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Pacific Islands - Polynesia and Melanesia.

Discussion in 'Geostrategic Issues' started by ngatimozart, Apr 10, 2018.

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  1. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    China is certainly emerging as a Superpower but remember its government still manages the economy, not the best alternative. More importantly the have and have- not divide is significant. Yes, there is a thriving 300 million middle class segment but what about the other 1 billion? Corruption and looming environmental problems may limit how far China can advance along with population issues caused by Mao's one child policy which resulted in a decline in the female to male ratio. India doesn't have the latter issue but shares some of the former issues. It took two World wars, a few local wars, and some pretty stupid pollies to reduce the UK to its present status, a process that took 100 years. The USA will be a major force for sometime to come.
     
  2. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Peter Jennings has written a piece in the Australian today which basically echoes what we've been writing about on the Chinese activity in Vanuatu (can't link, help please)
    He suggests the large Chinese built wharf at Luganville should be hosting an LHD right now, a Patrol Boat should be permantly deployed to Port Vila and that our Pacific policy suffers from a "crushing lack of imagination"

    Further, " Just as in WW2 Vanuatu and indeed all the Melanesian islands are vital strategic geography for Australia. A Chinese base there would seriously complicate Aust and US military activity on our East coast - more strategic is needed in the Pacific " and so on.

    These thought equally apply to NZ and I highly recommend the article to round out this discussion.
     
  3. t68

    t68 Well-Known Member

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    instead of a perm deployed patrol boat why cant they have perm positions on the Pacific Patrol Boats and pay for the manning of their members attached to said boats?
    or does this occur already?
     
  4. StevoJH

    StevoJH Active Member

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    Do many of those patrol boats get enough sea time to justify a permanent RAN detachment being assigned to the ones where the offer would be accepted?

    If you did that, you would probably need to throw in enough operating money to ensure they can operate up to a required number of days per year. Out of curiousity, how do these countries rate for corruption at the moment? Would the money get where it is needed?
     
  5. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    The NZG has authorised the deployment of two IPVs to Fiji during 2018, similar to last years six month deployment. I would suggest that these deployments could be used as a template for other RNZN deployments to Vanuatu and or / other Pac Is nations.
     
  6. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    This might be sort of like the question of "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" As I understand it, many of the Pacific Patrol Boats were getting utilized less than planned or intended, in part due to problems the various Pacific Boat forum members were having keeping the vessels serviceable. What I am less certain about is why these problems were occurring. If it was due to a lack of sufficient personnel with the proper technical and maintenance skills, then having RAN and/or RNZN personnel seconded to the S. Pacific island nations to provide the needed skills would be helpful. As would having personnel from those island nations schooled and serving within the RAN and RNZN to learn and take back skills to their respective nations. OTOH if the problem was instead more related to a lack of appropriate native maintenance and support facilities, I am not sure much could be done about that, at least not in an economical and efficient fashion. A third potential issue might have been that parts and support for various patrol boat systems might have been too scarce or expensive. If it was this last case, then selecting appropriate COTS systems might mitigate this somewhat, though much would also likely depend on what it readily available in the different island nations.

    That might be needed, if the maintenance and serviceability issues could be dealt with. What might also help is if some sort of maritime surveillance capability could be established for the various S. Pacific nations. I am thinking of something along the lines of 2nd or 3rd tier maritime patrol/surveillance aircraft like Beech Super King Air, Viking Twin Otters, or Cessna SkyCourier aircraft configured with some maritime surveillance radar, E/O systems, and comms. The idea being that the aircraft could provide a much greater search volume capability than a surface vessel could for SAR work, as well as fisheries/EEZ patrolling and pollution control. This could then perhaps permit the patrol boats (though most nations only have one IIRC) to be utilized more efficiently.
     
  7. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    http://dfat.gov.au/geo/pacific/engagement/Documents/stepping-up-australias-pacific-engagement.pdf
    One of the design features of both the last generation Pacific PBS and the next is that all equipment is COTS and readily maintainable in the remote regions.
    The RAN runs a programme whereby Maritime advisors and technical officers are posted directly to the recipient nations to ensure sustainment. Further, Australia has undertaken mid life upgrades on all the boats back in Oz.
    Fiji withdrew from the programme for a number of years following the coup and subsequent ructions but is now back in the fold.
    Australia has stepped up its diplomatic efforts recently, detailed below, however there is more to do.
     
  8. StevoJH

    StevoJH Active Member

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    Operating large GA aircraft like the King Air and Twin Otter may be beyond the economic capacity of some of the smaller island Pacific Nations, as much as it would be useful. Anything along those lines would require AUS, NZ or US funding and support in order for it to be feasible.

    Most of these countries have populations of 10,000 to 100,000 people and GDP's of less than $500 Million USD.
     
