China’s Navy Could Have 5 Aircraft Carriers, 10 Ballistic Missile Subs by 2030 Says CSBA Report

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy possesses the resources to field up to five aircraft carriers and 10 nuclear ballistic missile submarines by 2030, according to a new think tank report on Beijing’s ongoing military expansion. Using the its computer assisted Strategic Choices Tool, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment’s study, “China’s Choices,” found, “the […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya, China. PLAN Photo

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy possesses the resources to field up to five aircraft carriers and 10 nuclear ballistic missile submarines by 2030, according to a new think tank report on Beijing’s ongoing military expansion.

Using the its computer assisted Strategic Choices Tool, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment’s study, “China’s Choices,” found, “the PLA has the resources necessary to continue its modernization over the 2020s,” according to the report.

For “China’s Choices,” CSBA assumes, as a starting point, Beijing’s military will grow at a rate of 3 percent above inflation into the early 2030s according the tool’s model.

In explaining the report and how the tool was used, Jack Bianchi, a principal author, said Thursday that CSBA was not trying to predict China’s actual defense budget since Beijing is no longer breaking out equipment, training and sustainment and personnel costs in figures it releases.

CSBA also did not try to determine the cost of a frigate or aircraft, but rather looked at the military from a “broad, strategic level,” Bianchi said.

CSBA used using U.S. spending percentages for research and development, procurement, sustainment and disposal of a specific weapon systems and applied those to China.

For the Peoples Liberation Army Navy, this can translate into more frigates, missile-boats and diesel electric submarines that can be used for regional defense as well as pressure Taiwan, as China aims to unite the island with the mainland.

“The teams [in their exercises] wanted to develop force structure for regional concerns,” Bianchi said.

They also looked to cutting the army’s size as a potential bill-payer, as well as ridding the air force of legacy aircraft to modernize, he said.

For power projection far from China’s mainland, the report predicted sufficient funds available for “aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, blue water logistics vessels, strategic bombers, and strategic transport and refueling aircraft” into the 2030s.

Former commander of Indo-Pacific Command retired Adm. Phil Davidson said this fits with Beijing’s “long-range goal to achieve great power status by mid-century.” It also aligns with the Chinese Communist Party’s securing its pre-eminence domestically.

The United States retains undersea superiority over China, Davidson said, adding that it is an advantage the country should look to expand.

The Chinese, in the last decade, grew its capabilities of sustaining operations far from the mainland in its operations in the Gulf of Aden, as well as quickly learned how to integrate new capabilities across its joint forces, Bianchi and Davidson noted.

Bianchi said the CSBA analytical tool tool can be applied to all domains including cyber, space and electro-magnetic warfare.

In addition, he said Chinese expanding nuclear capabilities – to include non-strategic uses – should be more fully explored in the future.

CSBA’s tool can be used in presenting other alternatives and has additional uses in investment and strategy to counter China, Davidson said.

He added its flexibility also means the tool can be applied to improve wargaming. Examples he used for changed circumstances important in gaming included the impact of COVID-19 on global economies, food shortages created by war as is happening in Ukraine, whether President Xi Jin-ping secures a fourth term in 2027 and Chinese acceptance of continued high military spending.

McMaster: Taiwan Could Prove Difficult for China to Invade

Despite China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster argued this week that Taiwan “not an easy military problem” for Beijing to solve. Speaking during a Hudson Institute online forum on Thursday, the retired Army lieutenant general added that Taipei could be difficult to attack across the 100-mile wide, often stormy Taiwan […]

Despite China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster argued this week that Taiwan “not an easy military problem” for Beijing to solve.

Speaking during a Hudson Institute online forum on Thursday, the retired Army lieutenant general added that Taipei could be difficult to attack across the 100-mile wide, often stormy Taiwan Strait. It’s a matter of “capability and will.”

To protest House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) 19-hour visit this week to the self-governing island, Beijing fired missiles into Japanese waters, sent military aircraft into Taipei’s air defense identification zone and conducted large-scale live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

But all these escalating military moves from the People’s Republic of China is a “signal to the world” that Beijing could blockade or invade Taiwan, said Patrick Cronin, Hudson’s Asia-Pacific chair. He mentioned threats by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Pelosi’s visit could lead to a slippery slope of conflict as a means of intimidating other nations.

Wang, speaking at an Association of South East Asians Nations event on Wednesday, termed Pelosi’s visit “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational.”

McMaster said he hopes that the Chinese actions give the United States a “sense of urgency when it comes to Taiwan’s future and how important the Indo-Pacific is to the United States militarily and economically.

