Australia To Boost Defence Spending As China Tensions Rise

Police patrol aound the Australia’s iconic landmark Opera House, usually packed with tourists, in Sydney on June 30, 2020. Saeed KHAN / AFP.

 

Australia will announce a substantial increase in defence spending and focus on projecting military power across the Indo-Pacific amid escalating tensions with China, in a major policy speech to be delivered Wednesday by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The address, seen by AFP, will set out Australia’s defence policy for the next ten years and earmark Aus$270 billion ($185 billion) for new and upgraded defence capabilities.

“We must face the reality that we have moved into a new and less benign strategic era,” Morrison will warn, eyeing the end of unquestioned US hegemony and the rise of an increasingly assertive China.

“Even as we stare down the COVID pandemic at home, we need to also prepare for a post-COVID world that is poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly.”

Australia’s government is committing to spending two percent of GDP on defence — as US President Donald Trump has angrily demanded of allies — and spending almost 40 percent more over the last defence review in 2016.

The country will acquire more powerful strike capabilities, including the United States’ AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, as well as invest in hypersonic weapons research.

– Middle power –

While acknowledging the nation of 25 million people cannot match its rivals in the region — China officially plans to spend $178 billion on defence in 2020 alone — Morrison framed Australia as a regional power committed to an “open, sovereign Indo-Pacific, free from coercion and hegemony”.

Though Morrison says Australia remains prepared to send troops further afield “where it is in our national interest to do so”, that cannot come at the cost of its ability to respond to threats from and in its own backyard, he will say.

The Australian Defence Force will focus on building “stronger deterrence capabilities” to raise the cost for any would-be aggressor and concentrate on the immediate region over operations further afield.

Australia has fought alongside the United States in every major war of the last century, sometimes in areas far from its shores or outside its immediate interests.

The announcement marks a significant shift in Australia’s defence posture that will be widely seen as an effort to counter Beijing’s growing influence in the region.

It also follows Morrison’s “Pacific Step-Up” policy — announced in 2018 to rebuild support among regional allies drifting toward Beijing — which has seen his government ramp up diplomatic engagement and offer greater financial aid to its developing neighbours.

“We want a region where all countries, large and small, can engage freely with each other, guided by international rules and norms,” he will say.

He will also pinpoint cybersecurity as key to Australia’s defence strategy, a day after announcing the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending — a roughly 10 percent hike that takes the budget for the next decade to Aus$15 billion.

The government says Australia has been targeted in a wave of state-sponsored attacks, which are suspected to have been carried out by China.

Beijing has clashed repeatedly with Canberra as it looks to increase the cost for Australia of speaking out against Communist Party interests.

Most recently, Australia enraged China by calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Canberra has also pushed back against what it describes as China’s economic “coercion”, covert influence campaigns and the use of technology companies like Huawei as a tool for intelligence gathering and geopolitical leverage.

China has warned its students and tourists against going to Australia, slapped trade sanctions on Australian goods and sentenced an Australian citizen to death for drug trafficking.

AFP

US Approves $2.75bn Fighter Jet Sale To Singapore

 

 

The United States has approved the sale of up to 12 F-35 fighter jets — one of the most advanced warplanes ever built — to Singapore for around $2.75 billion, officials said Friday.

The city-state last year said it planned to buy four of the jets, with an option to purchase eight more, picking the Lockheed Martin model over rivals from Europe and China.

Despite its small size, Singapore has one of the region’s best-equipped armed forces and spends a large chunk of its national budget on defence.

The State Department had approved the jet sale, said the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, adding Congress had been notified and must now also give the green light.

“Singapore is a strategic friend and major security cooperation partner and an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region,” said the agency.

It added that the deal “will not alter the basic military balance in the region”.

The affluent city-state spent several years assessing which fighter jet should replace its aging fleet of F-16s before choosing the F-35s.

It is a supersonic plane whose advanced stealth characteristics allow pilots to avoid detection by radars, according to Lockheed Martin.

Its advanced electronic warfare capabilities enable pilots to locate and track enemy forces, jam radars and disrupt attacks.

The Singapore military also has F-15 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and submarines in its arsenal.

Erdogan Says Turkish Soldiers Are Deploying To Libya

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan / AFP

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkish soldiers had begun deploying to Libya after parliament approved such a move last week.

“Our soldiers’ duty there is coordination. They will develop the operation centre there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now,” he told CNN Turk broadcaster during an interview.

The Turkish parliament passed a bill allowing the government to send troops to Libya aimed at shoring up the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

The Tripoli government has come under sustained attack since military strongman general Khalifa Haftar launched his offensive in April.

