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Messages - dr demented

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16
General Discussion / Re: PH to consider decommissioned USCG cutters
« on: January 14, 2019, 01:04:41 PM »
Interestingly, the FY2019 budget for the US Coast Guard does not list a Hamilton class cutter for decommissioning.  It does call into question whether the USCG is able to maintain the decommissioning schedule that was seen in previous posts.


https://www.uscg.mil/Portals/0/documents/budget/2019%20BIB_FINALw.pdf

17
Difficult to say if anyone would be interested in acquiring Hanjin's Subic shipyards, given the general worldwide downturn in shipbuilding. Ideally, it would be best for a domestic buyer to take over the yards. But a lot of the domestic shipyards are small time players who wouldn't need anything near the 10,000 workers at Subic. Not to mention that they don't have the market clout to attract the kind of orders to keep those workers busy.

Perhaps one of the foreign-owned entities that already have operations in the Philippines could be interested if they are looking to expand. However, it's hard to see that if they are struggling to get orders even in their own home facilities. Ultimately, that is the root cause of Hanjin's issues.

I could see a situation where a Chinese buyer might be interested. It could be that they are trying to do something like Austal is doing with its Cebu shipyards. A Chinese shipyard could seek to use Subic as a hub for its commercial operations (similar to Austal's business plan for Cebu). That would allow for the Chinese to have their domestic shipyards concentrate on warship construction (just as Austal has done with its Australian and American operations), given that the Chinese are still constructing PLA Navy and China Coast Guard vessels at an accelerated pace.

18
Thread Indices / Re: Where in the world are the WHECs?
« on: January 13, 2019, 02:14:43 AM »
Interestingly, the US Coast Guard's FY 2019 budget only lists funding for the decommissioning of four HC-130H aircraft.  Normally if a Hamilton class cutter was to be decommissioned, a separate budgetary line item would be listed.

This runs contrary to other sources indicating that USCGC Midgett would be decommissioned in FY 2019.

https://www.uscg.mil/Portals/0/documents/budget/2019%20BIB_FINALw.pdf

19
United States of America / Re: US Defense Secretary James Mattis resigns
« on: December 24, 2018, 02:18:24 AM »
Mattis has been ordered to vacate his post by the end of the year by President Trump.  Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has been named Acting Secretary of Defense.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/23/donald-trump-james-mattis-stepping-down-january-1/2401617002/

Quote
President Trump orders Defense Secretary James Mattis to leave immediately, names Patrick Shanahan as acting secretary
Bart Jansen, USA TODAY Published 11:56 a.m. ET Dec. 23, 2018

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will leave Jan. 1, rather than the previously announced resignation Feb. 28 because of policy disputes with President Donald Trump.

Mattis announced Thursday he was stepping down Feb. 28 because of disagreements with Trump ranging from Syria to global alliances and sparking deep anxiety among lawmakers about national security.
For his part, Trump increasingly resented the idea that Mattis was viewed as the adult in the room who had to talk to foreign officials about what U.S. policy really was, officials said. The move Sunday was an abrupt change from a conciliatory Trump tweet Saturday, which said he had given Mattis a second chance after his service in the Obama administration.
But Trump tweeted Sunday that Mattis would leave sooner. Trump named Patrick Shanahan, the deputy defense secretary, as acting secretary of defense.

Shanahan will be taking over as acting Defense secretary Jan. 1, Dana White, chief Pentagon spokeswoman said Sunday.

Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, said Sunday that relations between Trump and Mattis had been fraying and that it was the right thing for a cabinet secretary to resign if he couldn't serve the president. But Mattis' departure led to widespread criticism from Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

The departure comes at a tumultuous time for the administration. Besides Mattis, other cabinet departures since the midterm election in November include Trump firing Jeff Sessions as attorney general and the resignations of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

The announcement capped a turbulent series of events in which Trump abruptly gave notice Wednesday that 2,000 troops would be withdrawn from Syria, the prospect of a partial government shutdown drew closer and financial markets plunged.

In his resignation letter, Mattis, 68, acknowledged his differences with Trump over the need for alliances and bluntly told him that he should choose a different chief for the Defense Department.

“Because you have the right to have a secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is time for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote.

20
United States of America / Re: US Defense Secretary James Mattis resigns
« on: December 22, 2018, 01:16:46 PM »
Mattis was seen by US allies as "the adult in the room" in the Trump Administration.

With Mattis gone, everyone is freaking out.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-mattis-nato/exit-of-trusted-mattis-sparks-concern-among-u-s-allies-idUSKCN1OK10I

Quote
U.S. allies in Asia-Pacific region rattled after Mattis quits
Tom Westbrook, Josh Smith

SYDNEY/SEOUL (Reuters) - The abrupt resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sparked concern among Asia-Pacific allies who credit the retired general with building trust and tempering isolationist impulses, regional officials and analysts said on Friday.

The region - which includes strong U.S. allies Japan, South Korea and Australia - hosts some of the world’s most volatile flashpoints, with high tension on the Korean peninsula and China’s militarization of the South China Sea causing friction.

Mattis, who embraced America’s traditional alliances, said he was quitting after falling out with President Donald Trump over foreign policy, including surprise decisions this week to pull troops from Syria and start planning a drawdown in Afghanistan.

“He has generally been referred to as one of the adults in the Trump administration,” Australian government Senator Jim Molan told The Australian newspaper.

He said his departure was concerning because it introduced “another extreme variable” into U.S. decision making.

Mattis has been a vocal critic of China’s increasing presence in the South China Sea but he worked to ensure tensions did not boil over.

“He’s been the point of continuity and the gatekeeper in the administration that they’ve relied on most to temper the instincts of Trump, which are much more, I think, isolationist and clearly highly skeptical ... about alliance commitments,” said foreign policy and security analyst Euan Graham, executive director of La Trobe Asia at Australia’s La Trobe University.

Mattis’ departure also robs Australia, without a U.S. ambassador since 2016, of a key ally in the Trump administration.

“Australia has always had the ear of Mattis,” a U.S.-based diplomatic source told Reuters.

Australia has had roughly 800 troops in the Middle East since 2014, mostly based in Iraq, as part of coalition efforts to combat the Islamic State group.

About 300 troops are based in Afghanistan, where they have had a presence since not long after the war began 17 years ago.

Trump announced on Wednesday that U.S. troops in Syria would be withdrawn, a decision that upended U.S. policy in the region.

A U.S. official said on Thursday Trump was planning to withdraw at least 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Mattis had advocated for a strong U.S. military presence to bolster diplomatic peace efforts there.

Adam Mount, defense analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said Mattis was a steady hand on North Korea and was instrumental in preventing a war.

“Mattis was bailing water out of an alliance being buffeted by an erratic president, an advancing North Korea, and an increasingly assertive China,” Mount said.

“His work kept the alliance afloat but major questions will have to be resolved to keep it strong,” he said.

21
In any case, with the Department of Defense now under Jim Mattis, we have seen an increase in tempo of FONOPs, with increased military-like activity taking place with the 12 nautical mile zones claimed by Beijing.  They also publicly disinvited China from the recently concluded Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercises, citing Chinese activities in the South China Sea.  But only time will tell where things will go from here.

