Defense & Security Update: June 6, 2019

Defense & Security Update | June 6, 2019
Authors: Jack Myint and Sarina Divan
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

June 13: Philippines General Membership Meeting

June 13: Roundtable with Commercial Officer Santiago Davila, U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur

June 17: Farewell Dinner for U.S. Consul General to HCMC Mary Tarnowka

June 18: Roundtable with Mr. Rafik Mansour, new CDA at U.S. Embassy in Singapore

July 8-9: 2019 Cambodia Business Mission

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Shangri-La Dialogue highlights tensions between the U.S. and China

The 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defense summit hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, took place in Singapore from May 31-June 2. As expected, much attention and discussion centered on the increasingly contentious relationship between the United States and China. As both sides appear to harden in their positions, the main takeaway from this year's Shangri-La Dialogue is that the fraught relations between the two world powers are unlikely to be going away any time soon.

The fissures between the China and the United States were evident in the speeches that U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe delivered during the summit. In his speech, Shanahan took a strong stance against China and discussed the newly released U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy Report (IPSR). The guiding concept of the Indo-Pacific Strategy is the United States' commitment to uphold a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and to pursue policies that support the "rules-based international order." To read the full Department of Defense IPSR, please click here. Calling the Indo-Pacific region the Department of Defense’s “priority theater,” Shanahan discussed U.S. military investments in the region and encouraged Indo-Pacific countries to follow suit. Shanahan emphasized that U.S. resource allocation to the region signifies the country’s commitment, but other countries within the region need to invest more in their own security. According to Shanahan, the United States has demonstrated this commitment through the recent sale of surveillance drones totaling US$47 million to Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, under the Foreign Military Sales program, in addition to the sale of vessels to Vietnam.

Seeking to paint the United States as an unreliable partner, Wei, in his remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue, indirectly criticized the United States' unilateralism and its withdrawal from international treaties and agreements. He also discouraged foreign intervention, especially with regard to Taiwan, and questioned the legitimacy of the Taiwan Relations Act, the 1979 U.S. law that governs U.S.-Taiwanese relations in the absence of official diplomatic ties. During the Q&A session, when asked about the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague that said China had violated the Philippines' sovereignty with its actions in disputed areas of the South China Sea, Wei refused to acknowledge that the areas were disputed, instead insisting that China has the right to build military facilities on reclaimed features. Wei's attendance at the Shangri-La Dialogue underscored the importance that Beijing placed in having a high-ranking official deliver these messages, as it was the first time in nearly a decade that a Chinese Defense Minister had attended the summit.

Despite the differences in public rhetoric between Shanahan and Wei at the Shangri-La Dialogue, both sides called a meeting between the two "constructive." Nevertheless, the tensions between the two sides, as evidenced at the dialogue, has left many countries in the region nervous about pressure to potentially choose between China, a region neighbor and important trading partner, and the United States, which has been perceived as a guarantor of regional stability in recent decades.

 
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
US sale of arms to PH reflects ‘long-term defense partnership’
U.S. to sell 34 surveillance drones to allies in South China Sea region
Boeing’s Insitu to Supply ScanEagle UAVs to Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam
Chinese defense minister strikes defiant tone at Shangri-La Dialogue
Asian Countries Fear Being Forced to Choose between China, US over Disputed Sea
Asian ministers warn US-China tensions raise risk of war
In a first, Philippines, US, Japan and India navies sail in South China Sea
Trump to Sell 34 Surveillance Drones to South China Sea Allies
Acting US Defense Secretary calls on Asian allies to boost arms spending
Army Chief Introductory Visit Highlights Thailand-Singapore Defense Ties
Navy Goodwill Visit Highlights Thailand-Philippines Maritime Ties

Brunei
Joint Force Commander Visit Highlights Brunei-Philippines Military Relations
Navy Chief Introductory Visit Puts Brunei-Singapore Relations Into Focus
What's Behind Brunei's New Defense White Paper Talk?

Indonesia
The Future of US-Indonesia Military Ties in Focus With Defense Secretary Visit
On the heels of the Indonesia Contract: A Closer Look at Russian BMP-3F Marine IFV
Indonesia: Kopassus Commandos To Train Again With US Military
US looks to improve ties with Indonesian special forces, stage exercises
To pacify Trump, Indonesia seeks American arms
Indonesian Defence Ministry 'Signs Documents' for Su-35 Jet Purchase: Minister
Bogor terrorism suspect 30th arrested in May alone
Indonesia, US strengthen cooperation on unmanned aircraft system

Malaysia
Kit Siang calls for White Paper on ‘Week of Long Knives’ (Updated)
Setback for EU fighter jets as Malaysia bets on palm oil barter
Defence white paper to review role of Army will be tabled in Parliament, chief says | Malay Mail
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan Met With Malaysian Minister of Defence Mohamad Sabu
Armed Forces chief: Dr M has agreed to several Defence White Paper proposals
Denel reaches significant milestone on Malaysian AV8 armored program
US to sell RM80 million spy drones to Malaysia as tension mounts over China

Myanmar
Security tightened in Yangon
Myanmar’s Rohingya Appeal to EU to Curtail Trade With Military-linked Businesses
Myanmar to start project to launch earth observation satellite next year
Vietnam, Myanmar to expand cooperation in defence, anti-crime | Borneo Bulletin Online

