Indo Pacific strategy

gonefishing

New Member
As Sino-Japanese relations continue to slide, the Chinese Ambassador to the Court of St James' has had a comment published in today's Daily Telegraph denouncing Japanese "militarism", the Japanese Prime Minister's determination "to lead Japan on to a perilous path" as well as stating, most strongly, that "They [the Japanese] pose a serious threat to global peace. The Chinese will not allow such attempts. I am sure British and all other peace-loving folk will not remain indifferent."

China and Britain won the war together
In the Harry Potter story, the dark wizard Voldemort dies hard because the seven horcruxes, which contain parts of his soul, have been destroyed. If militarism is like the haunting Voldemort of Japan, the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is a kind of horcrux, representing the darkest parts of that nation’s soul.

Last week, in flagrant disregard of the feelings of his Asian neighbors, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, paid homage at the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Class A war criminals – defined as those who committed “crimes against peace” – are enshrined. They were among the 28 Japanese political and military leaders convicted by an international military tribunal after the Second World War.

The Yasukuni Shrine was established more than 150 years ago, and Asian people know very well how it has since been used by Japanese militarists as a spiritual symbol to launch wars of aggression. In addition, it is deeply offensive to witness convicted war criminals being venerated. These were leaders found guilty of inflicting indescribable suffering on countless individuals during the war. Rightly, within hours of Mr Abe’s visit, there were strong condemnations from China, South Korea and across the international community.

Visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders cannot simply be an internal affair for Japan, or a personal matter for any Japanese official. Nor does it concern only China-Japan and Korea-Japan relations. Deep down, paying this kind of homage reveals whether Japan is trustworthy. It raises serious questions about attitudes in Japan and its record of militarism, aggression and colonial rule.

At stake is the credit of that country’s leaders in observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and upholding peace. It is a choice between aggression and non-aggression, between good and evil and between light and dark. Regrettably, what Mr Abe did has raised the spectre of militarism rising again in Japan.

Mr Abe’s track record provides evidence. Since taking office in 2012, he has been talking enthusiastically about justice, democracy, peace and dialogue. But the reality is seen in his actions. He is unrepentant about Japan’s militarist past and makes no apologies for it. He has openly questioned whether his country should be defined as an “aggressor”, and did his utmost to beautify its history of militaristic aggression and colonial rule.

In May 2013, Mr Abe caused great offence in China and Korea when he was photographed posing in a military jet boldly marked with the number 731: this was the code of an infamous Japanese biological warfare research facility performing human experiments in China during the war.

With these precedents, the world should be very alert. Mr Abe wishes to amend the post-war pacifist constitution, imposed on Japan by the USA. Close attention should be paid to his colleagues, such as Taro Aso, the deputy prime minister, who asserted that Japan could “learn” from Nazi Germany about revising constitutions. Mr Abe has worked hard to portray China as a threat, aiming to sow discord among Asia-Pacific nations, raising regional tensions and so creating a convenient excuse for the resurrection of Japanese militarism.

Last year, I explained in a newspaper article the key principles concerning the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, and pointed out the severe consequences of Japan’s provocations. This time, I believe Mr Abe has continued his brinksmanship by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine; it has rekindled bitter memories of Japan’s past-war crimes.

We know from history that a country that starts a war and ends up in defeat has two options. One is to face up squarely to its past, make sincere apologies and renounce militarism, as Germany did. The German approach has contributed to regional stability and world peace. It has earned respect and acclaim from the whole world.

The other option is to deny past aggression, allow militarism to rise and raise the threat of war. Unfortunately, Mr Abe’s actions confirm that he favours the second option: he seems determined to lead Japan on to a perilous path. The international community should be on high alert.

Next week, The Railway Man, a film based on a true story, will be released. It tells the tragic story of a British PoW tortured by the Japanese in the Second World War. The film is not only about the atrocities committed by his Japanese captors, but also how one of them is harrowed by his own past. His redemption is only effected through deep remorse and penitence.

