Tag Archives: Okinawa

Fighting words: China disses U.S. soldiers as worthless

Miles Yu reports for The Washington Times, April 17, 2014:

A casual remark by a U.S. general during a breakfast has made China mad, really mad, and Beijing’s response is far less than civil and humble.

On April 11, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the 18,000 Marines in Okinawa, Japan, told reporters at a Washington breakfast meeting that the Marines in the Pacific would quickly retake the Senkaku island group and return it to Japan if China were to invade it.

Note: China and Japan both claim ownership of the islands, called Senkaku by Japanese and Diaoyu by Chinese.

U.S. Marines Lt. Gen. John Wissler

U.S. Marines Lt. Gen. John Wissler

The statement was nothing new, as U.S. officials from the president on down repeatedly have told the Chinese that the United States would fulfill its defense treaty obligations to help Japan militarily in any conflict with China over the islands.

What apparently incensed the Chinese was what Gen. Wissler said next: “You wouldn’t maybe even necessarily have to put somebody on that island until you had eliminated the threat, so to speak.”

The Chinese military is supremely confident of its invincibility in the Pacific and is taking Gen. Wissler’s remark as a great insult.

The first return salvos were fired by the Communist Party-owned and operated newspaper Global Times.

“These U.S. warships roaming around here [in the East China Sea] are slowly being considered by us Chinese as our moving targets right in front of our eyes, and the [U.S.] bases in Okinawa as a whole are also no longer a big deal [to us],” said the newspaper in an April 15 editorial.

When facing China, these U.S. soldiers are really not worth anything,” the Global Times said. “If China and the U.S. were to start an all-out fight, these American Marines would be more like a marching band, charging with others, but with their musical instruments in hands. Wissler seems still living in the 20th century. In the new century, he and his comrades in arms should see their own reflections in the water with which they use to wash their own feet.”

Beijing recently issued its broadest definition of “national security” — including virtually all aspects of the communist state’s daily routine and giving new meaning to China as a “national security state.”

Obama bows to China's president Xi Jinping

Obama bows to China’s president Xi Jinping

Billed as the “National Security Path with Chinese Characteristics,” the new definition was announced by Supreme Leader Xi Jinping on April 15 at the first plenary meeting of the newly created, all-powerful National Security Commission.

It is significantly different from other conventional definitions of “national security” around the world in its comprehensive coverage and its dual emphasis on external and internal security.

To begin with, Mr. Xi listed 11 “security” areas in which China’s new national organization will operate and oversee — politics, territories, military, economy, culture, community, science and technology, information, ecology, natural resources and nuclear.

At the top of this security behemoth sits Mr. Xi as chairman of the National Security Commission — a position renders him the world leader with the most institutionalized and centralized powers.

In addition to being China’s national security czar, Mr. Xi is chief of the only real political party in China, president of the world’s most-populous nation, and commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military, while holding additional positions in charge of China’s foreign affairs and economic reforms.

See also:

~StMA

The Bell Continues to Toll

This outstanding weapon system will be a great compliment to the LRASM under development (or maybe that’s the other-way-around, since the JSOW C-1 is much further along its development track).  Air-dropped and networked, this is another weapon that can be delivered by (for example) F-18s that can then break off, leaving guidance to other aircraft flying beyond the range of shipborne air defenses.  This article references guidance provided by an E-2D, but as mentioned in the last paragraph it could also come from P-3C Orion–and hence the new P-8A Poseidon replacement for the P-3–and the E-8C JSTARS.  I’m quite confident that guidance could also be provided by/relayed through the MQ-4C Triton UAS.

Displacedjim

E-2D_Hawkeye_FeaturesE-2D Hawkeye

Raytheon’s Joint Standoff Weapon C-1 demonstrates networked capability with E-2D aircraft

Weapon showcases interoperability, flexibility

TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and the U.S. Navy demonstrated the capability of the newest version of the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1 by establishing communications among an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft and the JSOW C-1.

