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Asia-Pacific

China Destroyer Consolidates Innovations, Other Ship Advances

December 1, 2013
By James C. Bussert

A new destroyer being deployed by China offers improvements in technology that rival those of the newest destroyers being built for the U.S. Navy. Its advances include phased array radars and improved missiles and launch systems. With room to grow, this ship seems destined to play a significant role in naval operations.

The Asia-Pacific Rebalance: Where Does
 It Stand, and What About Implementation?

November 1, 2013
by Kent R. Schneider

It has been less than two years since the president and the secretary of defense released the latest strategic defense guidance, titled, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.” A key tenet of this guidance was a strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. This guidance acknowledged the ongoing threat in the Middle East and South Asia, but it also postulated that the threat capability had been reduced there. It also made the case that, “U.S. economic and security interests are inextricably linked to developments in the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia, creating a mix of evolving challenges and opportunities”—hence the rebalance.

Intelligence Leaders Seek Common Interests With China

November 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Pacific Command intelligence community is fostering an increased dialogue between China and other nations with interests in the Pacific Rim. The expanded effort is designed to build trust, avoid misunderstandings and improve cooperation in areas where China’s national interests converge with the national interests of the United States and others.

U.S. Army
 Pacific Aims 
at Refreshing
 Its Networks

November 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Legacy communications are underpinning new capabilities as the U.S. Army Pacific works to upgrade its systems before obsolescence defeats innovation. The new technologies and systems that will define U.S. military networking are beginning to reach across the Defense Department’s largest theater of operations. Yet, budgetary constraints are hindering implementation of new capabilities, and the existing systems that form the foundation of theater networking badly need upgrades before they begin to give out.

Korean Military Networks Flourish Under Duress

November 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The signal brigade in charge of U.S. Army communications in the Republic of Korea is incorporating new technologies and capabilities with one eye on ensuring success and the other eye on the hostile neighbor to the north. System improvements such as the advanced Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, voice over Internet protocol and a Korean theater version of the Joint Information Environment are designed to give allied forces a significant edge should war break out.

Pacific Air Forces Addresses Strategic
 Rebalance

November 1, 2013
By Rita 
Boland

Cooperation and conflict define the new strategy guiding U.S. Pacific Air Forces as the air element of the U.S. Pacific Command adjusts to the strategic pivot to that vast region. The former aspect includes efforts with many regional allies as well as closer activities with the U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, the latter element entails power projection to be able to respond to crises whenever they emerge, including those over water.

China in Space

October 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

China’s activities in space have caught the attention of U.S. and other countries’ officials, altering how personnel must consider the domain. The importance of the area outside of Earth to military operations makes the location critical for any nation looking to put itself into a terrestrial position of power. During 2012, China conducted 18 space launches and upgraded various constellations for purposes such as communications and navigation. China’s recent expansion into the realm presents new concerns for civilian programs and defense assets there.

In the U.S. National Military Strategy, officials discuss their concern about China’s military modernization and assertiveness in space, also stating that the “enabling and warfighting domains of space and cyberspace are simultaneously more critical for our operations yet more vulnerable to malicious actions.” The United States has released several pieces of guidance on its approach to the domain such as the National Space Policy and the Defense Department’s National Security Space Strategy. The military defines the latter as a “pragmatic approach to maintain the advantages derived from space while confronting the challenges of an evolving space strategic environment. It is the first such strategy jointly signed by the Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence.”
 

Unlike the 1960s-era space race when Soviets and Americans competed to be first, China approaches space with a different set of goals. Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who focuses on Chinese political and social affairs, explains that the Sino perspective asks, “What do we want to do in space? What can space do for us?”

China’s Navy Deploys
 Three-Tier Defensive Weapons

July 1, 2013
By James C. Bussert

 

China is adopting a multitier shipborne weapon system approach that flies in the face of the approach usually taken by modern navies. Instead of building a single design for weapons systems that is adapted for different ships, the Chinese Navy has developed specialized systems that perform similar functions on different-sized vessels.

Traditionally, nations that sell naval weapon systems field a given design applicable to a wide variety of ships. For the U.S. Navy, the Mk 41 vertical launching system (VLS) has been the standard missile launcher for U.S. surface combatants and for foreign military sales. Originally, three sizes of Mk 41 modules were developed: the large “strike” size—commonly referred to by the overall designation Mk 41—that holds Tomahawk cruise missiles installed on cruisers and destroyers; a middle “tactical” size; and a “self-defense” quad pack for foreign customers with smaller ships.

In addition to these three types, four variants of the topside shorter-celled Mk 48 VLS have been exported to six foreign navies but are not used by the U.S. Navy. The six-barrel 20-millimeter Phalanx Gatling gun close-in weapon system (CIWS) is fitted to a majority of U.S. Navy ships and is exported widely to allied nations. A third defensive system is the multinational Mk 116 rolling airframe missile (RAM) design, which is deployed in the Mk 49 21-cell launchers used by six nations, including the U.S. Navy. A smaller SeaRAM with an 11-cell launcher in a Phalanx frame is replacing the 20-millimeter Gatling gun.

The Perils of the Pivot

July 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

As the Global War on Terrorism winds down in the minds of American military strategists, the rush to put this chapter of our history behind us without further reflection is palpable. Yet, by turning our focus to more easily understood conflicts, we risk missing the very real lessons of the past 10 years that likely will remain relevant in the coming decades.;

Having awoken from the nightmare of uncertainty and confusion that defined the unconventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation’s strategic planners have retreated reflexively to the intellectually comfortable contemplation of where our forces excel. “Give us defined, similar-looking adversaries, and we will crush anyone who dares challenge us,” they offer. “Let’s assume the future retains the same framework as before, iterate from our existing dominant structure, and we will remain pre-eminent.”

This mindset very well may reflect a counter to “the most dangerous course of action,” but it completely ignores “the most likely course of action” in world affairs. The two are related only very infrequently, and a focus on one to the complete exclusion of the other can have catastrophic consequences. It also is a perfect demonstration of how disruptive innovation can upend incumbents, a concept first introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in the late 1990s.

In his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” Christensen theorizes how large, successful firms can fail by “doing everything right.” He goes on to describe further how past successes and incredible capabilities can “actually become obstacles in the face of changing markets and technologies.”

Cyber, Security Focuses for Marine Forces Pacific

June 12, 2013
By Rita Boland

Cyberwarfare is a primary concern for the U.S. Marine Corps as it continues its rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. With the growing involvement of cyber in every operation along with specific concerns of virtual attacks from large nations in the region, emphasis on the new domain is becoming increasingly important.

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