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U.S. & Chinese Military Maneuvers


Title: US Navy Successfully Tests New Anti-Ballistic Missile Over Pacific
Date:
May 11, 2012
Source:
Red Orbit

Abstract: The latest upgrade to America’s primary defense against a missile attack from belligerent enemies, assuming one ever launched a ballistic missile against the US, has successfully destroyed a test missile off the coast of Hawaii this week, writes Robert Beckhusen for Wired News.

The Raytheon-built Standard Missile-3 interceptor is key to the next phase of an anti-missile shield being built by the United States in and around Europe, Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced. “Initial indications are that all components performed as designed,” the agency said in a statement.

The Pentagon plans to deploy increasingly capable SM-3 versions up to around 2020 to boost defenses against missiles that could be fired by enemies, specifically at this time, Iran and North Korea.

According to the MDA, the test involved a short-range target missile launched on Wednesday from the military’s Kauai-based Pacific Missile Range.

The target missile then flew over the Pacific Ocean, where it was tracked by the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie, and was then destroyed in mid-flight with a “kinetic” interceptor launched from the ship, “using only the force of a direct impact,” the Pentagon’s statement read. That means the test missile was brought down by blunt-force trauma, writes Robert Beckhusen for Wired News.

Raytheon was happy with the results, telling David Wichner of the Arizona Daily Star, “Obviously, we’re very happy and pleased – it was a great day not only for Raytheon, but for the whole industry-government team,” explained Wes Kremer, vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems for Raytheon.

“The [interceptor] does not have a warhead. It’s a kill vehicle, and it maneuvers into the path of the threat, and the threat is destroyed by the kinetic energy of the impact,” Kremer told Beckhusen.

“So there’s no warhead, it can’t be a near miss, and then it blows up; so it’s literally a skin-to-skin contact between the kill vehicle and the target.”

The interceptor had failed to knock out its target in its maiden intercept test in September, leading to a continuing delay in Raytheon’s production, writes Wichner.

The interceptor is due to be deployed on land in Romania by 2015 in the second stage of President Barack Obama’s “phased adaptive” approach to missile defense. It will also be used on ships equipped with Lockheed Martin’s “Aegis” anti-missile combat system.

The Aegis system, named after the mythological shield carried by Zeus, ties together sensors, computers, displays, weapons launchers and weapons. A total of 27 specially equipped Aegis warships are set up for ballistic missile defense – 23 in the US Navy and four in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.

What makes this intercept device different from its predecessor is a device called a two-color infrared seeker, which expands the interceptor’s range and helps it find its target more quickly. This is also more maneuverable, owing to “a more flexible throttleable divert and attitude control system” according to the Pentagon statement.

As of right now, the SM-3 system and its planned follow-up, the SM-6, have further upgrades in store and are also expected to be installed on more ships like the Lake Erie and the USS Monterrey, currently deployed to the Mediterranean with the SM-3 interceptor missiles on board, reports Jim Wolf for Reuters.

By 2020, the upgrades should have progressed to the point to be able to stop intercontinental missiles. Two more tests for the Block 1B are scheduled for later this year, and with the near-inevitability of some kind of missile defense shield over Europe implemented in the coming years, the systems better work (Red Orbit, 2012).

Title: Commander Says Navy Sending Most Advanced Ships And Planes To Pacific
Date: June 12, 2012
Source:
Fox News

Abstract:  The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Monday the Navy will be sending its most advanced vessels and aircraft to the Asia-Pacific region as it builds up its presence by assigning most of its fleet there.

Adm. Cecil Haney said a policy recently outlined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to deploy 60 percent of the Navy's ships fleet to the Pacific by 2020 is about capabilities as well as quantity.

"It's not just numbers -- it's also what those platforms, what those units, bring to the table," Haney told The Associated Press in an interview at his headquarters in Pearl Harbor.

Haney cited as an example the Littoral Combat Ship which can operate in shallower waters than other vessels. The U.S. plans to begin deploying one of the ships to Singapore next year.

The EA-18G plane -- which can jam enemy air defenses and fly faster than the speed of sound -- is another. Haney said squadrons of these aircraft would be coming through the region.

There's also the Navy's most advanced submarine -- the Virginia-class. Several of these subs are based at Pearl Harbor.

"Yes, it's about having numbers in that 60-40 split, but also about having the right capability," he said.

The policy offers further details to the Obama administration's announcement earlier this year of a new defense strategy that places greater emphasis on a U.S. military presence in the region in response to Asia's growing economic importance and China's rise as a military power.

The Navy now has about 285 ships about evenly divided among the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The total number of ships will decline in coming years as some vessels are retired and not replaced.

It has 11 aircraft carriers. A majority -- six -- are already assigned to the Pacific.

The policy is an extension of a 2006 Bush Administration-era policy that had the Navy base 60 percent of its submarines in the Pacific.

The service had for years split its submarines evenly between the Atlantic and Pacific. During the Cold War, the Navy kept 60 percent of its subs in the Atlantic as a deterrent to the Soviet Union (Fox News, 2012).

Title: 'Iran, Russia, China, Syria Plan 'Largest' War Game'
Date: June 19, 2012
Source:
JPost

Abstract: Iranian media outlets reported on Tuesday that Iran, Russia, China and Syria are to conduct joint military exercises in Syria next month.

The semi-official Fars News outlet, which has ties to the Iranian government, cited "certain unofficial sources" in its report but did not say what those sources were.

The report appears to have originated on Arabic language Syrian media outlet ShamLife, which said the war-games were scheduled in less than a month's time.

Other Iranian media outlets, including the Revolutionary Guards-linked Mashregh News and Mehr News, which is owned by the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, also carried the same report on Tuesday, but did not cite any Iranian official sources confirming it.

Fars admitted that there has as yet been no official announcement confirming the war-games, but cited an unnamed Syrian official had declared that a joint exercise between those four countries would be carried out "soon".

Preparations for those exercises would be carried out in the next few days, Fars quoted "informed sources" as saying, adding that the exercises would involve ground troops, air forces and naval forces.

Meanwhile, the ShamLife report said "sources" had confirmed previous leaks about the wargames, and that preparations for the military exercise were being carried out at an "accelerated pace".

According to ShamLife, China had gained Egyptian approval to allow 12 Chinese ships carrying military equipment to pass through the Suez Canal, and that these vessels would reach the Syrian ports of Tartous and Latakia in two weeks' time.

ShamLife said Syrian air defense missiles and its coastal defense would be put to the test in the military exercises, and that 90,000 troops from the four countries would be involved in the war games along with 400 aircraft and 1,000 tanks and "hundreds of rockets."

The exercises would be carried out after Syrian troops had "cleansed" several cities where "armed groups" - meaning Syrian opposition forces fighting against government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad - were gathering.

The Syrian opposition has frequently accused the Iranian regime of supporting Assad and providing his forces with material and equipment to suppress the revolution.

Meanwhile, Fars added in its report that no official sources from Syria, Russia, China or Iran had confirmed the war games would take place.

Fars also noted that in addition to the Chinese ships, Russian nuclear submarines and warships would also sail to Syria.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Russian media said Russian naval officials denied reports that its Black Sea Fleet ship, the Caesar Kunikov (BDK 64), a military landing craft home-ported in Sevastopol, had set sail for Syria.

RIA Novosti cited an unnamed Black Fleet officer as saying the Kunikov set sail for a routine test at a training base and was not headed to the Mediterranean.

According to RIA Novosti the same Fleet commander also dismissed reports in the Ukrainian and Western media reports that another Black Sea amphibious ship was headed to Syria carrying weapons and marines.

The commander said Western reports that Alligator class landing ship Nikolay Filichenkov was heading for the Syrian port of Tartous were false.

Tartous is home to a Cold War-era Russian naval supply and maintenance base, which was established in 1971 and still staffed by Russian naval personnel.

In July 2009, RIA Novosti reported that the Russian Navy planned to expand and modernize its Tartous base, the only Russian foothold in the Mediterranean.

Also on Tuesday, the BBC reported that the UK had stopped a cargo vessel off the western coast of Scotland allegedly transporting Russian-made refurbished attack helicopters to Syria. British marine insurer the Standard Club canceled cover to the MV Alaed's owners after UK security services warned that the company would breach EU sanctions if it insured a ship carrying arms to Syria, according to the UK'sDaily Telegraph.

Last week, the US accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria to support Assad's regime, which Russia denied (JPost, 2012).

Title: US, Japan Begin Naval Drills Near China
Date: June 21, 2012
Source:
FT

Abstract: High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article.

The US, Japan and South Korea began joint naval exercises in waters near China and the Korean Peninsula on Thursday, underscoring efforts to tighten military co-operation between the three nations.

The drills, which are certain to irk Beijing, are the latest example of strengthening ties among Beijing’s neighbours and between them and the US, which the Chinese government and military see as attempts to contain their country’s rise.

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Japan and South Korea are both close allies of the US, but direct defence co-operation between the Asian neighbours has been limited by political sensitivities and lingering Korean resentment over past Japanese occupation and colonisation.

The two-day trilateral drills, which involve a US aircraft carrier battle group, three Japanese destroyers and South Korean warships, came after repeated calls from Washington for closer three-way co-operation.

South Korean civic groups protested against the exercises at a rally on Thursday, however.

“We strongly urge the three nations to stop their joint military drills as they would cause serious military tension and conflicts in Northeast Asia,” said the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a leading civic group.

The PSPD said there should be no military co-operation with Japan, saying Tokyo had failed to show serious repentance for “past wrongdoing” or respect for the pacifistic Japanese constitution.

Multilateral military co-operation is also a sensitive issue in Japan, where many people are wary of any further erosion of postwar restrictions on the development and use of armed forces.

Japan’s defence ministry sought to play down the significance of the exercises, stressing that the three countries had repeatedly held trilateral drills in recent years.

However, Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted the US defence department as saying that the two-day exercises were the first involving the three nations to be conducted in waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Personnel of the Maritime Self Defence Force – as Japan’s navy is officially known – had previously only joined exercises in the area as observers, Kyodo said.

After the trilateral drill, the US and South Korean navies will conduct “a routine carrier operation” in the Yellow Sea, west of the peninsula, from Saturday to Monday.

China’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the carrier exercise is certainly too close to Chinese borders for Beijing to feel comfortable. When the US last planned such war games in 2010, the Chinese government opposed the idea and in particular the potential participation of a US aircraft carrier, referring to the Yellow Sea as China’s “coastal waters”.

The exercises are part of wider drills marking the 62nd anniversary of the Korean war.

The US and South Korea will hold their largest one-day, joint live-fire exercise on Friday in Pocheon, about 15 miles south of the border with North Korea.

The exercise will focus on how to respond in case of a North Korean attack similar to the one on June 25, 1950. “The war is not over. We should face the stark reality where a war can occur any time,” said Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for Seoul’s defence ministry. “We think the joint exercise will be the largest ever in terms of scale. North Korea calls it a provocation, but a military cannot be competent if it does not exercise,” he said (FT, 2012).

Title: US Reconstructs Former Military Bases Across Asia-Pacific
Date: June 23, 2012
Source:
AntiWar.com

Abstract: The Obama administration is continuing its strategic pivot to Asia-Pacific and now trying to cultivate renewed relationships with countries in a bid 
to further expand the amount of US military bases throughout the region.

Much of this means rebuilding and refurbishing former US bases that were abandoned since WWII or since the Vietnam War. Administration officials have been in intense talks with the Thai government over using airfields and naval ports and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently visited Vietnam to visit the naval and air base at Cam Ranh Bay.

