U.S., South Korea Pledge to Expand Military Cooperation; NATO and Japan Deepen Ties

The U.S. and South Korea will step up joint field exercises and bolster joint capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, the defense chiefs of both countries said on Tuesday. In a joint statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup condemned North […]

South Korea’s 28th Infantry Division, Artillery Brigade, U.S 2nd Infantry Division, 2nd Striking Brigade,2-17th Artillery Battalion combined live-fire Exercise were held at Kkotbong Shooting Range in Gyeonggi Province. Jan. 23, 2023. ROK Photo

The U.S. and South Korea will step up joint field exercises and bolster joint capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, the defense chiefs of both countries said on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup condemned North Korea’s continued provocations and violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, including its missile launches and recent drone incursions. The defense chiefs also affirmed that the ROK-U.S. Alliance, along with the international community, will continue to take a strong stance against any further provocations by North Korea.

The two leaders emphasized that the two nations will continue to bolster the alliance capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, as well as to expand information sharing and joint planning. The two defense chiefs additionally pledged to closely cooperate in order to continue to deploy U.S. strategic assets in a timely and coordinated manner in the future.

The U.S. and South Korea will hold a Deterrence Strategy Committee Table-top Exercise (DSC TTX) in February, with the goal of assessing and developing response options to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat. The two sides highlighted the combined air exercises in late 2022 that involved U.S. strategic bombers and demonstrated a range of deterrence capabilities of the U.S.-ROK alliance.

“Going forward as well, we will seek together for various measures to enhance extended deterrence implementation, show the public of the Republic of Korea the firm will of the United States commitment to the defense of the ROK,” Lee said in a press conference with Austin.
“We will further reinforce the alliance capability and posture and the combined defense through expanded execution of field exercises and large scale combined joint fires demonstration.”

Neither Lee nor Austin provided details on the exercises that would be carried out, but they will likely be on the same level as the Foal Eagle joint exercises, which were suspended in 2019.

Asked about the types of deployments that the U.S. would carry out in the future to the ROK, Austin referred to the past year’s activities which included the deployments of F-22s, F-35s and the visit by the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

“You can look for more of that kind of activity going forward,” he said, adding that deeper consultations between the two countries and leaderships and more tabletop exercises are planned.

Both Austin and Lee also discussed measures to strengthen regional security cooperation, including ROK-U.S.-Japan trilateral security cooperation, according to the statement, and committed to following up on developing specific courses of action to facilitate trilateral sharing of missile warning data. Conversations are expected to be addressed at a future meeting of the Defense Trilateral Talks.

Both defense chiefs agreed to hold Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) at the earliest opportunity to discuss concrete measures on how to strengthen security cooperation among the three nations, the statement read.

Japan, Korea and the U.S. already carry out a number of joint missile defense activities like the Pacific Dragon exercise and held a ballistic missile defense drill in October 2022 in response to North Korean missile launches

Austin will now head to the Philippines where he will meet Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. while hosted by acting secretary of National Defense Carlito Galvez, Austin will also meet with Gen. Andres Centino, the chief of defense, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo.

NATO and Japan

In Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged to deepen ties between Japan and NATO.

In a joint statement, Kishida and Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The pair reiterated their support for Ukraine and called for North Korea to fully comply with all U.N. Security Council resolutions and to abandon its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.

Both leaders also shared concerns with Russia’s growing military cooperation with China, including through joint operations and drills in the vicinity of Japan.

Kishida and Stoltenberg raised concerns about Chinese and Russian attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea, as well as the militarisation, coercion and intimidation in the South China Sea, due to China’s rapid strengthening of its military capabilities in the region. Both also stated that Japan and NATO’s positions on Taiwan remained unchanged and encouraged a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.

“Beijing and Moscow are leading an authoritarian pushback against the international rules-based order,” Stoltenberg said in his opening statement during his meeting with Kishida.

He said the Indo-Pacific faces growing challenges, from China’s coercive behavior to provocations by North Korea

“If President Putin wins in Ukraine, this would send a message that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through brute force. This is dangerous. Beijing is watching closely. And learning lessons that may influence its future decisions,” Stoltenberg said.

He added that what is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow.

Both leaders welcomed progress toward the new framework cooperation document between Japan and NATO, the Individually Tailored Partnership Programme (ITPP), in order to expand current Japan-NATO cooperation. Japan and NATO are exploring expanding cooperation to areas such as defense science and technology including activities with the NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO) and are also accelerating efforts to enhance information sharing.

Stoltenberg wrapped up a two-day visit to the Republic of Korea on Monday with talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol. The two leaders discussed common security challenges and how to strengthen the Alliance’s partnership with Seoul

In the South China Sea

On Friday, U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fighters embarked on amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) carried out dissimilar air combat training in international airspace in the southern reaches of the South China Sea with Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-15SG fighters, according to a social media post by the service.

On Sunday, embarked Rafale fighters and an E-2C Hawkeye from the carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91), currently deployed around the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, carried out a drill off India’s west coast with Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKI fighters, an IAF Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft and an IL-76 tanker.

