Persian Gulf de-mining exercise sends message to Iran

International Mine Countermeasures Exercise banner (Photo: US Naval Forces Central Command/US Fifth Fleet

If you were a theocratic regime hell-bent on disrupting shipping in the Persian Gulf, how would you go about it?

Anti-ship missiles are selective but dangerous; torpedoes would need to be launched surreptitiously with a relatively small fleet of submarines. Perhaps the most effective method, and certainly the one concerning the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and its allies the most, is the possibility of mining areas of the Gulf.

Little wonder, then, that a huge multinational mine-countermeasures exercise is being held in the area, which began on 16 September and will continue until 27 September. The reasons for the exercises appear to be twofold. First, there is a genuine need to test and build multinational capacity in the region for mine-clearance operations. The number of different countries that might be involved in any rapid de-mining operations makes coordination supremely difficult, and hence testing the ability of navies to work together in assigned roles is vital. Read the rest of this entry »

India and Japan strengthen ties

By Suvi Dogra, Research & Liaison Officer, Geo-economics and Strategy Programme.

India and Japan stepped up their defence cooperation this week, saying on Monday that they would conduct their first joint naval exercise in June. This will be part of a new maritime dialogue mechanism announced by Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna and his Japanese counterpart, Koichiro Gemba, after wide-ranging strategic and economic talks. The two ministers also announced a new cyber-security dialogue and the resumption of negotiations over a proposed civil-nuclear deal. Begun in June 2010, these fell into abeyance in the post-Fukushima period.

Meanwhile, India agreed to give the Japanese government a 26% stake in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation. The move is an attempt to accelerate a much-delayed new rail freight link between India’s capital and its largest city, while also cementing a long-term economic partnership between India and Japan.

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More trouble brewing in Asian waters?

US navy ships in the South China Sea. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released

By Christian Le Miere, Research Fellow for Naval Forces and Maritime Security

There surely can’t be anything aggressive about military exercises dubbed Naval Cooperation 2012, can there? And yet this month’s Sino-Russian exercises, involving a substantial fleet of Chinese vessels (five destroyers, five frigates, four Type 022 fast attack craft and two Song-class submarines), has highlighted the increasingly fractious relationships between naval powers in the region.

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