Defense Update: Philippines Considers Review of the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States

Defense Update | January 18, 2019
Author: Jack Myint
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Philippines Considers Review of the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States

The Philippines Government is currently considering a review of its 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States. On December 20, Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the government is studying ways for the Philippines to negotiate a better deal under the treaty. For nearly 70 years, The United States and the Philippines have been strategic allies bound by a mutual defense pact, and engage in regular war games, both bilaterally and multilaterally, that involves joint exercises, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) preparedness trainings, and other operations.

Under the existing treaty, Manila and Washington are bound to aid each other in the event of an attack by a third party. However, the treaty's role beyond the Philippines’ metropolis, particularly in disputed territories of the South China Sea, remains ambiguous. The Philippines currently occupies nine areas in the South China Sea, and the largest, Pag-asa Island, serves as the seat of government of Kalayaan town in Palawan. Secretary Lorenzana highlighted that he wanted further clarification on what exactly would trigger a mutual response of aid for both countries should a conflict arise, particularly "somewhere in the Mischief Reef". Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Islands, is claimed by China, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, although in recent years Beijing has staked its claim by building a large man-made island with an airfield and landing strip. Washington has long maintained a “neutral” stance vis-a-vis the sovereignty disputes in the area, thus its reluctance to intervene on behalf of the Philippines against other claimant states.

The proposed review of the MDT can be seen in two different lights. Either it is a way to further separate the Philippines from the United States as part of the Duterte administration’s independent foreign policy and pivot towards China, or it could serve to strengthen the agreement by more clearly laying out the triggers and responsibilities of mutual defense, in effect tying Philippine and U.S. defense cooperation closer together.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Participants hail progress in cooperation at end of first Asean-China maritime exercise

Brunei
Brunei-Malaysia Military Ties in Focus With Defense Chief Visit
What’s in the First Russia-Brunei Navy Dialogue?
Malaysia-Brunei Military Ties in Focus with Joint Exercise

Indonesia
Naval Visit Spotlights Indonesia-Philippines Maritime Ties
Luhut Projects Rp200tn Budget for TNI
Indonesia registers USD284 million in defence exports | Jane's 360
India, Indonesia launch their maiden naval exercise

Laos
Lao Defence Minister promoted to General rank
Laos, Cambodia PMs Agree To Continue Joint Patrols in Disputed Area
US bombs continue to kill in Laos 50 years after Vietnam War
Laos, Russia cooperate in clearing unexploded ordnance in central Laos
Japan provides 5 billion kip for law enforcement, border security
INTERPOL Launches A Project Designed To Strengthen Capacity Of Law Enforcement Agencies
Growing solidarity, friendship on borders of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia

Malaysia
Ministry to table white paper on defence
Defence, Enforcement and Security Industry Blueprint in the pipeline - Deputy Defence Minister

Myanmar
Myanmar army to launch 'crackdown' on Rakhine rebels: govt
Top security officials discuss Russia-Myanmar security cooperation
FATF to review Myanmar over money laundering concerns

Philippines
A chance to renew the US-Philippines defense alliance
Philippines to Launch Review of U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty
Russian vessels visit Philippines as 2019 begins
Cotabato bomb blast an act of terror: PNP
Philippines to buy SPYDER air defense missile system from Israel
3 in 5 Filipinos believe US will defend Philippines
U.S. Returns Bells Taken as War Booty From Philippines in 1901
‘Turning point’ PHL visit by Xi Jinping seen to focus on belt-road initiative
DND-SoKor firm ink deal to co-produce armor vests, helmets
Duterte says China 'already in possession' of South China Sea, tells US to end military drills
This Is How America and the Philippines Can Upgrade Their Alliance
Military rolls out ‘dramatic’ capability upgrade

Singapore
Proposal for Singapore's F-15 fighter jets to train in New Zealand cancelled: Mindef
Singapore and Britain launch new partnership to forge broader, deeper ties
North Korea ‘Singapore shops’ reveal familiar sanction gaps
Hackers get invite to find holes in Singapore Govt's digital systems in 2nd bug bounty exercise
Why Are Border Disputes Rocking Malaysia-Singapore Ties After Mahathir’s Return?
Malaysia sends 2 protest notes to Singapore over airspace and maritime disputes
Navy Exercise Highlights Malaysia-Singapore Military Ties
India, Singapore bolster intel sharing in wake of bilateral naval exercise
Rough seas delay Singapore-Aussie military exercise, but 'not a showstopper': Heng Chee How

