Defense Update: Recap of Secretary Pompeo's Trip to Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia

Defense Update | August 6, 2018
Authors: Jack Myint and Piranat Viriyaprapaikit
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Recap of Secretary Pompeo's Trip to Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia

From August 1-5, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Jakarta, joining ASEAN regional and bilateral meetings, with a focus on regional security issues. In addition to meeting with his foreign minister counterparts, Secretary Pompeo met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo in their respective countries.

Secretary Pompeo participated in four major multilateral ASEAN-centered gatherings in Singapore, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting, the East Asia Summit Ministerial, and a U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting.

At the Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting, Secretary Pompeo had a multilateral engagement with delegates from Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The meeting focused on water resource management, given the recent dam tragedy in Laos and severe flooding in Myanmar. The meeting concluded with a joint statement to strengthen water data management and information sharing in the lower Mekong. To access the joint statement, please click here.

At the ASEAN Regional Forum, Secretary Pompeo announced the United States’ intent to provide approximately US$300 million in security assistance across the Indo-Pacific region. This assistance includes US$290.5 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to strengthen maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR), and peacekeeping capabilities, and $8.5 million in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds to counter transnational crime. The funding package will also cover maritime security issues, including working with partners to develop coastal radar-enhanced maritime domain awareness. To access the State Department’s fact sheet on the funding package, please click here.

At the East Asia Summit Ministerial, Secretary Pompeo met his 17 counterparts to address the region’s most critical security challenges, including the denuclearization of North Korea, the contested South China Sea issue, terrorism, maritime and cyber security, and the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, among other topics.

Finally, at the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Secretary Pompeo co-chaired a meeting with all 10 ASEAN countries. There, he reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to work with ASEAN members to counter the threat of terrorism, address cybersecurity challenges, and managing investments in the region. For Secretary Pompeo’s remarks at the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial, please click here.

One of the most anticipated topics of discussion was the denuclearization of North Korea, as its Foreign Minster Ri Yong Ho was present at the ASEAN Regional Forum. Secretary Pompeo stated that the minister made very clear the North Korean government’s continued commitment to denuclearization. For additional details of the trip, please refer to the US Department of State’s official press release here.

US-Malaysia joins for biennial Pacific Air Forces tactical airlift exercise

On July 16-20, the United States and Malaysia held a biennial Pacific Air Forces tactical airlift exercise called “Cope Taufan” at various air bases across Malaysia, including the Subang Air Base. The Cope Taufan is an exercise that has been held since the early 1980’s, focused on improving tactical mobility and boosting interoperability between the U.S. and Royal Malaysian air forces. The exercise also allows various exchanges of technical expertise and standard operating procedures, as well as trainings for aircrew and maintenance personnel. Approximately 500 service members from the U.S. Air Force 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base (AB), Japan, and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) participated. On the U.S. side, participating assets included the U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and RMAF aircraft. This ongoing exercise demonstrates the stable military relationship between Malaysia and the United States, amidst Malaysia’s government change this past year. RMAF Maj. Gen. Zahani Zainal Abidin, Air Operation Command Headquarters Chief of Staff, stated during the exercise how important the bilateral relationship is between the U.S. and Malaysia, and how the exercise helped strengthen both countries’ tactical airlifts. Likewise, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces’ participations in exercises with military forces in the Indo-Pacific demonstrates its commitment to peace and stability in the region

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
US to invest $300 million in Indo-Pacific region
Chinese, US armed forces team up for Asia-Pacific health meeting
India urges ASEAN to strengthen Indo-Pacific maritime cooperation
Asean armies urged to boost collective response to threats
Southeast Asia, Beijing Hail Milestone in South China Sea Talks

Cambodia
Cambodia’s Security Forces Illegally Campaigning For Ruling Party

Indonesia
Indonesia restores damaged sonar on Diponegoro-class corvette
What’s Next for China-Indonesia Military Ties?
Indonesia-Singapore Navy Ties in Focus with Bilateral Visit
Indonesia reveals details of Chinese sensors onboard KCR-60M vessels
In Indonesia, extremists finding low-tech ways to get around high-tech blocks
Indonesia-South Korea Security Ties in Focus With Defense Pact
Indonesia equips second KCR-60M attack craft with Chinese-made naval weapon
Indonesia withdraws BO-105 helos from UN task force after concerns raised over capabilities 