Australians, French Avoid AUKUS Talk in Paris Ministerial Meeting, Commit to More Pacific Operations

Australian and French defense ministers pledged to produce artillery shells to support Ukraine against the ongoing invasion from Russia in the first meeting between the two countries since Canberra walked away from a conventional submarine deal with French sub-builder DCNS. French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu and his Australian counterpart Richard Marles met in Paris Monday just […]

(left to right) Australian foreign minister Penny Wong, defense minister Richard Marles, French foreign minister Catherine Colonna and defense minister Sebastien Lecornu. Australian Government Photo

Australian and French defense ministers pledged to produce artillery shells to support Ukraine against the ongoing invasion from Russia in the first meeting between the two countries since Canberra walked away from a conventional submarine deal with French sub-builder DCNS.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu and his Australian counterpart Richard Marles met in Paris Monday just over two years after plans to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins-class submarines with DCNS’ Barracuda diesel-electric attack boats were dropped in favor of a nuclear submarine agreement with the U.S. and the U.K., signed in 2021.

“It is the first time that our consultations have taken place at this level — in the so-called 2+2 format – since an incident I shall not come back to,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters in a press conference with the defense ministers and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

The meeting series was a reset in diplomatic relations following the rift between the two countries following the May election of Australian Prime Minster Anthony Albanese and the installation of a new national security team.

Rather than talk submarines, the defense ministers agreed to produce thousands of 155mm artillery shells for use by the Ukrainian military against the Russian invasion.

“There are actually complementarities between our defense industrial bases, which allows this to happen,” Marles told following the meeting. “It’s also true that we wanted to act together as a statement about how importantly Australia and France regard the support of Ukraine in the current conflict.”

Marles also fielded questions from the French press on if Australia would consider buying diesel-electric submarines. The questions were prompted by reports the Navy had closed four of its submarine repair dry docks at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., according to a report in Sky News.

“We’re obviously working closely with the United States and the United Kingdom to develop a nuclear-powered submarine capability and develop the optimal pathway to achieve that capability,” Richard Marles said.
“There are no plans for any interim conveniently powered submarine capability.”

The first outline for the plan to produce nuclear attack submarines for the Royal Australian Navy is due in March.

First steps under consideration for the partnership include basing a number of U.S. nuclear attack boats at the RAN’s submarine base near Perth in Western Australia. Those attack boats could be manned by a blended crew of RAN and U.S. sailors, several sources familiar with the ongoing discussions have told USNI News.

The timeline for the Australians to field their own nuclear attack boats is unclear, but U.S. officials have said those subs could be decades away.

In a joint statement, France and Australia committed to continuing to operate in the Pacific and join in international exercises in the region.

“Ministers reiterated their strong opposition to any coercion or destabilizing actions in the South China Sea, including the militarization of disputed features,” reads a joint statement from the meeting.
“They reaffirmed their intention to continue transits and deployments in the Indo-Pacific in accordance with international law.”

To that end, Paris and Canberra pledged greater military logistical support in the Pacific for each other’s forces. Additionally, Australia will take part in the Croix du Sud exercise series off of New Caledonia while France will join the Talisman Saber 2023 drills off of Australia, the Monday statement reads.

The statement also opposed “unilateral changes in the status quo” regarding Taiwanese sovereignty and the statement echoed concern with human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the “erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, rights and freedoms.”

USS Nimitz Back in the South China Sea After Singapore Port Visit

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed Singapore on Thursday after a port visit and is now back in the South China Sea, the Navy announced on Friday. The Nimitz CSG – including carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and destroyers USS Decatur (DDG-73), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) – arrived in Singapore at […]

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steams through the South China Sea. Nimitz in U.S. 7th Fleet conducting routine operations on Jan. 13, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed Singapore on Thursday after a port visit and is now back in the South China Sea, the Navy announced on Friday.

The Nimitz CSG – including carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and destroyers USS Decatur (DDG-73), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) – arrived in Singapore at Changi Naval Base on Saturday, a day before the Chinese New Year period, known as Spring Festival in China, began on Sunday. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) generally has a less intensive operational deployment during this time, similar to western navies during the Christmas holiday period.

Prior to its arrival in Singapore, the Nimitz CSG operated in the Philippine Sea and South China Sea, where it performed “maritime strike training, anti-submarine operations, integrated multi-domain and joint training between surface and air elements, and flight operations with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, according to a Navy news release. The Nimitz CSG deployed from the West Coast on Dec. 3 and chopped into U.S. 7th Fleet on Dec. 16. The two other ships that are part of the CSG, cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), are currently operating independently in the Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean, respectively, according to Pentagon photo releases.

Also in the South China Sea is USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26), along with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, which also includes with USS Anchorage (LPD-23), left Naval Base San Diego, Calif., in November for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific. Anchorage wrapped up its participation in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Sri Lanka 2023 on Thursday, according to a Navy statement.

The exercise began on Jan. 19 in Colombo at two Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bases and also in the Laccadive Sea, according to a 7th Fleet news release.

