All posts by Nam Nguyen

Nam is a Maritime Warfare Officer in the Royal Australian Navy. He holds a Bachelor of Business and is currently completing a Master of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales.

Members’ Roundup Part 15

Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup. This week we have a variety of topics covered by CIMSECians around the globe. From developments in anti-ship missiles to land reclamation in the South China Sea, here is a roundup of the must-read articles for the weekend.

Darshana Baruah returns this week with another post over at The Diplomat. As Darshana describes, ‘small islands dotting the Indian Ocean are emerging at the center stage of great power politics unfolding in the Indian Ocean Region.’ As China looks to expand its presence beyond the South China Sea, here is a list of islands that can support China support its aims. You can access the article here.

When Air-Sea Battle was publicly introduced into the nomenclature of strategic thinking there was a flurry of criticism, both from a diplomatic perspective as well as commentary on the effectiveness of the concept as a whole. With ASB’s redesignation as JAM-GC (Joint Concept for Access & Maneuvre in the Global Commons) Himanil Raina explains how the Army can contribute. You can access the article through the Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

China continues land reclamation in Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea, otherwise known as the Mabini Reef by the Philippines and Chigua Reef by China.
China continues land reclamation in Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea, otherwise known as the Mabini Reef by the Philippines and Chigua Reef by China.

Mira Rapp-Hooper, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, continues to inform with an analysis of ‘before and after’ imagery of several reefs in the South China Sea. All of the land reclamation involved has not gone without notice and is publicly acknowledged by the Chinese. Confidence building measures (CBM) have been agreed to by the Chinese and the United States, aimed at reducing accidents and the risk of escalation. The goal of these measures, however, are wider reaching and are non-binding. As Mira explains, the best sign these CBMs are working may be if we don’t hear much about them at all. You can access her article here.

A Norwegian Coast Guard vessel patrols the Arctic.
A Norwegian Coast Guard vessel patrols the Arctic.

James Stavridis, retired Admiral and Dean of the Fletcher Law School, recently returned from a voyage through the Drake Passage (between South America and Antarctica) and penned his thoughts about the state of the southern landmass. Antarctica continues with broad international consensus on its future and there is no conflict over the area. So what can be learned from this place and how can it be applied to the Arctic, where tensions are rising over claims and resources. You can access the article here at Foreign Policy.

Over at The National Interest Harry Kazianis begins a new series looking into the security competition that has been developing between the United States and China. With all the recent media attention on ISIS and the situation in Ukraine it is easy to miss the signs of the competition brewing between two of the world’s largest powers.

Lockheed Martin is currently working on a sub-launched variant of the LRASM
Lockheed Martin is currently working on a sub-launched variant of the LRASM

Over at The National Interest, Zachary Keck reports that the US Navy is seeking a submarine-launched stealth anti-ship missile. It is believed that the missile is based on Lockheed’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). You can read more about this development here.

Finally, a quick plug for my own work for this week’s edition. Earlier this week the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott released his National Security Statement. It certainly sets the tone for the current Government’s security agenda but it raises more questions, than answers, in the Australian Security debate. You can access my post here on the YAIIA Insights blog.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 14

Welcome back to another edition of the Members’ Roundup where we disseminate the works that CIMSEC members have published elsewhere. This week there is a variety of topics covered by our members and will make interesting reading for the weekend.

Continuing the theme of professional debate about the naval profession, CIMSECian Will Beasely adds some observations from history. From the golden age of professions developing to the think tanks and forums of today, Beasely extracts the issues faced by the ‘Young Turks’ of each generation. Whilst the character of the challenges may be different the fundamental logic remains the same. This article, featured on The Bridge, is certainly an interesting reflection from a civilian navalist on the topic. You can access Will’s article here.

Patrick Truffer returns this week with an article assessing whether NATO’s eastward expansion broke a promise made to the Soviet Union at the time of German reunification. Contemporary Russian analysts have echoed this sentiment and President Vladimir Putin has made similar claims in recent speeches. You can read his article at Offiziere.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Singapore mutiny, an event that would be a catalyst for other developments for Asian politics, Singaporean thinking on security, the role of Japan in Asia and nationalist sentiment in Asia. Over at The Diplomat Joseph Hammond explains how this event, costing the lives of 47 British soldiers and civilians to suppress, continues to influence Asia today. You can access his article here.

Earlier this month National Security Advisor Susan Rice unveiled the Obama administration’s National Security Strategy. CIMSECian and Bavevich Fellow at CNAS, Jacob Stokes, provide some initial thoughts on the document. You can access his article here at The National Interest.

