Defense & Security Update: Recap of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's Visit to ASEAN

Defense & Security Update | August 30, 2017
Authors: Jack Myint and Timotheos Tan
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

August 31 - September 1: Laos Business Mission

September 7 - 9: Mission to the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meetings (AEM)

September 26 - 28: Mission to the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM)

September 28: Business Mission to the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry

October 12 - 13: Business Mission to the ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting

October 17 - 18: Brunei Business Mission - Please save the date for the US-ASEAN Business Council's annual mission to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei from October 17-18, 2017. Please plan to arrive in Bandar Seri Begawan in the afternoon (3:00 PM) of October 17 for a pre-mission briefing and potentially a reception at U.S. Ambassador Craig Allen's residence. The Council is currently developing proposals to engage the Government of Brunei on its priorities in an effort to diversify its economy, which will include the financial sector (electronic payments, insurance, banking and financial inclusion), ICT sector (digital economy, cyber security), and energy sector. If you would like to propose any ideas or if you have any questions, please contact Artha Sirait at asirait@usasean.org.

THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Recap of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's Visit to ASEAN

From 5-9 August, U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson visited Manila, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. During his time in Manila, Secretary Tillerson participated in the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit Ministerial, the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial, and the Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial; on the agenda were issues including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maritime security, and counter-terrorism. Secretary Tillerson, during the annual ASEAN regional conference in Manila, relayed the terms under which the United States would negotiate with North Korea, placing the impetus on Pyongyang to cease its ballistic missile launches. He continued with assurances that the talks would be centered on denuclearizing North Korea without harming its economy or military, but made a note that such talks would not be subject to a definite time frame. Secretary Tillerson’s comments follow two days after a United Nations Security Council resolution approving severe sanctions against North Korea. While in Bangkok on the highest-level visit to Thailand by a U.S. official since the 2014 change in government caused a dip in diplomatic relations between the two countries, Secretary Tillerson took the opportunity to encourage Thai leaders toward greater action regarding North Korea, especially regarding efforts to cut local revenue and funding streams to the regime. According to Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton, the United States believes North Korean front companies are active in Thailand, and using Bangkok as a regional hub. Prior to his meeting with Secretary Tillerson, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made a commitment to support a U.N. resolution on new sanctions on Pyongyang over its missile tests, but gave no specific details as to what that might entail.

In addition to North Korea, Secretary Tillerson took the opportunity to raise the issue of cybersecurity with Thailand, a country which has allegedly been used as a springboard for third parties to launch major cyber-attacks on U.S. companies. He also discussed combating human trafficking with Malaysia; the Southeast Asian state has been upgraded to Level Two-status in the U.S. Department of State’s 2017 Annual Report in recognition of its significant improvement in criminal prosecution and enforcement of anti-human trafficking laws.

Singapore Inaugurates New Homeland Defense and Security Operations Training Facility

Earlier in August, the Singapore government unveiled the Island Defense Training Institute (IDTI), a new installation designed to train its armed forces personnel in the conduct of homeland defense and security operations. The facility is part of the government's 3rd Generation Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) program, aimed at further modernizing the city-state's armed forces to deal with increasingly diversifying and hybridizing threats, ranging from terrorism to cyberwarfare. The program had already begun implementation following the September 11 attacks, establishing the Island Defense Task Force (IDTF) with the goal of leveraging the combined capabilities of organizations including the SAF, police, and immigration to protect key installations. However, with the growing propensity for cyberwarfare, and a recent series of orchestrated attacks on urban population centers by the Islamic State (IS) in Europe and Southeast Asia, including the ongoing conflict in Marawi City in the Southern Philippines, particular focus has been placed on enhancing the ability of the SAF to deploy for operations in theaters closer to the island's heartlands. In addition to the new facility, such measures include equipping first responders with more specialized arms and equipment to bolster mobility and surveillance capabilities, improving communication between units and organizations, and preempting anticipated manpower limitations with unmanned systems and more efficient deployment practices.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Naval Collision Adds to Fears About U.S. Decline in Asia
Southeast Asia, China adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea
US moves to have North Korea suspended from Asia forum
Tillerson to press China and ASEAN states on North Korea in Manila
How ‘khaki capitalism’ has become a way of life in Southeast Asia
ASEAN overcomes communique impasse, urges non-militarisation in South China Sea
Asean to push social media use to fight extremism
ASEAN wants talks on nonaggression pact with China soon

Brunei
Exercise Enhances Cooperative Maritime Security Efforts

Indonesia
Indonesia, Singapore Conduct Mine Countermeasure Military Drills
Indonesia to buy $1.14 billion worth of Russian jets
Indonesia, Malaysia Boost Military Ties in Islamic State Terror Fight
Indonesia, Singapore Conclude Military Exercise Amid Anniversary
Indonesia: A New Shipbuilding 'Magnet' from ASEAN to Africa?
Indonesia is protecting its South China Sea territory against 'foreign' threats
Exclusive: Indonesian militants planned 'dirty bomb' attack - sources
Indonesia, US committed to maintaining peace in Asia-Pacific region
Retno Marsudi to address threat of terrorism at ASEAN Forum
Six Countries Agree to Increase Cooperation to Combat Terror
Energy Ministry, counterterrorism agency join forces to protect energy assets
Govt blocks Telegram messaging service