China and Britain were wartime allies. Our troops fought shoulder to shoulder against Japanese aggressors and made enormous sacrifices. Sixty-eight years have passed since that horrible war. Yet there are always some incorrigible people in Japan who show no signs of remorse for war crimes. Instead, they seek to reinterpret history. They pose a serious threat to global peace. The Chinese will not allow such attempts. I am sure British and all other peace-loving folk will not remain indifferent.

China and Britain are both victors of the Second World War. We played a key role in establishing the post-war international order that has delivered great benefits for mankind. Our two countries have a common responsibility to work with the international community to oppose and condemn any words or actions aimed at invalidating the peaceful post-war consensus and challenging international order. We should join together both to uphold the UN Charter and to safeguard regional stability and world peace.
Is this a further acceleration of the war of words or is it nothing of significance? How will Japan respond, if at all?

The laughable attempt to try and lump the UK and China together is as amusing as it is poorly executed. Nonetheless, Britain has been attempting to improve relations with China and seek FDI, particularly after the somewhat cooling-off of relations when the Prime Minister met with HH the Dalai Lama. Will the Ambassador's comments encourage Britain to keep quiet about China's increasingly destabilising moves in the East China Sea or will London ignore it or even feel the need to harden its line with China over the way it treats Japan?

I have my own views but I'd be interested to read the opinions of people with much more experience in these matters.
 

Rimasta

Member
Well the Chinese Ambassador is wrong, on a number of points. For starters saying that, "Britain and China defeated Japan is ludicrous. Yes both were major combatants during WW2, but given the fact that the Chinese army was almost completely supplied and Commanded by the Americans that wrong. The two nations made a substantial contribution to the war effort in South-East Asia but the language seems to imply they won it on their own. The US supplied the War on 6 continents, something the Brits could only dream of at that point.
Then there is the more pertinent issue of Japanese rearmament and how the Chinese use the word, "militarism" in their language. This I believe is to bring forth bitter memories of the Japanese Empire under militarists who ruled Japan. For one, the political climate in Tokyo today is NOTHING like it was during the beginning on the 20th century, assassination, very quiet coups, were the order of the day. Japan has got to do more to acknowledge its past, my grandfather fought the Japanese from Pearl Harbor, to Guadalcanal, to Bougainville, but he drove a Japanese car, he knew as many do that the war is long over and Japan today is a partner not an aggressor.
Lastly, China's military might dwarfs Japanese strategic capabilities. The Chinese have been acting simply like a bully to its neighbors, the Philipines Scarbrough Shoal is a perfect example, or the PLA incursion across the LOC in India, or the MASSIVE military build up going on in China. Japan as a sovereign nation is allowed to provide for its defense, so again China seems to be making its own rules. In fact the entire things seems more for domestic consumption. What I see is increased nationalism with the money and the muscle to back it up, and now it's as if the are the arbiters of arms control. Anyone can realize that the posture and equipment of the JSDF's is of a defensive nature only. The Diet and Abe aren't insane enough to go after China alone.
 

swerve

Super Moderator
The Chinese army was not commanded by Americans. It came under allied command in Burma, where a US general commanded some Chinese units under British overall command. Elsewhere, its command was entirely Chinese - & most of the Chinese army was fighting in China, not Burma.


BTW, I've been to Yasukuni. My partner's oldest uncle is commemorated there. Like most of the millions whose names are recorded there, he wasn't a war criminal. He was a pilot, very young & barely trained, KIA against the USN in 1945, on his first (& always meant to be only) mission, when his younger brother, my partner's father, was a child. I'm not going to refuse to go there because 14 out of a few million were war criminals.
 

Rimasta

Member
The Chinese army was not commanded by Americans. It came under allied command in Burma, where a US general commanded some Chinese units under British overall command. Elsewhere, its command was entirely Chinese - & most of the Chinese army was fighting in China, not Burma.