Dr Ashton Carter was sworn in as the 25th Secretary of Defense several days ago. CNAS has compiled a report titled ‘Ideas to Action: Suggestions for the 25th Secretary of Defense’ to help the new SECDEF and his team navigate the challenges faced by the Pentagon. Contributors for the report include CIMSECians Jerry Hendrix and Jacob Stokes. You can access the report here.

As many States around the globe continue to modernise their fleets and invest billions in military equipment, Harry Kazianis, asks whether submarines will become obsolete. With advancements in undersea detection technology and the cost of sound-minimisation methods ever increasing, naval planners may have to return to the drawing board and rethink how to plan for undersea warfare. You can access his post here, at The National Interest.

Recent debate of future naval warfare has been dominated by discussion on the role of aircraft carriers (as well as their vulnerabilities). Over at The Diplomat, Himanil Raina, reminds us why it is important to remember the utility of surface warfare combatants.

Dean of the Fletcher School, James Stavridis, returns in this week’s roundup with his assessment of ‘the most dangerous country in the world.’ In Signal, Stavridis explains why the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea is the most dangerous country in the world at the moment. You can access the article here.

Dave Majumdar returns this week with two articles, both featured online at The Daily Beast. The first discusses a scandal involving a former U.S. Air Force intelligence chief. The second article continues the nuclear debate; the Pentagon continues its campaign of modernizing its nuclear arsenal despite President Obama’s goal of reducing U.S. reliance on its nuclear arsenal for security. That was a goal made during the early days of his presidency and unless his views on the matter have changed then ‘someone forgot to tell his Pentagon about it,’ to use Dave’s word. You can access that article here.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 13: Herd, defend, distract, attack

Welcome back to another edition of the weekly roundup, where we disseminate the recent blog posts, journal articles, web articles, books, and podcasts that CIMSEC members have published elsewhere. This week we have topics that range from narco-submarines to swarming tactics in future naval warfare. I am certain the articles presented here will make great weekend reading in case you missed any of them in the past week.

The first article mentioned here is by Armando Heredia, on the US Naval Institute’s website, who analyses the Philippines’ naval buildup.   The buildup under the leadership of President Aquino include, but is not limited to, the acquisition of new helicopters as well as the boost to Philippines’ sealift capability with the donation of two ex-Royal Australian Navy Landing Craft Heavies. It is still unclear, however, when a decision will be made regarding the acquisition of two new multi-role frigates. Even with these ‘new’ platforms, however, the realities of historical challenges to their naval service will need to be considered in order to establishing a credible defence. Armando’s article can be accessed here.

Ex-HMA Ships Brunei and Tarakan are to be gifted to the Philippines Navy with refurbished equipment and upgraded navigation systems.
Ex-HMA Ships Brunei and Tarakan are to be gifted to the Philippines Navy with refurbished equipment and upgraded navigation systems. In this photo the RAN’s final LCHs depart Cairns Naval Base in formation for the final time.

Sri Lanka’s political landscape has significantly shifted with President Maithripala Sirisena’s surprise electoral victory. Sri Lankan politics was dominated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who strengthened the executive presidency system, placed members of his family in key positions of power, and maintained a loyal political party. In this Q&A, CIMSECian Nilanthi Samaranayake tells us why Sirisena’s victory represents an opportunity for changes in Sri Lanka’s domestic policies, as well as its foreign relationships with China, India, and the United States, which could significantly alter regional political and security dynamics in South Asia.

Narco-submarine moments before interception by the U.S. Coast Guard in August 2007.
Narco-submarine moments before interception by the U.S. Coast Guard in August 2007.

CIMSECian Byron Ramirez recently co-edited a new Foreign Military Studies Office paper titled ‘Narco-Submarines: Specially Fabricated Vessels Used For Drug Smuggling Purposes.’ Maritime drug smuggling accounts for a significant portion of illicit substance transportation and special fabricated vessels are becoming increasingly prevalent in this field. Additionally, the foreword is written by another CIMSECian, James Stavridis, of the Fletcher School. You can access this publication here.

At The National Interest, defence reporter Dave Majumdar continues his series of ‘Top Fives’ with an analysis of the Most Overrated Weapons of War. From the mighty battleship to the next generation of stealth fighters, Dave provides his arguments on why these costly platforms do not provide value-for-money in war. Fanatics and history buffs may not necessarily agree with Dave’s conclusions, but he does make a strong case why it is easy to fall into the trap of purchasing the sexier, but less-useful, option. You can also access Dave’s other National Interest articles here.

