Sunday, April 22, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricit...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricit...: Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricity” Most chapters of human history are defined by the tools and machines that were u...

Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricity” - Most chapters of human history are defined by the tools and machines that were used


Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricity”

Most chapters of human history are defined by the tools and machines that were used.

In the Stone Age, the first tools were “green tools” – digging sticks, spears, boomerangs, bows and arrows made of wood; and axes, clubs, knives and grinders made of stone. These were all powered by human energy.

Then humans learned how to control fire for warmth, cooking, warfare and hunting.
Another clever person invented the wheel and we harnessed animal power using donkeys, horses, mules and oxen, and made better tools like bridles, saddles and yokes from wood, fibre and leather.

All of these tools made hunting, gathering and trade easier and more reliable.

Then wooden ploughs revolutionised the cultivation of wild grasses for food for animals and humans. Farming started.

Trade and exchange was made easier with money using rare commodities like gold, silver, gems and shells.

Tool-making made a huge advance in the Bronze Age with the discovery of how to extract metals like copper, lead, zinc and tin from natural ores using charcoal. Brass, bronze and pewter made many useful tools. These were then replaced with better tools when man discovered how to smelt iron and make steel.

Then along came the game-changers – engines and electricity.

The steam engine, running on wood and then on coal or oil, revolutionised life with steam-driven pumps, traction engines and locomotives releasing millions of draught animals from transport duty. 

Then came electricity when steam engines were used to drive generators. All the windmills, coaches, sailing ships, lamps, stoves and dryers powered by green energy (wind, water, wood, animal energy, whale oil and beeswax) became obsolete.

Mankind made another leap forward with the invention of internal combustion engines using petroleum liquids and gases for fuel. An even bigger leap was the harnessing of nuclear power to produce almost unlimited clean energy from controlled reactions using tiny amounts of fuel.

Nothing in life is without risk, and every tool or engine can be misused. On balance, however, tools, engines and electricity have allowed humans to live better from less land and natural resources per person than ever before. Societies with an abundance of capital equipment are richer, have lower population growth and have the leisure and resources to provide far more environmental protection,

... therefore we should spend “Earth Day” celebrating “Engines and Electricity”. Viv Forbes

Viv has a degree in Applied Science Geology and is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Are military assistance programs important for US–...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Are military assistance programs important for US–...: Are military assistance programs important for US–Indonesia ties? Following US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ visit to Indonesia in...

Are military assistance programs important for US–Indonesia ties?


Are military assistance programs important for US–Indonesia ties?

Following US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ visit to Indonesia in late January 2018, military assistance programs have emerged as the centrepiece of the US–Indonesia relationship, both in terms of ‘hardware’ (arms sales) and ‘software’ (education and training aid).

By late February, the Indonesian Air Force finally received two dozen used F-16 fighter jets from the United States, a delivery heralded as the largest transfer of defence articles in the history of the relationship. But a narrative is emerging concerning the extent to which arms sales are part of a regional power play between the United States, China and Russia to swing Indonesia’s foreign policy alignment.

Military education and training assistance have been touted as key to solidifying US–Indonesia ties as China’s hegemonic behaviour intensifies. Officials are now seeking to restore education and training of the controversial Indonesian Army Special Forces. A recent Council on Foreign Relations report suggested the United States should increase funding for the International Military and Education Training (IMET) programs for Indonesian soldiers to ‘solidify pro-US sentiment’ and promote professionalism within the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI).

But military assistance alone is a shaky foundation on which to prop US–Indonesia ties.

Indonesian policymakers acknowledge that US military assistance will always be subject to the ebbs and flows of domestic politics in Washington. The US military embargo in the 1990s and early 2000s continues to remind defence policymakers that US assistance comes and goes.

Such uncertainty has driven Indonesia to diversify its arms suppliers. Not only did Indonesia’s arms imports jump from US$36 million in 2005 to almost US$1.2 billion last year, but the number of country suppliers rose from 6 to 23. The pool of 32 countries supplying arms to Indonesia has remained constant since 1950 but each country’s market share fluctuates.

The United States has never been Indonesia’s top arms supplier. During the Cold War, the United States’ average market share was just behind that of the Soviet Union at 20 per cent. From 1992 to 2017, US market share dropped to 10 per cent behind Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands and South Korea.

At the same time, Indonesia’s existing arms and equipment are decaying. Between 1950 and 2016 Indonesia imported 39 types of weaponry and military platforms — aircraft, helicopters, radar systems and missiles, among others — 29 of which are now more than 30 years old. It is farfetched to suggest that Indonesia’s recent push to obtain 11 new Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets — a move that reportedly made Washington unhappy — somehow represents a foreign policy shift. Indonesia’s arms procurement prioritises replacing antiquated military technology across the board, rather than a foreign policy orientation alone.

