D aircraft forward-deployed to Kadena Air Base over the next two years,” the Air Force said on Oct. 28 after the news had leaked. The Air Force F-15Cs and Ds are 38 years old on average, and no doubt they’re costly to maintain and keep airborne. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, a retired F-15 pilot, tells us these are the last active duty F-15C/D pilots in the Air Force, another limiting factor.

Yet the F-15s are departing strategic real estate in the Western Pacific’s first island chain with no permanent replacement. The U.S. will “temporarily” deploy “newer and more advanced aircraft” on rotation, the Air Force says. The announcement promises a steady presence but says the Pentagon has “not made a decision on the long-term solution.”

This reality has been a long time in the making, the “inevitable result,” as Gen. Deptula says, of political complacency and “slashed investment in successor aircraft.” The Air Force initially planned to buy 750 F-22s, but former Defense Secretary Bob Gates shut down the production line at 187 jets. The services aren’t buying enough F-35s to pick up the load.

The result: The Air Force will have “less than 45% of its original planned” fifth-generation fighter force “in the critical 2027-2030 timeframe when China may be ready to attack Taiwan,” the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studiessaid in a recent report.


Only about half of the F-22 fleet is mission capable, and these jets are working overtime all over the world. The Pentagon has dispatched F-22s to Poland to deter Vladimir Putin from extending his war in Ukraine to NATO. It also sent a squadron of F-22s to the Middle East this year to help the United Arab Emirates fend off the Houthi rebels.

Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly told reporters this fall to imagine “a bill comes to your house” for 60 fighter squadrons. “I’m trying to pay that bill with 48 fighter squadrons” (plus nine attack squadrons that can’t survive in a fight in highly contested airspace). “Whether it’s money, muscle, tissue, morale, or combat power,” Gen. Kelly said at an Air Force Association conference, “if you expend it at a rate that exceeds your ability to generate it, that rarely ends well.”

Some defenders of the F-15 pullout say the fighters are too old to help in any conflict with China, or would be obliterated early on, as if this is comforting. A rotational force is also a big downgrade. One virtue of a permanent presence is that American troops learn the neighborhood and are prepared to fight on night one of a conflict. That pays a double dividend of deterrence, persuading adversaries the U.S. is serious about enforcing order.

The Biden Administration has shown no interest in growing the Air Force, even as it calls China a “pacing” threat. The F-15 departure “sends the wrong signal,” as GOP lawmakers wrote in a Tuesday letter to the Pentagon, and it will fall to Congress to pick up the pace on aircraft buys and find long-range fires or other assets that can be moved into the Pacific.

None of this will be easy or cheap, but the vanishing F-15s are one more sign of America’s eroding military power.

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Indian Strategy against China
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2022, 11:23:34 AM »

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GPF
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2023, 12:21:46 PM »
Indo-Pacific security. The U.S. and Japan signed an agreement to strengthen security cooperation during a meeting of their top security and foreign affairs officials. The two countries plan to increase joint military drills and revise their joint defense posture. The United States also plans to revamp its Marine force on the Okinawa islands, which host most of the 18,000 U.S. Marines stationed in Japan. U.S. President Joe Biden will meet on Friday in Washington with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is currently in Britain. He signed a defense agreement on Thursday with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

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GPF: Japan-India exercises
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2023, 10:56:38 AM »
Landmark drills. Japan and India began their first joint air drills involving fighter jets near Tokyo on Monday. Japan will send four F-2 and four F-15 fighters, while India will send four Su-30MKI fighters, two C-17 transport aircraft and an IL-78 aerial refueling tanker. The exercises, which will run for 11 days, aim to bolster bilateral defense ties and counter China’s growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific.

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FA: China's Indo-Pacific Folly
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2023, 12:45:30 PM »
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/asia/china-indo-pacific-folly?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=fatoday&utm_campaign=A%20Long%20Way%20From%20Nuclear%20Fusion&utm_content=20230131&utm_term=FA%20Today%20-%20112017

In December 2022, Japan released its first national security strategy in nearly ten years. The document committed Tokyo to strengthening the U.S.-Japanese alliance “in all areas.” And Japan is not alone. Over the last half decade, almost all U.S. allies across the Indo-Pacific have deepened their partnerships with Washington and formed new networks with one another.

At first blush, this might seem puzzling. Chinese President Xi Jinping has voiced his desire for the United States to withdraw from the Indo-Pacific, and his government has upheld China’s long tradition of expressing hostility toward Washington’s alliances, which form the foundation of the U.S. presence in the region. Many analysts, including Rush Doshi and Elizabeth Economy, have argued that Beijing has a disciplined and coherent strategy to drive a wedge between the United States and its Indo-Pacific allies. But far from a well-executed campaign, Beijing’s effort to erode U.S. alliances has been incoherent and undisciplined, strengthening, rather than weakening, U.S. alliances in the region and producing an energized U.S.-led coalition poised to constrain Beijing for years to come.

Beijing’s ambition to isolate Washington from its Asian allies has been derailed in large part by its desire to redress more immediate grievances—namely, to reclaim what it sees as lost territory and punish countries that offend its sensibilities. Instead of staying focused on its long-term strategic objectives, China has grown preoccupied with achieving near-term tactical gains in both its territorial disputes with its neighbors and its quest for deference from other countries. These impulses have resulted in major strategic errors and suggest that Beijing is not nearly as adept at planning and executing long-term strategy as many believe.

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EYES OFF THE PRIZE
Nowhere has China’s pursuit of territorial advantage more clearly undermined its efforts to weaken U.S. alliances than in the South China Sea. In 2016, Rodrigo Duterte’s election as president of the Philippines gave Beijing a prime opportunity to pick off a long-standing U.S. ally. After months of expressing hostility toward the United States and admiration for China, Duterte declared a “separation” from Washington and an intention to “realign” the country. China moved to capitalize, reducing trade barriers with the Philippines and pledging large amounts of investment in the country. Beijing also initially sought to reduce friction over disputed territories in the South China Sea, the most combustible issue in its relationship with the Philippines. And in early 2020, China seemed on the verge of a major diplomatic win when Duterte announced his intention to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement, which facilitates the presence of U.S. troops in the Philippines.

But in the lead-up to the agreement’s official termination, China proved unwilling to restrain itself in the South China Sea. Among other provocations, Beijing publicly reasserted its authority to administer the contested areas, and one of its naval vessels threatened a Philippine ship. Such conduct irked Duterte and generated discord at precisely the moment that China should have sought to smooth over these disputes. And Beijing paid a price for its actions. In June 2020, Manila initiated the first of three suspensions of the process for terminating the U.S. agreement, and the following year, Duterte fully restored it. Beijing gained nothing of significance in the South China Sea through its provocations, but it squandered a golden opportunity to dismantle a central element of the U.S.-Philippine alliance.

