By Kavi Chongkittavorn* | Reproduced courtesy of The Nation

BANGKOK (IDN-INPS) - After China’s Premier Li Keqiang outlined his new policy approach in front of ASEAN members in Bandar Seri Begawan in October 2013 – known as the “two plus seven” cooperative framework – nobody predicted it would then be shelved.

Only in recent months have China's comprehensive initiatives been revisited by ASEAN members. In Vientiane, senior officials from China and ASEAN are currently taking stock of developments and achievements since China attended the first ASEAN meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 1991. They have another week or so to prepare for a joint statement to commemorate the 25th anniversary of relations.

- Photo: 2021

The US Department of Defense Announces New Strategies for the Middle East and Space Force

By J C Suresh

WASHINGRTON, D.C. (IDN) – The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has announced that changing Middle East situation means changes for Israel. In another press release it said, partnerships are key to Space Force delivering warfighting capabilities.

In the first release on January 15 it said: in a sign of the changing political environment in the Middle East, the United States military will move Israel from the U.S. European Command’s area of responsibility to that of the U.S. Central Command. The move, it said, is part of unified command plan changes.

When the Reagan administration set up Centcom in 1983, officials left Israel as part of Eucom. Arab nations, except Egypt, did not recognize the Jewish state. U.S. military coordination in the region — including multilateral exercises and operations — would have been complicated. 

“But as a result, Israel — though surrounded by nations that were in Centcom’s area of operations — worked through the Eucom’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.”

The need for this set-up has changed, the DOD said. Jordan joined Egypt in recognizing Israel in 1994, and those were the only two Arab countries that recognized Israel until last 2020 when the Abraham Accords were signed at the White House. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan recognized Israel and opened full, diplomatic relations with the ation.

“The easing of tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors subsequent to the Abraham Accords has provided a strategic opportunity for the United States to align key partners against shared threats in the Middle East,” DOD officials said in a written release.

“Israel is a leading strategic partner for the United States, and this will open up additional opportunities for cooperation with our U.S. Central Command partners while maintaining strong cooperation between Israel and our European allies.”

In a separate news release, the DOD said, the Space Force is responsible for delivering space capability to the joint and coalition forces, including such items as navigation, timing, electromagnetic operations, orbital warfare, GPS, missile warning, satellite communications and launch space domain awareness.

Many of those capabilities have been forward deployed to the Middle East and other areas for some time, said Space Force Gen. David D. Thompson, the vice chief of space operations, who provided virtual remarks on January to the Association of Old Crows, regarding space operations.

To continue to provide these and future capabilities, it is important that the Space Force has an effective and digitally fluent workforce that’s adequately trained and educated to operate systems and networks in the cyberspace domain in a cyber-secure manner, he said.

Thompson stressed the service’s reliance on partnerships.

The Space Force relies on the commercial sector for innovative ideas, prototypes and experimentation, he said. They can design, develop, build and field them rapidly.

The idea of prototyping quickly involves some risk of failure. But even failure can lead to solutions that spiral development, he added.

Partnerships with the joint force, combatant commands and Defense Department agencies is also important, he said.

“We have enduring relationships with the National Reconnaissance Office and the rest of the intelligence community,” he said. “We not only need to maintain those but deepen those as well, especially because we’re now partners with them in the need to defend and protect these capabilities from threats.”

The United States can no longer afford to go it alone when it comes to space capabilities, Thompson said.

“We see nations who want to grow and evolve their space capabilities, who want to use them for economic purposes, who want to use them for civil and public safety purposes, who also want to use them for national security purposes. We see a lot of common ground with them and a lot of common interests,” he said.

Traditional Space Force partners have been Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, he said. Over the last few years, partnerships with France, Germany, Japan and South Korea have been expanding, along with a number of NATO nations such as Norway.

Partnerships with Brazil, Argentina, Chile and other nations, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region are also on the horizon, the DOD noted. [IDN-InDepthNews – 16 January 2021]

Photo credit: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD.

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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