Laos
Laos Receives Four Mi-17 Helicopters

Malaysia
New Malaysian Government Reveals Su-30MKM Readiness Woes
Malaysia Shuts Down Saudi-Supported Counterterror Center
Promoting Singapore-Malaysia Maritime Cooperation in the Eastern Strait
US-Malaysia Defense Ties in Focus with Air Force Exercise
Duterte to intensify defense cooperation with Malaysia
Newsie - Defence force to bring home soldiers remains
PH to boost defense, security cooperation with Malaysia
Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur to sign MoU on defense training

Myanmar
Tatmadaw Attacks RCSS Location in Mong Kung on Eve of Peace Conference
12 Tatmadaw Troops, 1 RCSS Soldier Killed in 4 Days of Fighting in Mong Kung

Philippines
What’s Next for the Philippines’ Submarine Acquisition?
FVR welcomes South Korea’s aid for Philippine defense
US-Philippines Alliance: Security Cooperation in the Headlines with Terror Aid Boost
US Air Force is giving away retired turboprop light attack aircraft to Philippines
PH could breach US sanctions if Russia arms deal proceeds
Palace denies inaction on South China Sea dispute
81% of Pinoys gov't inaction on SCS

Singapore
Singapore Navy Decommissions two Fearless-class Patrol Vessels
ASEAN, China launch maritime exercises in Singapore
Singapore reveals details about Fleet Management System
Singapore signs data analytics agreements with Airbus, Rolls-Royce at Farnborough
Singapore-France Defense Cooperation in Focus with Air Force Base Detachment Anniversary
What’s Next for Singapore’s F-16 Fighter Jet Replacement?

Thailand
Vietnam-Thailand Defense Ties in the Headlines With Bilateral Visit
Thai armed forces told to get ready to help Laos
Apirach set to become Army chief in military appointments
PM approves 'midget' subs for navy
PM approves first stage of navy mini-submarine project
DoD Personnel Assist in Thai Cave Rescue Operations

Vietnam
What’s Next for Vietnam-New Zealand Military Cooperation?
What’s Next for Vietnam-India Defense Relations?
Vietnam-Japan Relations in the Spotlight with Defense Dialogue
South Korea-Vietnam Navy Ties in the Spotlight
US, Vietnam to Cooperate on Freedom of Navigation in Disputed South China Sea
Conference reviews military, defence work in six months
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

US to invest $300 million in Indo-Pacific region https://www.outlookindia.com/ 5th Aug 2018
Washington, DC (US), August 5 (): US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday announced an investment to the tune of USD 113 million in the Indo-Pacific region to boost energy projects, infrastructure, and maritime security. "At the ASEAN Regional Forum on August 4, Secretary Pompeo announced the intent to provide nearly USD 300 million in security assistance to improve security relationships across the Indo-Pacific region. This assistance includes USD 290.5 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to strengthen maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR), and peacekeeping capabilities, and USD 8.5 million in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds to counter transnational crime," an official statement from the U.S. Department of State noted.

Chinese, US armed forces team up for Asia-Pacific health meeting South China Morning Post 26th Jul 2018
The Chinese and US militaries will jointly host a regional health meeting for armed forces in September, Beijing said on Thursday, despite tension over trade and security issues such as the South China Sea. China has been keen to highlight its cooperation with the US military, despite a bitter trade war and Chinese suspicion at US support for self-ruled, and Chinese-claimed, Taiwan, and its involvement in the disputed South China Sea.

India urges ASEAN to strengthen Indo-Pacific maritime cooperation Nikkei Asian Review 20th Jul 2018
NEW DELHI -- India urged members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to strengthen regional maritime cooperation at an international conference that began on Thursday. India's interests in the Indo-Pacific were "vast" and its engagement "deep," said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the ministerial session of the two-day Delhi Dialogue. "Our vision, in one word, is SAGAR which stands for -- Security and Growth for All in the Region."