Philippines
Philippines Navy to get three more multi-purpose attack vessels
PAF awaits delivery of Super Tucano planes, Black Hawk choppers
3 more missile-armed MPACs to arrive this August
Israel-Philippines Military Ties in Focus with Counterterrorism Training Talk
South Korea-Philippines Defense Ties in the Headlines with Expected Vessel Arrival
Philippine Naval Modernization in the Headlines With First South Korea Frigate Launch
What’s in the New Philippines-Czech Republic Defense Industry Forum?
What’s Next for the Philippines’ New Anti-Submarine Helicopters?
US to launch new program to fight extremism in Philippines
Philippines backs U.S. moves vs China buildup in South China Sea
US looking forward to possible arms deal with Philippines
US to sell surveillance drones to Philippines, South China Sea allies
PCG acquires more vessels, equipment

Singapore
Shangri-La Dialogue: Beijing, netizens praise PM Lee's 'objective analysis' of Sino-US ties
Singapore, US reaffirm bilateral defence relations, agree to renew MOU
Asia Minute: China and Singapore to Increase Joint Military Exercises
What's in the New China-Singapore Deepening Military Ties Talk?
Singapore, China to boost defence cooperation, engage in larger military exercises
France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier arrives in Singapore

Thailand
Thailand News: Defense Minister Prawit attends IISS Shangri - La Dialogue 2019
KAI Secures Thai T-50 Upgrades
Thailand Gravitates to China for Cheap Arms With No Strings Attached – CTN News – Chiang Rai Times
US-Thailand Alliance in the Spotlight with New Combat Vehicle Deal
Israeli Tavor-21 assault rifles spotted at Thailand's Royal Coronation
Defense Ministry prepares for anti-terrorism drill
Law change would encourage insurgents to surrender
Military reports less violence during Ramadan this year

Vietnam
First Vietnamese student graduates from US Aviation Leadership Program
First Destroyer Visit Puts France-Vietnam Security Ties in the Headlines
China-Vietnam Military Ties in the Headlines with Defense Ministers Meeting
Vietnam-EU Security Ties in Focus with Defense Visit
Canada-Vietnam Military Ties in Focus With First Defense Minister Visit
Vietnamese Navy Ship Attends Multinational Maritime Exercises In Singapore
Vietnam calls for calm South China Sea talks on maritime conduct
Vietnam attends maritime defence exhibition 2019
Defence ministry supports Vietnam-Japan peacekeeping co-operation: officer
VN hopes to enhance defence ties with Cuba
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

US sale of arms to PH reflects ‘long-term defense partnership’ Manila Bulletin News 4th Jun 2019
The Trump administration’s arms sale strategy to the Philippines and its allies in the region is not just about the product itself but more of the broader aspect of a “long-term” defense partnership. This was stressed by US State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Undersecretary Andrea Thomson during a telephonic interview with journalists on Monday.

U.S. to sell 34 surveillance drones to allies in South China Sea region Reuters 4th Jun 2019
The Trump administration has moved ahead with a surveillance drone sale to four U.S. allies in the South China Sea region as acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Washington will no longer “tiptoe” around Chinese behavior in Asia... The Pentagon announced on Friday it would sell 34 ScanEagle drones, made by Boeing Co. to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam for a total of $47 million.

Boeing’s Insitu to Supply ScanEagle UAVs to Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam Defense World 4th Jun 2019
Boeing subsidiary Insitu Inc is awarded $47,930,791 contract for 34 ScanEagle unmanned air vehicles for the governments of Malaysia (12); Indonesia (8); Philippines (8); and Vietnam (6).

Chinese defense minister strikes defiant tone at Shangri-La Dialogue Defense News 3rd Jun 2019
China’s defense minister has taken aim at U.S. activity in the South China Sea and with Taiwan, while defending Beijing’s own ongoing actions in the restive province of Xinjiang and during the Tiananmen Square incident 30 years ago. Speaking June 2 during his first-ever speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore, Gen. Wei Fenghe also took aim at unnamed countries for championing unilateralism and withdrawing from international treaties and organizations.

Asian Countries Fear Being Forced to Choose between China, US over Disputed Sea VOA 3rd Jun 2019
Asian countries that pride themselves on neutral foreign policies face growing pressure to support either China or the United States in a sticky maritime sovereignty dispute, but they are expected to bid for both and keep the aid coming in. Southeast Asian claimants to the disputed South China Sea grappled with the prospect of choosing sides over the weekend at the annual Shangri-la Dialogue defense forum in Singapore. The question loomed so large that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned of smaller countries being “forced” to take sides.

Asian ministers warn US-China tensions raise risk of war Financial Times 2nd Jun 2019
The growing dispute between the US and China on trade and technology is increasing the risk of military conflict or outright war in Asia, a region that hosts some of the world’s most dangerous geopolitical flashpoints, south-east Asian defence ministers cautioned at a security forum on Sunday. The warnings at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the annual Asian defence summit, came as China at the weekend stepped up its counter-offensive against the US in their trade war, announcing an investigation of delivery group FedEx and a potential blacklist of foreign companies or individuals considered “unreliable”.... Several Asian countries, including some US allies such as the Philippines or nations that have more limited security co-operation with the US such as Singapore, have long fretted that the increasingly open rivalry between Washington and Beijing might force them to choose sides. Those fears took on much greater urgency this year. 

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).

