Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Military Reforms Indicate China's Readiness for Geopolitical Standoff With US

Beijing is preparing for a shake-up in the command ranks of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In recent years, Beijing has been implementing a large-scale military reform aimed at adjusting China’s military capabilities to the emerging geopolitical challenges.

The Chinese military is undergoing a massive reshuffle in the command ranks. Nearly 50 high-profile officers, including 18 generals, will soon step down, the South China Morning Post reported, citing military sources.

In particular, among the 18 generals to be relieved of their command is Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the PLA Joint Staff Department. 

"The coming changes are aimed at promoting a new generation of officers, with veterans giving way to younger talent to take over the leadership," according to the sources. Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to optimize the effective forces of the Chinese military and increase its firepower by introducing new technologies in the defense sector. The Chinese leader expects a breakthrough in China’s defense capabilities in the 13th five-year period (2016-2020). 

Radio New Zealand: Japan defence minister visits Guam military bases

Minister Tomomi Inada has been reported to be considering the purchase of a missile defense battery similar to the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system the Pentagon deployed to Guam more than two years ago.
The Marianas Variety reported that the US deployed the system in response to missile-launch threats from North Korea.
North Korea has threatened to launch missile attacks toward Guam and other US military bases in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan and South Korea. 
Japan's minister was also understood to have been updated on the progress of Japan government-funded projects in Guam for the relocation there of almost 5,000 US Marines from Okinawa.

Editorial: Trump should uphold Obama's Asia-focused policies

The administration of outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama advocated "rebalancing" toward Asia, placing importance on the Asia-Pacific region for security, diplomatic and economic policies and strengthening ties with U.S. allies in the region such as Japan, South Korea and Australia. At the same time, the Obama administration failed to stop China's unilateral maritime advancement, including artificial islets the country has been building in the South China Sea, nor did Obama present effective solutions to North Korea's nuclear development program. 
It is believed that Obama first declared his focus on the Asia-Pacific region in a speech at the Australian Parliament in November 2011. He called the United States a "Pacific nation" and said he made a decision for his country to "play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends."

SOFA-tied deal does little to ease crime concerns in Okinawa

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy on Jan. 16 exchange signed documents related to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. (Wataru Sekita)
Government officials and residents in Okinawa Prefecture raised doubts that a highly touted Japan-U.S. supplementary agreement will do much to reduce crimes committed by U.S. military personnel or civilian workers at U.S. bases.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida lauded the Jan. 16 agreement, which will define the “civilian component” covered under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), as “groundbreaking.”
However, in Okinawa Prefecture, questions were already being raised on why the central government would think that new definitions will change anything.

Okinawan governor to visit U.S. to convey anti-base stance to Trump gov't

TOKYO —
Okinawa Gov Takeshi Onaga will visit Washington soon after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office Friday, hoping to convey to the new administration his opposition to a plan to move a U.S. air base within the island prefecture, the local government said Monday.
It is the third time that Onaga will visit the U.S. capital since he was elected governor in 2014 on a pledge to oppose the long-stalled plan to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa.
According to prefectural government officials, Onaga will visit Washington between Jan 31 and Feb 4 with the aim of directly contacting officials representing the new administration before its security policies are fleshed out.

US, Philippine forces exchanging subject matter experts

MANILA (Tribune News Service) — United States and Philippine militaries will conduct “subject matter expert exchanges” at Clark Air Base in Pampanga until January 25, according to the Pacific Air Forces.

Upon the invitation of the Philippine government, the US Air Force, US Army and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) service members will also conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, PACAF said.

Security officials have recommended a “reduced” number of joint military exercises between the Philippines and the US since President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a “military and economic separation” from Washington as part of an “independent foreign policy.”

On its website, PACAF said the exchanges would focus on capability related to the US Air Force’s ground-based satellite imagery system known as “Eagle Vision.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Washington Post: Trump's tough talk unlikely to redefine US relationship with China

"Look at what China is doing to our country," Trump said in September, during a presidential debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton.
"They're using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China," he added. "We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us."
Several analysts predicted that Trump's tough talk on tariffs and jobs will recede as he contends with the complexity of intertwined economies and the reality of China's military expansion.

