As China circles, US-Thai military friendship stumbles

Perturbed by Thailand’s coup, the United States has scaled back a showpiece joint military exercise with its Southeast Asian ally, but analysts say that with China circling for influence, Washington will not push the kingdom’s generals too far.

Famed for its jungle bonding sessions where US and Thai soldiers down snake blood, the annual “Cobra Gold” event is the crown jewel of Thailand’s decades-long strategic alliance with the US.

But this year’s edition, which started on Monday, has been slimmed down, as Washington recalibrates the level of military support it is willing to show for a country under junta rule — and martial law — since last May. Continue reading

US moves closer to reviving bases in Philippines as part of focus on Asia

Pacific Fleet commander in Manila for talks as next phase of American ‘pivot’ towards Asia takes key step of setting up troops agreement

With the US pressing ahead with its “pivot” to Asia, Admiral Harry Harris is expected to use his first official trip to the Philippines to discuss a deal which would allow United States troops to be rotated around the country in bigger numbers and in more areas.

“Admiral Harris plans to use this opportunity to discuss the strong and enduring relationships between the US and Philippine navies, the implications of the US military’s rebalance to the Pacific, and the importance of naval engagement and co-operation for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” the US embassy in Manila said yesterday. Continue reading

LYONS and FISHER: Is it time to create an ‘Asian NATO’?

As was mentioned here only a few days ago is already being considered.

A regional security alternative should replace a weakened U.S. Pacific presence

China’s new president, Xi Xinping, has discarded former leader Deng Xiaoping’s cautious foreign policy of “bide our time, hide our capabilities,” by mounting increasing military challenges to America’s Asian allies and to U.S. leadership.

China’s bullying tactics in the East China Sea and South China Sea will only increase with its expanding military might despite President Obama’s much-heralded pivot to Asia. The pivot is not enough. Washington must elevate regional military cooperation if China is to be deterred. Continue reading

Call Made to Congress for China War Plan

The U.S. military needs a more focused war plan specific to China, especially after China’s recent declaration of an air defense zone over the East China Sea, a group of defense analysts told a prominent House subcommittee Wednesday.

As part of the Pentagon’s overall defense strategy to pivot to the Pacific, the U.S. should buy more Virginia-class attack submarines, prioritizing long-range anti-ship missiles, carrier-based drones, and missile defense technology, the analysts told the House Armed Services’ Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. Continue reading

China Deploys New Bomber with Long-Range Land Attack Missile

China’s military recently deployed an upgraded strategic bomber that will carry the military’s new long-range land attack cruise missile, capable of attacking Hawaii and Guam, according to a draft congressional report.

The Oct. 8 draft of the forthcoming report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission also reveals that China has developed a new armed drone nearly identical to U.S. military’s Reaper. The Chinese missile-firing drone likely was developed through Chinese cyber espionage against U.S. defense contractors.

The report highlights a rapidly modernizing Chinese military that includes large numbers of new weapons and new warfighting techniques, including attack capabilities in space and cyberspace. Continue reading

Returning to the Land or Turning Toward the Sea? India’s Role in America’s Pivot

China is pushing the U.S. and India closer. Are they focusing on the wrong set of challenges?

Few diplomatic overtures have generated loftier expectations in recent years than Washington’s rapprochement with New Delhi. Frequently at loggerheads during the Cold War, then kept apart by the U.S. commitment to counter-proliferation and India’s pursuit of a nuclear deterrent, the two sides have never had a warm relationship. That began to change during the George W. Bush administration, a transformation that was symbolized by a controversial agreement allowing the United States to sell civilian nuclear technology to India, despite its status as a nuclear-armed nation that is not recognized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Obama administration has since picked up where its predecessor left off. The president, for example, has called India a “natural ally” of the United States, while his former secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, declared that India was “a linchpin” of America’s pivot to the Asia-Pacific. Continue reading