 

Trump to Sell 34 Surveillance Drones to South China Sea Allies Breitbart 5th Jun 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration will sell 34 surveillance drones to four American allies in the South China Sea, Reuters reported Tuesday. The original announcement, made on Friday, came a few days before Gen. Wei Fenghe, China’s defense minister, warned during an annual security conference in Singapore that Beijing’s military will “resolutely take action” to defend Chinese claims over sovereign Taiwan and disputed South China Sea waters. China claims control over all of Taiwan’s territory and waters, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Acting US Defense Secretary calls on Asian allies to boost arms spending CNBC 1st Jun 2019
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan called on America's allies in Asia Pacific to invest more in national security — a move that's reminiscent of U.S. President Donald Trump's well-worn script to NATO nations on burden-sharing. Speaking Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Shanahan highlighted an exhaustive list of U.S. contributions to the region before asking allies to commit to more.

Army Chief Introductory Visit Highlights Thailand-Singapore Defense Ties The Diplomat 28th May 2019
Last week, Thailand’s army chief paid his introductory visit to Singapore in his current capacity. The trip once again underscored the defense ties underway between the two Southeast Asian states amid wider regional and domestic developments... Last week, this aspect of the relationship was in the headlines again with the introductory visit of Thailand’s new army chief to Singapore. Apirat Kongsompong, the commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), was on his first visit to Singapore in his current capacity which lasted from May 21 to May 23.

Navy Goodwill Visit Highlights Thailand-Philippines Maritime Ties The Diplomat 20th May 2019
Last week, two Thai navy vessels were in the Philippines for a goodwill visit. The development spotlighted the ongoing activity within the defense realm of the relationship between the two Southeast Asian states amid wider domestic and foreign policy developments...Both sides have been attempting to further boost joint collaboration in this domain over the past year or so as well. This is true whether viewed from the perspective of the bilateral relationship, such as goodwill visits between vessels, or within broader regional cooperation, with the case in point being Thailand’s advancement of maritime-related issues such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) or managing maritime debris as part of its holding of the annually rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Brunei

Joint Force Commander Visit Highlights Brunei-Philippines Military Relations The Diplomat 5th Jun 2019
Last week, Brunei’s military joint force commander paid a visit to the Philippines. Though the scheduled trip was just one manifestation of the security relationship between the two Southeast Asian states, it nonetheless highlighted some of the ongoing activity within this dimension of ties.

Navy Chief Introductory Visit Puts Brunei-Singapore Relations Into Focus The Diplomat 22nd May 2019
This week, Brunei’s new naval chief paid his introductory visit to Singapore in 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. The meetings were an opportunity for both sides to reaffirm and review the state of their longstanding defense collaboration, in addition to discussions of mutual issues of concern and potential areas for strengthening ties.

What's Behind Brunei's New Defense White Paper Talk? The Diplomat 20th May 2019
Last week, Brunei’s second defense minister once again reiterated the fact that the Southeast Asian state would look to release the next iteration of its defense white paper in 2021. Though this is only one among developments in the country’s security domain, it nonetheless remains important to watch to assess the extent of continuity and change in elements of the country’s defense approach as well as its broader domestic and foreign policy.

Indonesia

The Future of US-Indonesia Military Ties in Focus With Defense Secretary Visit The Diplomat 6th Jun 2019
U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan and Indonesia’s Minister of Defense Ryamizard Ryacudu take part in a signing ceremony following a bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Defense, Jakarta, Indonesia, May 30, 2019. Last week, Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan paid his first visit to Indonesia since assuming his current position. The visit, which was part of a broader Asia tour, highlighted efforts by both sides to continue to boost U.S.-Indonesia defense relations despite lingering challenges and uncertainties.

On the heels of the Indonesia Contract: A Closer Look at Russian BMP-3F Marine IFV Defense World 6th Jun 2019
In April the Russian arms exporter, Rosoboronexport and the Indonesian Ministry of Defence have signed a contract to supply BMP-3F infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) and amphibious armoured personnel carriers (APC) BT-3F to the Indonesia’s Marine Corps. The reason for the BMP-3F’s selection by the Indonesian marines is said to be its unique amphibious features with superior near-shore performance compared to other such vehicles proposed for the competition, Indonesian media reported.

Indonesia: Kopassus Commandos To Train Again With US Military Eurasia Review 31st May 2019
The elite Indonesian army unit Kopassus will train again with the American military, the Southeast Asian nation’s defense chief said Thursday, in the strongest sign that Washington has agreed to improve ties with the special forces group accused of past human rights abuses.

US looks to improve ties with Indonesian special forces, stage exercises CNA 30th May 2019
Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan met his Indonesian counterpart on Thursday as the United States looks to improve ties with an Indonesian special forces unit that have been limited due to human rights abuses in the 1990s. During a trip to Jakarta by Shanahan's predecessor, Jim Mattis, last year, Indonesia said it was hoping he could help ease American limitations on contacts. The United States announced in 2010 that it had lifted its outright ban on US military contacts with the Indonesian special forces unit, known as Kopassus, which was accused of rights abuses in East Timor as it prepared for independence.

To pacify Trump, Indonesia seeks American arms Asia Times 20th May 2019
Indonesia is quietly talking to the United States about the purchase of 32 new Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper jets and six C-130J cargo aircraft in what may partly be an effort to remove the country from any possible sanctions as the US-China trade war returns to a boil. Well-placed Washington sources speculate that the Indonesians are seeking to protect their Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) access, as well as to ward off possible US congressional retaliation against friendly countries that have recently purchased Russian military hardware.

