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$602 million in arms sales reported today

Quite randomly, I decided to do a quick survey of military equipment and services as well as arms sales announced on two military/weapons journals on 5 May. These two journals (ASD News and Defense Industry Daily) have a listing of new arms contract announcements for the day that together total US$602.4 million. I’m sure this does not capture the total of such sales around the world. I didn’t dig very deep, and I haven’t looked into other journals or sources of information. The journals I happened to review I think generally report on sales to Western governments or from Western corporations.

According to a report written for the US Congress (September 2009), between 2001 and 2008, 41% of global arms sales are made by the US, 17% by Russia, 8% by France, 7% by the UK, 4% by Germany, 3% by China, 3% by Italy, 11% by other European countries, and 6% by all others.

Saudi Arabia was the biggest spender among developing nations in terms of arms purchases between 2001 and 2008. That country accounted for 16% of the total money spent.

Here’s the breakdown of the sales I found today:

ATK Receives $52 M Training Tank Ammunition Order From US Army: $52 M (to USA)

Force Protection Receives $24 M Award for 30 Cougar Vehicles: $24 M (to USA)

US Navy Selects BAE-Led Team to Provide ISR&T System: $72 M (to USA)

CAE Awarded New Military Contracts in Europe and Canada: $48.4 (to Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands)

Navistar Receives $191 M in New Vehicle and Upgrade Orders: $191 M (to USA)

BAE Systems Wins New Land Contracts in Nordic Markets: $215 (to Norway and Finland)

The growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region: video talk by former head of the US Pacific Command

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Retired admiral Timothy J. Keating, former head of the US Pacific Command (from 26 March 2007 to 19 October 2009) outlines the US alliance with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, and the Philippines in maintaining its strategic interest in what he identifies as an increasingly important region to the US and to the world: the Asia-Pacific region. The US has over US$1 trillion of trade with the region annually, and the Asia-Pacific contains 15 of the 20 largest ports globally, 9 of which are in China. Admiral Keating also outlines the importance of US troops stationed in Japan (about 50,000), South Korea (about 28,000), and the Philippines (about 600 special operations forces).

View the video at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Okinawa’s U.S. military bases

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Linda Hoaglund has a post on ANPO blog on the subject of U.S. president Obama’s latest visit to Japan and the Okinawan response to U.S. military bases in the prefecture. Below is an except:

During my stay in Okinawa,I realized just how little we Americans know of the anger that Okinawans feel about the U.S. military presence. Before I started making this film, I never realized that some 30 sprawling U.S. bases have covered more than 20% of the land area of this small island since the end of World War II.

As the rally began, mayors and members of parliament representing Okinawa spoke in open anger about the noise pollution caused by the incessant training of F-16 fighter jets, C-130 transport planes and Chinook helicopters, directly over the homes and streets of local towns, disturbing their daily lives and even their sleep. They reminded those assembled of the interminable rapes, murders and petty crimes, committed by American soldiers over the decades, which have largely been exempt from prosecution under the Status of Forces Agreement.

US military bases in Japan: Okinawan open letter to president Obama

November 19, 2009 1 comment

The Study Group on Okinawan External Affairs has published an open letter regarding the burden and future of US military bases on the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa.

The English and Japanese versions of this letter can also be found on Japan Focus and the Tokyo Progressive. These sites link to a short video clip on the issue by Linda Hoaglund; the video is also provided here.

November 9, 2009
President Barack Hussein Obama,

We are residents of Okinawa and we would like to express our views regarding the United States Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and the current agreement to build a new base in Nago City, Okinawa.

We urge you to withdraw all of USMC from Okinawa. The people of Okinawa have been and will continue to be firmly opposed to the current US plan to relocate the dangerous Futenma Air Station to another location within Okinawa. We demand that the Futenma Air Station be shut down and returned unconditionally. The USMC has been stationed in Okinawa since the mid 1950s. The only real solution to the Futenma problem is a total withdrawal of the USMC from Okinawa.

Here we respectfully state the reasons for our demand. First, the current agreement between the US and Japanese governments regarding the construction of a new USMC base in Nago City was reached without consultation with the government or the people of Okinawa in 2005 and 2006. As many recent election results and public opinion polls show, Okinawa’s people have been calling for relocating Futenma out of Okinawa.