Malaysia
China offers rocket launchers, radar system to Malaysia: reports
Malaysia names and launches first Littoral Combat Ship
Ahmad Zahid outlines three approaches to help Malaysia reach Tier 1
Ministry to mull border camp
DPM: Poca cuts gang-related crime
KL to host next trilateral talks with Manila and Jakarta
Hisham: Aerial surveillance included in joint maritime ops
Tillerson and Zahid hold fruitful talks
Najib and Tillerson discuss terrorism at KL talks
Hotline set up in bid to tackle human trafficking
Singapore and Brunei may join sea patrols
IGP: Malaysia and Thai cops ready to join forces against trans-border crime
Sabah tour boats given one month to install automatic identification system
Zahid: Anti-human trafficking efforts bear fruit

Myanmar
Guns and money: Why US' top North Korea diplomat is in Southeast Asia
Unpacking the Myanmar Commander-in-Chief’s Grand India Visit
China's military reform and Myanmar’s security dynamic
Myanmar's military chief asks Abe to continue SDF support
Tatmadaw Prohibits Use of Military Ranks for Non-State Armed Groups
North Korea-Myanmar Links in the Spotlight Under Trump

Philippines
What Did the US Pacific Military Chief’s Philippines Visit Accomplish?
New Philippines Radar System Spotlights US-ASEAN Maritime Security
Duterte meets US Pacific Command chief at Palace
Exclusive: Japan seeks Southeast Asia clout with chopper parts for Philippines military - sources
US Gives Philippines 2 New Military Surveillance Aircraft Amid Rising Terror Threat
Stemming the tide of violent extremism in the Philippines
Singapore Gives Philippines Military Aid to Fight Islamic State Threat
Philippines acquires Israel-made howitzers to battle terror
Philippines 'keen on studying Singapore counter-terrorism experience'
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen to visit Philippines
Military submits recommendation on martial law
Philippines' Duterte offers Muslim self-rule to counter IS in Marawi
Duterte renews Mindanao peace push amid Marawi stand-off
Interpol help sought to locate 2 Indonesians

Singapore
Ten sailors missing after warship, tanker collide near Singapore
Singapore Reveals New Military Facility Amid Rising Islamic State Threat
SAF and police working closely to deal with terror threat
Brief: Singapore defense corporation sets up $150m startup venture arm
Singapore is security gateway, says Next US Ambassador Nominee McFarland

Thailand
US Approves New Thailand Military Sale Under Trump
Tillerson in Thailand presses for more action on North Korea
Thai military ready to aid Philippines

Vietnam
US-Vietnam Defense Relations Under Trump Get a Boost With First Aircraft Carrier Visit
Reforms are needed for Vietnam’s military
Vietnam confirms order of Russian T-90 tanks
Việt Nam, Singapore share terrorism concerns
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Naval Collision Adds to Fears About U.S. Decline in Asia The New York Times 22nd Aug 2017
Monday’s collision occurred at a time of disarray in Washington and as the United States’ Asian allies have questioned its commitment to the region, especially as China’s economic and military footprint grows. President Barack Obama vowed a foreign policy tilt toward the Asia-Pacific, pursuing an enhanced military presence and lower tariffs, though with limited success. President Trump, by contrast, has signaled a retreat and challenged old friends on trade barriers and the cost of American military outposts. Now a string of Navy accidents on the Pacific’s western edge has raised doubts about its operations too, particularly that of its Seventh Fleet, which is headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan, where the United States maintains a large naval base.

Southeast Asia, China adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea CNBC 6th Aug 2017
All parties say the framework is only an outline for how the code will be established but critics say the failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding and enforceable or have a dispute resolution mechanism, raises doubts about how effective the pact will be. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the adoption of the framework created a solid foundation for negotiations that could start this year, if "the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and on the premise that there is no major interference from outside parties." He told reporters there had been "really tangible progress" so there was "a need to cherish momentum on the South China Sea".

US moves to have North Korea suspended from Asia forum BusinessMirror 3rd Aug 2017
Washington is seeking talks on how North Korea can be suspended from Asia’s biggest security forum as part of a broader effort to isolate Pyongyang diplomatically and force it to end its missile tests and abandon its nuclear weapons program, US and Philippine officials said.

Tillerson to press China and ASEAN states on North Korea in Manila Reuters 2nd Aug 2017
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press China and other Asian countries to take tougher action against North Korea when he attends regional meetings in Manila starting this week, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday. Susan Thornton, the acting assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said Tillerson would have the chance to engage with China's foreign minister at the meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila, but had no plans to meet North Korea's foreign minister there. Thornton said Tillerson, who is due in Manila on Saturday, would be seeking greater cooperation in isolating North Korea and in enforcing U.N. sanctions over its missile and nuclear weapons programs. She said Washington wanted to see countries "drastically" reduce their dealings with Pyongyang. "What we are trying to do is galvanize this pressure and isolate North Korea so it can see what the opportunity cost is over developing these weapons programs," she told reporters in a telephone briefing to preview Tillerson's trip. Thornton said China had taken "significant steps, ... frankly unprecedented steps" to increase pressure on its neighbor North Korea, but it could do "a lot more" to step up enforcement of existing sanctions and to impose more. "We would like to see more action faster and more obvious and quick results, but I think we're not giving up yet."

