Defense & Security Update: May 9, 2019

Defense & Security Update | May 9, 2019
Author: Jack Myint
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

U.S. to Unveil new Indo-Pacific Strategy at Shangri-La Dialogue

During a visit to Malaysia in late April, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver said that the Pentagon will unveil a new U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy during Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan’s speech at the Shangri La Dialogues, which will take place in Singapore from May 31-June 2. The speech will come at a time when the US-China competition for influence in ASEAN is intensifying across a range of economic, diplomatic, and security arenas. Last year, Singapore’s Prime Minister noted publicly that in the future ASEAN nations may find themselves in a zero sum position of having to make a choice between the US and China in pursuing the national interests.

Shriver emphasized that the Indo-Pacific remains “the priority theatre” in the U.S. National Defense and Security Strategy, and that, amidst China’s growing encroachment in the South China Sea (SCS), an increase in U.S. presence and resource allocation throughout the region will become evident over time. Schriver did not provide specifics on the increased presence or resources, but in March, Acting Secretary Shanahan, in his testimony to the U.S. Congress, said that the 2020 Department of Defense budget was shaped by taking national security threats from China into account.


One major initiative to discourage China’s militarization of islands across the SCS has been freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs), which the U.S. Navy has ramped up since 2017. FONOPs involve U.S. Navy ships sailing within 12 nautical miles of China’s claimed islands and reefs in the SCS. According to Schriver, the Pentagon does not necessarily expect China to back track on the islands it has claimed, but the Pentagon does intend “to deter China from deploying additional military systems and in fact remove the military systems on these outposts.” The importance of FONOPs in maintaining order and stability in the SCS, and more broadly, safeguarding the potential erosion of international law, has been realized and other countries have increasingly joined the United States in joint patrols – most recently in April, the French Navy transited through the Taiwan Straits.

Schriver also touched upon the U.S.-funded Maritime Security Initiative (MSI), which will provide partner nations with increased capabilities for maritime surveillance and domain awareness in their territorial waters, as well as allow them to better share and network within the region to gain a broader common operating picture. In ASEAN, the Philippines received six ScanEagle 2 Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) in 2018, Malaysia will receive six more UAS later this year, and Indonesia will receive an equal number in 2022 under the MSI. Schriver also indicated that the Navy might be able to transfer its old P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircrafts to partner nations, though such transfers would depend on individual country’s requirements.

Another topic that was discussed during Schriver’s visit to Malaysia relates to enforcement of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a U.S. law that restricts arms sales to countries that have defense procurement arrangements with Iran, North
Korea, and Russia. In ASEAN, several countries have existing defense relationships with Russia, with long-integrated weapons systems across all branches of their respective militaries. Schriver clarified that the legislation was not intended to make it more difficult for U.S. allies and partners to procure U.S. systems, but that it is targeted at Russia to “impose costs on their behavior”. He also added that the Defense Department has established internal processes to issue a waiver for foreign military sales to countries that meet the criteria and that make the cross over from Russia to the United States as the preferred security assistance partner.

United States and Philippines Hold Balikatan Exercise Amid Calls for Review of Mutual Defense Treaty

On April 1-12, the 35th iteration of the Balikatan exercise took place on the islands of Luzon and Palawan in the Philippines. The exercise included 4,000 Filipino servicemen, 3,500 Americans and 50 Australians, with the aim of showcasing and developing maritime security, territorial defense capabilities, and responsiveness to humanitarian disasters. The exercise also includes counterterrorism training, urban operations, air drops, combined fire maneuvers and bilateral planning. Since its inception in 1984, the Balikatan Exercise has become one of the premier military training events in the Pacific Hemisphere and has helped maintain regional stability, uphold international norms, combat violent extremism, and alleviate human suffering through its humanitarian aid and disaster relief trainings. For this year’s exercise a week-long rehearsal culminated in an orchestration of ground maneuvers, artillery, mortars and air elements. A-10 Warthogs from the U.S. Air Force’s 25th Fighter Squadron provided air power for the combined assault. U.S. sailors with the amphibious assault ship Wasp and Marines from Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 4, led by 4th Marine Regiment, also participated in Balikatan, making this the first Balikatan exercise to incorporate the Wasp with Marines Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft. Australian Armed Force members participated this year for humanitarian and civic assistance projects and special operations forces training.

While China’s assertive posturing in the South China Sea has been building up for years, the security concerns associated with this posturing took on an added dimension with this year’s Balikatan exercise given recent calls for the review of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the United States and the Philippines. To read the Council’s analysis on the review of the US-Philippines MDT, please click
here. During Secretary of State Pompeo’s visit to Manila in March, he stressed that the U.S. would come to the Philippines’ defense amidst any attack in the South China Sea. “Any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft, or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty," Pompeo said March 1. “Our commitments under the treaty are clear. Our obligations are real, and the South China Sea is certainly part of an important body of water for freedom of navigation.” Officials maintained, however, that while Balikatan has changed a bit over the years to accommodate new capabilities and training, its goals remain the same and that it is not focused on a particular issue nor aimed at any other nation in the region.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

The Council’s Defense and Security Committee is planning to develop a series of concise industry white papers on various security related topics and themes as highlighted below:

  • Regional Cybersecurity Trends in ASEAN
  • ASEAN’s Maritime Domain Awareness and Economic Growth: Building domain awareness capabilities and procuring the tools as part of the solution to understanding maritime resources as an engine of growth
  • Aviation Security and Satellite Technology
  • Natural Disaster Threats to ASEAN Resilience
  • NextGen Communication Technologies for Emergency First Responders
  • Food and Water Security: supporting key international and national directives to counter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, piracy, and other economic and security risks affecting the oceans

The white papers (approximately 3-4 pages) would go out under our brand but would acknowledge member companies' contributions and thought leadership in this space. The papers would then be disseminated to ASEAN Government officials via online platforms, in meetings during business missions, and other defense and security related programs.