Steps that Taiwan can take – like lengthening the time Taiwanese conscripted reservists spend on active duty, creating a territorial defense force and improving joint training for active and reserve forces – would improve Taiwan’s deterrence by denial, McMaster said.

Two years ago, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said her administration increased defense spending to 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product and was very interested in buying asymmetric defense systems ranging from mines to anti-ship missiles, as well as modernizing force structure. In the past, Taiwan had looked to the U.S. for big-ticket items like fighter aircraft to block Chinese ambitions. Its parliament approved a special $8.6 billion appropriation earlier this year in the face of Chinese naval and air incursions during the winter.

Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at Hudson, said the time for Taipei to spend on military equipment and receive it is now. It would be far more difficult to supply Taiwan if the Chinese invaded the island, as it has been to come to Ukraine’s aid using highways and rail following the Russian invasion earlier this year, she said.

So far, McMaster has been encouraged by “Taiwan’s will” in resisting escalating pressures of a possible blockade of the island. He added that such a blockade would disrupt not only the island’s economy but also global trade in the Indo-Pacific. McMaster said a key Chinese objective is to isolate Japan from its allies and partners, which could happen under a Beijing-controlled Taiwan.

“Japan has been a real source of strength” in standing up to China over Taiwan’s future, he said. McMaster said nations in ASEAN could learn from Tokyo’s example. “The choice they’re facing is sovereignty or servitude” if they accept China as the final arbiter regionally.

Not surprisingly, “Russia has come to China’s position in this” escalation of tensions, Heinrichs added.

McMaster compared it to the 1930s, “almost like Hitler’s playbook” of authoritarian coercion in Europe and the Pacific. He said Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin believe that together “we will rewrite the rules” because the U.S. and its allies are weak.

For the U.S. and its allies, “it is a period of trial … to maintain resolve” as they are showing in Ukraine, he said.

Heinrichs added that Pelosi’s visit should be a “reassurance to allies” of America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific. She added that Taipei welcomed the speaker “with open arms” and a bipartisan Congress at home supported her visit. Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan when he was speaker in the late 1990s.

The Trump Administration opened the door for more high-level U.S. official visits to Taiwan after decades following U.S. recognition of the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s.

She added that the speaker’s stopover was not the rejection of the United States’ “One China Policy,” as Beijing claimed.

“The Biden administration must embrace this visit” and “make sure there is no appearance of daylight” between the speaker and the White House and Pentagon, she said. Earlier, President Joe Biden warned of consequences that might arise over such a visit.

Heinrichs said Pelosi “holds a critical office” and showed courage in visiting Taiwan that can help Americans understand what is at stake in the Indo-Pacific for democracy and the world’s economy.

Wittman: Australian Sailors Should be Underway on U.S. Submarines Now

Australia needs its officers and sailors to learn how to operate American submarines now instead of waiting for construction on the country’s first nuclear submarine, the ranking Republican on a key congressional committee said Tuesday. Rep. Rob Wittman, (R-Va.) and ranking member on the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces panel, said Australian sailors […]

Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Sheean arrives alongside during a logistics port visit of Hobart, Tasmania, on April 1, 2021. Royal Australian Navy Photo

Australia needs its officers and sailors to learn how to operate American submarines now instead of waiting for construction on the country’s first nuclear submarine, the ranking Republican on a key congressional committee said Tuesday.

Rep. Rob Wittman, (R-Va.) and ranking member on the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces panel, said Australian sailors and officers should be going to the Navy’s nuclear school and deploying aboard American submarines so they can learn how they operate at sea now.

In his assessment of what needs to be done immediately, Wittman included sending Canberra’s shipyard workers, engineers and designers to Electric Boat and Newport News to learn how to build, operate and maintain nuclear-powered submarines.

Australians’ “biggest challenge is going to be the workforce,” Wittman said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies talk.

Wittman dismissed the idea that Canberra could simply buy a Virginia-class submarine and go from there, as Australia is halfway through the 18-month period in which priorities are to be set on Australia’s building of a nuclear submarine and exchanging other high-technology innovations with the United States and United Kingdom.

“It doesn’t work that way,” he said.

Even if all these steps to train the Australians take place soon, Wittman voiced concern over the possible gap of launching the first nuclear-powered sub and having to retire some of its existing diesel-powered boats as the threat from China grows.

Speaking at the same forum, Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said reaction among other nations in the region to Australia’s decision to build a nuclear submarine force to counter China has been viewed as “contributing to regional security.”

“Seapower is going to be the linchpin issue” in determining the future of the South China Sea, Wittman said. The Chinese “never ask for permission” as they assert sovereignty over parts of the region that international tribunals have ruled belong to other nations. Bullying by naval militia or its coast guard is a tactic that the Chinese continue to use in disputes with the Philippines and other nations overfishing rights and mineral exploration.