How ‘khaki capitalism’ has become a way of life in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia Globe Magazine 19th Jul 2017
It’s no secret that authoritarian regimes are once again flourishing in Southeast Asia. Democratisation efforts after the 1986 toppling of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos have faltered, and the rise of authoritarianism has given new focus to the role of militaries as national guardians, allies of aristocracy and usurpers of power. Militaries are important because, generally, they are the largest providers of coercive force within states, often (though not always) having indirect control over police and some paramilitary forces. In many young democracies, militaries put their powerful position in the service of private ‘consumers’, who can purchase violence to serve their needs. Alternatively, militaries extort profits or put pressure on governments to give senior military officers high-paid or important positions through the potential use of force.

ASEAN overcomes communique impasse, urges non-militarisation in South China Sea Reuters 7th Aug 2017
MANILA (Reuters) - Southeast Asian foreign ministers ended an impasse on Sunday over how to address disputes with China in the South China Sea, issuing a communique that called for militarization to be avoided and noting concern about island-building.

Asean to push social media use to fight extremism Bangkok Post 5th Aug 2017
MANILA - More than two dozen Asian countries will agree to utilise social media to counter the spread of violent extremism in the region, according to a draft statement being prepared ahead of a top security gathering on Monday.

ASEAN wants talks on nonaggression pact with China soon Washington Post 2nd Aug 2017
A tourist poses for souvenir photos with the logo of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its regional partners, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. An initial draft of a joint communique to be issued by the ASEAN foreign ministers, which was seen by The Associated Press on Wednesday, says they would ask senior diplomats to immediately initiate talks on the so-called code of conduct in the disputed sea after their governments agreed on a framework of the accord with China in May.

Brunei

Exercise Enhances Cooperative Maritime Security Efforts U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 21st Aug 2017
The 16th annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training exercise, known as SEACAT, began today in Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, focusing on shared regional maritime security challenges. The goal of the exercise, which will continue through Sept. 1, is to increase multilateral cooperation and information sharing among navies and coast guards across South and Southeast Asia, officials said.

Indonesia

Indonesia, Singapore Conduct Mine Countermeasure Military Drills The Diplomat 28th Aug 2017
Last week, the Singapore and Indonesian navies conducted a bilateral mine countermeasure exercise in just the latest defense interaction between the two Southeast Asian states as they commemorate the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship this year.

Indonesia to buy $1.14 billion worth of Russian jets Reuters 22nd Aug 2017
Indonesia will buy 11 Sukhoi fighter jets worth $1.14 billion from Russia in exchange for cash and Indonesian commodities, two cabinet ministers said on Tuesday. The Southeast Asian country has pledged to ship up to $570 million worth of commodities in addition to cash to pay for the Suhkoi SU-35 fighter jets, which are expected to be delivered in stages starting in two years.

Indonesia, Malaysia Boost Military Ties in Islamic State Terror Fight The Diplomat 21st Jul 2017
In a meeting this week between their two military chiefs, Malaysia and Indonesia announced that they had agreed to boost defense cooperation in the area of counterterrorism. The move is just the latest sign of the ongoing effort by the two states to strengthen bilateral, minilateral, and multilateral collaboration as they combat the rising threat of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. One way in which security ties are managed is through a series of mechanisms between the two sides. Though there have been a range of more general bilateral forums that are convened regularly, both countries also set up a special forum for the management of border issues called the General Border Committee (GBC Malindo) as well as the High Level Committee (HLC) that tends to address security issues more specifically and features meetings between the defense establishments.

Indonesia, Singapore Conclude Military Exercise Amid Anniversary The Diplomat 19th Jul 2017
From July 11 to 19, Singapore and Indonesian special forces carried out the latest iteration of their annual bilateral exercise. As I have pointed out before at The Diplomat, the security relationship between Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest state, and Singapore, the subregion’s smallest, has traditionally tended to be quite prickly. It took nearly a year for Indonesia to even officially recognize Singapore’s independence from Malaysia following Jakarta’s violent opposition to the creation of Malaysia, known as Konfrontasi. Even in recent years, disagreements have tended to simmer, whether around traditional issues such as air space or non-traditional security matters like the annual haze problem. Nonetheless, the two countries have still maintained a cordial defense relationship that includes the usual components: visits, exchanges, and exercises. They have also made efforts to better manage lingering challenges, with one recent significant milestone being the conclusion of a landmark maritime boundary treaty that came into force in February as the two countries commemorate the 50th anniversary of their relationship this year.