The test was part of the Navy’s Trident Warrior 2013 demonstration in July. During the demonstration, fighters simulated the launch of a JSOW C-1 while the E-2D directed the weapon toward the positively identified target. The E-2D aircraft also received status updates sent from the JSOW C-1.

“The success of the Trident Warrior 2013 demonstration proves the feasibility of providing the fleet a means of executing the complete kill chain with carrier-based assets utilizing the F/A-18E/F, JSOW C-1 and E-2D to engage maritime targets at range,” said Cmdr. Errol Campbell, the U.S. Navy’s Precision Strike Weapons program office deputy program manager for the JSOW program.

Additionally, the team was able to track and designate a target; simulate the launch of the JSOW; send, receive and acknowledge target updates; and receive bomb hit indication data from the weapon.

“This test further verifies the flexibility and seamless plug-and-play connectivity of JSOW C-1’s network-enabled capability,” said Celeste Mohr, JSOW program director for Raytheon Missile Systems. “The test demonstrates the relative ease with which the U.S. Navy can build on the ongoing integration of the JSOW C-1 on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 and expand the interoperability and connectivity to a fielded carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning aircraft.”

In 2009, the Navy performed a similar demonstration of connectivity and interoperability among sensor platforms, a shooting platform and the JSOW C-1 during the Joint Surface Warfare Joint Capability Technology Demonstration. This demonstration involved a P-3 Orion aircraft’s littoral surveillance radar system and an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft.

About the Joint Standoff Weapon

JSOW is a family of low-cost, air-to-ground weapons that employs an integrated GPS-inertial navigation system and terminal imaging infrared seeker. JSOW C-1 adds the two-way Strike Common Weapon Datalink to the combat-proven weapon, enabling a moving maritime target capability. JSOW C-1 will provide an advanced anti-surface warfare solution on the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft.

Joint Statement of US-Japan Security Consultative Committee

Joint Statement of the Security Consultative Committee: Toward a More Robust Alliance and Greater Shared Responsibilities

U.S. Department of State, Oct. 3, 2013

Following is a joint statement issued October 3 in Tokyo, Japan by Secretary of State Kerry, Secretary of Defense Hagel, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida, and Minister of Defense Onodera.

I. OverviewOn October 3, 2013, the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) convened in Tokyo, with the participation of both the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense and Japan’s Ministers for Foreign Affairs and of Defense. On the occasion of this historic meeting, the SCC reaffirmed the indispensable role our two countries play in the maintenance of international peace and security and reconfirmed our Alliance’s commitment to the security of Japan through the full range of U.S. military capabilities, including nuclear and conventional. The two sides also set forth a strategic vision that, reflecting our shared values of democracy, the rule of law, free and open markets, and respect for human rights, will effectively promote peace, security, stability, and economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the SCC meeting, the Ministers exchanged views on the evolving security environment in the Asia-Pacific region and decided upon several steps to upgrade significantly the capability of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. Our strategic vision for a more robust Alliance and greater shared responsibilities is to be based on revising the 1997 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, expanding security and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and approving new measures that support the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. The United States also welcomed Japan’s determination to contribute more proactively to regional and global peace and security. The Ministers stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation with regional and international partners.

As the United States continues to implement its rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region it intends to strengthen military capabilities that allow our Alliance to respond to future global and regional security challenges, including in emerging strategic domains such as space and cyberspace. The Ministers stressed that the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan is to ensure that the U.S. presence maintains deterrence and provides for the capabilities to defend Japan and respond to regional contingencies, while remaining politically sustainable. In this context, the Ministers reiterated the ongoing mutual commitment to complete the agreements on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including constructing the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) and relocating U.S. Marines to Guam, and welcomed the progress made in that regard.

Japan’s security policy continues to reflect its long-standing commitment to regional and global peace and stability, as well as its intention to make more proactive contributions to addressing the challenges faced by the international community. At the same time, Japan will continue coordinating closely with the United States to expand its role within the framework of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. Japan is also preparing to establish its National Security Council and to issue its National Security Strategy. In addition, it is re-examining the legal basis for its security including the matter of exercising its right of collective self-defense, expanding its defense budget, reviewing its National Defense Program Guidelines, strengthening its capability to defend its sovereign territory, and broadening regional contributions, including capacity-building efforts vis-à-vis Southeast Asian countries. The United States welcomed these efforts and reiterated its commitment to collaborate closely with Japan.