Countering China is something Washington, “cannot do by itself,” Wittman said, and it needs a “regional fabric” of like-minded partners and allies, like Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Korea.

On the Quad, the informal security and economic relationship among the United States, India, Japan and Australia, Wittman said the other members want to ensure “the U.S. does what it says it’s going to do” in the Indo-Pacific militarily, diplomatically and economically.

For the United States, “it’s not only the number of ships” that it can deploy but their capability to operate globally as China expands its fleet to meet its ambitions, Wittman said. “China has interests not only in the South China Sea but around the world,” he said.

Wittman said Beijing has 460 ships in its fleet and is “building capable destroyers … and its own aircraft carrier,” rather than buying from another country, on a faster pace than the United States.

Rep. (R-Va.) Rob Wittman has lunch with Sailors aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) on Aug. 10, 2021. US Navy Photo

“We’re retiring ships faster than we’re building,” Wittman said. “You can’t do addition by subtraction.”

He added the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act calls for building 13 ships while retiring 12. At the same time, if his amendment holds through the conference with the Senate panel, some of the retiring Littoral Combat Ships would be transferred to partners in the Indo-Pacific building their capacity and capability.

The Navy’s force design plan for 2045 calls for a fleet of 373 manned vessels and 150 unmanned surface and underwater vehicles. The present requirement in statute is a fleet of 355 manned ships.

When asked about the high costs of shipbuilding, Wittman suggested that one way to lower the price tag on the first in class would be to spend more time on design before going to construction. The Navy should have 85 to 90 percent of a complete design before building, rather than the 45 percent currently used, he said.

If the Navy does that, “we will be able to reduce” overall costs for that first ship and projected maintenance for the class, Wittman said.

Looking at recruiting and retention, he said, “we ask a lot of our sailors” and their families with deployments running months longer than scheduled. But the prolonged periods when a ship is in maintenance for months has proven a growing worry with the rising number of suicides reported on carriers in for refueling.

Here, too, delays on scheduled completion are commonplace, and work continues all day and night. There are few places for sailors who must stay aboard can go to for a break from the noisy routine of life aboard the carrier in a shipyard, Wittman said.

“The leadership in the Navy better get this on track,” referring to sailors’ living conditions onboard these ships and work completion on time.

Pentagon Official: Chinese Military Actions Against Foreign Ships, Aircraft Are No Accidents — They’re Policy

The increasingly frequent aggressive actions by the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force like “chaffing” an Australian patrol aircraft in international waters and causing a Canadian patrol aircraft to alter its course to avoid a collision off North Korea “look like a pattern and policy” dictated by Beijing rather than random acts by pilots, the Pentagon’s […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Intelligence Collection Vessel Haiwangxing operating off the north-west shelf of Australia. Australian Department of Defence Photo

The increasingly frequent aggressive actions by the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force like “chaffing” an Australian patrol aircraft in international waters and causing a Canadian patrol aircraft to alter its course to avoid a collision off North Korea “look like a pattern and policy” dictated by Beijing rather than random acts by pilots, the Pentagon’s senior official on Indo-Pacific security said Tuesday.

Ely Rattner, speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies talk,  described these acts as “really new, really worrisome.” These “unsafe intercepts … are growing by order of magnitude,” he said.

It is likely that the Chinese Navy will adopt this more aggressive posture in its operations in the western Pacific, Rattner said.

The use of military intimidation is a change from Beijing’s use of naval militia and its coast guard to assert territorial claims in the South China Sea. In the past, their presence and operations were intended to coerce and harass. These acts of maritime bullying, which are continuing, occurred as China was also building artificial islands to be used for military purposes on coral reefs and other outcroppings to assert sovereignty over waters far removed from the mainland.

In his opening remarks, Rattner said the Chinese leadership is showing “a greater willingness to take risks.” He added there have been “dozens of dangerous intercepts in the first half of this year alone.”

There is a growing risk that one of these incidents could escalate to a crisis between Beijing and Washington, Rattner said.

Chinese H-6 spotted south of Okinawa. Japanese MoD

China’s policy in the Indo-Pacific is “might makes right,” rather following than the rules-based order that has seen the region grow economically. In answer to an audience question, Rattner said the United States employs Freedom of Navigation operations to keep international waters open to all nations for trade, including China.

China’s “playbook is growing” not just as a regional power, but “asserting themselves as a global power,” especially with its growing navy, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), a ranking member of the seapower and projection forces subcommittee, during his CSIS keynote address.

“China cannot be allowed to operate where its sovereignty doesn’t exist,” Wittman said.