Indonesian Defence Ministry 'Signs Documents' for Su-35 Jet Purchase: Minister Defense World 5th Jun 2019
Indonesian Defence Ministry has signed documents concerning the purchase of 11 Su-35 fighter jets while the Trade and Finance Ministries are still in the process of approval, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu was quoted as saying by TASS on Sunday... This is the clearest indication as yet that the purchase of the fighter jets is on track and has progressed beyond negotiations in recent months. Earlier there were reports that the Jakarta might be having second thoughts in the light of the United States’ threat to impose sanctions against countries buying Russian military equipment.

Bogor terrorism suspect 30th arrested in May alone The Jakarta Post 17th May 2019
The National Police's antiterrorism squad, Densus 88, raided a suspect’s house in Cibinong district of Bogor, West Java, on Friday afternoon, arresting a 51-year-old man identified as E alias AR. Bogor Police chief Andi Moch. Dicky said the police had found explosive materials like nitroglycerine and triacetone triperoxide and a ready homemade explosive device. They also confiscated cooking pots and nails from the house as well as books on jihad and bomb-making.

Indonesia, US strengthen cooperation on unmanned aircraft system Antara News 15th May 2019
Indonesia and the United States continue working together in the transfer of knowledge and technology related to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The cooperation is part of the US-Indonesia Aviation Working Group, called "Strengthening Aviation by Incorporating Innovative Technology in Indonesia"."I express my gratitude to the US government for their cooperation with the Indonesian government through the Aviation Working Group, which has been carried out since 2016..." the Transportation Ministry's director general of air transportation, Polana B Pramesti, said in a statement here on Wednesday.

Malaysia

Kit Siang calls for White Paper on ‘Week of Long Knives’ (Updated) www.thesundaily.my 6th Jun 2019
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang (pix) has called for a White Paper on “Week of Long Knives in July/August 2015”. He urged Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to present the White Paper before the second meeting of the 14th Parliamentary Session adjourns on July 18. “The events triggered by Black Tuesday of July 28, 2015 and ensuing ‘Week of Long Knives’ represented the most serious, deplorable and disgraceful attack on the democratic principles of the Malaysian Constitution and the independence, impartiality and professionalism of all the important national institutions in the history of the country,” Lim said in a statement.

Setback for EU fighter jets as Malaysia bets on palm oil barter DW.COM 6th Jun 2019
It was hardly surprising, when Malaysian Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu said that Kuala Lumpur was considering bartering palm oil for advanced military equipment. The Southeast Asian country has been hobbled by huge public debt, a slipping currency, corruption and flagging economic growth. Malaysia is also no stranger to swapping palm oil for military equipment. It bought Russian-built fighter jets using the controversial commodity in the 1990s. But Malaysia's latest attempt at bartering is likely to complicate matters for European defense companies, which are vying for contracts as Malaysia seeks to modernize its weapons, including its fleet of fighter jets.

Defence white paper to review role of Army will be tabled in Parliament, chief says | Malay Mail Malay Mail 5th Jun 2019
A white paper on defence to be tabled in Parliament in October will among others discuss the actual roles of the Malaysian Army to avoid sending soldiers who are not trained, to fight crimes, said Army chief Datuk Seri Ahmad Hasbullah Mohd Nawawi. He said Army personnel do not have the authority and are not trained to eradicate crimes as it is under the authority and responsibility of the Royal Malaysia Police. The white paper will provide clearer information on the role of each agency, organisation and the people in effort to ensure peace in the country. Earlier, the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) chief Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin said with the white paper, all parties including ATM, police and other related agencies would have clear guidelines on their respective duties and roles.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan Met With Malaysian Minister of Defence Mohamad Sabu EIN News 1st Jun 2019
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan met today with Malaysian Minister of Defence Mohamad Sabu on the margins of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. The two leaders reaffirmed the strong and enduring defense ties between the United States and Malaysia. They reviewed the state of bilateral security cooperation, with a focus on shared priority areas of maritime security and countering terrorism and violent extremism. They also discussed the successful implementation of U.S. security assistance programs with Malaysia, such as the Maritime Security Initiative. 

Armed Forces chief: Dr M has agreed to several Defence White Paper proposals The Star Online 30th May 2019
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has consented to several proposals in the Defence White Paper, which is expected to be tabled in Parliament in October, says Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) chief Jen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin. "We have discussed and carried out engagements with non-governmental organisations (NGO), defence industry players, academicians and several other ministries involved in the defence landscape in the country.

Denel reaches significant milestone on Malaysian AV8 armored program Army Recognition 10th May 2019
An innovative collaboration between Denel and the Malaysian defence industry is delivering results that will benefit both countries. This builds on a contract for Denel to supply turrets and integrated weapon systems for the new generation of armoured vehicles AV8 used by the Malaysian defence force. The AV8 programme is the largest export contract in Denel’s history and contains a number of offset arrangements in the fields of technology, education and research.

US to sell RM80 million spy drones to Malaysia as tension mounts over China Free Malaysia Today 4th Jun 2019
Malaysia is buying 12 surveillance drones worth US$19 million (RM79.5 million) from the US, in a move seen as part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to boost its allies’ intelligence-gathering capabilities amid the escalating tension with China. Reuters reported that the sale is part of a US$47 million deal to sell 34 ScanEagle drones made by Boeing Co to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The ScanEagle is an unarmed drone manufactured by Boeing’s Insitu, which also makes the RQ-21A Blackjack, the armed drone used by the US Navy and Marine Corps.