Add to this an air of unpredictability which comes with the man occupying the Oval Office, Donald J. Trump.  He has publicly criticized allied nations, to the point that many of them have questioned whether the United States would own up to its alliance and treaty obligations so long as Trump is president.  At the same time, Trump has cozied up to nations that have been traditional adversaries of the US, such as Russia.  And there are lingering suspicions that Russia may have had direct involvement in the election of Trump as president in 2016.  Likewise, there have also been reports that members of Trump's family have used their influence in government to facilitate business dealings in China and/or with the Chinese government.

Despite all this, Trump has proven a mixed bag when it comes to getting legislation in his program passed.  Despite his party having majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, little of his legislative agenda has been pushed through, apart from his tax reform program.  That program, which created billions of dollars in tax cuts directed at upper income individuals and corporations, is projected to add trillions to an already large national debt according to an independent US Congressional study.  And as such, it becomes questionable whether the funding would be there for important big ticket defense initiatives such as the expansion of the US Navy to 355 ships, Coast Guard modernization, and border security.   

Trump also seems to have a very different way of doing things.  Some believe that his approach is more bilateral in nature, preferring to deal one-on-one rather than work in coalitions as his predecessor did.  His thinking also tends to be more transactional, a reflection of his business background.

How this bodes for the Philippines......it's hard to say, given Trump's penchant for unpredictability and (from his Twitter posts) volatility.  He seems to get along well with President Duterte (much in the same way that he seems to get along with Kim Jong Il, Vladamir Putin, and Recep Erdogan), and have a common foe in terrorism.  But Trump's frequent clashes with close traditional allies have caused some to wonder whether the US could ever again be trusted to keep its word.

As with any discussion, it is periodically prudent to revise the discussion to reflect the ever-changing situation.

This particular update centers upon the resignation of US Defense Secretary James Mattis.

While the resignation, announced by a tweet from President Trump, was described as Mattis' "retirement", it is apparent from the text of Mattis' resignation letter that the Secretary of Defense's departure stems from a fundamental dispute in policy.

https://news.usni.org/2018/12/20/document-secdef-mattis-resignation-letter?fbclid=IwAR0CB7rWWv7HdU8mfKVyQ8Iz464F70yDO9gHNdtD-nqRKXUp6mCSfRRlxmk

Quote
Dear Mr. President:
December 20, 2018

I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.

I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.

I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.

I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.

(signed)

James N. Mattis

It is believed that the direct trigger for the resignation was the announced withdrawal of US troops from Syria (with a declaration of "victory" over ISIS) and the partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.  The withdrawal of troops is perceived to be an abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria and the Afghan government, as well as a reneging of US obligations within the NATO alliance with respect to Afghanistan. Mattis and Trump are believed to have clashed many times in the past over Trump's repeated berating of traditional close allies, and his cozying up to authoritarian regimes like Russia and North Korea.

There are also suspicions that President Trump's intent to withdraw US troops is tied to his connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Russia views Syria as part of its sphere of influence in the Middle East.  In recent weeks, lingering suspicions have continue to fester with regard to the role the Russians played in President Trump's election campaign of 2016, with the indictment and conviction of key members of Trump's campaign committee, as well as his personal lawyer.

How does this all tie back to the Philippines and our previous discussion?

Mattis, in his resignation, pointed out how strongly he believed in the alliances that the US kept with other nations, and how important it was that the US honor its agreements and that it should respect its allies.  The context of the resignation letter seems to indicate that this was the key point of disagreement between himself and his boss.  And in the end, Mattis, felt that he had to step out of the way, as the President had the right to have a Secretary of Defense that was more in line with the President's views.  Trump's public statements with regard to US allies bear that out.

As Secretary of Defense, Mattis seemed to be the most out front in terms of chastising China for its actions in the South China Sea.  You really didn't see that kind of talk from other members of the Trump Administration.  Not from Tillerson when he was at State, nor from his successor Pompeo.  A little bit from Mike Pence.  Nothing from the UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley.  And certainly nothing from Trump himself.  As pointed out previously, the tempo of Freedom of Navigation Operations has increased with Mattis in the Pentagon.  Mattis has also met with Philippine officials, and in particular DND officials, on multiple occasions.  A few more goodies came tumbling out, such as long-asked-for missiles around the time of the Marawi crisis.

If anything, any rifts that seem to have appeared in the relationship between the US and Philippines seemed to have been patched over with Mattis in the Pentagon.  Or at least they seemed to coincide.

It does beg the question:  is American policy with regard to China's actions in the South China Sea something that is germane to the Trump Administration itself?  Or is it something that Mattis was really trying to push behind the scenes?

And with Mattis gone, and given Trump's attitudes toward the US' alliance obligations, what does this mean for the Philippines and its defensive arrangements with the US, and the overall bigger picture of the disputes in the region?

As pointed out in earlier comments, Trump has a marked tendency toward unpredictability and volatility.  At best, this unpredictability might be expected to continue, and may further call into question the US' reliability as a partner and ally.  And at worst, there may be veracity in the allegations that have been leveled at President Trump, and that his actions are bent toward serving certain interests which may not necessarily be in the best interests of the Philippines.

22
United States of America / US Defense Secretary James Mattis resigns
« on: December 21, 2018, 07:27:18 AM »
https://news.usni.org/2018/12/20/document-secdef-mattis-resignation-letter?fbclid=IwAR0YZTp37EoAcwzgWNr3kZFuGVtCM7xsN6I7V9W1xpBKeolc_6EQGkI5_P0

Quote
Dear Mr. President:
December 20, 2018

I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.

I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.

I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.

I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.

(signed)

James N. Mattis

23
http://cimsec.org/sea-control-through-the-eyes-of-the-person-who-does-it-pt-2/38963

Sea Control Through The Eyes of the Person Who Does It, Pt. 2

November 28, 2018

The following article originally appeared in The Naval War College Review and is republished with permission.

By Christofer Waldenström

The Field of Sensors

To determine whether the field of safe travel is receding toward the minimum safety zone, the commander must be able to observe the objects present in the naval battlefield. Today, the naval battlefield comprises more than just the surface of the sea. Threats of all sorts can come from either beneath the surface or above it. The driver of a car determines from the pertinent visual field whether the field of safe travel is receding toward the minimum stopping zone.22 For a commander, however, it is not possible to perceive directly the elements of the operations area—the naval battlefields are far too vast. Instead, as noted above, the objects present have to be inferred, on the basis of sensor data.23

Thus, there exists a “field of sensors” that the commander uses to establish whether the field of safe travel approaches the edge of the minimum safety zone. The field of sensors is an objective spatial field the boundaries of which are determined by the union of the coverage of all sensors that provide data to the commander. The importance of the sensor field is also emphasized in one theory of perception-based tactics that has been advanced (though without discussion of its spatial dimensions).24 As the sensors that build up the field have different capabilities to detect and classify objects, the field of sensors will consequently consist of regions in which objects can be, variously, detected and classified with varying reliability. (These regions could be seen as fields in their own right, but for now we will leave them as is.) Nevertheless, to establish the boundary of the field of safe travel and determine whether it is receding toward the minimum safety zone, the commander must organize the field of sensors in such way that it is possible both to detect contacts and to classify them as nonhostile before they get inside the minimum safety zone.