“The exercise focused on increasing proficiency in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief (HADR), and maritime security capabilities,” the release reads.

The U.S. Navy sent Anchorage and the 13th MEU embarked to the sea phase of the exercise, while the Sri Lanka Navy sent two offshore patrol vessels – SLNS Gajabahu (P 626) and SLNS Vijayabahu (P 627), according to 7th Fleet. Sri Lanka’s air force, the Japan Maritime-Self Defense Force, and the Maldives National Defense Force also joined for the drills.

“Additional exercises conducted at sea included divisional tactics, visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS), replenishment-at-sea approaches, and reconnaissance and gunnery exercises. Helicopters aboard Anchorage successfully carried out VBSS exercises, embarkation, and disembarkation of personnel and material on the decks of the SLN ships involved in the sea phase,” according to the 7th Fleet release.

JS Suzutsuki conducted a bilateral exercise with the French Navy Charles de Gaulle CSG in the vicinity of Western Arabian Sea. JMSDF Photo

Nearby in the Indian Ocean, the French Navy’s Charles De Gaulle CSG continues its deployment after wrapping up the Varuna joint exercise with the Indian Navy on Jan. 20. The Charles De Gaulle CSG currently includes carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91), destroyers FS Forbin (D620) and FS Provence (D652), and replenishment ship FS Marne (A360).

Meanwhile, on Friday the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force issued a news release announcing that “Iron Fist 23” will take place from Feb. 16 to March 12 between the JGSDF and the U.S. Marine Corps’ III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The drills will take place near the JGSDF Hijyudai Maneuver Area on Kyushu, Tokunoshima Island and Kikaijima Island, both part of the Amani Islands lying between Kyushu and Okinawa and Camp Hansen, Okinawa, while aviation units will largely stage out of JGSDF Camp Takayubaru on Kyushu. JGSDF forces taking part in the exercise will be the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), 1st Airborne Brigade, and 1st Helicopter Brigade, along with the Western Army Aviation Unit. The U.S. Marine Corps’ 31st MEU will participate, while the U.S. Navy and JMSDF will participate with the America ARG – which features amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD-20), and dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD-48) – and LST JS Osumi (LST-4001), respectively.

According to the JGSDF news release, this Iron Fist is the first time the drills will take place with both III MEF and in the Western Pacific. The goal is to perform joint operations between Japan and the U.S.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR) is about to begin a training exercise, according to a Marine Corps news release issued on Friday.

“This will be the eighth exercise the MLR has participated in since re-designating last year,” Col. Timothy Brady, the commanding officer of the 3rd MLR, said in the release. “We’ve progressed from wargaming Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations in a classroom to now conducting EABO at a service-level training exercise operating as a Stand-in Force under a Division headquarters. MLR-TE gives us a chance to train hard, refine tactics and procedures, and continue to rapidly develop this force of the future.”

The Marine Corps plans to take lessons learned from the training event and apply them to Balikatan 2023 in the Philippines in April, according to the release.

In the Philippine Sea, U.S Navy ships from commander, Task Force (CTF) 70 and commander, Task Force (CTF) 71 finished the Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) drills, according to a separate news release from 7th Fleet.

“Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Japan (FDNF-J) SWATT 2023 was the first multi-international iteration of the exercise with participation from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF),” the release reads.

CNS Yuhengxing (798) Japanese MoD photo

For the U.S. Navy, cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), USS Antietam (CG-54) and USS Shiloh (CG-67), destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) and replenishment ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11) participated in the exercise, while destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG-178) joined for the JMSDF. From Jan. 15 through Jan. 23, Ashigara conducted tactical exercises with those U.S. ships and replenishment ship USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) from south of Kanto, near Okinawa, south of Shikoku Island, according to a news release the JMSDF issued Monday. A Friday JMSDF release said replenishment ship JS Oumi (AOE-426) conducted a replenishment exercise with Antietam on Thursday near Okinawa.

Also on Thursday, a Chinese Dongdiao-class surveillance vessel was sighted at 10 a.m. local time that day sailing northwest in an area 150 kilometers east of Miyako Island, the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said in a news release. The hull number and image in the release identified the ship as CNS Yuhengxing (798) and the ship subsequently sailed northwest through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea. The release noted that the PLAN ship had transited southeast through the Miyako Strait on Jan. 19, and that minesweeper JS Shishijima (MSC-691) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa monitored.

U.S. Demonstrates Military Might in Beijing’s Backyard

By Joseph Campbell ABOARD THE NIMITZ, South China Sea, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Over a few hours under grey skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight…

By Joseph Campbell ABOARD THE NIMITZ, South China Sea, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Over a few hours under grey skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight...

Report to Congress on Hypersonic Missile Defense

The following is the Jan. 24, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Hypersonic Missile Defense: Issues for Congress. From the report The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Space Development Agency (SDA) are currently developing elements of a hypersonic missile defense system to defend against hypersonic weapons and other emerging missile threats. These elements include […]

The following is the Jan. 24, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Hypersonic Missile Defense: Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Space Development Agency (SDA) are currently developing elements of a hypersonic missile defense system to defend against hypersonic weapons and other emerging missile threats. These elements include the tracking and transport layers of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA) and various interceptor programs. As MDA and SDA continue to develop these systems, Congress may consider implications for oversight and defense authorizations and appropriations.