Asean armies urged to boost collective response to threats The Straits Times 8th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE — Asean armies must continue to find new ways to enhance their collective response to terror and chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) threats, said Brig. Gen. Goh Si Hou, Singapore’s chief of Army at an inaugural Asean workshop on information sharing. Goh stressed in his speech that cooperation between Asean armies is important to combat the threat of terrorism, and that the resilience, response and recovery framework could be used to strengthen collective efforts in combating terrorism and CBR threats in the region.

Southeast Asia, Beijing Hail Milestone in South China Sea Talks Jakarta Globe 4th Aug 2018
Southeast Asia and China have agreed on a working text to continue long drawn-out negotiations over a code of conduct in the disputed South China sea, with officials lauding it as a "milestone" and "great progress" on Thursday (02/08).

Cambodia

Cambodia’s Security Forces Illegally Campaigning For Ruling Party: HRW Radio Free Asia 12th Jul 2018
Cambodia’s security forces are illegally campaigning for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), a rights group said Thursday, ahead of a general election this month that has been widely derided as unfree and unfair amid an ongoing political crackdown in the country. Military officers, gendarmes, and police officers have been stumping for the CPP in violation of Cambodia’s law requiring political neutrality, New York-based Human Rights Watch said, since the country’s campaign period for the July 29 ballot began over the weekend.

Indonesia

Indonesia restores damaged sonar on Diponegoro-class corvette Jane's Navy International 6th Aug 2018
The Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL) has restored the hull-mounted sonar system of its Diponegoro (Sigma)-class corvette that ran aground in January 2015. The vessel, KRI Frans Kaisiepo (368), ran aground while navigating the Surabaya Western Shipping Route (Alur Pelayaran Barat Surabaya, or APBS).

What’s Next for China-Indonesia Military Ties? The Diplomat 6th Aug 2018
Last week, Jakarta was one of the Asian capitals which hosted a commemoration of this year’s anniversary of the founding of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). While the focus was on the occasion itself, the engagement also put the spotlight on the ongoing defense ties between Indonesia and China, which have moved along slowly in spite of the significant challenges that remain. While Indonesia and China have long had a bilateral relationship, the defense aspect of ties has been strengthened gradually over the past few years in spite of challenges that remain, including with respect to the maritime realm (See: “What’s New About Indonesia’s ‘Push’ for South China Sea Patrols?”). Aspects of collaboration, such as deals on equipment and technology and some exchanges, have been continuing on, and the Indonesian legislature finally ratified the Indonesia-China defense cooperation agreement in 2016 that had been initially inked nearly a decade prior to that.

Indonesia-Singapore Navy Ties in Focus with Bilateral Visit The Diplomat 31st Jul 2018
This week, Singapore’s navy chief was in Indonesia for a visit. The trip, which saw a heavy focus on counterterrorism among other issues, put the spotlight on the development of defense relationships between the two countries. The development of bilateral defense ties has continued on into 2018 as well, including on the naval side. For instance, in April, both navies held an intelligence exchange conference, which saw Indonesia’s Assistant Security of the Navy Chief of Staff S. Irawan pay a visit to Singapore where he met with several officials including Singapore’s navy chief Lew Chuen Hong. Maritime issues were in discussion as well in broader engagements as well between the two countries, including when Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu met with Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen in Singapore when he was attending this year’s iteration of the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD).

Indonesia reveals details of Chinese sensors onboard KCR-60M vessels Update Philippines 29th Jul 2018
In line with the installation of Type 630 30 mm close-in weapon system (CIWS) turrets, the Indonesia Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL) has also equipped two of its KCR-60M fast attack craft with Chinese-made sensors, consoles, and combat information systems. Details of the systems, which were revealed on 22 July by a TNI-AL source at the service’s headquarters in Cilangkap, have been corroborated with Indonesian industry sources in Surabaya who are familiar with the matter.

In Indonesia, extremists finding low-tech ways to get around high-tech blocks: Think tank Channel NewsAsia 1st Aug 2018
Indonesia’s cooperation with social media giants to remove extremist content is improving, but the extremists appear to be finding low-tech ways around blocks, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), released on Friday (Jul 27).