The Obama administration has been ramping up the pressure on China with an increasingly antagonistic foreign policy. The so-called ‘Asia pivot’ is an aggressive policy that involves surging American military presence throughout the region – in the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Guam, South Korea, Singapore, etc. – in an unprovoked scheme to contain rising Chinese economic and military influence.

The US has also been refurbishing long-abandoned World War II bases scattered across the Pacific for potential use in the event of a major conflict with China. Last month, US Marines rebuilt and restored the 8,000-foot runway at the abandoned North Field air base on the island of Tinian and engaged in a military exercise with nearby US forces based in Guam. The Tinian airbase is where the B-29s that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki took off from in 1945.

The idea is to have enough U.S. bases peppered throughout the region so that China would be too surrounded to safely attack. “Doing so would make it more difficult for China to wipe out entire squadrons sitting on the ground with surprise attacks from its long range ballistic missiles,” according to reports from Military.com.

This bellicose posture has increased tensions between the U.S. and China and between China and its weaker neighbors, like the Philippines. A recent report from the Center for Strategic International Studies predicted that next year “could see a shift in Chinese foreign policy based on the new leadership’s judgment that it must respond to a U.S. strategy that seeks to prevent China’s reemergence as a great power.”

“Signs of a potential harsh reaction are already detectable,” the report said. “The US Asia pivot has triggered an outpouring of anti-American sentiment in China that will increase pressure on China’s incoming leadership to stand up to the United States. Nationalistic voices are calling for military countermeasures to the bolstering of America’s military posture in the region and the new US defense strategic guidelines” (AntiWar.com, 2012).

Title: US Tests Of Interceptor Missile Off Hawaii Coast
Date: June 27, 2012
Source:
Telegraph

Abstract: The mission off 
Hawaii late Tuesday was against a medium-range, separating ballistic missile, the Pentagon agency responsible for it said.

The mock warhead split from the target's booster section, presenting what is supposed to be a more realistic attack scenario.

The United States plans to deploy increasingly capable versions of Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 through 2020 to help counter missiles that might some day be capable of delivering chemical, biological or nuclear warheads from Iran or North Korea.

The new model is to be put on land-based launchers in Romania in 2015 as well as on ships. It is a key part of President Barack Obama's plan to guard Nato's European territory from Iran, which is at odds with the US over its nuclear programme (Telegraph, 2012).

Title: Russian Warships Arrive At U.S. Pearl Harbor For Joint Drills
Date: June 30, 2012
Source:
RIAN

Abstract: A group of Russia’s Pacific Fleet warships has arrived at the U.S. Pearl Harbor naval base to take part in the Rim of the Pacific international drills, a fleet spokesman said on Saturday.

“During their long voyage from Vladivostok to Pearl Harbor, the warships’ crews held several firing drills, successfully destroying all the targets,” First-Rank Captain Roman Martov said.

The naval task group comprising the Admiral Panteleyev destroyer, the tanker Boris Butoma and the Fotiy Krylov salvage tug sailed off Vladivostok in the Russian Far East on June 13 to head for the U.S. Hawaiian Islands where the RIMPAC-2012 large-scale international naval exercises will be held.

The active phase of the drills will take place from July 11 through August 2 to involve 45 warships and support vessels from 22 countries, and also 100 combat aircraft and over 20,000 marines.

The Russian navy sailors will for the first time take part in the international naval maneuvers that have been held since 1971.

The drills will simulate dozens of combat missions and exercises, including marines’ interaction in humanitarian, search and rescue operations. The exercises will also practice the evacuation of civilians in an amphibious landing operation, and also joint anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and anti-ship defense.

“The drills program also envisages combat firing, using torpedoes and missiles. Russian sailors will have to accomplish missions to put up a naval blockade, ensure the freedom of sailing, fight piracy, arms and drugs smuggling,” Martov said.

The RIMPAC drills were held for the first time in 1971 on the U.S. initiative and involved the navies of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Today the RIMPAC drills aim to practice the Pacific Rim navies and raise their readiness for operations to fight piracy, terrorism, and also carry out humanitarian missions in case of natural and man-made disasters (RIAN, 2012).

Title: B-1 Bomber Mission Shifts From Afghanistan To China, Pacific
Date: July 8, 2012
Source:
USA Today

Abstract:
President Obama's new military strategy is taking shape here on the sun-seared grasslands of West Texas where B-1 bomber pilots train.

The strategy pivots from missions over the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan to targets on the sea and, though the military doesn't come out directly and say it, in China. "We're going back to the future," says Col. David Been, commander of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess. "As the balance shifts from almost exclusively Afghanistan right now, we're shifting to the Asia-Pacific region."

After a decade of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — 6,350 Americans killed and more than $1 trillion spent — Obama announced the new strategy in January that looks to counter the rising power of China. The changing role of the B-1 is a prime example of how the Air Force is responding.

Suddenly, the B-1, a plane that once seemed irrelevant after the end of the Cold War, is being repurposed again. First, the B-1 became the workhorse of the air war in Afghanistan. Now, as the Pentagon's strategic vision shifts to Asia, so too is the B-1.

"The B-1's capabilities are particularly well-suited to the vast distances and unique challenges of the Pacific region, and we'll continue to invest in, and rely on, the B-1 in support of the focus on the Pacific directed in the president's new strategic guidance," said Maj. Gen.Michael Holmes, assistant deputy chief of staff for Air Force Operations, Plans and Requirements at the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta highlighted those changes during a series of meetings with Pacific leaders recently.

"One of those principles in our strategy is the ability to be agile, to be quickly deployable, to be flexible, and to be on the cutting edge of technology," Panetta said in Cam Ranh, Vietnam. "And in a region as large as the Asia-Pacific region, agility is going to be extremely important in terms of our ability to be able to move quickly."

The armed services also will have to make do with less, with $480 billion in cuts to projected budgets forecast over the next 10 years. That puts a premium on existing weapons, at least in the near term. The Air Force wants a new bomber, one that is invisible to radar and possibly pilot-less. But that plane wouldn't be ready for combat until well into the next decade.

The B-1's revived fortunes, however, bode well for the communities that depend on the jobs affiliated with the bomber. The Air Force employs 13,000 people to support B-1 operations in three states, with an estimated economic impact just shy of $1 billion, records show. Not only is the bomber based at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, but it is also at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, and there is a maintenance facility inOklahoma City.

A Long Road
It's been a long flight for the B-1 to its current role in the new military strategy. Designed in the 1970s to replace the B-52, the B-1 wasn't ready for missions until 1986.

A main feature is its terrain-following radar that allows the plane to fly itself at low altitude to avoid detection by enemies. "It's designed to fly over the pole by itself, hug the ground — you push a button and you let go — whether it's pitch black, a snowstorm, a rainstorm," Been says. "It would hug the ground, go into Russia, drop nuclear bombs and recover on the other side of the planet somewhere. All by itself. Not talking to anybody."

That sounded good in theory. In practice, the debut stank. "It was a painful birth back in the late '80s for the B-1," says Been, who has flown in the B-1 for 3,500 hours, the equivalent of almost five months. "Engine problems, fuel leaks, it couldn't fly real high. Self-protection … a lot of problems with those right when it came out."

Eventually, the Air Force worked most of the bugs out of the plane.

Today it is the workhorse of the air war in Afghanistan, carrying twice as many bombs and missiles as the aging B-52. The B-1 has dropped 60% of weapons in Afghanistan. Its speed, 900 mph at the top end, allows it to streak across the width of Afghanistan in 45 minutes, critical when troops battling insurgents need air support.

"We're killing bad guys there every day," says Capt. Erick Lord, executive officer for the 7th Bomb Wing.

At other times, Lord says, the B-1 flies close to the ground in a show of force that scares Taliban fighters.

Last year, the bomber dropped bombs in Libya in support of the NATO mission that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi. Two B-1s flew non-stop from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, attacked 45 targets with 2,000-pound bombs, landed, refueled, turned around and hit about as many on the way home.

Equipped with a pod packed with cameras and other sensors, the B-1 also provides high-quality video of insurgent activity on the ground. Its vast fuel tanks allow it to circle overhead for hours before it needs refueling.

With the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan scheduled to end in 2014, the Air Force has begun to focus training for action in the Pacific.

"We're shifting from flying over desert environments to over-water ranges," says Lt. Col. George Holland, commander of the Air Force's 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron.

The Air Force, Holland says, is working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to outfit the B-1 with a long-range anti-ship missile. The bomber will be able to track ships at sea and launch the missiles from "hundreds of miles" away.

Pentagon budget records also show the B-1 is getting a series of modifications over the next few years to improve its capabilities.

With China becoming bolder and more aggressive in and around its territorial waters, the B-1 may have a role to play in the Pacific, says John Pike, a military analyst at GlobalSecurity.org, a defense policy website. "The South China Sea is the biggest security problem we have today, and it's only going to get worse," Pike says.

China and the Philippines are quarreling over possession of small islands and fishing rights in the sea, and the clashes could escalate. Moreover, critical shipping lanes cross the sea, and it contains oil and natural gas reserves. Pike notes that the Chinese navy recently added an amphibious-assault ship and a hospital ship to its fleet — ships that could be used if the Chinese seek to seize an island.

The Air Force, in a presentation on the bomber's capabilities, shows its range from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam. Without refueling, the jet can hit targets across most of the South China Sea with 24 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM). Those weapons, cruise missiles that can change course in midflight, can hit moving targets, such as ships.

China's development of so-called anti-access, area-denial weapons, or long-range missiles that can destroy aircraft carriers or hit forward bases, could negate the U.S. military's advantages. The idea is to keep American military might at bay, operating from farther and farther away.

New training began earlier this year for B-1 fliers to use the stand-off missile in the Pacific, says Capt. Kyle Schlewinsky, assistant director of flying for the 28th Bomb Squadron. "That's the next fight that everybody's worried about," he says. "It's no secret that if you fight the U.S. straight up, you lose."

Seeking Relevance
Part of the Air Force interest in trumpeting the B-1's capability might stem from a desire to emerge from the shadows cast by the Army and 
Marine Corps, which have done most of the fighting in the last decade, Pike says. "The Air Force would be very eager to bring the B-1 to the table to demonstrate that they are relevant," he says.

Just how relevant is open to question, says Barry Watts, a former fighter pilot and now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a non-partisan military think tank in Washington.

The B-1 lacks the stealth of its more advanced, radar-eluding cousin, the B-2 bomber. Countries with stout air defenses would pose serious threats.

"It's not a stealthy air platform," Watts says. "Penetration of advanced air defenses would be a real problem."

Been, the colonel with decades of experience with the B-1, says its speed, ability to stay aloft for hours and payload of long-range missiles could be critical for missions in the Pacific. "Those could help kick down the doors," he says (USA Today, 2012).

Title: China’s Navy In The Mediterranean?
Date:
July 30, 2012
Source:
The Diplomat


Abstract:
For the first time since China’s re-emergence as a power to be reckoned with, Western powers are being confronted with scenarios involving the risk of clashes with Chinese military forces outside the Asian giant’s backyard.

Key to China’s expansion is a shift in recent years from Mao Zedong’s Army-centric military to one where other branches of the armed service — the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the Second Artillery Corps — are given greater freedom of action.

One branch in particular, the PLAN, has developed alongside Beijing’s ambitions as a global power, allowing it not only to show the flag, such as in multilateral anti-piracy missions off the Gulf of Aden, but also to back up its evolving strategic imperatives.