To accomplish our shared strategic vision for the Alliance against the backdrop of a complex regional security environment, the Ministers recognized that the Alliance is the cornerstone of peace and security in the region. Over the next decade, the Alliance intends to continue to address security challenges through close cooperation and a more interoperable and flexible force posture that enables side-by-side and agile contingency response and crisis management. The Ministers affirmed that the Alliance should remain well positioned to deal with a range of persistent and emerging threats to peace and security, as well as challenges to international norms. Among these are: North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and humanitarian concerns; coercive and destabilizing behaviors in the maritime domain; disruptive activities in space and cyberspace; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and man-made and natural disasters. As stated in the 2011 SCC Joint Statement, the Ministers continue to encourage China to play a responsible and constructive role in regional stability and prosperity, to adhere to international norms of behavior, as well as to improve openness and transparency in its military modernization with its rapid expanding military investments.

The United States and Japan resolve to be full partners in a more balanced and effective Alliance in which our two countries can jointly and ably rise to meet the regional and global challenges of the 21st century, by investing in cutting-edge capabilities, improving interoperability, modernizing force structure, and adapting Alliance roles and missions to meet contemporary and future security realities. To this end, our Alliance should emphasize improved cooperation and coordination, including on information security, equipment and technology, cyber security, and space security, in order to broaden and deepen cooperation across a wide range of Alliance issues.

II. Bilateral Security and Defense Cooperation

The Ministers pledged to continue deepening the Alliance and directed work on a robust agenda to ensure the Alliance’s credibility into the future. Among the tasks before us are revising the Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, expanding our ballistic missile defense capabilities, improving cooperation on emerging strategic domains such as space and cyberspace, as well as strengthening information security and equipment acquisition collaboration, in order to broaden cooperation across a wide range of Alliance issues.

  • Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation

Recognizing the implications of the evolving regional and global security environment, the Ministers directed the Subcommittee for Defense Cooperation (SDC) to draft recommended changes to the 1997 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, to ensure that the Alliance continues its vital role in deterring conflict and advancing peace and security. The Ministers identified several objectives for this revision, including:

o ensuring the Alliance’s capacity to respond to an armed attack against Japan, as a core aspect of U.S.-Japan defense cooperation;

o expanding the scope of cooperation, to reflect the global nature of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, encompassing such areas as counter-terrorism, counter-piracy, peacekeeping, capacity building, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, and equipment and technology enhancement;

o promoting deeper security cooperation with other regional partners to advance shared objectives and values;

o enhancing Alliance mechanisms for consultation and coordination to make them more flexible, timely, and responsive and to enable seamless bilateral cooperation in all situations;

o describing appropriate role-sharing of bilateral defense cooperation based on the enhancement of mutual capabilities;

o evaluating the concepts that guide bilateral defense cooperation in contingencies to ensure effective, efficient, and seamless Alliance response in a dynamic security environment that includes challenges in emerging strategic domains such as space and cyberspace; and

o exploring additional ways in which we can strengthen the Alliance in the future to meet shared objectives.

The Ministers directed that this task for the SDC be completed before the end of 2014.

  • BMD Cooperation

The Ministers confirmed their commitment to enhance the ballistic missile defense (BMD) capabilities of both countries and welcomed recent progress in this area, including the SM-3 Block IIA cooperative development program. They confirmed their intention to designate the Air Self-Defense Force base at Kyogamisaki as the deployment site for a second AN/TPY-2 radar (X-band radar) system, consistent with the May 1, 2006, SCC Document: “United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation.” The SCC members also affirmed the continuing goal of expanding bilateral cooperation in this area.

  • Cooperation in Cyberspace

The first U.S-Japan Cyber Dialogue, held in May 2013, affirmed that the United States and Japan share common objectives in international cyber fora, especially the application of norms of responsible State behavior in cyberspace. The Ministers stressed the need for close coordination with the private sector in addressing challenges to the safe and secure use of cyberspace. In particular, the Ministers recognized the need to promote a whole-of-government approach to shared threats in cyberspace.