Indonesia-South Korea Security Ties in Focus With Defense Pact The Diplomat 20th Jul 2018
On July 10, Indonesian media outlets reported that the legislature had moved toward approval of a defense cooperation agreement between Indonesia and South Korea. While the development itself has long been in the works, it has nonetheless put the focus on the ongoing security collaboration between the two sides as part of their wider bilateral relationship. As part of their wider diplomatic ties that date back to 1973, Indonesia and South Korea also have been pursuing defense collaboration as well. Indonesia today is among the biggest importers of South Korean defense equipment, and cooperation on projects has continue to proceed to varying degrees, from submarines to the development of the new KF-X/IF-X fighter aircraft which has been running into some complications (See: “Where is Indonesia-South Korea Defense Industry Cooperation Headed?”).

Indonesia equips second KCR-60M attack craft with Chinese-made naval weapon Janes Navy International 20th Jul 2018
The Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) has equipped its second KCR-60M fast attack craft, KRI Tombak (629), with a Chinese-made Type 630 30 mm close-in weapon system (CIWS) turret. Tombak is the second-known KCR-60M vessel that has been modified to carry the six-barrelled weapon system. First-of-class KRI Sampari (628) received the same CIWS type in late 2017. Jane’s has been made to understand that both ships underwent the modifications at state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL’s facilities in Surabaya in a process supervised by engineers from China.

Indonesia withdraws BO-105 helos from UN task force after concerns raised over capabilities | Jane's 360 Jane's Navy International 20th Jul 2018
The Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL) will cease subsequent deployments of its BO-105 utility helicopters in the Middle East after concerns were raised over the aircraft’s ability to undertake further United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) operations. The matter has been confirmed by various sources within the TNI-AL, each of whom have cited various technical issues with regards to the BO-105’s capabilities.

Laos

Laos Receives Four Mi-17 Helicopters The Laotian Times 13th Jul 2018
Russian Helicopters, part of the Rostec State Corporation, has completed its first service contract to the Lao Ministry of Defence, transferring four repaired Mi-17 helicopters at an official handover ceremony on Wednesday. The ceremony was held at the Vientiane air base and was presided over by Lao Deputy Minister of Defence, Phouvong Vongphom, who inspected the helicopters. A crew from the Lao Air Force made a demonstration flight in the repaired helicopter during the event.

Malaysia

New Malaysian Government Reveals Su-30MKM Readiness Woes Aviation International News 6th Aug 2018
Malaysian Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu of the new Pakatan Harapan-led government revealed to his parliament on July 31 that only four of the 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKMs of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) 11 Squadron are airworthy. He added that the previous administration had terminated the original maintenance contracts, and the new government is looking at engaging local contractors. In a response, the RMAF said that, since 2007 and the delivery of the first batch of Su-30MKMs, the budget allocated by the government has been lower than the expected figure required to maintain the entire fleet.

Malaysia Shuts Down Saudi-Supported Counterterror Center BenarNews 6th Aug 2018
Malaysia Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis shake hands on the sideline of the 17th Asian Security Summit of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 3, 2018. The Malaysian government has closed the Saudi-backed anti-terrorism center named after the kingdom’s ruling monarch, members of parliament were told on Monday.

Promoting Singapore-Malaysia Maritime Cooperation in the Eastern Strait The Diplomat 6th Aug 2018
Late last month, in response to Malaysian Defense Minister’s Mohamad Sabu’s suggestion to strengthen security cooperation in the eastern Singapore Strait near Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks, Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen remarked that “even joint patrols with our agencies and their agencies, I completely agree with that.” This exchange seems encouraging during a time of what some might construe as turbulence in bilateral ties, particularly in the context of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s remark about reviewing the price of water Kuala Lumpur sells to Singapore.

US-Malaysia Defense Ties in Focus with Air Force Exercise The Diplomat 30th Jul 2018
Over the past week, the United States and Malaysia held another iteration of a decades-old bilateral air force exercise. The holding of the drills was yet another demonstration of continued cooperation on the defense side between the two countries amid the new change in government in Malaysia that just took place in May. With respect to exercises, these include Malaysia’s participation in multilateral ones like Pacific Partnership and the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) as well as bilateral ones such as Exercise Keris Strike. These interactions have largely continued on during the Trump administration, albeit with some minor changes. (See: “The Real Test for US-Malaysia Relations in the Trump Era”). And further questions had been asked about the future shape of defense cooperation following a new government coming to power in May in Malaysia (See: “What Does Malaysia’s Shock Election Result Mean for its Future?“).

