Why ASEAN matters - in the era of great power competition

OPSSG

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Post 3 of 3
And about point 14 and 16, the Tarlac Class is designed to be equipped with the Oto Melara 76 mm gun and some secondary 25 mm guns and machine guns.
22. I would hope that either Myanmar or Indonesia would show the way forward in properly arming the Makassar-class/Tarlac-class LPD and having these weapons controlled by a CMS along with a military grade radar (no matter how low end).

(i) In contrast, the first Peruvian Νavy Makassar-class landing platform dock, BAP Pisco (AMP-156) that was commissioned on 6 June 2018 is much more capable than the Tarlac class! The ship is armed with a OTO Breda Twin 40mm gun mount (removed from the cruiser Almirante Grau), two Rafael Typhoon 30mm remote weapon stations (RWS) and four Rafael Mini Typhoon 12.7mm remote-controlled units. The ship can accommodate 157 crew members, including 14 officers and air group personnel, as well as up to 400 marines. It can carry 636t of fuel, 600t of fresh water, 360m³ of dry cargo and 136m³ of food. It can also integrate mission-specific modules such as containerised hospital and surgical units.​
(ii) The two Peru ships in the class were designed by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in collaboration with the Peruvian state-owned shipyard SIMA. DSME also built 1 for Myanmar and provided the base design for Indonesia. Indonesian shipbuilder PT PAL subsequently built two vessels for the PN as the Tarlac-class.​

23. But thus far, no real news of a serious attempt to make this class of ship a warship by any of these 3 ASEAN navies. Once any of the other 2 ASEAN navies does the weapons integration properly, there will be pressure on the Philippines to do the logical.
But like most other vessels of the PN, its FFBNW, an almost empty vessel.
You can almost say that the PN is nothing more than a FFBNW-navy.

I just wonder why the Philippines do not order some second hand Phalanxes from the US for their Gregorio del Pillar Class frigates.
24. I think the Pinoys need more than guns. The PN also cannot maintain second hand Phalanxes, so let us not go down this rabbit hole.

25. The Gregorio del Pillar Class frigates need time in the yard to install the AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe AMB 3D air/surface search radar (given by the US), for basic maintenance and a PHP1.5 billion upgrade to enhance the ships' combat management systems, electronic support and sonar capability.

26. To expand on what I posted earlier, the Tarlac class needs to be fitted with:
(a) at least an ELTA EL/M-2228(X) radar or such other more capable system. Keeping in mind that the ELTA EL/M-2228(X) Radar was in the past was paired with Simbad twin missile launcher for the Mistral missile; an ESM system, including a sub-system like the NS 9010C radar warning receiver; and fixed chaff/decoy launchers.​
(b) an Aircraft Ship Integrated Secure and Traverse (ASIST) system making the LPDs capable of carrying out helicopter operations both in the day and at night under high sea state conditions. Without ASSIST, helicopter operations are more time consuming and dangerous. Further, most Philippine military helicopters are not shielded against strong electronic interference and the LPD’s main radar would have to be shut down during helicopter operations.​
Edit:
An update about the BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
BZ to the Indian Navy.
 

Ananda

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understand that Terma systems are ordered, but this ship is getting now a 14-days routine overhaul, thats way too fast to strip and remove all the wirings, sensors and other components and install new ones. Maybe the 628 will get those systems later.

According to this, in 2020 the shipyard (PT. PAL) are doing SEWACO job (system and weapon integration) for existing KCR 3 & 4, and the newly build KCR 5 & 6. Thus this MRO seems part of that SEWACO job.

KCR 1 & 2 seems being modified last year, I believe part of the studies result to improve their stability. Thus PAL add fin stabilisers in the hull to improve their seaworthiness. The studies
(from local forum and media) also shown that additional KCR or OPV has to be at least 70m in length, to make them able to operate on all Indonesian waters and EEZ in the Indies, Pacific and SCS.
 

OPSSG

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KCR 1 & 2 seems being modified last year, I believe part of the studies result to improve their stability. Thus PAL add fin stabilisers in the hull to improve their seaworthiness. The studies (from local forum and media) also shown that additional KCR or OPV has to be at least 70m in length, to make them able to operate on all Indonesian waters and EEZ in the Indies, Pacific and SCS.
We discussed this point before, where I previously recommended that the Indonesian navy stop building vessels smaller than 60 metres long, in response to a specific query from you (but I have forgotten the context of the discussion).

Small vessels below 60 metres long are known to have a sea keeping problem in tropical thunderstorms — that can affect naval gun fire accuracy. A 70 metre long naval vessel is of course better and have more space for fuel, to support longer patrols. Regardless of whether the vessel is 50 metre, 60 metre, or 70metre long, fin stabilisers are worth adding. For smaller vessels, there are other types of systems to provide stability that do not need fins.
 

Ananda

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We discussed this point before, where I previously recommended that the Indonesian navy stop building vessels smaller than 60 metres long, in response to a specific query from you (but I have forgotten the context of the discussion).
If not mistaken the context is in the idea for small patrol boats should be in area for Coast Guard, and TNI AL should focus on larger displacement for better sea control.

That's actually what seems being prepared by PAL if we see the design on OPV they are preparing. They're now seems focus on OPV 90m which many in Indonesia see it as Parchim replacement. However there're still some people in Defense circle that think on the idea of swarms of small Missile boats that using islands cover for ambushing larger vessels.

This's still back to my previous post some time ago on how the Political wrangling toward what Coast Guard should be control and where other maritime agencies including the Navy that still want to hold.
 

OPSSG

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@Ananda,

1. China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea is aimed at pushing its own sensor and weapons range so far into the Pacific that it becomes impossible for American forces to touch Chinese positions without risk to its fleet. Capt (retd.) James Fanell has estimated that by 2030, the Chinese fleet will have a surface force of over 450 ships and a submarine force of about 110 boats. At this stage of development in the era of great power completion, Indonesia just has to build as many navy ships as your shipyards can produce.

Hopefully not in 2 or 3s but 6 to 8 per class of vessel — so that "for but not with" is not such a big issue as it will be worth the effort to engineer and equip a class of vessel with better weapons and sensors over time.