The Ministers welcomed the signing of a Terms of Reference for a new Cyber Defense Policy Working Group (CDPWG) charged with fostering increased cyber defense cooperation with the improvement of individual cyber capabilities and interoperability between the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces, which will also contribute to whole-of-government cybersecurity efforts.

  • Cooperation in Space

The Ministers underscored the importance of utilizing capabilities for improved bilateral information collection and sharing related to space situational awareness(SSA) and space-based maritime domain awareness. Specifically, the Ministers welcomed the conclusion of the U.S.-Japan SSA Sharing Agreement and highlighted progress on efforts toward two-way sharing of SSA information. In this context, the Ministers welcomed the commitment of both countries to an early realization of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) provision of SSA information to the United States.

The SCC members also expressed their desire to improve maritime domain awareness by leveraging satellite capabilities and look forward to future whole-of-government exercises and dialogues on this topic. The Ministers welcomed the establishment of the U.S.-Japan Comprehensive Dialogue on Space to coordinate strategic-level cooperation that promotes long-term sustainability, stability, safety, and security in space. The Ministers also affirmed continued support for multilateral efforts to develop an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

  • Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Activities

The Ministers welcomed the establishment of a bilateral Defense ISR Working Group and reaffirmed its mission of encouraging closer Alliance interoperability and information sharing between the U.S. forces and the Self-Defense Forces. They welcomed further progress toward bilateral ISR operations during peace time and contingencies.

  • Joint/Shared Use of Facilities

In order to improve the flexibility and resiliency of the Alliance, as well as to strengthen the Self-Defense Forces posture in areas, including Japan’s southwestern islands, the Ministers welcomed the efforts of the Joint/Shared Use Working Group. Progress in realizing the joint/shared use of U.S. and Japanese facilities and areas strengthens the Alliance’s deterrent capabilities while building a stronger relationship with local communities.

  • Bilateral Planning

The Ministers welcomed progress on bilateral planning and reaffirmed efforts toward refining bilateral plans so that the U.S.-Japan Alliance can better defend Japan and respond to the range of regional challenges in an evolving security environment. Key components of this effort include strengthening bilateral whole-of-government mechanisms for peacetime and crisis coordination and improving contingency access by U.S. forces and the Self-Defense Forces to facilities in Japan.

  • Defense Equipment and Technology Cooperation

The Ministers welcomed the new linkage established between bilateral discussions at the Systems and Technology Forum and dialogue on Roles, Missions, and Capabilities. This initiative addresses the evolving challenges of the regional and global security environment by enabling increased cooperation in the acquisition of defense systems with Alliance strategy and capability needs. Moreover, through collaboration such as the participation of Japanese industries in the production of the F-35 aircraft, bilateral cooperation on equipment and technology should deepen as Japan examines its Three Principles on Arms Exports and their related policy guidelines.

  • Extended Deterrence Dialogue

The Ministers noted with satisfaction the meaningful outcome of bilateral Extended Deterrence Dialogues. This process reinforces the credibility of the U.S. defense commitment to Japan, including through discussions of nuclear and conventional capabilities, and helps to promote regional stability from a near- and long-term perspective. The Ministers also confirmed their Governments’ continued commitment to holding the dialogue on a regular basis.

  • Information Security

Enhanced information security continues to reinforce the bilateral relationship of trust and enable broader information sharing between both countries in terms of quality and quantity. The Ministers confirmed the critical role that information security plays in Alliance cooperation and reflected on the considerable progress in strengthening policies, practices, and procedures related to the protection of classified information made through Bilateral Information Security Consultations. The SCC members particularly welcomed the serious efforts by Japan in establishing a legal framework for further ensuring information security and underscored the importance of closer collaboration. The ultimate aim is to enable our Governments to interact in real time to address opportunities and crises alike through a dynamic, secure exchange of information.