Factors Limiting Detection

Several factors limit the detection of enemy units. First, terrain features can provide cover. Units that hide close to islands are difficult to detect with radar. In a similar way, a submarine that lies quietly on the bottom is difficult to distinguish from a rock formation with sonar. The weather is another factor: high waves make small targets difficult to detect; fog and rain reduce visibility for several sensors, such as visual, infrared, and radar; and temperature differences between layers in the atmosphere and in the water column influence how far sensors can see or hear. Yet another factor is stealth, or camouflage, whereby units are purposely designed to be difficult to detect with sensors. Sharp edges on a ship’s hull reflect radar waves in such ways that they do not return to the transmitting radar in detectable strength. Units are painted to blend into the background, propulsion systems are made silent, ships’ magnetic fields are neutralized, and exhaust gases are cooled—all to reduce the risk of detection. Being aware of these factors makes it possible for commanders to use them to advantage. Units might be positioned close to islands while protecting the field of safe travel, or the high-value units might select a route that will force the enemy units to move out at sea, thus making themselves possible to detect.

Factors Limiting Classification

To avoid being classified, the basic rule is to not emit signals that allow the enemy to distinguish a unit from other contacts around it. Often naval operations are conducted in areas where neutral or civilian vessels are present, and this makes it difficult to tell which contacts are hostile. To complicate matters, the enemy can take advantage of this. For example, an enemy unit can move in radar silence in normal shipping lanes and mimic the behavior of merchants, so as to be difficult to detect using radar and electronic support measures. Suppressing emissions, however, only works until the unit comes inside the range where the force commander would expect electronic support measures to classify its radar—no merchant ever travels radar silent. To detect potential threats the commander establishes a “picture” of the normal activities in the operations area. Behavior that deviates from the normal picture is suspect and will be monitored more closely. Thus, contacts that behave as other contacts do will be more difficult to classify.

The Field of Weapons


As mentioned above, the commander has three choices for handling a detected threat: move the high-value units away from the threat, take action to eliminate the threat, or receive the attack and defend. In the two latter cases the threat can be eliminated either by disabling it or by forcing it to retreat. Either way, the commander must have a weapon that can reach the target with the capability to harm it sufficiently. It is immaterial what type of weapon it is or from where it is launched, as long as it reaches the target and harms it sufficiently. Thus, the weapons carried by the commander’s subordinate units, or any other unit from which the commander can request fire support, create a “field of weapons” in which targets can be engaged. Like the field of sensors, the field of weapons is a spatial field, bounded by the union of the maximum weapon ranges carried by all units at the commander’s disposal. The field of weapons is further built up by the variety of weapons, which means that the field consists of different regions capable of handling different targets. For example, there will be regions capable of engaging large surface ships, regions capable of destroying antiship missiles, and other regions capable of handling submarines. Nevertheless, to prevent the high-value units from being sunk, the field of weapons must be organized in such way that it is possible to take action against hostile units and missiles before they get inside their corresponding minimum safety zones. For example, the threat posed by air-to-surface missiles can be dealt with by protecting two minimum safety zones. The commander can take out the enemy aircraft before they get a chance to launch the missile—that is, shoot down the aircraft before they enter the minimum safety zone created by the range of the missile they carry. If this fails the commander can take down the missiles before they hit the high-value units—that is, shoot down the missiles before they get inside the minimum safety zone created by the distance at which the missile can do damage to the high-value units.

It is now possible to specify how the fields of sensors and weapons work together: the field of sensors and the field of weapons must be organized in such a way that for each field of safe travel hostile units can be detected, classified, and neutralized before they enter the corresponding minimum safety zone. One scholar of naval tactics and scouting touches on what can serve as an illustration. Closest to the ships that should be protected is a zone of control where all enemies must be destroyed; outside the zone of control is a zone of influence or competition, something like a no-man’s-land.25 Outside the zone of influence is a zone of interest where one must be prepared against a detected enemy. Scouting in the first region seeks to target; in the second, to track; and in the third, to detect. Important to notice is that the field of sensors and the field of weapons are carried by, tied to, the commander’s units, which simultaneously bring the fields to bear with respect to all pairs of fields of safe travel and minimum safety zones. This complicates matters for the commander. As the fields of safe travel and minimum safety zones are stacked, actions taken to tackle a threat to one minimum safety zone may create problems for another. The competition of units between the pairs of minimum safety zones and fields of safe travel may lead to a situation where a managed air-warfare problem creates a subsurface problem. This bedevilment is not unknown to the naval warfare community: “The tactical commander is not playing three games of simultaneous chess; he is playing one game on three boards with pieces that may jump from one board to another.”26

To illustrate the problem, suppose that the situations in figure 3 occur simultaneously; there is both a surface and a subsurface threat to the high-value unit. In this case the field of sensors has to be organized so that contacts can be detected and classified in a circular field with a radius of a hundred kilometers (for the antiship missile, figure 3a) and also within a smaller and elliptical field (figure 3b, in the torpedo case). For example, radars and electronic support measures have to be deployed to detect and identify surface contacts, while sonar and magneticanomaly detection have to be used to secure the subsurface field. Accordingly, the field of weapons has to be organized so that contacts can be engaged before entering the respective minimum safety zones—antisubmarine weapons for subsurface threats and antiship weapons for surface threats.

Not only weapons can be used to shape the field of safe travel; another means to influence it is deception. Deception takes advantage of the inertia inherent in naval warfare. First, there is the physical inertia whereby a successful deception draws enemy forces away from an area, giving an opportunity to act in that area before the enemy can move back. Second, there is the cognitive inertia of the enemy commander. It takes some time before the deception is detected, which gives further time. Deception can, thus, be seen as a deliberate action within the enemy’s field of sensors to shape the field of safe travel to one’s own advantage. For successful deception it is necessary that commanders understand how their own actions will be picked up by the enemy’s field of sensors and that they be aware of both the enemy’s cognitive and physical inertia. The commander has to “play up” a plausible scenario in the enemy’s field of sensors and then give the enemy commander time to decide that action is needed to counter that scenario (cognitive inertia) and then further time to allow the enemy units to move in the wrong direction (physical inertia). The central role of inertia will be further discussed later.

Having defined the fundamental fields it is now possible to formulate what is required from commanders to establish sea control. The skill of securing control at sea consists largely in organizing a requisite set of pairs of correctly bounded minimum safety zones and corresponding fields of safe travel shaped to counter actual and potential threats, and in organizing the field of sensors and field of weapons in such way that that for each field of safe travel, hostile contacts can be detected, classified, and neutralized before they enter the corresponding minimum safety zone.

Factors Limiting the Field of Safe Travel

So far it has been said that it is the enemy that limits and shapes the field of safe travel. This is, however, not the whole truth. The field of safe travel is also shaped by other physical and psychological factors.

Terrain Features That Reduce Capability to Detect and Engage Targets

To be able to sink the high-value unit the enemy must detect, classify, and fire a weapon against it. All this must happen in rapid succession, or the high-value unit may slip out of the weapon’s kill zone. This means that to fire a weapon against the high-value unit the enemy must organize its field of sensors and its field of weapons so that they overlap the high-value unit at the time of weapon release. In this way the field of safe travel is built up by all the paths that take the high-value unit outside the intersection of the enemy’s field of sensors and the enemy’s field of weapons. This further means that the boundaries of the field of safe travel are determined in part by terrain regions where high-value units can go but enemy weapons cannot engage them—for example, an archipelago that provides protection against radar-guided missiles. The boundaries are also determined by the enemy’s capability to detect the high-value units, and thus terrain features can also delimit the field of safe travel in that they protect the high-value units from detection. For example, the archipelago mentioned above also provides protection against detection by helicopter-borne radar, as long as the ships move slowly. (If they start to move quickly, however, they will stand out from the clutter of islands.) It is also important to notice that a minimum safety zone is resized in the same way as the corresponding field of safe travel—if the enemy cannot see the high-value unit or has no weapon that can engage it, the enemy unit can be allowed closer in.