Indonesia: A New Shipbuilding 'Magnet' from ASEAN to Africa? The Diplomat 18th Jul 2017
Over the weekend, the head of Indonesia’s state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL said that the firm had received several more orders to build vessels from countries from Southeast Asia to Africa following an initial success in the Philippines. His remarks on the growing attractiveness of the country’s shipbuilding industry reflect Indonesia’s desire to advance in this area despite the familiar difficulties it has faced thus far and the realities it confronts.

Indonesia is protecting its South China Sea territory against 'foreign' threats CNBC 18th Jul 2017
Southeast Asia's largest economy is defending its maritime rights within the disputed South China Sea in a perceived act against Chinese encroachment. Indonesia has long maintained an exclusive economic zone in waters claimed by Beijing, but unlike many of its neighbors, it's never been a player in the long-simmering conflict that's weighed on intra-Asian relations. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all assert sovereign rights over parts of the South China Sea, which is rich in resources and boasts key maritime routes.

Exclusive: Indonesian militants planned 'dirty bomb' attack - sources Reuters 25th Aug 2017
Indonesian militants planned to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb, security sources said, highlighting the rising ambitions of extremists to wreak destruction in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. But experts cast doubt on their expertise, equipment and chances of success. The plot was foiled when police raided homes and arrested five suspects in Bandung, West Java, last week, the sources with direct knowledge of the plot said. After the raids, police spoke of a plan to explode a "chemical" bomb but provided no other details. The plot comes as Indonesia grapples with an influx of militants deported from other countries and the fallout from the Islamic State-led siege in the southern Philippines city of Marawi that regional leaders and analysts worry has energized militants across Southeast Asia

Indonesia, US committed to maintaining peace in Asia-Pacific region Antara News 8th Aug 2017
Indonesia and the US have reached a joint commitment to maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Coordinating Minister for Political, Law, and Security Affairs Wiranto. Wiranto made the statement after receiving the honorary visit of the US Fleet Commander for Asia Pacific Admiral Harry B. Harris at his office here on Monday.

Retno Marsudi to address threat of terrorism at ASEAN Forum Antara News 2nd Aug 2017
Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi will convey the message that terrorism is a common security threat to the Southeast Asian region at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) next week in Manila. "We will emphasize the real threat of terrorism to the ASEAN countries. It is no longer in sight but it has infiltrated the Southeast Asian region," Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arrmanatha Nasir said during a press briefing here on Friday.

Six Countries Agree to Increase Cooperation to Combat Terror Jakarta Globe 31st Jul 2017
Government officials from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei held a sub-regional meeting on Saturday (29/07) in Manado, North Sulawesi, where they agreed to increase domestic and regional cooperation as part of deradicalization efforts to counter violent extremism. According to a press release issued by the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the meeting highlighted the importance of cooperation with civil society institutions to strengthen the role of women in potential extremist communities and to develop education and economic means for citizens as ways to combat increasing radicalism.

Energy Ministry, counterterrorism agency join forces to protect energy assets The Jakarta Post 19th Jul 2017
The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has teamed up with the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) to protect the country’s energy assets from terrorist attack. Under an agreement between both parties, the BNPT will undertake preventive measures to guarantee the security of all activities in the sector. In addition, they will also exchange data and information.

Govt blocks Telegram messaging service The Jakarta Post 14th Jul 2017
The Communications and Information Ministry blocked on Friday 11 Domain Name Systems (DNS) owned by the encrypted messaging application Telegram after collecting evidence that the app is being widely used by local terrorists to communicate and spread radical ideologies in the country. As a result of the policy, users have been unable to access the program on the web, but could still use its app on smartphones.

Malaysia

China offers rocket launchers, radar system to Malaysia: reports Business Insider 9th Aug 2017
China will offer Malaysia advanced rocket launchers and a radar system to be based on the southern tip of the Southeast Asian country, media reports have said, in a move that could raise security concerns for neighboring Singapore. The offer was to be made by a delegation of Chinese officials who visited Malaysia on Wednesday for the launch of a $13 billion rail project being built by China, news portal The Malaysian Insight reported, quoting an unidentified source. Up to 12 units of the AR3 multiple-launch artillery rocket system (MLRS) will be offered to Malaysia in a purchase program with a loan period of 50 years, the source told the news website. The size of the loan or the cost of the ordnance was not disclosed. The type of radar system was also not disclosed.

Malaysia names and launches first Littoral Combat Ship Jane's 360 25th Aug 2017
Malaysia’s Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) has launched the first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) on order for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN). The vessel, which has been given the pennant number 2501, was launched on 24 August at BNS’ facility in Lumut by the Queen of Perak, Zara Salim. In attendance at the launching ceremony was the Sultan of Perak Nazrin Muizzudin Shah, Malaysian defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein, and RMN Chief Admiral Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin. Just prior to its launch, the queen also revealed that the warship will be known in service as KD Maharaja Lela , named after the 19th century anti-British Malay nationalist who was executed by the colonial government in 1877. Maharaja Lela is the first of six LCS platforms ordered under a MYR9 billion (USD2.1 billion) contract awarded to BNS in July 2014, and was laid down in March 2016. According to specifications provided by the RMN, the 3,000-tonne LCS platform features an overall length of 111 m, an overall beam of 16 m, and a hull draught of 3.85 m.

