Defense Update | October 26, 2018

Defense Update | October 26, 2018
Authors: Jack Myint


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THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Recap of Secretary Mattis' Travel to Vietnam and Singapore
On October 15-20, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis traveled to Vietnam and Singapore. Secretary Mattis was in Vietnam for a goodwill visit (the second time this year) and in Singapore to attend the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Plus Meeting (ADMM-Plus). To access a readout of Secretary Mattis’ meeting with Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense, Ngo Xuan Lich, please click here. To access a readout of Secretary Mattis’ ADMM-Plus meeting, please click here.

The Secretary’s trip originally was to include a visit to Beijing, but that stop was canceled amid rising tensions between the United States and China over trade and defense issues. During his meeting with Vietnam's Minister of National Defense Ngo, Secretary Mattis discussed a variety of avenues to promote military-to-military cooperation, with emphasis on maritime security, humanitarian and disaster relief, and peacekeeping. The leaders also confirmed close cooperation on addressing legacy of war issues and accounting for U.S. personnel that went missing during the Vietnam War. The visit can be seen as part of the heightening momentum in US-Vietnam defense ties during the Trump Administration.

During his participation in the ADMM-plus, Secretary Mattis discussed security matters including DPRK, terrorism and maritime security, as well as the need to cooperate on practical training and confidence-building mechanisms with ASEAN countries and their respective defense establishments. Secretary Mattis reaffirmed US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and emphasized the role of a strong ASEAN as a collective voice on regional and global issues.

ASEAN-China Launches Inaugural Maritime Field Training Exercise
On October 22, the inaugural ASEAN-China Maritime Field Training Exercise was launched in Zhanjiang, China. The six-day exercise, co-organized by Singapore and China, involved more than 1,000 servicemen and is expected to involve simulated scenarios such as; helicopter cross-deck landings, a joint search and rescue mission, and medical evacuation. This important development emerges as a postlude to the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus last year - which includes the United States, China, Russia and Japan – as a confidence-building mechanism between ASEAN and China in mutually promoting regional maritime security, while safeguarding trade routes across the Asia Pacific.

In his opening speech, Vice-Admiral Yuan of China’s Southern Theatre Command said, “I am confident that the exercise will yield its expected outcomes, become a predominant platform for deepening mutual understanding and exchange, and set a new milestone for a community of a shared future between China and Asean.” Representing Singapore is the Formidable-class frigate RSS Stalwart, while China sent a destroyer ship, a frigate, and a supply ship. Brunei participated with a patrol vessel, Philippines sent a logistics support vessel, and Thailand and Vietnam each sent a frigate. Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar attended as observers.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Singapore, China reaffirm commitment to strengthen ASEAN-China defence cooperation
What’s in the New US-ASEAN Maritime Exercise?
Asean Defense Ministers Agree on Intelligence-Sharing Initiative
What’s in the New ASEAN Air Encounter Code?
No venue yet for Asean-US naval exercise–DND
Asean defence ministers sign world's first multilateral air code

Brunei
Defense Meeting Spotlights UK-Brunei Military Ties
Russian security chief to hold consultations in Brunei
Bruneian naval ship visits Vietnam - Xinhua | English.news.cn

Indonesia
Naval Visit Spotlights Indonesia-Philippines Maritime Ties
Indonesia’s anti-terror law: crisis to consensus
South Korea says fighter jet deal with Indonesia is on track,...
Indonesia to Renegotiate Fighter Jet Deal With South Korea to Ease Forex Burden
Indonesia-Australia Defense Ties in Focus With Ministerial Meeting

Laos
UN Migration Agency, Lao Immigration Department, Cooperate to Tackle Human Trafficking and Smuggling - Lao People's Democratic Republic (the)
US. Supports Lao Government To Strengthen Law Enforcement, Border Security

Malaysia
Construction of Littoral Mission Ships kicks off, Mat Sabu witnesses keel-laying ceremony in China
Mat Sabu: Not financially feasible for Malaysia to produce fighter jets

Myanmar
Myanmar Signs Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons
Indian naval ships to call at Myanmar port

Philippines
Philippines outlines 34% defence budget increase | Jane's 360
No Palace intervention in military procurement
US, Philippines increase number of joint military activities
Philippine Air Force prioritises fighter aircraft procurement | Jane's 360
How the modernization of the Philippine Air Force is going
PH’s biggest military expo draws major defense contractors
‘Navy’s modern ships to be sourced mostly from SoKor’

