Indo-Pacific International Security Challenges

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This is a podcast episode titled, Indo-Pacific International Security Challenges. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this podcast episode Harry Kemsley OBE, President of the Government and National Security at Janes joins Air Marshall (ret'd) Sean Corbett CB, RAF and Air Cdre (ret'd) Rick Keir, RAAF to discuss the key challenges to international security in the Indo-Pacific region.</p>

Speaker 1: Janes Capella interconnects millions of assured data points across Janes foundational intelligence, with the ability to integrate and contextualize multiple sources, delivering the single source of truth. Janes Capella increases certainty and accelerates decision- making for everyone in your organization. Find out more at janes. com/ capella.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the World of Intelligence, a podcast for you to discover the latest analysis of global military and security trends within the open source defense intelligence community. Now onto the episode with your host, Harry Kemsley.

Harry Kemsley: Hello, good morning, Harry Kemsley. I'm the president of the National Security and Government segment of Janes. I'm delighted to have not one guest today, but actually two guests. So Sean, Sean Corbett with me again, for those of you who have heard the podcast before, you'll know Sean's voice, but I've also got a new guest, Rick Keir, a new member of our team helping us from Australia who will introduce himself in just a second. So Sean, a few words for yourself to remind the audience who you are.

Sean Corbett: Yeah, thanks Harry. Good to see you again. Yeah, Sean Corbett, ex- retired senior RF intelligence officer. I'm the co- chair of the strategic advisory group for Janes.

Thanks Sean and Rick Keir, welcome to the team. A few words for yourself.

No, thanks Harry. I'm Rick Keir, I'm also a retired air force intelligence officer this time from the Royal Australian Air Force and my last appointment in the permanent air force here in Australia was as the J2 or director general intelligence at headquarters doing operations command between December'15, December'18, responsible for right support to global IDF operations. I now provide strategic advisory services to the national security intelligence and defense communities and industry engaging, or wanting, to engage with those communities. I've been with Janes as a strategic advisor since May of this year.

Harry Kemsley: Fantastic, fantastic. Thank you again, Sean, for joining us. So gents, what I thought we would do today, given where you are based Rick and with your experience in that region, is we're going to have a look at the Asia Pacific region. All of us are aware of the many events that are ongoing around the South China Sea. For example, some might know that the Royal Navy is sailing its carrier group somewhat strategically through that part of the world, as well as other parts of the world in its global tour. It's interesting to me, for a variety of reasons, we have a lot of customers in the Asia Pacific region, not least in Australia, Japan, South Korea, for example, but many other places as well. But it's also a region that is of increased interest, given the rise of China and its potency both economically as well as a military force, which will be our focus here today. So, it's a region of great interest, and I think rising interest for the world, as we are facing the future and the challenges that are coming. So what I thought I'd might do first Rick, and I'm going to come to you first, is just ask you to give us an overview. What do you think are the big drivers? What are the big priorities in terms of the region of the Asia Pacific, that will be capturing the minds of ex- colleagues in Australia and the Five Eyes community, and other parts of the world, not least the ACN countries as well. What are the big challenges, what are the big priorities for national security in the region of Asia Pacific? Then from there, I think what we'll do is we'll find one or two that we'll perhaps dig into a bit further, but Rick, if you can give us that overview first, that'd be really great. Thank you.

Rick Keir: Yeah, no worries, Harry. Look, I noticed your comment on the Asia Pacific and I guess as an Australian, I prefer the term Indo- Pacific to the Asia Pacific and that's because Australia sits between the Pacific Oceans and the Indian Oceans. That might sound a little pedantic, I guess, but in more recent years, the term Indo- Pacific has probably been much more increasingly used here in Australia. Many of the listeners, I guess, would also note that US Pacific Command changed its name only a few years ago-

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, crosstalk.

Rick Keir: ...Indo- Pacific Command, so I think it's also a way of making sure that India and the subcontinent writ large is really factored into the equation much more so than the term Asia Pacific. So I guess on that point, I'll crack on with a few other points that I've thought about. First, some key statistics, the Indo- Pacific's more than half the world's population and a third of the world's economic output. It's never been more significant to global security than it is at present, and this will likely continue for the remainder of the century. As you've already pointed out, no discussion on the Indo-Pacific would be remotely complete without starting with the impact of the rise of China. So, I thought I'd spend a few minutes just talking about the rise of China and its impact on the Indo- Pacific.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, thanks Rick.

