Defense

December 3, 2012

U.S., China militaries hold exercise to build trust

The U.S. and Chinese militaries wrapped up a modest disaster-relief exercise Nov. 30, hailed as a tentative trust-building step amid growing suspicions between the Asia-Pacific region’s largest armed forces.

While not a full-fledged operation, the two-day exercise at People’s Liberation Army barracks outside the city of Chengdu consisted of U.S. and Chinese officers sitting around a table facing a flat-panel video screen and discussing how they would respond to an earthquake in a fictional third country.

Though this was the eighth meeting to discuss disaster relief, it was the first time both sides discussed a joint response to a simulated disaster. The leading officers called that a step forward in building familiarity and trust.

U.S. Maj. Gen. Stephen Lyons said the exercise began the groundwork for the day when the two militaries will operate side-by-side in an actual humanitarian operation.

“I think it’s very conceivable. If there is a country out there, and there inevitably there will be, that will have a natural disaster, and they call for international help, if U.S. forces and Chinese forces respond, then indeed we’ll find ourselves working together in the field,” Lyons said in comments to reporters.

While Washington and Beijing have talked about boosting military cooperation for more than a decade, distrust runs high and disagreements over Taiwan, North Korea and China’s assertive claims to disputed territories in the East and South China seas remain potential flashpoints. China’s robust military buildup and Washington’s decision to redeploy more weaponry and troops to the Asia-Pacific region have added to the tensions.

The modest scope of the table-top simulation underscores the underlying hesitation and distrust on both sides, particularly in Beijing, which tends to view military exchanges as a form of diplomatic leverage to be severed at times of tension.

“It’s worth pursuing, but expectations should be modest,” said Denny Roy, an expert on the Chinese military at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center.

This year’s exchange comes as China has been flexing its military muscle and raising regional tensions. Last week China staged the first successful landing of planes on its newly commissioned aircraft carrier, a sign of its rapid progress toward deploying the ultimate symbol of naval power and a potent tool for projecting military force far from its shores.

China’s Defense Ministry reiterated Thursday that the aircraft carrier was in line with the country’s defense needs and was “not aimed at threatening others and not targeted against any country.”

Hardware aside, China has been ratcheting up tensions by engaging in more aggressive tactics in recent months and thereby unnerving neighbors and the U.S.

Chinese coastal patrol and fisheries ships have pushed the Philippines away from a disputed South China Sea shoal and harassed Japanese coast guard vessels near contested East China Sea islands. U.S. naval and aerial reconnaissance close to China’s shores has at times been challenged by Chinese ships and planes, risking clashes.

This week, southern Hainan province, which administers or claims to administer the South China Sea islands China holds or wants to, approved laws giving the police force the right to search vessels that intrude in Chinese waters. The move raised concerns about whether China would seek to block normal maritime traffic through the South China Sea, waters vital to world trade.

Aware of the potential for conflict between the militaries, both sides have in recent years tried to find ways to cooperate. Their armed forces have conducted joint anti-piracy drills in the Gulf of Aden. U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in Beijing this week renewed an invitation for China to take part in large U.S.-led multinational naval exercises next year, though China has not said if it would participate.

Exercises on humanitarian and disaster relief operations are relatively safe ways to build trust because they “avoid politically sensitive areas,” said retired Rear Admiral Mike McDevitt, a senior fellow with the Center for Naval Analysis.

Asia is home to more natural disasters every year than any other part of the world, and the U.S. and Chinese militaries have proved vital in responding to tragedies such as the 2008 Wenquan earthquake that struck in the mountains outside Chengdu, and last year’s massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, said Allen L. Clark, senior program development specialist at the Pacific Disaster Center in Honolulu Hawaii.

“The U.S. military has been vital in responding to disasters so it makes perfect sense for it to continue coordinating and training with other nations’ militaries,” Clark told The Associated Press at a forum organized by the East-West Center.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 17, 2015

News: Army extends benefits to Hood shooting victims - The Army will provide “all possible benefits” to victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting who recently were awarded the Purple Heart, the service announced April 16.   Business: Rolls-Royce lands biggest deal in its 109-year history - U.K. engineering company Rolls-Royce has won the largest order in...
 
 

News Briefs April 17, 2015

Army orders financial benefits for 2009 Fort Hood victims Dozens of soldiers and surviving family members of the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting are receiving additional Army pay that they felt was long overdue. The announcement from Army Sec. John McHugh April 16 comes a week after 36 Purple Hearts were awarded to victims and...
 
 
NASA illustration

NASA awards radiation challenge winners, launches next round

NASA illustration This illustration depicts our heliosphere, showing the approximate locations of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. Galactic cosmic rays originate outside the heliosphere and stream in uniformly from all direc...
 

 

U.S. Air Force completes operational testing on Raytheon’s MALD-J

Raytheon and the U.S. Air Force successfully completed operational tests of Miniature Air Launched Decoy-Jammer, satisfying all requirements to attain Initial Operational Capability. “MALD-J’s unique capabilities have been proven in 42 successful flight tests during the last two years and brought us closer to full rate production,” said Mike Jarrett, vice president of Raytheon...
 
 

Northrop Grumman to expand North Dakota presence

In partnership with local leadership, Northrop Grumman confirmed its dedication to the future of unmanned systems development in the Red River Valley region by signing a lease agreement to anchor the new Grand Sky Technology Park in Grand Forks County. Northrop Grumman is working to identify specialized opportunities for the Grand Sky facility. The opportunities,...
 
 

Raytheon awarded more than $2 billion for an International Patriot system

Raytheon announced April 17 it has been awarded a contract worth over $2.0 billion to deliver the combat-proven Patriot Air and Missile Defense System to an undisclosed international customer. The contract, awarded April 2, 2015, and booked in the second quarter as a direct commercial sale, includes fully digitized new-production Patriot fire units with the...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>