This became especially clear during the weekend when reportedly a PLAN escort fleet, which included the Type 052 “Qingdao” (hull 113) destroyer, Type 054A “Yantai” (hull 538) missile frigate, and the “Weishanhu” (hull 887) auxiliary oil replenishment ship, crossed the Suez Canal, with Cairo’s permission, on their way to the Mediterranean Sea (only Egyptian media reported on the destroyer). Although Egyptian media initially said on Sunday that the vessels could hold military exercises in the Mediterranean, Egyptian as well as other Middle Eastern media outlets reported on Monday that the ships had continued on through the Dardanelles on their way to Ukraine.

Such 'showing of the flag' at this time is a precedent with serious implications for international security, as Beijing, an ally of Syria, has joined Russia in vetoing three United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that aimed to increase pressure on the Bashar al-Assad regime to end his bloody crackdown on civilians there.

Middle East media reports circulated in June said that PLAN vessels were planning to take part in naval exercises off the coast of Syria alongside the Syrian, Russian, and Iranian navies (Russia and Syria later denied joint exercises were being planned). Moscow, like Beijing, opposes foreign meddling in Syria, and in the middle of July dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the Mediterranean, with more following later that month. Russia maintains that its warships are not engaging in Syria tasks, and says the vessels are preparing for the Kaskad-2012 drills scheduled for this September. For its part, Tehran, another Beijing ally, is apprehensive about the possibility of regime change in Syria, in part because Syria under al-Assad has served as a key conduit for Iran’s support to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Although it looks like joint exercises will not take place this time around, in all likelihood some will eventually be held as the presence of Chinese ships becomes more common. And one thing is certain: the transit of PLAN and Russian vessels in the area is not coincidental — it is clearly meant as a deterrent against intervention by Western powers in the Syrian crisis.

For evident reasons, activity by Chinese warships in the region comports risks, especially at a time of high tensions involving between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea. The more friction points there are, the more likely it is that, at some point, accidental or intentional clashes will occur. And given Beijing’s growing sense of victimhood, it is not impossible that an incident involving a PLAN ship in the Mediterranean could add institutional pressures for retaliation elsewhere. This would be especially likely if decision-makers in Beijing, who have a tendency to regard China as the “victim,” interpreted that incident as a plot against it, thus making it possible for Beijing to claim it is retaliating for purely defensive reasons.

While claims that we are seeing the emergence of an “authoritarian axis” may be premature, we are nevertheless witnessing the rise of a new power — one with global seafaring reach — whose strategic considerations, or the values of their political leaders, are often times diametrically opposed to those of the West. If it concludes that its interests abroad are being threatened by Western ideals, such as the responsibility to protect civilians in failing or failed states, China may choose the military option to undermine Western efforts. This would be especially true if al-Assad’s possible ouster were seen as the opening shot in a new round of anti-authoritarian “springs,” a development that has greatly unsettled Beijing and that appears to have resulted in its decision to impose stricter limits on freedoms at home.

In the fog of war that would certainly enshroud a military intervention in, say, the Syrian civil war, the risks of accidents or miscommunication would be dangerously high, especially in light of institutional biases that tend to militate against restraint. For example, while not directly taking part in hostilities, PLAN or Russian ships could attempt to create a line at sea to prevent Western ships from approaching Syria to launch military operations against it, or to prevent an embargo. How any of the actors would react in such a scenario is an open question. All it potentially would take is one collision to spark a chain reaction, the echo of which might reverberate back in the Asia-Pacific (The Diplomat, 2012).

Title: U.S. To Mull More Bombers, Submarines For Pacific
Date: August 1, 2012
Source:
NewsDaily

Abstract: Pentagon planners will consider adding bombers and attack submarines as part of a growing U.S. focus on security challenges in the Asia-Pacific, a senior Defense Department official said on Wednesday.

"We will take another look" at sending more such muscle to the strategic hub of Guam in the western Pacific, now that this has been recommended by an independent review of U.S. regional military plans, Robert Scher, deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans, told lawmakers.

U.S. strategy calls for shifting military, diplomatic and economic resources toward the region after a decade of land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sparked by the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

The Defense Department, however, must weigh the issue from a broad global perspective and take into account competing requirements, Scher testified before the U.S. House of Representatives' Armed Services subcommittee on readiness.

Guam, a U.S. territory about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines, played an active role during the Vietnam War as a way station for U.S. bombers.

The Air Force operates from the island's Andersen Air Force Base, which hosts a rotational unit of B-52 bombers. The major U.S. Navy presence includes a squadron of three attack submarines.

Independent Assessment
The new assessment of the U.S. military force posture in the region was carried out by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, a nonpartisan policy research group, subsequent to a congressional mandate.

It recommended in a report made public last week stationing one or more additional attack submarines in Guam to provide what it called a critical edge against "anti-access, area denial" - technologies being developed by China to keep the U.S. military at bay.

CSIS listed as another option permanently relocating a B-52 squadron of 12 aircraft to Guam, rather than the current practice of rotating in from bases in the continental United States.

The central geostrategic uncertainty that the United States and its allies and partners face in the region "is how China's growing power and influence will impact order and stability in the years ahead," the CSIS review said.

It said U.S. forces can help shape the peacetime environment by standing behind U.S. security commitments - a move the review said would "dissuade Chinese coercion or North Korean aggression."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced plans to "rebalance" U.S. naval forces from a nearly 50-50 split between the Atlantic and the Pacific to a 60-40 mix in favor of the Asia-Pacific. The details of this shift have not been spelled out, although officials have said much of the buildup will involve new ships.

Sher, in joint written testimony to the panel with David Helvey, an acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for the region, said the Defense Department agreed with the CSIS assessment that "there are opportunities to move forward with Guam and send an important signal to the region."

Neither additional bombers nor additional attack submarines are in current U.S. plans for the region but will be considered based on CSIS's "good work," Scher told Reuters after the hearing.

David Berteau, director of the CSIS International Security Program and a co-director of the review, said Guam cold absorb additional submarines without a huge amount of extra military construction costs, for instance for pier space or shore facilities.

The Defense Department also will continue to explore opportunities with the Philippines, a treaty ally, of deploying forces to unspecified "priority areas" to enhance maritime security, the Defense Department officials testified (NewsDaily, 2012).

Title: Stryker Brigade Training Wrapping Up
Date: October 3, 2012
Source:
KHON 2 News

Abstract: Schofield soldiers are wrapping up a training exercise in live-fire operations on the Big Island.

Stryker Brigade soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division have spent the past month training at the Pohakuloa Training Area.

Among many things, the soldiers took part in hand-grenade qualification, and ground forces worked on assault tactics.

The goal was to build teamwork and focus on platoon-level training.

The soldiers will return to Oahu next week
(KHON 2 News, 2012).

Title: Chinese Paratroopers Storm Island During Mass Exercise
Date:
October 15, 2012
Source:
Telegraph


Abstract:
One of China's seven military command groups held a joint military drill involving infantry, artillery and air forces to improve the ability of paratroops to land on and capture an island.

The exercise by the Nanjing Military Command is thought to be part of a show of strength by the Chinese military as tensions rise in a three-way dispute between China, Japan and Taiwan over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The islands are controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing and Taipei, and tensions peaked after the Japanese government recently bought three of them from their private owners (Telegraph, 2012).

Title: US Risks Drawing Beijing's Ire With Military Cruise In Disputed Waters
Date:
October 20, 2012
Source:
Guardian

Abstract: USS George Washington enters South China Sea as display of naval strength and support of smaller Asian nations claims

A US aircraft carrier group cruised through the disputed South China Sea on Saturday in a show of American power in waters that are fast becoming a focal point of Washington's strategic rivalry with Beijing.

Vietnamese security and government officials were flown onto the nuclear-powered USS George Washington ship, underlining the burgeoning military relationship between the former enemies.

A small number of journalists were also invited to witness the display of maritime might in the oil-rich waters, which are home to islands disputed between China and the other smaller Asian nations facing the sea.

The visit will likely reassure Vietnam and the Philippines of American support but could annoy China, whose growing economic and naval strength is leading to a greater assertiveness in pressing its claims there.

The United States is building closer economic and military alliances with Vietnam and other nations in the region as part of a "pivot" away from the Middle East to Asia, a shift in large part meant to counter rising Chinese influence.

The Vietnamese officials took photos of F-18 fighter jets taking off and landing on the ships 1,000-foot-long flight deck, met the captain and toured the hulking ship, which has more than 5,000 sailors on board.

The mission came a day after Beijing staged military exercises near islands in the nearby East China Sea it disputes with US ally Japan. Those tensions have flared in recent days.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, where the US says it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation in an area crossed by vital shipping lanes.

Vietnam, the Philippines and several other Asian nations also claim parts of the sea.

The disputes attracted little international interest until the late 1990s, when surveys indicated possible large oil reserves.

American rivalry with China has given the disputes an extra dimension in recent years.

The US navy regularly patrols the Asia-Pacific region, conducting joint exercises with its allies and training in the strategic region.

The trip by the George Washington off the coast of Vietnam is its third in as many years.

A second aircraft carrier, the USS John C Stennis, has also conducting operations in the western Pacific region recently, according to the US Pacific Fleet.

Captain Gregory Fenton said the mission was aimed in part at improving relations with Vietnam and ensuring the US had free passage in the South China Sea.

China's military buildup, including the launch of its own carrier last year and rapid development of ballistic missiles and cyber warfare capabilities, could potentially crimp the US forces' freedom to operate in the waters.

The United States doesn't publicly take sides in the territorial disputes among China and its neighbors.

"It is our goal to see the region's nations figure out these tensions ... on their own, our role of that to date is to conduct freedom of navigation exercises within international waters," Fenton said in an interview on the bridge.

Although claimant countries have pledged to settle the territorial rifts peacefully, the disputes have erupted in violence in the past, including in 1988 when China and Vietnam clashed in the Spratly Islands in a confrontation that killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers.

Many fear the disputes could become Asia's next flash point for armed conflict.

Vietnam is pleased to accept help from its one-time foe America as a hedge against its giant neighbor China, with which it also tries to maintain good relations.

Still, the Hanoi government reacted angrily to recent moves by Beijing to establish a garrison on one of the Paracel islands, which Vietnam claims. The United States also criticized the move by Beijing, earning it a rebuke from the government there.

"China will take this (cruise) as another expression by the United States of its desire to maintain regional domination," said Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii.

"The US also wants to send a message to the region that it is here for the long haul ... and that it wants to back up international law."

While most analysts believe military confrontation in the waters is highly unlikely anytime soon, they say tensions are likely to increase as China continues pressing its claims and building its navy.

This article was amended on 22 October 2012 because the original said F-16 jets were on USS George Washington. This has been corrected to say F-18 jets (Guardian, 2012).

Title: China Announces Major Reshuffle Of People's Liberation Army
Date:
October 23, 2012
Source:
Telegraph

Abstract:
The first major moves in the overhaul were announced today, as the PLA appointed a new air force commander and a new head to its General Political Department, which is responsible for army morale, personnel changes and loyalty to the Communist party.

In the past week, Beijing’s political and military analysts have been scrying for clues about the forthcoming changes, which will set the direction for China’s 2.3-million-strong armed forces for the next five years.

Keen-eyed observers noted that General Zhang Yang, a 61-year-old dark horse who had been based in the southern Guangzhou military region, had been photographed at a theatre in Beijing standing only two spaces on a stage away from an actor playing Karl Marx.