2. Nothing the country builds will be survivable or sustainable without:
(i) allied air support by partners and the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU), as China and Vietnam, as competitors in the South China Sea, are keen to develop their navies at a faster rate than the TNI AL;​
(ii) the provision of ISR from MPAs flown by TNI AU, neutrals or friendlies, supplemented by TNI AL submarines as forward sensors; and​
(iii) the TNI AL’s vessels needing to operate in task groups with other capable navies, who will go into harm’s way with the TNI AL.​

3. On a 365 day basis, the TNI AL’s surface vessels and submarines must have the ability to secure Indonesia’s littorals, dispute them, or just as importantly exercise in them in the face of a capable competitor who will contest them. A capability that the TNI AL does not have. And because the TNI AL is unable to do so, I am waiting for the day when you start to see the Chinese Coast Guard regularly ram Indonesian Navy and law enforcement ships during a time of tension. A TNI AL vessel was rammed by the Vietnamese Coast Guard on 30 April 2019. Let us see how well designed the TNI AL ships are after it is rammed a couple of times.

4. TNI AL better start thinking clearly about who is a neutral, who is a friendly and who can be an ally at a time of crisis and start building bridges with other more capable navies, accordingly. I wish the TNI AL good luck in sorting out its priorities. The 4 to 9 May 2018, Exercise Komodo held in the waters near Lombok Island, Indonesia is an important step forward for TNI AL in its bridge building efforts.

5. Indonesia’s SIGMA 10514 are cute little ships that I like. The TNI AL just needs 8 to 12 of them by 2045 (instead of 2). The PLA(N) will be able to track TNI AL from space. On a daily basis the PLA(N) will get updated on the location of every TNI AL ship. The ability of capable network centric navies like the USN, JMSDF, and PLA(N) to track ships from space is a key reason why Singapore gave up on playing hide and seek with our missile gun boats. The new FFG(X) program of the USN is a reflection of American belief that you need a forward screen for a task group.

6. The Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate is also a good platform, if chosen — the TNI AL will need 3 to 4 of them by 2035 — to maintain a minimum capability to conduct over the horizon surface warfare, as a task group command vessel, 365 days a year. Your ships need to train in task groups with more capable ships operating over the horizon (with the SIGMA 10514s being the forward sensor) or the Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates are dead ducks 15 mins after shooting starts.
 
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OPSSG

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Post 1 of 2: Backgrounder

1. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines in 1967, not only to keep mutual distrust in check, but also in response to the threat of communism. With the impending power vacuum caused by the withdrawal of British forces in Southeast Asia and doubts about the staying power of the United States, it became paramount for the founding members to band together for strength in solidarity. As Lee Kuan Yew put it in his memoir:

“While ASEAN’s declared objectives were economic, social and cultural, all knew that progress in economic cooperation would be slow. We were banding together more for political objectives, stability and security.”​

2. Currently, the ten members of the ASEAN, have a population of over 650 million and combined are the third largest economy in Asia. Placed between the giants of China and India, ASEAN countries have to combine their markets to compete and be relevant as a region. There is no other choice. ASEAN is also playing a major role in shaping a wider architecture of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. ASEAN sits astride some of the world’s most important trading routes and sea lines of communication, including the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Since its founding in 1967, ASEAN has adopted two major approaches to relations with external powers.

First, ASEAN member states promoted the concept of regional autonomy to prevent any one power from exercising hegemony over Southeast Asia. ASEAN’s assertion of regional autonomy took two forms. It involved the expansion of membership from its initial core of five to ten of Southeast Asia’s eleven states. ASEAN’s assertion of regional autonomy also took the form of political declarations and treaties covering Southeast Asia as a whole such as the Declaration of a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (1971), the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (1976) and the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons Free Zone Treaty (1995). In recent years ASEAN has advanced the concept of regional autonomy by ratifying the ASEAN Charter and setting the goal of creating an ASEAN Community by 2015.​

Second ASEAN's approach in relations with external powers has been to assert its centrality in the region’s security architecture. For example, when the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) was established in 1994 ASEAN insisted that it be in “the driver’s seat” as the sole chair. ASEAN has grown from a modest forum for regional cooperation to an institutionalized organization responsible for a broad range of practical cooperation, and the driver for broader regional economic, political, and security integration.​

3. The ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) is the meeting of the 10 Defence Ministers from ASEAN, plus 8 other powers. ADMM was inaugurated on 9 May 2006 in Kuala Lumpur and the 8 other powers are namely, the US, China, Russia, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. In May 2011, ASEAN approved the establishment of the five Expert Working Groups (EWGs) comprising of a ASEAN member and a ADMM Plus member as co-chairs. The ADMM-Plus has established the Experts' Working Groups (EWGs) to build cooperation in five common areas of common security interest - humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, military medicine, maritime security, peacekeeping operations and counter-terrorism.

4. ASEAN members are aware of the disparity of power between its members viz a viz larger powers like China, Japan or India. In this context, ADMM and ADMM Plus, despite its limitations, enable each ASEAN defence minister to regularly engage with their plus 8 counterparts in defence matters, including their crucial Plus 8 relationships with the American, the Australian, the Indian, the Japanese, the Korean and the Chinese, defence ministers.

5. The Japanese Defense Ministry will create a new post in the Defense Policy Bureau on Wednesday to address issues related to ASEAN and Pacific islands.