Background

Hypersonic weapons, like ballistic missiles, fly at speeds of at least Mach 5, or roughly 1 mile per second. Unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic weapons do not follow a ballistic trajectory and can maneuver en route to their target. Russia reportedly fielded its first hypersonic weapons in December 2019, while some experts believe that China fielded hypersonic weapons as early as 2020. The United States is not expected to field hypersonic weapons before 2023. (For an overview of hypersonic weapons programs in Russia, China, and the United States, see CRS Report R45811, Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress, by Kelley M. Sayler.)

The maneuverability and low flight altitude of hypersonic weapons could challenge existing detection and defense systems. For example, most terrestrial-based radars cannot detect hypersonic weapons until late in the weapon’s flight due to line-of-sight limitations of radar detection. This leaves minimal time for a defender to launch interceptors that could neutralize an inbound weapon. Figure 1 depicts the differences in terrestrial-based radar detection timelines for ballistic missiles versus hypersonic weapons.

U.S. defense officials have stated that both existing terrestrial- and space-based sensor architectures are insufficient to detect and track hypersonic weapons; former Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has noted that “hypersonic targets are 10 to 20 times dimmer than what the U.S. normally tracks by satellites in geostationary orbit.”

Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture

SDA developed the PWSA, formerly known as the National Defense Space Architecture, to “unify and integrate next generation capabilities across [the Department of Defense (DOD)] and industry.” The PWSA aims to be a “single, coherent proliferated space architecture with seven layers,” which include the data tracking and transport layers depicted in Figure 2 and discussed below. Other layers include the custody layer to support the targeting of mobile ground assets; the battle management layer to provide space-based command and control; the navigation layer to provide “alternate positioning, navigation, and timing for potential GPS-denied environments”; the deterrence layer to detect potentially hostile actions in deep space; and the support layer to facilitate satellite operations for the other PWSA layers. Once fully fielded, the PWSA is to include 550 satellites and provide full global coverage.

Tracking Layer

The tracking layer is to “provide global indications, warning, tracking, and targeting of advanced missile threats, including hypersonic missile systems.” As part of this layer, SDA is developing an architecture of Wide Field of View (WFOV) satellites, which are to eventually provide global coverage. SDA requested $81.3 million for Tranche 0 tracking activities in FY2023 and $499.8 million for Tranche 1 tracking activities (also known as Resilient Missile Warning Missile Tracking – Low Earth Orbit).

Working in tandem with the SDA’s tracking satellites will be the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS), previously known as the Space Sensor Layer, which is being developed by MDA in collaboration with SDA and the U.S. Space Force. HBTSS is to provide more sensitive, but more limited (or Medium Field of View [MFOV]) coverage, compared to WFOV. For this reason, WFOV is intended to provide cueing data to HBTSS, which could then provide more specific, target quality data to a ground-based interceptor. MDA requested $89.2 million for HBTSS in FY2023.

Download the document here.

Russian Arctic Threat Growing More Potent, Report Says

Russia’s Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile submarines and strategic bomber force’s capabilities remain intact despite the heavy toll the country’s invasion into Ukraine has had on its naval infantry, army and special forces assigned to the Kola Peninsula, a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found. The Arctic remains “of great strategic […]

Russian Borei-class nuclear submarine Generalissimus Suvorov. TASS Photo

Russia’s Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile submarines and strategic bomber force’s capabilities remain intact despite the heavy toll the country’s invasion into Ukraine has had on its naval infantry, army and special forces assigned to the Kola Peninsula, a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found.

The Arctic remains “of great strategic value to Russia,” Njord Wegge, a professor at the Norwegian Defense University College, said this week as the report was released. On the military side, the Kola Peninsula in the Arctic provides a gateway for Russia’s Northern Fleet’s attack and ballistic missile submarines to move through the Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom [GIUK] gap to reach the Atlantic

The “Russian Arctic Threat” report noted Western-imposed sanctions on the Kremlin for the Feb. 24 invasion may have a future effect on Russian defense industry’s ability to deliver future strategic capabilities. The report mentioned their effect on ship construction and updating conventional land, sea and air weapons systems that rely on imported technology. The report cited the benefit and importance of keeping tight sanctions on dual-use computer chips that could be used for Moscow’s conventional forces in the Ukrainian fighting.

It remains to be seen how sanctions will work over the next four years, said Colin Wall, associate fellow in CSIS’ Europe, Russia and Eurasia Program. For now, “Russia will probably have to make tradeoffs” in spending and where it commits military resources as long as the war continues.

Russia has already deployed advanced tanks to the fight and could soon be sending advanced air defense systems to better protects its forces against a spring offensive, Wegge said. Both moves put further strain on the Russian industrial base.

