German Ports Are More Important Than Patriot Missiles Says US Army General

The former commander of United States Army Europe says that ports are more important to NATO than patirot missiles systems as he warns against China’s investments in critical European infastructure….

The former commander of United States Army Europe says that ports are more important to NATO than patirot missiles systems as he warns against China’s investments in critical European infastructure....

Defense Primer: U.S. Defense Appropriations Process

The following is the Nov. 17, 2022, Congressional Research Service Defense Primer: Defense Appropriations Process. From the report The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse in Article I, Section 9, which provides that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” To fulfill this duty, […]

The following is the Nov. 17, 2022, Congressional Research Service Defense Primer: Defense Appropriations Process.

From the report

The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse in Article I, Section 9, which provides that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” To fulfill this duty, Congress annually considers appropriations measures, which provide funding for numerous activities—such as national defense, education, and homeland security—consistent with policies and priorities established through various enacted measures, such as the National Defense Authorization Act.

The congressional appropriations process includes various rules and practices that Congress has adopted to distinguish appropriations measures and facilitate their consideration. These measures generally provide funding authority in response to the President’s budget request for a fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).

Committees of Jurisdiction

The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations exercise jurisdiction over annual appropriations measures. Each committee has 12 subcommittees, each of which is responsible for developing one regular annual appropriations bill. These measures determine which department activities will be funded. House and Senate Appropriations subcommittee jurisdictions are generally parallel. The main subcommittees that deal with defense matters are:

    • Subcommittees on Defense, with jurisdiction over appropriations for the Departments of Army, Navy (including the Marine Corps), and Air Force (including the Space Force); the Office of the Secretary of Defense; defense agencies; and intelligence activities.
    • Subcommittees on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, with jurisdiction over appropriations for the Military Construction, Chemical Demilitarization Construction, Military Family Housing Construction and Operation and Maintenance, and Base Realignment and Closure accounts; the NATO Security Investment Program; the Department of Veterans Affairs; and other related agencies.
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, with jurisdiction over all defense-related activities of the Department of Energy, including the National Nuclear Security Administration. This subcommittee also has jurisdiction over the civil works activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among other non-defense activities.

The Congressional Budget Resolution

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-344) provides for the annual consideration of a concurrent resolution on the budget, which allows Congress to establish overall budgetary and fiscal policy to be implemented through enactment of subsequent legislation. The budget resolution, in part, establishes a limit on total new budget authority and outlay levels divided among 20 functional categories—such as national defense, agriculture, and transportation—that set spending priorities.

Section 302(a) of the Congressional Budget Act requires the total new budget authority and outlays in the budget resolution to be allocated among all committees with spending jurisdiction. This establishes ceilings on spending for legislation reported from each committee that can be enforced procedurally through points of order during consideration of the legislation. All discretionary spending is allocated to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, which are required to subdivide this allocation among their 12 subcommittees under Section 302(b) of the Congressional Budget Act. These suballocations are also enforceable during consideration of legislation, preventing the consideration of amendments that would increase funding above these limits. In the absence of agreement on a budget resolution, the House and Senate may use alternative means to establish enforceable limits.

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Ford Carrier Strike Group Teams with Atlantic Allies in Silent Wolverine Exercise

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group joined six allies in the eastern Atlantic on Tuesday to begin exercise Silent Wolverine, the Pentagon announced Tuesday. The Ford CSG joined ships from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands for the drills, which will test the countries’ interoperability and interchangeability with each other, a Navy spokesperson told USNI […]

The first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), left, conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Lewis and Clarke-class dry cargo ship USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13) as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group on Nov. 2, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group joined six allies in the eastern Atlantic on Tuesday to begin exercise Silent Wolverine, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The Ford CSG joined ships from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands for the drills, which will test the countries’ interoperability and interchangeability with each other, a Navy spokesperson told USNI News.

The strike group participants include USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), USS Normandy (CG-60), USS McFaul (DDG-74) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), the Navy spokesperson said.

It will be the first time that the U.S. will test Ford’s ability to work with the other countries joining the exercise, the spokesperson said.

Silent Wolverine will also help train for NATO deterrence, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Tuesday.

“Silent Wolverine demonstrates the U.S. commitment to supporting regional stability and security through seamless interchangeability amongst participating NATO allies,” he said.