They divined from this that he was likely to be the next head of the General Political Department, and their prediction proved accurate.

General Zhang’s promotion may have come at the expense of two generals with perceived ties to the disgraced politician Bo Xilai, General Liu Yuan and General Zhang Haiyang.

The new head of the air force, meanwhile, is General Ma Xiaotian, 63, who has been outspoken, at times, about the United State’s increasing presence in Asia.

In 2010, he accused the US of trying to revive a “cold war mentality” and earlier this year he warned that the South China Sea, where China is engaged in a series of territorial disputes with its neighbours, was “not America’s business”.

Both men will win a seat on the Central Military Commission (CMC), which is composed of ten generals and two politicians.

The CMC is currently chaired by Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, and there has been speculation that he will try to remain in charge after handing over his other roles to Xi Jinping, the vice president and vice CMC chair.

Elsewhere, however, it will be all change, with seven of the CMC’s ten generals reaching retirement age.

“This is the most significant change coming up: that almost all the current members will be retiring and being replaced by new individuals,” said Taylor Fravel, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specialises in the PLA.

Many of the old guard were loyal to Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese president who still wields a strong influence at the top of the Communist party and the forthcoming changes are likely to reflect the shifting factions inside the party.

“Hu Jintao will seek to leave behind a group of officers that he thinks will cement what he sees as his own legacy,” said Larry Wortzel, a former US Army colonel and intelligence officer, who is vice chairman of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

“Xi Jinping will seek to put people he thinks are loyal and in his own network into leading positions, but he will have to negotiate with Hu,” he added.

Mr Wortzel said the jockeying between the different factions, and President Hu’s need to ensure there are generals in place “to watch his back” after he stands down “will dominate the theatrics”.

Unlike Mr Hu, Mr Xi’s father had combat experience during the revolution and he himself worked inside the PLA, acting as an aide to Geng Biao, who became Defence minister in 1981.

However, Mr Fravel noted that Xi was “quite young” at the time and “probably at a low level.” He added: “All you can say is that he had more experience than Hu Jintao”.

Mr Hu’s influence on the PLA stems from a speech in 2004 where he laid out a new template which has come to be known as the army’s “historic missions”.

“That was a major change in China’s entire defence posture” said Mr Wortzel. “The ability to project power and the decision to do so flows from that speech.”

He pointed to China’s peacekeeping missions against pirates in the Gulf of Aden, its focus on cyber-warfare, its space programme, new classes of missiles and submarines as part of Mr Hu’s legacy.

Mr Xi, meanwhile, may rein in the more bellicose elements of the PLA, according to Li Chong-pin, a former deputy Defence minister of Taiwan.

He said Mr Hu “was forced to give more power to the PLA” because of a general perception that he was too dovish. However, in recent incidents involving the South China Sea and Japan, the PLA had been careful not to be directly involved.

“The senior PLA leadership understands that it needs more time for its modernisation to be completed, and it may extend out several more decades,” said Dennis Blasko, a former US military attache in Beijing and the author of The Chinese Army Today.

“So I perceive the PLA leadership as being more cautious than is the general opinion outside of China,” he added (Telegraph, 2012).

Title: China Names New Military Chief Of Staff, Officers
Date:
October 25, 2012
Source:
Guardian


Abstract:
China has appointed a new army chief of staff and other top officers in the run-up to next month's national leadership transition, amid efforts to further professionalize the world's largest standing military and ensure its loyalty to the ruling Communist Party.

The Defense Ministry announced Thursday that Fang Fenghui is taking over as chief administrator of the People's Liberation Army with responsibilities for supervising recruiting, training and other key functions.

The appointment puts Fang, a former head of the military region that includes Beijing, firmly on track for a position on the Central Military Commission overseeing the 2.3 million-member PLA. The new lineup of the 12-member body led by Communist Party leader Hu Jintao will be announced at the party's national congress, which begins Nov. 8.

The appointments were long anticipated as part of the transition to incoming party leader Xi Jinping, who, despite taking over the reins, is believed to have relatively little say in the naming of new military leaders. Instead, the selections reflect the choices of Hu, who oversaw the advancement of officers such as Fang during his decade in power.

Hu promoted Fang to full general in 2010, one year after commanding an elaborate and highly prestigious military parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the communist state.

China's armed forces have undergone a massive upgrading in weapons and tactics in recent years, spurred by double-digit percentage increases in the defense budget and Beijing's increasing willingness to assert its maritime territorial claims.

The PLA's three other top army staff positions also received new directors. Zhao Keshi was named head of logistics, Zhang Youxia as head of armaments, and Zhang Yang as director of the political department, the ministry said. Following precedent, they too can expect seats on the Central Military Commission, along with the heads of the air force, navy, and missile force known as the Second Artillery.

Several other deputy positions were announced, and the ministry earlier named former fighter pilot Ma Xiaotian to lead China's air force, which has become increasingly vital to China's defense strategy.

While the PLA is increasingly seeking to model itself on the U.S. armed forces and other professional militaries, it remains ultimately loyal to the ruling communists under the oft-repeated slogan "the party controls the gun."

That has been especially emphasized this year following the ouster of formerly high-flying politician Bo Xilai, who shared a background as the child of a communist elder with many leading generals. Associations with Bo seem to have torpedoed the careers of at least two of the top brass once considered candidates for higher office, logistics department political commissar Liu Yuan and Second Artillery commissar Zhang Haiyang.

China's armed forces haven't fought a major engagement since a brief 1979 campaign against Vietnam and battlefield achievements are no longer a criteria for advancement, said Ni Lexiong, an expert in military affairs and director of the Institute of Marine Rights and National Defense at Shanghai's University of Political Science and Law.

Instead, political loyalty, training and management ability, education, and personal connections serve as the biggest factors, Ni said.

"Loyalty to party's leadership must have played an important role in all these promotions," Ni said (Guardian, 2012).

Title: US Hits Four Targets In Pacific Missile Defense Test
Date:
October 26, 2012
Source:
Fox News

Abstract:
The U.S. military intercepted four out of five targets over the Pacific Ocean in the largest and most complex test of the nation's ballistic missile defense system, the Missile Defense Agency said.

The test at Kwajalein Atoll on Wednesday was designed to demonstrate the system's ability to defend against a raid of five nearly simultaneous threats, agency spokeswoman Pamela Rogers said.

The targets included one medium-range ballistic missile, two short-range ballistic missiles and two low-flying cruise missiles.

Soldiers in the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command used the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to shoot down the medium-range target, officials said.

Two targets -- a short-range missile and a cruise missile -- were intercepted by the PAC-3 Patriot missile defense system operated by the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

Sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald destroyer engaged the other cruise missile. They also tried to knock out the other short-range missile with a SM-3 Block 1A interceptor but were unable to confirm they had shot down the target.

The Air Force had a role, as airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center operated a portable radar system specifically designed for ballistic missile defense, called the AN/TPY-2, Rogers said.

Kwajalein is a small atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands where the U.S. maintains a ballistic missile defense site. It's halfway between Hawaii and Australia (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Red Flag Over The Atlantic: China Is Angling To Take Over A U.S. Airbase In The Azores.
Date:
November 5, 2012
Source:
National Review

Abstract:
On June 27, a plane carrying Wen Jiabao made a “technical” stop on the island of Terceira, in the Azores. Following an official greeting by Alamo Meneses, the regional secretary of environment of the sea, the Chinese premier spent four hours touring the remote Portuguese outpost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Wen’s Terceira walkabout, which followed a four-nation visit to South America, largely escaped notice at the time, but alarm bells should have immediately gone off in Washington and in European capitals. For one thing, Wen’s last official stop on the trip was Santiago, the capital of Chile. Flights from Chile to China normally cross the Pacific, not the Atlantic, so there was no reason for his plane to be near the Azores. Moreover, those who visit the Azores generally favor other islands in the out-of-the-way chain.

Terceira, however, has one big attraction for Beijing: Air Base No. 4. Better known as Lajes Field, the facility where Premier Wen’s 747 landed in June is jointly operated by the U.S. Air Force and its Portuguese counterpart. If China controlled the base, the Atlantic would no longer be secure. From the 10,865-foot runway on the northeast edge of the island, Chinese planes could patrol the northern and central portions of the Atlantic and thereby cut air and sea traffic between the U.S. and Europe. Beijing would also be able to deny access to the nearby Mediterranean Sea.

And China could target the American homeland. Lajes is less than 2,300 miles from New York, shorter than the distance between Pearl Harbor and Los Angeles.

Lajes is certainly the reason Wen went out of his way to win friends in Terceira. For years his country has been trying to make inroads into the Azores and waiting for opportunities to pounce. There is nothing the Chinese can do if the U.S. stays, but Pentagon budget cutters, according to some observers, are planning to make Lajes a “ghost base.”

At one time, the facility was critically important. During World War II, the airfield was instrumental in hunting U-boats, and in the Cold War the base helped the West track the Soviets. Lajes was a busy transit point in the Gulf War. It was one of the spots where the Space Shuttle could have landed in an emergency.

Now Lajes is home to the USAF’s 65th Air Base Wing, which supports American and NATO aircraft transiting the Atlantic, and it hosts various other American military units. Its role, nonetheless, is greatly diminished. Peace in the North Atlantic and advances in air-to-air refueling have decreased the importance of the strategic runway, which is now rarely used by the U.S.

So from a purely military point of view, the decision to cease operations at Lajes makes sense. The effective closure of the field, however, would send Terceira into a tailspin. While agriculture forms the basis of the island’s economy, the base directly accounts for about one in 20 jobs there. Unemployment is already high, about 10 percent. If Terceira is to have any future, the Portuguese government will have to find a new major tenant for Air Base No. 4.

In recent years, Beijing has identified Portugal as its entry point into Europe, and Chinese officials now know their way to Lisbon. It is in this context that the Portuguese are already thinking about the planned closure of Lajes Field. They don’t want to invite the Chinese in, but they have quietly indicated they will have no choice if the U.S. Air Force decides to leave the base.

“We have a close relationship with Portugal,” the Defense Department told NRO when asked about the planned closure of Lajes and Beijing’s apparent interest in taking it over. “They are an important NATO ally and bilateral partner, and we continue to discuss our strong defense cooperation, in Portugal and around the world.”

We will, as a longtime ally, need to work closely with Lisbon over an especially thorny issue, but in the interim, there are things that can be done. For instance, it’s not entirely clear why the U.S. Africa Command should be based at Kelley Barracks, outside Stuttgart. A transfer of the approximately 1,500 staff there to Lajes, which is much closer to Africa, would solve the problem overnight, and the move might actually improve Africom’s effectiveness.

There are undoubtedly other stopgap solutions that the Pentagon could implement. None of them will be perfect, but all of them would be better than having Beijing’s red flag flying over the Atlantic — and permitting Chinese aircraft to patrol the waters connecting America to Europe (National Review, 2012).

Title: China Submarines To Soon Carry Nukes, Draft U.S. Report Says
Date:
November 8, 2012
Source:
Reuters


Abstract:
China appears to be within two years of deploying submarine-launched nuclear weapons, adding a new leg to its nuclear arsenal that should lead to arms-reduction talks, a draft report by a congressionally mandated U.S. commission says.

China in the meantime remains "the most threatening" powerhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png in cyberspace and presents the largest challenge to U.S. supply chain integrity, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a draft of its 2012 report to the U.S. Congress.

China is alone among the original nuclear weapons states to be expanding its nuclear forces, the report said. The others are the United States, Russia, Britain and France.

Beijing is "on the cusp of attaining a credible nuclear triad of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and air-dropped nuclear bombs," the report says.