BTW, I've been to Yasukuni. My partner's oldest uncle is commemorated there. Like most of the millions whose names are recorded there, he wasn't a war criminal. He was a pilot, very young & barely trained, KIA against the USN in 1945, on his first (& always meant to be only) mission, when his younger brother, my partner's father, was a child. I'm not going to refuse to go there because 14 out of a few million were war criminals.
Yes you are right about the Allied Command. I generalized that rereading my post. I was more referring the General Stilwell and Allied efforts in the region like the Burma-ledo road and the aircraft "flying the hump" over the Himalayas. Chinese communist forces had numerous independent victories as did some nationalists forces. But reading from several sources, it seems the Chinese military forces, communist/nationalists, were largely equipped with US manufactured arms or captured Japanese equipment.
I've read about the shrine. There was an author/professor at the University of Hawaii named Jerome T. Hagen, his books are not easy to acquire. He said basically the same thing and did talk about the controversy of shrine, but that it was also built with mud from the bottom of the Yangtze River and the shrine faces towards China. Knowing what I know, it is my belief China is spinning the story to suite there objectives. Here I believe the are trying to discredit Tokyo as a bunch of " war junkies" simply put while the are for international norms and peaceful development. Its a media war.
 

swerve

Super Moderator
Well, since it was established in 1869 to commemorate the dead of a Japanese civil war, it seems rather unlikely that its founders had China in mind.
 

koxinga

New Member
One of the things I hope to understand is whether there was cultural or religious reasons which the remains of the war criminals are held in Yasakuni or for that matter, held any where at all.

I mean, post Nuremberg, as I understand, most of the remains of those Nazis found guilty and sentenced to death were cremated and the remains were deliberately scattered. Why was this not done in the case of the Tokyo trials? That would have partly prevented this thorny political issue from surfacing every few years.

edit:
To add to my first para, the argument brought forward by the Conservative elements suggest that they see a guy such as Tojo or Yamashita as no different from the average joe segeant of the Empire. Correct?
 

swerve

Super Moderator
Their remains are not at Yasukuni. None of the dead commemorated at Yasukuni are buried there. My partner's uncle, for example, took off & never came back. His remains are either at the bottom of the sea, or (if he succeeded) burned up when he hit an enemy ship.

The bodies of the major war criminals will have been cremated, &, I expect, buried in family graves. That is standard Japanese practice. They were 'enshirined' at Yasukuni, i.e. there was a ceremony to welcome their souls to the shrine, over 30 years after their deaths.

The shrine remembers dead. It doesn't bury them.

BTW, 148 Koreans were convicted of war crimes while in Japanese service (mostly lesser than the 14 major ones who the big fuss is about). The South Korean government unilaterally & illegally (it had no jurisdiction) 'pardoned' 83 of them in 2006. It also decided to review the cases of the 23 who were executed.

160 Taiwanese were convicted, & 11 executed.

Japan can rightly be criticised for its selective blindness towards past crimes - but Korean hypocrisy is breathtaking.

I see Tojo (rightly convicted, IMO) as very different from the average conscript soldier. I also see Yamashita as having been wrongly convicted. He was convicted of failing to prevent crimes which were committed contrary to his orders, of which he had no prior knowledge & in most cases could not have prevented even with foreknowledge, many of them by officers outside his line of command. As his defence lawyer said, under that principle a US commander would be guilty of every crime committed by any of his soldiers. More - he'd be guilty of every crime committed by soldiers under separate command but within his area. Utterly insupportable, & never applied to anyone else, AFAIK.
 

Rimasta

Member
Well, since it was established in 1869 to commemorate the dead of a Japanese civil war, it seems rather unlikely that its founders had China in mind.
Ok it looks like I'm mistaken but I have the book here in front of me. It's, "War in the Pacific" by Jerome T. Hagen, a retired Marine one star. Is the Yasukuni Shrine the same as the Shrine of Remorse? Reading this it appears the centerpiece of the Shrine the is a large Buddhist statue of Koa Kannon, goddess of mercy. It says the the statue is made of clay, supposedly, so not definite it seems, half of which is from Japan the other half of which is from the Yangtze R. Then it says there is a tea pavilion at the Shrine which has a wall mural of the Nanking skyline. Now I may be making a mistake but I did a google search and it seems they may be the same. Could you clarify for me please?
The reason I point this out is it seems some sort of tacit acknowledgment for what the Japanese did in its occupied territories.