(i) The new post, at the level of division chief, is aimed at strengthening security cooperation in line with the government’s concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” alongside the US Navy.​
(ii) By deepening relations with related areas in the defense field as well, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to counter China, which has been boosting its presence in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Pacific, officials said.​

6. With a significant share of seaborne trade moving in Chinese-flagged vessels, an Indian interdiction strategy in the Indian Ocean could result in regional blowback against New Delhi. If that occurs, ASEAN Navies would welcome US Navy and JMSDF support against any Indian Navy attempt at disruption of regular shipping in an international sea lane. Such hostile acts will impose unacceptable costs on neutral ASEAN Navies, whose economies they have a duty to protect. To avoid such a scenario, Indian warships will need to be careful if they are even to consider an attempt to target Chinese-flagged vessels, and refrain from the unnecessary use of force. A number of these ASEAN Navies regularly train with and are prepared to operate alongside the US Navy and the JMSDF, to escort their merchant shipping via the formation of task groups, should the need arise.
(i) In May 2019, Singapore’s Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen met with Japan’s Minister of Defense Takeshi Iwaya to commend bilateral cooperation since the signing of the Singapore-Japan Memorandum on Defence Exchanges in 2009.​
(ii) Singapore Navy’s frigates have been training in Guam, to fight as a combined task unit, in Exercise Pacific Griffin 2017 and in Exercise Pacific Griffin 2019. These realistic bi-annual bilateral exercises simulate the defence and protection by frigates and destroyers of high value units (like a LPD), going into harm’s way, should the need arise. In the 2017 edition of the exercise, RSN’s 2 frigates, RSS Stalwart and RSS Supreme, protected the LPD, RSS Endurance (acting as the high value unit in the exercise).​
(iii) In May 2020, RSS Steadfast and USS Gabrielle Giffords conducted an exercise together in the South China Sea to provide reassurance to our neighbours (see: South China Sea thoughts?). In June 2020, RSS Supreme conducted an replenishment at sea exercise with USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE-7), a Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship underscoring the relationship between the two navies.​
 
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OPSSG

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Post 2 of 2: ASEAN agency in the shifting sands of time

7. Under the UN Convention for UNCLOS, coastal states are entitled to an EEZ and beyond that are considered the high seas, common to all nations. It was on this basis that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected China’s claims in 2016 to almost the entire area, through which an estimated US$3 trillion worth of trade pass each year. Beijing, however, rejects the ruling and has expanded its presence by building artificial islands with runways and installing an advanced missile systems. South China Morning Post (SCMP) and Al Jazeera voiced the possibility of Asean changing course in the COC negotiations after Indonesia and Malaysia made more strident statements against China on the issue. In addition:
(i) By repeatedly challenging Beijing’s claims, Indonesia is pursuing a strategy of “persistent objection” and preserving its right, under international law, not to be bound by the concocted norms that China appears to be pushing. Further, under UNCLOS 1982, Indonesia does not have overlapping claims with China, so it is not necessary to hold any dialogue on maritime boundary delimitation. Going forward, Indonesia will say this over and over again.​
(ii) A more surprising move was made by Malaysia when Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah, in a response to Al Jazeera’s question about the decision to take its case to the United Nations, said: “For China to claim that the whole of the South China Sea belongs to them, I think that is ridiculous.”​
(iii) On 12 Dec 2019, Malaysia filed a submission to the UN seeking clarity on the limits of its continental shelf beyond the 322km EEZ in the disputed body of water claimed by several Southeast Asian countries.​
8. During the 26 Jun 2020 ASEAN summit that was held virtually for the first time in the regional bloc's 53-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaders reiterated the need to enhance the region’s resilience and solidarity to overcome adversity. In his opening speech, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said ASEAN is facing great difficulties and opportunities brought by the “tectonic shifts” in geopolitics and the pandemic, while multilateral institutions and international law is gravely challenged. In this context, the Vietnamese Government leader stressed the increasingly important role and missions of global powers, multilateral and regional organisations, asking for a greater sense of responsibility towards the international community.

9. ASEAN leaders have reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and over-flight above the South China Sea, as well as upholding international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, in the South China Sea, work actively towards the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), consistent with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS. Further stress on the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation. Pursue the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, while enhancing mutual trust and confidence.

10. Derek Grossman, a senior defence analyst at the US-based Rand Corporation think tank, said: “It is also odd, and perhaps even foolhardy, for Beijing to have pushed the envelope with Indonesia in the same year in which Asean and China are set to conclude lengthy negotiations on a COC in the South China Sea... China’s response may have inadvertently pushed Indonesia towards siding with Vietnam in calling for Asean to have discussions on a strict and binding document for dispute settlement.”

11. How does China see this current situation?

(i) China on its part will continue its relentless march to achieve its two centenary goals, which was set up by President Xi Jinping, to rise and to be strong. The first goal is to build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects by 2021. This 2021 goal has been achieved. The second goal, “to build a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious”, by 2049. China’s actions lately demonstrate its desire to accelerate the achievement of that 2049 goal if opportunities present themselves.​
(ii) China neither accepts nor sees its own actions as inconsistencies or weaknesses of its systems or values, as characterised by the US. It views external criticisms or protests against China's behaviour through the lens of strategic rivalry with the US. And it views the CCP as central to the sovereignty and national security of China.​
(iii) Discord and strategic distrust between US and China arise from the fundamental notions of how each sees itself and through that lens, the other. Both have their own rich historical contexts.​
12. IMO, the harder China pushes the remaining 6 ASEAN countries (that are not client states of China), the faster it will drive them to greater unity to defend their sovereignty and vital interests. China wants to divide the ASEAN nations like scattered chopsticks so that it can break them one by one. It wants only bilateral, not multilateral, negotiations to keep the US and the other Plus 8 powers out of the region. However, if China controls the South China Sea, ASEAN will face Balkanisation.
 
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OPSSG

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Post 2 of 2: Updates on Singapore acquisitions
3. Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister of Defence has recently said:

“Let me talk about acquisitions. F-35 JSF acquisition remains on track, and we expect to take delivery of four F-35Bs around 2026, so we are on schedule...​
Air Defence, our Aster-30 system will be stood up for 24/7 operations, on schedule to replace to replace our I-HAWK systems. Now there are some delays, in particular two – the deliveries of our CH-47Fs and our H225M helicopters, and we previously said that we expected them end-2020. There will be delays and we are expecting them now in 2021.”​
 
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OPSSG

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Post 1 of 2: Covering the gaps in the news reports

1. In his opening remarks at the ASEAN Summit, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said international institutions and internationl law had been seriously challenged during the global crisis. Below are two links rehashing in lesser detail than my two prior posts on China’s attitude on its activities in the South China Sea:

(iii) calls by US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper for a “more networked Indo-Pacific region: the values we share across the region bind us together, make us stronger and preserve peace and prosperity”, for falling on deaf ears due to the erratic behaviour of Trump.​
2. While both Hanoi and Manila lodged protests with China in Apr 2020 after Beijing unilaterally declared the creation of new administrative districts on islands in the South China Sea, these articles neglect to mention that Philippine President Duterte works for and behaves like a client state under China’s control. Having made his China choice, I don’t see as news worthy to report on his statements — as even within ASEAN, all its leaders are aware that President Duterte has been bought off.

