Saturday, June 18, 2011

DTN News - ASIA DEFENSE NEWS: Asia Muscles Up To Protect Its Patch

Defense News: DTN News - ASIA DEFENSE NEWS: Asia Muscles Up To Protect Its Patch
**Terrorism Is Main Factor For Asia Arms BuildUp, Second Factor - China (Forthcoming Article): DTN News
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 18, 2011: The proverbial ''pet-shop galah" can recite facts about how Australia is benefiting from Asia's economic transformation, the Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens, declared this week.

That's how deeply the once-in-a-century bonanza accruing to us from the rise of China, India and other Asian nations is now etched into Australian folklore.

But we hear much less about another important spin-off of Asia's growth miracle: the regional arms build-up. Just as the global economic balance has shifted towards Asia, so has the military balance.

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And in the same way the global economic transformation is taking place faster than anticipated, the military balance is shifting more quickly than many expected.

Figures published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute show that military expenditure in the Asia-Pacific region grew steadily during the 1990s but then picked up sharply in the past decade. Between 2000 and 2010 expenditure surged from about $US161 billion to just under $US290 billion, an increase of nearly 80 per cent.

India is now the world's biggest arms importer, the institute says. It received 9 per cent of the volume of international arms transfers between 2006 and 2010. The next three largest importers of conventional weapons in that period were also from Asia: China 6 per cent, South Korea 6 per cent and Pakistan 5 per cent.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are all investing in air and naval capabilities. Despite its lingering economic woes, Japan has also announced a significant improvement in its military capability.

Global economic trends are behind the shift in the relative military balance away from Western powers towards Asia. The damage to government finances in Europe and North America caused by the global financial crisis has eroded their military spending capacity. Defence spending in Europe and North America has stagnated. Meanwhile, Asia's economic vitality - coupled with the distrust that exists between countries in the region - is driving a sustained military modernisation and expansion. Countries in Asia have not significantly changed the proportion of gross domestic product being devoted to defence. But rapid and sustained economic expansion has delivered the additional government revenue needed.

A study of the global military balance, by the International Institute of Strategic Studies said it's "already clear that as a result of shifts in the global distribution of economic power and consequently the resources available for military spending, the United States and other Western powers are losing their monopoly in key areas of defence technology".

Asia's hasty military build-up was a key topic at this month's Shangri-La Dialogue, a meeting involving some of Asia's top military leaders convened by the institute each year in Singapore. In his opening remarks, the institute's director-general, John Chipman, asked: "Can there be smart procurement and the avoidance of arms races?"

In a sign of Australia's concern about regional military trends, the Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, told the Shangri-La Dialogue that the Asia-Pacific was a "region in strategic flux" and urged countries to build institutions that can help manage regional security challenges.

Economic success has not only provided the resources for Asia's military build-up. It has also added to the incentive.

As countries get wealthier they have new economic interests they need to protect.

Many Asian states are ramping up their military capacity in order to do just this.

A driving factor is protecting energy supply lines, especially the sea routes used to transport oil and other raw materials.

Asian powers also have a growing motivation, and capacity, to protect their citizens under threat in other parts of the world. India and China both launched operations to rescue their citizens stranded in Middle East nations recently troubled by unrest. New Delhi will purchase 10 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from Boeing in a deal worth $4.1 billion.

Once these planes are delivered, India will possess the largest fleet of the huge Globemaster III aircraft after the United States. These heavy-lift, long-range military transport aircraft can lift soldiers and military cargo, or be used during humanitarian evacuations.

We are used to seeing Western powers deploy military hardware to protect their citizens when they are in trouble and now major Asian powers are getting the military capabilities to do the same.

Given the large Chinese and Indian diaspora in developing countries, armed evacuations by Beijing and New Delhi to rescue their nationals are likely to become more common. It's possible the Chinese and the Indians could eventually use their military assets to rescue nationals of other countries.

There are many legitimate reasons for Asia's military expansion, but it comes with the potential for suspicion and mistrust.

The growing power and assertiveness of China, which accounts for nearly half of Asia's defence spending, has given its neighbours added motivation to beef up their arsenals.

Nuclear-armed India, for example, is raising new army divisions on its border with China. Arun Kumar Singh, a retired Indian vice-admiral turned security analyst, says New Delhi's strategy is to make the potential cost of both conventional and nuclear conflict with China too high.

"We need to have the nuclear and conventional capacity to deter a war," he told the Herald. "The whole idea is that the military is an insurance against war.

''I suspect India will continue to invest fairly heavily, especially in its conventional capability, to prevent one from ever starting."

Military analysts say the simultaneous build-up of advanced weaponry in the Asia-Pacific region is on a scale and pace not seen since the Cold War arms race between America and the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, trade and investment between countries in Asia is booming.

The question is: will Asia's growing economic independence be enough to prevent the weaponry from being used?

*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News



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