Also I'd agree about Yamishita, given the levels of inter service rivalry between the IJN and the Army things like this were inevitable, and not isolated. On various battlefields the working relationship between the two services seemed strained at best. At worst units would attack without orders, or as in Manila's case , ignore the open city order. I have seem a fair amount of material and yes, I would agree that it was out of his control. His army was retreating although I dare say, that Allied advance was slowed as allied firepower had systematically pummel the city in the face of stiff opposition.
 

swerve

Super Moderator
Yasukuni is a Shinto shrine, not Buddhist.

Ah! I found it. The Koa Kannon temple (established 1940 by a general who'd commanded in China), which has ashes of seven of the executed Class A war criminals (the other ashes were disposed of secretly by the Americans). Absolutely nothing to do with Yasukuni. It's about 75 km away, outside Tokyo (Yasukuni is pretty central), in a different prefecture.

Koa Kannon reckons the 'Greater East Asian War" was a war of self-defence, so it's not exactly remorseful. I'd never heard of it before.
 

koxinga

New Member
Thanks. That is interesting. I am familiar with the enshrinement concept, being of Chinese descent (the concept of having ancestral tablets, which we have back home).

I guess then the question is, why is it difficult for Japan to remove the tablets? I have been told by some parties that this is partly due to religious (Shinto) beliefs that these souls have served the Emperor and Japan and therefore, requires them to be honoured, regardless of the concept of "right" or "wrong" as these are mortal concepts which does not apply to souls. Pardon my ignorance.
 

swerve

Super Moderator
Well, it's not down to 'Japan'. Yasukuni is a private organisation. The government can't give it orders.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
Well, since it was established in 1869 to commemorate the dead of a Japanese civil war, it seems rather unlikely that its founders had China in mind.
True and the Class A war criminals were added to the list of enshrinees in 1978 (and not at the end of WWII).

Well, it's not down to 'Japan'. Yasukuni is a private organisation. The government can't give it orders.
I understand that Emperor Hirohito initially paid visits but stopped after war criminals were added to the list of enshrinees. For these who are interested in more details, the Atlantic has a series of articles by James Fallows (who crowd sources for the articles linked below). These articles provide some perspective (American, mainly) on the issues raised by Abe's acts and decisions:-

(i) Our New Champion in Self-Defeating Soft Power: Japan - Only one step could have made conditions worse among Japan, China, and South Korea, with spillover effects on America. That is the step Japan's prime minister has just taken.

(ii) Why Yasukuni Is Different From Auschwitz - In symbolism, it's worse.

(iii) Crowdsourcing the Yasukuni Question: From Tokyo to Philadelphia - One American president, two possible analogies.

(iv) Why Yasukuni Matters: The Snarls of Asian History - The many layers of past, present, and future exposed by one minor-seeming episode.

(v) But Wait, There's More: Yasukuni, Arlington, Doolittle, and LeMay - More on "victors' justice" and the standards by which we judge the brutality of war.

(vi) 'Stop Talking About Yasukuni; the Real Problem Is Yūshūkan' - Why a museum matters more than a shrine.
 
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OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
1. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos has gotten some press attention. Links to two of them are provided below:-

(i) The New York Times, as a report on Abenomics that “Japan is back”, here.

(ii) Reuters on the other hand reports that 'Japan-China tensions take center-stage with Abe in Davos.' Experts in Davos said Sino-Japan tensions posed the biggest risk of conflict around the world in 2014, along with hostility between Iran and Saudi Arabia.​

2. The Sino-Japanese tensions cannot be understood without some context. Let us begin with developments from 17 December 2013. At that time, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's cabinet approved a new 10-year security strategy that continue a review process started in 2010. Over the next five years, Japan will increase military spending by about 1 trillion Yen (US$9.73 billion) over the past five year period. While much of the spending will involve new military assets, including additional destroyers and submarines as well as drones, fighter jets, and amphibious vehicles. The December 2013 National Defense Program Guidelines (the "2013 Guidelines") provides for a comprehensive review of Japan's force structure under 4 categories (as compared to the older 2010 guidelines), as follows:-

(i) Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces: Personnel - 159,000 (up by 5,000); Tanks - about 300 (down by 100); and Artillery Systems like howitzers and rockets - about 300 (down by 100).