Duterte to intensify defense cooperation with Malaysia Business World 20th Jul 2018
President Rodrigo R. Duterte has committed to intensifying Manila’s defense and security cooperation with the Malaysian government to address terrorist threats and terrorism activities in the ASEAN region following his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, July 16, Malacañang said. The Palace also said the President was set to arrive in Manila on Monday evening after his working visit to Malaysia, which was preceded by his attendance at the fight of Senator and boxing champ Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao last Sunday at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.

Newsie - Defence force to bring home soldiers remains Newsie.co.nz 20th Jul 2018
The New Zealand Defence Force has begun repatriating the remains of personnel buried in Malaysia. This is part of project Te Auraki (The Return), under which the NZDF is bringing home personnel and dependants buried overseas after 1 January, 1955, following a change in Government policy. Between July and August, 28 NZDF personnel and one child will be exhumed from cemeteries in Malaysia and Singapore and returned to New Zealand as one group.

PH to boost defense, security cooperation with Malaysia cnn 16th Jul 2018
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — President Rodrigo Duterte seeks to bolster the country's defense and security after meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday, the Malacañang said. In a statement, the Palace said Duterte and Mahathir "renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia."

Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur to sign MoU on defense training The Daily Star 12th Jul 2018
Bangladesh and Malaysia are preparing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defense training and technical cooperation. It was told in a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and visiting Malaysian Defense Minister Mohamad bin Sabu at Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in Dhaka today. PM’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim said the prime minister and Malaysian minister discussed the issues of cooperation in defense sector, Rohingya and matters of other mutual interests.

Myanmar

Tatmadaw Attacks RCSS Location in Mong Kung on Eve of Peace Conference The Irrawaddy 10th Jul 2018
MON STATE — The Myanmar Army attacked a base of the RCSS/SSA-South in Shan State’s Mong Kung Township on Monday after warning the group to go back to its old base, according to local sources. At noon, the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw)’s Light Infantry Battalion 569 launched an hour-long attack on the RCSS base, located in a forested area outside of the town.

12 Tatmadaw Troops, 1 RCSS Soldier Killed in 4 Days of Fighting in Mong Kung The Irrawaddy 13th Jul 2018
MON STATE — Twelve Myanmar Army troops and one Restoration Council of Shan State soldier have been killed in this week’s armed clashes in Mong Kung Township, according to separate reports from the organization and an aligned media outlet on Friday. An undisclosed number of RCSS troops have been injured, according to a spokesperson for the group. Four days of fighting in Mong Kung have also forced hundreds of ethnic Shan to flee their villages, according to local sources.

Philippines

What’s Next for the Philippines’ Submarine Acquisition? The Diplomat 6th Aug 2018
Last week, Philippine defense officials offered a few additional specifics of where the Southeast Asian was with respect to the acquisition of a submarine capability. While much of this was with respect to activity already ongoing, the comments nonetheless shed some light on how Manila is currently proceeding and how things might shape up in the coming months. As I have noted before in these pages, the idea of the Philippines developing a submarine capability is not a new one and dates back to at least the 1990s. The Philippine government has not only studied the issue but has also already taken some initial steps towards that long-term goal, including setting up a submarine office in 2013 and including it as a potential line item in its longer-term military modernization plans.

FVR welcomes South Korea’s aid for Philippine defense Manila Standard 6th Aug 2018
Former President Fidel V. Ramos has welcomed South Korea’s move to help the Philippines modernize its defense capability. Ramos made the statement during an interview with the Philippine News Agency, following the launch of his latest book, “Undying Service to the Filipino” at the Manila Hotel Champagne Room last Thursday.