In addition to smuggling and trading with partners who ignore the sanctions, “China has been important partner in the past” and could be again in filling in these military technological gaps, Wegge said. So far, Beijing has not stepped in to fill Moscow’s immediate military needs as Iran did with drones.

“Russia has had 10 years of successful modernization” of its forces that it can fall back on, he said, specifically citing hypersonic weapons and silencing its submarines.

Wall, who co-authored the report with Wegge, added, with Finland and Sweden applying for NATO membership Russia’s goal of “protecting its second strike capability” is of heightened concern in the Kremlin. Moscow’s other strategic goals in the Arctic are: protecting the Northern Sea Route as a potential major trade route between Asia and Europe; and protecting its energy industry in the region, a major source of outside revenue.

When Sweden and, especially, Finland are admitted to NATO, the security equation in the Arctic will change. Both panelists agreed the High North has been a region of relatively low tension.

The report noted Russia’s defense minister warned “retaliatory measures are required” such sending more land forces to northwest Russia if the two are admitted to the alliance.

CSIS Graphic

With Finland a member, the alliance would have better highway access and now rail access to the northernmost areas of Europe. In addition, Finland has a “broad mobilization base” in reserve manpower and stockpiled conventional arms, weapons and ammunition, Wegge said.

Wall described the Kremlin’s comments as “ratcheting up” tensions. He added it was unlikely immediately that United States or NATO would create a Baltic or Arctic Command in the near future.

“The Arctic is not going to shoot to the top of the priority list” of American immediate security concerns, Wall said. He expects U.S. presence to grow but to continue to rely on allies and partners to keep an eye on Russian activities.

Speaking at a Wilson Center event Thursday, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael Ryan, deputy commandant for operations, policy and capabilities, emphasized presence. “It’s about being there … to be successful” in providing security for the region, he said.

Adding the Arctic is a “unique domain” for security and military operations, Ryan said. The service’s expanded commitment can be seen in its building a heavy icebreaker and looking to buy another existing large icebreaking vessel to operate continuously there. Both are part of a long-term effort to rebuild the nation’s icebreaking fleet to three heavies and three medium icebreakers.

The CSIS report stated the Northern Fleet has two “ice-class” vessels in its number and can call up 46 civilian icebreakers when needed. Some of those icebreakers are armed.

Wegge noted at CSIS the American Marines and the Army’s 11th Airborne Division, based in Alaska, have stepped up training exercises in the High North with allies like Norway and large-scale exercises like Trident Juncture. For years, the Marine Corps has been prepositioning equipment in northern Norway to use in a crisis.

He added Norway can play a pivotal role in Arctic security in providing air and maritime awareness with its advanced platforms and technology.

Report to Congress on North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons and Missile Programs

The following is the Jan. 23, 2023 Congressional Research Service In Focus report, North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons and Missile Programs. From the report Overview North Korea continues to advance its nuclear weapons and missile programs despite UN Security Council sanctions and high-level diplomatic efforts. Recent ballistic missile tests and military parades suggest that North Korea […]

The following is the Jan. 23, 2023 Congressional Research Service In Focus report, North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons and Missile Programs.

From the report

Overview

North Korea continues to advance its nuclear weapons and missile programs despite UN Security Council sanctions and high-level diplomatic efforts. Recent ballistic missile tests and military parades suggest that North Korea is continuing to build a nuclear warfighting capability designed to evade regional ballistic missile defenses. Such an approach likely reinforces a deterrence and coercive diplomacy strategy—lending more credibility as it demonstrates capability—but it also raises questions about crisis stability and escalation control. Congress may choose to examine U.S. policy in light of these advances.

According to the U.S. intelligence community’s 2022 annual threat assessment, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un views nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as “the ultimate guarantor of his totalitarian and autocratic rule of North Korea and believes that over time he will gain international acceptance as a nuclear power.”

United States policy as well as United Nations resolutions call on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. In a September 9, 2022, speech to North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly, Kim Jong Un rejected denuclearization talks and vowed the country would continue developing its “nuclear power.” The Assembly adopted a new law that reportedly expands the conditions under which North Korea would use nuclear weapons to include possible first use in situations that threaten the regime’s survival. The Biden Administration’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review said, “Any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its Allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of that regime.”

Nuclear Testing

North Korea has tested a nuclear explosive device six times since 2006. Each test produced underground blasts progressively higher in magnitude and estimated yield. North Korea conducted its most recent test on September 3, 2017. A North Korean press release stated it had tested a hydrogen bomb (or two-stage thermonuclear warhead) that it was perfecting for delivery on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

In April 2018, North Korea announced that it had achieved its goals, would no longer conduct nuclear tests, and would close down its Punggye-ri nuclear test site. It dynamited the entrances to two test tunnels in May 2018 prior to the first Trump-Kim summit. In an October 2018 meeting with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Kim Jong-un “invited inspectors to visit the [test site] to confirm that it has been irreversibly dismantled,” but this did not occur. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports say North Korea began restoring test tunnels in March 2022.

