Congrats to DOTr Sec. Art Tugade for his fine, factual, positive, straight to the point & comprehensive speech in our Rotary Club of Manila where he outlined the government's vision and goals for Aviation, Railways, Maritime and Road systems. PRRD has a good, outstanding man in Sec. Tugade,
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Barmy Army fire sale: Anger as military hardware including ships, helicopters and aircraft carriers is dumped at knockdown prices
Barmy Army fire sale: Anger as military hardware including ships, helicopters and aircraft carriers is dumped at knockdown prices
- Money is needed to plug an estimated £20 billion black hole in defence finances
- Sale includes a £175 million fleet of troop carriers and the Royal Navy flagship
- Equipment has been brought together in a Ministry of Defence sales catalogue
PUBLISHED: 00:50 BST, 24 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:38 BST, 24 September 2017
British Forces’ ships, planes and vehicles are going at bargain prices in the country’s biggest-ever sell-off of military equipment.
Experts fear the sale agreed by top brass will reduce Britain’s ability to conduct military operations, but the money is desperately needed to plug an estimated £20 billion black hole in defence finances.
The fire sale includes a £175 million fleet of armoured troop carriers, the Royal Navy flagship – which is currently leading UK hurricane relief operations – and a fleet of Special Forces helicopters.
SEA: At least 50 ships are up for sale, including HMS Ocean, pictured, and HMS Scott, which produces maps used by the UK's nuclear submarines. It was bought for £180m, on sale for £80m
The equipment, which is expected to be sold at a huge loss according to industry insiders, has been brought together in a Ministry of Defence sales catalogue distributed to representatives of armed forces from around the world at a recent arms fair in London.
The Warthog armoured troop carriers now on sale entered service in 2010 as an urgent operational upgrade and were immediately praised for saving the lives of UK troops in Afghanistan.
Some 17 Warthogs were blown up by Taliban roadside bombs, but not a single soldier travelling inside the vehicles was killed.
Yet just seven years later, and with no armoured troop carriers to replace them, 85 Warthogs have been made available to foreign buyers alongside thousands of British Army vehicles at an estimated cost of £500,000 per vehicle.
The Navy’s sell-off includes helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, which arrived in the Caribbean last week to lead the UK’s relief effort following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The ship’s 650 crew brought with them 60 tons of aid, including construction equipment, hygiene kits and water purification tablets.
HMS Ocean, which cost £150 million when it entered service, is also equipped with Wildcat and Merlin Mk3 helicopters.
The ship, which underwent a £65 million refit in 2014, is expected to be sold for £80 million early next year.
The Royal Navy is also selling its only ocean survey vessel, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. HMS Scott was refitted in 2015 and is today equipped with the latest sonar and hydrographic equipment, which is used to map the sea bed.
Last night, former head of the Royal Navy Admiral Lord West said: ‘I am appalled by the loss of HMS Ocean, which is bound to be sold for a knockdown price.
'Her departure means we cannot conduct any large-scale amphibious operations and she represents quite a coup for whoever buys her.
‘I am both surprised and concerned about HMS Scott because she does a lot of oceanographic work on behalf of Britain’s nuclear [submarine] deterrent and this is a capability we need to retain.
AIR: Lightweight and agile Gazelle helicopters, pictured, are up for grabs in the sale of up to 70 aircraft, which also includes the Queen's private jets. Bought for £5m, on sale for £110k
'Overall, this sale represents the hollowing-out of Britain’s Armed Forces and a significant loss of capability. These aren’t efficiencies, these are cuts.
'This is affecting us at the sharp end of what we can do on land, by sea and by air yet people still seem to be in denial about how bad the situation is.’
The RAF’s kit sell-off includes 50 Tucano T1 training aircraft, gliders used to train air cadets and executive-style jets flown by the RAF’s Royal Squadron.
VIP passengers using the BAE 146 include the Queen and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.
The RAF is also selling six C-130J transport aircraft, but these are being replaced by Airbus A400Ms.
LAND: Up to 85 Warthog troop carriers, pictured, which cost £175 million - are among 1,100 vehicles being offered on the cheap to other armies. Bought: £1.8m, on sale for £500k
Vast quantities of ammunition are also on the sales list. This follows the scaling-back of military exercises and reduction in size of the Army, down to 79,407 fully trained soldiers, according to latest figures.
The slowdown in UK military activity has also convinced Army chiefs to sell 700 support trucks, 100 pick-up trucks, 100 Vector light protected patrol vehicles, 50 Snatch Land Rovers and as yet unconfirmed numbers of Spartan, Scimitar, Samson, Sultan and Samaritan combat reconnaissance vehicles, as well as Gazelle and Lynx helicopters, which were flown by the Army Air Corps and Royal Navy.
The MoD defended the sell-off, saying: ‘The revenue generated can be reinvested to support cutting-edge technology for our Armed Forces.
'Sales do not compromise the capabilities of our Forces and are undertaken when equipment is surplus to UK requirements.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4913854/Military-assets-including-ships-dumped-knockdown-prices.html#ixzz4vujRunNz
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China's Plan to Buy Influence and Undermine Democracy The Atlantic By lavishing infrastructure dollars on illiberal governments, Beijing is supplanting American soft power.
China's Plan to Buy Influence and Undermine Democracy
By lavishing infrastructure dollars on illiberal governments, Beijing is supplanting American soft power.