Thailand
Under the army's close watch
Thailand’s military is working to further link major weapon systems
Singapore-Thailand Military Ties in the Spotlight With Defense Chief Visit
Private use of military items to expand

Vietnam
Resolution issued on building army’s Party committee in 2019
Vietnam plans to set up weapons manufacturer
Peacekeeping force affirms Vietnam’s position
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Participants hail progress in cooperation at end of first Asean-China maritime exercise The Straits Times 27th Oct 2018
The first Asean-China Maritime Field Training Exercise ended on Saturday (Oct 27), as participants hailed the strides made in cooperation between Asean and Chinese navies. It focused on maritime safety, with a joint search-and-rescue mission - one of the highlights of the six-day exercise - carried out in the waters off Zhanjiang, southern Guangdong province.

Brunei

Brunei-Malaysia Military Ties in Focus With Defense Chief Visit The Diplomat 10th Dec 2018
Last week, Malaysia’s new defense chief was in Brunei for a scheduled introductory visit.

What’s in the First Russia-Brunei Navy Dialogue? The Diplomat 10th Dec 2018
This month, Russia and Brunei finally held the first iteration of a navy dialogue that both sides had previously discussed.

Malaysia-Brunei Military Ties in Focus with Joint Exercise The Diplomat 29th Oct 2018
Over the past week, Malaysia and Brunei have been holding the latest iteration of an annual military exercise. Though the drills are part of a regularly scheduled exercise series, they nonetheless bear noting in terms of the wider evolution of the Malaysia-Brunei defense relationship and broader ties more generally.

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.

Luhut Projects Rp200tn Budget for TNI Tempo 28th Nov 2018
The government said that the budget raise for the National Army (TNI) would be adjusted to the state income growth. Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said that for the next two to four years, the government will raise the TNI budget up to Rp200 trillion.

Indonesia registers USD284 million in defence exports | Jane's 360 IHS Janes 27th Nov 2018
The Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has pointed to a list of recent military exports as evidence of growing defence industrial capability within the country.

India, Indonesia launch their maiden naval exercise The Economic Times 13th Nov 2018
The first bilateral naval exercise named “Samudra Shakti” between the Indian and the Indonesian Navies was inaugurated on Tuesday in Surabaya, Indonesia giving further momentum to bilateral strategic partnership.

Laos

Lao Defence Minister promoted to General rank vietnamplus.vn 11th Dec 2018
Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit on December 10 issued a decree on promoting the military rank of Defence Minister Chansamone Chanyalath from Senior Lieutenant General to General. The President assigned Prime Minister Thongloun Sisulith to direct the enforcement, the country’s Socio-Economic Daily newspaper reported on December 11.

Laos, Cambodia PMs Agree To Continue Joint Patrols in Disputed Area Laotian Times 6th Dec 2018
The governments of Laos and Cambodia have agreed in Vientiane to continue efforts to de-escalate tensions in a disputed border area. The agreement was made during Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Vientiane yesterday at the invitation of Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

US bombs continue to kill in Laos 50 years after Vietnam War Al Jazeera News 21st Nov 2018
This year's Thanksgiving celebration marks 50 years since the American military embarked on the biggest bombing campaign in history, decimating the small Southeast Asian country of Laos by dropping more than two million tonnes of bombs on it at the height of the Vietnam War.

Laos, Russia cooperate in clearing unexploded ordnance in central Laos Xinhua 13th Nov 2018
Joint cooperation between Laos and Russia to combat the unexploded ordnance (UXO) threat in central Laos' Borikhamxay province has seen progress after the project began a month ago, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Tuesday. An official in charge of the Ministry of National Defence's Humanitarian UXO Demining Army Unit 58 (U58) gave an update on the progress made so far on Monday.

Japan provides 5 billion kip for law enforcement, border security Vientiane Times 12th Nov 2018
The Japanese government has provided over 5 billion kip (US$700,000) for the iTWIN-Japan/Laos Project, which aims to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement and border security agencies, launched by Interpol. The project opening took place in Vientiane last week and was attended by the Deputy Minister of Public Security, Major General Dr Somvang Thammasith, Director of the Global Outreach and Regional Support Directorate at Interpol, Ms Roraima Andriani, and the Ambassador of Japan to Laos, Mr Takeshi Hikihara, as well as officials from Lao ministries and Interpol.