Nuclear Material Production

North Korea reportedly continues to produce fissile material (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) for weapons. North Korea restarted its plutonium production facilities after it withdrew from a nuclear agreement in 2009, and is operating centrifuge uranium enrichment plants at the Yongbyon nuclear complex and possibly at Kangson. A March 2022 IAEA report says that there were no indications of operations at its Radiochemical Laboratory (reprocessing) plant since its last reprocessing campaign from February to July 2021. The IAEA notes ongoing operation of the Yongbyon Experimental Light Water 5MW(e) Reactor since July 2021. Spent fuel from that reactor is reprocessed at the Radiochemical Laboratory to extract plutonium for weapons. In September 2022, the IAEA reported ongoing uranium mining, milling, and concentration activities at Pyongsan. Fissile material production in large part determines the number and type of nuclear warheads a country is able to build.

Nuclear Warheads

Outside experts estimate that North Korea has produced enough fissile material for between 20 to 60 warheads. A 2021 U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report says that North Korea “retains a stockpile of nuclear weapons.” Another goal of a nuclear weapons program is to lower the size and weight of a nuclear warhead for deployment on missiles. A July 2017 DIA assessment and some outside observers asserted North Korea had achieved the level of miniaturization required to fit a nuclear device on weapons ranging from short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Kim Jong-un in January 2021 said that the country was able to “miniaturize, lighten and standardize nuclear weapons and to make them tactical ones.”

Missile Development

North Korea conducted an unprecedented 63 ballistic missile test launches in 2022 according to U.S. government officials. U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions prohibit North Korea’s development of the means of delivering conventional and nuclear payloads, in addition to the nuclear weapons themselves. UNSC resolutions specifically ban “all ballistic missile tests” by North Korea. A ballistic missile is a projectile powered by a rocket engine until it reaches the apogee of its trajectory, at which point it falls back to earth using earth’s gravity. Ballistic missiles can deliver nuclear and large conventional payloads at high speed and over great distances. They are categorized as short-range, medium-range, or long-range (intercontinental) based on the distance from the launch site to the target.

Download the document here.

Japan Issues Military Equipment Wishlist That Includes Hypersonic Weapons, Unmanned Systems

Japan’s Ministry of Defense this week issued a document detailing new military equipment it’s developing, with rationales and status updates for programs ranging from hypersonic weapons to unmanned underwater vehicles. The capabilities include research on hypersonic cruise missiles, the development of high-speed glide bombs for island defense, target observation munitions, Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) control […]

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, announced the successful completion of Japan Flight Test Mission-07 (JFTM-07), held off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii, on Nov. 18, 2022. MDA Photo

Japan’s Ministry of Defense this week issued a document detailing new military equipment it’s developing, with rationales and status updates for programs ranging from hypersonic weapons to unmanned underwater vehicles.

The capabilities include research on hypersonic cruise missiles, the development of high-speed glide bombs for island defense, target observation munitions, Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) control technology, development of new sea mines, improved Type 12 anti-ship missiles, the mass production and deployment of high-speed glide bombs, mass production of the improved SH-60K anti-submarine warfare helicopter, a new anti-ship missile for maritime patrol aircraft, the mass production of torpedoes with a silent power unit and the acquisition of Tomahawk cruise missiles. The disclosure is in line with a 2019 MoD enactment on measures for clarification and transparency on new military equipment.

On hypersonic cruise missiles, the MoD said its study found only domestic research and development candidates met the operational concept and performance requirements. It selected a domestic operational research demonstration to develop prototypes for evaluation and funding for the research under the Fiscal Year 2023 defense budget request. (Japan’s fiscal year begins on April 1. The MoD did not disclose the amount allocated in the document, but the MoD’s FY 2023 budget request asked for 58.5 billion yen, or $454 million.

For high-speed glide bombs, the MoD said it will develop them with long ranges and make them capable of traveling at supersonic speeds and high altitudes from various points in Japan to deal with invasions of islands. An MoD study concluded that only domestic candidates can meet the requirements for operational concept and performance, so Japan will pursue domestic development. The FY 2023 budget request sought 200.3 billion yen, or $1.54 billion, for development. A second entry on building and deploying high-speed glide bombs said that while Japan expects to finish research into the bombs by FY 2025, the bombs could operationally deploy as early as possible. This could potentially happen before the research finishes, so acquisition costs were factored into the FY 2023 budget request. It did not give an exact timeframe as to when manufacturing and deployment will begin.

A tomahawk cruise missile launches from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG-86) for a live-fire exercise during Valiant Shield 2018 on Sept. 18, 2018. US Navy Photo

On the Tomahawk cruise missiles, the MoD said they are necessary to acquire a stand-off missile capability for defense as soon as possible and that the Tomahawk met the criteria, like acquisition schedule and performance. The acquisition costs were included in the FY 2023 budget request, which sough 211.3 billion yen, or $1.62 billion, along with an additional 110 billion yen, or $847 million, for software, equipment, technology transfer fees and training.