The same counterproductive tendency to prioritize territorial interests over strategic objectives can be seen in China’s relationship with Japan. Over the last decade, China has established a near-permanent paramilitary presence around the disputed Senkaku Islands (which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands), a collection of uninhabited rocks and islets with nationalistic significance but almost no strategic value. In so doing, Beijing has fed Japan’s suspicions of China and pushed Tokyo closer and closer to Washington. In 2014, Japan reinterpreted its pacifist constitution to expand the conditions under which it could militarily aid the United States in an armed conflict. A year later, Tokyo and Washington adopted new defense guidelines to facilitate closer military coordination. Tokyo now describes the U.S.-Japanese alliance as “stronger than ever,” and Japan’s transformational 2022 National Security Strategy calls for, among other measures, increasing the defense budget, acquiring counterstrike capabilities, and further deepening its alliance with Washington and its security partnerships with U.S. allies.

China’s pursuit of territorial advantage has also helped produce a new type of proto-alliance by pushing nonaligned India into the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, a loose coalition that also includes Australia, Japan, and the United States. Beijing’s persistent assertiveness along its disputed border with India led to a major standoff in Doklam in 2017, a deadly clash in the Galwan Valley in 2020, and additional confrontations in 2021 and 2022. Such conduct has prompted New Delhi to shed its former ambivalence about the Quad, agreeing to elevate it to the summit level and deepen defense ties with its members.

THIRSTING FOR DEFERENCE
Another hallmark of Chinese statecraft that has undermined its efforts to drive a wedge between the United States and its Asian allies is its desire to punish states that fail to accommodate Beijing’s preferences. This tendency was most evident in the combative “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy China pursued early in the pandemic, but it predates COVID-19. China’s recent history with South Korea is illustrative. Beginning in 2013, Beijing made a concerted and initially successful effort to cultivate newly elected South Korean President Park Geun-hye. It did so by adopting a cooperative diplomatic posture toward Seoul and working to restrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. When Park appeared in 2015 on a dais in Tiananmen Square flanked by Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin to observe a Chinese military parade, some in Washington began to fret that Seoul was leaning too far toward Beijing.

Xi’s charm offensive also helped divide the United States and South Korea over the proposed deployment of a THAAD antimissile system in the South, a deployment supported by Washington and opposed by Beijing as a supposed threat to its nuclear security. For a year and a half after the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea broached the idea in 2014, Park declined to hold formal talks with Washington for fear of upending her newly improved relationship with China and losing its support in dealing with the North.

But true to form, Beijing promptly squandered its influence with Seoul following a North Korean nuclear test in January 2016. The test compelled Park to begin discussions with Washington on deploying the THAAD system, prompting Beijing to begin threatening Seoul and to eventually initiate a sweeping campaign of economic punishment. Although U.S. officials sought to assuage China’s concerns about nuclear security by offering to brief their Chinese counterparts on the system’s technical details, Beijing rejected the offer and continued to penalize Seoul. Not only did this behavior fail to halt the system’s deployment but it dramatically soured the South Korean public’s perception of China: according to one 2021 public opinion survey, South Koreans view China even less favorably than they view Japan, their former imperial master and traditional regional foe. During South Korea’s 2022 presidential election, both major candidates embraced the public’s anti-Chinese sentiment, and Yoon Suk-yeol won on the more pro-American platform. Since taking office, Yoon has moved to deepen missile defense cooperation with the United States and Japan, a development China has long sought to avoid.


China doesn’t pose nearly the threat to U.S. alliances that many in Washington fear.
China’s punitive statecraft has generated even more blowback in Australia. Ten years ago, Canberra was at pains to strike a balance between China, its largest trading partner and an important source of investment, and the United States, its principal security partner. Australia’s economic relationship with China even caused some friction between Washington and Canberra when a Chinese company signed a 99-year lease to operate an Australian port just miles from where U.S. Marines have a rotational presence.

But China’s relationship with Australia began to unravel after journalists broke a series of stories revealing the disturbing extent of Chinese interference in Australian society and politics. One of the most brazen episodes involved a senior Chinese official threatening Australian politicians to accommodate Beijing by supporting an extradition treaty with China. When Canberra passed anti-interference legislation in 2018, Chinese punishments followed. Beijing forbade Chinese firms from buying Australian minerals and held up Australian wine at Chinese ports. As relations with China deteriorated, Canberra moved to strengthen ties with Washington, deepening defense cooperation and working to counter Chinese influence in the Pacific Island countries. Australia also reengaged with the Quad—a notable change, since Canberra had backed away from the grouping in 2007, largely out of concern for China.

In 2021, after Australia advocated for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19, Beijing responded with an even more aggressive campaign of political and economic punishment. Chinese belligerence drove the two countries’ relationship to its lowest ebb in decades, spurred Canberra to find ways of limiting China’s involvement in the Australian economy, and facilitated a historic deepening in the U.S.-Australian alliance with the formation of the AUKUS partnership. AUKUS will enable the United States and the United Kingdom to share with Australia some of their most sensitive military technologies and will eventually provide Canberra with nuclear submarines. When announcing the partnership in September 2021, then Prime Minister Scott Morrison described AUKUS as a “forever partnership” and “the single greatest” national security initiative since the 1951 Australia, New Zealand, and United States Security Treaty.

WASHINGTON’S OPPORTUNITY
Although Beijing may finally be waking up to the enormous damage its diplomacy has done, no one should expect more disciplined statecraft during Xi’s third five-year term. The consequences of Beijing’s grievance-driven behavior on the strength of U.S. alliances have been clear for some time now. If Xi and his comrades were eager to facilitate different outcomes, they would have changed tack long ago. That they didn’t suggests Beijing was genuinely more interested in reclaiming lost lands and thirsting for deference than it was in undermining U.S. alliances.

Perhaps Chinese diplomats will walk back the most abrasive elements of their Wolf Warrior diplomacy, but Beijing is unlikely to subordinate its territorial objectives or quest for dominance to a disciplined strategy for splitting the United States from its Indo-Pacific allies. Just this month, after Japan and South Korea established new pandemic-related travel restrictions for Chinese tourists, Beijing stopped issuing short-term visas to Japanese and South Korean citizens—a retaliation that was widely rebuked in Tokyo and Seoul. China’s apparent need to punish those that cross it is unlikely to disappear, even if this tendency undermines Beijing’s long-term strategic aspirations.