US-Philippines Alliance: Security Cooperation in the Headlines with Terror Aid Boost The Diplomat 6th Aug 2018
Last week, the United States unveiled the latest round of counterterrorism assistance to the Philippines. The move is yet another sign of the continuing opportunities that exist for bilateral cooperation between Washington and Manila despite the challenges the alliance has faced under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte thus far. We have seen a mix of activities in this area of the relationship over the course of the past year alone. And while the focus of the headlines is often on transfers of equipment, aid boosts, or even the approval of new exercises involving the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), there are other significant engagements as well. For example, Washington has sought to build links with other institutions such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) on law enforcement issues, despite some rights concerns linked to the Duterte administration’s policies.

US Air Force is giving away retired turboprop light attack aircraft to Philippines Defense News 24th Jul 2018
MELBOURNE, Australia —The Philippines will receive retired turboprop light attack aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, which has already begun the process of competing a contract to have the planes disassembled before shipping overseas. Sources in Philippines said the government was offered the North American OV-10 Bronco twin-turboprop light attack aircraft earlier this year, after it had requested the transfer of spare parts for the type being stored by the U.S. government. The Philippines subsequently inspected the aircraft and found them suitable for use.

PH could breach US sanctions if Russia arms deal proceeds Manila Bulletin News 19th Jul 2018
The Philippines is at risk of breaching sanctions imposed by the United States if it proceeds with the purchase of grenade launchers from a blacklisted Russian firm, a deal that could test its longtime security alliance with Washington. A senior Philippine general familiar with the deal said Manila had agreed in October last year to a 400 million peso ($7.48 million) purchase of 750 RPG-7B rocket-propelled grenade launchers from Russia’s state-owned Rosoboronexport, but the transfer had yet to be completed. U.S. sanctions were imposed last year against any country trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors. The law is designed to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its support for Syria’s government and alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia has donated assault rifles and trucks to the Philippines but the grenade launchers would be Manila’s first purchase of Russian weapons. The Philippines has long relied on the United States as its main source of military hardware and support.

Palace denies inaction on South China Sea dispute philstar.com 16th Jul 2018
Malacañang on Monday said it has been asserting the Philippines' claims in the South China Sea after a nationwide poll suggested that four out of five Filipinos reject the government's perceived inaction on the issue.  Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly declared that he would not give up the country's territory.  "The government of President Duterte is not guilty of inaction," Roque told radio station dzRH.   "Whenever China does something that violates our sovereignty, we file protests but we do it quietly," he added.

81% of Pinoys gov't inaction on SCS Philippine Star 16th Jul 2018
Four out of five Filipinos reject the Duterte administration’s policy of “doing nothing” about China’s intrusions in the West Philippine Sea, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. Taken from June 27 to 30, the poll asked 1,200 adult respondents nationwide on “what’s right and not right for the government to do to resolve the West Philippine Sea conflict.” SWS said 81 percent of Filipinos think the Duterte administration should not “leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence” in Philippine-claimed territories in the South China Sea.

Singapore

Singapore Navy Decommissions two Fearless-class Patrol Vessels Defense World 6th Aug 2018
The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) decommissioned two Fearless-class Patrol Vessels (PVs) RSS Daring and RSS Resilience at a sunset ceremony at Tuas Naval Base Thursday. Officiated by Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral (RADM) Lew Chuen Hong, the ceremony marked the progressive handing over of duties from the PVs to the new Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs), the Singapore Ministry of Defense said in a statement Thursday.

ASEAN, China launch maritime exercises in Singapore Nikkei Asian Review 3rd Aug 2018
SINGAPORE (Kyodo) -- Amid lingering maritime disputes in the South China Sea, the navies of China and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have begun their maritime exercises in Singapore, focusing on cooperation in times of safety-related sea incidents, officials said Friday. The ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise, initially proposed by China and formally adopted by the two parties in February, kicked off with a two-day tabletop exercise starting Thursday at Singapore's Changi Naval Base, and will be followed with actual drills at sea in waters near China in October.

Singapore reveals details about Fleet Management System Shephard Press Limited 20th Jul 2018
Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) revealed the capabilities of its new Fleet Management System (FMS) on the sidelines of the Defence Technology Summit last week. Designed and scripted locally by the DSTA for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the FMS utilises data analytics to reduce operating costs ...