Guam Daily Post: Japan defense minister tours Guam military bases

HAGÅTÑA — Japan’s defense minister on Friday visited the missile-defense system the Pentagon deployed to Guam following recurring missile-launch threats from North Korea.
North Korea threatened to launch missile attacks toward Guam and other U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan and South Korea.Minister Tomomi Inada’s delegation wasn’t available for comment, but Japan’s media had been reporting since November that Tokyo was considering the purchase of a missile defense battery similar to the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system the Pentagon deployed to Guam more than two years ago.
Inada visited Andersen Air Force Base, which hosts Global Hawk surveillance drones and B-1 bombers, and a Los-Angeles class submarine on the Navy base, said Lt. Timothy Gorman, public affairs officer for the military’s Joint Region headquarters in Guam.

Foreign Policy in Focus: Will Japan Stand in Splendid Isolation?

Two names explain Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s current tour of South East Asia: Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump.
Just a year ago, things were, as the British would put it, “going swimmingly” for Abe. He had rammed through his unilateral interpretation that “collective defense,” which would involve Japan in military operations with allies outside its home territory, did not violate Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. He had faced down domestic opposition to Japan’s participation in the regional free trade arrangement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In both enterprises, Japan had acted, in the traditional fashion, as Washington’s junior partner.
Collective defense was Japan’s contribution to President Obama’s vaunted strategic reorientation that came under the rubric “Pacific Pivot.” The TPP was the geoeconomic counterpart of the pivot, with the world’s biggest national economy teaming up with its third biggest, to contain the second biggest, China.

Manila Standard: US satellite put to a test in PH

AMERICAN and Filipino forces will be testing the capability for intelligence work and disaster relief operations of the US Air Force’s Eagle Vision satellite, according to a news release posted on Jan. 12 in the website of the Pacific Air Forces.
US Air Force and Army personnel will operate and share the mobile and ground-based satellite from Jan. 16 to 25 at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga. 
“The exchanges will center on the capability produced by the US Air Force’s deployable ground-based satellite imagery system known as Eagle Vision,” the website said. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Nippon.com - Trump’s Defense Pick Intends to Keep Military Posture in Asia-Pacific

Washington, Jan. 12 (Jiji Press)—Retired Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s defense chief pick, underscored on Thursday the need to maintain the US military posture in the Asia-Pacific region.
“As this is a primarily maritime theater, our naval forces, supported by other elements of the military, should be the centerpiece of the Department of Defense’s integrated strategy for the region,” Mattis said in prepared documents for his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.
“Additionally, our alliances and partnerships in this region will be vital in preserving international law and deterring conflict,” the former commander of the US Central Command went on to say.

Sputnik News - Japanese Minister Inspects US Guam Bases Ahead of Troops Relocation From Okinawa

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Friday inspected the US military bases located at the Pacific island of Guam ahead of the forthcoming transfer of thousands of US marines from the Japanese Okinawa.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Within the framework of an agreement between Washington and Tokyo, the United States are expected to relocate up to 5,000 marines currently deployed at Okinawa to the US Pacific territory by the early 2020s. 

During her visit, the minister inspected air force and naval bases at the island and the construction of facilities to accommodate US troops redeployed from Okinawa, the NHK broadcaster reported. 

According to the media outlet, Inada said that Japan and the United States would continue their efforts aimed at transfer of US troops from the Japanese territory. 

Japan, U.S. to sign pact limiting base workers' immunity next week

TOKYO —
Japan and the United States will sign next week an agreement narrowing the scope of legal immunity granted to U.S. military base workers under the bilateral status of forces agreement, aiming to deter crime, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday.
The pact will supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, under which the United States has primary jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel and base workers classified as a “civilian component” when they are accused of crimes while on duty.
The move is a response to the arrest in May last year of a civilian U.S. base worker in Okinawa Prefecture over the violent death of a local woman. The killing intensified existing anti-base sentiment in the southwestern island prefecture, which shoulders much of the U.S. military presence in Japan.