The following ships will participate in the exercise, which is slated to last until Nov. 14:

Canada

  • HMCS Montréal (FFH-336)

Denmark

  • HDMS Peter Willemoes (F362)

Germany

  • FGS Hessen (F 221)

Spain

  • ESPS Álvaro de Bazán (F101)

France

  • FS Chevalier Paul (D 621)

The Netherlands

  • HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (F802)
  • HNLMS Van Amstel (F831)

Ford made a port call in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Nov. 1. It is expected to make a port call in Portsmouth, England, according to U.K. Defence Journal.

The strike group left Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 4 for two months of operations in the Atlantic.

The U.S. has expanded its carrier presence in Europe since December when the Pentagon tasked the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group to take up station in the Mediterranian Sea as Russia massed troops on its border with Ukraine ahead of the February invasion. The George H.W. Bush CSG, which was operating off the coast of Italy as of Monday, relieved the Truman CSG in August.

Russian Aggression in Ukraine Boosts Arctic Security Concerns

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically altered how the seven western nations in the Arctic Council approach the High North, creating a new emphasis on security in the region, a panel of regional diplomatic and security experts said Tuesday. “We’re in new space,” David Balton, executive director of the Arctic Executive Committee in the Office […]

Army Sgt. David Becker, assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, “Spartan Brigade,” recovers his parachute after completing an airborne operation at Malemute Drop Zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 5, 2021. U.S. Air Force Photo

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically altered how the seven western nations in the Arctic Council approach the High North, creating a new emphasis on security in the region, a panel of regional diplomatic and security experts said Tuesday.
“We’re in new space,” David Balton, executive director of the Arctic Executive Committee in the Office of Science and Technology, said. “I’m not sanguine how the transition from the Russian chairmanship” of the council will proceed next year, he added, referring to Russia’s current role as the chair of the organization.

Historically, the council had steered away from security issues. It concentrated on regional cooperation in scientific research, especially on climate and oceans, responding to natural disasters and emergencies, cooperation in law enforcement through a coast guard forum and the 4 million people who live in the Arctic.

Instead of five NATO members on the council, as in 2021, there soon will be seven. Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership following Moscow’s Feb. 24 unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

At the Wilson Center event, Gregory Pollock, a senior Pentagon official responsible for Arctic affairs, said “Russia has changed the dynamic” of cooperation that marked Arctic affairs in recent years and now threatens peace and stability there, and also in Europe.

The United States and its six western allies and partners “paused” their participation in council affairs in early March, rather than travel to Moscow for meetings to give the appearance diplomatically “that it was business as usual,” Pollock noted. How long the pause will last is unknown, as these nations and others continue to send arms and financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and impose increasingly stringent economic sanctions on Russian political and business figures and commercial interests.

The State Department noted in March that “we are in a situation that is extremely fluid.”

Taking a tougher stance, the Biden administration’s recently released its national strategy for the Arctic region and said the invasion has made “government-to-government cooperation with Russia in the Arctic almost impossible.”

Pollock pointed to the strategy’s first pillar as showing that the administration is “adopting a campaign mindset” to security there. Its primary focus is on defending the homeland and exploiting “probably our greatest advantage,” allies and partners. He also noted that the U.S. and the other six nations have already started to expand military exercises in the Arctic to understand how to operate under its extreme conditions, as the U.S. is expanding its icebreaker fleet to expand its presence in the region.

The report itself calls for increased interoperability among those nations’ armed forces and information sharing on security matters. As an example of interoperability, Pollock noted the seven nations bring several hundred F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to the security equation.

While the strategy itself calls for “a deeper understanding of the operating environment” and modernized domain awareness, Pollock declined to say whether the U.S. Navy is considering basing in the region that would require new facilities and infrastructure for fuel.

Devon Brennan, director of maritime and Arctic Security at the National Security Council, said there is a military component to the deepening of the Nome port in Alaska. The port, located about 545 miles northwest of Anchorage, now can only safely handle vessels with an 18-foot draft.

Pollock and Maxine Burkett, the deputy assistant secretary for oceans, fisheries and polar affairs, both cited the impact of climate change on the indigenous population – with rising sea levels and increased water salinization as temperatures climb – and security concerns in the future. The rising sea levels have already caused some populations to move away from existing communities. Other communities are adopting a “managed retreat” from encroaching shorelines or testing a “protect in place” strategy. Higher saline levels affect marine life, including shifting positions of fishing stocks.