Singapore
Singapore scores a few firsts as host of Asean defence summits
Ng Eng Hen welcomes Malaysia defence minister to Singapore during introductory visit
Air Force Exercise Puts Brunei-Singapore Defense Ties into Focus
Japan’s largest warship visits Singapore on Indo-Pacific deployment
Singapore launches littoral mission vessels, hosts drills

Thailand
What’s in Thailand’s New Military Helicopter Order?
Prawit to meet Mattis ahead of Vietnam trip
Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen defense cooperation with Thailand
Military ‘filed GT200-related lawsuits a long time ago’

Vietnam
What Does Mattis’ Visit Reveal About US-Vietnam Defense Ties Under Trump?
Mattis trip to Vietnam aimed at countering China’s influence
What’s in Vietnam’s New Peacekeeping Boost?
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Singapore, China reaffirm commitment to strengthen ASEAN-China defence cooperation Channel NewsAsia 24th Oct 2018
Singapore and China on Wednesday (Oct 24) reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen defence cooperation between ASEAN and China, and this includes working towards the next edition of a joint maritime exercise. The first such exercise kicked off on Monday in Zhanjiang city in China’s Guangdong province. The commitment was made as Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Beijing where a welcome ceremony was held at the military’s Bayi Building. Having visited the site of the inaugural drills the day before, Dr Ng said ASEAN defence ministers agreed that holding the joint maritime exercise was “very good and important for ASEAN-China relations.”

What’s in the New US-ASEAN Maritime Exercise? The Diplomat 24th Oct 2018
Last week, we saw public confirmation that the United States and Southeast Asian states would look to hold a U.S.-ASEAN maritime exercise in 2019. While the idea is far from new, the timing was interesting, as it came just ahead of a similar exercise ASEAN countries are holding with China. The announcement spotlighted ongoing U.S. efforts to boost its military exercises with Southeast Asian states that are continuing under U.S. President Donald Trump. The United States has long had a string of multilateral exercises that it holds with Southeast Asian states, including the Cooperation Readiness and Afloat (CARAT) and the Southeast Asia Cooperation Training (SEACAT) exercises. But there have been efforts in recent years to boost the complexity of these drills as well as to further multilateralize them.

Asean Defense Ministers Agree on Intelligence-Sharing Initiative Jakarta Globe 22nd Oct 2018
Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have reached several key cooperation agreements to strengthen regional defense capabilities, including a surveillance and intelligence-sharing initiative and a multilateral aircraft encounter guideline, during a meeting of their defense ministers in Singapore last week. The agreements form part of Asean's focus this year to address emerging security challenges in the region. This includes the establishment of a network of defense experts on matters related to chemical, biological and radiological threats, according to a statement Singapore's Ministry of Defense issued last week. The regional bloc adopted the "Our Eyes" initiative, initiated by Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu following the five-month siege of Marawi City in the southern Philippines.

What’s in the New ASEAN Air Encounter Code? The Diplomat 22nd Oct 2018
Last week, Southeast Asian defense ministers finally adopted a set of multilateral guidelines to manage air military encounters – the first agreement of its kind in the world. Though this is just a first step, the adoption represents a significant step toward confidence-building measures in this realm by ASEAN. While there have been a series of confidence-building measures adopted in the maritime domain in recent years, such as the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), there have been ongoing efforts to adopt such measures in other realms as well, including in the air. In that respect, one of the key agenda items on the ASEAN defense side this year under Singapore’s chairmanship had been the adoption of guidelines to help reduce the likelihood of multilateral encounters or incidents involving ASEAN states’ military aircraft. The adoption of the guidelines would be a significant step in that they would be the first-ever adopted in the world.

No venue yet for Asean-US naval exercise–DND BusinessMirror 22nd Oct 2018
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations  is yet to agree on where it will be holding the naval exercise with the US military as earlier agreed upon by regional defense officials through Singapore, which is this year’s host of the Asean. The venue for the military exercise agreed between Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and US Defense Secretary James Mattis during the Asean-US Defense Ministers’ Informal Meeting held last week, would still be taken by a group from the Asean Defense Senior Officials Meeting (ADSOM), said Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary for Assessments and International Affairs Teodoro Cirilo Torralba. “No venue yet for the exercise but US was the one who requested an exercise with Asean,” said Torralba in a message to defense reporters sent through Prime Berunia of the DND public affairs service. “It will be finalized when Thailand convenes the ADSOM Working Group early next year. We will know where it will be taking place,” added Torralba.