Terrain Regions Where Enemy Units Can Hide


Like enemy units, potential threats also throw out lines of clearance. One such potential threat is a terrain feature where the enemy might have concealed units and from which attacks can be launched (see figure 4a). Such regions—for example, islands where enemy units can hide close to land—contain potential threats. There may or may not be actual threats there, the objective field of safe travel may or may not be clear, but since commanders can only react to their subjective fields, the latter are properly shaped and limited by these barriers.

Enemy Units That Are Spotted and Then Lost


Another potential threat that will radiate clearance lines arises from the movement of enemy units. It is possible for a contact that has been detected and classified to slip out of the field of sensors —for instance, by turning off its radar after being tracked by electronic support measures. The potential movement of such a unit shapes the field of safe travel. Suppose an enemy unit was detected at position p at time t (see figure 4b). As the enemy is outside the field of safe travel, it does not pose a threat to the commander at this time. Now, the contact slips out of the field of sensors, and contact with it is lost. As time passes and the commander fails to reestablish contact, the region where the unit can be is a circle that grows proportionally to the maximum speed of the enemy unit. Eventually the region grows to such a size that it is not possible for the force to pass without the minimum safety zone intersecting with it. In figure 4b the subjective field of safe travel is correctly shaped by the potential threat, but the objective field of safe travel is clear—the enemy unit has turned around and is heading away.

Legal Obstacles and Taboos

The field of safe travel is also limited by international law. One such legal obstacle is the sea territory of neutral states. A neutral state has declared itself outside the conflict the commander is involved in, and this prohibits the parties of the conflict from using its sea territory for purposes of warfare. Such regions delimit the fields of safe travel and thus restrict where the commander’s units can move. On the other hand, they do not pose a threat to the high-value units and can safely be allowed to encroach on the minimum safety zone.

Neutral Units in the Operations Area

Today, as noted, naval operations take place in areas where neutral shipping is present. Like the sea territory of neutral states, neutral shipping is protected by international law. A consequence of this is that neutral shipping in the area also influences the shape of the field of safe travel. The commander is of course prohibited from attacking neutral merchants. This is not a problem in itself—if a certain contact is classified as neutral, we cannot engage it. Nevertheless, it has implications for where high-value units are allowed to move. As neutral shipping cannot be engaged, we are forbidden to use it for cover—for instance, to move so close to a merchant vessel as to make it difficult for the opponent to engage without risk of sinking the merchant. This means that neutral shipping creates “holes” in the field, where combatants are not allowed to move. If the commander does not track the merchant vessels continuously, these holes grow proportionally to the merchants’ maximum speed, as they do for enemy units spotted and then lost.

Mines

Mines shape the field in the same way that ships do. They can be seen as stationary ships with limited weapon ranges; the minimum safety zone for a mine would be the range at which a ship could pass it without being damaged if the mine detonated. Laying mines shapes the commander’s field, and the commander must react, either by taking another route or by actively reshaping the field—that is, by clearing the mines. Clearing mines has the same effect as taking out enemy ships; the field of safe travel expands into the area that has been cleared. Of course, the enemy can use this for purposes of deception, pretending to lay mines, sending a unit zigzagging through a strait, and making sure that the commander’s field of sensors picks this up. If the deception is successful, the commander’s subjective field is shaped incorrectly.

24
The Minimum Safety Zone

In driving, collisions are avoided by one of two methods—changing the direction or stopping the locomotion.19 Changing direction is done by steering. Sometimes, however, the field of safe travel is cut off, for example, when another car turns onto the road from a side street. In these situations steering is not enough, and the driver has to slow down to avoid a collision. Another field concept describes how drivers decelerate—the “minimum stopping zone,” which denotes the minimum spatial field a driver needs to bring the vehicle to a stop (see figure 1).20 Deceleration (or the degree of braking) is proportional to the speed at which the forward boundary of the field of safe travel approaches the edge of the minimum stopping zone.

For the commander of a naval operation, the field of safe travel is delimited not only by the terrain but also by, most importantly, threatening enemy units. The commander uses a related field concept to determine whether action is needed to prevent the high-value units from being sunk—the “minimum safety zone” (see figure 3). The minimum safety zone is a field the size of which is determined by the range of a specific enemy weapon; there exists one minimum safety zone for each type of enemy weapon. The field denotes how close to the high-value units an enemy unit carrying that weapon can be allowed before the enemy unit can sink the high-value units using that specific weapon.21 For example, suppose an enemy ship has an antiship gun with a range of ten thousand meters. In this case, the minimum safety zone for that gun would be a circle with a radius of ten thousand meters around each high-value unit.

From this it follows that there exist as many fields of safe travel as there are minimum safety zones; minimum safety zones and fields of safe travel always come in pairs. For example, the enemy may have a long-range antiship missile that can be fired from surface ships and a medium-range torpedo that can be fired from submarines. This creates two separate pairs of fields of safe travel and minimum safety zones—one for the antiship missile and one for the torpedo. Consequently, to make sure that the high-value unit is not sunk, each minimum safety zone must be completely contained within its corresponding field of safe travel for the duration of the voyage.

Also, the shape of the minimum safety zone varies according to the type of weapon it represents (see figure 3). The shape is determined by the relative speeds of the weapon and the target and their relative headings when the weapon is fired. Suppose a high-speed antiship missile is fired toward a slow-moving high-value unit (see figure 3a). It will take the missile about five minutes to reach its target if the speed of the missile and the range to the target are, respectively, 645 knots and about fifty-four nautical miles. The distance the high-value unit can move during this time at twenty-five knots is about four thousand meters. Thus, the difference in time between when the missile is fired with the high-value unit heading toward it or moving away is negligible; the minimum safety zone can be considered circular. Now consider firing a medium-range torpedo at the same high-value unit. The torpedo has a speed of, say, fifty knots and a range of 25 nautical miles. If the enemy unit fires this torpedo when the high-value unit is heading toward it the theoretical range becomes about thirty-seven nautical miles (it takes thirty minutes for the torpedo to travel its maximum distance, in which time the high-value unit can move 12.5 nautical miles closer). On the other hand, if it fires when the high-value unit is moving away, the range drops to only 12.5 nautical miles. Thus, the shape of the minimum safety zone for the torpedo will be more or less elliptical, with the high-value unit positioned toward its far end (see figure 3b).

What minimum safety zone the commander uses when encountering a new contact depends on how well the contact is classified. If the commander knows what type of enemy unit is approaching, the proper, specific minimum safety zone is applied. If there is uncertainty, the commander must assume the largest minimum safety zone for that class of contacts. For example, if the commander knows that only surface ships can carry long-range antiship missiles, the minimum safety zone for those missiles must be assumed for an unidentified radar contact—that is, of the class of surface contacts. For the submarine screen, however, the minimum safety zone can be based on the medium-range torpedo—the class of underwater contacts. For the driver of an automobile, braking is a reaction to the threat of crashing into an object and it is initiated when the forward boundary of the field of safe travel recedes toward the minimum stopping zone. In a similar way, the commander of a naval operation reacts when the field of safe travel recedes toward the minimum safety zone—that is, when a threat develops toward the high-value units. In contrast to the automobile driver, however, the commander has three ways of handling a threat: move the high-value units away from the threat, order subordinate units to take action against the threat, or receive the attack and defend. Either way, to establish whether a threat is developing, the commander must be able to determine whether the field of safe travel is receding toward the minimum safety zone.