(ii) Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces: Destroyers - 54 (up by 6); Submarines - 22 (unchanged); and Aircraft - 170 (up by 20).

(iii) Japan Air Self-Defense Forces: Fighters - 280 (up by 20).

(iv) Ballistic missile defense: AEGIS destroyers - 8 (up by 2); and surface to air missile units - 6 groups (unchanged).​

3. As observers have noted, Beijing's investments in its armed forces are designed to push back US carrier battle groups even further, outside of not just the first but the second island chain. Therefore, Tokyo's new defense plans calls for “building a dynamic joint defense force”, with an emphasis on jointness and operational integration. Tokyo is pressured to allocate Japan's limited resources to priority areas of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ (JSDF) capability. In particular, Tokyo's 2013 defence budget of 4.82 trillion yen or US$48.97 billion is being used to focus on two threats:-

(i) Beijing's coordinated policy of tailored coercion aimed at gaining greater authority and control over its near seas and associated airspace -- with bargaining, and escalation, de-escalation and re-escalation on the threat to use force -- as the new normal; and

(ii) the rapid modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), especially its air, naval, missile, cyberspace and outer space forces. Together, these capabilities enhance China’s anti-access and area-denial (A2AD) potential. China's defense spending exceeded that of Japan in 2007 and in FY2012, China spent at least 670.2 billion yuan (or US$106.4 billion) on defence. Besides the fact that China's annual defence budget exceeds a hundred billion dollars since 2012, it is also widely believed that China's actual defense spending is much higher than the numbers released from official sources.​

4. The 2013 Guidelines highlights the importance of Japan as a 'proactive contributor' (as evidenced by scale of the JSDF's HADR deployment to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan) and focuses on the importance of protecting Japanese sea lines of communications. Tokoyo is not simply arguing for either war or peace. Rather, it has indicated that Japan is prepared to play a role in proactively shaping the external security environment in a manner that meets both the interests of Japan and its US ally. There is an uptick of activities that indicates that the JSDF has stepped up training with its US counterparts and taking part in Exercise Dawn Blitz 2013.

5. Beyond the 3 Ōsumi class LSTs, the JMSDF has plans for four helicopter destroyers, namely, the two 19,000 ton JDS Hyūga and JDS Ise, the two new 27,000 ton JDS Izumo (and its proposed sister-ship). These four helicopter-carrying destroyers form the core vessels of Japan's escort flotillas. Japanese Defense Ministry officials have said that there are no plans for the JDS Izumo to carry fighters, and insisted it is a multipurpose ship that will be used to deal with natural disasters or international emergency rescue operations. Since the end of World War II, one of the JMSDF's main missions has been to work in conjunction with the U.S. Navy to search out, and destroy if need be, enemy submarines. That mission remains unchanged. Beyond the above, there are three additional points to note:-

One, external observers have noted that it is impossible to predict the consequences of the vicious tit-for-tat cycle which Beijing and Tokyo have fallen into. One can surmise that China will continue to increase pressure on Japan to recognise that sovereignty over the Senkaku islands islands is indeed contested. Tokyo will presumably continue to push back, maintaining its position of having sole sovereignty over the islands. In the past 16 months, the positions of the Beijing and Tokyo have hardened, and there is no circuit breaker in sight.

Two, the actual rise marks just a small adjustment, a 3 per cent increase over the 2012 budget that will be used mainly for adjustments in defence posture, which is why Japan has been described by Daniel Clausen as a ‘stingy’ balancer. Seen from the perspective of traditional realism, the actions of Japan might be seen as dangerously complacent.