Members that are interested in providing content; trends, best practices, recommendations, etc. on one or more of the above topics to draft such a paper should contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
+ Hiding in Plain Sight: Chinese expansion in Southeast Asia
In a first, Philippines, US, Japan and India navies sail in South China Sea
Asean, allies open Naval exercises in South Korea
U.S. Will Unveil New Indo-Pacific Strategy Next Month

Brunei
Air Force Chief Inaugural Visit Puts Singapore-Brunei Defense Ties into Focus
Brunei Officially Gets a New Navy Chief
Brunei warship sets sail for deployment to China, S.korea, Singapore - Xinhua | English.news.cn

Cambodia
What’s in the New Philippines-Cambodia Defense Meeting?
PH, Cambodia boost defense ties
Cambodia strengthens military ties with the US
China and Cambodia Hold Their Biggest Military Exercise Yet
Cambodia, Singapore enhance cooperation in combating terrorism, transnational crime

Indonesia
Malaysia, Indonesia To Receive Six ScanEagle 2 UAS Each from Washington
Military Chief Visit Puts Indonesia-Thailand Defense Ties in Focus
Indonesia Adding Two More Amphibious Landing Ships
Indonesia Getting Three More Nagapasa-Class Diesel-Electric Submarines
Indonesia steps up watch over potential arms smuggling as Philippine rebels may shed arms under peace deal

Laos
Defence Minister Visits Malaysia

Malaysia
The Future of New Malaysia’s Defense Policy in Focus with Countertrade Chatter
Malaysias Air Force Chief Confirms Interest In Purchasing Russian Buk Air Defense Systems
Home, Agriculture, Defence Ministries join forces to tackle worsening illegal fishing problem

Myanmar
Russia Building Six Advanced Fighter Jets for Myanmar Military
Navy to own submarines soon: its Chief of Staff
Myanmar, Ukrainian firm ink arms plant deal | Article

Philippines
Philippines, regional navies hold maritime crimes scenario training
PH needs warships in WPS, says Pimentel
PH Navy sends warship for maritime exercises with 17 other countries in Korea, Singapore
Philippines, Indonesia agree to enhance defense and security cooperation
Palace scores US senators outrageous interference
Philippines Is Beginning To Pay The Price For Duterte's South China Sea Flip-Flops
Philippines, Cambodia hold first joint defense cooperation meeting
US commits to aiding Philippines in South China Sea

Singapore
USS Blue Ridge returns to Singapore as part of Asian deployment
Strategic Security Dialogue Highlights US-Singapore Defense Relations
Singapore Is Aggressively Pursuing Cybersecurity
International Engagement Key to Building Cyber Resilience

Thailand
Defense Ministry prepares for anti-terrorism drill
Anti-Submarine Warfare Drills Put the Focus on US-Thailand Security Ties
Forging ties with Hun Sen's son
Thai, US navies kick off anti-submarine exercise

Vietnam
Vietnamese Navy Ship Attends Multinational Maritime Exercises In Singapore
Vietnam assumes AAPTC 2020 Chairmanship from Thailand
Security ministry seeks to boost co-operation with US law enforcement agencies
Defence Minister meets USINDOPACOM Commander
NA Standing Committee discusses national defence force law
US transfers six patrol boats to Vietnam coast guard
Việt Nam opposes Taiwan’s live-fire drill around Ba Bình Island
Building defence zones can protect the country: PM
Regional meeting on maritime security convenes in Đà Nẵng
PM attends ceremony to mark Border Guard’s traditional day
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Hiding in Plain Sight: Chinese Expansion in Southeast Asia War on the Rocks 9th May 2019
Beijing’s geopolitical moves continue to obfuscate its larger designs, surprise observers, and render the United States and its allies reactive. The prospect of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia offers a case in point. This issue — seemingly obscure and inconsequential to many observers — made the news in late 2018 when American Vice President Mike Pence raised it in a letter to Cambodia’s increasingly authoritarianleader, Hun Sen. Subsequently, Hun Sen dismissed media reports that China sought a naval base in Cambodia as “fake news.” In repeated denials, he proclaimed that Cambodia’s constitution prohibits any foreign country from setting up military bases within the country’s sovereign territory.

In a first, Philippines, US, Japan and India navies sail in South China Sea Global Nation 9th May 2019
The navies of the Philippines, United States, Japan and India sailed together for the first time in the South China Sea in a bid “to promote maritime cooperation throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific.” The ships were en route to Singapore for the second phase of the Asean Defense Ministers Meeting Plus Maritime Security Field Training Exercise (ADMM -Plus MARSEC FTX). The Philippine Navy’s BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17) joined ships from Japan’s JS Izumo (DDH-183) and JS Murasame (DD-101), India’s INS Kolkata (D63) and Shakti (A57), and the U.S. Navy’s USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110).