Ahmad Zahid outlines three approaches to help Malaysia reach Tier 1 The Star Online 22nd Aug 2017
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia needs to beef up its enforcement agencies, work more closely with Interpol, and increase cooperation with the governments of human trafficking source countries, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ministry to mull border camp The Star Online 19th Aug 2017
PASIR MAS: The Defence Ministry will consider the proposal for a Border Regiment camp to be set up in Rantau Panjang, here. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Army Chief Datuk Seri Zulkiple Kassim would be asked to look into the proposal as Rantau Panjang area was located at the Malaysia-Thailand border.

DPM: Poca cuts gang-related crime the star 16th Aug 2017
PUTRAJAYA: Violent gang-related crimes are under control thanks to the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca), said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

KL to host next trilateral talks with Manila and Jakarta The Star Online 14th Aug 2017
KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia is scheduled to host the next Malaysia-Philippines-Indonesia trilateral mee­­­­ting in October, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Hisham: Aerial surveillance included in joint maritime ops the star 12th Aug 2017
KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are expanding the joint maritime patrols to include aerial surveillance operations as well, said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Tillerson and Zahid hold fruitful talks The Star Online 10th Aug 2017
KUALA LUMPUR: Security issues and bilateral relations were the focus of discussions when Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi met visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Najib and Tillerson discuss terrorism at KL talks The Star Online 8th Aug 2017
Bilateral relations, trade matters, terrorism and international issues of mutual concern were the focus of discussions in a meeting between Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (pic) in the Malaysian capital, Tuesday evening. Tillerson kicked off a two-day working visit to Malaysia on Tuesday, with a meeting with Najib, signalling an affirmation of the commitment by the United States of America under President Donald Trump's administration to strengthen bilateral ties. 

Hotline set up in bid to tackle human trafficking The Star Online 31st Jul 2017
SHAH ALAM: The issue of human trafficking in the country is being tackled head-on with the launch of a National Anti-Trafficking hotline.The initiative was mooted in conjunction with the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons here yesterday.

Singapore and Brunei may join sea patrols The Star Online 26th Jul 2017
KUALA LUMPUR: The Trilateral Maritime Patrol (TMP) involving Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines may soon include Singapore and Brunei, said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.The Defence Minister said the patrols on the Sulu Sea would certainly be more successful with the participation of the two countries

IGP: Malaysia and Thai cops ready to join forces against trans-border crime the star 24th Jul 2017
KUALA LUMPUR: Bukit Aman will work closely with its Thai counterparts in dealing with trans-border crime, says Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

Sabah tour boats given one month to install automatic identification system The Star Online 18th Jul 2017
The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) will begin cracking down on tour boats that do not have the Automatic Identification System (AIS) starting next month. Esscom commander Deputy Comm Hazani Ghazali said tour boat operators who failed to equip their boats with AIS will face the law, including the revocation of their boat licence. He said the mandatory AIS requirement was among steps being taken to further increase security measures among the operators ferrying tourists to the popular islands resorts.

Zahid: Anti-human trafficking efforts bear fruit The Star Online 18th Jul 2017
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia can maintain its position on Tier 2 of the United States annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report with improvements made against human trafficking, prosecuting offenders and the protection of human-trafficking victims.

Myanmar

Guns and money: Why US' top North Korea diplomat is in Southeast Asia CNN 17th Jul 2017
When US Ambassador Joseph Yun visits Myanmar this week, he'll likely be trying to convince a longtime military partner of Pyongyang to join US efforts to rein in Kim Jong Un's nuclear efforts. It's a tough task for the man who made headlines for helping to free American Otto Warmbier from North Korean detention last month. But the trip, say analysts, is emblematic of a key tactic from the Trump administration: cutting off North Korean revenue, no matter how small or obscure the source.

Unpacking the Myanmar Commander-in-Chief’s Grand India Visit The Diplomat 22nd Aug 2017
On July 7, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, embarked on a rare, eight-day state visit to India. Personally ushered in by the Indian army’s chief, General Bipin Rawat, at the Buddhist shrine in Bodh Gaya, Myanmar’s top general toured several crucial military and nonmilitary facilities around the country before meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defense Minister Arun Jaitley, and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on July 14. Earlier in July, both sides had met at the 7th Delhi Dialogue, where they promised to scale up counterinsurgency and trade cooperation.

China's military reform and Myanmar’s security dynamic Frontier Myanmar 22nd Aug 2017
The structural reforms of the People’s Liberation Army initiated in recent years by President Xi Jinping are the most wide-ranging and ambitious since 1949 and supplement China’s strategic interests and foreign policy in the region. The creation of the new Central Military Commission departments and ground force headquarters, and the transformation to joint operations and joint forces, have created a new security dynamic in China-Myanmar relations. One of the most notable shifts has been restructuring the seven military regions into five theatres of command. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the restructuring of military regions has had an impact on conflicts along the border with Myanmar.