INTERPOL Launches A Project Designed To Strengthen Capacity Of Law Enforcement Agencies Lao News Agency 12th Nov 2018
The iTWIN-JAPAN/LAOS Project, which aims to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement and border security agencies, was launched by INTERPOL on Thursday. The project opening recently took place in Vientiane in the attendance of Maj. Gen. Somvang Thammasith, Vice Minister of Public Security,Ms. Roraima Andriani, Director, Global Outreach and Regional Support Directorate of INTERPOL, and Mr. Takeshi Hikihara, Ambassador of Japan to the Lao PDR, as well as officers from related ministries of the Lao PDR and INTERPOL.

Growing solidarity, friendship on borders of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia vietnamplus.vn 12th Nov 2018
The Central Highlands province of Kon Tum and three provinces of Laos and Cambodia do not only share boundaries with each other along edges of the Annamese Mountains but also boast growing bonds in recent years. Life of locals in Kon Tum, Attapeu and Sekong of Laos and Ratanakiri of Cambodia are becoming better and better thanks to their greater solidarity, friendship and a variety of joint activities. Over the last five years, Kon Tum has helped its neighbour provinces build schools, hospitals and other social projects.

Malaysia

Ministry to table white paper on defence The Star Online 11th Jan 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: The Defence Ministry is expected to table the White Paper which outlines the Malaysian Armed Forces’ (MAF) current capabilities and latest development plan in Parliament in September.

Defence, Enforcement and Security Industry Blueprint in the pipeline - Deputy Defence Minister NST 13th Nov 2018
KUALA LUMPUR: A new type of defence industry is needed to help generate and commercialise innovation. Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong said the practice of giving projects to defence industry companies that acted as “postmen” needed to be abolished.

Myanmar

Myanmar army to launch 'crackdown' on Rakhine rebels: govt Frontier Myanmar 7th Jan 2019
Myanmar has called on its military to "launch operations" against ethnic Rakhine rebels behind a deadly attack on four police stations last week, a government spokesman said Monday, as a surge of violence forces thousands more from their homes. The country's troubled western Rakhine State has seen a series of clashes in recent weeks between security forces and the Arakan Army (AA), an armed group calling for more autonomy for the state's ethnic Rakhine Buddhist population. The area is one of the poorest in Myanmar and is scarred by deep ethnic and religious hatred. The latest violence by ethnic Rakhine rebels culminated on Friday — Myanmar's Independence Day — in brazen pre-dawn raids on four police posts in Buthidaung Township near the Bangladesh border.  Authorities said that the attack by hundreds of militants left 13 police officers dead and nine wounded before the Tatmadaw was able to provide back-up.  The AA said that three of its fighters had been killed, accusing the military of using the police stations as a base from which to fire heavy artillery.

Top security officials discuss Russia-Myanmar security cooperation TASS 4th Dec 2018
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev has held a meeting with Myanmar’s National Security Adviser and Minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U Thaung Tun, the Council said in a statement. "Nikolai Patrushev and U Thaung Tun discussed a wide range of issues related to Russia-Myanmar security cooperation, as well as interaction on the international stage," the statement reads.

FATF to review Myanmar over money laundering concerns Frontier Myanmar 5th Nov 2018
An assessment of Myanmar’s efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing has found significant weaknesses, including a failure to recognise the “serious” money laundering risks that the country faces. The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering released the Mutual Evaluation Report on October 22, three months after it was adopted at the APG annual meeting in July. The “poor results” on the evaluation mean Myanmar will automatically be reviewed by the International Co-operation Review Group of the Financial Action Task Force, and may be placed on a black or grey list following that review.

Philippines

A chance to renew the US-Philippines defense alliance Nikkei Asian Review 11th Jan 2019
Amid the steady restoration of its frayed ties Washington, Manila has made a surprise call for a review of the bilateral 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the foundation stone of the Philippines' security. At first sight, the shock announcement that Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made in late December, seems very odd. Not only does the Philippines face its biggest potential threat of the last 70 years in the shape of an expansionist China. But the move comes from a ministry that has until now been staunch in resisting pressure from Beijing-friendly President Rodrigo Duterte to undermine Manila's long-standing military ties with Washington. The Philippine defense chief, who spent more than a decade as a diplomat in Washington, made clear that scrapping the alliance altogether is definitely an option. The treaty allows for unilateral nullification of the agreement within a year of notice.