A kamikaze attack on USS Enterprise. Swarm attacks were used by the Japanese Imperial forces in the closing stages of World War II to inflict heavy casualties in the Pacific theatre.
A kamikaze attack on USS Enterprise. Swarm attacks were used by the Japanese Imperial forces in the closing stages of World War II to inflict heavy casualties in the Pacific theatre.

Over at Information Dissemination Chris Rawley continues the carrier debate with his view on the future of naval warfare: swarming. Chris has written about this concept previously, and other elements of the US Navy is researching how to employ autonomous and unmanned platforms, in conjunction with manned platforms, to fight and win the battle at sea. History provides examples of how the swarming tactic has been employed at sea. The Japanese kamikaze attacks, for example, had devastating consequences for the sailors who faced them in battle. The tactic can also be adapted to other elements of the Navy and will need to be multi-domain to achieve its goal. Find out more by reading Chris’ article here.

Zachary Keck returns in this edition of the roundup with the following articles. Firstly,  that Russia will be holding Joint Military Drills with North Korea and Cuba. Secondly, the US Navy’s 6th Generation Fighter jets will be slow and unstealthy.  Third,  Ghosts of Imperialism Past: How Colonialism Still Haunts the World Today.  Finally,  how North Korea is practicing to sink US Carriers.

As a side note, I recently published an article for an Australian-based organisation called Young Australians in International Affairs for their new ‘Insights’ blog. In it, I analyse the top five defence and national security items to watch closely in 2015. From new submarines to what can be considered an ‘Australianised Department of Homeland Security’, these projects will need to be carefully implemented to ensure that the next few years are not spent correcting avoidable mistakes. Thus, positive outcomes this year will prevent exposing a capability gap or security risk for Australia. My post can be accessed here.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.

Members’ Roundup Part 12

Welcome back to another edition of the Member roundup, where we provide the wider community an opportunity to examine some of the works produced by CIMSECians that have featured elsewhere. Being a professional also involves in discussing the future of one’s chosen field. Topics that feature regularly in this series include analysis of geopolitical trends and  military technology. This week, however, we have several contributions that discuss issues faced when writing about the future of one’s own organization or service.

CIMSECians Roger Misso and Chris O’Keefe write, in Proceedings, about the challenges for junior officers to share their thoughts in writing about the future of the Naval service. It is clear that this is not a new problem and the authors refer to historical examples of how their predecessors handled the problem. Misso and Keefe present their views on the issue but argue, most importantly, that all levels should be able to write on all topics, whether it be the mundane or the controversial, without fear of it affecting their careers.

For further information on this topic I recommend starting with James Fallows’ recent roundup of articles by military reformers. Misso and O’Keefe’s article is one of those mentioned in the post, as well as several other CIMSECians  You can access the article over at The Atlantic. Additionally, our very own Matthew Hipple, provides his own riposte to Fallows’ writings on the matter. Without wallowing in the problems, he provides practical suggestions for any JO who believes they have something constructive to say. You can access Matthew’s response here.

James Stavridis, of the Fletcher School, writes about the geopolitical changes occurring in Europe and the need for the United States not to neglect that part of the world. The economic situation, declining military power in European States, and a resurgence of Russia are all areas of concerns when viewed individually. As a whole, however, they all present strategic challenges for the United States if it fails to assist its European friends. You can access his article here.

A hot topic amongst analysts and students of strategic studies is the state of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It is becoming increasingly expensive to sustain the ageing warheads and the delivery platforms and experts are debating the best way forward. Over at The Daily Beast Dave Majumdar reports that the Pentagon will spend upwards of $300 billion to update current nuclear capability, as well as acquiring new delivery methods and even a new ICBM. You can access his article here.

Chuck Hill returns this week with several updates and you can access them over on Chuck’s blog. One of his latest posts provides a look into Small Warship Survivability, and examines historical examples of surface combatant losses. This article is a must-read for anyone interested in the LCS survivability debate.

For a wider reading list this weekend, we suggest checking out Natalie Sambhi’s roundup on The Strategist blog. For those who are unfamiliar, it is Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s official blog. You can access Natalie’s posts here.

Finally, over at The National Interest Zachary Keck continues to push out update after update on all things military and foreign affairs. Articles include a possible submarine deal between India and Japan, and how low oil prices could make Russia more unpredictable. You can access all of his latest articles here.

At CIMSEC we encourage members to continue writing, either here on the NextWar blog or through other means. You can assist us by emailing your works to dmp@cimsec.org.