25
http://cimsec.org/sea-control-through-the-eyes-of-the-person-who-does-it-pt-1/38900

Sea Control Through The Eyes of the Person Who Does It, Pt. 1

November 21, 2018

The following article originally appeared in The Naval War College Review and is republished with permission. It will be republished in three parts.

By Christofer Waldenström

This article suggests a new perspective on the old problem of protecting ships at sea, for two reasons. First, although screen tactics and other defensive measures have been developed and used for many years, this new perspective will be useful in addressing two developments since the late nineteenth century: attackers are no longer just other ships but also aircraft, submarines, and, recently, missiles with very long ranges launched from the land; also, torpedo boats, coastal submarines, and mines have complicated operations in congested and archipelagic waters. The second reason for a new approach is that in order to support commanders in the problems of sea control we need to study the issues they encounter while solving them. This requires a description of each task that commanders have to do; without such a description it becomes difficult to determine which actions lead to increased control and which to loss of control, which in turn makes it harder to identify whether commanders are running into trouble and if so, why. The new analytical method introduced here represents an attempt at such a description. As such, it may enrich and extend traditional thinking about sea control and how to achieve it, especially in littoral waters.

Sea control is generally associated with the protection of shipping, and it refers normally either to a stationary patch of water, such as a strait, or to a region around a moving formation of ships. Today it is quite well understood how to protect such a region of water. To handle aircraft and missiles, defenses are organized in several layers, with an outer layer of combat air patrols to take out enemy aircraft before they can launch their weapons. Next is a zone where long- and short-range surface-to-air missiles take down missiles that the enemy manages to fire. Any “leakers” are to be handled by soft-kill and hardkill point defenses—for example, jammers, chaff, and close-in weapon systems. For submarines and surface vessels the logic is similar, but here maneuver is also an option. Since the attacking surface ship or submarine moves at about the same speed as the formation, it is possible to stay out of reach of the enemy. Maneuver seeks to deny detection and targeting and to force attacking surface ships and submarines to operate in ways in which they cannot muster enough strength to carry out their mission or are more easily detected.1

A prerequisite of a successful layered defense is detection of the enemy far enough out that all the layers get a chance to work. The restricted space of congested and archipelagic waters, however, may prevent the outer “strainers” from acting on the enemy. This gives small, heavily armed combatants opportunities to hide, perhaps among islands, and fire their weapons from cover, leaving only point defenses to deal with the oncoming missiles and torpedoes, with little room for maneuver.2 This increases the risk of saturation of defense systems and may allow weapons to penetrate.

The problems associated with archipelagic and coastal environments have been recognized since the introduction of the mobile torpedo.3 The torpedo gave small units the firepower to destroy ships much larger than themselves and made it possible for a small fleet to challenge a larger one, at least if it did not have to do so on the open ocean. To deal with such an inshore threat, the British naval historian and strategist Sir Julian Corbett suggested in 1911 that a “flotilla” of small combatants had to be introduced to deal with this type of warfare, because capital ships could no longer approach defended coasts, as they had when ships of the line dueled with forts.4 Today, the introduction of long-range missiles, mines, stealth design, and the ability to coordinate the efforts of land-, sea-, and air-based systems have further intensified this threat.5

Littoral environments seem to change the problem of sea control, at least in some aspects.6 Sensors, weapons, and tactics developed to handle threats on the open ocean may be less appropriate in congested and archipelagic waters. Radar and sonar returns are cluttered, missile seekers are confused, and targeting is complicated by the existence of islands and coastlines close to the ships to be protected. The land-sea environment introduces variables that make the sea control problem hard to solve using methods developed for an open ocean. As the uncertainties and intangibles mount up, quantitative approaches become less feasible, and we can only rely on human judgment.7 That is why it is important to study what commanders find difficult when executing sea-control missions in littoral environments.

It has been shown to be fruitful, when studying the problems people face when trying to solve a task, to have a model of the task that describes what the decision maker is required to do.8 Whether that task description takes the form of a document—a formal description or formula—or an expert, the approach is similar—you compare people’s behavior to the description and try to identify where and why they differ. Since experts differ, formal descriptions are preferable, if feasible. For the sea-control task, the description can either list the problems that the commander must solve in order to get ships safely to their destinations or define the variables of interest and the states they must be in for sea control to be considered established.

To get a description of what is required to establish sea control one can study what doctrine has to say. A major U.S. Navy doctrinal publication, Naval Warfare, characterizes sea control as one of the service’s core capabilities and states that it “requires control of the surface, subsurface, and airspace and relies upon naval forces’ maintaining superior capabilities and capacities in all sea-control operations. It is established through naval, joint, or combined operations designed to secure the use of ocean and littoral areas by one’s own forces and to prevent their use by the enemy.”9 British Maritime Doctrine has a similar description of sea control: “Sea control is the condition in which one has freedom of action to use the sea for one’s own purposes in specified areas and for specified periods of time and, where necessary, to deny or limit its use to the enemy. . . . Sea control includes the airspace above the surface and the water volume and seabed below.”10 A North Atlantic Treaty Organization publication, Allied Joint Maritime Operations, relates the level of control to the level of risk: “The level of sea control required will be a balance between the desired degree of freedom of action and the degree of acceptable risk.”11 Two academic analysts offer a more minimalistic view, arguing that tying the definition of sea control to specific military objectives creates contrasts between the challenges posed by, for example, littoral environments and blue-water environments.12 To accommodate these contrasts and allow for the full range of operations, they put forward “the use of the sea as a maneuver space to achieve military objectives” as a definition of sea control.

However, two issues make it hard to use these descriptions for studying the problems commanders face in sea control tasks. To say so is not to criticize their doctrinal utility but rather to point out that for the purposes of this article, their meanings need to be expressed in a somewhat more formal way. The first issue is related to how the definitions describe when sea control has been established. All these definitions describe sea control from a general perspective, as a state, implying a line between when that state has been reached and when it has not. As result, it would be possible to use such a description to determine whether sea control has been established, at least in theory. A necessary precondition of such a description, however, is that it contain concepts—or to be more specific, a set of variables—that can be observed from the outside. For each variable there must be specified the value it must have, or the condition it must be in, in order to say that the overall state has been reached. Only then are we able to use the definition to measure whether a commander has succeeded in establishing sea control. The second issue regards the “general,” “outside” perspective that characterizes all these descriptions—a conceptual view, detached from the environment, the task, and the decision maker. In a sea-control task, however, several factors, variables, need to be considered in order to determine the degree to which the commander has managed to solve it: geography, type and duration of the operation, the enemy’s units and weapons, own resources, and the size of the region are just a few examples. A description covering all possible aspects of sea control and all possible situations would probably be quite complicated, containing many variables and many states; new variables not considered at the beginning might even have to be added as they arise.13 This is not an attractive situation for a scientific concept. Another approach would go in the other direction, stripping the definition of variables and formulating it on a very general level (the academic definition cited above is such an attempt).14 Such a definition covers a wide range of situations, but it is not very specific and provides no guidance as to when sea control has been established.

