Tip of the Spear: The 13 Missions for the U.S. Marines in Okinawa

Posted on Monday, September 27, 2010 by Project2049Institute

The latest from the Project 2049 Institute's Insight Series

By Tetsuo Kotani

Mr. Tetsuo Kotani is a special research fellow at the Okazaki Institute in Tokyo. He is also a member of the Project 2049 Institute International Advisory Council, a senior research fellow at the Research Institute for Peace and Security (RIPS), and a Pacific Forum CSIS Nonresident SPF Fellow.

The shifting balance of military power in the Asia-Pacific is altering strategic calculations as the region faces a range of potential security contingencies. In the vast Asia-Pacific maritime theater, naval and air power can offer decisive advantages. Yet, the increasingly complex spectrum of possible contingencies, ranging from military confrontation to disaster relief, calls for retention of flexible response options. As the U.S. Air Force and Navy move toward an AirSea battle concept to preserve power-projection in the face of challenges, including China’s growing anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities, the U.S. Marines on Okinawa remain a potent “tip of the spear” with their unique ability to operate from the sea as an integrated expeditionary air-ground force.

This integrated force, known as the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF), unites air, ground and logistics elements under a single command element for both autonomous and joint operations. Its flexibility and versatility distinguishes the MAGTF as the premier global emergency response force.

MAGTF is unique among the militaries of the world because of its scalability in size, capability and capacity in meeting a growing requirement or threat. It can be arranged in formations according to demand of the mission, ranging from a formidable Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) to a smaller Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) or an even more nimble Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The MAGTF is usually deployed from the sea and the required logistics to self-sustain operations ashore increases with the size of the MAGTF.

The MEF is the largest MAGTF, numbering 20,000 to 90,000 Marines, and the principle Marine war fighting organization; capable of both amphibious and sustained operations ashore. A MEF provides geographic combatant commanders with a rapid response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and maritime operations across a spectrum of visibility and weather conditions, deploying from the sea, by surface and/or by air under communications and electronics restrictions. The III MEF is based in Okinawa and is forward deployed to respond to larger crises or contingencies, such as combat operations on the Korean peninsula or in the defense of Japan as accorded by the Treaty of Mutual Security and Cooperation.

Marines from the 31st MEU aboard the USS Essex
The MEF formation also ensures the combatant commander has MEF or MEB sized force for sustained combat operations as well as a MEU sized force for smaller scale rapid response. The MEB is a mid-sized MAGTF consisting of up to 20,000 Marines and is equipped with amphibious assault capabilities and capacity to sustain operations ashore for approximately 30 days.

The smallest MAGTF, the MEU, consists of 1,500 to 3,000 Marines. MEUs are forward deployed around the world with the 31st MEU based in Okinawa. The 31st MEU also maintains a sea-based forward presence onboard the U.S. Navy's "Task Force 76" (Amphibious Force, Seventh Fleet) vessels, based out of Sasebo, Nagasaki. In certain power-projection scenarios, the 31st MEU can be designated "Task Force 79" (Landing Force, Seventh Fleet), providing indispensable support to the Seventh Fleet.

The 13 primary unclassified missions of the 31st MEU are as follows:

Traditional Amphibious Missions
 (1) Amphibious Assault
--The principal type of amphibious operation that involves establishing a force on a hostile or potentially hostile shore
(2) Amphibious Raid
--A type of amphibious operation involving swift incursion or temporary occupation of an objective followed by a planned withdrawal
(3) Maritime Interception Operations
--An amphibious operation including visit, board, search and seizure of a static maritime platform and selected maritime security missions.
(4) Advance Force Operations
--An amphibious operation to shape the battlespace in preparation for the main assault or other operations of an amphibious or Joint Force by providing battle space awareness and conducting reconnaissance, seizure of positions, preliminary bombardment and air support.