Brookings: The Trump administration contemplates its North Korea strategy—Following Obama’s lead?

Author: Jonathan D. Pollack

Interim SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies - Foreign PolicyCenter for East Asia Policy Studies

Senior Fellow, Foreign PolicyJohn L. Thornton China Center


North Korea could quite possibly trigger the first major foreign policy crisis confronting the incoming Trump administration. In his New Year’s Day address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claimed that the country’s nuclear and missile advances in 2016 meant that Pyongyang had “entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.” On January 3, President-elect Trump tweeted:
But the president-elect didn’t intimate why or how a test could be prevented, leaving most observers wondering what (if anything) his message implied. Five days later, outgoing Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that the United States was prepared to shoot down any such missile “if it were coming towards our territory or the territory of our friends and allies.”

PDN: More veterans allege Agent Orange use at military bases

Kyla P. Mora, Pacific Daily News, January 14, 2017

NEW EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS HAVE SURFACED SUPPORTING THE CLAIMS OF MSGT. LEROY FOSTER AND VETERAN GERARD LAITRES

New accounts support the statements by Leroy Foster, 68, and Guam resident and veteran Gerard Laitres that Agent Orange was used on Guam — and not only at Andersen Air Force Base, but at Naval Station, Naval Magazine, Naval Communications Station, Naval Air Station, Navy Harbo, and the Marbo housing complexes.

Foster, who lives in Florida, has been reaching out for years to anyone who would listen to his story of personally spraying thousands of gallons of the toxic herbicide Agent Orange at Andersen during his 10-year hitch with the 43rd Supply Squadron Fuels Division.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Rally calling for release of Okinawan activists protesting U.S. bases

A rally calling for the release of members of a grassroots movement in Okinawa who were arrested protesting the construction of Osprey helipads for the U.S. Marine Corps was held in Tokyo on Jan. 12. 
Hosted by writer Keiko Ochiai and pundit Makoto Sataka, among others, and held in the House of Councillors Members' Office Building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, the rally was attended by some 350 people, with many left standing as the number of participants exceeded organizers' expectations.
Head of the Okinawa Heiwa Undo Center, Hiroji Yamashiro, 64, was arrested in October 2016 by Okinawa Prefectural Police on charges of destruction of property when he cut through barbed wire that the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau had installed around the U.S. Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center, also known as Camp Gonsalves, which spans the villages of Kunigami and Higashi in northern Okinawa Prefecture. Residents and activists have been protesting the construction of helipads in the area for the U.S. military's MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

Okinawa prepares for new effort to block Henoko base by rallying local opposition

Okinawa Prefecture is scrambling to plot its next move in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling siding with the central government’s effort to relocate the operations of a U.S. military base within the prefecture despite fierce local opposition.
Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga was forced by the ruling to withdraw his action to block work to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, in the city of Ginowan, with a new airstrip at the Henoko coastal area of Nago farther north on Okinawa Island. Onaga is now testing the limits of his authority in preparation for what is being seen as the second stage in the battle against the central government.
The Okinawa Defense Bureau is meanwhile poised to start soon the main construction work at the replacement site, as the ruling gave the green light to fill in offshore areas to accommodate runways extending offshore at the Henoko replacement airstrip.

China responds to Trump comment with Pacific exercise

SHUNSUKE TABETA, Nikkei staff writer
BEIJING -- China engaged in its own version of gunboat diplomacy, sailing the nation's sole aircraft carrier into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, following a remark by President-elect Donald Trump that the U.S. does not have to be bound by the "one China" policy.
Wu Shengli, commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy, proposed sending the Liaoning into the open waters of the western Pacific, while attending a military leadership meeting last month in Beijing immediately after Trump's comment. Chinese President Xi Jinping nodded in approval.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nonfatal Osprey crash in Okinawa brings safety fears to fore

The MV-22 Osprey accident last month in Okinawa rekindled concerns about the tilt-rotor aircraft, which was once known as the “widow maker” for those killed during its development.
Starting this year, Japan will see more of the odd-looking hybrids in its skies than the 24 deployed by the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa, and residents are worried about potential accidents in densely populated areas and noise issues.
Here are some basic facts and about the Osprey and the lingering issues surrounding it:

Task force looking into PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange on Guam

Senators are launching a new investigative task force to delve into data surrounding possible pollutants used by the United States military on Guam. While stories have been told of the use of deadly contaminants by the armed forces on the island, there is little, if any, substantiated evidence illustrating just how much these pollutants may have been used throughout the island.
Amid recent testimony alleging the use of agent orange in Guam during the 1970's, Senator Fernando Esteves has launched an investigative task force to review and record reports of the use of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and Agent Orange on Guam.
"Specifically those three," he explained, "because those are the stories that have come forward, we do know and there is a federal probe currently on the PCB contamination at the Cocos Lagoon, and then Agent Orange, obviously these stories are coming out, and we've grown up hearing these stories, but they've never been substantiated, and then as well as hearing stories on DDT, which is commonly found in pesticides which were used as anti-mosquito and anti-rodent repellents around the bases."

Chief judge concerned about nature of Guard recruiting case

Still no sentence has been handed down against Guam Army National Guard Specialist Denille Calvo. In federal court on Wednesday, the chief judge continued to raise concerns over the circumstances of the case - that the defendant may have been intimidated or threatened by her supervisor to commit the crimes.
Parties agreed to no jail time - only probation - for Calvo, but Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood refused to continue with sentencing.
"I just don't have a good feeling about this case...I've never tried to abort a sentence", she said as she contemplated if the defendant was in a culpable mental state at the time of the crime. Calvo previously pleaded guilty to theft of government property but it was later disclosed to the court that Calvo's supervisor, a higher ranking officer, allegedly sexually harassed and intimidated her as he stood behind her at the computer instructing her what data to input in order to collect the bonuses so he could take a cut.

Probe sought on Guam Agent Orange claims

HAGÅTÑA — Shunned for decades, Blue Water veterans who are suffering from diseases they believe were caused by exposure to toxic herbicides while stationed on Guam during the Vietnam War are finally getting attention from national and local leaders.
Some of these veterans have passed away without receiving any benefits from the Veterans Affairs Office. Despite testimony from dozens of veterans who claimed to have sprayed the chemical on various military-owned properties between the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. military repeatedly denied it used Agent Orange on Guam.
The Blue Water Navy bill, which seeks compensation for those exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, does not include Guam, Thailand or Okinawa.
Senior Deputy Majority Whip Dennis A. Ross, a Florida representative, on Monday wrote to House Veteran Affairs Committee chairman Phil Roe, and U.S. Air Force and House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry, seeking an inquiry into the Veterans Affairs Office’s rampant denials of benefits for veterans afflicted with Agent Orange-associated diseases.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

China flexing military muscle ahead of US transition


Maneuvers near Taiwan, Japan a warning to Washington and allies
OKI NAGAI, Nikkei staff writer
BEIJING -- China's latest naval expedition through the Taiwan Strait and recent activity near Japan seem intended to send a message to the U.S. and its allies as harsh critics of China head for the White House.
China's aircraft carrier Liaoning on Wednesday sailed north through the strait and was observed by Taiwan's military to the west of the median line between the island and the Chinese mainland. The vessel is thought to be returning to China's naval base at Qingdao on the Yellow Sea.
The Liaoning in December sailed to the South China Sea for naval exercises via the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan. The return trip completes the vessel's first full trip around the island. On a similar expedition three years ago, the carrier traversed the Taiwan Strait in both directions.

China's Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation (partial?)

Third, the future regional security framework should be based on consensus. It will be a long and gradual process to put in place such a framework, which cannot be completed overnight. All parties should continue to strengthen dialogue and cooperation, and steadily advance the development of a regional security framework on the basis of building consensus. At the current stage, the parties should continue to focus on non-traditional security cooperation, and start from the easier tasks before moving on to more difficult ones, so as to build trust and lay a solid foundation for the framework.