  • Joint Training and Exercises

In order to enhance and improve effectiveness, interoperability, readiness, mobility, and sustainability of the operations of the U.S. forces and the Self-Defense Forces, and to strengthen deterrence of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, the Ministers welcomed progress in peacetime bilateral defense cooperation, such as the expansion of timely and effective bilateral training. Bilateral and multilateral exercises, both hosted by Japan and in areas outside of Japan, have improved interoperability and sharpened our ability to deter aggression, defend Japan, and maintain regional peace and security. The Ministers recognized the significant efforts to continue training of Okinawa-based U.S. forces at locations outside of Okinawa.

The Ministers decided to take advantage of the following opportunities to increase training outside of Okinawa, including in mainland Japan, while maintaining the deterrence capabilities of the Alliance:

o Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) drills;

o Flight training through frameworks such as the Aviation Training Relocation (ATR) program;

o Artillery Relocation Training, which is under consultation for improvement to better reflect current and future contingency environments;

o Other bilateral and trilateral/multilateral training with the partners in the Asia-Pacific region; and

o MV-22 Osprey, with its unique capabilities, to participate in various operations in mainland Japan and across the region, to reduce the amount of time located and training in Okinawa. In addition to the above mentioned exercises, the Ministers noted, for example, participation of MV-22 Ospreys in exercise FOREST LIGHT, and flight training by MV-22 Ospreys, such as low-level flight training, in-flight refueling training, and logistical support training

  • Host Nation Support

The Ministers affirmed the continuing importance of the Host Nation Support (HNS) provided by Japan to the continued effectiveness of the Alliance for the defense of Japan and the maintenance of peace and security in the region.

III. Regional Engagement

The Ministers noted that in an increasingly integrated global economy, trilateral and multilateral cooperation is essential. They affirmed that in the next decade, the Alliance is to reinforce a system of international partnerships and multilateral cooperation that preserves and promotes a peaceful, prosperous, and secure Asia-Pacific region. The United States and Japan are committed to working together to increase security capacity regionally in Southeast Asia and globally. Our mutual cooperation is to expand over time, and we are committed to working in partnership with other like-minded countries to build sustainable patterns of cooperation.

  • Regional Capacity Building

The SCC members resolved to build on early efforts to collaborate on partnership capacity building projects in the Asia Pacific region. Cooperating in these efforts is to help ensure regional stability by promoting regional partner security capacities and helping other nations develop their own defense and law enforcement capabilities. The Ministers welcomed the strategic use of Official Development Assistance by Japan, such as providing coastal patrol vessels and training for maritime safety to regional partners, and recognized the importance of such endeavors in promoting regional peace and stability.

  • Maritime Security

The Ministers affirmed their intent to cooperate further in maritime security and counter-piracy to protect the freedom of navigation, ensure safe and secure sea lines of communication, and promote related customary international law and international agreements.

  • Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief

Recalling the prompt and effective response by the United States and Japan to recent humanitarian and natural disasters worldwide, the Ministers encouraged efforts to extend bilateral cooperation as well as to promote trilateral and multilateral coordination in international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) and other operations as the circumstances allow, through joint exercises and mutual logistics support.

  • Trilateral Cooperation

The Ministers affirmed the importance of security and defense cooperation among allies and partners in the region and noted in particular the success of the trilateral dialogues carried out regularly with Australia and the Republic of Korea. These trilateral dialogues advance our shared security interests, promote common values, and enhance the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region.

Trilateral cooperation seeks to improve regional security and defense capacities – including humanitarian and disaster relief – in order to support regional peace and stability, helps to promote the freedom of navigation and regional maritime security, and acts as a stabilizing regional presence by building confidence and encouraging transparency in the region. The Ministers urged an increase in the sharing of information among regional allies, including information on operations, plans, exercises, and capabilities, in order to bolster trilateral cooperative efforts further.