Asean, allies open Naval exercises in South Korea The Manila Times Online 1st May 2019
MILITARY exercises between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its allies formally began on Wednesday in Busan, South Korea with a focus on maritime security. Capt. Roy Vincent Trinidad, commander of the Philippine Navy contingent, aboard the BRP Andres Bonifacio, participated in the opening ceremony of the Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) Maritime Security and Counterterrorism Exercises. Rear Admiral Lee Seong Yeoul, commander of the Korean Navy’s 3rd Fleet, welcomed the participating nations for the combined exercises on maritime security. Lee said the exercise would be an opportunity for all the navies to hone joint response capability on maritime security issues and to further promote friendship, partnership and relationship among nations.

U.S. Will Unveil New Indo-Pacific Strategy Next Month USNI News 30th Apr 2019
The Pentagon will unveil a new Indo-Pacific strategy at the Shangri-La Dialogue this May, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver told a media roundtable in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last week. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan’s speech at the Singapore event will focus on the new Indo-Pacific Strategy Report and articulation of the new U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, Schriver said.

Brunei

Air Force Chief Inaugural Visit Puts Singapore-Brunei Defense Ties into Focus The Diplomat 7th May 2019
This week, Singapore’s new air force chief paid his first visit to Brunei his current capacity. The visit placed the focus on the defense side of the relationship between the two Southeast Asian states amid wider domestic and regional change. Singapore and Brunei have a close defense relationship as part of their broader bilateral relationship. This is reflected not just in traditional aspects like exchanges, visits, and exercises, but also the fact that Brunei has benefited from the expertise of the Singapore Armed Forces. Singapore’s military also holds training in Brunei as it does with a number of its other key partners.

Brunei Officially Gets a New Navy Chief The Diplomat 29th Apr 2019
Earlier this month, Brunei held a change of command ceremony that marked the official shift to a new navy chief. Though the development itself served merely as a confirmation of an already confirmed change, it nonetheless spotlighted an important personnel shift in Brunei’s defense policy more generally. Despite the relative lack of attention given to Brunei as a defense actor in Southeast Asia, it remains a small but nonetheless important player on a range of regional security issues, from terrorism to the South China Sea, where it is one of four claimant states in the subregion (the others being Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam).

Brunei warship sets sail for deployment to China, S.korea, Singapore - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 13th Apr 2019
Brunei's warship KDB Daruttaqwa has set sail for deployment to Qingdao in China, Busan in South Korea and Changi in Singapore. According to Brunei's Defense Ministry, this deployment comprises KDB Daruttaqwa's participation in various events and exercises including multinational naval activities of the 70th founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus Expert Working Group on Maritime Security Field Training Exercise 1 & 2 (ADMM-Plus EWG on MS FTX 1 & 2) and International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX) Asia 2019. The ministry said that this deployment marks a significant milestone in establishing Royal Brunei Navy as a reliable maritime partner in the region on both bilateral and multilateral platforms.

Cambodia

What’s in the New Philippines-Cambodia Defense Meeting? The Diplomat 1st Apr 2019
Earlier this month, the Philippines and Cambodia finally held the first iteration of a new defense cooperation meeting that both sides had formally agreed to back in 2017. Though few details were publicly issued about the nature of the meeting, it nonetheless highlighted the ongoing collaboration between the two countries in the security realm that has been more in the spotlight in recent years. While the Philippines and Cambodia have a contemporary diplomatic relationship that stretches back to 1957, defense ties have developed at a much slower pace relative to other aspects of ties. Collaboration in the defense space has been quite basic, and aspects that have been previously publicly disclosed have been focused on areas like exchanges and visits, and areas such as addressing law enforcement, transnational crimes, and terrorism, amid some continued differences on issue areas such as the South China Sea.

PH, Cambodia boost defense ties The Cambodia Daily 27th Mar 2019
The Philippines and Cambodia have agreed to boost defense cooperation and bilateral relations to address security problems in the region, the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Tuesday. DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong disclosed that Manila and Phnom Penh held their Inaugural Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC) earlier this month in Cambodia, attended by Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David and General Neang Phat, secretary of state of the Cambodian Ministry of National Defense.

Cambodia strengthens military ties with the US The Cambodia Daily 22nd Mar 2019
Cambodia and the US on Tuesday signed a bilateral military cooperation agreement covering this year and next, with the aim of strengthening ties in humanitarian affairs, education and military training. The agreement was secured through a bilateral military dialogue at the Ministry of National Defence between Suon Samnang, the ministry’s General Department of Politics and Foreign Affairs deputy director-general, and Scott Burnside, the Pacific-US Command’s Southeast Asia policy director.

China and Cambodia Hold Their Biggest Military Exercise Yet The Diplomat 21st Mar 2019
Last week, China and Cambodia kicked off what amounts to the biggest iteration of a bilateral military exercise seen between the two countries yet. The engagement was just another demonstration of the significance of the defense ties between the two sides and Cambodia’s greater drift toward China as the ruling party under Prime Minister Hun Sen looks to further consolidate its power following an election victory.