Philippines to Launch Review of U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty Breitbart 28th Dec 2018
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Philippines announced Friday that his government would launch a complete review of the 1951 mutual defense treaty signed with the United States, aimed at deciding whether to “maintain it, strengthen it, or scrap it.” The treaty forces both parties to take military action if one of them suffered an invasion or attack, treating an attack on one country as an attack on both. It also requires the nations to engage the United Nations Security Council immediately in light of any conflicts and to periodically review the treaty for potential improvements.

Russian vessels visit Philippines as 2019 begins Rappler 7th Jan 2019
The Russian Navy's large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev, guided-missile cruiser Admiral Varyag and large sea tanker Boris Botuma docked at Pier 9, South Harbor, Manila for their goodwill visit, which started Jan. 6 and will end on the 11th. The Russian contingent, headed by Rear Admiral Edward E. Mikhailov, was welcomed by Commodore Toribio Adaci. The goodwill visit is the first for the Russian Navy this year and the seventh since 2012.

Cotabato bomb blast an act of terror: PNP ABS-CBN News 2nd Jan 2019
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said Wednesday it was treating the bomb blast in Cotabato, which killed 2 and injured dozens, as an act of terror. PNP Spokesperson Benigno Durana said that based on the initial post blast investigation, the bomb's components matched those of local ISIS-affiliated terror groups. The improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated by perpetrators in front of Southseas Complex on Monday afternoon, New Year's Eve. Another IED was found by authorities inside the department store.

Philippines to buy SPYDER air defense missile system from Israel The Jerusalem Post 30th Dec 2018
The Philippines and Israel are set to sign a deal worth millions for the purchase of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems SPYDER medium-range air defense missile system, as well as additional Hermes long-range drones. The purchase of the SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) will be purchased by Manila under the Revised AFP Modernization Program Horizon 2 phase by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for its Ground-Based Air Defense System (GBADS) acquisition project.

3 in 5 Filipinos believe US will defend Philippines Philippine Star 12th Dec 2018
Three in five Filipinos believe that the United States' defense commitment to the Philippines is strong, according to a Social Weather Stations survey released Wednesday. The survey found that 61 percent (31 percent strongly believe, 30 percent somewhat believe) believe the Philippines' long-time ally will defend the country, 9 percent said they do not believe to such commitment while 30 percent were undecided. The poll also showed that 47 percent of those who believe in Washington's commitment to Manila have been previously aware of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the two countries. The remaining 53 percent only learned about the agreement when the survey was conducted. Among those already aware of the MDT, 80 percent said they believe the US will defend the Philippines if there was an invasion.

U.S. Returns Bells Taken as War Booty From Philippines in 1901 New York Times 11th Dec 2018
Three church bells taken from the central Philippines as war booty by American troops more than a century ago were flown to their original home Tuesday, ending a contentious flash point in relations between the two longtime military allies. American troops seized the bells in 1901 from the town of Balangiga on Samar Island, where they went to avenge the death of 48 fellow soldiers killed in an attack by Filipino guerrillas on an American garrison. The American troops were under orders to turn the area into a “howling wilderness” by killing every male citizen age 10 or older and capable of bearing arms. The massacre was the deadliest of American troops since Col. George Armstrong Custer and his troops were slaughtered at the Battle of Little Bighorn 25 years earlier.

‘Turning point’ PHL visit by Xi Jinping seen to focus on belt-road initiative Business Mirror 20th Nov 2018
AMID the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea and just after the conclusion of the Asean summit and the Apec meetings where Beijing clashed with the US, Chinese President Xi Jinping will arrive in the Philippines today for a landmark two-day state visit. Malacañang said President Xi’s visit to the Philippines is a “turning point” in both countries’ histories, as this is his first state visit to the country and the first of its kind by a Chinese leader since 2005, reciprocating President Duterte’s earlier visit to China. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. earlier said the focus of the visit will be the Philippines’s joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a massive trade and infrastructure project that aims to link Asia, Europe and Africa, covering at least 68 countries.