Haftar is backed by Turkey’s regional rivals, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while the UN-backed government has the support of Ankara and its ally Qatar.

Erdogan said Turkey’s objective was “not to fight”, but “to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy”.

Turkey’s move comes after the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord made a formal request for military support.

Libya and Turkey signed security and maritime agreements in November last year, angering Mediterranean countries including Greece and Cyprus who also seek to exploit energy resources in the region.

US Cannot Survive Without Allies, Says Ex-Defence Secretary Mattis

FILES) In this file photo taken on October 28, 2018 former US Secretary of Defence James Mattis addresses a press conference in Prague. 

 

Former US Defense Secretary Warned Wednesday that the United States cannot survive without its allies, days after the G7 summit showed President Donald Trump out of step with America’s key partners.

“An oft-spoken admonition in the Marines is this: When you’re going to a gunfight, bring all your friends with guns,” Mattis wrote in the Wall Street Journal, in his first public comments since quitting in a policy dispute with Trump last December.

“A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed,” Mattis wrote.

“Nations with allies thrive, and those without them wither. Alone, America cannot protect our people and our economy.”

Mattis’s opinion column was published just hours before his successor, Mark Esper, gives his first on-camera press briefing since being confirmed as Pentagon chief last month.

Esper has the responsibility of implementing Trump’s demands for a withdrawal of most US troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the policies Mattis fell out with the president over.

Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, said he had to step down after his “concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated,” with the US leadership.

Mattis also blasted the hyper-partisan political atmosphere in Washington as contributing to the erosion of US leadership in the world, saying he had little taste for “the political fratricide practiced in Washington.”

“What concerns me most as a military man is not our external adversaries; it is our internal divisiveness,” he said.

“Unlike in the past, where we were unified and drew in allies, currently our own commons seems to be breaking apart.”

“To preserve our leadership role, we needed to get our own country’s act together first, especially if we were to help others.”

AFP

Iran Showcases Long-Range Missile System

A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidential office shows Iranian-made air defence missile system Bavar 373 (believe in farsi) during a ceremony in Tehran on August 22, 2019.
HO / Iranian Presidency / AFP

 

Iran unveiled its new home-grown air defence system on Thursday at a time of increased tensions with the United States.

Iranian officials have previously called Bavar-373 the Islamic republic’s first domestically produced long-range missile defence system.

READ ALSO: Macron, Johnson Meet In France Over Brexit

Tehran began making Bavar — which means “believe” — after the purchase of Russia’s S-300 system was suspended in 2010 due to international sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani attended the unveiling ceremony for the mobile surface-to-air system and ordered it to be added to Iran’s missile defence network, state news agency IRNA reported.

“The long-range Bavar-373 missile system is suited to Iran’s geography with a range of more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) … and competes with Russian and American systems such as S-300 and Patriot,” IRNA said.

The system is “better than S-300 and close to S-400”, Rouhani said in televised remarks after the ceremony, held on Iran’s “national defence industry day”.

Pictures released by his office showed the system mounted on the back of military trucks in Tehran.

Iran installed the S-300 system in March 2016 following several years of delays, after a nuclear agreement reached with world powers the previous year allowed the lifting of international sanctions.

Thursday’s unveiling takes place against a backdrop of rising tensions with Washington since President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions.

Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone with a surface-to-air missile in June for allegedly violating its airspace, which the United States denies.

AFP

France To Develop Anti-Satellite Weapons

 

France plans to develop anti-satellite weapons but will only deploy them in self-defence, its defence minister said on Thursday, as she laid out the country’s new military strategy for space.

READ ALSO: Britain’s Johnson Rejects ‘Unacceptable’ Brexit Deal

“If our satellites are threatened, we intend to blind those of our adversaries,” Florence Parly said. “We reserve the right and the means to be able to respond: that could imply the use of powerful lasers deployed from our satellites or from patrolling nano-satellites.”

AFP

Trump Vows To Boost America’s Missile Defence

Trump Under Fire After Cancelling WWI Cemetery Visit
US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to boost America’s missile defense systems, including by investing in technology to protect against the threat of sophisticated “hypersonic” weapons.

Speaking at the Pentagon, Trump unveiled the Missile Defense Review, a long-awaited analysis of the defensive network of US interceptors that are designed to shoot down an incoming ballistic missile.

Top among the concerns highlighted in the review is the speed at which rivals, particularly China and Russia, are pushing ahead with hypersonic missiles, which can thwart traditional defense systems.