Cambodia, Singapore enhance cooperation in combating terrorism, transnational crime Xinhua 4th Mar 2019
Cambodia and Singapore vowed on Monday to enhance their cooperation in combating terrorism and cross-border crime, said a Cambodian spokesman. The commitment was made during a meeting here between Cambodian National Police chief Neth Savoeun and visiting Singapore commissioner of police Hoong Wee Teck, said National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun. "After their talks, both sides agreed to work together to combat terrorism and transnational crime, which are the priority tasks for the two countries as well as for Asia," he told reporters after the meeting.

Indonesia

Malaysia, Indonesia To Receive Six ScanEagle 2 UAS Each from Washington Defense World 1st May 2019
Malaysia will receive six ScanEagle 2 Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) later this year while Indonesia will receive an equal number in 2022 under the United States funded Maritime Security Initiative (MSI). US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver said during a media round-table in Kuala Lumpur last week that the Philippines had received six ScanEagle 2 UAS in 2018 as part of the MSI policy. The US hopes to see its partner nations have the capability to see and sense activities in their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones and if they wished, to share and network with other regional countries to have a broader common operating picture.

Military Chief Visit Puts Indonesia-Thailand Defense Ties in Focus The Diplomat 30th Apr 2019
Last week, Thailand’s military chief paid a trip to Indonesia. While the interaction was just one of several between the two Southeast Asian states, it nonetheless put the focus on the efforts by both sides to strengthen and further institutionalize their defense relationship despite lingering challenges at home and abroad. Indonesia and Thailand, Southeast Asia’s largest economies and among the initial founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have long had a bilateral relationship dating back to 1950. But their defense ties have been slower to develop, relatively speaking, despite the convergence of general interests on issues ranging from maritime security to counterterrorism.

Indonesia Adding Two More Amphibious Landing Ships Defense Security Monitor 15th Apr 2019
Indonesia continues to expand its amphibious capability with the awarding of an IDR360 billion ($25.5 million) contract to local shipbuilder PT Bandar Abadi for production of two additional landing ship tanks (LSTs).  The contract was inked on April 12, allowing for manufacture of what will become the eighth and ninth ships of the Teluk Bintuni class serving with the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL).

Indonesia Getting Three More Nagapasa-Class Diesel-Electric Submarines Defense Security Monitor 12th Apr 2019
Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense inked a $1.02 billion agreement with South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) on April 12 for three follow-on Type 209/1400 diesel-electric submarines (SSKs). These submarines were included as an option within the original $1.1 billion contract between the two parties that was signed on December 20, 2011.

Indonesia steps up watch over potential arms smuggling as Philippine rebels may shed arms under peace deal The Straits Times 8th Mar 2019
Indonesia has boosted surveillance of its vast and porous sea border with southern Philippines, as the Manila government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) pursue a peace deal giving Muslims in Mindanao island broader autonomy in exchange for giving up their separatist goals. Indonesian officials say they are worried that the deal, which involved the decommissioning of arms by the Muslim fighters, may lead to "leaks" with some of the guns and other weapons sold and smuggled into Indonesia.

Laos

Defence Minister Visits Malaysia KPL Lao News Agency 1st Apr 2019
Minister of National Defence Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath undertook an official visit to Malaysia from Mar 21 to 23. The visit was his first official visit to Malaysia since assuming office in April 2016. As part of his visit, Gen. Chansamone called on Malaysian Minister of Defence Tuan Haji Mohamad bin Sabu on Mar 22. Upon arrival at the Ministry of Defence of Malaysia, Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath was accorded with a Guard of Honour comprising personnel from the First Battalion Royal Malay Regiment (RAMD) led by Maj. Norshahidin bin Long with three officers and 103 others rank and accompanied by RAMD Centre Band led by Maj. Mohd Izham bin Ahmad Rashidi with one officer and 39 other ranks. During the call, both Ministers acknowledged the existing friendly relations between the two countries. Capitalising on the excellent spirit of cordiality, mutual respect and understanding, they emphasised that the Official Visit is a testament of their commitments to promote bilateral defence cooperation. In this regard, both Ministers later signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Defence of Malaysia and the Ministry of National Defence of the Lao PDR on Bilateral Defence Cooperation.

Malaysia

The Future of New Malaysia’s Defense Policy in Focus with Countertrade Chatter The Diplomat 1st May 2019
Earlier this month, Malaysia’s defense minister suggested that the country could, in some cases, move to a barter system to procure military equipment. Although such an approach is by no means novel for the Southeast Asian state, it has nonetheless put the focus on the future of Malaysia’s defense policy under the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government which took power following a shock election outcome last May. The idea of countertrade – a catchall term for an exchange of goods through means other than currency purchase – is not new for Malaysia. Indeed, not unlike some other developing countries, it has been seen in the past as one among several options as the country seeks to balance domestic and foreign policy considerations in defense policy, including those such as offsets and technology transfer.

Malaysias Air Force Chief Confirms Interest In Purchasing Russian Buk Air Defense Systems UrduPoint 24th Apr 2019
The chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), Gen. Affendi Buang, confirmed to Sputnik on Wednesday that Kuala Lumpur was considering purchasing Russian-made Buk medium-range surface-to-air missile systems as well as other pieces of military equipment. In March, Russian state-owned corporation Rostec told Sputnik that Malaysia was interested in buying Russian air defense systems, including Buk systems.