All of this is good news for the United States. Beijing’s diplomatic record suggests that China doesn’t pose nearly the threat to U.S. alliances that many in Washington fear. Instead of pursuing a farsighted strategy to undermine American alliances, it has prioritized other objectives—even when they have backfired. Chinese statecraft is likely to continue to provide opportunities for Washington to deepen its partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, solidifying the United States’ presence there over Beijing’s objections. 



Crafty_Dog

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India-Japan
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2023, 07:40:31 AM »

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GPF: China has found a chink
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2023, 08:13:00 AM »
February 21, 2023
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The Limits of India’s Maritime Capabilities
China has found a way to stymie U.S. efforts to counter it.
By: Kamran Bokhari
Perhaps the most important dynamic to follow as the U.S.-China competition intensifies is U.S.-India cooperation. Beijing certainly realizes as much and understands further that the linchpin for their cooperation will be the Indian Ocean. China has been unable to project as much power there as it would like, so it is trying to divert India’s attention away from these waters to their shared border in the Himalayas, known as the Line of Actual Control. This explains the growing militarization of this mountainous region.

It also explains why on Feb. 9 Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said his country had accelerated connectivity projects with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. His statements come just weeks before China’s foreign minister arrives in New Delhi for the G-20 foreign ministers meeting. Meanwhile, according to a document circulated by the Indian government, the length of roads constructed in the “China-border areas” over the past eight years (totaling 4,229 miles or 6,800 kilometers) was nearly double the length of roads constructed in the preceding six years (2,243 miles). The same document stated that 16 mountain passes were opened ahead of time and announced the start of a number of bridge and tunnel projects in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, where a clash between Indian and Chinese troops took place in early December.

The latest clash, in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh, was the most significant hostile incident between China and India since June 2020. The 2020 incident was triggered by Chinese forces making ingresses into Indian-claimed territory on the opposite end of their Himalayan frontier in the Galwan Valley in the Kashmir region. Three years earlier, Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a standoff in the Doklam Valley in Bhutan that lasted for months. Together, these incidents represent a systematic pattern of China trying to strategically poke India at multiple points along their poorly demarcated, 2,100-mile-long border.

Disputed Regions in South Asia
(click to enlarge)

By themselves, military moves across such a vast and harsh geography would make little sense. The costs are high, and the payoffs low. There’s a reason the border between China and India has been subject to a frozen conflict since 1962. The only way China’s behavior makes sense is in the context of Washington’s strategy to counter China. Central to that strategy is to ally with India. To that end, the U.S. has actively engaged India on several diplomatic, economic, security and technological fronts, operating under the knowledge that the Indo-Pacific is the most important arena for cooperating vis-a-vis China. It’s no coincidence that this courtship is taking place as India surpassed the United Kingdom last year as the world’s fifth-largest economy.

China, on the other hand, is facing strong social, economic and political headwinds. And its String of Pearls strategy in the Indian Ocean basin is stalling. That Sri Lanka is in default, and that Pakistan is on the verge of one, is a clear indication that Beijing’s efforts to establish itself as the major player in the Indian Ocean basin are failing.


(click to enlarge)

Of course, India has not paid much attention to the vast maritime space on its southern flank. Its efforts to project influence in the Indian Ocean basin are still in their early phases, but it is an area in which New Delhi has begun to invest heavily. The Indian navy’s budget has increased accordingly, accounting for 19 percent of the country’s overall defense budget, up from 14 percent last year.

Beijing needs a way to contain New Delhi in the Indian Ocean. Its options are limited; the waters are basically India’s front yard, where China must expend considerably more resources to operate. And the Strait of Malacca and the U.S. naval presence in the Western Pacific together make it difficult for the Chinese to access the region.

Hence the importance of the terrestrial border. In response to Chinese military moves, India has been forced to enhance security across this wide geography, which is also very harsh terrain. The Chinese enjoy the upper hand not just because of greater military capabilities but also because Beijing occupies large chunks of territory claimed by New Delhi. The Indians are therefore required to expend a great deal of human and material resources in order to contain the Chinese in the Himalayas.

Complicating matters for India is the need to deploy a large number of forces on its eastern border with Pakistan. Further aggravating this dynamic for India is that in the Kashmir region it faces a two-front theater with Pakistan and China, consuming a great deal of attention and bandwidth. Consequently, New Delhi’s efforts to develop maritime capabilities in the Indian Ocean remain a secondary (if not tertiary) matter.

India’s inability to become a key maritime player means there are serious limits to how useful it can be to counter China. Washington will have to continue to do the heavy lifting. In this way, China has found a major chink in the armor of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

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Re: The Indo-Pacific
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2023, 05:52:52 PM »
Indians view Russia very favorably, even more than the Chinese !


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Britain to hand over Diego Garcia?!?
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2023, 06:55:50 PM »
Britain's plan to hand over 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' island in the Indian Ocean to Chinese ally Mauritius sparks row with US
Diego Garcia is likely to be handed to Mauritius as part of a  sovereignty transfer
The US has raised concerns about the plans due to the island's military hardware
The base, leased to the US Navy, is home to some 1,700 military personnel
By GLEN OWEN

PUBLISHED: 18:30 EDT, 20 May 2023 | UPDATED: 04:02 EDT, 21 May 2023

Diplomatic tensions with Washington were growing last night after Britain was poised to surrender a UK-owned territory to a close ally of China – even though the island hosts a highly sensitive Anglo-American military base.

Diego Garcia, which was first claimed by the UK in 1814, is likely to be handed to Mauritius as part of a transfer of sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory, which comprises some 60 islands in the Chagos Archipelago.

The Mail on Sunday understands the White House has expressed 'serious concerns' about the plans due to the concentration of military hardware at the Naval Support Facility on the island, which has been called 'the unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean'.

The British base, which is leased to the US Navy, is home to some 1,700 military personnel and 1,500 civilian contractors, and includes port facilities, an airstrip capable of handling large aircraft, a support structure for submarine fleets, a sophisticated radar nerve centre and US Space Operations Command.

The Pentagon fears Beijing is looking for a similar military foothold in the region and even possibly on Diego Garcia.

Diego Garcia (pictured)  is likely to be handed to Mauritius as part of a sovereignty transfer
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Diego Garcia (pictured)  is likely to be handed to Mauritius as part of a sovereignty transfer


Washington is increasingly concerned by the growing relationship between Mauritius and China. The two countries have already signed a free trade agreement as part of Beijing's 'Belt and Road Initiative' towards economic dominance.