  9. Ocean1Curse

    Ocean1Curse Member

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    With out a unifying trade and governance structure Pacific Island nations will develop in different directions. Pacific Island politicians are the equal of there foreign counterparts. Having such a small population means they must always be alert to any investment opportunity. Pacific Island people come to New Zealand and Australia to learn about specific areas of management, not to learn how to govern. In a first world democracy you need two first world parties, that's just how it goes. Only a contest of ideas between two truthful parties could possibly produce a first world trade hub with strong boarders, trade and immigration control. I believe if we have weak and ineffective government all progress that is made will spiral down.

    Pacific Island people speak English as a first or second language, they do not speak Chinese as a first or second language. There fore student Visa and scholarships to Australian and New Zealand universities should double, and double again until Pac Is nations have satisfied there governance arrangements, and double agian until they satisfy there consumer needs. In conjunction with closer civil and defence relations it would be difficult to think of a more straight forward, cost effective scheme of outflanking direct foreign investment.
     
  10. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    I went through the list of the 13 Pacific patrol boat forum members, and IMO about half of them could likely maintain a basic MP aircraft capability with some outside help and funding. Most of these island-nations have a domestic airline which operates either ATR 42's, Dash 8's, or Twin Otters, or a combination of these aircraft types. If there is a domestic operator for a type, then I suspect that at least the basic/routine maintenance can be carried out. It would then be a matter of maintaining the sensors and comms, as well as managing the funding to acquire and operate/maintain the aircraft.

    Outside foreign aid would likely be needed to acquire the aircraft, which I suspect might be ~USD$15 mil. per aircraft (flyaway) if something like the Guardian 400 MP version of the Twin Otter was selected. IIRC the base Twin Otter price is USD$6.5 mil. but the MP version should be higher, though I do not know how much.

    As a side note, it looks like the Pacific Patrol Boat replacement programme is going to cost AUD$306 mil. for 19 patrol boats, which works out to ~USD$12.5 mil. per boat. The inclusion of sufficient funding to acquire, operate and sustain perhaps 13 STOL aircraft that are configured for maritime patrol surveillance, and can potentially be re-roled as needed for medevac as an aero-ambulance, I think could potentially 'buy' a fair amount of good will.

    Such a capability is peaceful, has constabulary and emergency/HADR roles, and can aide S. Pacific nations in taking responsibility for and control of their own EEZ's and maritime approaches. It might not work, or be cost-effective, but it would certainly seem to be something work at least examining.
     
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  11. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    I am wondering if Australia and NZ have say three 3rd tier MPA based in the Islands with RAAF / RNZAF personnel crewing and maintaining the aircraft. They could be based say in Samoa, but cover all of the island nations EEZs. On the water RAN / RNZN crewed boats. with one boat in each Island nation and they could train up locals at the same time. The RNZN has done that with Fiji last year and will gain this year. The funding wouldn't come out of the defence budgets, but from the Foreign Affairs / Aid budgets. It could be a win win for all parties.
     
  12. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    The problem I see with something like this would be the limited aircraft range. The aircraft would likely need to 'island hop' with ferry flights to get from one S. Pacific nation to another. It could work, but it would likely mean that an aircraft was deployed to a specific nation for a period of time and/or to carry could a certain number of patrols or flight-hours of patrolling before being ferried to their next duty stations.

    Keep in mind that the participants stretch from the Cook Islands in the east, to Timor Leste in the west and as far north as the Marshall Islands.
     
  13. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Just some further food for thought about the idea of there being a "Pacific MPS forum".

    I also have a hi-res version of the Twin Otter-based Guardian 400 MP brochure, but that is too large (4.4 MB) to be uploaded. Those interested in seeing it, PM me with an email address and I will see about sending it as an attachment. In terms of cost, I did discover that in 2014 Vietnam either ordered or received three Guardian 400 MP from Viking Air for ~CAN$6 mil. per aircraft. Granted that was with a slightly different radar (Elta ELM2022A) than the currently listed SeaSpray 5000E search radar, but that does make me think that getting a few of these STOL aircraft would not break the bank.
     

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  14. tonnyc

    tonnyc Member

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    Cooperation with Indonesia can ease the logistic burden slightly. While Indonesia doesn't have the capability to assist in securing, oh, Vanuatu or really anything further east than Papua New Guinea, their close proximity to Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea makes cooperation advantageous there. It is also in their best interest, since it's not like criminals respect national boundaries.

    Something small like an agreement where Indonesia supplies .50 cal machine guns and the ammo for the Timor Leste and Papua New Guinean Pacific Patrol Boats would be cheap enough that Indonesia can afford it, stroke the politicians' ego, ease the logistics for the small navies, while having no real drawbacks to Australian interests.
     
  15. t68

    t68 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting debate at CHOGOM about the possibility of the UK spending it money currently used within the EU in Oceania to help deter Chines expansion of soft power.
    "For balance Australia hope to draw the UK back into the Pacific"
    The diplomat 19/4/2018
     
  16. oldsig127

    oldsig127 Active Member

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    Given the history of Timor Leste I think this is a most peculiar suggestion.

    oldsig
     
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  17. tonnyc

    tonnyc Member

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    Why? Is there anything in the history of Timor Leste that prevents such a cooperation? Defense and law enforcement coordination is already occurring on the ground. Cooperation on the sea is a logical extension of that.
     