Home, Agriculture, Defence Ministries join forces to tackle worsening illegal fishing problem Malay Mail 24th Apr 2019
The Home Ministry, Ministry of Agriculture and Agro based Industry (MoA), and Ministry of Defence are joining forces to tackle the issue of foreign fishing vessels encroaching into Malaysian waters. In an announcement today, the Home Ministry said it will lead this task force with the Cabinet’s approval to mobilise all available assets to tackle the issue which is costing the local fish industry RM6 billion in losses each year. “Cases of foreign fisherman encroaching into our waters is nothing new but lately it’s getting worse,” said Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during the joint press conference at his ministry here.food

Myanmar

Russia Building Six Advanced Fighter Jets for Myanmar Military The Irrawaddy 25th Apr 2019
Russia is assembling six Sukhoi SU-30SM fighter jets for Myanmar under a contract worth about US$204 million signed between the two nations last year, Russian news outlets reported on Wednesday. The news was unveiled during the latest visit to Russia by Myanmar military commander-in-chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing to attend the 8th Moscow Conference on International Security this week. Some military observer websites put the market price of one of the twin-turbine engine aircraft at about US$34 million.

Navy to own submarines soon: its Chief of Staff Eleven Media 20th Mar 2019
Myanmar will own submarines soon, said Commodore Moe Aung, Chief of Staff (Navy) on March 18 while answering to the media after the Combined Fleet Exercise-Sea Shield 2019. “The Senior General already explained about the possession of submarines. They can be seen at Myanmar navy soon. Submarine arm is an armed forces and its operation area is under water. There are natural disasters as well as dangers from the enemies which can attack anytime. If there will be a problem, it is difficult to save them. So we are considering about long term plan. Another thing is to train submariners. It is required to train the submariners. A skillful submariner needs at least four years training to handle the submarine and to operate it. So our marines are having trainings for a long time,” said the Commodore.

Myanmar, Ukrainian firm ink arms plant deal | Article Asia Times 9th Mar 2019
A Ukrainian company and the Myanmar military have signed a joint-venture agreement to build a plant capable of manufacturing armored personnel carriers (APCs) and self-propelled howitzers, the Myanmar website The Irrawaddy reports. The news first broke on the Defense Blog, an online military magazine, and said the Ukrainian firm, the Great Export Import Company, had confirmed an initial delivery of equipment and machinery for use in the plant, which should be ready to begin production by 2020. The types of APCs that will be made in the plant are said to be eight-wheeled BTR-4Us while the howitzers will be 2S1Us, which are based on the MT-LBu multipurpose chassis.

Philippines

Philippines, regional navies hold maritime crimes scenario training News Info 3rd May 2019
How can Asean and other regional navies work together in responding to international maritime crimes? This was addressed during the recently concluded first phase of the Asean-Plus Defense Ministers’ Meeting Maritime Security Field Training Exercise in Busan, South Korea. At the sea-phase of the event, multinational navies, which included the Philippines, conducted voice radio drills and an international response training scenario designed to protect merchant ships and key facilities, the Philippine Navy said in a news release.

PH needs warships in WPS, says Pimentel Manila Bulletin News 28th Apr 2019
The Philippine Navy ought to have warships to guard the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) against potential foreign threats. Thus, said Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel as he underscored Sunday the country’s lack of battle-ready ships. “This is why we are having difficulty enforcing our sovereign rights over our EEZ there,” Pimentel said, adding, “our naval warfare service should at least be as formidable as Indonesia’s, which has three fleets of larger and faster ships, including submarines.

PH Navy sends warship for maritime exercises with 17 other countries in Korea, Singapore Manila Bulletin News 23rd Apr 2019
The Philippine Navy will send one of its biggest warships to Korea and Singapore to participate in the two-week long Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus Maritime Security Field Training Exercise (ADMM-Plus MARSEC FTX). Navy spokesman Capt. Jonathan Zata said 200 Navy personnel will be on board the BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS17), and will represent the Philippine military in various exercises.

Philippines, Indonesia agree to enhance defense and security cooperation Manila Bulletin News 26th Apr 2019
The Philippines and Indonesia agreed to level up its cooperation both in the strategic and operational level to keep up with the evolving nature of threats and better contribute to preserving regional security. This came about after the Department of National Defense (DND) hosted the 9th Meeting of the Philippines-Indonesia Joint Defense and Security Cooperation Committee (JDSCC), a bilateral dialogue mechanism for the defense establishments of the Philippines and Indonesia, held in Manila on Tuesday (April 23, 2019). Director Arsenio R. Andolong, the Chief of the DND’s Public Affairs Service, said both countries also expressed willingness to explore new opportunities for joint development, including in countering terrorism and violent extremism, maritime security, and defense industry, among others.

Palace scores US senators outrageous interference Manila Times 9th Apr 2019
Palace scores US senators’ ‘outrageous interference’ BY CATHERINE S. VALENTE, TMT Malacañang on Monday slammed five United States senators for their “outrageous interference,” and rejected their call for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima and the dropping of charges against journalist Maria Ressa. “ “Their resolution is an unwelcome intrusion to the country’s domestic legal processes and an outrageous interference with our nation’s sovereignty as the subject cases are now being heard by our local courts,” he added. Panelo maintained that “no government official of any foreign country has the authority or right to dictate on how we address the commission of crimes.”“The Republic of the Philippines is not under the dominion of the United States of America or any of its high-ranking officials,” he said. US Senators Marco Rubio, Edward Markey, Richard Durbin, Marsha Blackburn and Chris Coons, in a resolution released last week, called on the Philippine government to release de Lima from her two-year detention and drop charges against Rappler and Ressa. The US lawmakers also condemned the arrest of human right defenders and political leaders as well as denounced the Duterte administration’s supposed role in extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under the government’s drug war.