Wittman and Rattner mentioned international tribunals rulings against China’s claims to territory. Beijing rejected the rulings.

Last month at a security conference in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told the United States to stop smearing China. Wei said the United States is trying to encircle China through regional partnerships like the Quad, the informal relationship among the United States, India, Japan and Australia, and through more clearly defining its alliances with nations like the Philippines and Thailand.

On the sidelines of the Singapore conference, Wei, who wore a military uniform for his address, met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Rattner said the two discussed establishing guardrails over behavior at sea and in the air and “seeking open lines of communications” to avoid miscalculation following an incident involving the nations’ military forces.

In addition to expanded maritime exercises with nations like Indonesia and the deployment of an American Coast Guard cutter to Southeast Asia to help train the region’s maritime forces, Rattner said the Defense Department sees great promise in the Quad-sponsored maritime domain awareness initiative.

As he explained, the initiative will be space-based and will collect, move about and share unclassified information using artificial intelligence about maritime activities in a nation’s exclusive economic zone. Rattner said the initiative will be demonstrated next month in Singapore and again in September for Pacific Island nations interested in securing their waters from illegal fishing and to respond to humanitarian and natural disasters.

Marines Ready to Double Down on Pacific Presence, Says General

The United States will not be moving its military presence from the Western Pacific any time soon due to Beijing’s “continued bad behavior” toward Taiwan and its bullying of immediate neighbors like Japan and South China Sea nations, the Marine Corps second in command said on Monday. America needs to be able to “get to […]

U.S. Marines with 3d Marine Littoral Regiment, 3d Marine Division, post security during a field training exercise at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, May 30, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

The United States will not be moving its military presence from the Western Pacific any time soon due to Beijing’s “continued bad behavior” toward Taiwan and its bullying of immediate neighbors like Japan and South China Sea nations, the Marine Corps second in command said on Monday.

America needs to be able to “get to the fight” in the vast Indo-Pacific, access provided by already present stand-in forces, Gen. Eric Smith said during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and co-hosted by the Naval Institute. The Marine Corps and other services are also reviewing logistics chains to overcome those distances in a Western Pacific potential conflict.

Marines have reduced units’ signatures, making them more difficult to find while also increasing their lethality with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems [HIMARS], adding advanced anti-ship missiles with 100-mile plus ranges and loitering munitions, similar to Switchblade now used in Ukraine, Smith said, citing the updated Force Design 2030 guidance.

“What’s different today [with the Marine Littoral Regiments vs the past] is the threat,” Smith said. “That unit must be organized to fight tomorrow. …You can’t wait until it is full baked” to determine what might be needed in organization, equipment and training.

He said the Marines are taking back valuable lessons from its exercises in Luzon, Philippines, that can be adopted in the future as the organizing concept spreads across the force.

The process of what’s needed and size of units begins with a concept that is then wargamed and experimented with in the field, Smith said. The feedback loop leads to necessary changes like recognizing the projected size of an infantry battalion of 730 was too small but 860 would work. That sized battalion also would also require added transport and artillery.

“[Littoral regiments] have to be able to fire and move,” Smith said in combat today. The six- or seven-minute window to escape with towed artillery no longer exists. Loitering munitions, like Organic Precision Fires – Infantry and Organic Precision Fires – Mounted, have been successfully field tested and now “it’s how much we can procure” in future budgets, Smith said.
“If you’re static, you’re not going to do too well.”

He added the Marines also have just tested Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system as part of its upgrading cruise missile and manned and unmanned air defenses.

The Marines now have an “airborne quarterback,” capable of sensing what’s out there and pass that intelligence “to the best qualified shooter” for quick action even when space communications have been disrupted thanks to the ability to better “see” threats using MQ-9A unmanned aerial system, he said. Another advantage the medium- to high-altitude, long endurance hunter-killer drone has is cataloguing information to precisely identify threats and target.

“I’m able to pass that data … to everyone.” Smith said. This was successfully tested with the Army’s Future Command field experiment of its Project Convergence, the Army’s testing way to achieve Joint All-Domain Command and Control [JADC2].

Marines with 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) soldiers with 2nd Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment receive a safety brief prior to executing amphibious operations during Exercise Iron Fist 2022 at the Del Mar Boat Basin, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Jan. 11, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

As for Marine possessing armor units, Smith said a large issue comes down to weight. With advanced protective systems used by the Army its M1-A2 tanks, the vehicles’ weight is 74 tons, making it extremely difficult to move from ship to shore. He noted that if Marines needed armor the Joint Task Force commander could order the Army to send them over as was his experience in Iraq.