Three, JSDF amphibious forces would be crucial to seize and defend small islands. And in a lesser conflict, long-range firepower is less important than the capacity to kick the Chinese off a disputed island — and that takes amphibious forces from the Western Army Infantry Regiment. Tokyo has also taken steps to increase its surveillance capabilities over some of its outer lying islands. This may include procuring the RQ-4 Global Hawk and the rapid addition of 19 of the new RQ-21A Blackjack by JMSDF ships (once the testing for this system is completed by the US Navy and US Marine Corps). The 2013 Guidelines, calls for the establishment of a 2,000 to 3,000 strong amphibious force from the Western Army's Infantry Regiment, with 52 amphibious vehicles and 17 Osprey aircraft to deal with any military encounter near or on the disputed Senkaku islands.​

6. The discussion of potential conflict between China, North Korea or Japan cannot just be focused on a long-range exchange of missiles or cyber attacks. The 2013 Guidelines makes it clear that Tokyo is not simply going to sit back and be intimated by North Korea and China. If Japan can maintain its sensors and weapons in the opening days of conflict, regardless of the status of its bases or US aircraft carriers, then it can achieve its objectives while denying China the benefit of its A2AD investment (aka a strategy to counter China's A2AD investments). China, Japan and the US as resident maritime powers in Asia all understand that small islands throughout the First Island Chain (the Japan-Taiwan-Philippines archipelago) could become a mechanism to contest the local sea by controlling the adjacent land.

7. This means Japan needs to be able to conduct joint operations in an alliance framework, and it includes implementing responses tailored to in each situation, which range from troubled peace, to a skirmish, to full scale conventional war. The JSDF must retain the ability to conduct persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) activities for information dominance (aka a network of sensors) in the face of the PLA's A2AD efforts within the First Island Chain (the Japan-Taiwan-Philippines archipelago). Building a robust sensor network will enable the JSDF to posture their response (for escalation dominance) in accordance with changing needs. In particular, the JSDF will place priority on ensuring maritime and air superiority, which is the prerequisite for deterrence. Japan's current strategic environment is characterised by three features:-

One, further shifts in the distribution of power as the strategic weight of China (see this July 2013 report on "Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development" by Anthony H. Cordesman) increases relative to Japan and the US.

Two, flashpoints with the potential for skirmishes that lead to state-on-state conflict, including the Taiwan Straits, the Korean peninsula, the Senkaku Islands, the waters around China, including the East China Sea (see this CSIS video:[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKLR5UouED4#t=20"]Schieffer Series: Crisis in the East China Sea - YouTube[/nomedia]), and the South China Sea.

Three, a Beijing with a game-plan to escalate disputes at the time of its choosing. For example, after the purchase of three of the disputed Senkaku islands by the government in Tokyo in September 2012, China executed pre-planned actions as escalation of the dispute. The four moves by China in quick succession are as follows:-

(a) It issued an updated claim to its territorial baselines in the East China Sea.

(b) It filed a claim with the UN of an extended continental shelf beneath the East China Sea.

(c) It declared names and coordinates for the 71 features.

(d) It released the names of 26 geographic features on the islands.​

8. IMHO, China and Japan have a toxic relationship that will remain problematic in the long-run. For China's leaders, Obama is certainly easier to work with that Japan's Shinzo Abe, whom, close observers say is a right wing nationalist, and a historical revisionist with regards to Japanese war crimes during World War II. “Japan is a valued ally and friend. Nevertheless, the United States is disappointed that Japan's leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan's neighbors,” the US Embassy in Tokyo said in December 2013. There are two aspects of Shinzo Abe's shrewd political calculus at work:-

One, "Abe has provoked China, and China has reacted just as Abe wanted it to," says Professor Jeff Kingston of Temple University in Tokyo. "There is a shrewd political calculus at work here." What Professor Kingston means is that having an external threat in the shape of big and frightening China may be just what Mr Abe wants to help push through his controversial nationalist agenda at home.

Two, Japan as a smaller state picks a fight with a larger China, in the hope that the US, as patron, will back it up. It is really an attempt to get the US sucked in a broader conflict or adversarial relationship with China. However, this entrapment dynamic does not really capture the US-Japan relationship. After fighting two wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and feeling the after effects of imperial over-stretch, the US is unwilling to enter into a new conflict with China. The leadership of both US and China are in direct personal contact, so Abe's entrapment plan is not so easy to engineer.