It would seem, then, that defining sea control from a general perspective is not helpful for present purposes. The point is to not separate the definition of sea control from the person trying to achieve it, or from the environment, or from the task. Such a definition would assume the perspective of the commander, describe sea control as a task that the commander has to accomplish, and lay out what is required to accomplish that task.15 Such a definition could, as we have postulated about the analytical definition we need, either describe the problems that the commander must solve in order to protect the ships or be a representation of the sea-control task. Such a description would allow systematic investigation of the effects of different tasks and different environments on the commander’s ability to establish sea control.

In fact, I argue, to investigate the concept empirically, sea control is best described from the inside. Taking the perspective of commanders trying to achieve control makes it possible to investigate systematically the problems they face and in turn, perhaps, to derive guidance for the design of training and support systems. The point of departure for such a description is the idea that securing control at sea is analogous to establishing a “field of safe travel,” a concept that has been proposed to describe the behavior of automobile drivers.16 This approach can be useful for investigating the problems commanders at sea face, and it may enrich and extend traditional thinking about sea control and how to achieve it, especially in littoral waters.

The Field of Safe Travel

Driving a car has been described analytically as locomotion through a terrain or a field of space. The primitive function of locomotion is to move an individual from one point of space to another, the “destination.” In the process obstacles are met, and locomotion must be adapted to avoid them—collision may lead to bodily injury. Locomotion by some device, such as a vehicle, is, at this level of abstraction, no different from walking, and accordingly it is chiefly guided by vision. This guidance is given in terms of a path within the visual field of the individual, such that obstacles are avoided and the destination is ultimately reached.

The visual field of a driver is selective, in that the elements of the field that are pertinent to locomotion stand out and are attended to, while irrelevant elements recede into the background. The most important part of this pertinent field is the road. It is within the boundaries of the road that the “field of safe travel” exists.17 The field of safe travel is indefinitely bounded and at any given moment comprises all the possible paths that the car may take unimpeded (see figure 1). The field of safe travel can be viewed as a “tongue” that sticks out along the road in front of the car. Its boundaries are determined by objects that should be avoided. An object has valence, positive or negative, in the sense that we want to move toward some (positive valence) and away from others (negative valence). Objects of negative valence have a sort of halo of avoidance, which can be represented by “lines of clearance” surrounding it. The closer to the object the line is, the greater the intensity of avoidance it represents. The field of safe travel itself has positive valence, the more so along its midline.18

The field of safe travel is a spatial field. It is, however, not fixed in physical space but moves with the car through space. The field is not merely a subjective experience of the driver but exists objectively as an actual field in which the car can operate safely, whether or not the driver is aware of it. During locomotion it changes constantly as the road turns and twists. It elongates and contracts, widens and narrows, as objects encroach on its boundaries.

It is now possible to investigate how the concept of a “field of safe travel” applies to naval warfare. As stated above, the purpose of sea control is to take control of maritime communications, whether for commercial shipping or naval forces. The practical problem for a commander is consequently to protect commercial vessels and warships as they move toward their destinations. These ships will be referred to as “high-value units.”

The analogy is straightforward: to make sure that the high-value units get safely to their destinations the commander must create a “field of safe travel” where they can move without risk of being sunk. At the simplest level, without the complication of hostile opposition, the problem of maneuvering a high-value unit is exactly the same as that of driving a car: make sure that it gets to its destination without running into something (that is, for a vessel, colliding or running aground). As such, there is no difference between a high-value unit’s field of safe travel and an automobile’s.

The fields of individual ships are, however, not of interest here and will not be further discussed; our focus is the field of the commander of the naval operation. In that field, the most pertinent element of the environment is not the terrain (though coasts and islands delimit how the ships can move) but the enemy. Consequently, the boundaries of the commander’s field of safe travel are determined most importantly by enemy units that threaten to sink the commander’s high-value units (see figure 2). In contrast to fixed objects in a driver’s field of safe travel, islands and coastlines may actually have positive valences for a commander, as they can offer protection. Nevertheless, the definition of the field remains the same: the commander’s field of safe travel comprises all the possible paths that the high-value units can take unimpeded.

Though the analogy is straightforward, there are several differences between the driver’s field of safe travel and that of the commander. First, the driver of a car has limited ability to influence the shape of the field of safe travel and can only see and react to obstacles that encroach on the field. Commanders, on the other hand, can actively shape the field of safe travel and have powerful means to do so: they can scout threatening areas to determine whether enemy units are present, and if they detect a threat they can eliminate it by applying deadly force. Second, the commander is up against an enemy who means to do harm. An opponent who uses cover and deception can make it more difficult to establish the requisite field.

Third, the commander’s field of safe travel cannot, like the field of a driver of an automobile, be directly perceived; it is too vast. Instead, the commander must derive the field, using data provided by sensors carried by the units in the force. As will be seen later, this difference complicates matters for the commander. Nevertheless, it is important at this point to notice that the field of safe travel is not merely a subjective experience of the commander but exists as an objective field where the commander’s ships can move safely.

26
General Discussion / Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« on: September 17, 2018, 12:54:52 AM »
https://thediplomat.com/2018/09/are-france-and-the-uk-here-to-stay-in-the-south-china-sea/

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Are France and the UK Here to Stay in the South China Sea?

Are the French and British navies here to stay in the South China Sea?
By Tuan Anh Luc
September 14, 2018
 
The British Royal Navy’s HMS Albion, a 22,000-ton amphibious transport dock, conducted a freedom of navigation patrol (FON) in waters near the Paracel islands (Xisha Qundao in Chinese) in the South China Sea in late August. The HMS Albion’s patrol was a traditional assertion of freedom of navigation on the high seas unlike the freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) of the U.S. Navy that are designed to challenge what the United States views as excessive maritime claims. This difference illustrates variations in approach by allies to join FON in the South China Sea.

China, Vietnam, and Taiwan all claim the Paracel islands. In January 1974, China resorted to force to seize South Vietnamese occupied features in the Paracel islands. Beijing angrily denounced that the HMS Albion sailed within its territorial waters around the Paracels without seeking prior approval. An anonymous British source nonetheless notes that the royal warship did not enter the 12 nautical mile limit of any feature in the Paracels, but its operation was conducted in a way invalidating China’s excessive maritime claim in the area. After the operation, the HMS Albion sailed to Ho Chi Minh City for a four-day visit to Vietnam from September 3.

The patrol by the British warship demonstrated the U.K.’s serious intention to engage in Southeast Asian region. It signaled that the Royal Navy is likely to be a regular party patrolling the South China Sea. As Ian Storey and Euan Graham assert, the patrol would make U.S. happy as it resonated with Washington’s call for upholding freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Recently, the UK and Australia made public their agreement to strengthen military cooperation. The British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is to be deployed to the Pacific as early as 2020 and will sail side by side with Australian navy ships.
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The Royal Navy has not elucidated the objective of the operation. Its spokesperson only informed in brief that “HMS Albion exercised her rights for freedom of navigation in full compliance with international law and norms.” However, regional observers widely interpreted it and previous patrols as a challenge to China’s excessive claims in the Paracels in particular and the South China Sea in general.

Regarding the Paracel islands, China unilaterally declared the composition of all straight lines connecting the 28 adjacent base points in 1996. The straight baselines encircling the Paracels form internal waters area within the base points. At the same time, China claims a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles around the Paracel islands. As Carl Thayer has asserted, China’s declaration of straight baselines with the Paracel islands is not compatible with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS). According to the convention, drawing straight baselines is only applicable to archipelagic states. Noticeably, the Arbitration Court in Hague, in its ruling on 12 July 2016, invalidated China’s claimed historic rights to the sea areas within the notorious “nine-dash line” that also embraces the Paracel islands.