China has had a largely symbolic ballistic missile submarine capability for decades but is only now set to establish a "near-continuous at-sea strategic deterrent," the draft said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has made it a priority to modernize the country's navy. China launched its first aircraft carrier, purchased from Ukraine and then refurbished, in September.

"Building strong national defense and powerful armed forces that are commensurate with China's international standing and meet the needs of its security and development interests is a strategic task of China's modernization drive," Hu said in a speech on Thursday at the opening of the Chinese Communist Party's once-every-five-years congress.

To address a wide variety of security threats, "we must make major progress in modernizing national defense and the armed forces," Hu said.

That means China must "complete military mechanization and make major progress in full military IT (information technology) application by 2020," he said.

The deployment of a hard-to-track, submarine-launched leg of China's nuclear arsenal could have significant consequences in East Asia and beyond. It also could add to tensions between the United States and China, the world's two biggest economies.

Any Chinese effort to ensure a retaliatory capability against a U.S. nuclear strike "would necessarily affect Indian and Russian perceptions about the potency of their own deterrent capabilities vis-à-vis China," the report said, for instance.

Arms Control Talks Urged
China is party to many major international pacts and regimes regarding nuclear weapons and materials. But it remains outside of key arms limitation and control conventions, such as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed in April 2010 and the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The United States historically has approached these bilaterally with Russia.

The U.S. Congress should require the U.S. State Department to spell out efforts to integrate China into nuclear arms reduction, limitation, and control discussions and agreements, the draft said.

In addition, Congress should "treat with caution" any proposal to unilaterally reduce operational U.S. nuclear forces without clearer information being made available to the public about China's nuclear stockpile and force posture, it said.

China is estimated by the Arms Control Association, a private nonpartisan group in Washington, to have 240 nuclear warheads. The United States, by contrast, has some 5,113, including tactical, strategic and nondeployed weapons.

China Deploying New Class of Subs
Beijing already has deployed two of as many as five of a new class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. The JIN-class boat is due to carry the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile with an estimated range of about 7,400 km (4,600 miles).

The new submarines and the JL-2 missile will give Chinese forces its "first credible sea-based nuclear capability," the U.S. Defense Department said in its own 2012 annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving China.

The JL-2 program has faced repeated delays but may reach an initial operating capability within the next two years, according to the Pentagon report, released in May.

The Pentagon declined to comment directly on China's march toward creating a credible nuclear "triad" involving strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The final version of the report is to be released next Wednesday by the U.S.-China commission, a 12-member bipartisan group set up in 2000 to report to U.S. lawmakers on security implications of U.S.-China trade.

The draft, in its section on cyber-related issues, called on the Congress to develop a sanctions regime to penalize specific companieshttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png found to engage in, or otherwise benefit from, industrial espionage.

Congress should define industrial espionage as an illegal subsidy subject to countervailing duties, it added.

Lawmakers also should craft legislation to boost the security of critical supply chains, "particularly in the context of U.S. government and military procurement," the draft said (Reuters, 2012).

Title: CIA Director Battle: China War Drills
Date:
November 21, 2012
Source:
Washington Times

Abstract:
Pentagon intelligence official Michael Vickers and National Security Council counterterrorism adviser John Brennan are being looked at by President Obama as top candidates to head the CIA.

Both officials have their detractors. Mr. Vickers, currently undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was brought in to the Pentagon by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and opposed the troop surge in Iraq.

Mr. Vickers angered conservatives after an article in 2007 in The Washington Post praised him as the “principal strategist” for the CIA covert operation to arm Afghan rebels in the 1970s, and he was inaccurately portrayed in a 2003 book and 2007 movie, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” as a leading figure in what was portrayed as CIA success in the Afghan program.

Former Reagan administration officials said the CIA vehemently opposed the covert program to send Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the Afghans and was overruled. The missiles helped defeat the Soviets and began the unraveling of the entire Soviet empire.

The now-deceased Fred Ikle, a key Pentagon policymaker in the Reagan administration, criticized the movie and said the CIA initially fought against sending Stingers, while Mr. Wilson, a former Democratic congressman from Texas who died in 2010, was lukewarm.

“Senior people in the Reagan administration, the president, [CIA Director] Bill Casey, [Defense Secretary Caspar] Weinberger and their aides deserve credit for the successful Afghan covert-action program, not just Charlie Wilson,” Mr. Ikle said in 2007.

Mr. Vickers also has no fans among many special-operations commandos and policy officials for his handling of covert operations while assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, his previous Pentagon position. He was criticized by military special operators for favoring intelligence methods over aggressive commando activities that might have found Osama bin Laden years earlier.

Mr. Brennan, a career CIA analyst, has been major target of some national-security specialists who say he is the mastermind behind the Obama administration policy of playing down the Islamist nature of terrorism.

It was Mr. Brennan, these critics say, who has tried to banish the term “Islamist terror” from being used by the administration. Instead, Mr. Brennan has directed that Islamic jihad, or holy war, be referred to as the more politically correct term “violent extremism.” That in turn has led to the administration’s embarrassment of calling the Fort Hood terrorist attack “workplace violence.”

The failure to identify the Islamic nature of the war on terrorism has led to confusion over the nature of the enemy, and limited strategic communication and other strategic efforts to attack ideologies behind groups such as al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

One official said that as CIA director, Mr. Brennan would be under Director of National IntelligenceJames Clapper and would lose his current walking-distance access to the president.

Mr. Brennan also remains one of the few administration officials who has been silent on the disaster in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, when a poorly armed CIA and State Department outpost was attacked by al Qaeda-linked terrorists killing four Americans, including U.S. ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.

Mr. Brennan is a focus of congressional investigators trying to find out who altered the original CIA talking points on the Benghazi attack by removing references to al Qaeda and terrorism and instead referring to “extremists” who were part of the attack.

Critics have said the changes to the CIA guidance amounted to the politicization of intelligence that sought to play down the terrorist nature of the attack — days after Mr. Obama said in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention that al Qaeda was on the path to defeat.

The talking points were used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice on five Sunday television talks shows when she asserted erroneously that the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration.

In 2006, Hawaii-based Pacific Command official Ronald N. Montaperto, a former DIA China analyst, pleaded guilty to the illegal possession of classified documents and admitted in a plea agreement that he passed “top secret” information to Chinese intelligence officials.

Israel-Hamas cyberwar
One new element of the kinetic war raging between
Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza is the back and forth electronic and Internet warfare taking place.

Since the conflict began seven days ago with Israel killing a top Hamas military commander, some 40 Hamas leaders have been killed in the campaign, some of them by precision bombings of cars on the streets. The conflict began after months of Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel.

In addition to the rocket and bombing strikes, both sides are waging cyberwarfare.

The Hamas news portal Safa was attacked around Nov. 17, presumably by Israeli hackers, and shut down for several days.

The anarchist hacker group Anonymous sided with Hamas, a designated U.S. terrorist group that runs the government in Gaza. Anonymous has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israeli websites and announced that it had declare cyberwar on Israel by posting the personal data online of about 5,000 Israeli officials.

The cyberwar also has raged on Twitter and Facebook, with the social media used as launching points for information and attacks.

Israel’s military and intelligence services are known to be developing sophisticated cyberwarfare capabilities. Iran, which has supplied arms and missiles to Hamas, also is developing cyberwarfare weapons, and recently was blamed for cyberattacks on U.S. financial institutions.

China military drills
Amid heightened tensions between
China and its Asian neighbors, China’s military is holding naval exercises in the Bohai Sea — not far from Japan.

The exercises are being closely watched, as China announced a sea-closure area near the nuclear submarine base at Huludao, where China builds its Type 094 ballistic-missile submarines, called the Jin class by the Pentagon.

The exercises began last week and will continue through Friday.

Based on the announced closure area, U.S. officials said one possible activity could be a second JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic-missile test.

China last conducted a JL-2 test in the same area Aug. 21.

The Chinese military exercises are being conducted not far from joint U.S.-Japan military exercises that ended last week and involved some 47,000 personnel near the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by China near Okinawa. China calls the islands the Diayoutao.

China this week pressured leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, not to hold international discussions on South China Sea disputes with China.

Beijing is opposing ASEAN’s efforts to reach a binding agreement on a code of conduct in the South China Sea, where China recently claimed up to 70 percent of the international waters as its maritime territory.

Ben Rhodes, deputy White House national security adviser, said the sea dispute should be settled peacefully. The issue was to be raised in a meeting between President Obama and outgoing Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Mr. Rhodes said.

He said the disputes such as those regarding the South China Sea “need to be discussed in a multilateral context so that we can reaffirm the principles of maritime security that can guide the resolution to something like the South China Sea.”

“The U.S. believes that any solution has to be consistent with international law, has to preserve the free flow of commerce that is important not just to the countries in this region, but to the world,” Mr. Rhodes told reporters.

“The U.S. is not a claimant in the South China Sea, but we have significant interest there, given its role in the global economy” (Washington Times, 2012).

Title: China Air Force In Large-Scale Drill Amid Tensions
Date: December 7, 2012
Source:
Guardian

Abstract: China says its air force has staged one of its largest-ever drills amid heightened tensions with Japan and its southern neighbors over territorial claims.

State media said Friday that the air combat exercises involving more than 100 pilots were held over 11 days last month in the vast northwestern region of Xinjiang. Aircraft taking part included China's most modern jet fighters, the J-10 and J-11, according to the website of the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily.

While the exercises were being held, China's navy for the first time launched and recovered aircraft from the country's first aircraft carrier. The exercises also came amid stepped-up sea patrols around East China Sea islands claimed by China but controlled by Japan, as well as renewed feuding between China and other claimants in the South China Sea (Guardian, 2012).

Title: China’s People's Liberation Army 'Sinks' US Carrier In DF-21D Missile Test In Gobi
Date: January 23, 2013
Source:
Want China Times

Abstract: The People's Liberation Army has successfully sunk a US aircraft carrier, according to a satellite photo provided by Google Earth, reports our sister paper Want Daily — though the strike was a war game, the carrier a mock-up platform and the "sinking" occurred on dry land in a remote part of western China.

A satellite image reveals two large craters on a 200-meter-long white platform in the Gobi desert used to simulate the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. The photo was first posted on SAORBATS, an internet forum based in Argentina. Military analysts believed the craters would have been created by China's DF-21D anti-ship missile, dubbed the "carrier killer."

While claiming that the missile has the capability to hit aircraft carriers 2,000 kilometers away, the nationalistic Chinese tabloid Global Times stated that the weapon was only designed for self-defense; the DF-21D will never pose a serious threat to US national security because it is not even able to reach Hawaii, the newspaper said, though fully aware of the US naval deployment in the Western Pacific.

Underlining this point, Global Times took a common line from China's national defense doctrine before the country acquired an aircraft carrier of its own — namely that carriers are an offensive weapon while anti-ship missiles are defensive. "It can be used like a stick to hit the dog intruding on our backyard, but it can never be used to attack the house where the dog comes from," the paper's commentary said (Want China Times, 2013).

Title: Jets Roar Over Pacific As US, Japan, Australia Conduct Military Drills
Date: February 7, 2013
Source:
Fox News

Abstract:  Fighter jets from the U.S. and two key allies roared into western Pacific skies Thursday in the combat phase of annual exercises that have gained importance as the region responds to the rise of China and other potential threats.