Rick Keir: I think a notable anniversary occurred this month. The Communist Party of China celebrate its 100th anniversary since it was founded in Shanghai in 1921. It's ruled China since 1949 now, or 72 years. I think that the longevity of that's significant, because you might recall that the Communist Party ruled Russia or the Soviet Union for 72 years, sorry, 74 years. That probably gives some idea that this communist regime's staying power is quite significant. It's going nowhere for quite some time. China's rise to great power status has been inevitable in many ways, but it still appears to be a bit of a shock to a lot of people. I think that's because of the recent rate of increase in the last decade, or so, particularly the last five years, but it's not just about the development of its increased national power. It's also about the increased assertiveness in its use of that power. It's become increasingly apparent that China doesn't want to play by the West's rules and it wants to actually fundamentally reshape the rules. The main driver of this new level of power is of course China's military transformation and that's a key subject of interest for Janes, and specifically through its anti-access/ area denial or A2/ AD strategy, it's developed the means to not only defend its homeland, its primary requirement, but exert significant power beyond. While China has started to change its military strategy to extend from the near seas out to the first island chain, to also encompass the far seas, or beyond the second island chain, A2/ AD reminds the strategy's bedrock in the way it basically intends to keep the US away from China, if there was to be a conflict such as a future invasion of Taiwan, if that would have occurred. Now, China's power has direct impacts on three key potential flashpoints in East Asia. The South China Sea, which is increasingly well- known about around the world, the East China Sea, perhaps less known, and of course, Taiwan. China's militarization of the South China Seas, Paracel and Spratly Islands has really started since the 1970s and specifically the establishment of seven island fortresses and airfields in the Spratlys is a significant matter from this body of water, which is often called the fulcrum of Asia and a quick look at the map will elucidate the key strategic location of the South China Sea in relation to the trade routes that extend from the Middle East and Europe all the way through the Eastern Northern Asia and nearly one third of the global maritime trade passes through this area. While impacted by China's militarization of the South China Sea, because it receives and sends goods and products through the South China Sea, Japan's real issues are much closer to home in the East China Sea, specifically the Senkaku Islands or what China calls the Diaoyu Islands. These lie between Taiwan and Japan. Okinawa, a very significant US military presence there, is very close by and the Miyako Strait in the Senkakus is one of only two ways that the Chinese Navy can actually access the broader Pacific Ocean, the other being Luzon Strait to Taiwan's south, between Taiwan and the Philippines. Geography drives strategy, as you know.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah.