Philippines Is Beginning To Pay The Price For Duterte's South China Sea Flip-Flops Forbes 6th Apr 2019
The Philippines is beginning to pay the price for President Rodrigo Duterte’s South China Sea policy flip-flops in the form of repeated challenges to the country’s sovereignty by Beijing. China considers the South China Sea its own sea, all of it. And it seems to be prepared to do whatever it takes to assert control over every tiny island, natural and artificial, in it -- as evidenced by the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels near a Philippines-administered island in the South China Sea in recent weeks. That’s certainly bad news for neighboring countries -- like the Philippines -- which have competing claims in these territories. And bad news for the future of the economic integration of the region, as it raises geopolitical risks that could eventually turn away foreign investments. The trouble is that Manila doesn’t have a clear and consistent policy to deal with China’s aggression, as evidenced by several flip-flops in Duterte’s administration. Why? Perhaps out of fear of war or the appeal of the Chinese money that is expected to finance his ambitious infrastructure projects.

Philippines, Cambodia hold first joint defense cooperation meeting Inquirer 26th Mar 2019
The Philippines and Cambodia held a Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC) meeting last week in Phnon Penh, a first between the two countries with decades of diplomatic relations. The meeting, led by Department of National Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David Jr. and Cambodia’s State of the Ministry of National Defense Secretary General Neang Phat, was an offshoot of the 2017 memorandum of understanding on defense of cooperation of the Philippines and Cambodia, said Defense spokesperson Dir. Arsenio Andolong in a statement on Tuesday. Regional defense and security issues such as cyber security, counterterrorism and violent extremism, and peacekeeping operations were among the issues tackled in the meeting during David’s visit from March 11 to 14.

US commits to aiding Philippines in South China Sea the Guardian 1st Mar 2019
The US secretary of state has committed Washington to aiding the Philippines in the event of an “armed attack” on its vessels or aircraft in the disputed South China Sea, in what some see as a warning shot to China. Speaking in Manila after meeting the president, Rodrigo Duterte, Mike Pompeo told the Philippines: “We have your back” and invoked the two countries’ mutual defence treaty. “Any armed attack on any Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defence obligations under article IV of our mutual defence treaty,” Pompeo said. The South China Sea is one of the most contested patches of water in the world, with Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam with overlapping claims in the region.

Singapore

USS Blue Ridge returns to Singapore as part of Asian deployment UPI 6th May 2019
USS Blue Ridge, the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship, arrived in northern Singapore on Monday as part of its deployment to Asia. The Blue Ridge, namesake of its class of amphibious command ships of the U.S. States Navy and the oldest deployable warship in the fleet, last visited the nation more than three years ago. "Seventh Fleet and Blue Ridge sailors always enjoy visiting the Lion City," Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander U.S. 7th Fleet, said in a news release. "Our partnership with the Republic of Singapore Navy could not be stronger and we look forward to continuing port visits, exchanges and exercises as we have for decades."

Strategic Security Dialogue Highlights US-Singapore Defense Relations The Diplomat 29th Apr 2019
Last week, the United States and Singapore held the 10th interaction of a strategic security policy dialogue between them. While the event was one of a long series of interactions held by both sides, it nonetheless reinforced the defense relationship between the two longtime strategic partners. The United States and Singapore have long viewed each other as vital strategic partners, and that extends to the security realm as well. The United States is a key supplier of defense technology and facilities for military training for Singapore, while the city-state is a valuable regional partner across a range of issues from counterterrorism to maritime security, while also hosting a U.S. Navy logistics command unit that coordinates regional operations.

Singapore Is Aggressively Pursuing Cybersecurity SIGNAL Magazine 23rd Apr 2019
Singapore, in terms of size, is akin to an ant versus an elephant, said David Koh, commissioner of cybersecurity; chief executive, Cyber Security Agency, Singapore’s Prime Minister’s Office; and Defense Cyber Chief, Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Singapore. Nevertheless, the republic has put cybersecurity front and center. Even with only a population of about 5.9 million people—similar to the number of citizens in the Washington, D.C., area—Singapore is one the world’s most digitally connected cities, averaging two cellphones per citizen. 

International Engagement Key to Building Cyber Resilience Atlantic Council 23rd Apr 2019
US and international cybersecurity officials called for greater international cooperation to combat Internet crime and malign cyber activity during the 8th annual International Conference on Cyber Engagement (ICCE) in Washington, DC, on April 23. David Koh, who serves as commissioner of cybersecurity, chief executive of the Cyber Security Agency, and defense cyber chief in Singapore’s Ministry of Defense, called for likeminded nations to establish “a rules-based cyberspace based on applicable international law and the adoption of voluntary operational norms.” Koh argued that other global common spaces, such as maritime and aviation, are governed by complex international rule systems, and “cyberspace should not be any different from the physical domains.”