The Cope North drills — which could soon swell in participants — are aimed at preparing air forces of the U.S., Japan and Australia to fight together if a military crisis erupts. They also send a vivid reminder to Beijing that America's regional alliances are strong, though officers leading the maneuvers say they are not looking to bait the Chinese military.

"The training is not against a specific country, like China," Japan Air Self-Defense Force Lt. Gen. Masayuki Hironaka said. "However, I think (the fact) that our alliance with the U.S. and Australia is healthy is a strong message."

The three allies began flying sorties together earlier in the week around the U.S. territory of Guam in a humanitarian phase of the exercises, dropping emergency assistance in packages that wafted down under parachutes to jungle airfields. On Thursday, fighter jets were joined by bombers, transport planes and tankers that refuel the fighters in midair. For the first time, Japanese tankers were joining the drills.

U.S. officials said they believe more allies, particularly New Zealand and the Philippines, will join the exercises soon.

Maneuvers like Cope North are a key element of Washington's evolving strategy in the Pacific as the U.S. shifts its emphasis away from Afghanistan and fighting ground wars. It is now placing more attention on Asia and the possibility of an air or sea confrontation with the rapidly modernizing Chinese military, which has been briskly improving its forces and using its growing muscle to back up territorial claims that have raised regional tensions.

This "Pacific rebalance" will bring newer and more advanced aircraft and ships to the Pacific theater over the next several years and spread out the tens of thousands of U.S. troops now primarily based in Japan and South Korea. U.S. Marines have already begun rotational deployments to Darwin, in northern Australia, and about 9,000 Marines stationed on the southern Japan island of Okinawa are to be moved to this tiny island, Hawaii and other locations.

The changes reflect a deepening strategic concern over the rise of China as a regional military power with the potential to challenge Washington's ability to intervene in a crisis, particularly around Taiwan or islands in the south and east China seas that are contested by China and U.S. allies such as the Philippines and Japan.

But the emphasis on alliance-building through exercises like Cope North also underscores fears in the Pentagon that major budget cuts looming in Congress could make it difficult for Washington to shoulder the whole burden of keeping China in check.

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Herbert Carlisle said he believes the budget cuts now being considered could threaten America's role as a superpower. He noted that China's military, and especially its navy, have been undergoing a "massive buildup" and are becoming a more credible challenge to their U.S. counterparts.

So, strategic alliances are now more important than ever.

"The United States and our partners are taking 'joint' to the next level," he said. "The amount of commerce that goes through here, the amount of the world GDP that goes through here, if you look at the world's population that is in this part of the world, the importance of the Pacific can't be overstated."

Washington's renewed focus on Asia has generally been welcomed by its more-established and prosperous allies — like Japan and Australia — because they share the U.S. concerns that changes in the balance of power could hurt economic growth throughout the region.

"I think nations throughout the region are looking for that increased support that working with the U.S. is likely to bring," said Royal Australian Air Force Air Commodore Anthony Grady. "Australia welcomes the refocus."

Japan also has a more urgent need to tout its U.S. alliance.

Its coast guard ships and fighter aircraft have been deployed frequently over the past several months to drive their Chinese counterparts away from a group of small uninhabited islands that both nations claim as their own. The dispute has soured diplomatic and trade relations and shows no sign of abating.

Under a treaty, the U.S. is obliged to come to Japan's assistance if the islands are attacked or occupied. Hironaka noted that during Cope North, which involves about 1,700 troops, Japanese fighter jets will conduct needed bombing training that they cannot do in their own country because of crowding and safety restrictions.

"Training with the U.S. is very important to us," he said. "The U.S.-Japan alliance is key to security in the region."

Not all Asian nations have been so receptive to the U.S. Pacific policy.

Some countries have expressed doubts about how far the United States would be willing to go to support them in a crisis, especially since China is one of Washington's most important trading partners. Others have voiced concerns that exercises like Cope North send a confrontational message that might lead to higher tensions.

Carlisle acknowledged that is a possibility.

"I think the PRC has a tendency to look at things in a different light," he said. "I think they may take this as something different than it is intended" (Fox News, 2013).

Title: Obama Moves To Elevate Status Of Army In Pacific
Date: February 11, 2013
Source:
Yahoo News

Abstract: The Obama administration is moving to elevate the status of the general who leads soldiers in the Pacific to four stars.

U.S. Army Pacific has been led by a three-star general for years.

The Pentagon said Monday that President Barack Obama is nominating Third Army commander Lt. Gen. Vincent Brooks to become the new Army Pacific commander and for a promotion to four stars.

Putting a four-star general in charge of U.S. soldiers in the Pacific would put the Army on par with the Navy and Air Force in the region. Both services are led by four-star commanders in the Pacific.

Brooks currently leads soldiers in the U.S. Central Command area.

Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, the current U.S. Army Pacific commander, plans to retire after 34 years of service (Yahoo News, 2013).

Title: China Navy Launches New Stealth Frigate
Date: February 26, 2013
Source:
BBC

Abstract: China's navy has taken delivery of the first of a new kind of stealth frigate, as tension continues with neighbouring countries over maritime borders.

The Type 056 stealth frigate has a sleek design that helps it evade radar detection, and needs just one-third of the crew used by its predecessor.

The first ship was delivered to the Chinese navy in Shanghai on Monday, state-run news agency Xinhua said.

China said the new vessel is part of a systematic upgrading of naval hardware.

The frigate - one of 20 being built - will mainly be deployed on escort missions and for anti-submarine operations.

Xinhua said it would enhance the country's ability to safeguard national security and defend maritime sovereignty.

The arrival of the new vessel comes at a time when China is in dispute with a number of neighbouring countries over national boundaries in the East and South China Seas.

Mostly recently Beijing has been arguing with Tokyo over the Senkaku Islands - known as the Diaoyu Islands in Chinese - which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China.

Beijing is in the middle of a programme to improve its navy, launching its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, two years ago, the BBC's Michael Bristow reports.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said last year that the country needed to transform itself into a "maritime power" (BBC, 2013).

Title: Reports Say China's First Aircraft Carrier On Way To Permanent Base At Qingdao In North
Date: February 27, 2013
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: Chinese reports say the country's first aircraft carrier is headed for its permanent base in the northern port of Qingdao.

Speculation has swirled over where the ship christened the Liaoning would call home since it officially entered service on Sept. 25 amid a series of maritime disputes between China and its neighbors.

Qingdao is home to China's Northern Fleet responsible for operations in waters surrounding Japan, Russia, the Korean Peninsula, and the Bohai Gulf, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Beijing.

The Liaoning is a refurbished Soviet-era carrier purchased from Ukraine that China has described as an experimental model. China is believed to have plans to use its experience with the Liaoning to build four or more carriers of its own, basing some in the South China Sea (Fox News, 2013).

Title: China And Russia Conduct 'Surprise' Military Exercises
Date:
March 30, 2013
Source:
News.AU

Abstract: The flexing of military muscles has spread beyond North Korea, with both Russia and China demonstrating their might to nervous neighbours.

China held a `surprise' naval exercise in the disputed South China Sea earlier this week as Russia put on a show of its resurgent military strength in the Black Sea.

China's activity in the disputed region involved some of its most modern warships.

An amphibious assault exercise - where amphibious landing craft deployed troops - was conducted just 80km off the Malaysian coast.

James Shoal, where the exercise took place, is the southern-most island China has laid claim to in the South China Sea, including the contentious Spratly Islands.

Chinese soldiers and marines reportedly conducted a ceremony on the island, vowing to "defend Chinese sovereignty".

Asia Disputed Islands
China's amphibious ship Jinggangshan is seen during a coordination training with a hovercraft in waters near south China's Hainan Province, in the South China Sea.

On Monday, Vietnam accused China of opening fire on one of its fishing boats in the area. China denied the claim.

Half a world away, Russian President Vladmir Putin ordered a surprise military exercise from his presidential jet on a flight home from a United Nations conference in South Africa. The exercise in the Black Sea involved 30 navy ships, dozens of combat aircraft and hundreds of armored vehicles.

Russia Putin Military Exercise
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, heads to a military helicopter to watch the maneuvers in Anapa, a Russian Black Sea resort. Thousands of Russian troops participated in a military exercise in the Black Sea, aimed at showcasing Russia's resurgent military might.

The Kremlin said the exercise was intended to test the military's ability to conduct a quick response.

Putin, who was elected for a third presidential term last year, has made the restoration of Russia's military power one of his top priorities.

Several successive squadrons of Russian navy ships have visited the Syrian port of Tartus, the only naval base Russia has outside the Soviet Union, the voyages intended to underline Moscow's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that Russia plans to establish a permanent navy presence in the Mediterranean similar to the one it had during the Soviet times.

Putin flew in a military helicopter to watch the manoeuvres.

Russia Putin Military Exercise
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a military exercise in Anapa, a Russian Black Sea resort.

The Kremlin launched a military reform in the wake of the 2008 war with Georgia, when the Russian army struggled to quickly deploy its units to the conflict area with dozens of tanks and other armoured vehicles stranded by technical malfunctions on the march.

In its attempt to reform its military, Moscow has cut the number of officers and streamlined its military units.

The military also has sought to increase the number and scope of military exercises, helped by high oil prices (News.AU, 2013).

Title: China Mobilizes Military, On 'High Alert' Over N. Korea Threats
Date: April 2, 2013
Source:
RT

Abstract: China has started mobilizing military forces around the Korean peninsula in response to rising tensions that follow recent threats by North Korea to launch missile attacks against its southern neighbor and the United States.

According to US officials, Pyongyang’s declaration of a ‘state of war’ against South Korea has led to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to increase its military presence on the border with the North. The officials say the process has been going on since mid-March, and includes troop movements and readying fighter jets. The PLA is now at ‘Level One’ readiness, its highest.

Chinese forces, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, have been spotted in the city of Ji’an and near the Yalu River, which splits China and North Korea. Other border regions were also reportedly being patrolled by planes.

China has also been conducting live-firing naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, scheduled to end on Monday. The move is widely viewed as open support for North Korea, which continues to show extreme opposition to the US-South Korean military drills that are to last until May.

The news comes as the
US deployed its USS Fitzgerald destroyer off the coast of North Korea, adding to its Sunday deployment of F-22 fighter jets to take part in the drills with the friendly South, which has further served to heighten tensions on the peninsula.

Meanwhile, North Korea has been mobilizing its short and medium-range missile arsenal, according to analyses of satellite imagery. Officials say Pyongyang is set to test its new KN-08 medium-range mobile missile; they say preparations have been spotted in the past. Pyongyang claims that since March 26, its forces have been placed on their highest possible status of alert.

Although officials believe Pyongyang will not provoke Seoul during the war games, they also fear that a miscalculation by South Korea could lead to all-out war, following its promise of retaliation against the North, should it launch its missiles first.

North Korea and China have maintained a long-standing defense treaty under which Beijing is to come to Pyongyang’s aid in the event of an attack. The last time this was put into practice was during the Korean War, when tens of thousands of Chinese volunteer forces were deployed on the Korean Peninsula. The relationship between the two countries is often referred to as being “as close as lips and teeth” by Chinese military spokesmen.

Despite the heated tensions leading to an apparent disruption in trade and commerce between China and North Korea, the two are already making future plans to bolster their economic ties. March 27 saw the announcement of a new high-speed railway, as well as a special highway passenger line.

Still, many in Chinese circles have shown displeasure at Pyongyang’s seemingly aggressive relationship with Seoul and Washington. A Chinese official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, has testified that US presence in the region is a helpful restraint against an unpredictable Kim Jong-un, which many believe to be the real reason Beijing has not been strong in its criticism of the amassing of US forces in the region.