3. I note that:
(i) in a single generation, ASEAN became the most successful regional integration experience in the post-colonial world. Astonishingly, ASEAN achieved this with a skeletal bureaucracy. To put things into perspective, while the EU enjoyed a 30,000-strong civil service staff, with a multi-billion-dollar budget (equal to 1% of EU budget), the ASEAN secretariat has had just over 200 staff operating on, until recent years, a meager US$10 million budget. Even more impressively, ASEAN established a peace regime, or a de facto “security community,” where even the threat of use of force is no longer an instrument of inter-state relations within ASEAN.​
(ii) China has achieved its goals in round 1 (in the period from 2012 to 2016) with regard to its actions in disputed waters off Vietnam and the Philippines. China's highly effective use of 'white ships', as strategy to manage its maritime disputes with its South China Sea neighbours and island building in the South China Sea, results in a win for China. IMHO, it can be argued that the process of Finlandization (in the 2017 to 2021 time frame) has started for the Philippines (viz a viz a rising China).​
(iii) I suspect that without the Americans serving as an effective counter weight or effective leadership by Indonesia as the de facto leader of ASEAN, a ‘China Choice’ is only a matter of time for more ASEAN countries, beyond the Pinoys.​

4. In the real world, a weak state gets to maneuver from a weak position into another weaker position. The weaker a state is, the more likely continued escalation becomes the choosing of its enemies. The rise of the China choice block within ASEAN has occurred with Philippine President Duterte being prominent in having shifted and aligned themselves with Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar as 4 of the weakest ASEAN states that are especially beholden to China. See this 2013 thread on Weak state diplomacy for details.

5. In relative terms, the Philippines is the weakest of all states with claims in the South China Sea; and there is no threat of 'invasion' of populated areas. What we are seeing is the Philippines being subject to coercive diplomacy by China at various times. IMHO, the Philippines is in the process of making an active ‘China choice’ — giving China a guarantee of 4 out of 10 votes within ASEAN by the 2022 to 2026 time frame (see: Building stronger ASEAN-China relations in new era - The Jakarta Post).

(i) Duterte's game all along has been to try to trade concessions, either in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and/or moving the Philippines out of Washington's orbit, in exchange for Chinese investments in the Philippine economy and infrastructure projects, which presumably would be received popularly because of the supposed windfall of jobs and economic productivity. Early in Duterte's tenure, the Chinese were keen to dangle incentives of major infrastructure projects in front of Duterte.​
(ii) However, the Chinese are playing a far different game than Duterte was expecting. He expected to be treated as an equal partner to be respected, but the Chinese see neither the Philippines nor Duterte as any of that. The Chinese have repeatedly made clear that the WPS is already theirs and see no reason to negotiate for something they already have, instead offering infrastructure loans to be repaid with interest.​

6. Both US and China do engage in coercive diplomacy. And at various times, the Philippines has been subject to either of their efforts. Being subject to coercive diplomacy sucks but it is a fact of life for many third world nations. ASEAN wants the U.S. to provide a backstop for the region’s peace and stability, but also frets that Washington could go too far and provoke Beijing into a superpower showdown that ends up crushing smaller states. The maritime dispute has overshadowed Asean summits but with Vietnam chairing it in 2020, the COC negotiations with China over the South China Sea is predicted to be a more urgent matter to be concluded.
 
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Post 2 of 2: Indonesia’s role in shaping ASEAN

7. As I noted earlier, ASEAN leaders have reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and over-flight above the South China Sea, as well as upholding international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, in the South China Sea — for ASEAN to be effective, its leader Indonesia must have skin the the game, instead of sitting on the fence.

8. Sometimes, I simply have to conclude that the Indonesians are their own worse enemy in this exchange on Twitter between Collin (from Singapore) and Rich (from Indonesia) illustrates and also in points 9 to 14 below.

9. Airline pilots who are operating in the Singapore FIR, NEED to consider this carefully: when overflying Indonesia without knowing it. Indonesia will know though, and they want the airline to have an overflight permit. Pilots will find out in one of three ways:

(i) You’ll be intercepted by two Indonesian Air Force fighter jets and brought to Indonesia​
(ii) You’ll receive a nastygram via your National Authority​
(iii) You’ll get a fine​
(ii) and (iii) are not cool, but (i) is something to avoid at all costs. The inside of military/police cells at outlying Indonesian Airports is not pretty.

10. Watch out for the following airways – M758, M646, M767, G334, M761, G580. These all pass over Indonesian territory, even though the area is actually part of the Singapore and Malaysia FIRs. On 14 Jan 2019, two Indonesian F-16s intercepted an Ethiopian Airlines cargo flight ETH3728 for flying across Indonesian airspace without permission. The aircraft was initially supposed to operate from HAAB/Addis Ababa to VHHH/Hong Kong, but was modified at the last minute to route via WSSS/Singapore instead, to make a delivery of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. The Ethiopian Airlines aircraft was intercepted forced to land at WIDD/Batam Island – which lies right in the middle of the chunk of airspace controlled by Singapore.

11. On 30 Nov 2017, two former Indonesian military officials, former Chief of Staff of Air Force Marshall (Ret) Chappy Hakim and Chairman of the Air Power Centre of Indonesia Air Vice Marshal (Ret) Koesnadi Kardi, said:

(Translated) “Logically speaking, in general large countries are obliged to help the smaller neighboring countries and not the other way around.​
The action that should be taken by Indonesia is to immediately formulate a roadmap in accordance with the Inpres dated September 8, 2015, that Singapore should immediately hand over air space management over the Riau Islands (Natuna and Batam) gradually to Indonesia as the owner of legitimate sovereignty.”​

12. The word “sovereignty” gets tossed around a lot when discussing this issue. Sovereignty is understandably, a touchy issue. But the FIR isn’t about sovereignty. Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Anil Kumar Nayar, wrote a letter to Metro News TV to rebut the claims made by Chappy and Koesnadi. "Their comments, as reported, misrepresent the facts. First the administration of the FIR is not an issue of sovereignty. It is based on operational and technical considerations to provide effective air traffic control services. The paramount priority is aviation safety. This complex issue is under the ambit of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and involves other countries and international users of the busy airspace covered by the FIR," Singapore's ambassador said (Read more at Singapore responds to former Indonesian officials' comments on Flight Information Region ).