DND-SoKor firm ink deal to co-produce armor vests, helmets Manila Bulletin News 15th Nov 2018
Philippine Government Arsenal (GA) Director Daniel R. Casabar, Jr., and SAMYANG Comtech Co. Ltd President Kim Jong Il of South Korea signed an implementing arrangement Tuesday to co-produce Force Protection Equipment (FPE) to support the requirements of the Armed Forces and other law enforcement agencies.

Duterte says China 'already in possession' of South China Sea, tells US to end military drills The Straits Times 15th Nov 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday (Nov 15) China was "already in possession" of the South China Sea, and that military drills by the United States and its allies were creating "frictions" that were derailing efforts to settle rows over these waters between Beijing and its neighbours. "China is already in possession (of the South China Sea). It's now in their hands. So why do you have to create frictions… that will prompt a response from China?" Mr Duterte told reporters on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Singapore.

This Is How America and the Philippines Can Upgrade Their Alliance The National Interest 12th Nov 2018
At the heart of the Indo-Pacific region are the disparate nations of Southeast Asia, a dynamic group of post–colonial nations that consciously guard their hard-earned autonomy in a theater of great powers. And at the very core of that pivotal region is the Philippines, which straddles the Western Pacific, the South China Sea, and the interlocking seascapes that constitute the maritime heartland of Asia.

Military rolls out ‘dramatic’ capability upgrade BusinessMirror 11th Nov 2018
THE second phase of the capability upgrade program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is seen to boost its firepower, an area where it has been considered lagging for long years, following the projected arrival and even signing of contracts for land, sea and air assets. Dubbed the Horizon 2 with a “modest” budget of P300 billion, the program should equip the military’s three branches of service with new and additional weapons, aside from ships, war-fighting helicopters and, possibly, even submarines.

Singapore

Proposal for Singapore's F-15 fighter jets to train in New Zealand cancelled: Mindef The Straits Times 7th Jan 2019
A proposal for Singapore's F-15 fighter jet training to be conducted in New Zealand on a long-term basis will not be taking off, said the Ministry of Defence on Monday (Jan 7). The decision follows nearly two years of discussions between the two countries, and confirms a New Zealand media report in December 2018 that the plans have been scrapped because of "excessive costs".

Singapore and Britain launch new partnership to forge broader, deeper ties The Straits Times 4th Jan 2019
The Singapore-United Kingdom Partnership for the Future was launched by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt during Mr Hunt's two-day official visit, which ends on Saturday (Jan 5). The bilateral relationship "is as broad as it is deep", both ministers said in a joint statement that highlighted their countries' shared belief in free trade and international law, as well as their commitment to the rules-based multilateral system and to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. The partnership will see both sides build on existing links and strengthen collaboration, especially in these four areas: the digital economy; sustainable business and innovation; security and defence; and education, culture and youth.

North Korea ‘Singapore shops’ reveal familiar sanction gaps Washington Post 28th Dec 2018
Despite the unwanted publicity of a criminal trial for one of their main suppliers, business is booming at Pyongyang’s “Singapore shops,” which sell everything from Ukrainian vodka to brand-name knock-offs from China. The stores stock many of the very things United Nations’ sanctions banning trade in luxury goods are intended to block and provide a nagging reminder that not all potential trade partners are lining up behind the U.N.’s pronouncements or the Trump administration’s policy of maximum pressure on the North. Especially when there’s a buck, or a few million bucks, to be made.

Hackers get invite to find holes in Singapore Govt's digital systems in 2nd bug bounty exercise Channel NewsAsia 21st Dec 2018
A second bug bounty programme targeting five Government systems and websites in Singapore is currently underway, according to a joint release by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) and Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA). Issued on Friday (Dec 21), both agencies said they will partner local and overseas ethical, or white hat, hackers to search for vulnerabilities in these systems in return for rewards.

Why Are Border Disputes Rocking Malaysia-Singapore Ties After Mahathir’s Return? The Diplomat 11th Dec 2018
The renewed disputes over air and maritime boundaries between the two countries represent just the latest in a series of incidents that have spotlighted the revival of old tensions in the Malaysia-Singapore bilateral relationship since Mahathir’s return to power. More broadly, they reflect the challenges both sides have faced in recalibrating their ties as Malaysia transitions to a post-Najib era and Singapore also prepares for its longer-term domestic transition away from current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Malaysia sends 2 protest notes to Singapore over airspace and maritime disputes Channel NewsAsia 6th Dec 2018
The Malaysian government said on Wednesday (Dec 5) that it has sent two protest notes to Singapore pertaining to the airspace and maritime boundary delimitation issues currently facing both countries. The notes were communicated through the Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia, according to a press release from Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first note pertains to Singapore's publication of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) and ILS Approach Procedures for Seletar Airport on Dec 1. The second protest note pertains to the outstanding maritime boundary delimitation between Malaysia and Singapore, including the new Johore Bahru Port Limits and the recent incidents in relation to it, the ministry said.