On specific security concerns on climate and environmental change, the new strategy states: “We will work to improve Arctic observing, mapping, and charting; weather, water, and sea ice forecasting; subseasonal and seasonal prediction; emergency preparedness posture; and satellite coverage to enable efficient commerce and to ensure maritime and air safety.”

It also called for increased broadband access that would allow better emergency response.

As for Beijing, Brennan said,“we continue to have concerns [about] what their real ambitions are.” He mentioned mineral exploration, fishing and development of the Polar Silk Road, and cutting transportation time and miles between China and Europe as potential interests for China.

This is especially true in light of Beijing’s and Moscow’s expanded cooperation agreement, including military exercises and security arrangements, that the two countries reached before the Ukrainian invasion, he added.

The Chinese “do have legitimate interests in the Arctic,” but outside of its spending in Russia, their investments in the region have decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic began two years ago, Balton added. The Chinese have not scheduled any transits using the Northern Sea Route for the coming year.

French Foreign Minister Warns Russian Victory in Ukraine Could Spark Worldwide Wars of Conquest

Wars of conquest could become the new normal if unprovoked attacks like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine go unchecked, France’s minister for Europe and foreign affairs warned last week. The invasion provides models for other aggressors in Europe, the Indo-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Catherine Colonna said Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. […]

Pallets holding munitions are transported off an aircraft cargo loader into a Boeing 747 at Travis Air Force Base, California, April 26, 2022. The United States continues to reaffirm its unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. US AIr Force Photo

Wars of conquest could become the new normal if unprovoked attacks like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine go unchecked, France’s minister for Europe and foreign affairs warned last week.

The invasion provides models for other aggressors in Europe, the Indo-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Catherine Colonna said Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The stakes are far beyond Ukraine and Europe,” she said. “We cannot afford that” to happen.

On Ukraine, she said France and the European Union agree that “we will support our partners as long as it takes.” France itself is taking in 2,000 Ukrainian troops for advanced weapons systems training and the other 26 EU members will train 13,000 more.

“We’re doing our utmost to meet our responsibilities,” if not always discussing publicly exactly what Paris and Kyiv have agreed upon. She added that France has been sending artillery, light-armored vehicles and ammunition to assist the Ukrainians, and has strengthened the supply chain to keep weapons and systems moving. France is also working with other European nations on common defense investments to improve their own security at a lower cost than going it alone.

When asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Colonna said, “we call on Russia to act [as] a responsible power.”

Noting that relations between France and the United States had reached a low point last year, Colonna said, “France may be a troublesome ally at times,” but “France is your ally and so is Europe.”

The abrupt cancellation of the major submarine construction contract between Paris and Canberra to build extended-range conventionally-powered submarines for Australia triggered France’s anger. In its place, Australia signed a technology-sharing agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom, known as AUKUS, that includes building nuclear-powered submarines with the cooperation of London and Washington. In response, France recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the United States.

Since then, relations between Washington and Paris have improved. President Joe Biden is set to host French President Emmanuel Macron at his administration’s first state dinner in December.

Saying not all issues have been resolved between the two on trade, Colonna said, “we need each other; we need to trust each other.”

She downplayed the idea that strengthening the EU militarily affected NATO’s readiness as a security alliance. “A stronger NATO is good for Europe, and a stronger Europe is good for NATO.” As an example of that, Colonna said France, a leader in the EU, itself has dispatched forces to Romania and Estonia and other Baltic nations to demonstrate its commitment to NATO in the wake of the Russian assault on Ukraine.

Likewise, the EU has consistently responded with tougher economic sanctions on the Kremlin for its aggression and last week added Iran to the list for supplying Moscow with kamikaze drones that are now targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

“Who are the good partners,” she asked rhetorically about EU support in Ukraine and now in the Indo-Pacific.

“We in Europe are ready, willing and able to meet our responsibilities” not only to Ukraine, despite its energy supply costs to EU members as winter approaches and rising inflation, especially on food prices, Colonna said.

She said those responsibilities also cover “terrorist threats in the Levant and Libya,” thwarting Iran’s ambitions to become a nuclear power, countering Russia’s Wagner Group efforts to destabilize the African Sahel and addressing China bullying Taiwan and making territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific.