Furthermore, Chinese websites and blogs could sometimes be found openly bashing the North Korean leader for an apparent mishandling of the situation in the region, playing diplomatic games amid chronic food shortages in his country. An editor at the country’s Study Times newspaper was recently suspended for openly criticizing China for abandoning North Korea.

Expert opinion differs on what China’s exact position is in the unfolding regional crisis.

US officials claim the China’s main fear is a collapse of order in North Korea, which would lead to a large-scale refugee flow into China.

Another possible reason for China to worry is advanced by journalist James Corbett, host of the Corbett Report, who believes that foreign military presence in the region is just as unnerving to China as it is to Pyongyang. He discussed this in the light of the latest war drills.

“I think that this has the possibility of ratcheting things up to the point where tensions might actually spill over as a result of this, and we saw that recently with the deployment of B-2 nuclear armed bombers in South Korea which is not only, I think, worrying to Pyongyang, but also to China, to have nuclear bombers that close to the peninsula there, on China’s southern border. I think that China wouldn’t be pleased with that either, so this is quite an escalation that’s taking place.”

Others believe openly that the US strategy is geared not towards the destabilization of North Korea, but that of China. Li Jie, an expert with a Chinese navy research institution, has told Reuters that “the ultimate strategic aim is to contain and blockade China, to distract China's attention and slow its development. What the US is most worried about is the further development of China's economy and military strength."

Retired Major General Luo Yuan, who is one of China’s foremost military authorities, believes, however that "once the joint US-South Korean exercises have finished and with birthday celebrations for (late founder of North Korea) Kim Il-sung imminent, the temperature will gradually cool and get back to the status quo of no war, no unification."

While it has been urging calm and peace in the region, Beijing has been very obliging at the UN Security Council, when it helped push through the latest round of sanctions against North Korea in March, following its third nuclear test the previous month. Despite being Pyongyang’s greatest ally in the region, some experts believe this is a sign of Beijing’s growing impatience. American diplomat Christopher R. Hill, who helped under the Bush administration to negotiate a deal for the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear facilities (which didn’t last), says that the Chinese strategy is“not about the words, it is about the music.”

The resolution came hours after North Korea, angered at both the US-South Korean war games, and at the proposed UN plan, threatened pre-emptive nuclear action against the South and US military bases in the region.

This latest standoff between North and South Korea and the US is credited to have started on February 12, when Pyongyang supposedly performed its latest underground nuclear weapons test. Just this weekend, North Korea vowed to boost its nuclear arsenal, calling it a “treasure of a reunified country” which it would never trade for anything, even “billions of dollars” worth of aid (RT, 2013).

Title: China Confirms Live-Fire Drills Near N. Korean Border
Date: April 8, 2013
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: China's military and defense ministry on Sunday confirmed that military forces in a border region near North Korea conducted live-fire drills amid tensions between North Korea and the United States. 

The Pentagon, meanwhile, canceled a planned test launch of a Minuteman III ballistic missile to avoid further upsetting ties with North Korea. 

Intelligence sources said signs continue to indicate that North Korea is planning to conduct a flight test soon of its intermediate-range Musudan missile that has enough range to reach Guam. 

Two Musudan missiles have been readied and the flight test may take place around April 15, the anniversary of the birth of the late leader Kim Il Sung, grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un. 

Additionally, North Korea may conduct another underground nuclear test in the coming days, the sources said, based on intelligence indicators of increased activity at North Korea's northern nuclear testing facility. 

Tensions remain high as North Korea's communist regime in recent weeks issued a string of threats to conduct nuclear missile attacks on the United States and South Korea, whose militaries are currently engaged in large-scale military exercises that include flights of B-52 and B-2 strategic nuclear bombers near the peninsula (Fox News, 2013).

Title: China Carries Out Artillery Drills Near N.Korean Border
Date: April 12, 2013
Source:
Chosun

Abstract: China recently moved an Army corps close to the North Korean border and staged a live-fire exercise with tanks and self-propelled guns.

Experts believe Beijing is taking no chances in case a North Korean provocation leads to an emergency.

The official Global Times on Monday reported that an armored brigade from a Shenyang mechanized infantry unit carried out live-fire maneuvers near the border on April 1.

Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun quoted a source in Dandong as saying the Chinese military has also stepped up vehicle patrols along the North Korean border.

Surveillance cameras have recently been installed on barbed wire fences along a 200 km-long section of the border between Hunchun and Helong in the Chinese province of Jilin on the Duman River, according to a source in Yanbian. The move seems to be part of China's preparations for a mass exodus of refugees from North Korea.

"Chinese military authorities installed the surveillance cameras after replacing poorly maintained barbed wire fences with new, 2 m-high ones over the past two years," the source added.

Meanwhile, observers in Dandong watched North Korean paratroopers in a parachute jump exercise from helicopters in Sinuiju for about two hours on Wednesday morning, Japan's Kyodo News reported. According to Kyodo, at least 50 North Korean soldiers jumped from the helicopters
(Chosun).

Title: Russia, Chinese Military To Hold Anti-Terror Exercise
Date: May 26, 2013
Source:
Post Jagran

Abstract: International anti-terrorism exercises with the participation of Russia's military and troops of the People's Liberation Army of China will be held this year, Commander of the Central Military District (CMD) troops Lieutenant-General Yevgeny Ustinov said at a CMD military council meeting in Yekaterinburg, which was attended by RF First Deputy Defence Minister Arkady Bakhin.

According to Ustinov, the manoeuvres are likely to take place this summer or autumn.

In addition, brigade tactical manoeuvres will be held in Siberia and in the Urals this year with motorized infantry and tank formations, as well as a large-scale command post exercise of the Samara army.

"In the planning of combat training events of the district troops particular attention is paid to the multi-service interaction - mostly of motorized infantry and aviation units," Ustinov said on Saturday
(Post Jagran, 2013).

Title: Best Frenemies: U.S. Wants Closer Military Ties With China
Date: May 28, 2013
Source:
Washington Times

Abstract:
White House National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon called Tuesday for strengthening U.S. military ties with China, despite growing tensions between the two over Beijing’s state-sponsored hacking and maritime territorial claims.

Donilon pushed for increased military cooperation in peacekeeping, fighting piracy and disaster relief.

“An essential part of building a new model for relations between great powers is ensuring we have a healthy, stable and reliable military-to-military relationship,” Mr. Donilon said in brief comments to reporters, Reuters reported.

He added the two countries should work to face “non-traditional security challenges” like peacekeeping and stability operations, emergency disaster relief and naval counter-piracy operations ensuring freedom of navigation.

Mr. Donilon is visiting Beijing this week ahead of a summit next week in California between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. He spoke at a meeting with Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, after being received by Mr. Xi on Monday.

China-U.S. relations are at “an important stage connecting the past and the future,” Mr. Xi told him, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Tuesday, Gen. Fan called for a “new type of major power relations” between Washington and Beijing.

During their meetings throughout Mr. Donilon’s three-day visit, U.S. and Chinese officials have stressed their hope that the informal summit June 7-8, on the sprawling Annenberg “Sunnylands” estate outside of Palm Springs, Calif., will help the two sides strengthen their cooperation. 

The summit will be an opportunity for U.S. leaders to learn more about the foreign policy intentions of Mr. Xi, who scholars have described as more confident in foreign affairs as well as more nationalistic about China’s role in the world than his predecessor, Hu Jintao, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Establishing personal trust between the leaders can play a crucial role for strengthening strategic mutual trust … in particular dealing with the bilateral thorny problems,” reads an editorial Tuesday in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper.

Neither side has given any details about the agenda for the summit, but analysts say the two leaders must avoid several looming potential crises: over the continuing nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula; over China’s extensive maritime territorial claims against U.S. allies in the South and East China Seas; and over a string of cyberintrusions against high tech or defense companies U.S. officials have linked to China.

Mr. Donilon’s three day visit ended Tuesday (Washington Times, 2013).

Title: China To Hold Digital War Games
Date: May 29, 2013
Source:
Guardian

Abstract:
China is to conduct its first "digital" war games, state media has said, as concern grows in Washington and elsewhere about Chinese hacking attacks.

A brief report by the official Xinhua news agency said the exercise, in north China's remote Inner Mongolia region, will "test new types of combat forces including units using digital technology amid efforts to adjust to informationalised war".

"It will be the first time a People's Liberation Army exercise has focused on combat forces including digitalised units, special operations forces, army aviation and electronic counter forces," the brief English-language report added.

Barack Obama will discuss cyber security with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, during a meeting in California next week, as Washington becomes increasingly worried about Chinese hacking of US military networks.

The Pentagon underscored its concerns in a report to Congress this month, accusing China of using cyber espionage to modernise its military. It said the US government has been the target of hacking that appeared to be "attributable directly to the Chinese government and military".

In Australia this week a report by Australia's ABC television said hackers linked to China stole the floor plans of a new A$630m headquarters for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the country's domestic spy agency.

The Chinese government scorned the claim and has repeatedly denied any involvement in hacking attacks, even as it steps up defence spending and develops new technologies such as aircraft carriers and stealth fighters (Guardian, 2013).

Title: In First Asia Trip, Defense Secretary Hagel Must Reaffirm Commitment To Region
Date: May 30, 2013
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has met with troops at Hickam Field in Hawaii.

It's the first stop on Hagel's first visit to Asia as defense chief. The weeklong trip will take him to Singapore and then to Brussels.

Hagel plans to deliver a speech to a national security conference in Singapore, bringing allies up to date about the Pentagon's heightened focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

Former defense chief Leon Panetta spoke to the conference last year, describing plans to assign 60 percent of the Navy's fleet to the Pacific even as he acknowledged ongoing budget problems.

It's now up to Hagel to reaffirm that commitment, even as the U.S. budget crisis continues.

Hagel told troops they will all have to do more with less (Fox News, 2013).

Title: Japan Sending Soldiers In Warships To US For First Time For Training Amid Tensions With China
Date: June 9, 2013
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: Japanese troops will converge on California's southern coast in the next two weeks as part of a military exercise with U.S. troops aimed at improving that country's amphibious attack abilities.

U.S. and Japanese military officials said the unprecedented training, led by U.S. Marines and sailors, will help Japan's Self-Defense Force operate in stronger coordination with the United States, its main ally, and better respond to crises such as natural disasters.

China may see it differently, however, given the tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over a long-running dispute concerning islands claimed by both in the East China Sea.

"It's another dot that the Chinese will connect to show this significant expanding military cooperation," said Tai Ming Cheung, an analyst of Chinese and East Asian security affairs and director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California, San Diego.

China asked the United States and Japan to cancel the drill, scheduled to begin Tuesday, Japan's Kyodo News service reported, citing unnamed Japanese government sources. The Japanese Defense and Foreign Ministries would not confirm whether China had made any request but said they are going ahead with the exercises.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond to The Associated Press for comment on whether China requested a cancellation. In regard to the drill itself, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: "We hope the relevant sides can focus on peace and stability in this region, and do more to contribute to mutual trust and regional peace and stability."

U.S. military officials said strengthening Japan's amphibious capabilities is vital as the U.S. focuses more attention on developing an Asia-Pacific strategy amid ongoing U.S. Defense Department budget cuts. The region has been roiled by tensions due to North Korean long-range rocket and nuclear tests and maritime territorial disputes between China and its neighbors.

"If the 20th century taught us anything, it is that when democracies are able and willing to defend themselves it preserves peace and stability," said Col. Grant Newsham, Marine liaison to the Japanese military. "Most Asian countries welcome — even if quietly stated — a more capable (Japanese force) that is also closely allied to U.S. forces."