News of the rising tensions came as world leaders yesterday warned China to halt its 'malign practices' and start 'playing by the rules'.

In a strongly worded statement, leaders of the G7, including Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron, told China that they are no longer prepared to tolerate its 'economic coercion' and military expansionism.

The leaders stated that while they are willing to build 'constructive and stable relations with China', that can only happen if the Communist superpower 'plays by international rules'.

Concern about Beijing's rise has been a key theme of the summit, as has its recent sabre-rattling towards Taiwan.

Last night, senior Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged the Government to draw up a new agreement with Mauritius to resolve the 'strategic mess' over Diego Garcia.

He told The Mail on Sunday: 'The UK, with the USA, has to bring Mauritius on side with us, not with China. And that's got to happen now.

'The Government can't withdraw from there. They have got to come up with another agreement with Mauritius which will be more expensive but strategically critical.'

The Mail on Sunday understands the White House has expressed 'serious concerns' about the plans due to the concentration of military hardware at the Naval Support Facility on the island


The British base, which is leased to the US Navy, is home to some 1,700 military personnel and 1,500 civilian contractors
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The British base, which is leased to the US Navy, is home to some 1,700 military personnel and 1,500 civilian contractors

STRATEGIC GEM WE SNATCHED FROM NAPOLEON
The strategically vital island of Diego Garcia has been fought over for centuries thanks to its position in the Indian Ocean between Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

At 12 square miles, it is the largest of the 60 Chagos Islands which form part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, a UK overseas territory.

The UK claimed the islands and Mauritius from France in the Napoleonic Wars. However, when Mauritius gained independence in 1968 Britain severed them from the rest of the country. Some 2,000 Chagossians where then deported so a military base could be built on the island, prompting a long-running legal battle with refugees wishing to return.

The islands began to be handed back to Mauritius after a ruling in 2019 that the British occupation is illegal. However, the UK has insisted that any deal must protect the status of the military base, which is one of two critical US bomber bases in the Indo-Pacific region. It allows warplanes to reach maritime choke points, vital sea lanes and even Chinese bases from Djibouti to Pakistan.

There are now fears that if the island is handed back to Mauritius there will be nothing to stop the Chinese building facilities on it.

The Communist state has poured $1 billion of investments into Mauritius in recent years as it looks to flex its muscles in its near abroad.


Last night, a senior Government source acknowledged that the US had expressed concerns about the move, which comes after international political and legal pressure.

However, they added: 'We are in constant contact with the Americans about it.'

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has been tasked by No 10 with trying to assuage the Americans' worries. One option is for the UK to take out a 99-year lease on the islands after sovereignty is transferred – similar to the arrangement London agreed with Peking in 1898 over Hong Kong, which was then returned to China in 1997.

The Government has previously rejected Mauritian claims over the islands, insisting that it would cede sovereignty only when the territory is no longer needed by Britain for defence purposes.

But following international pressure, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly agreed to broker an agreement backed by international law to 'resolve all outstanding issues' while ensuring the effective operation of the base.

Foreign Office lawyers have advised that an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice saying that the UK should return the islands to Mauritius, which has been endorsed by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, means that a negotiated settlement will need to be found.

A source said: 'The legal advice is that we have to roll over to avoid a prolonged legal case, but the Americans have made their serious concerns clear.'

Since 2013, China has been using its Belt and Road Initiative to finance big projects in poor countries around the world – making them politically and economically indebted to Beijing and sucking them into its sphere of influence.

The UK supports American efforts to counter Chinese economic power, but has been more hesitant than Washington about criticising Beijing, with China 'doves' in the Government warning about the possible impact on future trade deals.

The Foreign Office said: 'The UK and Mauritius have held three rounds of constructive negotiations on the exercise of sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory/Chagos Archipelago.

Last night, senior Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged the Government to draw up a new agreement with Mauritius to resolve the 'strategic mess' over Diego Garcia
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Last night, senior Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged the Government to draw up a new agreement with Mauritius to resolve the 'strategic mess' over Diego Garcia

The Pentagon fears Beijing is looking for a similar military foothold in the region and even possibly on Diego Garcia
The Pentagon fears Beijing is looking for a similar military foothold in the region and even possibly on Diego Garcia

'Officials will meet again shortly to continue negotiations. The UK and Mauritius have committed to protecting the operational effectiveness of the joint UK/US military base on Diego Garcia, which performs a vital role for regional and global security.

'The UK and Mauritius are close Commonwealth partners and negotiations also include increasing our co-operation on matters of shared interest in the region and more broadly.

'It would not be appropriate to discuss this issue or to speculate on outcomes while negotiations are ongoing.'

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: France and India in the Indo Pacific
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2023, 08:07:48 AM »
July 20, 2023
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Why France and India Are Natural Partners
The global realignment has brought them closer together.
By: Antonia Colibasanu

Less than a month after his visit to the United States, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France and discussed ways the two states could expand bilateral relations. India and France have had close ties for decades, but the momentum of the visit makes it important. Modi’s presence at France’s national day celebrations on July 14, at the invitation of the French president, was meant to show the countries’ strong bond. Moreover, the visit came ahead of next month’s BRICS summit, which will offer clues as to the next stages of the economic war between Russia and its partners and the West.

Though miles apart, France and India have similar strategies and face similar challenges. India has long taken pride in its strategic independence and nonaligned foreign policy. France aspires to re-establish its leadership role in Europe and promote the Continent’s strategic autonomy, including by beefing up the EU’s military might – with an assist from French defense companies. Paris also shares some of New Delhi’s concerns regarding the Global South. While France’s immediate challenge is, like India’s, preserving socio-economic stability in the face of daunting economic problems that built up over the past decade, it also sees opportunities in the global realignment underway.

Both countries have also reinforced cooperation with the United States over the past year. In December 2022, France and the U.S. agreed to step up cooperation in space, cyber, intelligence and “countering malign influence.” India and the U.S. recently recommitted to the U.S.-India Major Defense Partnership and adopted a Defense Industrial Cooperation Roadmap to guide defense companies and enable joint production of advanced weapons, including collaborative research, testing and prototyping.

France as an Indian Ocean Power

French President Emmanuel Macron raised eyebrows last month when he asked for an invitation to the Aug. 22-24 BRICS summit, but the request – which Moscow flatly rejected – reflected France’s long-term strategy and interests in the Global South. Geographically, France is part of the Global South. Its overseas territories grant it an exclusive economic zone that encompasses more than a tenth of the Indian Ocean – about a fifth of France’s total EEZ. In fact, France has the second largest EEZ in the world after the U.S., much of it in the Pacific and Indian oceans. It is the only EU member state with territories in the Indo-Pacific: Reunion and Mayotte in the Indian Ocean and New Caledonia and French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. Of the 1.65 million French citizens living on those islands, more than 1 million live in the Indian Ocean.