Looking at the Indian and Pacific oceans, where France has possessions, she said “there can be no choice” if there is only one model – China’s – to follow. The alternative model offered by the U.S., the EU and others is an open one – fostering trade, connectivity and protecting the environment.

Colonna said Paris “is moving the EU in that direction” as a group and as individual nations.

NATO And China Face-Off At Arctic Summit

By Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg) A senior NATO official confronted a Chinese diplomat over China’s failure to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, injecting tension over the war into an international…

By Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg) A senior NATO official confronted a Chinese diplomat over China’s failure to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, injecting tension over the war into an international...

George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group Now Under NATO Command

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group went under NATO command on Friday as part of the Neptune Strike 2022 exercise series, the deputy Pentagon press spokesperson announced. “Neptune Strike 2022.2 and the Neptune series continues to enable multiple and unique theater-wide training opportunities necessary to integrate the high-end maritime warfare capabilities of these carrier […]

Chief Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) Andrew Howard watches as the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), sails alongside the supply-class fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE-8) during a replenishment-at-sea, Sept. 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group went under NATO command on Friday as part of the Neptune Strike 2022 exercise series, the deputy Pentagon press spokesperson announced.

“Neptune Strike 2022.2 and the Neptune series continues to enable multiple and unique theater-wide training opportunities necessary to integrate the high-end maritime warfare capabilities of these carrier strike groups to support alliances deterrence, and defense requirements in Europe,” Sabrina Singh told reporters Friday.

The exercise officially started Friday at the Strike Force NATO headquarters in Oeiras, Portugal, according to a U.S. 6th Fleet news release. Besides the U.S., Albania, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom are expected to participate.

The news release did not say what the carrier strike group will do as part of the exercise beyond performing “vigilance activities.”

“The Neptune Series of peacetime vigilance activities, integrating carrier strike and amphibious strike capability into NATO operations, has become routine work for this battle staff – generating effects in the maritime, air and land domains, providing deterrence and reassurance, and offering powerful opportunities for Allied interoperability,” Strike Force NATO deputy commander Royal Navy Rear Adm. James Morley said in the release.

Neptune Strike 2022.2 is the fourth Neptune Project exercise to happen in 2022, with all but one occurring after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. NATO also held two Project Neptune exercises in 2021.

“The Neptune series is a tangible demonstration of the power and capability of the NATO Alliance in all domain operations,” 6th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Thomas Ishee, who leads Strike Force NATO, said in the release. “Neptune Strike 22.2 is a prime example of NATO’s ability to integrate high-end maritime warfare capabilities of an allied carrier strike group, ensuring our collective ability to deter and defend.”

This is the third time that NATO has assumed command of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group in 2022 and the third time since the end of the Cold War. NATO previously commanded the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group during two other iterations of Project Neptune, USNI News previously reported.

Neptune Strike 2022.2 kicks off at the same time as nuclear exercise Steadfast Noon, another NATO exercise. Steadfast Noon involves aircraft from 14 different countries, according to a NATO news release. The training will take place over Belgium, the United Kingdom and the North Sea. The U.S. will send B-52 bombers, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Thursday.

Russia is also expected to conduct its own nuclear exercise, called Grom, this month, Kirby said.

The George H.W. Bush CSG deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in August, replacing the Harry S. Truman CSG, which had been operating there since December.

The George H.W. Bush CSG includes flagship USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), USS Truxtun (DDG-103), USS Farragut (DDG-96) and USS Nitze (DDG-94). Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 is embarked on Bush.

Can NATO Protect Pipelines & Subsea Cables?

By Natalia Drozdiak (Bloomberg) NATO allies are struggling to work out how to better safeguard undersea critical infrastructure after the Nord Stream pipelines blasts laid bare the difficulty of monitoring facilities…

By Natalia Drozdiak (Bloomberg) NATO allies are struggling to work out how to better safeguard undersea critical infrastructure after the Nord Stream pipelines blasts laid bare the difficulty of monitoring facilities...

Japanese Warships Return Home Following First Phase of Indo-Pacific Deployment

Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF) first surface unit of its Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) — helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110) — returned home to Yokosuka this week. The second surface unit, which includes destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104) is currently at sea and not expected to return until later this […]

Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Oyashio-class submarine with JMSDF destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), U.S. Navy destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76), Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338) and JMSDF destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) sail in formation in the South China Sea during exercise Noble Raven 22-2. Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Photo

Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF) first surface unit of its Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) — helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110) — returned home to Yokosuka this week.