Myanmar

Security tightened in Yangon Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 6th Jun 2019
Due to some terror rumors, the Region government has taken stricter security measures at crowded places such as famous pagodas, airport and VIP buildings in Yangon, said Colonel Aung Soe Moe, Region Minister for Security and Border Affairs, at the press conference on the Region government’s the undertakings during the third-year tenure, on June 5. No-2 security police force is responsible for security in Yangon Region. There were terror attacks in other countries. As we have got other news, we are taking security measures effectively. We are also working for the security of embassies and diplomatic houses,” he added.

Myanmar’s Rohingya Appeal to EU to Curtail Trade With Military-linked Businesses Radio Free Asia 23rd May 2019
The leaders of Rohingya and Myanmar Muslim groups have urged the European Union to take action on a call by a U.N. rights investigator to sanction businesses linked to the country’s powerful military, which continues to come under fire for a brutal crackdown on Rohingya in western Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017. The groups said they support a statement issued May 14 by Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM), urging the international community to stop providing financial and other support to Myanmar’s military, and calling for commanders to be isolated and tried before a credible court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Myanmar to start project to launch earth observation satellite next year Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 14th May 2019
Officials from Japan's Hokkaido University and Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University held a discussion to implement a project to launch an earth observation satellite (EOS) in coming 2019-2020 fiscal year, said Win Khant, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The information was disclosed during a press conference on the clarification of the ministry's activities in the third year of the government's term held in Nay Pyi Taw on May 13.  "Hokkaido University and Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University are collaborating in launching an EOS, the third stage of Myanmar satellite system. We expect that the project can be implemented in 2019-2020 fiscal year," said Win Khant.

Vietnam, Myanmar to expand cooperation in defence, anti-crime | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin 13th May 2019
Vietnam and Myanmar agreed last Saturday to expand cooperation to potential spheres, including navy, military medicine, defence industry, logistics, search and rescue, and fighting crimes related to national and regional security. The consensus was reached in Hanoi last Saturday when Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met with Myanmar President U Win Myint, who is in Vietnam to attend the United Nations Day of Vesak celebration, Vietnam News Agency reported. The two leaders also agreed to promote negotiations for the early signing of a memorandum of understanding on mutual assistance on anti-criminal matters.

Philippines

Philippines Navy to get three more multi-purpose attack vessels Naval Technology 6th Jun 2019
The Philippines Navy (PN) is reportedly set to receive three additional multi-purpose attack craft (MPACs). Speaking to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), PN spokesperson captain Jonathan Zata stated that the MPACs will be fitted with Rafael Advanced Defense’s Spike extended range (ER) surface-to-surface missile system. The craft will also feature remotely controlled .50 calibre machine guns and are designed to travel at a speed of up to 45k.

PAF awaits delivery of Super Tucano planes, Black Hawk choppers Inquirer.Net 5th Jun 2019
The Philippine Air Force continues to expand and grow its fleet as it awaits the delivery of six A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft and 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters between this year and 2021. The 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters will likely be delivered in batches starting third quarter of 2020 and will be completed in 2021, said Jacob Sifers, regional business development manager of Lockheed Martin Global Inc.

3 more missile-armed MPACs to arrive this August Philippines News Agency 4th Jun 2019
The Philippine Navy (PN) is expected to take possession of three additional multi-purpose attack craft (MPACs) armed with the Rafael Advanced Defense Ltd. Spike-ER (extended range) surface-to-surface missile system by August this year. This was bared by Navy spokesperson Captain Jonathan Zata when sought for an update regarding the fast and hard-hitting boats Monday afternoon. "The three MPACs being constructed are still with the builder and will still undergo the systems integration phase in one of the facilities in Subic. Based from the approved contract, the delivery date is on August 2019," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Israel-Philippines Military Ties in Focus with Counterterrorism Training Talk The Diplomat 4th Jun 2019
Last week, indications surfaced that Israel and the Philippines would move forward with more counterterrorism collaboration. While the development is in line with current trends, the suggestion of future prospects nonetheless once again put the spotlight on the ongoing defense ties between the two countries.

South Korea-Philippines Defense Ties in the Headlines with Expected Vessel Arrival The Diplomat 28th May 2019
The focus on the ship’s pending arrival put the focus on the ongoing activity in the security aspect of relations between the two countries. Last week, the Philippine navy chief offered an update on the arrival of a vessel that South Korea had donated to Manila. While this is only one manifestation of relations between the two countries, it nonetheless put the spotlight on the ongoing activity in the defense aspect of the relationship between them.

Philippine Naval Modernization in the Headlines With First South Korea Frigate Launch The Diplomat 24th May 2019
This week, twin ceremonies were held with respect to two frigates that the Philippines had purchased from South Korea. The ongoing progress once again spotlighted a significant capability for Manila’s defense modernization amid wider security challenges that it continues to face. As I have noted before in these pages, one of the key contemporary developments in Philippine military modernization was Manila’s purchase of two frigates from South Korea back in 2016. The Philippines and South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) had signed a contract for two missile-armed frigates for $337 million, which constituted one of the biggest line items in Manila’s ongoing military modernization.