The Navy and Marine Corps agree that naval services require 31 amphibious vessels, 10 large deck, Smith said. When asked about an amphibious readiness group not being able to answer a request from European Command to respond in wake of the invasion of Ukraine, Smith said the Marine Expeditionary Unit was ready to go. The ship was not.

“The readiness of our vessels is a challenge,” with many of the nearing the end of their service life, he said.

Coast Guard Commandant Needs the ‘Right Tools’ to Improve Recruitment, Retention

In her first appearance as Coast Guard commandant before the House Homeland Security Transportation and Maritime Security panel, Adm. Linda Fagan said, “the biggest issue at hand centers around people” and having the “right tools” available to recruit, retain and “serve successfully” in the Coast Guard. She added that the other services are also facing […]

Coast Guard crew members aboard cutter USCGC Midgett (WMSL-757) and U.S. Navy Sailors check the flight deck for debris prior to flight operations as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. US Coast Guard Photo

In her first appearance as Coast Guard commandant before the House Homeland Security Transportation and Maritime Security panel, Adm. Linda Fagan said, “the biggest issue at hand centers around people” and having the “right tools” available to recruit, retain and “serve successfully” in the Coast Guard.

She added that the other services are also facing serious recruiting challenges as the pool of eligible by age shrinks and those who meet service standards are less inclined to enlist.

“Right tools” for the Coast Guard also include modernized shore facilities, cutters and aircraft, said Fagan.

Fagan added, “the red flag for me is [being told], ‘We’ve always done it this way.’”

In her opening statement, she called for greater career flexibility for Coast Guard members. In answering follow-up questions, she suggested allowing coasties to opt out of the promotion cycle for a year to remain at a particular station and then opt back in, as well as entering the service laterally as examples of that kind of flexibility.

“The heartbeat of the Coast Guard is the work force,” she said.

Fagan repeated her message on taking over as the 27th commandant in June that the most significant work lies in transforming talent management for Coast Guard members.

She told the panel, “cultural change is difficult,” and invited their support for policy changes.

On the need for a greater American presence in the Arctic, Fagan said, “I have a sense of urgency. We need to field that capability [icebreakers] as soon as possible.” Having served as commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area, she added, “We are an Arctic nation.”

Fielding new heavy and medium icebreakers is an “absolute priority” because “actual presence matters,” she said. The first new heavy icebreaker to be built by VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Miss., is to be delivered “in mid-25.”

The shipbuilder expects “to begin cutting steel soon,” Fagan added.

Fagan said the service is pursuing plans to buy a commercially-available medium icebreaker to provide increased “capability now” to supplement USCGC Healy (WAGB-20), which is now on an Arctic mission. The budget request for Fiscal Year 2023 includes $125 million to buy the vessel.

Ranking member Rep. Carlos Gimenez, (R-Fla.) said he wished all the services would look at commercially available equipment to “speed things up” in needed procurement. He said all too often they fall into “over-engineering” something needed immediately, raising costs and delaying fielding.

She told the panel Russia now fields “something north of 40 icebreakers” with different capabilities and is the largest Arctic nation. China has two ice-capable research vessels and describes itself as a “near-Arctic nation.”

Australia Developing New Defense Strategy in Response to China, Says Deputy Prime Minister

Australia is developing long-range strike weapons, remains intent on building a nuclear-powered submarine force and is ramping up its area access denial capabilities in cooperation with the United States as it watches China “trying to shape the world around us,” its deputy prime minister said. Richard Marles, who also serves as defense minister, said Canberra’s defense […]

Ship’s Company of HMAS Canberra prepare to pass lines as the ship sails into Townsville, Queensland on June 2, 2022. Royal Australian Navy Photo

Australia is developing long-range strike weapons, remains intent on building a nuclear-powered submarine force and is ramping up its area access denial capabilities in cooperation with the United States as it watches China “trying to shape the world around us,” its deputy prime minister said.

Richard Marles, who also serves as defense minister, said Canberra’s defense posture and force structure reviews for the government that took office this spring are expected to be delivered early next year. While not formal national security white papers, they will answer key questions of “where we’re at” and “where we need to go,” he said.

“We worry about the use of force” by China in the South China Sea and also by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine as direct attacks on the established rules of order that prizes dialogue over military action, Marles said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Monday.

In this changed security environment great powers like Beijing and Moscow expect weaker neighbors to act as vassals or be considered as enemies, he added.

Allies such as Australia and the United States “cannot afford to stand still” as these threats grows, he said.

“We see [a new strategy] as a prudent response,” especially to the massive build-up of Chinese forces and its advances in hypersonics, cyber and space.

“It is completely changing the security environment in the Indo-Pacific,” Marles said.