13. The ambassador also said that a reported comment by Air Vice Marshal (Ret'd) Koesnadi that Indonesia "currently ... only recieve(s) a small slice of the cake" of Route Air Navigation Services (RANS) charges is untrue. "All RANS charges that Singapore collects on behalf of Indonesia are remitted to the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Indonesia, less the bank transfer costs. And DGCA Indonesia has always found the accounts to be in order," he added.

14. According to Muradi, a defense and military analyst at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia records some 200 violations to its airspace per year. “For instance, just to challenge the most recent violation by three foreign aircraft, we spent some Rp 150 million, while we only fined them some Rp 60 million,” Muradi said. “The increase is really needed, not because Indonesia is worried that there would be attacks from other countries, but more due to its internal interests,” Hikmahanto Juwana, an international relations expert from the University of Indonesia, told the Jakarta Globe.

15. ASEAN needs to learn from the poor ASEAN response to super Typhoon Haiyan. The process of identifying assets and capabilities for the ASEAN Standby Arrangements is crucial to support a quick and collective response (AHA Centre, 2014). Therefore, standby arrangements will need to be further enhanced to allow a fast and collective joint response through mobilisation of required emergency response.

16. IMO, Indonesia as the leader, needs to also take the lead inconvening the ARF Disaster Relief Exercises (ARF DiREx), which will contribute towards strengthening civilian-military coordination and support the effective implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) at the strategic and operational levels through a Table Top Exercise (TTX) and at the tactical level through the Field Training Exercise (FTX).
 
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CSBMs in the ASEAN Context — Part 1

1. ASEAN has reaffirmed the importance of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) as the key code of conduct governing inter-State relations in the region and underscored its relevance to the wider region. Its member states have welcomed the interest of non-regional countries to accede to the TAC, displaying their political will and commitment to ASEAN’s fundamental principles in promoting peace, friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation among nations.

2. ASEAN’s approach to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation contributes to regional security. The 18 ADMM Plus nations share the common view that confidence and security-building measures (CSBMs) should enhance the security of all, while ensuring that a strategy of deterrence remains credible and effective. ASEAN needs to think long and hard on CSBMs, like the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), to maintain the political cohesion of ASEAN and such thinking should safeguard the principle of the indivisibility of regional security by avoiding the creation of areas of unequal security.

3. Conversations around a potential COC first began at the 2002 ASEAN Summit, in response to mounting tensions in the South China Sea. The COC seeks to manage inter-state relations within the South China Sea area and address disputes over territorial claims in the contested waters. The COC is based on a 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and the 10 ASEAN states. In November 2019, it was announced that China and ASEAN member-states had reached “an effective and substantive agreement of the COC within a mutually-agreed timeline”. A single draft of the COC was put forward in August 2018. Both ASEAN and China have agreed to complete the COC by 2022.

4. Arms control measures and non-proliferation should also enable the ASEAN to contribute to effective conflict prevention and engage actively in crisis management, including crisis response operations. In this regard, CSBMs should be based on wide-ranging partnership, and co-operation with ADMM Plus nations — in this regard US support for ASEAN’s centrality is crucial.

5. As Vice-Admiral Giovanni Bacordo, the Chief of the Philippine Navy said: "the way I analyse it, in our dispute in that area, the first one to fire the shot becomes the loser. So they will do everything for us to take aggressive action." They also tried to bait the Indonesians to do the same during the last Natuna standoff.

6. In the years ahead, it is likely that ASEAN members will see other forms of actions short of firing shots, by the Chinese, such as close-in maneuvers, that might not necessarily be aimed at preventing escalation or promoting deescalation, but to bait the other side to fire first (in order to seize the moral high ground for China).

7. Indonesia's UN Note against 9DL and other maritime claims was issued in 2010, long before the Award (2016). We need to watch Indonesia’s response to the 9DL to get an idea of what will happen — as Indonesia is the leader of ASEAN.
 
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OPSSG

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CSBMs in the ASEAN Context — Part 2

8. In July 2012, the 10-member ASEAN ended a meeting in Cambodia without issuing a joint statement for the first time in its 45-year history. At that meeting, Cambodia was very opposed to any communiqué which addressed the South China Sea tensions. It was the host of that meeting and cut off the microphone when other ASEAN delegates were speaking; China has built the conference centre. ASEAN Leaders were not amused to discover on the wall of the room in which they were to meet had a large map of the region featuring China’s dash line claim.

(a) This Cambodian betrayal of ASEAN Centrality seems to have been going on for some time. Ironically, the more ASEAN stands as a house divided, the more individual members will feel compelled to strengthen links and frameworks with other powers, like the US, Japan and Australia, to ensure their security. This will reduce the collective power of ASEAN (and respect for it by other parties) and increase perceptions of its ineffectiveness. See: China Reveals Its Hand on ASEAN in Phnom Penh.​

(b) As Bilahari Kausikan said: "We are an inter-state and not supra-national organisation. No member is required to give up its sovereign right to define its national interests as it chooses. Cambodia's right to make its own political choices was never at issue. What was at issue was whether Cambodia had in any degree taken the regional interest into account when making that political choice."​

9. Cambodia is destroying ASEAN Unity and Centrality and it’s former and current diplomats acting as Chinese agents are certainly shameless, as their unsigned open letter shows.
Bilahari Kausikan speaking truth to power is correct in pointing out that “Asean may have to cut members if they continue to be led by an external power.”