Second, the sea area of the new base, located off shore of USMC Camp Schwab in Nago City, is a habitat for various endangered species, including dugong, the Asian manatee. It is unacceptable to destroy the highly valuable ocean environment with the construction of a military base.

Third, the US and Japanese governments agreed to close the USMC Futenma Base and return its land to Okinawa in 1996, with the condition that a replacement facility be constructed in Okinawa. However, the new facility has not yet been built. The fourteen years since have proven that it is simply not possible to squeeze a new military base in Okinawa, which has long suffered an overburden of US military presence.

Finally, when the closure of Futenma Air Station was first discussed, it was assumed that the ground combat element and logistic combat element would remain in Okinawa. However, since there is virtually no possibility of building a new air station in Okinawa, the USMC should relocate both the ground combat element and aviation combat element out of Okinawa. Indeed, it would be more logical and beneficial for the USMC if all the elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force were relocated together. Our proposal of a total withdrawal of USMC from Okinawa would actually fit the necessity of the MAGTF’s integration of elements most effectively. By withdrawing from Okinawa, the USMC could avoid the unreasonable arrangement of keeping some troops in Okinawa and stationing others in Guam or Hawaii. It would be more desirable for the USMC, while at the same time preserving the highly valuable ocean environment and satisfying the demands of the people of Okinawa.

In conclusion, we wish to urge the United States and Japanese governments to begin the process of planning for a total withdrawal of the USMC from Okinawa. Now is the time to act for “CHANGE” to create a better relationship between Japan and the United States. Both countries would benefit from a break with the status quo and a fresh perspective on the Futenma issue.

Sincerely yours,

Seigen Miyasato
Chairman
Study Group on Okinawa External Affairs

Co-signers:
Hirayuki Agarie, Professor Emeritus, University of the Ryukyus
Akira Arakawa, Journalist
Moriteru Arasaki, Professor Emeritus, Okinawa University
Masaie Ishihara, Professor, Okinawa International University
Tatsuhiro Oshiro, Novelist
Masaaki Gabe, Professor, University of the Ryukyus
Manabu Sato, Professor, Okinawa International University
Kunitoshi Sakurai, President, Okinawa University
Jun Shimabukuro, Professor, University of the Ryukyus
Suzuyo Takazato, Former Vice-speaker, Naha City Assembly
Tetsumi Takara, Professor, University of the Ryukyus
Hiroyuki Teruya, Professor, Okinawa International University
Hiroshi Nakachi, Professor, Okinawa University
Nozato Yo, Journalist

Eiichi Hoshino, Professor, University of the Ryukyus
Kakeshi  Miki, Journalist
Akiya Miyazato, Journalist
Akiko Yui, Journalist

(First published at Rabble.ca)

Weapons Journal: Military Expenditures

April 14, 2009 Leave a comment

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A pie chart of military expenditures in 2007. From Globalissues.org.
military-budget-country-distribution-2007

The suggested US defence budget by the current administration, presented by secretary Gates, will increase fixed spending by almost 4% from the previous fiscal year. The request is for US$534 billion, up from US$515 billion under president George W. Bush. These totals do not include appropriation for the Af-Pak and Iraq wars.

I have a hard time understanding why news articles on the latest US defence budget mostly contain the following phrases in their titles: ‘deep cuts’, ‘takes a scalpel to the budget’, ‘costs cut’. The military budget is to be increased. The same articles that claim a budget cut never tell the reader what the previous year’s budget was but they do make select budget item comparisons from 2009 to 2010 showing cuts to specific programs. I had to look at the US military’s own budget reports to get the 2009 number since I couldn’t easily find it in the news.

China’s official military budget for 2007 was US$45 billion, up 17.8% from the previous year.

The new US defence budget unveiled

From Asia Times:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates unveiled the United States’ much-anticipated new military budget on Monday, which aims to re-orient the armed forces towards irregular and counter-insurgency warfare while proposing cuts in several major weapons programs.

From Defense Industry Daily, details of the budget shakeup:

US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates did something unusual: he convened a press conference to announce key budget recommendations in advance.

…Gates’ announcement, made in the presence of Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, USMC, aims to make significant changes to America’s defense programs. Several would be ended or terminated. Others would be stretched out over a longer period. Still others will gain resources. DID provides the roundup, with links to related articles that offer program background…

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