Rick Keir: So Taiwan's very different to the South China Sea and these East China Seas simply because not many people live on the islands in the South China Sea in the East China Sea, but 25 million odd Taiwanese live in Taiwan. So it's a very different set of problems for China and the world. Now, many analysts increasingly believe that it's not a matter of if China will invade Taiwan, but actually when it will invite Taiwan. There's a lot of debate about this but I assess it clearly won't be tomorrow, but it could be in the next five to 10 years. China is big on anniversaries. I talked about the CCP's anniversary, the PLA's anniversary, the People's Liberation Army anniversary, its 100th anniversary, it's actually in 2027. So it sits astride that five to 10 year timeline. As we know, anniversaries do have real meaning in China. So Taiwan's of significance important to Australia. It's not because there are alliances, there are none. It's not because of recognition, there isn't official recognition, but they're both islands. They're both about 25 million people. They're both democratic, they both have free media. They both have fairly robust populations and they're both economic success stories. So the relationships aren't formally there, but of course the identifications are. Taiwan's a country that is increasingly a key part of the world's economy. For example, Taiwan accounts for well over 50% of the world's production capacity of semiconductors, so it is quite the powerhouse in some niche areas. So I talked about East Asia, but it's not all about East Asia. In June, 2020, the Darwin River Valley skirmishes between India and China occurred. Those skirmishes, occasional wars, have occurred for many decades now. So, it's probably not surprising that an organization called the Quad has occurred, has eventuated. The Quad comprises the US, India, Japan and Australia. Started in about 2007 and had a bit of a rocky road but since 2019, has really hit its straps. It is quite a serious forum in many ways. Of course, China doesn't like it because when you look at the geography of those little countries, that's pretty much north, south and east. Close to wrapping up, what I wanted to make a point about Australia's specific perceptions of China and the issues going on between Australia and China, which I know have certainly been fairly highlighted in the media around the world. So in late 2020, the Australian government released a defense strategic update. It's not unusual, but the prime minister, Prime Minister Morrison, noted at the time when it was released, that the level of strategic uncertainty that we face now has not been greater than since the 1930s and'40s and that's pretty sobering really that is in an official set of statements. That statement was made in the context of not only China's military transformation and the potential flashpoints that we are not that far away really, but also in the context of Australia being under significant political and economic pressure from China, the significant bans imposed on minerals, food, wine, et cetera. Some of those have had significant impacts, others not so much. But in November, 2020, round about the time of the defense strategic update, the Chinese embassy here in Australia actually released a document, 14 point list of complaints and released it to the media. Some have called it a charge sheet against Australia but it's very interesting reading because it complains about Australia's foreign interference laws, and the decision to ban the Chinese state- owned entities like Huawei and CTE in Australia's 5G network. Australia calling for a inquiry, an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID, et cetera. So, needless to say, if Australia acceded to any of these demands, then its sovereignty would be somewhat questionable. I'll just finish up by saying that with the G7 recently in the UK, in Cornwall, China was a significant issue of discussion amongst the G7 and the invited guests. I did note at the time that it was probably no accident that the Quad there was a part of the chain seven, obviously Japan and the US are G7 members, but India and Australia were invited guests and actually Prime Minister Morrison debriefed the G7 on the 14 point letter and talked about Australia's challenges as they currently are with China. So, we could talk for a lot more about these kinds of issues. So, I'll pause it there and hand over to Sean.

Sean Corbett: That's fascinating, Rick. I do think, upfront it's really important to get reasonable perspective. I guess we're all guilty of seeing things through the lens of our own nations and particularly the UK with our Western, small island view. So getting that regional perspective, I think is really important. I think for me, looking at China, which is a big conundrum, I asked myself what their motivate is. Absolutely completely agree with the historical entitlement. If you go way back, they used to be a global power many, many years ago. But how much of what they're doing now is due to, if you like political philosophy, or how much of it is sheer pragmatism? I also, as I say, when I look at any nation, I'll put them in the global map right in the center and you do get a very different perspective. If you look at China, for example, it's bounded by 14 countries, of which many of them have got significant internal issues, Pakistan, India, Russia, North Korea, Afghanistan, Vietnam, you name it and they've got a huge population over massive expanse. While the Han ethnicity is by far dominant, I do wonder sometimes whether their expansionist approach is part of their unwritten deal with the population. As long as we keep on increasing our economic might and power and make your cost of living or your lifestyle's better, then you will be compliant. I always wonder whether that is what drives them. I guess, to an extent that's irrelevant because they are certainly now a global player. If you look at their grand strategy, for me, I think it's really clever at the end of the day. It's the belt and road initiative that we've all heard of before. It's using the might of the economic power for power projection. You just need to look at the port facilities. I was doing a bit of research yesterday, actually. They are definitely expanding their port presence. You've got, I'm probably inaudible Hambantota in Sri Lanka, you've got Pakistan, Gwadar and actually up until 2018, they even owned Long Beach in California. Now, that's pretty clever stuff because it's all legal. If they've got the economy to do it, why wouldn't they? So when you've got an nation like that, which... and again, looking at its approach to warfare, which is very much a hybrid approach, any autocratic nation, and this is what the US and her allies, and we're up against, is far better at using all the levers of its power, government power, to achieve its ends than we are in a liberal democracy going to do that. So, it becomes a really difficult problem, not just from a military perspective and we'll probably go on and talk about some of these enhancements to their military, but also from a grand strategic, global approach to that country. I'll probably leave it there, otherwise I'll go on forever.

