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NightWatch 20101223


For the Night of 23 December 2010

Japan: Asahi Shimbun reported on 23 December that Japan will increase its surveillance of Chinese and North Korean military activities, particularly submarine movements, at the suggestion of the United States, as part of Japan's enhanced intelligence role in the Alliance. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and U.S. President Obama will issue a joint declaration that Japan will increase the frequency of patrols by the Maritime Self-Defense Force's P-3C anti-submarine surveillance aircraft. Japan also plans to increase the size of its submarine fleet.

South Korea: South Korea lowered its military alert condtion for the northernmost islands and other regions by one level, according to a Joint Chiefs of Staff official, Yonhap reported on 23 December. The official said the South is still maintaining military preparedness for any provocation by North Korea and the downgrade does not involve soldiers deployed to high-tension areas.

President Lee toured a forward army base south of the Demilitarized one and vowed the South Korean forces would deliver a merciless counterattack should North Korean forces attack South Korea again. Lee said the South had hoped that patience would ensure peace. Now he said the South will not relax its readiness.

North Korea: North Korea threatened to wage a "holy war" against the South if the North is attacked. In a statement by the Minister of the Peoples Armed Forces on 23 December, the North threatened to use nuclear weapons in the event war occurred. The statement accused South Korea of using this week's live fire exercises near the Demilitarized Zone as a pretext for starting a war

Comment: Actions by China and North Korea are prompting Japan and South Korea to make significant adjustments to defense operations, as well as policy, so as to protect interests that seemed secure in past periods and to stand against armed confrontation.

The pageant of history Asia is returning to a normal condition in which Asian states take responsibility for their security interests. This condition of normality is not peaceful because it contains unfinished contests for strategic dominance, old unsettled land and resource claims from earlier eras and new domains of competition for regional leadership, all compounded by modern technology and the reach and power of modern weapons. Northeast Asia is moving in stages towards becoming a zone of violent confrontation.

The missing key components are the South Korean and Japanese aircraft carriers to match and contain China's. On the other hand, modern anti-ship missile and torpedo technology and in sea control ships threaten to make the Chinese aircraft carriers a heavy investment in a strategic concept that might be nearing obsolescence by the time they become operational. They might go the way of the battleship. Still, they would make dandy missile and torpedo targets for the Allies.

India: Police in Mumbai, India, briefed the press that four suspected members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based militant group, have entered Mumbai, India, to carry out attacks during the holiday season. Police released a photograph of one of the suspected militants and issued an alert to Mumbai-area citizens. In addition, police have formed special teams to apprehend the alleged militants, the official said.

Comment: This looks like a competent terrorist warning, but it carries some risks. In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, millions of Hindus in Mumbai will not look kindly on Muslims from Pakistan, or any suspicious acting Muslims, resulting in a lot of false alarms.

Happy holidays to the NightWatch community.

End of NightWatch for 23 December.

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