Asean defence ministers sign world's first multilateral air code The Straits Times 20th Oct 2018
The defence ministers of Asean nations have inked the world's first multilateral air guidelines aimed at keeping congested skies safe for military aircraft and preventing skirmishes over the high seas. The non-binding code complements an existing set of protocols for navy vessels: The Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (Cues), designed to reduce the chances of accidents at sea, especially in contested waters such as the South China Sea. A joint declaration signed at the annual Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) pledged to promote regional peace and stability, as well as deepen cooperation in counter-terrorism, air and sea safety, and cyber security, among other things. Asean nations, for instance, will set up a virtual network of experts to counter chemical, biological and radiological threats from terrorist groups and rogue states by sharing best practices and information. Also in the pipeline are inaugural joint maritime exercises between Asean and China, as well as Asean and the United States.

Brunei

Defense Meeting Spotlights UK-Brunei Military Ties The Diplomat 2nd Oct 2018
On September 27, Britain and Brunei held another iteration of their Joint Defense Committee meeting.

Russian security chief to hold consultations in Brunei TASS 2nd Oct 2018
Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev is due to visit Brunei on October 1 to hold consultations on security issues, the press service of the Russian Security Council said.

Bruneian naval ship visits Vietnam - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 2nd Oct 2018
A vessel of the Royal Brunei Navy arrived at Tien Sa Port in Vietnam's Da Nang on Tuesday, beginning a three-day friendship visit to the central city.

Indonesia

Naval Visit Spotlights Indonesia-Philippines Maritime Ties The Diplomat 26th Oct 2018
On October 22, an Indonesian Navy vessel arrived for a scheduled goodwill visit to the Philippines. While the interaction was just one of many within the wider relationship, it nonetheless spotlighted the ongoing activity among both Southeast Asian states in the maritime realm. Indonesia and the Philippines, both founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and situated in maritime Southeast Asia, have long sought collaboration on common security challenges, from terrorism to piracy. One of the aspects of security collaboration is in the maritime realm. Maritime collaboration includes not only exchanges, visits, and patrols between the two sides designed to tackle shared challenges, including trilateral patrols in the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea, but also equipment transfer as Indonesia looks for export markets for its domestic defense industry and the Philippines looks to boost its military capabilities.

Indonesia’s anti-terror law: crisis to consensus The Interpreter 25th Oct 2018
On 25 May 2018, less than two weeks after a series of suicide bombings and armed attacks on churches and police posts in East Java and Sumatra, Indonesia passed a revised anti-terrorism law. The Surabaya attacks, which included suicide bombings by mothers and their young children, shocked both the public and the nation’s political leaders. The attacks had been preceded by a 36-hour hostage siege at the headquarters for Indonesian National Police (POLRI) Mobile Brigade in south Jakarta, where Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) extremists executed five officers. These were unprecedented developments for Indonesia. Each presented a disturbing shift in the modus operandi of violent extremists and an escalation of ISIS-linked threat. The attacks awoke the nation to the fact that women were not just participants in countering and preventing violent extremism, but increasingly were active perpetrators.

South Korea says fighter jet deal with Indonesia is on track,... Reuters 22nd Oct 2018
South Korea said on Monday a project to develop a fighter jet with Indonesia was on track, and it will negotiate a way for Indonesia to pay its contribution, of which about $200 million is unpaid. Indonesia and South Korea agreed in 2014 to develop the “KF-X” fighter jet. The project is estimated to be worth about $7.9 billion, and Indonesia had agreed to pay 20 percent of the development costs, but a senior Indonesia official said on Friday it was seeking “lighter” financial terms. South Korea’s arms procurement agency Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) told a press briefing the project was on track. “During the South Korea-Indonesia summit in September, it was agreed to continue developing the KF-X,” the spokesman said.

Indonesia to Renegotiate Fighter Jet Deal With South Korea to Ease Forex Burden U.S. News and Weekly 20th Oct 2018
Indonesia is seeking "lighter" financial terms in a renegotiated project with South Korea to jointly develop a mid-level fighter jet, in a move aimed at supporting the rupiah by reducing use of the country's foreign exchange reserves, a senior Indonesian official said. The Indonesian government has rolled out a number of policies to support the ailing rupiah, which include cutting energy imports and delaying a number of infrastructure projects, as the currency trades near a 20-year low. "Due to national economic condition, the president has decided to renegotiate to make Indonesia's position lighter for matters related to funding," chief security minister Wiranto said in a statement published on the ministry's official website on Friday.