Harry Kemsley: Sean, thanks. I really enjoyed the introduction, Rick, there were lots of things in there, which you brought to my mind, which to be honest, I either have never thought about like East China Sea, not something that I've really ever considered as a factor, but to your point, Sean, centering the map on the country of interest always gives you a different perspective, but equally your points about the 14 point list and sovereignty for Australia, fascinating dynamic there for sure. What I'm going to do now, at the risk of sounding like I'm trying to be very UK- centric, because it is a matter of great interest to certainly my nation and our navy, is just focus in a bit more on the A2/ AD capabilities of China, because we've got to carrier group that's about to move through an area that's very dear to China. So, without necessarily referring the A2/ AD specifically to the carrier group, because that's not what I'm trying to do here. I am much more interested in that part of what you said, Rick, in terms of what is it that China has been doing in terms of anti- access and area denial. Because if that's about defense in depth, by pushing the adversary further and further away, and denying them access to protect their own shores, that's one thing, but if it's really about giving themselves the operating space to do things with impunity, brackets, Taiwan, and perhaps we'll go on to Taiwan later, that's a slightly different thing. There's certainly similarities here between what I'm hearing around China's A2/AD and what the UK's perceiving in Western Europe with A2/ AD capabilities of Russia, another point we can come back to perhaps on another day. So, let's zero in a little bit further now on a couple of those things. There are lots of things that I'd like to spend some more time, Rick, but let's do just one or two to give them justice. Let's talk about the A2/AD and how much further can it go in a few minutes on A2/ AD.

Rick Keir: Yeah, sure Harry, happy to talk about A2/AD. As noted earlier, much of China's military modernization has focused on capabilities to increase its ability to execute military operations without foreign interference. It's mostly concerned about US foreign interference in any particular potential conflict against Taiwan, but the same would equally apply with the East China Sea and the South China Sea. There's some pretty good historical reasons why China is pretty concerned about foreign interference and the way in which it plans on defending itself and giving itself freedom of maneuver. So these counter- intervention capabilities, really aim to prevent adversary forces from entering an area of operations, known as anti- access, A2. Then if they do enter, then to limit their freedom of maneuver of the force, and that's known as area denial, or AD. So that's where A2/ AD comes from. It's often talked about, but probably not so well understood in that way. China's A2/ AD capabilities have therefore become the principle focus of the US and its allied militaries in the Western Pacific. Now, how did it come about? Well, China's always had a coastal defense force in many respects, but it really came about at the end of the Cold War in 1989. The US finished up as the global super power, but soon thereafter in 1991, the US was the lead nation when Iraq invaded Kuwait and led the military operations to remove Iraq from Kuwait, et cetera. The US easily defeated the Iraq military, which was very large at the time. I remember there was much talk about this when I was a very junior flying officer, about how big and how good the Iraq military was. Well, the US easily defeated Iraq and it struck the Chinese that they had a great deal of similarities with the Iraq military, they inaudible very similar equipment, Russian- based. Had very similar tactics as a result of Russian advisors and this caught them somewhat by surprise at how easy the US was able to do this. Again, that followed with the air war over Serbia as well in'97, again, the weight of US warfare in terms of decapitation and strike, et cetera. It was going to take a long time for China to catch up, so in the meantime, they focused on the defense first. Now, China's determined that any war in the Western Pacific, not unreasonably they've understood that the US is going to have to travel a long way over the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean is massive and no map or chart truly gives a true impression of how vast it is. But even with full deployed capabilities in Japan, South Korea, Okinawa, et cetera, a vast amount of capability's going to have to move across the Pacific Ocean from the west coast of the US or Hawaii, where with China it's all in China's backyard. Taiwan is incredibly close, the East China Sea is incredibly close, South China Sea's incredibly close, but again, it's very constrained in that the only way in which China can expand outwards to the Pacific Ocean, particularly the Philippines Sea, is through the Miyako Straits and the Luzon Straits north and south of Taiwan. So there's a lot of method here. So China has developed a lot of ballistic and cruise missile capability. The first real anti- ship ballistic missile capabilities, to keep US carrier strike routes, the main way of US maritime warfare, away from the Chinese coast, the Chinese homeland, and also very significant integrated air and missile defense capability, fundamentally to defend the center of gravity of China, which is the CCP, and the CCP leadership. So, it's all built around that. With that goes a huge amount of hardening dispersal, camouflage, concealment, et cetera. Now, as China modernizes its military and prepares for various contingencies, it continues to develop capabilities that are designed to dissuade, deter, or defeat US intervention in any invasion of Taiwan. As you mentioned, we'll talk about Taiwan next, there's no guarantee of US intervention, but there's probably a good number of reasons as to why that would be likely. I'd also want to just make sure that there's another term that's often used informationization, which is directly linked with the transformation of the PLA and that's effectively an asymmetric response, and the ability to increase their ability to weaken an adversary's ability to acquire, transmit, process and use information. This directly relates to their use of the electromagnetic spectrum in electronic warfare and also cyber space. So, China's therefore developed really highly capable A2/ AD forces, which are fundamentally designed to keep the US away from the homeland and give it freedom of maneuver in any future operation against Taiwan.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah. As you describe that set of capabilities, you got the real sense of the conundrum, Sean I'll come to you on this point, but that presents for the US, because to try and overcome the A2/ AD, to restrict the ability for the Chinese to, for example, exert military influence over Taiwan, means they've got to put themselves in a very difficult place and with the amount of capability that's going to get thrown at them, that's a significant undertaking. Of course, as I think you and I have discussed before if the US do get involved and get a bloody nose, that's very bad for long- term strategy for the US, but it's also very bad for the reputation and the confidence other nations have in the big brother or the US looking after them. Flip that over, if they don't get involved because they perceive the threat to be too great, that has the same outcome. So, it's a really big conundrum for US I suspect a lot of time being thought and spent on that to try and understand how to deal with it. So Sean, your thoughts on A2/ AD piece and how that affects the US strategy for that part of the world.