Thailand

Defense Ministry prepares for anti-terrorism drill Thailand News 9th May 2019
Terrorism is a threat which is faced by all countries including Thailand and other ASEAN member countries. At the end of this year, ASEAN member countries and dialogue countries will attend a joint anti-terrorism drill for the peace and security of the region. Lt. Gen. Chatchai Phattharanavik, Commander of the Global Counterterrorism Operations Center, recently held a press conference on the intermediate training plan preparation meeting of the working group of anti-terrorism experts under the framework of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) which was also attended by the Ministers of Defense of dialogue countries.

Anti-Submarine Warfare Drills Put the Focus on US-Thailand Security Ties The Diplomat 12th Apr 2019
On April 7, the United States and Thailand kicked off this year’s iteration of an anti-submarine warfare exercise. The development put the spotlight on the ongoing security collaboration between the United States and Thailand within the broader relationship and amid a range of domestic and regional developments for both sides.

Forging ties with Hun Sen's son Bangkok Post 8th Apr 2019
Last week's official visit by Cambodian army chief Lt Gen Hun Manet, the son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, has cemented military ties between the two countries and ushered in a new era, with both sides vowing not to let the border conflict dampen bilateral relations. Lt Gen Hun Manet, who is also the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, has been widely known to many Thais for quite a long time, especially in his capacity as commander of both the Cambodian army's anti-terrorism unit, and as the 911 special warfare unit during the 2011 Thai-Cambodian border standoff. According to some media reports, Lt Gen Hun Manet ventured near the Thai-Cambodian border during the incident. In the middle of last year, he was promoted as the top commander of the Cambodian army. Last week's visit from April 1-2, was his first in his capacity as army chief. He came as the guest of army chief Apirat Kongsompong, who went to Cambodia on Jan 29-31. It was also Gen Apirat's first visit to a neighbouring country since he was promoted as army commander.

Thai, US navies kick off anti-submarine exercise Bangkok Post 7th Apr 2019
The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) and the US Navy on Sunday kicked off the annual Guardian Sea joint naval exercise in the Andaman Sea to enhance mutual capabilities in anti-submarine warfare while also improving information sharing between the two navies. The RTN side is led by Capt Saman Kanthapong, chief-of-staff of the 1st Brigade and the US Navy team by Capt Mathew Jerbi, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7. The exercise was launched in a ceremony chaired by Rear Admiral Kamchorn Charoenkiat, commander of the 1st Brigade, on board HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej. R/Adm Kamchorn said the first joint Thai-US Guardian Sea exercise was held in 2012, and it has been held annually ever since under a joint Thai-US command. "Guardian Sea is a bilateral exercise between the Thai and US navies," R/Adm Kamchorn said. "It is a marine operation involving ships and aircraft in anti-submarine warfare. It is a great opportunity for the two navies to exchange techniques, skills and planning on tracking and attacking submarines in various conditions."

Vietnam

Vietnamese Navy Ship Attends Multinational Maritime Exercises In Singapore Maritime Herald 9th May 2019
Vietnamese missile escort frigate HQ 016 Quang Trung from Vietnam will attend a combined maritime security exercise in Singapore and the Asian Maritime Defense Exhibition (IMDEX Asia) 2019, a naval spokesperson said. The exercise involves 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other partners of the expanded Conference of Defense Ministers of ASEAN (ADMM), the source added.

Vietnam assumes AAPTC 2020 Chairmanship from Thailand vietnamnews.vn 27th Apr 2019
Việt Nam assumed the role of the Chair of the Association of Asia-Pacific Peace Operations Training Centres (AAPTC) in 2020 from Thailand during its annual general meeting and workshop in Bangkok on Friday. It is the first time Việt Nam has undertaken the role since joining UN peacekeeping activities in 2014 and becoming an APPTC member. The Vietnamese delegation was led by the head of the Việt Nam Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Major General Hoàng Kim Phụng.

Security ministry seeks to boost co-operation with US law enforcement agencies vietnamnews.vn 26th Apr 2019
Minister of Public Security, General Tô Lâm, held working sessions with US officials in Washington, DC on Wednesday and Thursday as part of his ongoing visit to the US. Secretary of the US Department of the Interior David Bernhardt expressed his belief that the visit will contribute to deepening the US-Việt Nam comprehensive partnership in general and co-operation between the US department and the Vietnamese ministry in particular. General Lâm stressed that although peace, co-operation and development are still the major trends of the era, countries around the world are also facing many new difficulties and challenges.

Defence Minister meets USINDOPACOM Commander Voice of Vietnam 17th Apr 2019
Defence Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich met Commander of United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Admiral Philip Davidson in Hanoi on April 16. Admiral Philip Davidson is on a working visit to Vietnam. The US commander congratulated Vietnam on its successful organization of the second Summit between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in late February, 2019. He informed host of the outcomes of his talks with Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army and Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Phan Van Giang. General Lich hailed the outcomes of the talks and said together with their comprehensive partnership, the two countries’ defence cooperation has been growing soundly, as evidenced by the exchange of visits, training, the sharing of experience in UN peacekeeping activities, and the addressing of war consequences.