Australia wants to see more American involvement, including troop, ship and aircraft presence, like the recent flight of American B-2 bombers from their Missouri base to demonstrate alliance solidarity, he said. 

Marles said the force structure review includes ways for Australia to work with the United States. He added Canberra sees as its duty in “sharing the burden of [being] a strategic force” with the United States in the Indo-Pacific. Other allies and partners he mentioned as vital to preserving a “global rules-based order” for security and economic development in the Pacific included New Zealand, Japan, India, France and South Korea.

On tensions between China and Taiwan, he said, “we want to ensure there is no change in the status quo.” Although Australia maintains a “one China policy,” he added, “robustly defending the rules-base order” will be its focus in the dispute over Taiwan’s future.

Marles dismissed the idea that alliances such as ANZUS [Australia, New Zealand and Australia] and NATO were “Cold War relics.” Instead, the pacts allow nations “to pool their resources” to combine their strengths and extend their capabilities to defend themselves. Their value can be seen in the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and NATO’s support for Kyiv. He also noted Australia’s shipment of aid to Ukraine and backing tougher economic sanctions on the Kremlin .

The agreement between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia [AUKUS] is at the center of Canberra’s move to becoming a strong regional strategic force, Marles said.

“We intend to re-pay” the confidence Washington and London showed in working out this security sharing arrangement of high technology and building the infrastructure, training workers and sailors to field, operate and maintain a nuclear-powered submarine force, he said.

After “repeated false starts,” Marles said Australia was “behind the eight-ball” in modernizing its submarine fleet.

“It will be a huge national project to pull this off,” Marles said.

It also includes accounting for the long-term costs in the budget. An assessment of where the different parts of AUKUS stand will also be completed early next year, Marles said.

Although it will be a challenge, Australia will meet it, he said.

The larger goal in AUKUS is to “move beyond interoperability” to interchangeability in integrating defense technologies under the agreement. Marles said Australia “wants to be a trusted second source” for guided munitions and weapons “to maintain that competitive edge against potential adversaries.

In answer to a question about the impact of a new security accord between the Solomon Islands and China, Marles said although it was “of a different character” than other arrangements Beijing has made with Pacific Island nations, it was “not inevitable” that it would lead to a military base being built there.

The lessons for Australia particularly and the United States from this changed arrangement is: “we need to remind ourselves the Pacific matters” and “we don’t have exclusive rights to friendship.”

Marles said it should also be a reminder for Canberra, Washington and others to look to these island states’ needs for development, especially now as sea level rises. He added it also offers an opportunity to help them enforce their exclusive economic zone rights by inviting “ship-riders’ aboard U.S. Coast Guard cutters as a way to meet their needs. This way, the island nations can cut down on illegal fishing and smuggling without raising costs to the United States since the cutters already on patrol in those waters.

“We have got to put in the effort,” Marles said.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Leaves Legacy of Western Pacific Security Changes

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who led Japan into a more active role in regional and global security over his eight years in power, was assassinated Friday at a campaign event in the western city of Nara near Kyoto. He was 67. Abe, who served the longest consecutive term as prime minister in modern Japanese […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Aug. 18, 2017. DoD Photo

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who led Japan into a more active role in regional and global security over his eight years in power, was assassinated Friday at a campaign event in the western city of Nara near Kyoto. He was 67.

Abe, who served the longest consecutive term as prime minister in modern Japanese history from 2012 to 2020, left office citing health concerns but remained an important figure in Japanese political affairs and on the world stage. He is credited with shifting Tokyo’s focus from home-island defense and modernizing its self-defense forces to meet 21st-century challenges.

Although he came into office with an idea of improving relations with China and was the first post-World War II Japanese prime minister to visit Beijing, Abe was denounced by Chinese officials for his 2021 remarks over the consequences of an invasion of Taiwan.

Reflecting on his successor’s more assertive policy over Taiwan’s future and a changed constitution, Abe said “a Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-U.S. alliance. People in Beijing, President Xi Jinping in particular, should never have a misunderstanding in recognizing this.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, listens as Capt. Christopher Bolt, left, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on Oct. 18, 2015. US Navy Photo

Tensions between the Japan and China, especially over Beijing’s territorial claims on the Senkaku Islands, have steadily risen over the past decade from Abe’s time in office with increasingly frequent Chinese air and naval exercises, sometimes with Russian forces.

Starting under Abe’s administration, Japan recognized an “increasingly severe” security environment in 2014, in a Ministry of Defense white paper, as China built artificial islands to bolster territorial claims in the Pacific, North Korea aggressively tested missiles and nuclear weapons and Russia annexed Crimea, a Ukrainian province.

