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Daily Observations for 11 December 2019

Daily Observations for 11 December 2019
December 11
16:23 2019

Good morning, and welcome to my Daily Observations for 11 December 2019.

On my radar: U.S. warship visits to Taiwan important to reinforce freedom of navigation

I read an analysis this morning that argued the U.S. is maintaining the “upper hand” in the South China Sea with regular naval visits to Taiwan, as a means of keeping China at bay over its outsized claims to the entire body of water. There are a number of advantages to these port calls in Taiwan. Besides enhancing navy-to-navy operational capabilities, regular port calls to Taiwan by the U.S. Navy bolsters confidence that Washington is committed to the Indo-Pacific region, counter to China’s claims to the contrary. They also reinforce Washington’s position that the South China Sea does not ‘belong’ in toto to Beijing. Here’s a pull quote: “Great Power Competition with China requires bold actions to reset the strategic balance in Asia. A warship visit to Taiwan improves U.S. Navy tactical and operational training objectives and demonstrates resolve that will earn the respect of both Beijing and the entire region.” [source]

What I’m also tracking:

India gears up for first Chief of Defence Staff in face of China, Pakistan threat [sourceAnalyst comment: Here’s a relevant pull-quote: “The appointment is part of India’s much-needed military reform to face its nuclear-armed neighbors China and Pakistan.”

Turkey may get Russia’s alternative to F-35 if US fails to supply jets [sourceAnalyst comment: If this were to happen, it could pretty much seal Turkey’s exit from NATO. 

See also: Turkey continues to block NATO’s Eastern defense plans

NATO has worries more pressing than Donald Trump. It needs a new role in a changed world. [sourceAnalyst comment: I take a closer look at this very subject in my next Strategic Observer video, due out this evening.

—  Iran building new underground tunnel to house missiles: intelligence sources [source]

Israel army holds major drill simulating multi-front war [source]

One final thing: 

Regarding a recent missile engine test by North Korea, 38 North offered this analysis: “Regardless of what North Korea may have tested, it seems likely that we will soon find out when either a new ballistic missile or satellite launch vehicle is fired in the coming months. Perhaps patience has some virtue as we await the launch of a new system.” [source] It sounds like we should expect to see renewed missile testing and, hence, renewed U.S.-North Korea tensions.

Notable Quotable: “North Korea has ramped up its missile tests in recent months, and experts say the launches are likely to continue in an effort to pressure Washington into meeting Pyongyang’s demand for new proposals to revive nuclear diplomacy by the end of December deadline.” [source]



About Author

Jon

Jon

Jonathan Davis holds a BA in political science and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis. He has 30 years' worth of experience reporting on domestic politics and foreign policy.

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