Expeditionary Support To Other Operations, Crisis Response And Limited Contingency Operations
(5) Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP)
--Rescue or extraction of downed aircraft and personnel, aircraft sanitization, and provide advanced trauma-life support in a benign or hostile environment.
(6) Airfield/Port Seizure
--Secure an airfield, port, or other key facilities in order to support MAGTF missions or receive follow-on forces.
(7) Expeditionary Airfield Operations
--The capability to conduct tactical air operations at austere locations, including short-field, unimproved runways.
(8) Stability Operations
--Conduct operations to help establish order when civilians cannot do so, to secure a lasting peace and facilitate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Non-Combat Support Missions during Peacetime and Crisis
The 31st MEU respond after Indonesian earthquake
(9) Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief
--Programs conducted to relieve/reduce the results of natural or manmade disasters or other endemic conditions that might present a serious threat to life or that can result in great damage to or loss of property.
(10) Theater Security Cooperation
-- Conduct combined and multinational military non-combat activities with other nations within the theater to advance mutual defense and security arrangements and to build allied and friendly military capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations.
(11) Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)
--Operations directed by U.S. government whereby noncombatants are evacuated from foreign countries when their lives are endangered to safe havens or to the United States.

MEU Special Operations Capable MEU-SOC
(12) Direct Action
--Short duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions in hostile, denied or politically sensitive environments against designated targets.
(13) Special Reconnaissance
--Surveillance in hostile, denied or politically sensitive areas to collect or verify information of strategic or operational significance.

The 31st MEU is capable of quick reaction both in crisis and peacetime—rapidly assembling required forces to accomplish missions, using intelligence-based operational decision making, and acting as a rapid response force. In peacetime, the MEU acts as a “goodwill ambassador” and engages in stability operations (Mission 8), humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (Mission 9), and theater security cooperation (Mission 10).

In the future, the 31st MEU will likely be called into action in a number of imaginable contingencies in northeast Asia due to its range of capabilities. In addition to conventional amphibious operations (Missions 1 and 2), the MEU has the capability to accomplish maritime interception operations (Mission 3), shape the battlespace in advance of follow-on forces (Mission 4), and conduct non-combatant evacuation (Mission 11).

In the event of a military scenario on the Korean Peninsula or in the Taiwan Strait, the MEU can enable the full combat capabilities of the MEF for sustained operations. In the event of a regime collapse in Pyongyang, the 31st MEU can search and seize North Korean nuclear arsenal and prevent proliferation of those weapons (Mission 11). Although tensions across the Taiwan Strait have reduced, the 31st MEU can still play an important role by creating a fait accompli that the United States would be involved in any Chinese attack on Taiwan (Mission 4). Secretary Clinton's recent assurance that the contested Senkaku Islands are subjected to the bilateral security treaty also places emphasis on the United States' ability to respond in the event of an armed attack on Japan.

Amphibious assault vehicle assigned to 31st MEU
The 31st MEU will continue to play an important role even as the U.S. places an increasing emphasis on the AirSea battle. While the concept aims to limit damage to U.S. forward bases and forces while maintaining command and control networks and operational logistics, the MEU can act as the advance force (Mission 4) to provide tactical air power support under the A2/AD environment in support of U.S. Air Force and Navy operations (Missions 5, 6 and 7). Additionally Marine special forces can conduct disrupting direct action activities (Mission 12) and special reconnaissance (Mission 13) in preparation.

Moreover, the combat capability of the U.S Marines is also a valuable psychological deterrent. The III MEF forces in the Western Pacific and the 31st MEU’s presence in Okinawa and Iwakuni sends a strong signal to potential aggressors that hostile actions against Japan could directly involve the United States. This “trip wire” effect afforded by the presence of U.S. Marine Corps on Okinawa also has significant implications for regional security beyond the U.S. – Japan security relationship, and any discussion on Okinawa should not miss this fact.

*The author thanks Mr. John Niemeyer and Ms. Noriko Niijima at Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Japan (CNFJ) and anonymous staff at the Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific for listing the13 primary MEU missions.

An alternate version of this article was published by Pacific Forum CSIS. 

Images from defencetalk.com, U.S. Navy, and wikipedia.com.

Under the Radar News 9.24.10

Posted on Friday, September 24, 2010 by Amy Chang

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • China launched its first cross-border long-distance air strike drill with Russia and Kazakhstan and other Central Asian members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. They showcase newly developed land and air capabilities and provide training for SCO member states’ armed forces.

  • North Korea’s ruling party will hold a rare leadership conference on September 28. The meeting is speculated to be the first formal step in a power transition from Kim Jong-il to his successor.

  • Myanmar has denied millions of citizens living in insurgency-plagued ethnic areas the right to vote in its election, inciting criticism and ire from opposition parties and voters.

