China and Russia made headlines this past weekend when they participated in the rather blandly titled Joint Sea 2013. Despite the name, Joint Sea was China’s largest ever joint naval exercise, and one of the more noteworthy bits of naval activity in the past several years. Eighteen surface ships, one submarine, three airplanes, five ship-launched helicopters and two commando units took part in the exercise, participating in a variety of activities including antisubmarine warfare, close maneuvering, and the simulated takeover of an enemy ship. Chinese and Russian officials alike were quick to note that Joint Sea wasn’t directed at any third party, something that might sound insincere but that actually reflects the reality that Chinese and Russian interests in the Pacific are very different. Read More
As the United States begins providing arms to Syrian rebels , it enters an increasingly complex arena of arms-trafficking and proxy warfare. The highly factionalized Syrian rebellion and the combined third-party actors supporting it—often with competing aims—mean U.S. attempts to shape the Syrian conflict through military support will depend not simply on American resources and intentions, but the dynamics of the civil war and the network of actors that facilitates its logistics. With the U.S. role in Syrian arms-trafficking shifting from one of restraint to one of support, the difficulties encountered in producing viable political outcomes in Syria are likely to persist. Read More
The Philippines plan to give greater access to U.S. and Japanese allies to military bases including the former U.S. Naval Station Subic Bay, Philippine defense officials said Thursday in a report in Reuters.
The report comes in tandem with reports, the military is preparing a proposal to expand leftover U.S. bases after the Pentagons removed its forces in 1992.
According to the report, Philippine naval leaders are preparing a $230 million plan to base development bases as hedges against increased Chinese expansion into the South China Sea. Read More
Last week Brunei hosted an important but little-noticed exercise in its portion of the island of Borneo. The multinational event sponsored by and held in conjunction with the second meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) and was the first of its kind. The group focused on boosting interoperability among the participants’ medical and disaster response capabilities. But as important was the mix of participants included countries better known for tense maritime stand-offs than working together. Read More
The Navy has taken its first steps to develop a weapon designed to intercept and destroy guided enemy torpedoes immune to U.S. countermeasures, Naval Sea Systems Command officials told USNI News on Wednesday.
The Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) program under development to protect high dollar surface warships — like the Navy’s Nimitz-class (CVN-68) nuclear aircraft carriers — from Soviet developed torpedoes specifically designed to attack large ships like aircraft carriers and large civilian oil tankers. Read More
The People’s Liberation Army Navy has conducted a second round of jet tests aboard its aircraft carrier with its J-15 carrier-based fighter on Wednesday, according to a report from the Xinhua news agency.
Wednesday’s test of the J-15 aboard Liaoning, follow a November round of flights of the J-15 in which the aircraft successfully landed and launched from the 50,000 ton former Soviet carrier. Read More
The Australian Government and the U.S. have agreed to allow a contingent of 1,150 Marines to train near Darwin, Australia in 2014, according to Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The Marines will be part of a six-month rotation of troops that will be based at Robertson Barracks near Darwin that also include a 130 Marine aviation detachment with four helicopters based at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, according to a Friday statement from Gillard’s office. Read More
After years of debate and increased involvement in the training and logistical support of Syrian rebel forces, the U.S. government authorized the CIA to begin directly arming opponents of the Bashar al Assad regime. Casualties from Syria’s civil war already number at least 93,000 according to some sources, and millions of Syrians are now refugees or internally displaced.
Meanwhile, the United States now confirms that Syria used chemical weapons in a number of instances, at a small scale that many fear may escalate. Chemical-weapons use provided rhetorical justification to this policy decision, but is not the entire reality of the matter. Internal pressure and Free Syrian Army leadership’s refusal to participate in a new round of negotiations at Geneva without U.S. weapons played a major role. Unfortunately for the United States and the administration, neither the known particulars of the U.S. plan, nor the concept of providing arms to rebel forces generally, appears likely to turn the war’s tide or secure lasting U.S. influence in Syria. Read More
The former U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas is en route to Manila as the newest ship in the Philippine Navy, according a Philippine Embassy statement.
The re-christened BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) underwent a 13-month refit in Charleston, S.C. before it departed Monday with its crew on a two-month voyage to the Philippines. Read More
China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning has left its homeport of Qingdao to conduct sea trials, according to a Tuesday report from the Xinhua news agency.
The underway will focus on “scientific experiments and sea training,” Xinhua cited People’s Liberation Army Navy officials. Read More