Singapore signs data analytics agreements with Airbus, Rolls-Royce at Farnborough Defense News 19th Jul 2018
MELBOURNE, Australia — Singapore has signed agreements with Airbus and Rolls-Royce at the Farnborough Airshow to leverage data analytics and digital technology to support new tanker aircraft that will enter service this year. The Southeast Asian nation’s Defence Science and Technology Agency, or DSTA, has agreed to details of the first initiative under a recently announced digital technology collaboration with Airbus Defence and Space for the development of 3-D-printed spare parts for testing on Singapore’s new fleet of A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft.

Singapore-France Defense Cooperation in Focus with Air Force Base Detachment Anniversary The Diplomat 20th Jul 2018
Over the weekend, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid an official visit to France. While the agenda for the visit was wide-ranging and saw a series of engagements, including Lee being a guest of honor to attend the Bastille Day parade on July 14, the trip also spotlighted the ongoing defense relationship between France and Singapore in a significant year for ties amid broader regional and global trends. As I have noted previously in these pages, France and Singapore have long had a broad-based relationship that has covered a range of areas including trade, education, and research and was elevated to a strategic partnership back in 2012. On the defense side, one of the key features of he relationship is that France has provided the city-state’s air force with space to train at Cazaux Air Base.

What’s Next for Singapore’s F-16 Fighter Jet Replacement? The Diplomat 20th Jul 2018
On June 29, Singapore’s defense minister said that the city-state would soon make a decision about its plans to replace its current F-16 fighter jets. As I have noted before in these pages, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), one of Asia’s most capable militaries, has been looking at ways to modernize its military within the constraints it has. These include modernizing and upgrading the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), which is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year (See: “Singapore’s Air Force at 50”).

Thailand

Vietnam-Thailand Defense Ties in the Headlines With Bilateral Visit The Diplomat 20th Jul 2018
This week, Thailand’s chief of the directorate of joint operations paid a visit to Vietnam in yet another official exchange between the two Southeast Asian states. The interaction highlighted the ongoing activity on the defense side of the strategic partnership that both sides have forged over the years. As I have noted before in these pages, the defense realm has long factored into wider cooperation between Vietnam and Thailand in their relationship, which, though characterized by animosity for much of the Cold War, has been warming somewhat in recent years, with ties officially elevated to the level of a strategic partnership back in 2013.

Thai armed forces told to get ready to help Laos Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered the armed forces to prepare themselves so they can act readily when Lao authorities approach Thailand for assistance in the rescue after a dam collapsed in the neighbouring country. Defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit said Wednesday that Gen Prawit ordered the armed forces to follow up the flooding situation related to the Xepian-Se Nam Noy dam collapse.

Apirach set to become Army chief in military appointments The Nation 19th Jul 2018
Assistant Army chief General Apirach Kongsompong is tipped to take over as the new commander-in-chief from incumbent General Chalermchai Sittisart, who retires at the end of September.Apirach is a graduate from Class 20 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School. The Defence Council is scheduled to convene a meeting on July 25 to discuss the lists of senior military personnel transfers submitted by the chiefs of the Armed Forces. The meeting is to be presided over by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan. The appointment of commanders are to be announced before fiscal year 2018 ends on September 30.

PM approves 'midget' subs for navy Bangkok Post 18th Jul 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has approved a 193-million baht project to design a so-called "midget" submarine -- the first step in the planned construction of a prototype for the Royal Thai Navy. The design will take an estimated four years, with construction of the prototype expected to take another two years at an expected cost of another 1 billion baht.

PM approves first stage of navy mini-submarine project Bangkok Post 17th Jul 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has approved a 200-million baht project to design a mini-submarine - the first step in the planned construction of a prototype for the Royal Thai Navy. The design will take an estimated four years, with construction of the prototype expected to take another two years at an expected cost of another one billion baht. Capt Sattaya Chandraprabha, deputy director, Line Officers School, Naval Education Department of the Royal Thai Navy Academy, and head of the mini-submarine research project, announced the prime minister's decision on Tuesday.