9. Likewise, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman also noted that Singapore "regrets the visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine". It is clear that such visits reopen old grievances, and are unhelpful to building trust and confidence in the region. The visit to the Yasukuni Shrine has evoked further negative feelings in China, South Korea, and Taiwan.
 

spoz

The Bunker Group
The ocean is still a very big place and ships are, relatively, very small objects. Even SSNs have maximum transit speeds and all weapons have maximum ranges; even those with a couple of hundred kilometres range don't cover a great deal of an ocean. And, or course, they are in limited numbers and require real time targetting. Focal points become issues but in general there are alternative routings, which admittedly will take much longer. So while the problem is a difficult one it is not an impossible one - and there would be massive damage to the world economy, not just Australia's if there was a major war; but in that situation, which is probably the only one where anybody would seriously be able to threaten Australia's communications, the significant combatants would probably be directing their major efforts elsewhere.

On convoys, they still require the enemy to come to you at a point where you can concentrate your strength. The alternative is, in most situations, probably worse.
 

StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
I think its pretty unlikely we will see fuel imports into Australia blocked. While we get much of our stuff from Singapore, it could come directly from the Middle East to the West coast. Or from the US or South America or Indonesia. China blocking the Persian gulf I think would be hugely problematic and unrealistic. Australia also produces a reasonable amount on the West coast, not loads, but enough to run our military (~130,000+ barrels a day). We also have significant LPG and Gas reserves and a significant LPG car fleet. We have significant ethanol production as well. It is likely in the next 10 years we will see a surge in electric personal transportation as well. I think it is overstated how crippled we would be.

A more realistic case is global trade is disrupted or global oil supply is disrupted. You don't even need a war for that. That is really what Strategic reserves are for. Pre-2000 Australia didn't have a tremendous need for one, because we were fairly self sufficient for oil.

If international trade was to break down, Australian exports would be the big damage. Australia would stop exporting coal and iron ore to china for one, and China doesn't have never ending coal supply, most of their new coal stations will require imports.


seaspear said:
Interesting article on the Attack class of submarines the first of which to be named H.M.A.S Attack
Well it looks like the project is moving, construction of the yard has been started, SPA signed. Good to get that out before the next election.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
History has shown us that blockade can be an effective tool against an island nation and even though technologies change strategies still remain the same when dictated by geography.

In WW2 the Germans were very close to strangling the UK supply lines by the use of the U Boats. It was the introduction of long range aircraft such as the B-24 Liberator operating from North America, Greenland / Iceland and the UK enabling full air cover of the Atlantic that turned the Battle of the Atlantic in the allies favour. Of course Huff Duff, radar, asdic / sonar, Ultra, Enigma, and Donitz's micromanagement of the u boats at sea played significant parts as well.

In the Pacific the USN submarine fleet decimated the Japanese merchant marine and effectively blockaded the home islands. Most importantly of all they successfully stopped the flow of oil and fuel products from the Dutch East Indies to Japan. This blockade also significantly impacted upon the food supply of the home islands and by wars end the population was on very low rations. However the IJA and IJN had managed to stockpile significant quantities of fuel in the home islands for the defence of the home islands against the US invasion of Japan - OP DOWNFALL.

Whilst Australia or NZ may be able to feed itself, how does it transport the food from the farm to the consumer if there is no fuel for the truck or train? During WW2 gas was used in some vehicles, but a lot of gas was used in the cities domestically with many having gas works and trains were steam engines using coal. So no basic problems moving food and goods around. Today trains are either diesel electric or electric. In Australia a significant amount of the electricity generation is coal based. What happens to that if your oil based fuel supply flow is interrupted for a significant amount of time? In NZ most of our electricity generation is hydro or geothermal based, however most of our automotive and aviation fuel is imported. We do export oil, but the oil that we extract is not the light sweet crude oil that is required to refine petrol etc. Hence both of our nations face the same problem and it's not whether one is weaker or stronger but more that we both have the same Achilles heel. And that is why BOTH our navies need to be strong and have the right tools.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I think its pretty unlikely we will see fuel imports into Australia blocked. While we get much of our stuff from Singapore, it could come directly from the Middle East to the West coast. Or from the US or South America or Indonesia. China blocking the Persian gulf I think would be hugely problematic and unrealistic. Australia also produces a reasonable amount on the West coast, not loads, but enough to run our military (~130,000+ barrels a day). We also have significant LPG and Gas reserves and a significant LPG car fleet. We have significant ethanol production as well. It is likely in the next 10 years we will see a surge in electric personal transportation as well. I think it is overstated how crippled we would be.