  18. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Coordination is one thing, a nation supplying arms to another nation that it has had conflicts with is another.

    It would be good if Indonesia was ready, willing, and able to help contribute to S. Pacific island nations, though I am uncertain whether or not providing M2 HMG's and ammunition would be either beneficial, or a token contribution.

    Also, while it would good if the UK 'returned' to the Pacific with a greater level of involvement, I am uncertain whether or not the UK could provide a meaningful presence. The size of the RN is a fraction of what it used to be, the UK no longer has any territory nearby (British Antarctic Territory and Diego Garcia being the closest) and there are areas of potential conflict much closer to home. Now I am not holding my breath, but it would also be nice to see a greater involvement by the US, Canada, and Japan in the S. Pacific. A number of the S. Pacific island nations are along the SLOC between North America, Japan, and Australia/NZ and having strengthened ties between those island nations and the countries which has trade pass by between them could be beneficial to all.
     
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  19. tonnyc

    tonnyc Member

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    Err, Timor Leste already bought guns from Indonesia. Not much, 75 assault rifles. But the idea that this is weird is in itself weird to me. Nations can be pretty pragmatic in their dealings with each other. Sure, 75 assault rifles aren't a big deal, but neither is the idea of providing .50 cal guns to arm patrol boats. In the big picture, assault rifles and/or .50 cal guns will not cause Timor Leste to become a threat to Indonesia. It will, however, give them better ability to fight drug smugglers, which helps everyone. (Though there are a lot of caveats, since with regard to drug-smuggling the issues go way beyond underarmed law enforcement and defense personnel.)

    Any defense contribution by Indonesia to S. Pacific nations is going to be minor seen from an Australian perspective or even from an Indonesian perspective. Indonesia just doesn't have the money nor the interest. In the past Indonesia has given a couple million dollars worth of aid here and there to various S. Pacific nations, but the Indonesian Foreign Ministry prefers humanitarian aid, not defense aid. That said, .50 HMG aren't a million dollar expenditure and it's something that Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste can use. It's not like those two countries are well-equipped even in terms of basic arms.

    We could, from the comfort of our homes, pooh-pooh the idea as insignificant, but a Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste that can secure their borders are beneficial for everyone. If Indonesia can and are willing to contribute, then why not? And if such a contribution can be coordinated with Australia and New Zealand, why not?
     
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  20. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    In the grand scheme of things, I can think of better ways that Indonesia could contribute to the Pacific Islands Forum than some 12.7 mm HMG's. And by better, I mean contributions which are both more efficient and more meaningful.

    Looking at the Pacific-class patrol boat operators, they are operated by a mixed bag of naval/defence and police services. As a result, the patrol boats do not have a standard armament with some being (or perhaps have been) armed with a 20 mm gun, while others are unarmed, and still others being armed somewhere in between with either 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine guns. I would guestimate that half or slightly more (12 out of 22) are unarmed since they are operated by police services. As the replacement patrol boats start getting commissioned, I would anticipate that trend would continue.

    One of the impressions I have gotten is that any armaments kitted out aboard current Pacific-class patrol boats will be drawn forward by their users into the replacement vessel(s). So I do not anticipate much 'demand' for guns to arm the 19 replacement vessels. Relating to that, if Indonesia were to source machine guns for Pacific Island Forum members, unless the guns were sent to Australia to be fitted aboard the patrol boats prior to their departure from Australia then I would expect a significant percentage of the cost of Indonesia's contribution to come from the cost of shipping. As a matter or practicality, I do not imagine that there is significant direct shipping between Indonesia and places like Kiribati, the Cook Islands, or Tonga.

    What I suspect would provide a more meaningful contribution would be for Indonesia to provide either funding grants to help purchase fuel and operate the patrol boats, and/or provide training slots that Pacific Island Forum members could send personnel to Indonesia to develop relevant skills. Another option would be for Indonesia to provide small detachments to help the Forum members maintain and operate their patrol boats effectively.

    From my POV, the Pacific Island Forum members which would likely need the most assistance to operate their patrol boats are also most likely the ones which would be least assisted by military aid from Indonesia, as opposed to foreign (non-military) aid. At approximately USD$12,000 per M2, to provide a machine gun to each patrol boat likely to be kitted out by their user would likely cost about USD$110,000, plus whatever the shipping costs to the different islands would be, and some nations would likely not benefit since they most likely would not arm their patrol boats (at least not to such a degree). OTOH if Indonesia were to instead providing up to USD$12,000 in funding to purchase fuel for operations or something else similar, then I suspect such contributions (which are not automatically military in nature) would be well received.
     
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