Beijing only made official comments after Western media outlets cited anonymous British defence sources about the HMS Albion naval patrol. Similar to the U.S. FONOPs, China sent vocal warnings, its warship and fighter jets to shadow the HMS Albion operation. In almost a week later, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs charged that the operational assertion was a provocation, violation of its domestic law, relevant international law and a breach of its sovereignty. China warned that additional operations would be detrimental to bilateral relations, regional peace and stability. Noticeably, China reactions were restrained both verbally and its actions at sea avoided any direct confrontation with the British warship thus preventing any escalation. However, China demonstrated its resolve by cancelling the important post-Brexit trade deal that London has been pursuing with Beijing because of the HMS Albion challenge.

The HMS Albion indeed added up to the external powers’ endeavor to uphold the right of free access to the waterways [and airway] in the South China Sea. In a relevant move, France and the U.K. conducted a joint freedom of navigation patrol through Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross Reefs in the Spratly islands last June as announced at the 17th Asia Security Summit, or Shangri-La Dialogue 2018. Both London and Paris considered themselves Indo-Pacific powers and committed to protecting the free passage through the strategic sea line of communications in Southeast Asia pursuant to international maritime law. Beside the two publicized patrols, both [and together with Australia] have maintained their naval operations in the area. France, for instance, sailed at least five ships in the South China Sea in 2017.

The U.S. has conducted eleven publicized FONOPs to challenge China’s excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea since October 2015. Five FONOPs in the Paracels were carried out by the USS Curtis Wilbur (January 2016), the USS Decatur (October 2016), the USS Stethem (July 2017), the USS Chafee (October 2017) and the first-ever joint operation by the USS Higgins and USS Antietam (May 2018). The USS Lassen (October 2015), the USS William P. Lawrence (May 2016), the USS Dewey (May 2017), the USS John S. McCain (August 2017), and the USS Mustin (March 2018) conducted the five FONOPs in the Spratlys. The FONOP by the USS Hopper in January 2018 was undertaken at Scarborough Shoal. Despite this, South China Sea expert Gregory Poling assessed that the U.S. current strategy had failed and FONOPs were ineffective.

Unfortunately, the U.S. military dynamics in the region, during and after President Barack Obama’s pivot and rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific, have not restrained China from constructing artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea. China has finished the constructions of seven artificial islands and equipped them with modern offensive and defensive military capabilities. China has militarized the South China Sea with the installation of jamming communications and radar systems in Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef, anti-ship cruise missiles YJ-12B and surface-to-air missile systems HQ-9B on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef. In addition, China temporarily deployed H-6K nuclear capable bombers in Woody Island. The question from now on is to what extent China will militarize the artificial islands.

States with vested interests in the South China Sea are more concerned with China’s increasing militarization of artificial islands in the region. Their concern has heightened due to the increased ambiguity of the U.S. policy in Asia. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s elucidation of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific is not sufficient to shore up the international rules-based order. The new Trump Administration policy is mainly economic-centric and interestingly falls short in security substance. Regional states can hardly find reassurance in the Trump Administration’s plan to deal with China’s fait accompli in the South China Sea. In addition, U.S. financial commitments under the new Indo-Pacific vision is too meagre compared to China’s expansive and ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. It would be naïve to think that Secretary Pompeo’s commitment to ASEAN’s centrality in the Indo-Pacific Region will convince skeptics of U.S. resolve to push back against China.

The Franco-English joint patrol and the HMS Albion operation exemplified the increased engagement of other external powers in the South China Sea dispute. Southeast Asian states are likely to respond with caution to recent developments. The engagement of additional external powers goes in tandem with the new outward looking regionalism promoted by inclusive ASEAN over the last few decades. Nonetheless, ASEAN states should be concerned about their region once again becoming an arena for rivalry among the major powers. This is not the outcome that regional states expected after more than five decades of regional building.

Tuan Anh Luc is a PhD Candidate in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Canberra.

27
https://thediplomat.com/2018/09/south-china-sea-philippine-navy-flagship-runs-aground-at-half-moon-shoal/

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South China Sea: Philippine Navy Flagship Runs Aground at Half-Moon Shoal

BRP Gregorio del Pilar is being recovered after suffering damage.
By Ankit Panda
September 01, 2018

Earlier this week, the Philippines Armed Forces confirmed that BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), a Hamilton-class cutter transferred by the United States in 2011 to the Philippine Navy, had run aground in the South China Sea. The vessel hit shallow waters off the partially submerged Half Moon Shoal (also known as Hasa-Hasa Shoal) off Palawan Island. The waters where the vessel ran aground are disputed by other South China Sea claimant states, notably including China.

Col. Noel Detoyato, a spokesperson for the Philippine Armed Forces, confirmed that the vessel had run aground, noting that there were no casualties from the accident. A Philippine military report cited in local news reports noted that the Gregorio del Pilar was “grounded from bow to amidship and propellers were also damaged.”

“The crew inspected all spaces and there were no noted flooding,” it added. “An investigation is expected in such situations to find out the possible causes of the grounding and to come up with steps to ensure that similar incidents will be prevented,” Detoyato added.
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Named for the Filipino revolutionary general, the 3,250 ton BRP Gregorio del Pilar is the flagship of the Philippine Navy. The vessel was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in March 2011 and the Philippine Navy took delivery later that year. The ship was commissioned after a minor period of refurbishment in December 2011.

According to the Philippine Armed Forces, the vessel ran aground during a routine patrol, underlining the navigational challenges that persist in the shallow disputed shoals in the Spratly Islands. Half Moon Shoal was the location where a Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy frigate ran aground in 2012 on a routine patrol.

The incident could present new challenges for the Philippines, which has sought to assert its claims in the Spratly Islands. In 2016, a Hague-based arbitral tribunal presented its award in a case originally filed by Manila in 2013 after China’s seizure of Scarborough Shoal.

The tribunal ruled almost completely in favor of the Philippines’ submissions on maritime entitlements and pushed back on China’s capacious nine-dashed line claim. Despite the award, China has increased its presence in the Spratlys, where it has constructed seven artificial islands.

Moreover, the relationship between Beijing and Manila changed dramatically beginning in late-2016, after President Rodrigo Duterte took office in the Philippines. All of this presents a possible opening for China to come to the assistance of the Philippine vessel—a maneuver that would underline its de facto administrative presence in this part of the South China Sea.

As the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative’s Gregory Poling noted on Twitter, China has done this before: “It closed Jackson Atoll in 2016 to remove a stranded foreign vessel. This would be another matter entirely, but not sure its out of the question.”

The Philippine presidential palace on Friday issued a statement pushing back on the notion that China would assist. Retrieval operations were underway  “with no problems from China,” said Harry Roque, a spokesperson for the Philippine presidential office.

The recovery operation happens to coincide with a separate U.S. Navy-Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force bilateral exercises in the South China Sea. The exercise involves the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group.

28
General Discussion / Re: Asean, China debate South China Sea code
« on: September 07, 2018, 11:27:09 AM »
https://amti.csis.org/south-china-sea-code-conduct-still-speck-horizon/

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South China Sea Code of Conduct Still a Speck on the Horizon
By Gregory Poling | September 6, 2018
AMTI Update   

This article first appeared on the East Asia Forum website.