The drill comes just days after Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit with President Barack Obama at an estate in the nearby California desert, at which the two discussed topics including the Pacific region's mounting tensions.

China recently asserted its dominance over what they call Diaoyutai, and Japan calls the Senkaku Islands, by sending government ships into Japanese territorial waters in April. China has said it is only safeguarding its sovereignty.

The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China. Japan's nationalization of the islands in September triggered violent protests across China. Beijing has increasingly patrolled the area, prompting Japan to dispatch fighter jets to monitor Chinese aircraft, raising the risk of missteps that could trigger a clash.

Japan's navy is among the world's best-equipped and best-trained, but its skills at storming beaches and other amphibious capabilities have been weak since its national defense force formed in the 1950s.

Largely in response to China's growing military might — including the acquisition of its first aircraft carrier last year — Japan has been buying amphibious landing craft and beefing up training for potential conflicts in or around small islands. Japan is also repositioning its troops to better monitor and defend its southern borders and sea lanes.

In September, a small group of Japanese soldiers practiced bombing maneuvers and joint command training with U.S. Marines and sailors in Guam.

The San Diego exercise marks the first time the country's troops will travel aboard warships so far from home, and members of Japanese air, sea and ground forces will train together with the U.S. military, said Cmdr. Takashi Inoue, spokesman for the Japanese Self-Defense Force.

The drill, which ends June 28, will train Japanese troops "on truly necessary" skills to help them deploy swiftly, whether to defend territory or provide disaster relief, Inoue said. With limited landing craft, Japan needed help from U.S. Marines to rescue people along its tsunami-devastated coast following the 2011 earthquake.

Japan is sending three warships, about 1,000 service members and about four combat helicopters to the so-called Dawn Blitz exercise, Inoue said. Forces from New Zealand and Canada also will take part.

The troops will practice an amphibious assault on San Clemente Island, a naval training ground off San Diego's coast, and also conduct a mock beach invasion at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Tokyo's move to boost its amphibious training is "hugely significant" since the United States is obligated to defend Japanese territory under a post-World War II security pact, said Kerry Gershaneck of the Pacific Forum-Center for Strategic & International Studies.

"We cannot ask young American Marines to fight and die doing a job that Japanese forces cannot, or will not, do," he said. "The U.S. Marines will help, but they must have a capable partner" (Fox News, 2013).

Title: Inside The Ring: China Breaks Sanctions
Date: June 26, 2013
Source:
Washington Times

Abstract: The
U.N. committee in charge of monitoring arms sanctions on North Korea concludes in a report that China provided six off-road vehicles that were converted into long-range missile launchers by Pyongyang's military.

The Chinese-made transporter-erector launchers were first displayed at a military parade in Pyongyang last year as part of North Korea’s newest long-range strategic nuclear missile, the road-mobile KN-08 missile.

“On the basis of the information currently available, the panel considers it most likely that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea deliberately breached the end-user guarantee that it officially provided to [China‘s] Wuhan and converted the WS51200 trucks into transporter-erector launchers,” says the annual report of a U.N. panel of analysts, dated June 11.

According to the report, Chinese officials told the United Nations that the six transporter-erector launchers were sold as “lumber transporters” and were manufactured by China’s Hubei Sanjiang Space Wanshan Special Vehicle Co., and that they could not be used for transporting missiles.

Other analysts say the disguised launcher transfers are typical of Chinese covert arms proliferation efforts.

A U.N. analysis of the launchers reveals that the launchers’ “fronts and sides, the fenders, the exhaust systems, fuel tanks and tires of the vehicles seen on parade exactly matched those of the WS51200 series advertised by Wanshan.”

An end-user document in the U.N. report purports to show that North Korea’s Forestry Ministry bought the six trucks through the Wuhan Sanjiang Import and Export Corp. in November 2010.

Other documents in the report from China show that the vehicles are described as WS51200 nonhighway trucks “with the longest body and largest payload mass of all such vehicles in China.”

“It was independently developed by the Ninth Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. and its recent successful delivery to the client has filled a gap in this sector in China,” the report states.

The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. is the Chinese military’s main mobile-missile producer.

The document, without naming North Korea, says the vehicle was “developed by the Wanshan Company of the Ninth Academy in accordance with the client’s needs, using the WS series heavy-duty chassis technology.”

Discovery of the North Korean KN-08 prompted the Pentagon to conduct a recent study that concluded the long-range missile threat to the United States has increase sharply. The Pentagon announced earlier this year that it is adding 14 new anti-missile interceptors to its missile defense system.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military who was one of the first analysts to confirm that the North Korean missile launchers are Chinese-made, said the U.N. report is “a defeat for the United Nations and a failure of American diplomacy because China escapes an appropriate accusation of violating U.N. sanctions against selling missile technology to North Korea.”

Mr. Fisher said China has been promoting the “falsehood” that the trucks were sold for use in hauling lumber.

“The Sanjiang Group of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. designed the 16-wheel truck that was sold to North Korea for the specific purpose of transporting, erecting and launching large missiles,” Mr. Fisher said. “That a North Korean nuclear missile that can reach Anchorage, Alaska, is being carried by a Chinese made TEL is not the result of some ‘violation’ of a contract, but of a deliberate Chinese policy to help North Korea become a nuclear missile state.”

A State Department spokesman had no immediate comment.

RUSSIAN SUPERWEAPON?
Moscow’s response to President Obama’s call for a new one-third reduction in deployed strategic nuclear warheads was met with a chilly response, according to recent statements by Russian officials.

Additionally, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin, the key arms control official, announced Sunday that Russia is developing a new strategic “superweapon” to deal with its U.S. adversary.

“Today, we are experiencing a revolution in military science,” Mr. Rogozin told Russian television. “This revolution is connected with the rapid development of highly accurate means of destruction. These are cruise missiles and high-speed rocket weapons. In the future, there will be hypersonic weapons.”

According to the Russian official, military reaction times are much shorter than in the past, and the United States “adversary” has shown its capabilities against foreign militaries with precision strike weapons.

Russia is analyzing the situation,” he said. “We are creating a weapon that could be called a superweapon. This is a weapon that will allow us to see the enemy sooner than he will see us and to inflict a blow on him, in retaliatory measures, that will be irreversible for him.” He did not elaborate.

Moscow’s new high-technology arms program includes “fundamentally, new type” weapons, Mr. Rogozin said. “We are moving to robotics we are moving to principles of fighting when one serviceman can fight for five people by using robotics and automated hardware.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 20 also disclosed that Russia, following the Chinese military, is building state-of-the-art space weapons that would “guarantee [for] Russia the fulfillment of space defense tasks for the period until 2020.”

“It includes systems of missile and air attack warning, means of target detection and destruction,” Mr. Putin said. “Creating such a system needs detailed designing, effective construction and a careful analysis of threats and development plans for means of attack. And, of course, efficient coordination with other arms and services of the armed forces.”

By contrast, the Pentagon’s new guidance on nuclear weapons issued last week appears to ignore the growing Russian strategic nuclear threat. The guidance states that although Russia is modernizing its nuclear forces, “Russia and the United States are no longer adversaries.”

Army Gen.
Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, recently stepped up his public appearances in response to the defection of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

And one new aspect of Gen. Alexander’s public remarks is that for the first time he has named China as one of the most aggressive threats to U.S. secrets and other information through cyber attacks.

“I think our nation has been significantly impacted with intellectual property, the theft of intellectual property by China and others,” Gen. Alexander said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “That is the most significant transfer of wealth in history. And it goes right back to your initial question: Who is taking our information? It’s one of the things I believe the American people would expect me to know. That’s where my mission is. Who’s doing this to us and why?”

Testifying June 18 before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the four-star general was asked how he would describe Chinese cyberespionage and cybermilitary capabilities aimed at conducting disruptive attacks against the United States.

“Very carefully,” he said, noting extensive public reports of Chinese cyberattacks.

Recent discussions between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Chinese cyberattacks is a good beginning, he said.

“I think we’ve got to solve this issue with China and then look at ways to move forward,” Gen. Alexander said.

Among the issues to be resolved are what are the right standards for cyber activities, he said.

Gen. Alexander provided one-word answers about Chinese cyberattacks under questioning by Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and committee chairman:

“Would you say that China engages in cybereconomic espionage against intellectual property, to steal intellectual property in the United States?”

“Yes,” Gen. Alexander said.

“Would you argue that they engage in cyberactivities to steal both military and intelligence secrets of the United States?”

“Yes.”

It was the first time the director, who is also commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, directly accused China of engaging in cyber espionage and cyber attacks. Earlier, Gen. Alexander had been reluctant to identify China as the major cyber threat (Washington Times, 2013)

Title: US-Japan War Games Off The California Coast Imitate Chinese Invasion
Date: June 27, 2013
Source:
RT

Abstract: The US and Japan are preparing for a possible Chinese invasion of the Senkaku Islands. Using a small island off the coast of California, US and Japanese forces are mimicking an armed invasion and an amphibious assault to prepare for a real-life scenario.

The unprecedented drills, code-named Dawn Blitz, are being conducted on San Clemente Island, which is 75 miles northwest of San Diego, the Christian Science Monitor reports.  They began with an assault led by 80 US Marines and three MV-22 Osprey aircraft, and were followed by a Japanese counterattack using 1,000 troops and two warships. Although Japanese officials claim they are not preparing to target a third country, the exercises have made Chinese officials uncomfortable.

China and Japan have long disputed the Senkaku Islands, which are located in the East China Sea but which the Japanese government purchased from private owners in 2012. The islands are uninhabited, but believed to hold rich oil and gas deposits. The purchase triggered violent protests that tens of thousands of Chinese took part in, and harmed Sino-Japanese relations.

In the months after the purchase, the Chinese navy practiced military exercises near the islands, and joint US-Japanese naval drills subsequently occurred in the waters of the island chain. The latest drills off the California coast are only adding to tensions regarding the Senkaku Islands. Chinese officials reportedly objected to the drills, but their concerns were ignored by Washington, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

"We're aware of China's objections, but from a Japanese and US perspective, the object of the exercise is to build a powerful deterrent and demonstrate that the two forces are seamlessly connected – to show the Chinese that they are battle-ready," an official source familiar with Dawn Blitz told the Monitor on condition of anonymity. "There is nothing unusual in that."

The exercises began just two days after President Obama met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at a California summit on June 8. But even though some believe the US is in a tricky position, the official does not believe the US is in the wrong, since the US-Japan security treaty requires the country to help Japan deter any attacks on its territory.

"I don't think Dawn Blitz puts the US in a tricky position," the official said. "They started the drill just after the Obama-Xi summit to avoid any diplomatic repercussions. But the fact that Japan and the US went ahead with the exercise also sends a message – that they are on the same page when it comes to deterring possible Chinese aggression."

Lt. Gen. Koichi Isobe, Japan’s vice chief of staff, told reporters that Japan’s self-defense forces (SDF) need to develop the capabilities to ward off any attacks that might occur on the remote islands.

"The defense of remote islands is a pressing issue, but the SDF [Japan's self-defense forces] has just begun training to develop such capabilities, which are required of US Marines," Japan's vice chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Koichi Isobe, told reporters. "Japan needs to determine its defense strategy and procure necessary equipment and train SDF members for this purpose."

The US has publicly refused to take sides regarding the Senkaku Islands, but its training exercises with Japan may inadvertently cause a shift in its neutrality (RT, 2013).