  • Multilateral Cooperation

The Ministers noted the importance of working together, along with other regional partners, to strengthen institutions that promote economic and security cooperation based on internationally accepted rules and norms, including the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF), and the ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

IV. Realignment of U.S. forces in Japan

The Ministers confirmed that agreements on Realignment of U.S. forces in Japan should be implemented as soon as possible while ensuring operational capability, including training capability, throughout the process. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to ensure the return of the facilities and areas as described in the April 2013 Consolidation Plan for Facilities and Areas in Okinawa. The Ministers reaffirmed that approximately 9,000 U.S. Marines are to be relocated from Okinawa to locations outside of Japan.

The Ministers reconfirmed that the realignment plan described in the 2012 SCC Joint Statement will realize a U.S. force posture in the region that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable. This realignment plan will provide the strength, flexibility, and deterrent capacity to respond effectively to future challenges and threats, while also mitigating the impact of U.S. forces on local communities.

• Realignment on Okinawa

The Ministers welcomed the progress on land returns based on the April 2013 Consolidation Plan and stressed their determination to continue efforts toward implementation. In particular, they welcomed the completion of the land return of the north access road of Makiminato Service Area (Camp Kinser) in August 2013, and the Joint Committee agreements on an area near Gate 5 of Makiminato Service Area (Camp Kinser), the West Futenma Housing area, a portion of the warehouse area of the Facilities and Engineering Compound, and Shirahi River Area of Camp Zukeran (Camp Foster). These returns are ahead of schedule. Japan welcomed the proactive efforts taken by the United States as shown in the Consolidation Plan that resulted in the creation of an additional land return decision beyond those specified in the April 2012 SCC Joint Statement. The return of a portion of land along the Shirahi River on Camp Zukeran (Camp Foster) will enable the local community to develop better flood control measures in the area.

As an essential element of this effort, the Ministers confirmed that the plan to construct the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) at Camp Schwab-Henokosaki area and adjacent waters is the only solution that addresses operational, political, financial, and strategic concerns and avoids the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma. The SCC members reaffirmed the strong commitment of both Governments to the plan and underscored their determination to achieve its completion, which would permit the long-desired return of MCAS Futenma to Japan. The United States welcomed recent developments including the submission of the request for approval of public water reclamation permit to Okinawa Prefecture by the Government of Japan in March 2013.

The Ministers directed the Joint Committee to reach an arrangement in principle for the partial lifting of restrictions for a portion of the Hotel-Hotel training area off of the east coast of Okinawa, as decided in previous SCC statements, by the end of November 2013. The two sides committed to continue to consult on other possible measures.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening cooperation to protect the environment and confirmed the importance of making further efforts in environmental matters. Bearing this in mind, the Ministers decided to reach a substantial understanding by the end of November 2013 on a framework for access to U.S. facilities and areas slated for return, for the purpose of facilitating local authorities’ planning of land use prior to its return.

  • Iwakuni

Regarding MCAS Iwakuni, the Ministers confirmed that the bilateral consultations on the relocation of a KC-130 squadron from MCAS Futenma to MCAS Iwakuni would be accelerated and concluded as soon as possible. In addition, the SCC Members affirmed that the Maritime Self-Defense Force would continue to have a presence at MCAS Iwakuni. The Ministers also acknowledged that the relocation of elements of Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5) from Atsugi Air Facility to MCAS Iwakuni should be completed by around 2017.

  • Guam

The Ministers confirmed that the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps personnel from Okinawa to locations outside of Japan, including Guam, contributes to sustaining the forward presence of U.S. forces and facilitates the development of Guam as a strategic hub, while also mitigating the impact on Okinawa.

The Ministers announced the signing today of a Protocol to amend the 2009 Guam International Agreement, which forms the basis for the bilateral cooperation necessary to achieve these goals of the relocation.

The Ministers noted the significance of Japanese cash contributions to the development of training areas in Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, which benefit the Alliance by supporting the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps units to Guam and by enabling the shared use of these training areas by U.S. forces and the Self-Defense Forces. The Ministers directed that consultations on the terms and conditions of such use be initiated within this year.

The Ministers also completed work reflecting the breakdown of costs associated with developing facilities, including training areas, and infrastructure in Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands supporting the relocation of U.S. Marines.