Sean Corbett: Yeah, it is a difficult problem set, as you both laid out actually, and I know senior military think tanks in the US are really trying to work it all out. I mean, it's a huge space for a start, that's not always recognized. You just need to look at the presidential budget requests for 2021 to see that there is definitely a move towards a greater reach, range, more agility, communications, and actually dealing more with allies and partners. That reaches back to what you're saying, Rick, about it's now the INDOPACOM, to recognize that all the nations there matter, they're all needed to be allies and partners. It's not just about the South China Sea, but in terms of what you do about it, there are those that are nervous that is there an inevitability about it, and is something going to be triggered by miscalculation? I don't know. I mean, obviously you've got the UK carrier group inaudible but also increasingly, the increasing freedom of navigation operations around there just to test, and of course there's going to be some intelligence collection going on as well. So, it's a little bit cat and mouse. I do worry, like you do Rick, about the Taiwan issue because that's separate. There's global and regional hegemony, but there's also then a specific issue. You can almost equate that, if you like to Russia and the Crimea, inaudible the rest of the Ukraine. It's not a very exact analogy, but there is that deep worry. We could talk about why it'd be difficult, but as you were saying before, the US need to counter that A2/ Ad which is pretty layered and pretty good, but they recognize that. What that results in terms of equipment, I don't know, but I know they're focusing very heavily, as I said before, on increased range, on increased agility and in joined- up communications.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah. I'd like to spend a bit more time on another session actually about this informationization concept, you raised Rick. It sounds like it's a piece of that hybrid warfare you were alluding to in your piece a few minutes ago, Sean, but I'd like to spend more time today, given we're running a bit short on time, to move on to the other issue, which I highlighted from your initial notes Rick, Taiwan. I've already said that I think Taiwan presents for the US a significant conundrum, a real military challenge, both in terms of, can we get involved, if we do, did we get a bloody nose? Or do we decide not to get involved, and then we get a bloody nose but by other means? Let's spend a bit more time in the last minutes we've got talking about Taiwan, Rick.