French Exclusive Economic Zones
(click to enlarge)

France established a presence in the Indian Ocean in the 17th century and has maintained it ever since. It benefited from being a latecomer to the region. The monarchy founded the first French East India Company in 1664 in a bid to catch up with the English and Dutch, who had established their own companies at the beginning of the 17th century. All were seeking to replace the Portuguese as the preeminent European power in the Indian Ocean. Gradually, France created a colonial network in the southwestern Indian Ocean (Reunion and Mauritius) and a string of trading posts along the Indian subcontinent’s shores.

In the 20th century, France helped to write the rules regarding the economic uses of maritime territory. The concept of an exclusive economic zone originated in the 1945 Truman Proclamation, which granted the U.S. exclusive rights to natural resources within 200 nautical miles of its coastline. Later, after the adoption in 1958 of the U.N. Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, the EEZ concept was codified in the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. France was among the first countries to sign the convention, which it did in 1982. (Ratification came later, in 1996.) France has also been a member of the International Seabed Authority since its inception in 1994 and has served on its council since 2001. It is a strong supporter of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, whose bench it has occupied since 2009.

In all of these bodies, Paris plays a leading role in international negotiations on EEZs and is a strong advocate of the maritime rights of coastal states. This history assisted France’s acquisition of sovereign rights over waters far from Europe. For example, in 1976, France signed an agreement with the Seychelles that granted it access to a portion of the latter’s EEZ. It also established non-exclusive economic zones – which are areas shared by two or more countries – with India, Madagascar and Mauritius.

Why go through the trouble? Because EEZs bring several strategic advantages. First, they grant a state the exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources within them, including fishing, mining, and oil and gas. Second, states may set fishing quotas or establish marine protected areas within their EEZs, or build and use artificial islands or other structures such as oil and gas platforms, lighthouses or weather stations. Third, any state navigating through or flying over another’s EEZ must respect the laws of the managing state. The EEZ owner can also award or deny permits to other states to lay submarine cables or pipelines through their zone.

Its territories in the Indian Ocean put France in a unique position relative to other European powers. The need to protect its citizens and economic interests has supported France’s increased military presence in the region in recent decades. Its pre-positioned forces – naval, air and land – on Reunion and Mayotte are doubled by pre-positioned units in Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates. Located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, Djibouti was a French colony from 1884 to 1977 and has remained close with France since its independence. French forces in the country participate in several humanitarian and development projects. The UAE is also along a vital shipping route, and it hosts French forces at Camp Lemonnier – a major military base used by several countries, including the United States, and the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, a multinational force tasked with counterterrorism and regional security operations. France and the UAE signed a defense cooperation agreement in 2008 that permitted Paris to establish a military presence in the country. Camp de la Paix is located in Abu Dhabi, bordering the Persian Gulf, and supports training, refueling and regional operations.

French Military Presence in the Indo-Pacific
(click to enlarge)

Benefits for India

All of this explains why France is a natural strategic ally to India. India's relative isolation from the rest of the world – with no imposed borders, a large and dense population, and a central government having no choice but to deal with a broad subcontinent – has resulted in a country formed of shifting systems that continuously challenge central authority. This divided landscape has historically made it easier for foreign powers, most notably the British, to conquer it.

India’s birth as a modern state in the early 1950s was New Delhi’s first lesson in how shifting economics may alter political realities. Traditionally, Indian security threats have come either from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border or from the sea. As it matured, India came to understand that while the land threat was difficult to manage, sea lanes were vital. During the Cold War, India conducted a nonalignment strategy. Both superpowers courted India, but instead India chose to work closely with France, the only remaining European power in the Indian Ocean with whom it shared an interest in maintaining regional peace and stability.

Later, India and France formally established a strategic partnership in 1998, and in 2008 the two signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement. In 2016, they signed a Joint Strategic Vision for the Indo-Pacific, which outlines their shared interests in the region and obligates them to work together to address challenges. At the meeting last week in Paris, the two countries committed to a new joint statement on the Indo-Pacific, reaffirming their shared commitment to the region and setting out a number of areas for cooperation, including maritime security, trade and investment, and climate change. The document was accompanied by a joint statement on cooperation in the field of space, which sets out a number of areas for future cooperation, including satellite navigation, Earth observation and space exploration.

In February, the Indian Air Force released a revised and somewhat ambitious doctrine aimed at transitioning India from an air power to an aerospace power. As India strives to develop a new, powerful personality as a spacefaring nation and an aerospace power, it seeks mutually advantageous relationships with other spacefarers, particularly those with whom India has a history of dependability, mutual understanding and good faith. India has some experience in the field; the Indian Space Research Organization was founded in 1969, and it has since launched several satellites and space probes and has even launched its third moon mission. Partnering with another space player would make Indian space endeavors much more cost effective.

France suits India’s needs perfectly. It established its Space Force in 2019, becoming the first European country to have a branch of its armed forces dedicated to space. The French Space Force is responsible for all aspects of French military space operations, including surveillance, command and control, intelligence and reconnaissance. French industry has supported the country’s space capabilities, including by building a fleet of satellites and a ground station network. However, France does not have its own launch vehicles. India does.

More important, both countries would be comfortable working together since bilateral military cooperation is a key pillar of their relationship. Since the 1980s, India and France have conducted numerous joint military exercises, becoming more complex and sophisticated over time to encompass a wide range of scenarios, including air, ground and sea operations. Moreover, as India’s traditional military patron, Russia, grows more distracted and unreliable, New Delhi has become more attractive as a defense partner, becoming a loyal customer of French military industry. In recent years, India has purchased a number of French-made weapons systems, including the Rafale fighter jet, the Scorpene submarine and the AMX-30 tank. They have also cooperated in the development of defense technologies, particularly aircraft engines.

This fits nicely with India’s strategic outlook. The government keeps a watchful eye on the waters from the Andaman Sea to the Malacca Strait, the Gulf of Aden to the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Hormuz to the Persian Gulf. Given the natural topographical fortifications that encircle most of India, the shoreline is one of the only locations exposed to attack or invasion. France's military proximity to the straits gives India an advantage, especially since their interests in the region are largely aligned as they work with the U.S. there. In more practical terms, France helps India to keep Indian Ocean maritime routes safe and open.