Indonesia-Australia Defense Ties in Focus With Ministerial Meeting The Diplomat 17th Oct 2018
Last week, Indonesia and Australia held a defense ministers’ meeting. The interaction, which is one of several that underpin the current shape of bilateral defense ties, put the focus on the developing security relationship between two significant and capable actors in the Indo-Pacific region. Indonesia and Australia, two neighboring, significant, and highly capable actors in the Indo-Pacific, have had a turbulent relationship historically speaking but have also made some inroads in recent years in their defense ties in spite of occasional tensions and crises, which continue to occur from time to time. That collaboration on the defense side has continued into 2018 as well in spite of some wider domestic and regional challenges. These include the change in Australian leadership in late August that saw Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull give way to Scott Morrison, as well as the recent speculation – subsequently denied – that an Australian effort to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel may imperil ongoing talks on a trade deal between the two sides.

Laos

UN Migration Agency, Lao Immigration Department, Cooperate to Tackle Human Trafficking and Smuggling - Lao People's Democratic Republic (the) ReliefWeb 17th Oct 2018
The UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the Department of Immigration (DoI) of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic have launched a first training by DoI Master Trainers for police and frontline border guards to increase the country’s capacity to tackle human trafficking and people smuggling nationwide.

US. Supports Lao Government To Strengthen Law Enforcement, Border Security Lao News Agency 17th Oct 2018
The United States and the Lao PDR signed an Amended Letter of Agreement between the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane and the Department of Customs in the Ministry of Finance of the Lao PDR to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of Law Enforcement and Border Security. The signing ceremony took place at the Customs Department on October 11, 2018. Vice Minister Thipphakone Chanthavongsa attended the ceremony, and Mr. Bounpaseuth Sikounlabout, Acting Director of the Customs Department, signed on behalf of the Lao government. U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter signed on behalf of the United States.

Malaysia

Construction of Littoral Mission Ships kicks off, Mat Sabu witnesses keel-laying ceremony in China The Star Online 23rd Oct 2018
Construction of the first two of four Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) are progressing well with the keel-laying taken place at a shipyard in Shuangliu, China. Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, who is on a four-day work visit in China, witnessed the keel laying ceremony on Tuesday (Oct 23), accompanied by Chief of Defence Forces Jen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin and Royal Malaysian Navy assistant chief of staff First Admiral Shamsuddin Ludin.

Mat Sabu: Not financially feasible for Malaysia to produce fighter jets The Star Online 16th Oct 2018
Malaysia does not have the capability yet, especially in terms of money, to have its own fighter jet, the Dewan Rakyat was told on Tuesday (Oct 16). Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said that though researchers feel that Malaysia can produce a fighter jet in 2020, it would also depend on the country's financial capacity.

Myanmar

Myanmar Signs Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons The Irrawaddy 27th Sep 2018
Myanmar signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at a ceremony which took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Wednesday, a move given the green light by parliament last week. According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Myanmar, Union Minister for International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin signed the treaty during the United Nations General Assembly which Myanmar representatives were attending.

Indian naval ships to call at Myanmar port Business Standard 24th Sep 2018
Two Indian naval ships along with one IndianNavyDornier aircraft will call at Myanmar's YangonPort later on Monday as part of an ongoing exercise between the two nations, media reported. The three-day call would include activities for the 7th India-Myanmarcoordinated patrol that maintains maritime security and enhances operational exchanges between the navies, Global New Light of Myanmarreported.

Philippines

Philippines outlines 34% defence budget increase | Jane's 360 Jane's 360 24th Oct 2018
The 2019 budget for the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) will increase to PHP183.4 billion (USD3.4 billion), the government’s Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced on 24 October. The DBM said that the proposed expenditure “translates to a 34.4% increase over [the DND’s] 2018 cash-based equivalent budget of PHP136.5 billion”. It added, “Strengthening the Philippines’ defence posture is still on top of the reform priorities of the [President Rodrigo] Duterte administration.” In its statement the DBM said that the Philippine Army will receive PHP89 billion (or 48.5%) of the proposed 2019 defence budget, while the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy will be allocated PHP24.6 billion (13.4%) and PHP27.8 billion (15.2%) respectively.