The Ministers reconfirmed the relocation plan described in the 2012 SCC Joint Statement. Under the plan, U.S. Marine Corps units are to begin to relocate from Okinawa to Guam in the first half of the 2020s. The Ministers confirmed that this plan’s progress depends on various factors, such as measures taken by the two governments to secure appropriate funding. This plan also facilitates progress in implementing the April 2013 Consolidation Plan for Facilities and Areas in Okinawa.

  • Advanced Capabilities

The Ministers confirmed that deployment of more advanced capabilities in Japan has strategic significance and further contributes to the security of Japan and the region. The United States intends to continue to modernize its capabilities. These advanced capabilities include, but are not limited to:

o The U.S. Marine Corps introductions of two squadrons of MV-22 aircraft as a replacement for the CH-46 helicopter.

o The first deployment of U.S. Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft outside of the United States beginning in December 2013 as part of the gradual phase-out of the P-3 aircraft.

o The U.S. Air Force plans, beginning in spring 2014, to begin to deploy Global Hawk unmanned aircraft rotationally.

o The U.S. Marine Corps is beginning to deploy the F-35B aircraft in 2017, the first time these aircraft will be forward-deployed outside of the United States.

US-China’s Osprey vs. Bison arms race in East China Sea

ZubrZubr class LCAC or the PLA Navy’s Bison

Osprey vs. Bison in the East China Sea

By Richard D. Fisher, Jr.

East AsiaPreviewSecurity

September 20, 2013

China, Japan and the U.S. are ramping up their ability to deploy to disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Stability in the region between Taiwan and Japan, and the security of Taiwan, hinges on an arms race that will soon be accompanying the heightened paramilitary engagements between Japanese, Chinese and, occasionally, Taiwanese Coast Guard ships over who will control the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.

For now this contest for control is confined to shoving matches largely between Chinese and Japanese Coast Guard ships, which take several days to deploy. However, China is now developing the means to project decisive force to these islands in hours, not days. Should China gain the upper hand in this arms race there is a greater chance it will use force to occupy the islands and then set its sights on the strategically more attractive nearby Sakashima island group.

For now, though, the upper hand is held by the United States, which has just completed the initial deployment of 24 U.S. Marine Corps Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey conventional, or twin tilt rotor aircraft, to Futenma Base in Okinawa. This unique aircraft, by virtue of its twisting rotors and engines at the ends of its wing, can take off like a helicopter, and then cruise at about 280 miles per hour, carrying up to 24 troops or about six tons of cargo to a range sufficient to reach the disputed islands. In a full-out surge, the 24 MV-22Bs at Futenma could potentially put about 500 troops or about 140 tons of weapons and material on the Senkakus or the Sakashimas in about one hour.

On September 17, 2013, Kyodo reported that current commander of U.S. Marine forces on Okinawa, Lt. General John Wissler, told Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaimu about the Osprey, “That aircraft has the ability to reach the Senkakus, should we need to support any sort of Japan-U.S. security treaty.”

China is also accumulating rapid lift assets. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has taken delivery of the first Ukrainian-built Zubr (Bison) large hovercraft. The first example, delivered in May, is now undergoing final modifications in Shanghai. At least three more are expected initially, but China may build many more of an indigenous version. Developed by the former Soviet Union to give its Naval Infantry the ability to rapidly invade NATO countries along the Baltic Sea, the Zubr can lift about 500 troops or up to 150 tons of armor, weapons and material up to speeds of 66 miles per hour. With just four Zubr hovercraft, the PLAN could potentially put 2,000 troops or up to 600 tons of weapons and material on the Senkakus in about four to five hours, or it could reach the island of Miyako-jima in about six to seven hours with a much reduced payload.

If it actually came to a race between the Osprey and the Bison, getting there first would make all the difference, as without the advantage of surprise, an adequately armed defender could significantly damage incoming hovercraft or helicopters. But the outcome would also depend on the result of intensive air and sea battles around these islands. For now, the superior performance of the U.S. Lockheed-Martin F-22A fifth-generation fighter and the Virginia class nuclear-powered attack submarine provide a margin of superiority that undergirds deterrence, but this could change quickly as the PLA Air Force increases the number of capable fourth-generation fighters supported by AWACS radar aircraft, followed by fifth-generation fighters that could even the odds, especially if China decides to strike first. Growing numbers of PLAN air defense destroyers like the new Type 052D could also help deny air dominance to Japanese and U.S. forces.