10. Further, Cambodia’s former and current diplomats, falsely claim that it’s “neutrality and non-alignment have been and will remain the fundamental principles of its foreign policy as enshrined in the Kingdom’s constitution.” In Oct 2020, it was reported that a US building obliterated, as China expands Cambodian naval base.

11. By its actions, Cambodia as a country shows that it gives lip service to non-alignment. True neutrality means "knowing your own interests, taking positions based on your own interests and not allowing others to define your interests for you by default", Bilahari Kausikan added. Unfortunately, Cambodian leaders have a history of playing to lose in geo-politics and ordinary Cambodians should be reminded that it’s the abandonment of these principles, by:
(i) the Lon Nol regime in 1970, led Cambodia into civil war; and​
(ii) the Hun Sen regime that led Cambodia to be seen as a client state of China. The 68 year-old Hun Sen, who, according to the Phnom Penh Post, promised in March 2018 to rule for at least ten years (while also noting that it “could be more”), is beginning to talk more openly about succession. In Oct 2018, Hun Sen, according to Voice of America, called his son, Hun Manet, “the possible future leader of Cambodia.”​
 
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OPSSG

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CSBMs in the ASEAN Context — Part 3

12. For ASEAN-US relations to prosper, the Americans in Biden’s future cabinet must get along with the Indonesians, as the leader of ASEAN; and strive to understand Indonesia as a non-aligned country. Indonesia's desire to maintain a neutralist stance is best exemplified in the official MFA remarks to press on the Reuters' P-8A report:
(a) both PRC and US are valued partners to Jakarta; and​
(b) on the Reuters report, no comment on anonymous info.​

13. Under Trump, high-level policymakers in Washington were unaware of Indonesia’s allergy to superpower alignments, or knew but made the P-8A landing rights request anyway, bodes ill for the crafting of an effective American strategy towards ASEAN.

14. I believe the prospects of a F-16V sale to the TNI AU has improved, with the TNI AL likely to benefit from closer cooperation with the US Navy.

15. Susan Rice is supposed to be a frontrunner for Biden cabinet, as Secretary of State. If Biden chooses her (for diversity and domestic politics reasons), then I think ASEAN might as well give up on hope of American leadership in the next few years — as Susan Rice can’t understand the power dynamics in Asia.

16. Hopefully Biden will not have a self-inflicted credibility gap with wrong personnel choices.
 
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OPSSG

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CSBMs in the ASEAN Context — Part 4

17. Singapore repeatedly stresses that, for the region, economics is security. In 2003, Singapore signed a free trade agreement (2004 SG FTA) with the US.
(a) Under this 2004 SG FTA the US has enjoyed a surplus in trade in goods of US$4.8 billion and has services exports of US$23.7 billion to Singapore in 2019.​
(b) Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong is a proponent of the TPP, an Obama era free trade agreement with 11 Asia-Pacific countries (that does not include the US due to Trump). Singapore sees the TPP as a “game changer” and like Australia hopes that the incoming Biden admin will reconsider it again.​
(c) In remarks by then VP Joe Biden at a state lunch for PM Lee Hsien Loong in 2016, he said, “Back in 1967 when Lee Kuan Yew arrived here for his first state visit, President Lyndon Johnson referred to him as a formidable thinker, as the architect of his nation’s future... And in the decades that followed, every element of that description was borne out. During my years in the United States Senate, I was privileged to take full advantage of the chance to meet with Lee Kuan Yew as the Vice President did, and both of us would attest there was no person, no mind that had as good a sense of strategy and as good an understanding of the region as Lee Kuan Yew. And we were privileged to solicit his thoughts on everything from the rise of China, to the emergence of the Asian Tigers, to the best role for the United States in the region. And I know our friend the former Secretary Henry Kissinger is here, and he did the same.”​
(d) In a speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the White House State Dinner in 2016, he said, “on the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, our two countries share much common ground and have made great progress together based on shared principles, convergent interests, and mutual respect. I remember my first meeting with you at the Senate. It was May 2007. You were in the midst of a hard-fought presidential campaign, and not yet the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. But I was struck by your focus, your informed interest in Asia, and your desire to cement America's role in it.”​
(e) BTW, Singapore hosts CTF 73/CLWP, who is the U.S. 7th Fleet's provider of combat-ready logistics. Not only does the military in Singapore enjoy exceptionally close ties with both US and Australia, Singapore troops have also deployed alongside them as a burden sharing partner for the reconstruction of Iraq (998 SAF personnel) and Afghanistan (492 SAF personnel).​
(f) To build on the relationship of trust, the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI) is a multi-billion dollar opportunity for Australia to enhance its relationship with Singapore. When the ASMTI reaches maturity, up to 14,000 SAF troops will conduct training in Queensland over 18 weeks each year. Besides the fact that ASMTI built facilities will benefit both the US Marines rotational forces and the Australian Defence Force, Singapore and Australia both provide, “Places, not Bases,” for the US to capitalize on existing facilities owned by allied and partner nations​

18. Being an optimist, I look forward to improved US-Singapore relations with RSAF’s basing in Andersen Air Force Base in Guam sorted out and plans to move it’s F-16 detachment in Luke to another selected site (with its co-location with Singapore’s future F-35Bs) and a return to a rules based order in Asia with a visit from the US President during future editions of the Shangri-La Dialogue from 2022 onwards.
 
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OPSSG

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CSBMs in the ASEAN Context — Part 6

19. Apart from Singapore’s close but discreetly managed security relationship with the United States, it has built a network of defence relations with countries as diverse as Australia, France, and Germany. These are but some of the countries that host Singapore defence assets, given Singapore’s space constraints. Diverse relationships lend diplomatic diversity, if not redundancy, designed to maximise Singapore’s options, thus avoiding the patron-client trap of less proactive small states.

20. Netherlands (NL) has released a vision document on the Indo-Pacific. Key partners for EU/NL in the Info-Pacific, includes Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and India. NL specifically seeks closer coop with these 5 countries plus Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. There is focus on ASEAN throughout document. Clear ASEAN centrality is important for EU/NL. NL would like to accede to ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation to underscore its commitment to increase coop with ASEAN.