No Palace intervention in military procurement PNA 2nd Oct 2018
The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday categorically denied allegations that Malacañang is meddling in the procurement of military equipment. The allegations were raised by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during the Senate hearing of the proposed 2019 budget of the DND and its attached agencies. Trillanes said there are concerns that some military procurements were against the wishes of the major military services. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana categorically belied the allegation, stressing that President Rodrigo Duterte has always urged them to buy what they needed. Trillanes said he received reports that there are equipment in the pipeline that two major services have not requested. However, the heads of the three major military services – Philippine Air Force (PAF), Philippine Army (PA) and Philippine Navy (PN) – said the procurement process within the military establishment precludes any intervention from higher authority.

US, Philippines increase number of joint military activities Military Times 30th Sep 2018
The Philippine military said Friday its joint defense and security activities with U.S. forces, including annual combat exercises, will increase next year in a show of the treaty allies' continuing robust relations. Top U.S. and Philippine military officials agreed to increase the number of joint security activities next year to 281 in areas that include counterterrorism, maritime security and humanitarian aid. There are 261 such joint activities this year, military spokesman Col. Noel Detoyato said. Philippine military chief Gen. Carlito Galvez and Adm. Philip Davidson, the U.S. Indo-Pacific commander, led an annual meeting of the allied forces at the military headquarters in metropolitan Manila on Thursday.

Philippine Air Force prioritises fighter aircraft procurement | Jane's 360 Jane's 360 28th Sep 2018
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has budgeted PHP61 billion (USD1.1 billion) to procure a multirole combat aircraft over the next five years, a senior PAF official told Jane's at the Asian Defence and Security (ADAS) 2018 exhibition in Manila. He said the procurement - the Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) programme, which will feature the acquisition of 12 aircraft in its initial phase - is one of several requirements for the PAF as it enters its 'second horizon' modernisation phase, which runs from 2018 to 2022. Total funding for PAF modernisation under the second horizon is PHP139 billion. Other procurements in this time frame include attack helicopters, long-range patrol aircraft, additional FA-50 light fighter aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), additional Airbus C295 transport aircraft, combat-utility helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles. However, the official stated that the PAF regards the MRF project as its priority. "We needed it yesterday," he said.

How the modernization of the Philippine Air Force is going Interaksyon 26th Sep 2018
The Philippine Air Force continues to beef up its defense and surveillance capabilities at a time of maritime tensions. Aerospace company Airbus at a press conference on Tuesday in Manila presented an aircraft it is recommending to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The tactical and strategic aircraft A400M and the C295, a number of which the air force purchased in 2014 and the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport are among the products the company will offer in line with the armed forces’ modernization drive. The C295 is hailed as one of the top planes for maritime and overland surveillance, with an integrated tactical system that provides fusion to assist pilots. The A400M airlifter meanwhile is in use in Asia’s most developed countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.

PH’s biggest military expo draws major defense contractors Global Nation 26th Sep 2018
For the next three days, some of the world’s biggest defense contractors are in Manila to showcase their latest military hardware, hoping to get a slice of the growing military market in the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia. Almost 200 exhibitors from the defense industries are taking part in the Asian Defense and Security exhibit and conference at the World Trade Center from Sept. 26 to 28. With President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of the second phase of the military’s modernization program and evolving security threats in the country, the Philippines continues to be one of the ideal marketplaces to sell defense equipment. “On the defense of our nations’ border and sovereignty to secure our homeland, we are at the forefront of an evolving type of warfare as we manage through threats of violent extremism and terrorism, intensified criminality and the usurpation of national territories,” said Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna, who was guest of honor at the opening ceremony on Wednesday.

‘Navy’s modern ships to be sourced mostly from SoKor’ Philippine Star 15th Oct 2018
The Philippine Navy (PN) will be sourcing most of the floating assets for its capability upgrade projects from South Korea, Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said.

Singapore

Singapore scores a few firsts as host of Asean defence summits The Straits Times 22nd Oct 2018
This year's Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting and its expanded platform, ADMM-Plus, will be remembered for a few firsts.It is the first annualised ADMM-Plus, which began as a triennial affair in 2010 before becoming biennial. It is the first time there was full attendance of all 18 defence ministers for the two summits.And, as Singapore proudly declared, it has managed a world first: a multilateral air code that Asean nations have committed to and that the eight ADMM-Plus members - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States - have agreed to in principle.

Ng Eng Hen welcomes Malaysia defence minister to Singapore during introductory visit Channel NewsAsia 18th Oct 2018
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen and his Malaysian counterpart Mohamad Sabu on Thursday (Oct 18) reaffirmed long-standing bilateral defence ties during the Malaysian minister's introductory visit to Singapore.