Rick Keir: Yeah, no worries, Harry. I think a lot of what I really would say about Taiwan is... and what I've already mentioned about Taiwan, probably also is in the basket, is thinking about the unthinkable. If warfare does happen in terms of an invasion against Taiwan, then there'll be nothing elegant or quick about it. It really won't be anything like we have seen since the massive battles of 1942 and the mopping up campaigns of'43,'44 and'45. But the reality is that, not thinking about something isn't going to stop it from happening. So, we are best to think about these things and really come up with the best solutions that we can to very intractable problems, but about Taiwan, it's easily the longest running issue with the three East Asian flashpoints. It predates the Korean war of'50-'53, even. So it is the classic post- war issue within Asia. So, in'49, as you'll probably be aware, the Kuomintang or the nationalists evacuated mainland China under Chiang Kai- shek when they lost the civil water to Mau Tse- tung. The civil war basically continued directly and by proxy, but the nationalist government moved into Taiwan and established their government there. So this situation's now been going for 72 years. Taiwan in many respects has moved on and become an incredibly successful country. In generational terms, there are many Taiwanese now who have absolutely no thought of ever being a part of China, but in terms of the CCP's view of what China is, clearly it sees Taiwan as a part of China, in fact, a key part of it and that China will actually only be whole again, when Taiwan is back in the fold. So, two very divergent views of Taiwan's place in the world. Past Chinese defense white papers have clearly stated that the most important role for the PLA is to retake Taiwan for the Chinese communist party. I think at this point, it's really important to say that the PLA is not the defense force of China. It is the defense force of the Chinese communist party. So it is a very different way of thinking about these matters and when the Chinese communist party has made, as Sean said, a pretty big promise to the people of China about the future of Taiwan, it all becomes intractably related. Now, Taiwan and the US, they have a very historic and strategically close relationship. Up until the US's recognition of Beijing as the true China, I guess, in the early'70s, they did have a mutual defense treaty with the recognition of China, that mutual defense treaty ended. However, US Congress enacted a artifact called the Taiwan Relations Act, or the TRA. The TRA actually requires the US to resist anything that would jeopardize Taiwan's security. So it's actually almost a one- sided treaty by another name. Again, this is probably not that well- known in wide circles, but it does drive US policy in many respects. Since'49, there's been a lot of crises between Taiwan and China and the US, offshore bombardments of the islands of inaudible Matsu for years, et cetera, et cetera. Right now, massive levels of incursions, by PLA aircraft into Taiwanese airspace, effectively to almost in an attempt to exhaust the Taiwanese air force. These are continuing, but back in'95,'96, when pro- independence voices in Taiwan were getting quite loud, China responded by conducting a number of missile tests to the north and south of Taiwan to express its displeasure. The US, under then President Clinton, dispatched two carrier battle groups to the straits of Thailand to make it very clear the US's stance on this. It made it very clear what the US's stance was, but it also served to hasten China's A2/ AD developments. It really was quite a slap in the face for China, that they really were not able to do much about those two carrier battle groups. What the US will do in the next crisis will be a key test of its credibility, there is no doubt, as a superpower, and also as a treaty ally for Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia. In fact, outside of NATO and the Rio Treaty in South America, all of its alliances are in the Indo- Pacific. It is here that any conflict between the US and China would see China rely heavily on its A2/ AD forces and the US on its counter- A2/ AD forces, to thwart each other's objective, either the invasion of Taiwan or the defense of Taiwan. This would very much be a maritime war and a missile war. If a conflict were to occur, which in my view is probably more likely than not, but not tomorrow and not the next year, but still probably more likely than not, it will be extremely difficult for the US China conflict of Taiwan to be contained, and only limited to Taiwan. You only need to look at the way in which the East China Sea and the South China Sea pretty much extend. China's influence into the Western Pacific and also offer the only ways to get out into the Philippine Sea. So this won't be a containable event, and it could well end up being on a scale not seen since'41,'42. So, Taiwan therefore easily remains in my view, the most dangerous potential flashpoint in the Western Pacific and certainly one to watch the closest. Although the South China Sea gets a lot of media time, a lot of air time, because of the seven airfields and fortresses, it's Taiwan that really has the potential to actually create cataclysmic little events, in my view.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, thanks Rick. Let me just pick up on that point Sean with you, in terms of this ability for it to draw in other nations. The UK's putting its carrier battle group through there right now, that's a statement of intent, perhaps. It's a long, long way from the UK. It's a pretty long for the US as well. Let's just spend a few moments before we close looking at how this vortex starts to spin around Taiwan and how it starts to draw in other nations in that region, but also outside. What are your thoughts on that cataclysmic event that Rick has talked about and how that might spread in a ripple across other nations?