A more realistic case is global trade is disrupted or global oil supply is disrupted. You don't even need a war for that. That is really what Strategic reserves are for. Pre-2000 Australia didn't have a tremendous need for one, because we were fairly self sufficient for oil.

If international trade was to break down, Australian exports would be the big damage. Australia would stop exporting coal and iron ore to china for one, and China doesn't have never ending coal supply, most of their new coal stations will require imports.




Well it looks like the project is moving, construction of the yard has been started, SPA signed. Good to get that out before the next election.
Maybe so, but such a possibility should never be overlooked or forgotten. Like I posted above, it's a well known and used strategy and should always be planned for, especially if one is an island maritime nation.
 

oldsig127

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Today trains are either diesel electric or electric. In Australia a significant amount of the electricity generation is coal based. What happens to that if your oil based fuel supply flow is interrupted for a significant amount of time?
Minor detail. Much of the freight network carrying coal in Queensland is electric. Electricity which is coal generated. It *would* be all of it, but stage four of the coal electrification was abandoned to use the funds for a more politically useful extension of the passenger service from Caboolture to Gladstone

Clearly this is not universal within Australia (Qld has over 3 times as much electrified rail as NSW , the next largest user) and current moves to shut down coal mining and power generation have driven up the cost of electric rail haulage to comparable with diesel. This will not help strategically to say the least.

oldsig
 

malleboy

New Member
Maybe so, but such a possibility should never be overlooked or forgotten. Like I posted above, it's a well known and used strategy and should always be planned for, especially if one is an island maritime nation.
I appreciate the rigour and knowledge that threads in this forum have, so with my personal limited military knowledge, I tend not to post but enjoy the exchanges.

I'm curious to understand how a block aid of Australia would work. Whilst I agree that Australia is an island, it is continental sized island (albeit the smallest continent). I'm curious about how a crippling naval block aid of Australia that effected our fighting ability would be maintained. I could conceive of how a block aid that disrupts trade and impacts the civilian economy might be undertaken but to cut the fuel and supplies needed for continued military operation would require a block aid that is very thorough.

A blockaid at source of resources would immediately bring multiple world powers into the conflict and it would require not just shutting down the Malacca straits but middle eastern and America's source of resources, a very challenging proposition. (Again thinking in terms of block aid to the point of impacting supplies required for military not just economic impact)

A blockaid at destination, would require simultaneous, thorough block aid of Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane along with likely Darwin, Cairns/Townsville. I'm happy for someone to correct me but given the distances involved it would require 5 or 6 naval blockaid groups to cover the distinct ports being blockaided. Australia has some maritime strike capability from air (F35, FA18E/F, P8) which would require air protection for these naval forces. Plus small sub force would require anti-sub ships. This force would then have to be maintained and supplied in place, at quite some distance from any friendly ports, requiring a massive logistics and supply chain, which would be vulnerable to intervention by Australian subs, so would itself require more combat ships to be assigned to protect it. Furthermore ships could not maintain at sea permanently and so would likely require additional forces to rotate through the blockaid.

Any country trying this level of blockaid would have to use so many combat ships to thoroughly enforce the blockaid, that it would likely leave itself vulnerable elsewhere. As I said happy for more knowledgeable poster to inform me of where this post is inaccurate or incorrect.

OK reading the posts posted whilst I was writing mine, the option is a sub block aid, but the issue with this that it would hit 3rd party shipping. A attacking force would have to be very careful on the ships targetted. It would still take a large sub force to cover all Australia's ports.
 
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