The paper called for a “dynamic defense” to address these challenges. Successive white papers have stressed jointness, interoperability with American and allied forces and securing new domains like cyber and space.

As Abe was leaving office, Tokyo took major steps to modernize the self-defense forces, such as agreeing to buy more sophisticated F-35A and F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, revamp its naval helicopter carriers to handle the Short Take-Off version and produce more diesel-electric submarines.

The modernization program is continuing with Tokyo’s Fiscal Year 2022 defense budget of more than $47 billion. USNI News reported naval-related funding under the 2022 budget calls for the construction of five surface ships and a submarine. The budget includes 110 billion yen ($957 million) for the ninth and 10th ship of the Mogami-class frigates, 73.6 billion yen ( $641 million) for a sixth Taigei-class submarine, 13.4 billion yen ($116.7 million) for a fifth Awaji-class minesweeper, 27.9 billion yen ($242.9 million) for an oceanographic research ship and 19.6 billion yen (U.S 170.7 million) for a fourth Hibiki-class ocean surveillance ship.

In the Indo-Pacific, Abe was a key figure in developing the informal security arrangement known as the Quad among Japan, the United States, Australia and India. An example of that evolving relationship, as a counter to an increasingly bullying China over Taiwan, the Senkakus and in the South China Sea, came in 2020 when Canberra agreed to participate with the other three in an expanded Malabar maritime exercise off the Indian coast.

 

President Donald J. Trump joined by the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe arrive aboard the JS Kaga Tuesday, May 28, 2019, in Yokosuka, Japan. White House Photo

The military agreement bolstered Abe’s push for a major regional trade and economic development arrangement in the Indo-Pacific after the Trump administration backed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. He viewed the development alliance as an alternative to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative in building key infrastructure from ports to airfields to highways in developing nations starting in Southeast Asia.

During Abe’s term in office, North Korea’s continued expansion of its nuclear arsenal and rapid development of missile technologies posed new threats in northeast Asia and across the wider Pacific to include Guam, an American territory, as well as Hawaii and possibly the U.S. mainland.

But relations with Seoul, another American ally, reached a diplomatic low point and, for a time, disrupted trilateral vital intelligence sharing among American, South Korea and Japanese militaries. The split was fueled by trade disputes and the tempestuous colonial history between Korea and Japan.

Intelligence on Pyongyang’s missile program was central to the partnership.

Integration of the three nations’ missile defenses remains a challenge and will be tested during this year’s RIMPAC exercise.

Relations were not always smooth between Washington and Tokyo during the Trump years.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a trilateral summit in March 2015. Japan Prime Minister’s Office Photo

With more than 50,000 American service members in Japan, how much Tokyo should pay for their presence, as well as U.S. military assets there, became a flashpoint that only ebbed when the Biden administration took office.

While often controversial for his political ties and economic policies, Abe successfully amended Japan’s constitution to allow collective defense of other nations, training regional coast guards and establishment of overseas bases.

As Abe was leaving office. Michael Green, now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International studies, said at a panel session on the prime minister’s tenure he should be ranked “as one of, if not the most consequential prime minister” in Japan’s post-war history. “He intended to compete” economically and diplomatically and maintain Indo-Pacific security, Green added.

FBI, MI5 Issue Joint Chinese Espionage Warning

The director of the FBI and head of the United Kingdom’s domestic intelligence arm warned China’s continued “planned professional activity” of worldwide espionage poses an increasing danger to their countries’ national security, technological developments in aerospace and communications and long-term economic well-being. “We consistently see that it’s the Chinese government that poses the biggest long-term […]

The director of the FBI and head of the United Kingdom’s domestic intelligence arm warned China’s continued “planned professional activity” of worldwide espionage poses an increasing danger to their countries’ national security, technological developments in aerospace and communications and long-term economic well-being.

“We consistently see that it’s the Chinese government that poses the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray at a joint appearance Wednesday in MI5’s London headquarters.” ”By ‘our,’ I mean both of our nations, along with our allies in Europe and elsewhere.”

Beijing is no longer “flying under the radar” as a major threat, Wray said.

MI5 Director Gen. Ken McCallum said the Chinese government’s “covert pressure across the globe” amounts to “the most game-changing challenge we face.”

McCallum pointed to the case of Chinese intelligence officer Shu Yenjoon, who was convicted in an American court of economic espionage and theft of trade secrets from the aviation sector that had broader implications.

“Shu was active in Europe too,” McCallum said. “He’d been part of a prolific Ministry of State Security network targeting the aerospace sector. MI5 worked with those being targeted in the UK to mitigate the risks until the FBI action could solve the problem for both of us.“

McCallum added that in May MI5 disrupted a major Chinese effort targeting U.K.’s aerospace sector.