Sean Corbett: Yeah, it is a really worrying issue. I think what we're seeing now already is an attempt to counter it by, if you want to call it defense diplomacy, it's no accident obviously that the UK carrier battle group's going through, the US is increasingly just testing and probing. Of course, you can't do all that without at least a non- interventionist type approach from your neighbors and partners out there. So, what the US is doing certainly is trying to catalyze the existing treaties and alliances out there, which are imperfect as we know, to try and get the local nations to actually talk to each other more about more, and they've all got their own individual conflicts with border disputes and fishing and all the rest of it, but it's only by bringing them together, in some sort of coherent whole, that you can get that defense diplomacy working properly. So, I mean, it's rather a rambling answer on that, but that just shows the difficulty of the actual problem set itself. But I think we're going to increasingly... just to finish. We're going to increasingly see more, just testing up against the boundaries, to try and make it more normal, as opposed to a single flashpoint, where our carrier battle group or another one just goes in and goes over that line and gets a big reaction. So, by normalizing that sort of activity, I guess the strategy is to reduce the chances of miscalculation. But I agree with Rick, that this is the most worrying element of the whole region.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, I'd certainly love to look into that point you just made there Sean, about the need for local nations to work in more clear, demonstrable union in the face of the rising threat. There are lots of national issues at play for each of those countries from different perspectives, bringing them together as a coalition will have huge challenges, not just for culture and language and all the obvious things, but also in terms of their own national interests and their own particular objectives. But I have to be clear now that we're running very short on time. So let me just draw stumps by summarizing a few points that you've made Rick, in terms of the regional dynamics. You've certainly brought to my mind a couple of things that I hadn't really thought about, as I said earlier. So the East China Sea, the pivotal nature of Taiwan and the access that China needs around that island and so on, but equally the need for us to recognize that there are real flashpoint potential here over the next period of years. I also note that anniversary which you highlighted with PLA, that has a real sense of history and no doubt nostalgia for the PLA in terms of what they might want to do as a demonstration on the 100th year. So yeah, there's a real opportunity there, I'm sure, for them to use that as a building moment for them, a milestone in their own history, I would like to come back to a couple of issues that we've talked about today in another time, but if I leave the audience with anything, I think it's going to be for a Janes advocate. I want to look at the capabilities for the A2/ AD that China now represent and the counter- A2/Ad that's going to be required, if not already in place from the US and allies. I also noted the budget Sean, that the president's brought forward in terms of what that does for potential counter- A2- AD. I am also quite interested in this informationization, couldn't say it the first time, struggled with a second. That's an interesting concept to me because it plays to something that I'm very interested in, which is warfare by other means and the cyber domain and misinformation, and all those things that we all struggle with, I'm sure is a big part of this particular scenario in this region. But let me finish by saying a very, very sincere thank you, Sean, for your attendance and continued patience in joining these sessions, but a particular thanks to you, Rick, for your expertise, the preparation and participation in this event. I look forward to the next time, and if you can bear with it, I'll invite you back for a bit more of some of those things we talked about today. Thank you, Rick and thank you Sean.

Rick Keir: Thank you.

Sean Corbett: Pleasure.

Speaker 2: Thanks joining us this week on the World of Intelligence. Make sure to visit our website, janes. com/ podcast, where you can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode.


In this podcast episode Harry Kemsley OBE, President of the Government and National Security at Janes joins Air Marshall (ret'd) Sean Corbett CB, RAF and Air Cdre (ret'd) Rick Keir, RAAF to discuss the key challenges to international security in the Indo-Pacific region.

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Harry Kemsley

|President of Government & National Security, Janes

Today's Guests

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AVM (ret’d) Sean Corbett CB MBE MA RAF

|Strategic Advisor – US Intel/DoD, UK Govt, NATO (Structure Data)
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Air Commodore Richard (Rick) Keir, AM, CSC (Retired)

|Janes Strategic Advisory Group Member