  • Philippine Muslim rebels Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) drops demands for independence and calls for a “substate” under the unitary government. If negotiations with the Philippine government are successful, the MILF leader alludes to a final peace accord within two years.

  • The Singaporean and Thai navies are taking part in bilateral exercises in the South China Sea from September 20-29, aiming at enhancing interoperability and mutual understanding between the two militaries.

  • China has announced the next steps in building a nuclear power plant in Pakistan, both Indian and U.S. officials show concern over safety and proliferation risks.

  • Japan’s Defense Ministry is considering adding another 13,000 to 16,000 members to its Self-Defense Forces with the aim of improving its ability to deal with new security challenges.

  • The United States, in addition to reiterating its commitment to ASEAN countries, it also declares a peaceful resolution to territorial disputes and increasing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, inciting antagonism from China.

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    Trouble Brewing With Burma? (The Diplomat)

    Posted on by Project2049Institute

    Project 2049 Senior Fellow Kelley Currie recently wrote a blog post for The Diplomat on the subtleties and challenges in the China-Burma power balance, originally published on September 22, 2010.

    On September 21, the International Crisis Group released an interesting new report on China's relationship with Burma. While ostensibly hooked to the Burmese junta's electoral machinations, the report is most compelling in its findings and analysis on cross-border issues, including: the increasingly complex nature of China's relations with various ethnic groups in Burma; rising tensions between Beijing and Kunming over management of relationships with both the Burmese junta and the ethnic nationalities; and the growing phenomenon of anti-Chinese sentiment within Burma.

    There are competing theories about the overall power balance between China and Burma, most of which miss the subtlety of the actual relationship. Some observers believe that China holds great influence over Burma, and some even go so far as to blame US policy for this state of affairs. Others contend that China has little influence over the recalcitrant junta, which acts solely according to (depending on who you ask) the capricious whim or Machiavellian stratagems of its strongman, Senior General Than Shwe. The ICG prudently maintains that the truth is to be found somewhere in the middle, and that the balance of power in the relationship is becoming increasingly complicated over time, not least due to the nature and scope of China's increasing economic involvement in Burma.

    The ICG report provides some useful insights into the increasingly negative perception of Chinese economic activity in Burma, particularly on projects in areas inhabited by ethnic nationalities who have long been estranged from the Burman central authorities. The catalogue of alleged abuses and complaints will be familiar to anyone who has looked at Chinese investments and projects in other resource-rich developing countries.

    ICG's findings on this issue are consistent with what I was told earlier this year by another researcher who had recently done field work in the Kachin and Wa areas. He found a strong and rising anti-Chinese sentiment that was increasingly taking the form of physical harassment of Chinese expatriates in Burma. My contact also told me that when he tried to explain the depth of anti-Chinese sentiment to Chinese officials in Kunming and Beijing, they seemed shocked by what he had to say.

    They shouldn't have been. I remember conversations with Burmese friends going back more than a decade in which they complained about upper Burma becoming a Chinese colony, and rumours that Than Shwe himself maintains a very strong personal antipathy toward Chinese. Mandalay has long been referred to as a 'Chinese city', and there has long been grumbling about the ease with which Chinese immigrants could purchase Burmese identity cards from corrupt officials.

    These feelings have intensified over time as Chinese investment in Burma has grown beyond an influx of petty traders to include large-scale energy and infrastructure projects, which are often built with imported Chinese labour and are perceived as primarily benefiting Chinese interests. Beijing's cosying up to the hated junta has also not helped China's image with average Burmese.

    Up to now, China has been able to present itself to the ethnic leaders in the area as a helpful mediator and, at times, protector from the worst excesses of the predatory Naypyidaw regime, while simultaneously improving its relations with Naypyidaw. As a result, these ethnic leaders lately find themselves pinned between their erstwhile protectors in Beijing and Kunming and the Burmese regime with whom China's interests are increasingly aligned and intertwined.

    The ICG report contends that since the August 2009 border incident, in which a surprise Burma army attack on ethnic forces in the Kokang area resulted in massive refugee flows into China, Beijing more and more regards these fractious ethnic groups -- some of whom are ethnically Chinese -- as a liability instead of seeing them as the strategic buffer it once did. Moreover, these ethnic communities have been among the worst affected by Chinese development projects and are increasingly bitter about the manner in which China has carried out economic activity in their already grim environs. As Beijing's concerns about border stability and economic interests come into greater tension, China likely will find itself tempted to abandon completely the Kachin, Wa and other marginalized armed ethnic groups with whom it has long-standing relations, and throw its lot in with the Burmese regime's scorched earth approach to these communities.