Fourth, the development of a regional security framework should be advanced in parallel with the development of a regional economic framework. Security and development are closely linked and mutually complementary. Equal consideration should be given to both a security framework and an economic framework - the main components of the entire regional structure - to ensure their parallel development. On the one hand, the improvement of the security framework will help ensure a peaceful and stable environment for economic development; on the other, faster regional economic integration will provide solid economic and social support for the development of the security framework. 

U.S. Army paratrooper lands in Okinawa field


NAHA, Japan (Kyodo) -- A U.S. Army paratrooper landed in a private field on an island in Okinawa on Tuesday after jumping from an Osprey transport aircraft, a local official said Wednesday, adding there were no injuries or damage.
    The incident took place after the U.S. military resumed Osprey flights following the crash landing of one of the tilt-rotor aircraft in the southern prefecture in December.
    The paratrooper jumped from the Osprey aircraft at around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday along with five others over the Marine Corps' Ie Shima Training Facility, the official said. He landed 50 meters from the military facility's fence.

    EDITORIAL: It’s in the Diet’s court to examine the problems of the Osprey

    In the absence of conclusive findings about the cause of a recent accident, the Japanese government has given the green light to the U.S. military to resume aerial refueling drills for Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft.
    On the night of Dec. 13, an Osprey was severely damaged when it was forced to ditch off the coast of Nago in Okinawa Prefecture. According to the U.S. military, the aircraft's propeller was damaged upon contact with the refueling hose during a mid-air drill.
    The U.S. military explained there was no structural problem with the aircraft itself. But if that is the case, why did the propeller come in contact with the refueling hose? The cause of the accident remains undetermined.

    World Heritage listing eyed for Okinawa forest close to U.S. base

    KUNIGAMI, Okinawa Prefecture--As a pristine subtropical jungle with endemic species of flora and fauna, Yanbaru in Okinawa Prefecture would seem to have everything going for it to gain World Natural Heritage status.
    Except for the proximity of the U.S. military's anti-guerrilla warfare training.
    That sums up the dilemma facing the government as it strives to win listing for the forest in 2018.
    As part of those efforts, the government designated the vast area of dark green chinquapin and other evergreen, broad-leaved trees on the northern tip of Okinawa's main island as a national park in September.
    But how to reconcile the jungle warfare exercises at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Northern Training Area with visitors tramping through the forest?

    Governor Onaga says Okinawans are disregarded as Osprey aerial refueling training resumes


    January 5, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
    On the evening of January 5, Governor Takeshi Onaga commented in an interview on the resumption of aerial refueling training exercises of MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft scheduled for the next day, following the recent crash on the shore of Abu, Nago. 
    He says that at the same time that the Japanese government declares it is considering the feelings of Okinawans, it takes the stance of making the American military’s demands its highest priority. Additionally he insists that, “This causes great harm to the relationship of mutual trust [between Japan and Okinawa], and therefore we feel strong resentment.”

    Japan defense minister to visit Guam bases

    Japan’s defense minister is expected to arrive in Guam Friday to see the progress of Japan government-funded projects for the relocation of almost 5,000 Marines from Okinawa.
    Minister Tomomi Inada is expected to visit the military bases on the island, and the proposed site of a future Marine Corps base in Dededo, near Andersen Air Force Base.
    Inada also will visit the Aviation Command Element hangar at Andersen, said Lt. Tim Gorman, Joint Region Marianas public information officer.

    NYT: Caroline Kennedy, an Ambassador Whose Role Transcended the Embassy

    (Excerpt) As for many American ambassadors in Japan, one of Ms. Kennedy’s biggest challenges came in dealing with the complex dynamics of Okinawa, which hosts nearly half of the roughly 50,000 American troops in Japan.
    In December, Ms. Kennedy presided over a ceremony in which the United States officially returned nearly 10,000 acres of land in Okinawa to Japan. The handover upset some residents because the Japanese government agreed to build six new helicopter landing pads on the acres that the United States retained to use in jungle warfare training.
    Some residents in Okinawa said they had hoped Ms. Kennedy would be more sympathetic to protesters who want the American military to greatly reduce its footprint.
    “We had a hope when she was appointed as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, as a daughter of the symbol of democracy,” said Tomohiro Yara, a freelance writer and activist in Okinawa. “Sorry, the symbol was only a symbol.”
    Ms. Kennedy said she understood the anger. “You may not hear it, but I think that certainly we did take actual practical steps,” she said, including the return of other land on Okinawa and moving an aircraft hangar to reduce noise. “So hopefully people will see that the U.S. is committed to making progress, reducing our presence.”

    Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    US military to conduct urban-raid training on Guam

    HAGÅTÑA — The U.S. armed forces will hold an eight-day urban-military training exercise at various sites on Guam from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3, according to a Navy document.
    In a letter submitted to the Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans, Captain S.M. Jones, the Navy’s regional engineer, said most of the training activities will be held at Anderson Air Force and Naval Base. However, he added, “critical components of the exercise” entail the use of civilian sites such as the Tanguison Power Plant and the Governor’s Complex.
    “During the simulated raid on the complex, access to the facility and surrounding beaches will be temporarily restricted for two to three hours to ensure the safety of public and exercise participants,” Jones said in a letter seeking the government of Guam’s approval for the use of the civilian sites.
    Spearheaded by the U.S. Marine Corps, the Realistic Urban Training Exercise, or RUREX17, will involve the USMC 31st Maritime Expeditionary Unit, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Air Force Special Operations Command, the Guam Police Department, US Coast Guam, Anderson Air Force Base Security Forces, the 34th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25.

    Pentagon to set tone for Trump’s S.China Sea policy with USS Carl Vinson

    Editor's Note:

    The USS Carl Vinson, the third Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier operated by the US Navy, is expected to arrive in Asia around January 20, invoking more tensions in the Western Pacific Region. What is the purpose of the operation? Will the Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy of the Obama administration continue in the Trump era? How should China react? The Global Times has talked with two experts on the issue. 

    Eurasia Review: Assessing Obama’s Asia Rebalancing Strategy – Analysis

    By Uriel N. Galace*
    United States President Barack Obama sought to re-invigorate the US’ primacy in the Asia Pacific with a speech to the Australian Parliament in November 17, 2011, announcing a new foreign policy towards the region.1 Dubbed the “rebalancing strategy,” this plan sought to expand American presence within the Asia-Pacific by forging closer military, trade, and people-to-people ties with various states across the region. According to the White House, this strategy has been made necessary because “Asia and the Pacific is increasingly the world’s political and economic center of gravity” and the US would be remiss not to leverage the opportunities the region has to offer.2
    With Obama’s term winding down and president-elect Donald Trump set to take the reins as US commander-in-chief, now is the appropriate time to look back and assess the effectiveness of this strategy. This commentary evaluates the impact of Obama’s rebalance by examining the strategy across three dimensions—political / military, economic, and socio-cultural.

    Opinion: Time for Japan to rethink Okinawa base issue with Trump

    By Akira Kimura Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/8 18:53:39

    US President-elect Donald Trump, who has astounded the world during the election, is to be sworn in on January 20. It remains to be seen how much of his rhetoric will be translated into policy, but there is no doubt that the Trump presidency will bring seismic change to the world. And this offers Japan a chance to break away from its military alliance with the US and substantially address the US base situation in Okinawa.

    Trump claimed during his campaign that he would withdraw US troops from Japan unless the country paid more to host them. He thought that with the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan, Tokyo had earmarked the spending supposed to be used in defense for economic development. In other words, Japan has taken a free ride on the US security policy and gained unilaterally.

    But this is Trump's misconception, as shown by statistics. Japan has paid nearly 70 percent of the expense in hosting the US troops and cannot afford more. 

    Navy, Trump planning biggest fleet expansion since Cold War

    BATH, Maine — With President-elect Donald Trump demanding more ships, the Navy is proposing the biggest shipbuilding boom since the end of the Cold War to meet threats from a resurgent Russia and saber-rattling China.

     The Navy's 355-ship proposal released last month is even larger than what the Republican Trump had promoted on the campaign trail, providing a potential boost to shipyards that have struggled because budget caps that have limited money funding for ships.