It’s unclear if the target observation munitions entry referred solely to loitering munitions or unmanned air vehicles to provide target acquisition data for other weapon systems or a combination of both. Again the MoD chose to go the domestic development path, as it was the only was to meet Japan’s requirements and development expenses that were factored into the FY 2023 budget request. The MoD said it will not disclose overall procurement cost, per unit cost, and production cost because it could suggest the number of munitions procured. But the life cycle cost is expected to be 118.2 billion yen, or $911 million.

For research on UUV control technology, Japan will acquire and build two types of domestic UUVs to test out actual operations at sea, with the test UUVs meant to control smaller UUVs. UUV1 will only be a testing vehicle, while UUV2 may evolve into a mass-produced operational model once the tests are completed. Japan will also domestically develop new compact and lightweight sea mines that can be deployed from various platforms and remotely controlled. It’s unclear when these would get operationally fielded.

Development of the improved Type 12 ground-launched anti-ship missile is expected to finish by FY 2025, though the missile will deploy as soon as possible. The MoD did not detail what the improvements would be, but it has already disclosed plans to extend the range from 200 kilometers to over 1000 kilometers. The MoD included 127.7 billion yen, or $985 million, in the FY 2023 budget for both research and development, along with production and acquisition.

A new anti-ship missile will deploy on Japan’s maritime patrol aircraft to replace the existing ASM-1C and Harpoon anti-ship missiles in service, though the type and manufacture has not been disclosed. Pictures of the missiles during flight tests show that it’s likely an improved air-launched version of the Type 17 anti-ship missile. A submarine-launched torpedo with a quieter power unit will also come online, though the document did not detail whether this is an improved version of the Type 18 torpedo or a new torpedo design. It only said that the new power unit is quieter than the one in existing Type 18 torpedoes. Per unit costs were also not disclosed.

The improved version of the Japanese-produced Mitsubishi Heavy Industries SH-60K, – built under license from Sikorsky – commonly known outside the MoD as SH-60L, had an average unit production cost of 8.1 billion yen, or $62 million, as of August 2022, according to the MoD document. The life cycle cost is projected at 1248 billion yen, or $9.61 billion, when 80 aircraft are procured. Though not stated in the document, the helicopter is expected to enter service by the end of FY 2023, replacing the current SH-60Ks in service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Report to Congress on Chinese Nuclear and Missile Proliferation

The following is the Jan. 23, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Chinese Nuclear and Missile Proliferation. From the report The U.S. government has continued to express concerns about China’s record concerning the proliferation of nuclear- and missile-related technologies to other countries, with more recent focus on the threat of Chinese acquisition of U.S.-origin […]

The following is the Jan. 23, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Chinese Nuclear and Missile Proliferation.

From the report

The U.S. government has continued to express concerns about China’s record concerning the proliferation of nuclear- and missile-related technologies to other countries, with more recent focus on the threat of Chinese acquisition of U.S.-origin nuclear technology. (See CRS In Focus IF11050, New U.S. Policy Regarding Nuclear Exports to China, by Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth D. Nikitin.) Official U.S. government reports indicate that the Chinese government has apparently ended its direct involvement in the transfer of nuclear- and missile-related items, but Chinese-based companies and individuals continue to export goods relevant to those items, particularly to Iran and North Korea. U.S. officials have also raised concerns about entities operating in China that provide other forms of support for proliferation-sensitive activities, such as illicit finance and money laundering.

Background

China did not oppose new states’ acquisition of nuclear weapons during the 1960s and 1970s, the Department of State wrote in a declassified January 1998 report to Congress. According to a 1983 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), China had exported “nuclear materials since 1981” that were not subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Beijing did so “mainly to earn hard currency,” the estimate assesses, explaining that the

Chinese became aware in 1979 that they had insufficient resources for their initially grandiose modernization program and that they needed to generate more revenue through expanded foreign trade. Accordingly, the State Council directed its subordinate ministries in late 1979 to begin selling surpluses.

Consequently, according to the NIE, Beijing ended its “abstention from commercial trade in conventional arms and nuclear materials.” During the 1980s and 1990s, China transferred nuclear and missile technology to other countries’ weapons programs. China provided assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and engaged in nuclear cooperation with Iran. Beijing exported missiles to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. (For more information, see CRS Report RL33192, U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, by Mark Holt, Mary Beth D. Nikitin, and Paul K. Kerr.)

According to U.S. government reports and official statements, China significantly curtailed its nuclear- and missile-related transfers during the 1990s; Beijing also committed to improving its export controls. For example, the 1998 State Department report cited above noted China’s 1996 pledge to refrain from assisting unsafeguarded nuclear facilities and 1997 changes to Chinese nuclear export policy, as well as other Chinese nonproliferation efforts.

The United States has extensive nuclear cooperation with China, which is governed by a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, renewed in 2015. (See CRS Report RL33192, U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.)

The above-described changes in Chinese behavior took place after the two governments concluded their first nuclear cooperation agreement in 1985. Laws subsequently adopted by Congress required, as a condition for U.S. implementation of the agreement, the President to submit to Congress certain nonproliferation-related certifications, as well as a report about Beijing’s “nonproliferation policies and practices.” President William Clinton stated in a January 1998 letter to Congress that China had “made substantial strides in joining the international nonproliferation regime, and in putting in place a comprehensive system of nuclear-related, nationwide export controls,” since concluding the 1985 agreement.