What’s in the New Philippines-Czech Republic Defense Industry Forum? The Diplomat 20th May 2019
Last week, the Philippines began a new defense industry forum with the Czech Republic. The agreement illustrates both Prague’s interest in expanding into new markets as well as the diverse range of partners that Manila is exploring defense ties with amid the recent alignment shifts the country is experiencing under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

What’s Next for the Philippines’ New Anti-Submarine Helicopters? The Diplomat 16th May 2019
Earlier this month, the Philippines received the first of its anti-submarine warfare helicopters. The development spotlighted the progress being made on one of the notable aspects of the Philippines’ wider military modernization that continues to be underway under President Rodrigo Duterte. As I have noted before in these pages, as Philippine military modernization continues under Duterte, with a mix of continuity and change and amid a range of trends and developments, one of the deals that observers have been watching is the deal that the Philippines had inked with Leonardo for two AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters under the Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project. The deal was a significant one in that Manila has thus far lacked an airborne anti-submarine warfare capability.

US to launch new program to fight extremism in Philippines Fox News 4th Jun 2019
U.S. and Philippine officials on Tuesday discussed a new program to thwart efforts by Muslim extremists to recruit and mobilize followers in the country's south after a bloody siege by jihadists aligned with the Islamic State group. The three-year program involves helping local officials identify issues that foster extremism and find ways to address them, said U.S. Assistant Secretary Denise Natali of the State Department's Bureau of Conflict & Stabilization Operations.

Philippines backs U.S. moves vs China buildup in South China Sea Rappler 4th Jun 2019
The Philippines supports any United States action in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) that would maintain stability in the region amid the continued military buildup of China in the area, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said on Tuesday, June 4... Panelo said in a Palace briefing: “The Philippines would want stability in this part of the world, in that part of the world. The Philippine position is that every country has a right to use the waters in the South China Sea as well as the airspace. And we want peace and quiet in that area. So anything that will provide such kind of atmosphere, we are for it.”

US looking forward to possible arms deal with Philippines philstar.com 4th Jun 2019
The United States is open to selling military equipment to the Philippines as it rolls out a new policy on foreign military sales. Andrea Thompson, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, confirmed that there has been an increase in arms spending of Southeast Asian countries. Thompson met with her ASEAN counterparts at the sidelines of the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, including Philippine Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David.... Despite Duterte's position against purchasing weapons from the US, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. still prefers long-time ally US to re-arm the Philippine military.

US to sell surveillance drones to Philippines, South China Sea allies ABS-CBN News 3rd Jun 2019
The Trump administration has moved ahead with a surveillance drone sale to 4 US allies in the South China Sea region as acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Washington will no longer "tiptoe" around Chinese behavior in Asia. The drones would afford greater intelligence gathering capabilities potentially curbing Chinese activity in the region....The Pentagon announced on Friday it would sell 34 ScanEagle drones, made by Boeing Co. to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam for a total of $47 million.

PCG acquires more vessels, equipment The Manila Times Online 31st May 2019
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Thursday presented its newly acquired vessels, jet skis and vehicles that will be used to boost maritime security and beef up its capacity to respond to disasters. PCG Commandant Adm. Elson Hermogino led the blessing and launching of the 10 multi-role response vessels, 40 12-meter rigid hull inflatable boats from Japan, four 24-meter fast patrol boats from France, 180 units of Toyota Hi-lux vehicles, 20 aluminum boats, and 20 personal watercraft or jet skis that were acquired for P1.6 billion.

Singapore

Shangri-La Dialogue: Beijing, netizens praise PM Lee's 'objective analysis' of Sino-US ties The Straits Times 4th Jun 2019
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech at the opening of the Shangri-La Dialogue last Friday has struck a chord with the Chinese... PM Lee had spoken about how there was a mutual lack of strategic trust between the US and China. Attitudes in both countries have hardened, but it was in the interests of both sides to reach an accommodation with each other, he said... PM Lee had also mentioned that countries needed to accept the rise of China, which in turn must take on larger global responsibilities.

Singapore, US reaffirm bilateral defence relations, agree to renew MOU CNA 31st May 2019
Singapore and the United States have agreed to renew a defence Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), as the two countries reaffirmed their bilateral defence ties on Friday (May 31). Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen hosted Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to breakfast on the sidelines of the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue, during which the two reaffirmed the "excellent and long-standing bilateral defence relations" between Singapore and the United States, according to a Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) news release. The officials also agreed to update the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the United States Use of Facilities in Singapore, to be renewed by 2020, to incorporate "partnership elements of the US’ national defence strategy recently articulated for this region", according to MINDEF.

Asia Minute: China and Singapore to Increase Joint Military Exercises Hawaii Public Radio 30th May 2019
China and Singapore are updating a defense agreement. And one result is likely to be increased joint military exercises. That word came from Singapore’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday after China’s defense minister met with his Singaporean counterpart. China does take part in some regional exercises — including a drill last fall with ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. A smaller regional set of maneuvers was held in April. But it is unusual for a country close to the United States to engage in bilateral naval exercises with China. Singapore did that in 2015, and will be doing more — although details have yet to be announced.

What's in the New China-Singapore Deepening Military Ties Talk? The Diplomat 30th May 2019
On May 29, Singapore and China officially disclosed that they would move forward on stepping up defense ties through steps that would be formalized through a revised bilateral agreement by the end of this year. While specifics are still being worked out by both sides, the development nonetheless reinforced ongoing efforts to strengthen relations in the security domain even amid continued differences between them that have manifested over the past few years.