From an economic standpoint, enhancing bilateral cooperation is tethered to their socio-economic priorities. In its strategy paper for the Indo-Pacific published last year, France emphasized the region’s importance to the global economy. Paris sees the region as a natural platform from which it can expand economic ties, including industrial exports, to emerging markets in the Global South, and will use its presence there to leverage its interests accordingly.

Similarly, India wants to use its relationship with France to expand its own global reach. Beyond bilateral agreements, India wants to conclude negotiations with the EU over a free trade agreement, which would give New Delhi large, viable markets outside the U.S. to sustain growth and development. Brussels’ desire to wean itself off Chinese imports and the West’s desire to win the economic war against Russia has renewed efforts in that regard. The European Union first suggested the FTA in 2007, and although negotiations began in 2009, they have been slow and contentious. The main sticking points have been agriculture and services. India has been reluctant to open its agriculture market to EU imports, and the EU has been reluctant to give India greater access to its services sector. There have also been disagreements over intellectual property rights. In all these areas, France has an important say within the EU and could lobby on India’s behalf.

India and France may have different geopolitical imperatives, but a strategic partnership is mutually beneficial because it addresses an urgency for securing their respective power in the Indian Ocean – and the Global South more broadly. The global realignment underway hasn’t changed their plans; it has accelerated them.



Crafty_Dog

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RANE: Goals and Hurdles of US
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2023, 07:26:43 AM »


Strategic Goals and Political Hurdles in the U.S. Play Tug-of-War Over the Pacific Islands
Sep 29, 2023 | 15:53 GMT





Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marapeand, the Cook Islands' Prime Minister Mark Brown, U.S. President Joe Biden and Kiribati's President Taneti Maamau at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) as part of the U.S.-PIF summit at the White House on Sept. 25, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marapeand, the Cook Islands' Prime Minister Mark Brown, U.S. President Joe Biden and Kiribati's President Taneti Maamau at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) as part of the U.S.-PIF summit at the White House on Sept. 25, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The United States will continue taking steps to expand its economic, political and military influence in the Pacific islands, but delays caused by political deadlock could forestall further gains. The United States and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) concluded their second annual summit in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25. At the summit, the U.S. government promised development and infrastructure aid packages totaling $200 million in new funds, a relatively large sum even when spread across 18 countries given these states' small economies. Most notably, the package includes $64 million in development aid and $40 million in infrastructure aid. The United States also announced its formal recognition of the Cook Islands and Niue, two small island countries that outsource their defense to New Zealand, as independent nations. According to Washington, its cooperation with countries and territories in Oceania is aimed at addressing climate change, protecting maritime boundaries and marine resources (a reference to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, specifically by China), and promoting "a free and open Indo-Pacific region." During the Sept. 25 summit, the countries also reaffirmed the 2022 U.S.-Pacific Partner Strategy, the flagship document that codified the U.S.-PIF partnership and the key deliverable of last year's inaugural U.S.-PIF summit. Moreover, on Sept. 28, media reports revealed that the United States is backing the construction of the Central Pacific Cable, an undersea internet cable covering thousands of miles that will link U.S. territories American Samoa and Guam before extending to 10 Pacific island countries and territories.

The PIF is a multilateral organization encompassing 18 member states in the Pacific islands. The U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have observer status, demonstrating preexisting U.S. interest and involvement in the region.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was in the eastern United States for the U.N. General Assembly the week prior but skipped the 2023 U.S.-PIF summit in Washington. His government joined the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank days later on Sept. 27. Vanuatu Prime Minister Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu also skipped the summit.
The countries that will connect to the Central Pacific Cable are the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, and Wallis and Futuna.
Continued U.S.-PIF engagement gives PIF countries access to economic and environmental aid and enables the United States to counter Chinese influence. The current combination of great power competition in the Pacific islands and increased unity among the PIF's 18 members grants the bloc a strong negotiating position that will likely enable it to reach more robust agreements with Washington on trade, air travel and access to climate finance. Meanwhile, Washington perceives its influence in the region to be eroding as China makes regional inroads, highlighted by the Solomon Islands' and Vanutu's no-shows at the summit. In terms of infrastructure, China is ahead of the United States, as it has funded and constructed roads, ports, telecom towers and other assets in a variety of Pacific island countries. However, Chinese influence in the region is new and almost entirely channeled through its relationship with the Solomon Islands' Sogavare, meaning the relationship is not structurally deep. The United States, on the other hand, has deep, long-standing ties with several PIF countries. Chief among these ties are Compacts of Free Association (COFAs), which outsource participating countries' defense to the United States and gain them significant aid in return for exclusive maritime and basing access, with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. These relationships give the United States a head start over China in terms of regional influence, and sustained U.S. attention on the region will be key to forestalling additional Chinese inroads.

The United States fears that the Solomon Islands' 2022 security pact with China could eventually lead Beijing to station warships in the country. This could threaten U.S. holdings in the Pacific, as well as U.S. allies like Australia and the Philippines. These fears galvanized U.S. efforts to woo the PIF's 18 members in early 2022 with the U.S.-PIF summit and the U.S. Pacific Partnership Strategy.
U.S. anxieties have grown since Aug. 26, when China sent police experts and equipment to Vanuatu to help keep the peace amid a controversial no-confidence vote that ousted the prime minister. New Prime Minister Kilman has often been accused of being too cozy with China, though he insists his intentions are neutral. This police agreement could signal that China is looking to enter into deeper security partnerships in the region, though Vanuatu has a military pact with Australia and not China.
Washington will seek to capitalize on its relatively advantageous position by offering climate assistance, opening new embassies and pursuing security pacts. On the heels of this summit, the United States will continue focusing on climate financing. This vector of assistance is strategically valuable to the United States and provides an advantage over China's infrastructure and investment projects in the region because rising sea levels pose an existential threat to Pacific island nations. The United States will also advance its efforts to expand its diplomatic footprint by opening more embassies in the region, most likely in Vanuatu and Kiribati. The U.S. initiative to connect the region via subsea internet cables will also provide needed critical infrastructure, in addition to being another emerging vector of geopolitical competition. Beyond the agreements made at the summit, the United States will aim to improve its regional strategic outlook by pursuing additional security pacts after signing one with Papua New Guinea in May. For example, the United States is negotiating with Palau to station Patriot air defense systems in-country, which Palau has requested.