    Given the unpredictability of the Burmese regime and the growing desperation of these ethnic groups, China's delicate balancing act in Burma looks set to be severely tested in the near future.

    For more from The Diplomat, go to http://the-diplomat.com/.

    Under the Radar News 9.10.17

    Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010 by Alexandra Matthews

    A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • For the first time ever, the Taiwanese and Chinese coast guards will conduct a joint maritime rescue drill. Both countries will contribute boats and aircraft to simulate a sea collision.

  • An Indonesian counter-terrorism unit based on the island of Ambon will be disbanded after allegations its members tortured political protestors. Indonesia’s counter-terrorism measures have come under fire recently for what some describe as human rights abuses.

  • The Chinese Communist Party has launched an online message board, “Direct Line to Zhongnanhai”, that allows citizens to post questions and comments for China’s leaders. The 26 types of banned content, including “obscure and vacuous” content, however, suggest that it is a marginal step toward open political debate and discussion in China.

  • China has established a space-ground integrated multi-functional space tracking and control network for tracking manned space missions and supporting its 20-odd satellites.

  • South Korea is redirecting the focus of its navy to be better prepared to defend against North Korean provocation. The redrawing of its coastal defense plans marks a shift away from the navy’s traditional emphasis on open-sea operations.

  • Troubled Thailand takes a step toward political reconciliation as the Bhumjaithai Party seeks public support for amnesty for those who participated in red-shirt and yellow-shirt protests with the exception of politicians.

  • South Korea raises the limit for South Koreans staying overnight in the Kaesong Industrial Complex by 50% as a response to lower production levels caused by fatigue and other staffing-related problems.

  • Pakistani printers have admitted to producing thousands of fake voter registration cards ahead of Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections. The printers say they are printing the cards at the request of Afghan officials, a sign that fraud and corruption will likely influence the results of the upcoming elections on Saturday.

  • As part of its new "RISING initiative", South Korea will provide $1.09 billion to 12 African countries to improve infrastructure and spur economic growth. South Korea has been stepping up its engagement with Africa, including boosting economic assistance, leasing farmland and exploring mining resources.

  • July marked the first time since April that China bought more US Treasury debt that it sold, placing its total holdings at $847 billion. Japan, the United States’ second largest lender, bought $17 billion worth of US bonds, bringing its total closer to China’s at $821 billion.

  • A Chinese consortium will build another port in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. China, Sri Lanka’s largest lender, has already constructed a port in south Sri Lanka. The new port will bring the island nation one step further to becoming a shipping hub for South Asia.

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    China's Rare Earth Monopoly

    Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 by Matthew Hallex

    Rare earth elements are a key strategic resource for the 21st century. Although the global market is small compared to commodities such as oil or steel, with only 125,000 to 130,000 tons produced worldwide, rare earths are vital in the production of electronics, aerospace and defense products (including advanced sensor systems and guided missiles), and alternative energy technology, particularly wind turbines and batteries in electric and hybrid vehicles. Increasing consumption of these end products is currently fueling global demand for rare earths.

    China currently dominates the supply-side of the rare earths market. As mines elsewhere in the world were closed due to lax environmental regulations, China’s low labor costs have propelled state companies to the forefront of the market. Despite the promising market outlook, China has restricted production and export of rare earths in a bid to bolster its domestic alternative energy industries. In 2010, export quotas are slated for a 40% reduction to further preferential access for indigenous producers and foster growth and competitiveness.

    In an effort to offset Chinese export restrictions, there are plans to expand production. The Mountain Pass mine in California, the former leading global supplier of rare earths, is slated to reopen by 2011 and Australian mining firm Lynas has opened a mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia. The Japanese government is supporting efforts to exploit rare earths to exploit rare earths in Kazakhstan, Canada, South Africa and Vietnam.

    Foreign responses to China’s increasing restrictions on rare earths are creating tensions that could create resource nationalism or stoke protectionist sentiments that could disrupt the global rare earths market. Major importers such as the United States and Japan are also considering creating rare earth stockpiles. While these would provide a secure supply during times of crisis, the purchases necessary to create a stockpile could cause short-term spikes in the rare earth market and worsen the supply crunch caused by Chinese quotas.