Singapore, China to boost defence cooperation, engage in larger military exercises CNA 29th May 2019
Singapore and China have agreed to update a defence agreement that could see them increase the scale of existing military exercises, with new areas of cooperation between troops. The revised Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation (ADESC) is expected to be signed later this year, Singapore’s Defence Ministry (MINDEF) said in a media release on Wednesday (May 29)... When asked about the significance of the proposed agreement given the climate of US-China tensions, Dr Ng said it wasn’t meant to be a “bellwether of anything”. “We’ve always said we want good relations with all countries and what we’re doing with China is no different from what we previously do,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier arrives in Singapore CNA 28th May 2019
French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle berthed at Changi Naval Base in Singapore on Tuesday (May 28) morning as part of a five-month deployment from its home port in Toulon, France. During its time in Singapore, the French Navy will participate in bilateral exercises with the Singapore army, including an amphibious exercise with the Singapore Navy involving frigates, naval units as well as fighter jets from the Singapore Air Force.

Thailand

Thailand News: Defense Minister Prawit attends IISS Shangri - La Dialogue 2019 ThaiVisa News 3rd Jun 2019
At a bilateral discussion during the IISS Shangri - La Dialogue 2019 in Singapore, Thai Defense Minister has agreed to promote military cooperation with the US Defense Secretary and the Singaporean Defense Minister... After Gen. Prawit had a bilateral discussion with Mr. Patrick Shanahan, both sides approved of and confirmed promoting closer relations and strengthening mutual military cooperation this year in terms of training, education, research and development and exchanging military personnel especially the cooperation on the ASEAN - US Maritime Exercise which will be held in Thailand and the cooperation on co-chairing the maritime security expert working group.

KAI Secures Thai T-50 Upgrades Aviation International News 3rd Jun 2019
Korea Aircraft Industries (KAI) has been awarded a $52 million contract to upgrade the Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF) fleet of T-50TH Golden Eagle trainer jets to include enhanced sensor and countermeasure capabilities. The deal was inked between Kim Jo-won, president and CEO of KAI, and Air Chief Marshal of the RTAF, Bhanupong Seyayongka, in Seoul, South Korea. Indonesia also opted for a similar upgrade in a deal signed at the Indo Defence trade show in Jakarta in November 2018. However, Indonesia’s upgrade will also include its T-50 fleet being integrated with a gun capability, while the Thai fleet already carries this. AIN understands that the RTAF has also integrated and certified bombs on its T-50s. 

Thailand Gravitates to China for Cheap Arms With No Strings Attached – CTN News – Chiang Rai Times Chiang Rai Times 3rd Jun 2019
In Thailand, Washington’s loss is often Beijing’s gain, and the Thai military might be seen as the latest example. Since the country’s 2014 coup, Thai-China military ties have gone from strength to strength. America’s negative response to the armed takeover saw the administration of former US president Barack Obama cut US$4.8 million in financing for Bangkok’s acquisition of US defense equipment, services and training. Washington also cancelled or downsized joint military exercises. Amid the cooling ties, Thailand’s ruling junta sought out China to fill the void. Sensing an opportunity to increase its influence in the kingdom and undermine the US-Thai alliance, China responded positively, just as it has done with many other nations in similar situations.

US-Thailand Alliance in the Spotlight with New Combat Vehicle Deal The Diplomat 20th May 2019
Last week, the Royal Thai Army disclosed that it would move forward with a new combat vehicle deal with the United States. 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.

Israeli Tavor-21 assault rifles spotted at Thailand's Royal Coronation The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com 14th May 2019
Soldiers of the Royal Thai King’s Guard were spotted carrying golden Israeli Tavor assault rifles during the coronation ceremonies of Maha Vajiralongkorn as the new King of Thailand, Rama X. The Tavor TAR-21s produced by Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), which were spray-painted gold, were seen at the ceremony in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok last week by Twitter user @PhetDelta, who said that they were painted in the “old tradition of the Royal Police.” Designed to be more reliable, durable and better suited to close-combat scenarios, the Tavor assault rifle is between 25-28 inches long, depending on the model, and weighs 8 pounds. It fires 5.56 x 45 millimeter rounds, though it can also shoot 9-millimeter ammunition, at a rate of between 750-950 rounds per minute.

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.

Law change would encourage insurgents to surrender Bangkok Post 29th May 2019
Security authorities will propose that the Cabinet amend the National Security Act to pave the way for southern insurgents to surrender and turn over a new leaf. Deputy Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, also the defence minister, on Wednesday chaired the meeting of the committee in charge of emergency situations to find ways to tackle the unrest in the Deep South.  Attending the meeting at Government House were National Security Council secretary-general Gen Wallop Raksanoh, Fourth Army Region commander Lt Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul and Provincial Police Region 1 chief Pol Lt Gen Ronnasil Poosara.

Military reports less violence during Ramadan this year Bangkok Post 25th May 2019
Violent incidents in the deep South decreased by more than 60% during Ramadan following stepped-up security measures in certain villages, according to the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) Region 4. Col Thanawee Suwannarat, deputy spokesman of Isoc Region 4 Forward Command, said attacks had dropped by 66% when compared with the number of incidents recorded last year. He attributed the improvement to the deployment of 735 security units in target villages around-the-clock and the setting up of a security checkpoint in every village with the help of civilians and local administrators.