Navy Exercise Highlights Malaysia-Singapore Military Ties The Diplomat 4th Dec 2018
Over the past week, Malaysia and Singapore held the latest iteration of their bilateral maritime exercise. The interaction cast light on the ongoing defense collaboration underway between the two Southeast Asian neighbors despite lingering challenges in the bilateral relationship.

India, Singapore bolster intel sharing in wake of bilateral naval exercise Defense News 26th Nov 2018
India and Singapore will bolster intelligence and information sharing efforts as part of a bilateral agreement signed Nov. 20 during a joint naval exercise.

Rough seas delay Singapore-Aussie military exercise, but 'not a showstopper': Heng Chee How The Straits Times 10th Nov 2018
Choppy seas have delayed plans for a ship-to-shore military exercise in which Singaporean and Australian troops are meant to storm a beach.

Thailand

Under the army's close watch Bangkok Post 7th Jan 2019
The military will continue to play an important role in Thai politics this year, regardless of whether or not Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha returns as premier after the general election. In 2019, the military's peacekeeping force will be responsible for maintaining peace and order ahead of the general elections, until the poll results are announced. Established after the coup in 2014, the peacekeeping force initially consisted of troops from 240 military companies. In the middle of last year, the number of companies that make up the force was reduced to 160.

Thailand’s military is working to further link major weapon systems Defense News 11th Dec 2018
The words “network-centric Air Force” are emblazoned all over the buildings that make up the Royal Thai Air Force’s Wing 7, located at Surat Thani Air Force Base, southern Thailand. One could find it in conference rooms, in promotional videos created to highlight the wing’s significance and on a mural in one space where pilots grab coffee between briefings or sorties.

Singapore-Thailand Military Ties in the Spotlight With Defense Chief Visit The Diplomat 14th Nov 2018
Last week, Thailand’s chief of defense forces paid his introductory visit to Singapore under his current position. The trip, along with the interactions therein, once again underscored the defense ties underway between the two Southeast Asian states, amid broader domestic and regional changes.

Private use of military items to expand Bangkok Post 26th Oct 2018
The Defence Council has approved a bill to control the use of military products by private businesses seeking to import, manufacture, and/or possess such products. Defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said the council, chaired by Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, has given a green light to the draft law following an increase in commercial use of military products.

Vietnam

Resolution issued on building army’s Party committee in 2019 vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2019
The Central Military Commission held a conference in Hà Nội yesterday to issue a resolution directing the fulfillment of national defence and military tasks, along with building the army’s Party committee. General Secretary of the Communist Party of Việt Nam’s Central Committee and President Nguyễn Phú Trọng, who is also Secretary of the Central Military Commission, praised the efforts of the Việt Nam People’s Army in 2018 which, he said, have greatly contributed to socio-economic development, political stability, and national defence-security.

Vietnam plans to set up weapons manufacturer Vietnam Net 5th Jan 2019
Vietnam has outlined a series of plans for strengthening the military in the 2018-2025 period with the establishment of an armament manufacturing and repair corporation, heard at a press conference held by the Ministry of Defense in Hanoi earlier this week.

Peacekeeping force affirms Vietnam’s position Vietnam Net 2nd Jan 2019
The Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre under the Defence Ministry was established in December 2013 and upgraded to become the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations in January 2018. It has facilitated the training of human resources for the mission. Vietnam began joining in UN peacekeeping operations in 2014. In its initial years, the country sent staff and liaison officers and observers to several African nations, including South Sudan and the Central African Republic. In October 2018, Vietnam’s first level-2 field hospital, the first-ever independent unit of Vietnam to join the UN peacekeeping mission, deployed two groups of 63 personnel to South Sudan. On October 1, the first group with 32 members set off for the African country. The second group with 31 doctors left Ho Chi Minh City for the mission on October 15.