“The US will now adjust its posture to defend against any missile strikes including cruise and hypersonic missiles,” Trump told the military audience.

“We will terminate any missile launches from hostile powers or even from powers that make a mistake. It won’t happen, regardless of the missile type or geographic origins of the attack.”

Flying at low altitude, many times the speed of sound, and able to change direction, hypersonic weapons don’t follow a ballistic arc so are much harder to track and cannot currently be intercepted.

As a result, the Pentagon is urgently looking at ways to enhance its ability to track hypersonic missiles, primarily by using existing sensors that are deployed in space.

“These new technologies produce new threats, and these threats are harder to see, harder to track and harder to defeat,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said.

“To our competitors: we see what you are doing and we are taking action.”

Trump blasted Iran for developing missile technology but notably, he did not mention North Korea, which has developed a ballistic missile arsenal and has conducted several nuclear tests.

Trump ordered the missile defense review in 2017, amid heightened tensions with Pyongyang over its nuclear program — the first such review of America’s ballistic defenses since 2010.

But Trump has since met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in a bid to end the crisis, and he was expected to welcome a top North Korean official in Washington on Friday.

Still, the review itself stresses that North Korea is “an extraordinary threat and the United States must remain vigilant.”

 Missiles in space 

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which conducted the review, said it would study the feasibility of creating a space-based interceptor system, in which an orbiting craft of some sort would be equipped with missiles that could destroy an incoming warhead while it was in space.

Another focus for the MDA will be developing ways to knock out a ballistic missile immediately after it has launched.

Currently, ground-based anti-missile technologies focus on intercepting warheads while they are in the “midcourse” phase, flying through space.

By attacking the missiles while they are still in their “boost phase” soon after launch, the MDA could add a layer of defense for America and its allies.

One way of doing this would be by adding a new type of missile to F-35 stealth fighters patrolling near a suspected launch site, such as in a hypothetical conflict with North Korea, the MDA said.

“Intercepting offensive missiles in their boost phase would increase the likelihood of successfully countering missile threats, complicate an aggressor’s attack calculus… and reduce the number of midcourse or terminal active defense interceptors needed to destroy the adversary’s remaining offensive missiles,” the MDA said.

The MDA is also looking at ways of boosting its “directed energy” — or laser — capabilities to take out ballistic missiles.

The review was due to be released last year, but its publication saw repeated delays.

AFP

Allowances Of Operation Sharan Daji Troops ‘Up-To-Date’ – Defence HQ

Eight Soldiers Injured As Army Kills Seven Insurgents
File

 

The Defence Headquarters has denied owing troops participating in the Operation Sharan Daji in Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto and Birni Kwari areas.

According to a statement on Saturday by the Acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, the allowances of the troops have been paid up to date.

“There is no other special allowance approved from Defence Headquarters than what is being paid to the troops in Operation Sharan Daji, and the troops’ allowances are paid up to date,” he said on Saturday.

Agim also revealed that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has made arrangement for their August allowances to be paid next week.

He urged the troops to remain committed to flushing out criminal elements from the North-Western states.

“I, therefore, urge our gallant troops to remain focused and not distracted as the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olanisakin who is always concerned about the welfare of troops, has approved all your allowances.

“In fact, even the troops’ August allowances have been paid to the Force Commander and arrangements have been completed to pay their August allowances by next week,” he added.

The military authorities also called on the general public to disregard message on the social media suggesting that the allowances of the soldiers are not being paid.

Sanctions Force Russia To Cut Defence Spending – Study

Russian Msta S artillery vehicles roll on Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Saint Petersburg on April 30, 2018. Russia will celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany on May 9. OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP

 

Russia’s military spending fell sharply in 2017 for the first time since 1998 as a slew of Western economic sanctions hit government coffers hard, a closely followed review said Wednesday.

Despite soaring tensions between Moscow and the West, Russia’s military expense last year came in at $66.3 billion (54.9 billion euros), 20 percent lower than in 2016, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.

The last time Moscow was forced to cut spending was in 1998 at the height of a massive economic crisis.

“Military modernisation remains a priority in Russia, but the military budget has been restricted by economic problems that the country has experienced since 2014,” senior SIPRI researcher Siemon Wezeman said, referring to Western sanctions imposed against Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

Russia’s frosty relations with NATO, which have plummeted to their lowest levels since the Cold War, are also driven by sharp divisions over the Syrian conflict and the recent poisoning of an ex-spy in the UK.

