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June 6, 2013
Notes from the Pentagon

U.S.-Japan Dawn Blitz
The United States and Japan appear set to send a political signal of military solidarity to China, just as Beijing has in the past signaled Washington about its military buildup.

The message is in the timing and location of joint U.S.-Japan live-fire exercises next week off the coast of California — four days after President Obama meets in the same area of Southern California with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The war games, called Dawn Blitz 2013, will simulate an amphibious landing assault to retake an island — California’s San Clemente Island. It is a realistic threat considering recent Chinese naval activities over the disputed Senkaku islands and China’s more recent claims to Japan’s Okinawa.

China asked that the exercises be called off because the war games will held four days after the U.S.-Chinese summit at the Sunny-lands estate near Palm Springs, according to U.S. officials.

The Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, will be the headquarters for the exercises.

The drills will include amphibious assaults, live-fire drills and mine operations. Japanese participation includes Self-Defense Forces troops aboard large air-cushion landing craft and two destroyers.

The Pentagon says the exercises are not aimed at China. Marine Corps and Navy statements said the war games involve “U.S. and allied forces against a hypothetical adversary.”

“Dawn Blitz will involve fictional countries and virtual opposing forces with no basis on any current geopolitical situation,” said Navy spokeswoman Lt. Katie Cerezo.

But the exercises are taking place amid growing tensions in Asia over China’s increasingly aggressive military posture toward its maritime neighbors, especially Japan.

Chinese naval forces have been conducting “maritime surveillance” missions throughout the East China Sea, where the Senkakus are located, and the South China Sea. One Navy officer has referred to the naval activity as “bullying.”

Japan’s Defense Ministry released photos last week showing three Chinese warships close to Okinawa on May 27. They included a Luhu-class missile destroyer, a Jiangkai II-class frigate, and a Fuqing-class fleet oiler.

Chinese submarines were detected near Okinawa three times last month within 13 miles of the island’s coast.

According to Asahi, the Japanese newspaper that first reported Chinese opposition to the island assault exercise on Tuesday, U.S. and Japanese troops will land on an island and fire on enemy occupation forces.

The newspaper reported that Tokyo explained to Beijing that the exercise is not targeting a third country but is against a hypothetical adversary.

It will be the first time that Japanese ground, naval and air forces will take part in a U.S. exercise. It is part of Japan’s new policy of developing defenses for Japanese islands located between the main island of Kyushu and Taiwan.

“The most notable events will include a joint amphibious assault off the coast of Southern California — the first time an MV-22 [tilt rotor aircraft] will land aboard a Japanese ship (Hyuga and Shimokita) — and live-firing events, exercising logistics, command and control and communications,” Lt. Cerezo told Inside the Ring. She said the command was unaware of the Chinese protest.

An increase in such international military exercises is one of the key elements of the Pentagon’s new shift to Asia.

Richard Fisher, a military specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the timing of the exercises after the summit shows it is aimed at thwarting the growing Chinese military threat.

Japan urgently needs to develop joint amphibious-warfare skills to deter Chinese aggression in the Senkakus, he added.

“As China builds up amphibious assault forces for faster strikes against the Senkakus, Beijing also protests a Japan-U.S. defensive exercise designed to strengthen Japan’s ability to recapture its islands,” Mr. Fisher said.

“Given China’s increasingly aggressive posture over the Senkakus and its hosting in state-controlled media a challenge to Japan’s sovereignty over Okinawa, it is doubly rich that Beijing wants Tokyo and Washington to cancel a justifiable defensive exercise,” Mr. Fisher said.

Tuesday marked the 24th anniversary of China’s military crackdown on unarmed protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The crackdown will always be remembered for the iconic photo of a Chinese man carrying shopping bags who stopped a line of tanks as they headed into the square, where hundreds and perhaps thousands of protesters were killed, many of them run over by tanks.

The crackdown prompted Congress to pass legislation that imposed sanctions on China that remain in place today. For China, the repression began a fierce communist government campaign against all features of Western-style democracy. That also remains in place today.

This week, a group called the Tiananmen Mothers, which has sought justice for the victims of the massacre, wrote to Chinese leader Xi Jinping urging him to follow the reformist path of his father, Xi Zhongxun.

The group’s open letter to Mr. Xi published Friday criticized the new Communist Party leader for failing to launch political reforms in China and moving the country “backward toward Maoist orthodoxy.”

Mr. Xi has increasingly promoted doctrinaire communism since coming to power in November.

Observers say his ideological roots remain firmly linked to communism. His doctorate from Tsinghua University was obtained in two years and is in the field “scientific socialism” not law — as his official biography states. Scientific socialism is the euphemism for Marxism-Leninism, the ideology that many historians say has resulted in the deaths of more than 60 million people in China since 1949.

China recently pressed North Korea to rejoin the Six-Party nuclear talks during the visit to Beijing by a senior North Korean general, Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae.

Gen. Choe was only the second special envoy from North Korea to China under North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The most significant meeting in Beijing was between Gen. Choe and Chinese Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and one of the three most powerful men in China.

State-run Chinese media, used to signal Beijing’s political outlook, quoted Gen. Fan as telling Gen. Choe that North Korea’s nuclear tests had escalated tensions, “intensified strategic conflicts” and undermined peace and stability.

The Chinese message was for North Korea to rejoin the talks and give up its nuclear arms.

North Korea agreed to resume the negotiations but later repudiated the notion that Pyongyang is prepared to give up its nuclear arsenal.

China is also pressuring North Korea by playing on one of its major fears: China moving closer to rival South Korea. China recently invited South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, to Beijing. She will visit the Chinese capital later this month. The North Korean leader has yet to travel there, and he has upset China with recent nuclear and missile tests.

The United States is not expected to rejoin the talks unless North Korea takes concrete steps to show its sincerity for further negotiations. Those steps would include halting uranium enrichment and disclosing hidden underground enrichment facilities.

A senior White House official told reporters Tuesday that the North Korean nuclear issue will be high on the agenda when President Obama meets Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday in California.

“There is no doubt that North Korea is in the forefront of the minds of both President Obama and President Xi,” the official said during a telephone briefing on the summit.

The National Security Agency, the secrecy-shrouded electronic spy service, has provided some guidance on the threat of cyberattacks.

“Adversary actors in cyberspace continue to demonstrate the interest in and ability to execute Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against the United States,” according to a one-page NSA advisory report from the agency’s Information Assurance Directorate

Such attacks are sophisticated cyberstrikes that take over multiple remote computers and use them to launch massive attempts to gain online access through public web portals. The result is that networks are overwhelmed and shut down.

Iranian hackers recently conducted several such attacks on U.S. banks and financial institutions. U.S. officials said the cyberattackers were believed to be linked to the Iranian government.

The Aug. 24, 2012, NSA report, “Mitigations Guidance for Distributed Denial of Service Attacks,” also warns that the widespread use of the Internet means increased risk of “malicious traffic and the potential for DDoS attack.”

To deal with the threat, the NSA urges proactive and reactive steps to protect networks in the event and aftermath of an attack.

They include establishing links with multiple Internet providers for redundancy; rotating IP addresses; designing networks with redundant systems and excess computing capacity; limiting traffic at network perimeters, and setting up remote back-up systems.

“DDoS attacks are often used as a diversion for other more targeted attacks,” the report, labeled “For Official Use Only,” states.

“Victims of DDoS attacks should conduct thorough reviews of their network infrastructure following an attack to ensure no additional malicious activity was conducted during or subsequent to a DDoS.”

The document was posted recently on the website [To download, click]

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