In the past, Southeast Asian nations largely turned to the United States and its Western partners to finance such undertakings; in exchange, several of them would maintain the trappings of a democratic society. But under President Donald Trump, America’s waning regional influence is opening the door for China to expand its footprint in the region, even if that means Beijing must deal with illiberal, repressive autocrats seemingly determined to remain in power forever. “I believe I can live at least 30 more years, therefore I can continue as prime minister for 10 more years. It is not difficult for me,” the 65-year-old Hun Sen remarked at the inauguration for the dam last month.
Such future dealings abroad are unlikely to come with any pledges toward democratization attached. In Cambodia, for example, China hasn’t slowed its investments despite Hun Sen’s crackdown on democracy and basic freedom. Facing vocal challenges from opposition groups ahead of next year’s general elections, he has begun actively silencing pro-democracy institutions, expelling the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute, forcing Radio Free Asia to close its Phnom Penh office, shuttering the The Cambodia Daily, jailing opposition party leader Kem Sokha on allegedly phony charges of treason and collusion with the United States, and calling for the withdrawal of Peace Corps volunteers. On Monday the National Assembly moved to redistribute all of the main opposition party’s legislative seats.
Hun Sen’s recent moves represent an accelerated attack on fundamental rights and a blow to Cambodia’s fragile democracy. They are also a piece of a larger transformation across Southeast Asia. Najib Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia, continues to crack down on dissent, while Thailand’s military has maintained firm control of the government since a 2014 coup, repressingopposition figures and activists in the process. As the military government of Burma continues its bloody persecution of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, the country’s much-lauded democratic transition under Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to live up to expectations. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte continues his brutal drug war, which has claimed between 7,000 and 13,000 lives.
While these shifts towards autocracy began before last November, they have accelerated since the election of Donald Trump, who has largely offered only subdued responses to foreign crises. This is a far cry from the Obama administration’s attempted rebalancing strategy in Asia, which addressed rights concerns with vigor, encouraged the democratic transition in Burma, and spearheaded the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Trump withdrew from in January. That withdrawal, along with Trump’s distaste for multilateralism, “has set back U.S. economic interests in the region for the immediate future—a glaring development in light of the substantive advances in Chinese economic engagement,” the Sydney-based Lowy Institute published in an August report on U.S.-Sino relations in Southeast Asia.
China’s aggressive economic approach abroad has been a hallmark of China’s “Go Out” policy, which Xi Jinping has pursued vigorously since he became the leader of China in November 2012. Since the days of Mao Zedong, China has sought to deconstruct what it views as an illegitimate international order led by the West. But it lacked the political stature and resources to do so, until an economic revival starting in 1989 saw an injection of trillions of dollars on near double-digit annual GDP growth. Under Xi, the country pursued a national renaissance and sought to expand its influence abroad through a gradual buildup of soft power. Case in point: China’s mammoth $1-trillion economic corridor through Eurasia unveiled in 2013.
Such deals boost economic conditions throughout the region, and help its leaders solidify their political footing, while buying Beijing influence. They also help smooth over larger conflicts. After visiting China in October 2016, Duterte returned home with $24 billion in funding and investment pledges; afterwards, diplomatic relations were restored, following longstanding territory disputes in the South China Sea. The case for growing Chinese influence in Cambodia is even more clear. Between 1994 and 2014, China accounted for up to 44 percent of the $19.2 billion in FDI Cambodia received, according to official data. Last year, Cambodia blocked ASEAN from unilaterally condemning China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea dispute.
Even Burma has once again become a base for Chinese private investment, including in a $7.3-billion deep-water port and a $2.3-billion oil and gas pipelinein crisis-hit Rakhine State. This is a sharp reversal for a country that, since it embarked on democratic reforms in 2010, has exercised caution when engaging with China.
Despite the near-universal condemnation of the extrajudicial killings carried out on Duterte’s watch, in May, China praised him for his “remarkable achievements” in promoting “human rights” and urged the world to support his government’s sovereignty—which, for Xi, seems to indicate his government’s willingness to tolerate such atrocities so long as it can rack up political points.
China has also repeatedly offered similar support to the Burmese government, saying last month at the UN that it “understands and supports” its efforts to protect its national security in Rakhine State. Meanwhile, harsh criticism from members of the international community could actually be driving Burma back into China’s arms after the Obama administration worked to cultivate influence there. “Such criticism from the West must be music to the ears of Chinese security planners, who are rattled by Burma’s recent drift from a close relationship with China toward improved ties with the West,” Burma expert Bertil Lintner wrote for YaleGlobal University online last month. By contrast, Trump has yet to make any direct public statements on the Rohingya crisis.
But while China is expected to further solidify Xi’s foreign policy approach at the national congress, it is worth noting how such deals have come to fruition. Much like the Lower Sesan II Dam in Cambodia, other deals abroad have been repeatedly criticized for their blatant disregard of human rights, their opacity, and for their tendency towards unsavory partnerships—in this case, 45 percent of the dam project is owned by Cambodia’s Royal Group, which is headed by notorious tycoon Kith Meng. Many of those infrastructure deals have also been criticized for entailing lofty demands that include major land concessions, multi-decade build-operate-transfer contracts, and guarantees for Chinese contractors.
“China’s propensity for coopting, pressuring, and even bullying Southeast Asia’s rulers is creating potentially double-edged swords for Beijing,” Donald Emmerson, director of the Southeast Asia Forum at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, told me. “A corrupt, entrenched local elite can be bought into alignment with China, as has happened in Cambodia. But, such cronyism can prompt opposition from civil society actors who are thereby more likely to blame China for local exploitation and repression, as has happened in Myanmar.”