However, China could also gain the upper hand should it successfully develop its own tilt rotor aircraft, an ambition it likely has been pursuing for most of the last decade. In a surprising revelation, an article published August 28, 2013 on the web page of the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI) goes further, saying that China is now developing a quad tiltrotor design called the Blue Whale, with the goal of carrying 20 tons of cargo at speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour, with a combat radius of 500 miles. A model of the Blue Whale appeared at a Chinese helicopter technology expo recently held in Tianjin, at least confirming it is an active program.

Blue Whale’s performance goals are very close to a now lapsed Bell-Boeing program to develop a V-44 Quad TiltRotor, which faded with evolving heavy-lift requirements for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System of programs, in turn cancelled in 2009. CHRDI does not reveal when they expect the Blue Whale to enter service or how China will overcome technical challenges for a quad tiltrotor that a 2005 U.S. Defense Science Board study said would take 20 to 25 years to overcome. By 2008 to 2009 the heavy lift program was punted to the U.S. Air Force-controlled Joint Future Theater Lift program, intended to develop a replacement for the venerable Lockheed-Martin C-130, perhaps by the late 2020s. China may think it can succeed with a quad tiltrotor design before the U.S. fields a new vertical heavy lifter. The operational implications of such a capability go well beyond the East China Sea, but may matter there sooner.

For Beijing, control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and the much larger Sakashima Islands, which have ports and airfields, is not simply a matter of salving historical resentments or even controlling resources; it is a contest for geostrategic position to influence the future of democratic Taiwan. From the Senkakus and especially the Sakashimas, the PLA can more easily impose an air and sea blockade on Taiwan or launch multi-axis attacks to rapidly take airfields to aid follow-on invasion forces. Before making any military moves, mere possession of these islands allows Beijing to exert far greater political pressure on Taipei to make “peace” at the expense of its virtual American ally and Tokyo. Occupation of the islands would also give Beijing greater legitimacy on which to develop latent claims to other islands in the Ryukyu chain.

The Miyako Strait in the Sakashimas also must be passed by Chinese naval forces trying to reach the Pacific Ocean. This group of seemingly negligible islands are in fact the lock in the door that keeps the PLA Navy from cruising the Pacific at will, a key link in the so-called “First Island Chain.” For Tokyo and Washington, preserving Japanese control over these islands proves to Beijing that it cannot use force to solve maritime territory disputes, but also gives Japanese and U.S. forces a large number of island base options from which to counter China’s rapidly growing air and naval forces.

At a time when Washington is far more preoccupied with preserving adequate strategic capabilities under threat from sequestration-enforced defense budget reductions, an expensive heavy-lift tiltrotor development program, like so many other programs, has crossed the line from “need” to “needless luxury.” But the absence of this level of capability may have consequences. Without the means to put decisive counter-invasion forces on these islands at a moment’s notice, Japan will have to consider something it has been very reluctant to do: militarize these islands. Tokyo is already considering the development of a 500 km short-range ballistic missile to defend these distant islands. Missiles, of course, fly much faster than the Osprey. On one level, China’s looming threat justifies such moves, but deploying missiles will encourage China’s buildup as well as anti-Japan factions in Taipei.

Despite its much advertised military and political-economic pivot/rebalance toward Asia, it remains an uncomfortable fact for Washington that successful military deterrence of Beijing will also require that the U.S. remain ahead in a growing, multi-faceted arms race. In the East China Sea this arms race and its implications are taking shape rather rapidly.

Richard D. Fisher, Jr. is a Senior Fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center and author of China’s Military Modernization, Building for Regional and Global Reach, (Stanford, 2010).

For Wikipedia’s entry on Zubr-class (or what the Chinese call Bison) LCAC, click here.