The second surface unit, which includes destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104) is currently at sea and not expected to return until later this month.

Izumo and Takanami left Japan on June 13 and have been deployed for almost four months, which included participation in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 exercise held in Hawaii from June 29 through Aug. 4. The Japanese ships conducted bilateral and goodwill exercises with the navies of 25 countries in the Indo-Pacific region during the deployment, according to a Thursday JMSDF release.

“Through the activities of our forces, Japan demonstrated that it will not tolerate attempts to change the status quo by force, its strong ties with like-minded countries, and its contributions to the realization of a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific,’ and the creation of a desirable security environment for Japan,” JMSDF Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Hideki Yuasa said in the release.

Prior to returning to Japan, the first surface unit, together with a JMSDF Oyashio-class submarine that was part of the overall IPD22 deployment, conducted multilateral exercise Noble Raven 22-2 with the U.S. Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy in the South China Sea from Sept. 23 until Oct 1.

An earlier Noble Raven exercise took place from Aug. 30 through Sept. 7 in the waters of Guam to the South China Sea, USNI News previously reported.

U.S. Navy destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76) and replenishment ship USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198) participated in Noble Raven 22-2, while Canada was represented by frigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338). Along with tactical training, the exercise also included the first activity under the Japan-Canada Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), signed in 2018, where Izumo refuelled Winnipeg, according to a social media post by the JMSDF Escort Flotilla 4, of which Izumo is a part.

“In this multilateral exercise, we improved our tactical capabilities and strengthened cooperation between the JMSDF, the U.S. Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy by conducting more practical multilateral exercises,” Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata, commander of Escort Flotilla 4 and also the first surface unit, said in a Monday JMSDF release.

“Through this dispatch, we were able to embody Japan’s strong will not to allow unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, and demonstrate Japan’s strong determination to ensure the safety of maritime traffic in the region and thereby contribute to the prosperity of the international community,” Hirata said.

The JMSDF also announced in a Monday release that it will conduct the 2nd Dispatch Training (submarine) for its fiscal year 2022 with the deployment of submarine JS Toryu (SS-512) from Oct. 9 to Dec. 26, during which Japan will conduct training around Japan and Hawaii and in the waters around Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam. It is the 84th time that the submarine dispatch training has been conducted since 1963.

Australia Conducting Annual Indo-Pacific Deployment

Royal Australian Navy landing helicopter dock HMAS Adelaide (L01) and frigate HMAS Darwin (FFG04) docked at Port Klang Cruise Center, Malaysia in 2017 during the inaugural Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE) deployment. Photo Courtesy of Dzirhan Mahadzir

Australia began its 2022 iteration of its annual Indo-Pacific deployment, Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022 (IPE22), on Sept. 28.

The two-month regional engagement activity involves five ships, 11 helicopters and around 1,800 personnel from all three services of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with are representatives from across the Australian government, including the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Australian defence industry and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, according to a Sept. 29 release.

The exercises focus on strengthening military partnerships across southeast Asia and the northeast Indian Ocean, according to the release. Australia is committed to a open and resilient Indo-Pacific region, according to the statement.

Royal Australian Navy ships involved with IPE22 are the Landing Helicopter Dock HMAS Adelaide (L01), destroyer HMAS Hobart (DDG39), frigates HMAS Anzac (FFH150) and HMAS Arunta (FFH151) and replenishment ship HMAS Stalwart (A304).

Among the embarked personnel on Adelaide are troops from the Australian Army’s 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) air mobility aircraft will also be involved in the deployment.

Other countries involved in IPE22 include the Maldives, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia .

The five RAN ships will not be operating together as a single surface action group but will split into a main task force comprising of an LHD and an escort, in this case Adelaide and Anzac, while the remaining ships will both conduct independent IPE taskings. They may also operate together with the main task force at certain periods or conduct non-IPE taskings as part of the RAN’s routine regional presence deployment.

Hobart, Stalwart and Arunta will participate in maritime exercises with regional partners and conduct port visits, according ton Australian Department of Defence release on Wednesday.

These routine deployments demonstrated Australia’s commitment and engagement with our partners in the region, Commander of the Australian Fleet Rear Adm. Jonathan Earley said in the release.

“Australia has maintained a robust program of international engagement with countries in and around the Indo-Pacific for decades,” Earley said in the release.