21. As Bilahari Kausikan said: “With the limited exception of Cambodia, no ASEAN member sees a need to neatly align its interests across different domains with any single major power. The diplomacy of ASEAN and its members is naturally promiscuous, not monogamous.”
 
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OPSSG

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The LOOMING Failure of ASEAN Unity and Centrality — Part 1

1. The collective ASEAN agreement to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has resulted in its rapid ratification by the Chinese government; which means at an economic level, the organisation is going to be in China’s economic orbit within the next 2 decades. This trend is accentuated with India’s withdrawal from RCEP would (if India stayed together with Japan would have provided a counter balance to Chinese dominance). Ratifications of six ASEAN member countries and three non-ASEAN member countries are needed for reaching the threshold, which is expected to be achieved before 2022.The RCEP, the world's largest free trade agreement, was signed in mid-November 2020 by 10 ASEAN member countries and China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

2. The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has failed to influence events in Thailand and Myanmar; which means Biden’s progressives in America and the West would have significant problems enhancing cooperation with ASEAN countries where generals have disposed of legitimately elected governments. If ASEAN’s Myanmar mediation fails and the situation spirals into massive violence, then ASEAN should be prepared to take some hardline measures against the Tatmadaw. One such measure could be temporary suspension of Myanmar’s membership of ASEAN.

3. ADMM Plus has made progress but such progress is too limited when compared to the rapid developments of ‘grey zone’ events led by the Chinese Coast Guard and large scale island building in the South China Sea. This is what gray zone can do to a Philippine government whose strategic communication and inter-agency response have been short of coherent at times. PRC's Coast Guard Law looms in Pinoy minds, as it's designed to create self-deterrence of the gray zone victim. More importantly, ASEAN’s leader, Indonesia, cannot lead the group; which means China’s client states within ASEAN have a veto on any reform agenda — not only have the China vote bank (of Laos and Cambodia) in ASEAN remained steadfast, they have gained new members, with the military coup led governments of Thailand and Myanmar. Both governments are keen to get investments they deem key to graduating from Least Developed Country status – by 2020 for Laos and by 2025 for Cambodia. But Laos, due to its size and long history of juggling ties with the bigger powers around it, appears to be showing more diplomatic savvy in navigating these tricky waters and faces less risk of “over-reliance” on China. On top of that, the Philippines has switched sides to ensure that all American treaty allies within ASEAN are on China’s side.

4. ASEAN’s consistent failure to reform itself so as to be able to take on these problems poses an existential threat to the organisation, which led to Vietnam standing alone (and forced it to engage the Quad and to voice its sole resistance to the conversion of the South China Sea into a Chinese lake), while others feared offending China and kept silent. ASEAN leaders have also failed to tackle the coup crisis in Myanmar in any meaningful way, and used the ASEAN Summit to advance a regional trade deal in direct contradiction to their stated values of sustainability and economic development.

5. Mistrust of China stands out as a major concern in the “State of Southeast Asia: 2019” report of the Singapore-based ASEAN Studies Center (ASC) at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, particularly when seen against the backdrop of other sentiments: pessimism and uncertainty, recognition of the deterioration in US power and influence, concerns about big-power rivalry and the longer, deeper reach of China’s shadow. A total of 45.2% of respondents pointed to China as the country or regional organization with “the most influence politically and strategically in Southeast Asia.” This was followed by the US at 30.5%, then ASEAN at 20.8%.

6. In addition, almost 3 out of 4 Southeast Asians, or 73% find China to have the most economic influence over the region. Thus far, I see no plans by Biden/Blinken to help reverse these trend. If these trend lines are not slowed or reversed by 2049, ASEAN will fade into irrelevance; and it will be the own fault of ASEAN.
 
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OPSSG

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The LOOMING Failure of ASEAN Unity and Centrality — Part 2

7. The US said on 23 Mar 2021 that it is backing the Philippines in a new stand-off with Beijing in the disputed South China Sea, where Manila has asked a 220 boat Chinese fishing flotilla to leave Whitsun Reef, a shallow coral region about 175 nautical miles (324km) west of Bataraza town in the western Philippine province of Palawan. Philippine officials said the reef, which they call Julian Felipe, is well within the country’s internationally recognised exclusive economic zone, over which the Philippines “enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources”.

8. While diplomatic support from the US matters, due to its military muscle, what the Philippines lack is political support from the other 9 members of ASEAN. In Biden’s White House team, they will gather support from allies like Japan and regional stakeholders before acting. China has insisted it owns the reef, which it calls Niue Jiao, and said the Chinese vessels converged in the area to avoid rough waters. Vietnamese spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang has called Chinese vessels' activities at Whitsun Reef a "violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty" which complicates the situation in the South China Sea. Hanoi "demands that China stop violating territorial waters" of Sinh Ton Dong (Grierson Reef). In this case, given intra-ASEAN disputes over EEZ, the organisation must remain silent, as it is not in ASEAN interest to speak, over a disputed fishing rights issue, in solidarity with the Philippines or Vietnam. What is more important to ASEAN is managing its relations with the coup leaders in Myanmar — where help from China is needed.

9. Ultimately, patrol of Pinoy EEZ is the responsibility of the Philippine Government. In this respect Japanese financial support to pay for vessels, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, for the Pinoys is crucial at this point (and more important than ASEAN unity with the Pinoys). This is because Japan is providing US$132.57 million in funds to enable MHI to build two coast guard vessels for the Philippines; which will be based on the 96 metre Kunigami-class patrol vessels used by the Japanese Coast Guard. The Japanese approach and diplomatic support will be appreciated by both the Philippines and Vietnam.

10. Duterte has nurtured friendly ties with Beijing since taking office in 2016 and has been criticised for deciding no to demand Chinese compliance with an international arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing’s historic claims to virtually the entire sea. Speaking up against China on a fisheries dispute will incur significant costs, as China has a vote bank within ASEAN, and its leaders also know that Duterte is a Chinese agent — the Pinoys will not stand with other ASEAN members in their time of need.
 