DoD Personnel Assist in Thai Cave Rescue Operations U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 10th Jul 2018
Defense Department personnel continue to assist in the rescue operations in Thailand to evacuate the remaining four boys and their coach from a flooded cave system, the director of defense press operations said today. The DoD effort consists of 42 deployed military personnel and one member from the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group Thailand, Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

Vietnam

What’s Next for Vietnam-New Zealand Military Cooperation? The Diplomat 6th Aug 2018
This week, New Zealand’s vice chief of defense paid a visit to Vietnam. While the engagement was just one of many between the two sides which have continued through 2018, it nonetheless offered some insights into where the defense component of the relationship is now and where it is headed in the future. Vietnam and New Zealand have been shaping the defense realm of their collaboration as part of their wider relationship, which was elevated to a comprehensive partnership back in 2009. The two sides inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation back in 2013, and they have attempted to increase cooperation in aspects such as exchanges, education, and training, as well as in functional areas which include disaster relief, defense industry and research, and tackling transnational rimes.

What’s Next for Vietnam-India Defense Relations? The Diplomat 6th Aug 2018
Last week, Vietnam’s deputy defense minister paid a four-day official visit to India. Although the visit was just one of a series of scheduled defense engagements by the two sides for 2018, it once again put the spotlight on growing security ties between the two Asian states amid wider domestic and regional developments underway. As I have noted before in these pages, Vietnam and India have been looking to advance their existing defense relationship as part of their wider ties, which were elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016. Defense ties have grown in recent years to include not just the traditional components of ties like exchanges and port calls but also the training of personnel, capacity-building funding and equipment, coast guard collaboration, and pacts on areas such as white shipping and outer space.

Vietnam-Japan Relations in the Spotlight with Defense Dialogue The Diplomat 6th Aug 2018
Earlier this month, Japan and Vietnam held the sixth iteration of a defense policy dialogue between the two countries. Though the expected engagement was just one of a series of engagements between them this year, it nonetheless put the focus on ongoing cooperation between the Asian states in the context of wider regional trends. Those developments have continued into 2018 as well, as both sides commemorate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relationship. There have been a series of high-level visits that have put ties in the headlines, including Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich’s visit to Japan in April and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang’s state visit in May. And there have also been some notable advances, including the signing of a new Joint Vision Statement inked by the two defense ministers for that realm of the relationship out to the next decade (See: “Japan-Vietnam Defense Relations and the Indo-Pacific“).

South Korea-Vietnam Navy Ties in the Spotlight The Diplomat 20th Jul 2018
This week, South Korea’s chief of naval operations paid a visit to Vietnam as part of a wider Asia trip. The trip once again spotlighted the growing security collaboration underway between Hanoi and Seoul as part of their wider strategic partnership, with consequences not just for bilateral ties but for the wider region as well. In April, Vietnam’s Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich was in South Korea, which saw both sides conclude a joint vision statement for defense cooperation out to 2030, amid other developments in the defense realm of ties thus far. And, in June, following his attendance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo paid a visit to Vietnam where both sides reviewed their defense ties and also inked a new agreement between their defense ministries (See: “Trump’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Challenge in the Spotlight at 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue”).

US, Vietnam to Cooperate on Freedom of Navigation in Disputed South China Sea VOA 9th Jul 2018
The U.S. top diplomat reaffirmed America's commitment to a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region during his first trip to Vietnam, saying Washington and Hanoi will work together to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo concluded his first trip to Vietnam as the top U.S. diplomat on Monday. “The United States is dedicated to an Indo-Pacific region with strong, independent nations who respect each other’s sovereignty, uphold the rule of law, and advance responsible commerce,“ said Pompeo at a business community reception in Hanoi.

Conference reviews military, defence work in six months vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence held a political-military conference in Hà Nội on Thursday to review the outcomes of military and defence work in the first half of 2018 and launch tasks for the remaining months. In his opening speech, Minister of National Defence Gen Ngô Xuân Lịch, who is also a Politburo member and Vice Secretary of the Central Military Commission, said in the first six months of this year, the whole army has had certain advantages as they carry out military-defence tasks but also faced many challenges which officers and soldiers had to work hard to overcome.