Archive for November, 2011

Leathernecks Australia-bound

November 18, 2011

I bet there will be no shortage of Marine volunteers for duty Down Under! I’ve been to Darwin; I’d go back if the opportunity came up.

Ben Packham, “2500 US marines on Australian soil to increase defense ties,” The Australian, November 17, 2011

UP to 2500 US Marines will be stationed in Australia for six months of every year under a new bilateral defence deal sealed today by Julia Gillard and Barack Obama today.

The agreement will also allow more US ships and military aircraft – including B52 bombers – to operate from Australian bases.

President Obama said the agreement, coming at the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS alliance, reflected the United States’ determination to safeguard security in the Asia-Pacific.

”Because of these initiatives that are the result of our countries working very closely together as partners, we are going to be in a position to more effectively strengthen the security of both our nations and this region,” Mr Obama said after private talks with Ms Gillard today.

”This deepening of our alliance sends a clear message of our commitment to this region – a commitment that is enduring and un-wavering.”

Mr Obama said President Obama said the US welcomed the rise of China but “it’s important for them to play by the rules of the road”.

“We will send a clear message to them that we think they may need to be on track, in terms of accepting the rules and responsibilities of being a world power.”

Putting 2,500 U.S. Marines in the Darwin area is significant. It’s farther afield from China than is Guam, but still close enough to be “in the neighborhood.” Think of this as a “diversification” of the American defense portfolio in the region. While 2,500 Marines might not sound like a whole heck of a lot, numbers-wise, it is roughly equivalent to the number of Marines found in a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which are employed to such great effect off of U.S. Navy amphibious shipping assets around the globe. I would imagine that if these Marines based in Australia were to be employed operationally in the region, it would be in a MEU-like capacity, meaning that the modular expansion to a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) or Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) would also be possible based on the size of the contingency.

Smart move.

USCC 2011 Annual Report Published

November 18, 2011

My apologies for such a long absence from this forum…it’s been a busy second half of the year.

One of the two big annual U.S. government reports on China was released this week. (The other is the annual DoD China military power report.) I haven’t had a chance to read it at all yet…but don’t let that stop you! Here you go:

U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission 2011 Report to Congress (pdf)

From the press release announcing the report:

“…This year also marked several milestones for China’s decades-long military modernization efforts, fueled in part by a defense budget that has averaged 12 percent growth over the past decade. China has recently achieved several military “firsts”: it flight tested its first stealth fighter, conducted a sea trial of its first aircraft carrier, and made progress towards deploying the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile.

While all nations have the right to develop the means to defend themselves, the Commission continues to be concerned with the opacity of China’s military development and intentions, which invites misunderstanding. And, in particular, our report notes China’s development of its cyber capabilities, focusing on the growing evidence that Beijing sponsors or condones computer network intrusions against foreign commercial and government targets. When combined with the military’s excessive focus on other disruptive military capabilities, such as counterspace operations, it presents an image of Chinese intentions that diverges significantly from Beijing’s official policy of peaceful development.

As a result of China’s growing economic and military strength, Beijing increasingly acts with greater assertiveness on the international stage. In the South China Sea, for example, Beijing insists on treating a multilateral maritime dispute as a series of individual bilateral issues, much to the consternation of the other claimants. Furthermore, newly acquired maritime security capabilities provide China with a means for backing up its excessive territorial claims in the region. Over the past year, China repeatedly asserted its interests by harassing Indian, Philippine and Vietnamese fishing and oil exploration vessels in the South China Sea. The willingness to place Chinese national interests ahead of regional and global stability is also demonstrated in Beijing’s relations with both North Korea and Iran.

China’s rapidly growing economic and military strength entitles it to play a significantly larger role in the international system. Former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick anticipated that when he called on China to be a “responsible stakeholder” nearly ten years ago. Since he said that, however, we have learned it is unrealistic to assume China will simply fit neatly and cleanly into a Western economic and political system that alternately exploited and rejected it for the past hundred and fifty years, and which the Chinese Communist Party has spent most of its life repudiating…”

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