In addition to the 2022 reopening of an embassy in the Solomon Islands, the United States also opened an embassy in Tonga. However, these diplomatic missions are understaffed and have no ambassadors, limiting their intended impact thus far.
The United States is reacting to years of alleged neglect in the region and regards "showing up" (having an active and permanent presence) as key to its ambitions, meaning each successive summit should produce additional measures intended to cement the U.S. regional presence.
However, U.S. politics risk halting or even reversing recent gains, which would open the door to greater Chinese influence. The U.S. Congress has yet to approve the majority of the $800 million in promised funding from the 2022 summit, sinking confidence among PIF countries that the additional $200 million pledged in 2023 will speedily arrive on their shores. Moreover, Congress has not ratified the Biden administration's agreements with Micronesia and Palau to renew their COFAs, which expire on Sept. 30. (The Marshall Islands is still holding out for additional compensation before agreeing to a renewal.) Congress' resistance to approving the Biden administration's promised funding and agreements is likely due to dysfunction amid budgetary standoffs, and the likely impending government shutdown in the United States would cause the COFAs to lapse, denying the United States exclusive access and basing rights across a massive swath of the Pacific Ocean. While there is no mechanism preventing these countries from signing new COFAs in the future, a prolonged government shutdown and attendant absence of funding (on which these countries economically depend) would damage the three Freely Associated States' economies as well as U.S. credibility. Over the long term, these impacts could open the door for more substantial Chinese economic aid to fill the void, which would lead to greater Chinese political and military influence.

COFAs last 20 years at a time, and U.S. renewal negotiations with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau have been ongoing since March 2022.
The 2022 U.S.-Pacific Partnership Strategy refers to the COFAs as the "bedrock of the U.S. role in the Pacific."
Biden was set to become the first sitting U.S. President to visit a Pacific islands country when he was to attend the signing of the U.S.-Papua New Guinea security pact in May, but a federal debt ceiling crisis prevented him from going.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2023, 02:16:24 PM »
Drills. Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. completed joint exercises off the eastern coast of Australia. The drills between the AUKUS partners were focused on protecting critical undersea infrastructure following an apparent attack last month on an undersea cable and a gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea.

ya

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Re: The Indo-Pacific
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2023, 03:17:42 AM »
India becomes a 4 Trillion $ economy. In 1-2 years, it will overtake Germany and Japan to be at the # 3 spot.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Indo-Pacific
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2023, 05:06:02 PM »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Indo-Pacific
« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2023, 03:18:21 PM »
Thread Nazi here-- apparently the message of my previous post was missed.  :evil: There is a thread for India-- this thread is for the Geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific.  :-)

Crafty_Dog

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WT
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2023, 06:22:59 AM »
MILITARY

Boot is on the other foot for U.S. Marine regiment in Japan

Littoral unit sets eyes on China

BY ANDREW SALMON THE WASHINGTON TIMES SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA | U.S. Marines in Japan are reversing their traditional mission from invading beaches to defending them.

Symbolizing a changing strategic environment, the Okinawabased 12th Marine Regiment was rechristened the 12th Marine Littoral Regiment in a ceremony last week. The renaming reflects a more profound shift away from the Corps’ customary role in the Indo-Pacific as a seaborne force that storms enemy coasts. The 12th Marine Littoral Regiment, the second created by the service, looks suspiciously like a Marine’s historic nemesis: a coastal artillery unit.

The name also reflects technological shifts in warfighting and littoral combat. It takes advantage of what U.S. strategists say is China’s Achilles’ heel in the superpower rivalry for friends and influence in East Asia.

After decades of determined expansion, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy now approaches the U.S. Navy in muscle. The 2023 Global Naval Powers Ranking, which assesses multiple dynamics, rated the Chinese navy just behind the American fleet. The U.S. Navy patrols a global beat while China’s naval forces are heavily concentrated on the tense, heavily trafficked waters off the country’s coast.

The Chinese navy has its challenges, particularly as admirals ponder their highest priority: the long-term fate of Taiwan.

The communist regime of President Xi Jinping has vowed to one day bring the island democracy under Beijing’s control. Any naval move to blockade Taiwan or prevent U.S. and allied forces from coming to Taipei’s aid in the event of an armed clash would mean leaving the safety of Chinese coastal bases and entering the open Pacific.

The primary routes to the open sea are channels dominated by Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and the Philippines’ northern island of Luzon, part of what strategists collectively call the “First Island Chain.”

U.S. ground forces are stationed in both areas. The ceremony on Wednesday showed that American commanders are aware of the transformed regional dynamic.

“We’re proud to be here in the First Island Chain and a force prepared to respond to contingencies wherever and whenever required,” Marine Col. Peter Eltringham, the regiment’s new commander, said at Okinawa’s Camp Hansen.

The Marine Corps established its first littoral regiment in Hawaii last year. The third is scheduled to deploy in the Indo-Pacific theater by 2030.

The Marines’ littoral regiments have a different mission from the set-in-stone beach-defending forces of old. They will operate as mobile, island-hopping forces.

According to the Corps’ website, a littoral regiment comprising 1,800 to 2,000 Marines is designed to be an agile force that can forward-deploy multiple stealth infantry teams and anti-shipping missile bases. It boasts integral surveillance and air defense assets.

As commanders envision in a hypothetical clash with China, the littoral Marines could move quietly onto an island along the Pacific archipelago, scout out enemy forces and reveal their positions to nearby U.S. aircraft, ships or submarines. The Marines also have new capabilities to take out enemy assets.

Gen. Yasunori Morishita, chief of staff of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force, attended the rechristening ceremony, signaling how important the Marine unit’s evolving mission is to Tokyo.

For all their military value, U.S. troops on Okinawa are unpopular. Longtime prefecture Gov. Denny Tamaki routinely complains of culture clashes, environmental damage and crimes committed by American service members. To ease the burden, the two countries agreed in 2012 that some 9,000 of the 19,000 Marines on Okinawa would relocate to Guam.

China’s expansive and aggressive regional stance under Mr. Xi changed the calculus. In January, U.S. and Japanese senior ministers agreed that the 12th Marine Littoral Regiment would remain in Okinawa.

Japan’s military also is reposturing. Formerly tasked with defending the northern island of Hokkaido against Russia, Japanese forces are now focused on fortifying islands south of Okinawa. Missile bases are rising, most notably on Yonaguni, the Japanese island closest to Taiwan, and Mikayo, which dominates the deep-water Miyako Strait.

Japan converted an infantry regiment to marine duties in 2018. Recent exercises have focused on recapturing an island seized by enemy forces.

Under Gen. David H. Berger, the recently retired commandant, the Marine Corps undertook a sea change in mission to reflect the new strategic environment and the different challenges posed by China compared with past adversaries.

The Marines earned a peerless reputation for amphibious combat across World War II’s Pacific theater, including an assault on Okinawa. It maintained its crack status on standard infantry operations in Korea and Vietnam, though some Army colleagues criticized the heavy casualties in some missions.