NA Standing Committee discusses national defence force law Vietnam News 12th Apr 2019
The enforcement of the law on reserve and conscripted forces is necessary, National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee members agreed at the meeting yesterday. The law aims to build a high-quality force in charge to protect national security alongside the Việt Nam People’s Army. According to the Government’s proposal, an additional annual package of about VNĐ545 billion (US$23.1 million) sourced from State budget will be spent on the forces, including investment in training and allowance for the families of people involved in the force. NA Vice Chairman Phùng Quốc Hiển said it was necessary to enforce preferential policies for the force. The law compiling committee needs to clarify regulations related to allowance and State budget spending on the force to ensure they are in line with the State budget. Hiển recommended granting right of mobilising the force to provincial authorities instead of district authorities as proposed by the Government. NA Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân said regulations related to rights and responsibilities of citizens should be clarified in the law. After examination of NA’s Committee of National Defence and Security, the bill will be submitted to the NA’s seventh meeting to take place in May and June.

US transfers six patrol boats to Vietnam coast guard Voice of Vietnam 1st Apr 2019
The US Embassy stated in a press release that the transfer includes six brand-new fast response Metal Shark boats - capable of reaching up to 35 knots - along with trailers and spare parts estimated at approximately US$12 million. “This official transfer at the VCG Region 3 Station at Van Phong bay is another milestone and evidence of the continued friendship between the US and Vietnam,” said Colonel Nguyen Minh Khanh, Vice Commander of the VCG Region 3. "Coast Guard Region 3 is unequivocally Vietnam’s most strategic region and arguably its most importance, proven by the high skill level of the group of boat drivers, handlers, and engineers. The Metal Shark trainers have called the group of graduating students ‘honor graduates’ because of their exceptional skill level and willingness to problem solve", said lieutenant commander (LCDR) Kristen Byers at the handover ceremony held on March 29. Delivering these patrol vessels represents deepening US - Vietnam cooperation in the fields of maritime law enforcement, maritime search and rescue, and maritime humanitarian assistance operations within Vietnam’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.

Việt Nam opposes Taiwan’s live-fire drill around Ba Bình Island Vietnam News Agnecy 22nd Mar 2019
Việt Nam objects to Taiwan (China)’s live-fire exercise around Ba Bình (Itu Aba) island in Việt Nam’s Trường Sa (Spratly) Archipelago, and has demanded it refrain from such actions in the future, stated spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng. Hằng made the statement while fielding questions from reporters on the issue on Thursday. The diplomat elaborated, saying Việt Nam has sufficient legal basis and historical evidence to confirm its sovereignty over the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa archipelagos in accordance with international law. Taiwan’s continuation of live-fire drills in the waters surrounding Ba Bình island, despite Việt Nam’s opposition, is a serious violation of Việt Nam’s territorial sovereignty, posing a threat to peace, stability and maritime security and safety, as well as causing tension and complicating the situation in the East Sea, she said. In another move, Việt Nam has demanded China pay proper compensation for damage a Chinese coastguard ship caused to Vietnamese fishermen in Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa Archipelago. According to Vietnamese agencies, at 9am of March 6, when a Vietnamese fishing boat with five crew members was anchored in the vicinity of Đá Lồi Reef in Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa Archipelago, a Chinese coast guard ship approached and fired water cannon to drive it away.

Building defence zones can protect the country: PM Vietnam News 20th Mar 2019
Developing municipal and provincial defence zones is a proactive measure to protect the country and ensure solid security even when threats are not yet visible. The policy is in line with the spirit “to safeguard the country from afar and from the earliest moments,” Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said yesterday during a teleconference held in Hà Nội by the Central Military Commission to review the decade of progress in implementing Politburo’s Resolution 28 on turning centrally governed cities and provinces into “firm defence zones”. These defence zones, defined by each city or province’s geographical borders, are part of corresponding military zones. The country is divided into eight military zones, including a separate Hà Nội Capital City Special High Command to defend the Greater Hà Nội urban area. Col Gen Phan Văn Giang, Deputy Minister of Defence, Chief of the Việt Nam People’s Army General Staff and member of the Central Military Commission’s standing committee, presented a summary of progress on building defence zones from 2008 to 2018.

Regional meeting on maritime security convenes in Đà Nẵng Vietnam News 15th Mar 2019
Some 80 experts from across ASEAN gathered in the central city of Đà Nẵng on Thursday to discuss regional co-operation in the field of maritime security. They were speaking at the 11th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) inter-sessional meeting on maritime security, organised by Việt Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the European Union. At the meeting, experts reviewed the region’s maritime security situation and co-operative mechanisms, the results that have been achieved and the challenges that remain. They also shared information on policies applied at the national level, and various matters related to maritime safety, the environment and sustainable development. Co-operation activities that took place since the beginning of the year were also part of the discussion. They included a meeting on the application of the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the coastal city of Nha Trang on February 26-27, and a workshop on Enhancing Regional Maritime Law Enforcement Co-operation in Đà Nẵng in March 12-13.

PM attends ceremony to mark Border Guard’s traditional day Vietnam News 4th Mar 2019
The Vietnamese Party and State always considers safeguarding the border a regular and vital mission to ensure the stable and sustainable development of the nation, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said on March 2. Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 60th traditional day of the Border Guard and the 30th anniversary of the Day of All-People Border Defence (March 3), Phúc lauded efforts made by the Border Guard Force over the past six decades. Higher demand in renewal, integration, cooperation and development requires extra efforts to manage and protect the border, he said. He asked the Border Guard to actively coordinate with ministries, sectors and localities to implement national border management and protection missions drastically and effectively, and intensify dissemination to create a high consensus among the Party, army and people and the entire political system. The Government leader also emphasised that building, managing and protecting the national border is the responsibility of the Party, army and people and the entire political system.