    The concurrent trends of growing demand for rare earth metals and export restrictions from the world’s largest producer, places pressure on international consumers of rare earth metals and their finished products. While demand will encourage development of new rare earths sources, it is unclear that alternative sources of rare earths are sustainable without significant political and economic support from governments. Furthermore, it is also uncertain as to when production from these new sources will be able to meet the rising demand. Should China maintain its monopoly over rare earth production, the production of alternative energy and other green technologies is likely to skew toward Chinese industries and with them an important source of growth and employment in the coming decades.

    Under the Radar News 9.10.10

    Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 by Alexandra Matthews

    A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • Taiwan is expected to unveil a $9.4 billion missile defense shield next year. The development of the defense shield comes as China is building an anti-ship ballistic missile.

  • The United Nations has warned Nepal that if political deadlock is not ended and a government is not formed, its political mission will leave the country. The announcement, made by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, came shortly after the Nepalese parliament failed to elect a leader for the seventh time.

  • Turkey may join South Korea’s KF-X fighter development plan to replace its older F-16 aircraft by 2020. Turkey will contribute the same development costs as Indonesia, which has joined the development plan itself and has agreed to pay 20 percent of the costs.

  • China’s Vice Premier Li Keqiang met with representatives from the 33rd Pacem in Maribus (Peace in the Oceans) Conference and pledged support for sustainable marine development. Li said China will work with the international community to address climate change by promoting the conservation of ecosystems and developing a green marine economy.

  • The Burmese Air Force (BAF) has purchased 50 combat helicopters from Russia, marking the first time Burma has acquired combat helicopters. The purchase may be viewed as an effort to modernize Burma’s air force and quell insurgency in areas where armed groups still operate.

  • Cambodia and the United Nations have asked the international community for help funding the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal, which is running out of money ahead of its second trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders. International donors have been hesitant to fund the Cambodian court due to allegations of political interference and bribery.

  • In an attempt to improve the country’s infrastructure, India is planning to build a 500 billion rupee debt fund for the power sector. According to a recent report by India’s Planning Commission, deficiencies within the power sector could prevent the country from achieving double-digit growth.

  • Pakistan will likely become the next chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board, even though it does not adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  • After the signing of ECFA, Taiwan and China are in talks to negotiate an investment deal. Taiwan recently agreed to discuss a free trade deal with Singapore, another indication it is looking to become a competitive Asian economy.

  • Sri Lanka’s parliament has passed an amendment to the country’s constitution that removes the two-term limit for the country’s president. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa may be able to remain in his position for life, as Sri Lankan presidents, including Rajapaksa, have a history of corruption and power brokering.

  • Chinese officials have indicated they are interested in resuming military-to-military relations with the United States. In response to the news, Pentagon officials noted that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would meet with his Chinese counterpart. They also announced the aircraft carrier USS George Washington will return to the Yellow Sea to resume exercises and “send a message” to North Korea.
  • Birds of a Feather Flocking to Beijing

    Posted on Thursday, September 9, 2010 by Kelley Currie

    This week, China welcomed Burma's reclusive dictator Than Shwe for a high profile state visit, which included meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Than Shwe was reportedly accompanied by a prominently featured delegation of family members, as well as a retinue of newly minted senior military officials, who ascended to the upper echelon of junta leadership just last week when the old guard traded in their military uniforms for civvies. This visit is the most recent public affirmation of bilateral ties, following Wen Jiabao’s June visit to Burma and last week’s "friendly call" by two Chinese warships near Rangoon.

    Than Shwe’s trip follows close on the heels of a visit by another reclusive despot, Kim Jong-il. Kim traveled to China at the end of August – his second trip this year -- to secure Chinese support for the designation of his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor. Speculation is mounting that the junior Kim will be appointed to a key post during the extraordinary congress of the Korean Workers' Party, the first since 1980.

    These high profile visits by the North Korean and Burmese leadership at a time of political transition demonstrate the importance of Beijing’s backing in orchestrating their desired political succession arrangements. Beijing’s imprimatur is particularly critical for these two regimes whose legitimacy is weak at home and, in large part, abroad. At a time when both regimes arguably need Beijing’s goodwill more than China needs anything they have to offer, these dynamics belie the frequent claim that China lacks significant influence over Pyongyang and Naypyidaw.