Air Force Exercise Puts Brunei-Singapore Defense Ties into Focus The Diplomat 15th Oct 2018
Earlier this month, Singapore and Brunei held the latest iteration of their joint air force exercise. The exercise once again put the spotlight once again on the defense relationship between the two Southeast Asian states amid wider domestic and regional challenges underway.

Japan’s largest warship visits Singapore on Indo-Pacific deployment Channel NewsAsia 14th Oct 2018
Japan's largest warship since World War II docked in Singapore on Thursday (Oct 18) as part of its two-month-long deployment to boost maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.

Singapore launches littoral mission vessels, hosts drills The Asia Times 10th Oct 2018
High commissioners and naval, air and land force officials from the Five Power Defense Arrangements (FPDA) member nations – Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom – arrived in Singapore on Thursday for Exercise Bersama Lima, a major annual joint exercise hosted this year by the Lion City.

Thailand

What’s in Thailand’s New Military Helicopter Order? The Diplomat 25th Sep 2018
Bangkok is looking to make further inroads in one of the key priorities in its military modernization. Last week, Airbus Helicopters confirmed that it had received a new order for four helicopters from Thailand. Though this was just the latest transaction between the two sides, the development nonetheless once again put the focus on what has been a previously articulated for the Thai military within the country’s broader military modernization. Though there a range of priorities for Thailand in its country’s ongoing defense modernization, one of those has been replacing its aging fleet of combat helicopters used by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF). The RTAF has been looking to retire its 18 aging UH-1H “Huey” helicopters which have been in service for about a half century.

Prawit to meet Mattis ahead of Vietnam trip Bangkok Post 16th Oct 2018
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon will meet US Secretary of Defence James Mattis on the sidelines of the 12th Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) in Singapore, a Defence Ministry spokesman said. The US Secretary of Defence is among eight dialogue partners who will attend the ADMM-Plus meeting to discuss a wide range of military cooperation issues with their Asean counterparts.

Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen defense cooperation with Thailand Colombo Page 11th Oct 2018
Oct 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka's State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene has stressed the importance of strengthening defense cooperation with Thailand during an official visit to the Asian country.

Military ‘filed GT200-related lawsuits a long time ago’ The Nation 27th Sep 2018
All military units have taken legal action against their suppliers of GT200 bomb/narcotics detectors after they were found not to work. “The Defence Ministry started legal proceedings after their overseas sales representatives were convicted of fraud around 2013,” Defence Ministry spokesman Lt-General Kongcheep Tantravanich said on Thursday.

Vietnam

What Does Mattis’ Visit Reveal About US-Vietnam Defense Ties Under Trump? The Diplomat 17th Oct 2018
This week, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis embarked on a visit to Vietnam. Though the headlines focused on the development itself, its significance should be understood in the broader context of U.S.-Vietnam defense ties, which have continued to deepen during the Trump administration despite lingering concerns. Over the decades, U.S.-Vietnam defense cooperation has slowly grown to encompass areas including maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping. This realm of the relationship has deepened further across the board under the Trump administration, even amid some lingering concerns about wider aspects of the administration’s Asia policy and some challenges Vietnam has been facing in terms of its own domestic and foreign policy.

Mattis trip to Vietnam aimed at countering China’s influence Washington Post 15th Oct 2018
By making a rare second trip this year to Vietnam, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is signaling how intensively the Trump administration is trying to counter China’s military assertiveness by cozying up to smaller nations in the region that share American wariness about Chinese intentions. The visit beginning Tuesday also shows how far U.S.-Vietnamese relations have advanced since the tumultuous years of the Vietnam War.

What’s in Vietnam’s New Peacekeeping Boost? The Diplomat 3rd Oct 2018
On October 1, Vietnam officially began a much-anticipated deployment of a level-2 field hospital to South Sudan. Though this was just part of Vietnam’s broader commitment to playing a role in international peacekeeping, it nonetheless deserves mention given the importance Hanoi has placed on it for domestic and international reasons. Vietnam has long placed an emphasis on peacekeeping as part of its contributions to the international community and within its defense relationships with key partners. Vietnam’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations officially began back in 2014, and Hanoi has sent personnel to missions in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. As Vietnam has gained experience with respect to peacekeeping, Hanoi has also been working with other partners in further boosting its role in this regard, including in serving as a training center for UN peacekeeping operations in the region.