Myanmar's military chief asks Abe to continue SDF support The Japan Times 5th Aug 2017
Myanmar’s visiting military chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, has asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to ensure the Self-Defense Forces continue to provide “capacity-building assistance” to Myanmar’s national forces. During a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday, Abe expressed hope that stability and development will be achieved by Myanmar’s leadership, the Defense Ministry said. In response, Min Aung Hlaing stressed that Japan’s support was important in proceeding with political reforms. Myanmar’s constitution gives the military wide-ranging powers in domestic affairs as well as defense.

Tatmadaw Prohibits Use of Military Ranks for Non-State Armed Groups The Irrawaddy 26th Jul 2017
The Tatmadaw Information Team released a statement on Wednesday prohibiting the usage of military ranks employed by the Myanmar Army for non-state armed organizations. The statement was shared on the Facebook page of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing.

North Korea-Myanmar Links in the Spotlight Under Trump The Diplomat 25th Jul 2017
Last week, the U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Joseph Yun paid a visit to Myanmar as part of a broader trip to the region from July 11 to 18. His trip to the Southeast Asian state once again placed the issue of Myanmar-North Korea ties back in the spotlight. North Korea’s links with Myanmar, and Southeast Asian states more broadly, are not new. As I have noted before in these pages, regional watchers have long known that members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) still maintain various forms of economic and people-to-people links with Myanmar, even though they only tend to make the headlines when crises periodically erupt. However, Myanmar’s ties with North Korea have received particular scrutiny in recent years. While the full extent of the Myanmar-North Korea relationship has not been publicly unveiled, reports have periodically surfaced on the extent of their defense ties, including North Korean arms exports to Myanmar’s military, which had ruled the country for decades, as well as other forms of technical assistance and exchanges in the 2000s and 2010s.

Philippines

What Did the US Pacific Military Chief’s Philippines Visit Accomplish? The Diplomat 29th Aug 2017
From August 23-24, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) commander Admiral Harry Harris visited the Philippines and met with key officials including President Rodrigo Duterte. His visit reaffirmed the ongoing cooperation being forged by the two allies in spite of clear setbacks under Duterte’s reign thus far. The United States and the Philippines have officially been treaty allies since the inking of the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951 and have a long history of security collaboration (See: “The US-Philippine Alliance Under Duterte: A Path to Recalibration”). Although the environment for bilateral cooperation has been somewhat complicated since Duterte took power last June and vowed to forge a more independent foreign policy that diversifies Manila’s alignments away from Washington and towards other powers like China and Russia, important collaboration in areas ranging from counter-terrorism to maritime security is still continuing. On counter-terrorism, U.S. support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has only intensified in recent months as Manila has confronted Islamic State-linked militants in the southern city of Marawi, which has exposed its well-known limitations.

New Philippines Radar System Spotlights US-ASEAN Maritime Security The Diplomat 29th Aug 2017
Last week, the United States formally transferred a new radar system to the Philippines. While the transfer is just the latest in a series of ongoing activities by the two sides that are continuing across the security realm, it also highlights Washington’s continuing efforts to strengthen maritime domain awareness among Southeast Asian states in spite of lingering challenges. As I have noted before, though the Philippines had long been belittled as one of Asia’s weakest militaries and Washington’s laggard alliance, under the Obama administration it had begun to cement its place not just as a valuable bilateral ally, but as a critical part of wider U.S. Asia policy as a key location for America’s military presence; an exemplar of bilateral and multilateral partnering; and an upholder of international principles. To be sure, some of the progress made has slowed and has been complicated by the rise of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is prone to anti-American outbursts and has tried to forge an unconventional “independent foreign policy” seeking to move the Philippines away from its traditional reliance on the United States and towards other major powers like China and Russia (See: “Recalibrating US-Philippine Alliance Under Duterte”). Despite all this, most day-to-day U.S.-Philippine defense cooperation has largely continued on some aspects like maritime security and in fact advanced in others such as counterterrorism, especially following the ongoing Marawi crisis that first erupted in May.

Duterte meets US Pacific Command chief at Palace Inquirer 23rd Aug 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte met Wednesday with US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris Jr. in Malacañang. Duterte and Harris discussed during their meeting security in the region, including the tensions in the Korean Peninsula. The President asked Harris if the United States was worried about the missiles tests of North Korea and its possible nuclear attacks.

Exclusive: Japan seeks Southeast Asia clout with chopper parts for Philippines military - sources Reuters 10th Aug 2017
Japan's army will give thousands of helicopter parts to keep Philippine military choppers airborne, helping Tokyo gain clout with Manila in a contest with China to secure influence over the strategic South China Sea nation, four sources said. Military diplomacy is a new means for Japan to confound China's bid for control in the bitterly contested South China Sea as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks a regional military role amid a retreat from decades of state pacifism. The pact could be the first in a series of similar deals as Tokyo cranks up defense diplomacy with Southeast Asian nations eager for hand-me-down patrol aircraft, ships and other military equipment. "This is a demonstration of the robust strategic partnership and cooperation of the two allies," a senior Philippine Air Force commander told Reuters, adding that Japan would deliver around 40,000 parts under the deal.