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OPSSG

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Preliminary lessons and planning for ASEAN following from the tragic loss of KRI Nanggala — Part 1

1. The International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office ("ISMERLO") is an organization that coordinates international submarine search and rescue operations. It was established in 2003 by NATO and the Submarine Escape and Rescue Working Group. The office was established following the disaster of the Russian submarine K-141 Kursk.
(a) There are 41 member nations of ISMERLO who operate submarines, including Indonesia. The only two nations that have submarines and are not members of ISMERLO are Iran and North Korea. “The rest of the world is fully involved with ISMERLO.​
(b) Each nation has their points of contact and they are always accessible — which is why ASEAN, led by Indonesia, should consider starting an sister ISMERLO chapter, staffed and based in Singapore. The 1st commander of this ISMERLO chapter/office in Singapore should come from TNI AL, with the command rotating every 2 to 3 years, for ASEAN submarine operators.​

2. I would also like to propose that at an ADMM level, all submarine operating nations (especially new operators like Myanmar and Thailand) within ASEAN should sign an agreement with the Singapore Navy, like the one entered between the TNI AL and RSN, to enable the swift dispatch of MV Swift Rescue as demonstrated in the Apr 2021 search for KRI Nanggala (who was participating in a TNI AL scheduled naval exercise north of the island of Bali).
(a) The July 2012 signing of a submarine rescue pact between Indonesia and Singapore was a pioneering move amid the ongoing regional quest for submarines that has now been activated.​
(b) This was followed by the Sept 2013 agreement between the navies of Vietnam and Singapore for co-operation agreement on submarine rescue procedures. This pact underscores the defence relations between the two nations.​
(c) In May 2015, Singapore’s chief of Navy proposed the development of a regional framework for submarine operations safety. The framework would build on a memorandum agreement on Joint Standard Operating Procedures for mutual submarine rescue support the Singapore Navy signed with the US Navy on 19th May 2015, and would be modelled after the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea that was ratified in 2014 by 25 Asia Pacific countries.​
(d) The above 2015 proposal for a set of protocols was tabled in June 2016. Similarly, in Jan 2017, the Royal Malaysian Navy was finalising three Malaysia Submarine Exercise Areas in the South China Sea to enhance submarine operating safety in the region.​
(e) Vietnam also acquired its own submarine rescue vessel, the Yet Kieu, a 94 m long Damen Rescue Gear Ship 9316.​

3. ADMM also should co-host and conduct triennial submarine-rescue exercises, in rotation, with the Americans, Japanese and Australians, to tap on their subject matter expertise. Exercise Pacific Reach that is supported by the USN, JMSDF, RAN, RMN and RSN is a good example of international submarine rescue cooperation.

4. Even the Indian Navy and the Singapore Navy have signed a bilateral submarine rescue agreement on 20 Jan 2021, establishing mutual underwater emergency assistance between the two services. The agreement, which is known as the submarine rescue support and co-operation implementing arrangement, was signed at the fifth iteration of the India-Singapore defence minister’s dialogue that was held via video conference.

5. ASEAN Navies who are interested in developing an underwater capability, should not lag far behind the Indians in entering agreements with the Singapore Navy.
 
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OPSSG

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Preliminary lessons and planning for ASEAN following from the tragic loss of KRI Nanggala — Part 2

6. While the 18 ADMM Plus nations share the common view that confidence and security-building measures (CSBMs) should enhance the security of all, not all members agree on the nature of CSBMs to be taken. When tragedy strikes ADMM Plus members often render mutual aid and in this case, a number of nations have stepped up to really try to help — long may this trend continue. Chen Mingyi, a member the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, laid out the role of the PLAN quite aptly when in March 2009 he exhorted it to “move to oceans and shoulder the tasks of safeguarding territory, development of national economy and overseas interests.” This suggests that China looks at the PLA(N)’s development in light of two imperatives:
  • The first concerns the security of China’s SLOCs, on which its growing economy is so dependent.
  • The second is the need to expand its operating space, striving for presence in all global hot spots, so as to be able to influence events in favor of its national interest.
7. Military operations other than war (MOOTW) now form an important component of Chinese soft power. Chinese ideas governing strategy directs the PLA(N) to “defend the country’s maritime rights, interests, and security, safeguard its economic development, and serve its peaceful diplomacy” by engaging in maritime operations in offshore areas. On behalf of ADMM Plus members (who have sent naval assets and sailors to the salvage area), and the TNI AL, I would like to thank China for their valuable help in seconding:

(i) the 156 metre long, Ocean Salvage and Rescue Yongxingdao-863 (equipped with deep diving robots, a side scan sonar, and equipped with the Type 7103 DSRV, as it’s manned rescue capability);​
(ii) the 119 metre long Ocean Tug Nantuo-185; and​
(iii) the 87.2 metre long Scientific Vessel TanSuo No. 2. TanSuo No. 2 can carry 60 researchers, is equipped with manned submersibles Fendouzhe (Striver) and Shenhai Yongshi (Deep Sea Warrior), which can reach depths of 10,000 m and 4,500 m, respectively.​

to aid in the salvage of KRI Nanggala (from deep waters beyond 850 metres). This is evidence of international naval cooperation for MOOTW, where the navies of Australia, America, India, Malaysia and Singapore have all responded to the call of TNI AL, at their time of need.

8. Indonesia’s Head of the Naval Information Service (Kadispenal) Commodore (Navy) Julius Widjojono explained that this assistance originated from the offer of assistance from the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia to Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto regarding the handling of KRI Nanggala-402. Prabowo Subianto welcomed the offer.

9. China is able to aid the TNI AL for salvage in part due to decisions made from 2007 onwards, where the Central Military Commission (CMC) issued an “Outline for Building Modern Logistics in an All-Around Way.” This document remains the senior-level guidance to the PLA on logistics support. Many key PLA(N) reform initiatives—including informatization of logistics functions and “military support socialization”—are guided by this document.
 
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ngatimozart

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Of course the PRC will help with the salvage of the KRI Nanggala. It gives them a superb opportunity for intel gathering of what's inside the sub, and possibly collect equipment from the sub. The question is did the PRC offer assistance straight away when the sub went missing, like Japan, Singapore, Malaysia US, and Australia did? Or did it wait for a few days?
 
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