Beijing acceded in 1992 to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as a nuclear-weapon state (NWS) and has voluntary IAEA safeguards on its civil reactors. The treaty defines NWS as those that exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All other NPT states-parties are nonnuclear-weapon states. According to the treaty, a NWS is not to transfer nuclear weapons to “any recipient whatsoever” or to “in any way … assist, encourage, or induce any” nonnuclear-weapon state “to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.”

China is also a participant in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—a multilateral control regime for nuclear-related exports. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) performs an analogous function for missiles and related items. China is not an MTCR partner but has agreed to adhere to the regime’s export guidelines.

Download the document here.

Senator Questions If Allies Would Aid Taiwan in Potential Chinese Invasion

A senior Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence questioned several allies’ willingness to come to Taiwan’s aid if China invaded the island. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday at the American Enterprise Institute that debating if the United States should drop its strategic ambiguity stance if the island democracy was attacked is a […]

Taiwanese Marines on Jan. 11, 2023. Taiwan Ministry of National Defense Photo

A senior Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence questioned several allies’ willingness to come to Taiwan’s aid if China invaded the island.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday at the American Enterprise Institute that debating if the United States should drop its strategic ambiguity stance if the island democracy was attacked is a “moot point.” While Chinese President Xi Jinping expects the U.S. and Japan to respond, Cornyn is “a little less confident what our other allies would do.”

Australia and New Zealand have voiced support for Taiwan, but it “is a far cry from committing troops to repel an invasion,” Cornyn said as he also questioned Australia’s and New Zealand’s willingness to help Taiwan during a potential invasion.

As was the case with Russian President Vladimir Putin, “one guy decides whether to invade or not,” when it comes to Taiwan’s future, Cornyn said.

“I don’t think the Taiwanese are ready” for an attack. But “we’ve see all the signs” of increased Chinese belligerency following then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan, Cornyn said. This summer, Pelosi told Taiwanese officials that the United States “will not abandon its commitment” to the island’s security.

Beijing responded with missile tests over and near the island, flying hundreds of aircraft into its air identification zone over several days, sending warships around the island as it would in a blockade and using military exercises to test amphibious assault operations.

For several years, the United States has pressed Taiwan to improve its internal defenses by investing in anti-air and anti-ship weapons, investing in mines and mine countermeasures, extending training periods for reservists and stepping up military exercises rehearsing how to repel an invasion.

Cornyn also questioned whether Taiwan could “hold out for a couple of weeks … until the cavalry arrives” for its rescue. The situation is very different from that of Ukraine, which has land connections with NATO countries to move support into the country. Taiwan is an island and support would have to come by air or sea.

When asked what would deter Xi from an attack in the near future, Cornyn pointed to “cost” leading to potential failure.

On continued aid to Ukraine, he expected strong congressional support to continue. “My own view is that it is money well spent, he said. The senator said the expected audit – requested by the House – of past expenditures for and to Kyiv is necessary.

Cornyn is skeptical that the Kremlin is interested in serious negotiations with the Ukrainians now.

“If peace broke out tomorrow, they [would use the time] to regroup and re-arm,” he said.

He agreed with the Ukrainian assessment that the war began in 2014, when the Kremlin seized Crimea and backed separatists in the Donbas region with weapons, manpower and financing.

The Ukrainians have to set the terms of negotiations that lead to a settlement, he added. Putin’s goals now are “to grind the Ukrainians … and outlast the West” in the struggle.

The defense industrial sector is feeling the impact of that continued support to Ukraine, Cornyn said. He cited a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report that found it will take five years to replenish U.S. stocks of 155 mm artillery rounds.

“Javelins and Stingers, same story,” the senator said.

Aggravating the shortages is the potential for simultaneous engagement in two conflicts – one in Eastern Europe and another in the Western Pacific, he added. “I don’t see all hands on deck,” including the industrial base, should a crisis escalate to fighting in Asia or the Pacific.

“This ought to be a flashing red light to us,” Cornyn said.

“Certainly we are in a race” with China on advanced technologies, like artificial intelligence and quantum computing, he added. “There’s enough warning signals that we need to be ramping up our readiness” in the technology sector as well. Cornyn cited the semi-conductor manufacturing industry, for which both China and the United States rely on Taiwan.

Congress compounds the problem by relying on continuing resolutions, instead of passing budgets on time, and then passing appropriations through huge omnibus spending packages. The resolutions, with their caps on spending and restrictions on where money can go until a budget is passed, breaks up planning in the Pentagon and disrupts industrial base production, he said.

“I think it’s going to be a real heavy lift to get back to regular order” of passing individual appropriations bills with amendments accepted or rejected on the floor of both chambers of Congress, he said.

“CRs and sequestration is one of the places you would not want to go,” Cornyn said.

The fiscal year begins Oct. 1. President Joe Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2023 $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package into law on Dec. 29. The government ran on continuing resolutions during that time.