Vietnam

First Vietnamese student graduates from US Aviation Leadership Program U.S. Air Force 6th Jun 2019
Capt. Toai Dang, of the Vietnam Air Defense-Air Force, became the first Vietnamese student to graduate from the Aviation Leadership Program on May 31 at Columbus Air Force Base. ALP is a U.S. Air Force-funded program, providing students of partner and developing countries with undergraduate pilot training scholarships. “Vietnam’s participation in the Aviation Leadership Program is a tremendous milestone for the U.S. Air Force and Vietnam Air Defense-Air Force collaborative relationship,” Kwast said. “This type of training and cooperation enables Vietnam’s air force to increase its abilities in air and maritime operations. This partnership helps ensure peace and stability in the region and in the world.”

First Destroyer Visit Puts France-Vietnam Security Ties in the Headlines The Diplomat 5th Jun 2019
Last week, a French destroyer paid a visit to Vietnam in what constituted the first interaction of this kind. The development spotlighted ongoing efforts by France and Vietnam to advance the defense aspect of their collaboration as part of their wider relationship... The French Navy destroyer FS Forbin (D620), officially designated as a frigate, paid a visit to Vietnam that kicked off with its anchoring at Hiep Phuoc Port in Nha Be district in Ho Chi Minh City on May 28. The visit, which Vietnam’s defense ministry said constituted the first of its kind, was highlighted as part of ongoing bilateral defense ties between the two sides and efforts to expand their wider strategic partnership.

China-Vietnam Military Ties in the Headlines with Defense Ministers Meeting The Diplomat 29th May 2019
This week, the defense ministers of China and Vietnam held a pre-arranged meeting in Hanoi. The meeting highlighted some of the ongoing activity within the military aspect of ties between the two countries in spite of the significant lingering differences they have. This week, this aspect of the relationship between China and Vietnam was in focus with a meeting between the defense ministers of the two sides in Hanoi. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe led a high-ranking defense delegation on an official visit to Vietnam that lasted from May 27 up to May 29, right before making his way to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore where he will address Asia’s premier security summit for the first time in his current capacity.

Vietnam-EU Security Ties in Focus with Defense Visit The Diplomat 28th May 2019
Last week, a high-ranking Vietnamese delegation paid a visit to Brussels. The scheduled trip highlighted ongoing attempts by both sides to continue collaboration in the security realm despite the lingering challenges in advancing ties on this front... Per the official account of the visit by Vietnam’s defense ministry, the Vietnamese defense delegation participated in discussions at the meeting on various aspects, including non-combat training missions and Single European Sky – an ongoing effort within Europe to better manage the region’s air traffic management system – as well as shared Vietnam’s experiences on various subjects including peacekeeping.

Canada-Vietnam Military Ties in Focus With First Defense Minister Visit The Diplomat 13th May 2019
Last week, we witnessed the first-ever visit by a sitting Vietnamese defense minister to Canada. The interaction spotlighted some of the ongoing activity in the bilateral defense relationship and the efforts the two countries are continuing to make to advance security cooperation between them...The eight-day official visit, made at the invitation of Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, began on May 4 and comprised a series of interactions. This included an official reception ceremony and meetings between the two sides held in Ottawa.

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 calls for calm South China Sea talks on maritime conduct VnExpress International 19th May 2019
Vietnam has urged ASEAN and China to avoid complicating issues and work together on the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC). Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung has called on all parties to join hands and fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea, known in Vietnam as the East Sea, refrain from militarization and not complicate the situation in the disputed waters. Dung was speaking at the 17th ASEAN-China Senior Officials Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC, attended by representatives of all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and hosts China. The meeting was held May 17-18 in China's Hangzhou Province.

Vietnam attends maritime defence exhibition 2019 VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 15th May 2019
A Vietnamese delegation led by Rear Admiral Pham Van Vung, Political Commissar of the Vietnam People’s Navy attended the Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference 2019 (IMDEX Asia 2019) that opened in Changi Exhibition Centre, Singapore, on May 14.

Defence ministry supports Vietnam-Japan peacekeeping co-operation: officer vietnamnews.vn 11th May 2019
Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Việt Nam People’s Army Sen. Lt. Gen. Phạm Ngọc Minh received a senior official from the Bureau of Defence Policy of Japan’s Ministry of Defence in Hà Nội on Thursday. Talking to director of the bureau’s International Security Policy Office, Yada Junko, Minh said leaders of the Vietnamese Defence Ministry and General Staff would create the best possible conditions to promote co-operation with Japan on United Nations peacekeeping missions. The two countries should also push their co-operation in other fields, including manpower training, the defence industry and information technology, he noted.

VN hopes to enhance defence ties with Cuba vietnamnews.vn 11th May 2019
Deputy Defence Minister, Sen. Lt. Gen. Nguyễn Chí Vịnh has affirmed that Vietnam hoped to step up defence relations with Cuba as co-operation in this field was an important pillar in their bilateral ties. Meeting with First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, General Raul Castro in Havana on Wednesday, Vịnh said bilateral defence ties had been bolstered in a practical manner, contributing to regional and global peace. The co-operation had been intensified in various sectors including military education-training, military healthcare, and the defence industry, he said, adding that both defence ministries were implementing a dossier on the 60-year history of Việt Nam-Cuba defence partnership to popularise the friendship and solidarity between the two countries and ministries.