Britain and its Western allies have blamed Moscow for the poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England on March 4. Moscow has vehemently denied any involvement.

Russia has largely protected its defence budget up to now, imposing cuts in areas such as infrastructure and education, but 2017 was the first time it had no option but to spread the pain, according to Wezeman.

“It’s no longer possible to keep the defence at a high level or keep it growing,” he said.

“For Russia, it means they may have to swallow their pride.”

 ‘Cause of serious concern’

All 29 NATO allies, meanwhile, spent $900 billion on the military in 2017, which accounts for 52 percent of total world spending, SIPRI said.

Military spending in both Central and Western Europe rose by 12 and 1.7 percent, respectively, in 2017, triggered “in part by the perception of a growing threat from Russia”.

The United States, which remains the world’s biggest military spender at $610 billion, spent more on its military than the seven next highest-spending nations — China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, France, the UK and Japan — combined, SIPRI said.

The independent institute said world military expenditure reached the highest level since the end of the Cold War at $1.739 trillion in 2017.

“Continuing high world military expenditure is a cause of serious concern,” SIPRI chair Jan Eliasson said in a statement.

“It undermines the search for peaceful solutions to conflicts around the world.”

AFP

Plateau Security: Defence Headquarters Visits State

Gunmen Kill Ex-Plateau Head Of Service, Two Others
Plateau State on the map of Nigeria

Following the various attacks in some villages of Plateau state which resulted in the loss of lives and properties, the Defence Headquarters on Sunday visited the state.

This move, it was learnt, is to find a lasting solution, sequel to a fact-finding delegation to investigate the incessant attacks.

The team, led by the Chief of Training and Operation, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Mohammed, had a closed door meeting with heads of security agencies in the state, ethnic groups, religious and community leaders where issues on security and peaceful coexistence were discussed.

It is expected that the meeting will give birth to an accelerated peace in the region, as the state government is set to prosecute anyone caught breaching the peace of the state.

Meanwhile, the Benue state government has appeal to the Federal government to upgrade the status of the state-owned polytechnic to a federal institution, with a view to promoting technical education.

Governor Samuel Ortom made the appeal during a convocation ceremony of the institution, for over 32,000 graduates in the past 10 years.

Mr Ortom had while admitting infrastructural challenges like power supply and water reticulation system faced by the establishment, however gave the assurances that they were being addressed, to encourage the FG in this regards.

I Don’t Have N1billion To Give Jonathan, Metuh Tells Court

Metuh

The embattled former National Publicity Secretary to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olisa Metuh has told the court that he cannot afford the sum of N1 billion to give former President Goodluck Jonathan to appear as his defence in court.

It will be recalled that Former President Goodluck Jonathan has earlier asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to compel Metuh, to pay N1billion to cover his travel expenses to appear as a defence witness in Metuh’s trial.

Speaking today at the continuation of his trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja with respect to the prayer seeking for a deposit of N1bilion, Metuh says he does not have N1 billion to give the Former President Goodluck Jonathan.

It is his belief that the figure is punitive and meant to frustrate his effort at obtaining evidence that will assist him in the defence of his case.

He adds that it is his view that from the first day he was arrested that the release of the money for which he is standing trial was authorised by the Former President and released by the former National Security Adviser at his prompting.

However, he says that if the application is to save the nation from the embarrassment of docking a Former President, it would have been aborted if the charge against Metuh was not preferred.

Haven gotten this far it is the defendant’s position that this application should be struck out.

Nnamdi Kanu Not In Custody Of Military – Defence Headquaters

Boko Haram Attacks Based Strongly On Collaborators – DHQ
John Enenche

Nigerian military authorities have refuted claims of having the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB; Nnamdi Kanu in detention.

The Director of Defence Information; Major General John Enenche who disclosed this on Friday in Abuja did not only refute the claims but added that the military is not in any position to declare Nnamdi Kanu wanted.

He also gave the assurance of the military towards sustaining the protection of lives and property in the country.

READ ALSO: FG Gazettes IPOB Ban, To Notify Banks, Embassies, Foreign Missions

“Democracy has come to stay permanently in Nigeria, that is the assurance that we need to give to the public of Nigeria, the unalloyed loyalty of the armed forces of Nigeria to the commander in Chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, grand commander of the Federal Republic is hereby assured.”

While reaffirming the total subordination of the Nigerian military to constituted civil authorities he gave reacted to questions on the whereabouts of the IPOB leader and said Nnamdi Kanu is not in the custody of the military.

“On the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, Nnamdi Kanu is not in the custody of the military.”