     At Maine's Bath Iron Works, workers worried about the future want to build more ships but wonder where the billions of dollars will come from.

     "Whether Congress and the government can actually fund it, is a whole other ball game," said Rich Nolan, president of the shipyard's largest union.

    Editorial: Guam needs answers on alleged use of Agent Orange

    The federal government owes the Guam community, and veterans who served here, a full investigation into whether Agent Orange was used on Guam during the Vietnam War.
    The Veterans Administration recognizes more than a dozen “health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service,” according to its website, including chronic B-cell leukemias, Hodgkin lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, respiratory cancer and prostate cancer, among others.
    Last week, two Air Force veterans who served on Guam during the 1960s and 1970s said Agent Orange was used here. Leroy Foster, 68, told a Florida news station that he sprayed the herbicide while serving on Andersen Air Force Base. Gerard Laitres, 72, who was stationed at Andersen Air Force Base from September 1963 to March 1965, also said the defoliant was used on Guam.

    Task force will investigate reports of Agent Orange use on Guam

    A new investigative task force will “review and record reports from the community” on the use of polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, DDT and Agent Orange on Guam, Sen. Fernando Esteves announced in a news release Jan. 10.
    Esteves, who serves as vice-chairman of the Guam Legislature’s Committee on Health, will be joined on the task force by Sen. Dennis Rodriguez Jr., the committee's chairman, and Sen. Louisa Borja Muna.
    The task force will reach out to the community, review records and compile recent research data, Esteves said, and will attempt "to correlate these environmental pollutants with an array of congenital health problems that plague our island.”
    “For example, if certain diseases are attributed to specific hazardous constituents, then we want to correlate that with a mix of subjective and objective historical data about the surrounding area,” Esteves said. “Much work has been done over the years. ... It is our intention to bridge the various entities and compile their findings with ours.”

    Sunday, January 08, 2017

    U.S. resumes Osprey refueling drills in Okinawa

    The U.S. military resumed aerial refueling drills for Osprey aircraft in Okinawa Prefecture on Friday, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said amid local protests.
    The move comes less than a month after one of the tilt-rotor aircraft was forced to ditch in nearby waters, injuring only the crew.
    Speaking to reporters in Paris, Inada said the U.S. side informed the Japanese government that the drills restarted off the coast of Okinawa around Friday at noon local time.
    “I understand that they informed us of that because we had told them that the accident attracted a great deal of interest and generated deep concerns among the public,” she said.

    A Closer Look at the Growing US-China Rivalry in the South China Sea

     
    A sharpening dispute between the United States and China over Freedom of Navigation (FON) in the Western Pacific was again thrust into the headlines last month following the Chinese navy’s brazen theft of an American underwater drone beyond even Beijing’s wildly imaginative Nine Dash Line, an incident I covered here at The Diplomat.
    With Chinese challenges to U.S. military FON increasingly migrating to the South China Sea (SCS), last week I received a new report from the Hainan Island-based National Institute of South China Sea (NISCSS), the “Report on the Military Presence of the United States of America In the Asia-Pacific Region 2016.”
    The booklet purports to offer a “systematic review of the United States’ military presence in the Asia Pacific region” and it’s largely successful in that endeavor, brimming with detailed charts, data, and infographics drawn mostly from official U.S. sources.

    Win-win or zero-sum gamesmanship will define the Asia-Pacific

    BY ON

    THE end of the Cold War has seen tectonic changes in the architecture of international foreign relations. With the Obama pivot to Asia the deployment of United States diplomatic and security initiatives has shifted from NATO nations to SEATO allied countries, specifically the rising superpower, China, which in the eyes of cold warriors is now in the crosshairs of US gunboat diplomacy but in the eyes of realist doves provides a huge window of opportunity for American business. In Cold War days, the Soviet threat threw the US and China together. With the balkanization of the Soviet Union, however, Russia is perceived to be less of a threat than an emerging economic and military dragon in Asia. Accordingly, the US-China mutual defense entente cordial aimed at Russia is no longer a strategic option, even as the geo-economics interplay between the two superpowers continue gaining from strength to strength.