These trends suggest that the United States is unlikely to be the dominant arms supplier providing Indonesia’s ‘Minimum Essential Forces’ requirements. Nor will it be consistent enough to erase the memory of the military embargo. Indonesia’s supplier diversity is not cost-effective. But having two dozen suppliers means that no single country can have leverage over Indonesia’s defence sector.

No other country (except for Australia in recent years) comes close to the United States in providing foreign education and training for Indonesian officers. Since the 1950s, thousands of Indonesian officers have gone through some form of US-based training or education. By 2015, the Indonesian Army had sent 186 officers to study in 21 different countries. Fifty of them were enrolled in 34 courses and programs across the United States.

But it seems that these programs have not had their desired organisational effect. The military’s doctrinal documents and education materials in recent decades barely align with US conceptions of war-fighting, professionalism or civil–military relations. Out of the 677 Indonesian Army generals who graduated from the academy from 1950 to 1990, less than 16 per cent were trained in one of the US programs.

This trajectory of minimal effect despite maximum effort is unsurprising. Both Indonesia and the United States value military education and training programs for their ability to boost bilateral ties, not for their operational or organisational results. Jakarta also believes that US training confers international legitimacy and fills the occasional training needs. Washington meanwhile believes that education and training programs provide access to and influence over key members of the military elite.

Absent in the relationship is a serious effort on behalf of both states to evaluate how these courses or programs can ‘remodel’ the TNI in the long run. Without systematic ways to measure the success of US training, any claim that IMET funding will ‘turn’ Indonesia towards the US or boost TNI professionalism seems misplaced.

Taken together, US arms sales and training programs are not yet significant enough to influence Indonesia’s foreign policy trajectory, the TNI’s professional development or the country’s overall defence capability expansion. In other words, ‘security deliverables’ alone make for a poor foundation for US–Indonesia ties.

Both presidents Yudhoyono and Obama recognised this reality and instead crafted an expansive US–Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership in 2010 (which led to the Strategic Partnership in 2015). Policymakers would do well to focus on the Strategic Partnership to deal with the broader strategic challenges facing the region rather than haggling over more arms or training.

Evan A Laksmana is a senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Indonesia and a visiting fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research, Seattle, WA.

 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: What’s Next for Indonesia’s Submarine Fleet? Despi...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: What’s Next for Indonesia’s Submarine Fleet? Despi...: What’s Next for Indonesia’s Submarine Fleet? Despite some continued advances, Jakarta remains woefully underequipped Last week, Indon...

What’s Next for Indonesia’s Submarine Fleet? Despite some continued advances, Jakarta remains woefully underequipped


What’s Next for Indonesia’s Submarine Fleet? Despite some continued advances, Jakarta remains woefully underequipped

Last week, Indonesia’s military chief Hadi Tjahjanto led a delegation to South Korea to review progress on cooperation between the two sides with respect to submarines. The development once again put the spotlight on Indonesia’s growing but still limited submarine capability as the Southeast Asian state considers future options for expanding its fleet.

As I have noted before, Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic state, once operated one of the more capable submarine forces in Asia with 12 Whiskey-class submarines purchases from the Soviet Union back in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, however, it is woefully underequipped, with just two German-built Type 209 submarines along with one of the three South Korean submarines it had ordered back in 2012 and received last year (with the other scheduled for delivery back to Indonesia soon and the third being constructed in Indonesia)

Even taking into account that full order, with the Type 209s expected to be decommissioned soon, Indonesia would still be well short of the 12 submarines Indonesian defense officials have said the country needs to police its waters. And while there have been attempts to address this significant gap with talk of the mulling of new submarine purchases from various sources, last year IHS Jane’s cited multiple unnamed Indonesian naval sources as confirming that Indonesia had cut its requirement from 12 submarines to just eight.

Last week, there was yet another update on Indonesia’s submarine fleet when Indonesian military chief Hadi Tjahjanto led a delegation to visit the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) shipyard in South Korea where submarine work had been ongoing. During the visit, Tjahjanto received a briefing on developments, including on arrangements between Indonesia and South Korea on technology transfer.

During his visit, details were also released regarding future steps on Indonesia’s South Korea-built submarines. In particular, local media outlets picked up on the fact that the second South Korean-built submarine would be coming home soon. The submarine, which will be in the service as KRI Ardadedali with pennant number 404 after commissioning, will begin its journey from South Korea back home to Indonesia on April 23.

Tjahjanto during his visit also made reference to the submarine cooperation as part of wider Indonesia-South Korea defense cooperation. As I have noted previously, both sides have been talking up gains on this front within broader ties, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s state visit to Indonesia last November did see the two countries elevate ties to a special strategic partnership with some defense-related items. Nonetheless, the reality is that even the pace of some of the existing collaboration has been quite slow to materialize, much like Indonesia’s efforts to develop its submarine capabilities. By Prashanth Parameswaran for The Diplomat