After two decades of talks, skepticism about the development of a South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) is well-deserved, but it is also important to acknowledge progress when it happens. The agreement on a single draft negotiating text, revealed ahead of the ASEAN–China Post Ministerial Meeting on August 2, 2018, is an important step in the process that deserves recognition.

The COC will not resolve the South China Sea disputes, nor was it ever meant to. Instead the COC is intended to manage disputes to avoid conflict pending their eventual resolution by direct negotiation or arbitration among the claimants. But any system to effectively manage the South China Sea disputes would require three things, none of which are achieved yet in the draft text.

First, an effective COC would need to be geographically defined. The claimants do not need to resolve their disputes, but they do need to agree on where those disputes are if they hope to effectively manage them.

For instance, any agreement that did not include the Paracel Islands and the waters around them would be unacceptable to Hanoi. The same goes for the Philippines in the case of Scarborough Shoal. And what of waters and undersea features in the claimed exclusive economic zones of Indonesia and Malaysia? These areas are all claimed by China via the nine-dash line, and would continue to be sites of tension if excluded.

According to Carl Thayer, who revealed many details of the draft text, Vietnam suggested that “the present Code of Conduct shall apply to all disputed features and overlapping maritime areas claimed under the 1982 UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] in the South China Sea.” But that is too vague to be effective and is worded to exclude areas in which Beijing claims historic rights not recognized by other parties under UNCLOS.

Indonesia suggested adding that “the Parties are committed to respect the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf of the coastal states as provided for in the 1982 UNCLOS.” But again, that would seem to purposely exclude areas in which China claims and is sure to assert historic rights. It might be a legally correct position to take, but it is not an effective basis for a COC.

The only way that any code could work is if it clearly encompasses the areas under contention, including all reefs, rocks, submerged banks, waters, and airspace in which China seeks to assert its historic rights. Specifying this without using language that would be unacceptable to any of the claimants would be difficult, but possible if all parties were committed to reaching a deal.

Second, an effective COC would need a dispute settlement mechanism. Disagreements over interpretation and application of the text are inevitable. This is clear from the history of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was too vague and had no means to resolve disagreements. As a result, most parties violated the text while insisting that they were still in compliance and pointing their fingers at others.

To resolve this problem, both Indonesia and Vietnam reportedly suggested that parties to the COC be able to take disagreements to the High Council under the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. That body, which has never been convened, would include representatives nominated by ASEAN members to hear and mediate disputes. Its rulings would not be legally binding or necessarily enforceable, but they would have considerable weight.

A major problem with the High Council suggestion would be that under the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, it can only be constituted by ASEAN members. A more effective option might be to spell out the procedures for convening a High Council-like body that would draw arbiters from a pool nominated by all parties, including China.

Third, any effective regime to manage the South China Sea disputes would need detailed provisions on fisheries management and oil and gas development. But the positions enumerated in the negotiating text so far are contradictory and fall well short of outlining a detailed and coordinated system to manage resources.

For instance, Jakarta suggests that states should coordinate on fighting illegal fishing as a form of transnational crime, but Indonesia’s definition of illegal fishing includes activities that others, especially China, consider legal. And China’s suggestions on oil and gas cooperation seem more geared towards excluding foreign companies than towards equitably managing resources with fellow claimants.

Unfortunately, there is a fundamental contradiction in the COC. It is the wrong vehicle to discuss details on resource management because of its membership, but it cannot be an effective means to manage the disputes without doing so. Most of the ASEAN states have no stake in the contested fisheries or hydrocarbon resources and would be uninterested in negotiating the specifics of overlapping entitlements and resource rights.

The solution to this problem could be a COC signed by all 10 ASEAN members and China that establishes general rules of behavior within a clear geographic area, sets up an effective dispute settlement mechanism, and endorses the immediate start of follow-on negotiations involving only the relevant claimants on fisheries management and oil and gas cooperation.

Such a document would be a major step towards peacefully managing the South China Sea disputes, and there are hints that at least some sections of the negotiating text might be on the right track. But the differences between parties remain considerable and final agreement on an effective COC still seems some way off.

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http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1046636

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Team to look into Navy flagship grounding

By Priam Nepomuceno September 1, 2018, 9:17 am

MANILA -- An investigating and assessment team has been formed to look into the grounding of the Philippine Navy flagship, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15), off Hasa-Hasa Shoal in Palawan province on Wednesday night.

This was confirmed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato in an interview late Friday.

The team, formed by Navy flag officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, is “expected to be aboard the ship anytime Saturday," Detoyato said in Filipino.

He said the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is recoverable as no hull penetration has been reported.

"There is very minimal damage to the hull," Detoyato said, noting that damage seems to be confined to the starboard (right) propeller of the ship.

The Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Sindangan (MRRV 4407) arrived at the site of the grounding at 11 a.m. Friday and will be joined by the BRP Cabra (MRRV 4409) anytime soon to render assistance in case non-essential personnel need to be moved to lighten the ship.

The BRP Nestor Reinoso (PG-380) is also on hand to provide help, Detoyato said.

Earlier, he said two tugboats have left Batangas, one on Thursday and the other on Friday, to help in the recovery operations.

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is one of three Hamilton-class cutters acquired by the Philippine Navy from the United States Coast Guard and converted into frigates.

These ships have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

These vessels have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and a sea and loiter time of 45 days. They are armed with a 76-mm. Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25-mm. and 20-mm. light cannons, and .50-caliber machine guns. (PNA)

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http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1046089

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PCG to host 2nd maritime exercise with US, ASEAN nations

August 27, 2018, 5:52 pm

MANILA -- The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will host again the week-long maritime security exercise, bringing 100 local and foreign maritime law enforcement counterparts from eight nations in Manila.

This year is the second hosting of the PCG of the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise’s boarding workshop which will be held from August 27 to 31 at Coast Guard Surface Support Force in South Harbor, Port Area, Manila.

The exercise aims to address common concerns of maritime security threats prevalent in the ASEAN region such as illegal fishing, smuggling, illegal drug and human trafficking. It also aims to promote mutual international cooperation between participating agencies.

The workshop, led by the US Navy, will be joined by the PCG, Philippine Navy, Royal Brunei Navy, Royal Singapore Navy, Royal Thai Navy, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (BAKAMLA Indonesia), Indonesian Navy-Komando Armanda I, Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency, and Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Center.

The US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment will lead the conduct of maritime interdiction operation/vessel board, search and seizure (MIO/VBSS) workshop on best practices of use of force and demonstration of arresting techniques; lecture on smuggling trends; drills on flex and handcuffing, positive control measures for compliant and non-compliant boarding, and multiple-man room entry, tactical team movement and inspections and weapons retention to be executed aboard PCG vessels.

The multilateral exercise aims to evaluate the agencies’ maritime information exchange capabilities with SEACAT headquarters through Information Fusion Center based in Changi Naval Base, Singapore and 3rd Thai Naval Area Command in Phuket, Thailand.

Participating countries have sent liaison officers to man the watch team that will facilitate exchange of information, coordinate surveillance operations, and alert respective headquarters in the conduct of MIO/VBSS operation to the vessel of interest.

To mark the conclusion of the exercise, a sea-phase activity will be conducted with two tracking and boarding scenarios in the Philippines waters, one at the west off Subic, Zambales while the other is in the Sulu Sea respectively. (PCG PR)

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