US Gives Philippines 2 New Military Surveillance Aircraft Amid Rising Terror Threat The Diplomat 1st Aug 2017
On July 27, the United States delivered two new military surveillance aircraft to the Philippines during a handover ceremony. The delivery was yet another example of ongoing cooperation between the two longtime allies as they seek to confront a terrorism threat that has only grown in Southeast Asia in recent months.

Stemming the tide of violent extremism in the Philippines East Asia Forum 29th Jul 2017
Marawi was a victory for Islamic extremism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. The next steps taken by the Philippine government will determine the extent of its spread. It has been more than 60 days since the outbreak of violence in the Islamic city of Marawi on the morning of 23 May. Over 314,000 persons are displaced. More than half of the lakeside city is in ruins and approximately 100 hostages are still trapped in the crossfire. Aerial bombardments and house-to-house fighting continues. As the first widespread incident of urban violence in the Philippines — its partial precursors being Zamboanga in 2013, Ipil in 1995 and the razing of Jolo in 1974 — the impact of the Marawi siege is unprecedented, not least in its implications for the rise of violent extremism in the region.

Singapore Gives Philippines Military Aid to Fight Islamic State Threat The Diplomat 19th Jul 2017
This week, Singapore offered the Philippines military assistance as Manila continues to battle Islamic State-linked terrorists in the country’s south. The move illustrates the growing alarm in the city-state as well as in Southeast Asia more broadly about the nature of the terrorist threat and its serious implications for regional security. As I have pointed out previously, Southeast Asia remains a key front in the battle against the Islamic State. Over 1,000 fighters have flocked from Southeast Asia to join the group in Iraq and Syria, and we have seen a string of planned attacks surface, some of which have been successful. Fears that the group could be looking to establish a caliphate base in the subregion from which to launch further attacks – one that Singapore’s officials have long been warning about – have only risen with the recent siege in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

Philippines acquires Israel-made howitzers to battle terror International Business Times, Singapore Edition 18th Jul 2017
The Philippine government, through the Department of National Defense, has acquired almost a dozen of Israel-manufactured 155-mm 39 caliber howitzers (M-71) and will be temporarily housed at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Manila. Elbit Systems Land, an Israel-based company won the bidding to supply the howitzers to the Philippines and to be used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Military told Philippine journalists that three howitzers will be deployed to the Philippine Marines and six others will be assigned to the Philippine Army. The howitzers will be used against rising terror groups in the country. The Israel company won the contract after complying with the bidding procedures. The cost of the project is P 438.62 million or USD 8.8 million. Around 249 pieces of 155-mm artillery shells were also incorporated in the deal.

Philippines 'keen on studying Singapore counter-terrorism experience' The Straits Times 18th Jul 2017
The Philippines can learn from Singapore's experience in fighting terrorism via "proactive" methods that seek to steer Singaporeans away from radical views, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Tuesday (July 18). "We could certainly learn from Singapore's own approaches in countering violent extremism, specifically in the way you deal with Islamic schools and returning foreign fighters," Mr Lorenzana said, as he welcomed Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is on a two-day working visit to the Philippines.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen to visit Philippines The Straits Times 17th Jul 2017
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen will be making a two-day working visit to the Philippines starting on Tuesday (July 18) so as to gain a better understanding of the ongoing security situation in the southern Philippines, the Ministry of Defence said.

Military submits recommendation on martial law Inquirer 17th Jul 2017
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has submitted to President Duterte one of the reports that the Chief Executive needs to decide whether to request Congress to extend military rule in Mindanao. Lorenzana submitted the report on Thursday. The Philippine National Police is expected to submit soon its own recommendation whether to extend or lift martial law in Mindanao.

Philippines' Duterte offers Muslim self-rule to counter IS in Marawi Channel NewsAsia 17th Jul 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte offered self-rule to the Philippines' Muslim minority on Monday (Jul 17) in an attempt to defeat militants who seized a southern city in the gravest challenge to his year-old rule.

Duterte renews Mindanao peace push amid Marawi stand-off South China Morning Post 17th Jul 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking to revive a peace accord aimed at ending decades of insurgency in Mindanao in the southern Philippines, where government troops have battled Islamic State-linked militants for two months.

Interpol help sought to locate 2 Indonesians BusinessMirror 6th Aug 2017
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has sought the assistance of the International Police (Interpol) for the immediate arrest and extradition of two Indonesian nationals who are facing trial for qualified theft in a case filed by the infrastructure unit of San Miguel Corp. before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Marikina City.

Singapore

Ten sailors missing after warship, tanker collide near Singapore Reuters 20th Aug 2017
Ten sailors are missing after a U.S. warship collided with an oil tanker east of Singapore before dawn on Monday, tearing a hole beneath the waterline and flooding compartments that include a crew sleeping area, the U.S. Navy said. The collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and the tanker Alnic MC was the second involving a U.S. Navy destroyer and a merchant vessels in Asian waters in little more than two months. The ships collided while the U.S. warship was heading to Singapore for a routine port call, the Navy said in a statement. "Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft," the Navy said. "There are currently 10 sailors missing and five injured." The USS John S. McCain's sister ship, the USS Fitzgerald, almost sank off the coast of Japan after it was struck by a Philippine container ship on June 17. The bodies of seven USS Fitzgerald sailors were found in a flooded berthing area. Collisions between warships and other large vessels are extremely rare, with naval historians going back more than 50 years to find a similar incident.