IPE has been an annual deployment since 2017, with Earley, then a captain, commanding the first deployment.

IPE was cancelled in 2020 and conducted through contactless activities in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic with IPE22 marking the first full-scale IPE since 2019.

IPE22 activities have been carried out already in Mauritius and Timor-Leste, with staff talks between ADF and Australian Federal Police officers with government officials in the Maldives.

From Sept. 29-30, Stalwart, together with personnel flown by an RAAF C-130, conducted engagement activities in Timor Leste.

On Tuesday, Australia’s Department of Defence announced that it is deploying an RAAF P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) to the Mediterranean as part of a NATO operation.

Operation Sea Guardian 22 is an ongoing non-Article 5 NATO maritime security operation aimed at maintaining maritime situational awareness, deterring terrorism and enhancing capacity building in the Mediterranean region. The P-8A will be based in Italy and will operate in the Western and Central Mediterranean until mid-October 2022.

Report to Congress on U.S.-Baltic Relations

The following is the Sept. 29, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania: Background and U.S.-Baltic Relations. From the report Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, often referred to as the Baltic states, are democracies and close U.S. allies. Strong U.S. relations with these three states are rooted in history. The United States never recognized […]

The following is the Sept. 29, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania: Background and U.S.-Baltic Relations.

From the report

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, often referred to as the Baltic states, are democracies and close U.S. allies. Strong U.S. relations with these three states are rooted in history. The United States never recognized the Soviet Union’s forcible incorporation of the Baltic states in 1940, and U.S. officials applauded the restoration of their independence in 1991. Congress backed these policies on a bipartisan basis. The United States supported the Baltic states’ accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) in 2004. Especially since Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, potential threats posed to the Baltic states by Russia have been a primary driver of increased U.S. and congressional interest in the region.

Regional Security Concerns

Russia’s February 2022 renewed invasion of Ukraine has intensified U.S. and NATO concerns about the potential threat of Russian military action against the Baltic states. The Baltic states have supported Ukraine, including by providing military assistance and imposing sanctions against Russia that go beyond those adopted by the EU. Baltic states have been seeking to build up their military capabilities, but their armed forces remain relatively small and their capabilities limited. Consequently, the Baltic states’ defense planning relies heavily on their NATO membership. The Baltic states fulfill NATO’s target for member states to spend at least 2% of gross domestic product on defense.

Defense Cooperation and Security Assistance

The United States and the Baltic states cooperate closely on defense and security issues for the purposes of building capacity to deter and resist potential Russian aggression. In FY2021 and FY2022 combined, Congress appropriated nearly $349 million in U.S. Department of Defense security assistance funding to the Baltic states through the Baltic Security Initiative.

Under the U.S. European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), launched in 2014, the United States has enhanced its military presence in Central and Eastern Europe, with rotational U.S. forces conducting training and exercises in the Baltic states. The United States has stationed additional personnel and capabilities in the Baltic states since February 2022. NATO also has helped to bolster the Baltic states’ security. In 2016, the allies agreed to deploy multinational Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups to the Baltic states. NATO allies have deployed additional personnel to these battlegroups since February 2022. Baltic leaders have advocated for further enhancements to the U.S. and NATO deployments.

Potential Hybrid Threats

Some observers have expressed concerns that Russia could use the Baltic states’ ethnic Russian minorities as a pretext to manufacture a crisis. Many ethnic Russians in the Baltic states traditionally receive their news from Russian media sources, potentially making those communities a leading target for disinformation and propaganda. The Baltic states suspended many Russia-based television channels following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Cyberattacks are another potential hybrid threat; addressing potential vulnerabilities with regard to cybersecurity is a top priority of the Baltic states.

Energy Security

The Baltic states have taken steps to end energy reliance on Russia, including through a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Lithuania and new pipeline interconnections with their European neighbors. Lithuania ended imports of Russian gas in April 2022, and Estonia and Latvia plan to do the same by the end of 2022.

Relations with China

A variety of factors have contributed to the Baltic states developing a skeptical view of China over the past several years. In 2021 (Lithuania) and 2022 (Estonia and Latvia), the Baltic states quit the 17+1, a forum China launched to deepen cooperation with countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Tensions between Lithuania and China are especially acute, with China recently launching a de facto trade embargo against Lithuania due to Lithuania’s expanded relations with Taiwan.

Download the document here.