McCallum also said China was seeking an information advantage with direct military impact.

“In Estonia, a NATO maritime scientist was convicted for passing information to his Chinese handlers, who claimed to be working for a think tank,” McCallum said.

He offered other cases involving academics and think tank researchers who traded illegally with Beijing and cautioned against industry collaborating too closely with Chinese aerospace and communications firms.

Senior business leaders and leading academics attended the briefing.

Like McCallum, Wray warned American businesses to be extremely careful when dealing with the Chinese firms, particularly now, since Chinese businesses and the government have seen the impact of sanctions on Russia following its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

He said the Chinese are moving to insulate themselves against possible economic sanctions if they invade Taiwan.

Wray warned at a press conference following the joint appearance that if China forcibly took Taiwan, it would “represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen,” the BBC reported. Not only would supply chains be affected as they have been in the COVID-19 pandemic, Western investments in China could be held “hostage” in an armed conflict.

“I don’t have any reason to think their interest in Taiwan has abated in any fashion,” Wray said.

At the joint appearance, McCallum said his agency has seen its investigations of Chinese activity grow seven times over its workload in 2018.

“We plan to grow as much again, while also maintaining significant effort against Russian and Iranian covert threats,” McCallum said. “And it’s not just about scale, it’s about reach. Working hand-in-glove with international partners, sharing data in new ways and mounting joint operations make us much more than the sum of our parts. China is top of the Five Eyes Heads’ agenda, and our teams are working together closely on our shared priorities. We’re doing likewise with our close European partners.”

“Five Eyes” refers to the sharing of intelligence among the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Body of Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams Will Lie in State in U.S. Capitol

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the body of Medal of Honor recipient Herschel Woodrow “Woody” Williams will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. In making the announcement Sunday, Pelosi, (D-Calif.) and Schumer, (D-N.Y.) said the proceedings honoring Chief Warrant Officer 4 Williams will take place after […]

Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, poses for a photo before the start of a Sunset Parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, a., Sept. 2 2020. US Marine Corps Photo

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the body of Medal of Honor recipient Herschel Woodrow “Woody” Williams will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

In making the announcement Sunday, Pelosi, (D-Calif.) and Schumer, (D-N.Y.) said the proceedings honoring Chief Warrant Officer 4 Williams will take place after consulting with his family and Congress returns from the July recess.

Williams, 98, was the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient. The Marine Corps veteran was awarded the nation’s highest award for his actions on Iwo Jima. He died Wednesday, June 29, surrounded by family, at the VA Medical Center in Huntington, W.Va.

Details on the arrival and departure ceremonies at the Capitol will be announced at a later date.

“When Woody lies in honor under the Capitol Dome, it will be with immense gratitude for his service that the Congress will pay tribute to this legendary hero — and all of the patriots who fought for our nation in World War II,” Pelosi said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Official imagery from the memorial services for Chief Warrant Officer 4 Herschel Woodrow ‘Woody’ Williams, Medal of Honor recipient, held at the West Virginia State Capitol, Sunday, July 3, 2022. US Army National Guard Photo

Schumer added, ‘“This is only a small tribute to someone who has made as impactful contributions to America as Woody and all our brave soldiers who fought against tyranny and defended our country in World War II. Whether it was for his acts of bravery in combat or his tireless advocacy for all veterans and their families, Woody made our entire country, especially his fellow West Virginians, proud.”

Following his service in the retaking of Guam, Williams was one of several demolition sergeants on Iwo Jima, USNI News previously reported. In the fighting that emerged there, he became the last one left. One of Williams’ responsibilities was to take out pillboxes that were protecting Japanese airfields.

“Bazookas and that sort of thing had no effect on them, because they were so thick and well built,” Williams said in a 2017 interview for the Department of Defense. “The only way to actually eliminate the enemy inside those pillboxes was by flamethrower.”

As the only demolition sergeant left at Iwo Jima, Williams went forward with four riflemen to protect him and took out seven pillboxes. That helped to neutralize the Japanese strongholds, according to Defense Department feature story on his service.

“That made a hole big enough that [the company] could go through and get behind any other pillboxes that were in that area,” Williams told the Department of Defense. “Once you got behind the pillboxes, then we had the advantage.”

President Harry Truman presented him with the Medal of Honor.

Williams, from Quiet Dell, W.Va., served for 20 years in the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve. Following his time in uniform, he was known for his advocacy of veterans’ issues and strong support for Gold Star families.

Williams lent his name to multiple memorials, including the Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center in Huntington, West Va., where he died. A naval vessel, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4), was commissioned in 2020.