With China now asserting itself across the Indo-Pacific, the combat boot is on the other foot. U.S. Marines are taking on far more preventive and defensive duties than in the past.

An officer from Britain’s Royal Marines said modern surveillance and weapons systems make beach invasions potentially even bloodier than in World War II. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of datanetworked, satellite-guided, long-range artillery power.

The conflict has also taught lessons about denying an adversary control of coastal areas. Moscow’s once-vaunted Black Sea fleet has retreated from Ukraine’s coast and is now shifting units from Crimea after taking heavy losses from Ukrainian missile strikes.

“Ukraine’s success … is all the more remarkable as the country does not currently have a functioning navy,” the Atlantic Council said in October. “Instead, Ukraine has relied on daring commando raids along with a combination of domestically produced drones and long-range cruise missiles provided by the country’s Western partners.”

DougMacG

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Re: WT
« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2023, 07:54:15 AM »
I find this piece encouraging.  Our readiness is our deterrence.  Without allies being ready, we aren't ready.

The capabilities of Japan are growing and there has been quite a turnaround in the Philippines.  Weren't they in bed with Xi just a moment ago?

I also think the war of propaganda is important, and I credit Biden for calling Xi a dictator as a first step.  Step two is to call out the falsehood of the Chinese line of "reunification"; Communist China never ruled the island of Taiwan.  Don't allow that false claim to linger with apparent legitimacy. Step three in the war of words is to call for free elections in mainland China.  That goes hand in hand with calling him a dictator.  Talk of reunification before mainlanders have freedom must be answered and countered. 

Lastly, does anyone remember Hong Kong?  Two systems...


ya

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Re: The Indo-Pacific
« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2024, 05:15:31 AM »
Prez of maldives has been bribed by the Chinese and is anti-India and pro-ISIS. Muizzu's govt posted derogatory statements about Modi and India. Maldives is completely dependent on India for tourism and when they had drinking water issues, India supplied the drinking water. They have now bitten the hand which feeds them. Modi fired back by posting a picture of his holiday on Indian islands.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1743954214395719999

Soon thereafter, tens of thousands of bookings were cancelled by Indians, and they are now looking at the Indian islands of Lakshdweep and Andamans, which are equally if not more beautiful. I think Maldives is done for, until there is a change in govt.

ccp

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Expanding on Ya's post above
« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2024, 08:25:25 AM »
day after returning from China

Maldavian President is bought and paid for by

XI .

He tells India to remove any troops from island nation

(average elevation 4 feet and tallest mountain 7 ft above sea level!  :-o)

https://news.yahoo.com/maldives-tells-india-withdraw-troops-132714056.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall

Seeing the Maldives is Southwest of India one could see geographic strategy behind this.
Wonder if CCP military base will be established there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maldives
« Last Edit: January 14, 2024, 08:32:29 AM by ccp »

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GPF: Japan-AUKUS
« Reply #33 on: April 17, 2024, 09:43:08 AM »
April 17, 2024
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Is Japan the Next AUKUS Member?
Washington’s push for Tokyo engagement shows a strategic focus.
By: Ronan Wordsworth
The partnership comprising Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States known as AUKUS is intended to be among the most closely integrated national security alliances of its kind. It’s no surprise, then, that when the U.S. ambassador to Tokyo floated the idea last week of adding Japan to the grouping, it caused quite a stir. Australia’s prime minister has since downplayed the suggestion, saying there will be no new AUKUS members, but Japan nonetheless seems to have already developed a special relationship with the group.

AUKUS was first announced in September 2021 as a direct response to the threat its members believe China poses to their respective national securities and collective regional dominance. (Notably, the group was formed independently of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing organization, which comprises AUKUS members and Canada and New Zealand.) The first phase of the partnership is to provide Australia with conventionally armed, nuclear-powered attack submarines – the first time such technologies are being shared with a non-nuclear state. These submarines are far more advanced than the traditional diesel-powered ones, can travel underwater for far longer and give off no audio signature. They will be developed trilaterally, based on a next-generation British design that incorporates technology from all three nations, including cutting-edge U.S. submarine technologies, demonstrating the collaboration between the partners of the most important military technology secrets.

The second phase – the one in which Japan was proposed to join – supports a much tighter integration of the three allies' armed forces. This includes collaboration on developing emerging technologies including undersea capabilities, quantum technologies, artificial intelligence, advanced cyber capabilities, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic weapons, electronic warfare capabilities, combined innovation, and information and knowledge sharing. And because these applications depend on the utmost secrecy, they can be shared only with the most reliable allies – a point Australia and the U.K. have repeatedly made.

Japan is not the first U.S. ally to consider or be considered for closer integration with the AUKUS partnership. New Zealand, Canada and some unspecified European countries are all reportedly in talks about potential areas of collaboration. But Japan appears to be the preferred candidate, and Washington has even reportedly considered formalizing bilateral cooperation between AUKUS and Tokyo. To be sure, Japan can offer advanced technological capabilities that would have useful military applications. As important, it has become more assertive in regional security over the past few years. Whereas Tokyo’s only real security ally until recently was Washington, Japan has more overtly tried to build stronger relationships with traditional U.S. allies and has openly competed with China in the Asia-Pacific. Japan has also slowly revitalized its defense industry so that it can more actively participate in regional affairs and even export arms. During a recent trip to Washington, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida signed several defense agreements, among them a trilateral deal that includes the Philippines, which, like Japan, has been an important component in American efforts to hem in China. Japan, the U.S. and Australia also signed an agreement on a joint air defense strategy to counter “growing air and missile threats.”

Yet neither London nor Canberra are sold on Japanese membership. They have expressed concerns over information security in Japan that could put at risk the technological secrets that are being developed. Japan’s cybersecurity defenses are still in their infancy, and despite promises to develop the sector further and introduce legislation allowing proactive combat of cyber threats, its security architecture and background checks are still relatively immature. Australia and the U.K. have also said advancements are needed within the current AUKUS information-sharing process before new members can be considered.

At its core, AUKUS was designed to deter and contain China. The development of Australian submarines and the integration of intelligence and military technology help to accomplish that goal. Bringing Japan into the fold, however modestly, could do the same – even if Washington is the only one advocating its inclusion. That advocacy says a lot about U.S. priorities going forward, especially if it means Washington sees Tokyo as an ally on par with Canberra and London.

Japan is unlikely to officially join AUKUS anytime soon, but even if it never does, the talks around its accession and the flurry of agreements signed over the past year with Washington, the Philippines, South Korea and Australia clearly indicate the stock that has been placed in developing the relationship.