Singapore Reveals New Military Facility Amid Rising Islamic State Threat The Diplomat 3rd Aug 2017
On Monday, Singapore inaugurated a new institute designed to train personnel to undertake homeland defense and security operations. The move is just the latest step the city-state is taking to equip its armed forces with the necessary skills to undertake a wider range of security tasks amid growing threats including terrorism. Though Singapore possesses a highly capable military, its policymakers have long recognized the need to further modernize its armed forces to deal with the diversification and hybridization of threats in the 21st century ranging from terrorism to cyberwarfare to fake news; what defense officials have called a transformation into a 3rd Generation Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Some signs of this had already been visible following the September 11 attacks, when the city-state had established an Island Defense Task Force (IDTF) where SAF forces would work with police, immigration and other authorities to protect key installations from potential terrorist attacks. But with a series of bold, orchestrated urban attacks by the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) in European and Southeast Asia as well as the increasing use of cyber as a domain for warfare, the city-state has redoubled its efforts to confront heightened security threats.

SAF and police working closely to deal with terror threat TODAYonline 31st Jul 2017
Over the past months, trainers from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) have been attending courses run by the police to familiarise themselves with police procedures and protocols in tackling public security incidents.

Brief: Singapore defense corporation sets up $150m startup venture arm Tech In Asia 26th Jul 2017
ST Engineering, Singapore’s premier defense and engineering group, yesterday announced it’s setting up a corporate venture capital arm to invest in startups. The company has set aside US$150 million for ST Engineering Ventures. The venture arm plans to invest in startups working in robotics, autonomous technology, data analytics, and cyber security. For this purpose, it will set up offices in Singapore, Israel, and the US. ST Engineering will also launch Innosparks, an innovation lab at Singapore’s One North tech district, open to entrepreneurs and startups.

Singapore is security gateway, says Next US Ambassador Nominee McFarland International Business Times, Singapore Edition 21st Jul 2017
Ms Kathleen Troia McFarland, 65, nominated to be the next US ambassador to Singapore described the strategic importance of the tiny nation as the security gateway between East and West and as the entrance to the South China Sea.

Thailand

US Approves New Thailand Military Sale Under Trump The Diplomat 15th Aug 2017
Last week, the United States moved a step toward approving a new possible arms sale to Thailand. Though the sale of Harpoon missiles is just the latest defense deal between the two longtime allies and has long been on the cards for Bangkok, it nonetheless speaks to the ongoing development of ties in the defense realm during the Trump era.

Tillerson in Thailand presses for more action on North Korea Reuters 8th Aug 2017
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday pressed Thai leaders for more action on North Korea during the highest level visit to Thailand by a U.S. official since a military coup in 2014 soured relations with the United States. Tillerson's top priority has been urging Southeast Asian countries to do more to cut funding streams for North Korea. The United States believes North Korean front companies are active in Thailand and is trying to encourage the Thais to shut them down, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton told reporters aboard Tillerson's plane. The companies are using Bangkok as a regional hub and change their names frequently, she said. Before meeting Tillerson, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand would support a U.N. resolution on new sanctions on Pyongyang over its missile tests. But he made no mention of specific action.

Thai military ready to aid Philippines Bangkok Post 26th Jul 2017
The Royal Thai Army (RTA) is ready to send troops to the restive city of Marawi to provide humanitarian aid if the Philippines seeks help from Thailand. Lt Gen Chatchai Patranavik, chief of the RTA's Counter Terrorist Operations Centre, says if requested, Thai troops could be deployed to Marawi to provide humanitarian aid for residents affected by the conflict against local militants claiming links to the Islamic State (IS) group. The relief would be provided under the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) programme. He stressed they would not engage in any combat.

Vietnam

US-Vietnam Defense Relations Under Trump Get a Boost With First Aircraft Carrier Visit The Diplomat 22nd Aug 2017
Though Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis discussed a wide range of issues in their bilateral defense ties during their August 8 meeting, the biggest headline item that emerged was the first visit of a U.S. aircraft carrier to Vietnam, set for next year. While the move had long been under discussion by both sides, it represents yet another step forward for a relationship that has seen some quick gains in the Trump administration thus far despite deeper, lingering challenges that remain.

Reforms are needed for Vietnam’s military Shepherd 7th Aug 2017
Vietnam must begin serious modernisation and structural reform if it wants to hold its own against China’s growing control of the South China Sea and, to investigate this matter further, Shephard canvassed an international cross-section of Vietnam specialists for recommendations.

Vietnam confirms order of Russian T-90 tanks Jane's 360 25th Jul 2017
Vietnam has ordered 64 T-90S/SK main battle tanks (MBTs) from Russia, state-run news agencies in Hanoi confirmed on 21 July.

Việt Nam, Singapore share terrorism concerns vietnamnews.vn 25th Jul 2017
Việt Nam and Singapore share concerns over terrorism in the region and the world, and are willing to join hands in the fight against extreme violence, leaders of both countries said yesterday.