    Moreover, Beijing's dictatorship diplomacy – through which it warmly embraces unsavory regimes from Iran to Zimbabwe - undercuts its ostensible effort to burnish its worldwide image, and expand its "soft power" abroad. Such bonhomie toward pariah states will do nothing to stem a rising tide of concern about how China will exert its influence as it grows more powerful. Rather, it seems increasingly clear that Beijing is willing to sacrifice some international prestige by continuing, or even stepping up, its relations with states that threaten regional or international peace and security.

    Beyond the short-term tactical gains of access to markets and natural resources, and any strategic benefits China may reap from relations with these states, Beijing’s ties with authoritarian regimes across the globe are also rooted in a shared perspective on the nature of political authority which influences its foreign policy calculus in ways that democratic governments tend to overlook or ignore. As Beijing continues both substantive and symbolic exchanges with these regimes, policymakers should temper their expectations of Chinese willingness to cooperate in any meaningful action against such rogue states.

    Photo: AP/Yonhap screen grab from CCTV video

    AsiaEye in August

    Posted on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 by Alexandra Matthews

    A look back the Project 2049 Institute's August publications

  • 8/3 Second Artillery Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Brigade Facilities Under Construction in Guangdong? What are the implications of China's new Second Artillery missile brigade?

  • 8/13 ECFA and Beyond Is ECFA a sign of warming cross-Strait relations? How will Taiwan's economic relations with the region shape up?

  • 8/30 Zeroing in on China – Africa trade tariffs A zero-tariff scheme has boosted China's trade relationship with its African allies. Is it one-sided?

  • Don't forget about our weekly Under the Radar News items: Myanmar election corruption, Japanese investment in developing economies, anti-piracy efforts by the Thai navy, Uyghur's arrest in China, and ASEAN environment summit.

    Under the Radar News 9.3.10

    Posted on Friday, September 3, 2010 by Alexandra Matthews

    A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • As Myanmar’s first elections in twenty years approach, exorbitant registration fees are levied on aspiring candidates despite junta leaders claiming that the elections are an attempt to shift power back to civilian rule.

  • Despite warming cross-Strait relations, both sides continue to bolster their military capabilities. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reports that China’s military budget has increased by 7.5 percent in 2010 and a prominent lawmaker stated that Taiwan plans to deploy its own Hsiungfeng 2E cruise missiles later this year.

  • The Asian Development Bank has approved a $100 million loan for a cross-border power project between Bangladesh and India. The project, which will be completed by 2010, will provide an additional 500 megawatt of power to Bangladesh, where many do not have access to electricity.

  • India and South Korea have signed a five year defense cooperation agreement that will enable the two countries to share military expertise and technology. This move seeks to transform the India-South Korea relationship beyond a “buyer-seller relationship”, as both nations share the common interests of maintaining peace and security of sea lanes of communication in Asia.

  • The Philippines announced that it is likely to start negotiating a free trade agreement with Taiwan within a year. The two sides will need to address sensitive issues such as the Philippine’s “One China” policy.

  • As China’s military continues to modernize, Japan is considering reorganizing a division of the Ground Self-Defense Force based on a model of the US Marines. The force will be responsible for protecting remote islands in Southwestern Japan.

  • Due to budgetary cuts and changing priorities following the Cheonan incident, South Korea will likely postpone a fighter jet acquisition program slated to begin next year. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is looking at purchasing helicopters, cruise and ballistic missiles, next-generation tanks and armored vehicles, and heavy attack submarines to meet potential asymmetrical challenges from North Korea.

  • India will purchase about $170 million worth of advanced anti-ship missiles from the United States. The 24 US-made Harpoon Block II air-to-surface missiles will improve the Navy air fleet’s coastal combat capability.

  • A Chinese Army unit is participating in anti-terrorism drills with thousands of troops from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. The "Peace Mission 2010" drills will be carried out under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

  • The Indonesian president offered to relocate the capital city from Jakarta as a means to relieve congestion in the overpopulated metropolis. President Yudhoyono acknowledged the high cost of moving a capital city, but promised to listen to the suggestions and ideas of many political parties.
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