27 May 2024

India’s Membership of the CMF: Mapping the Future of India-US Maritime Ties

Shreyas Shende

India’s full membership of the multinational U.S.-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), announced in November 2023, represents a step change in India-U.S. ties. India’s membership in the force — commanded by a U.S. Navy vice admiral — actualizes a scenario where a senior Indian naval officer potentially co-leads one of the CMF’s five combined task forces (CTF) with an American counterpart. India’s CMF membership allows it to build the sinews required for enhanced interoperability with other members and especially the United States.

India and the United States can build on this development in two ways: map avenues for enhanced interoperability, and prioritize areas where India, the United States, and other like-minded countries can deconflict.

The Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean

In the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) — a priority area for the Indian Navy (IN) — maritime partnerships are crucial to advancing India’s security objectives. The IN has a history of independently undertaking missions. However, the IN’s recent deployment in the Gulf of Aden to deter non-state actors underlines increased realization of the importance of the IN to work closely with other maritime powers. To this end, in mid-April, the IN conducted its first-ever mission operating under a foreign flag. In its first CMF mission, the IN interdicted the narcotics trade under the CTF-150, which is led by the Canadian Navy.

Japan announces plans to join US in joint-force drills in June


One of America’s largest warfighting exercises in the Pacific is getting bigger with the addition of Japanese forces.

Troops from both nations will participate in June in Valiant Shield, a biennial drill that for the first time will include training in Japan, a spokesman for the country’s Joint Staff said by phone Friday. Japanese government spokespeople are often required to speak to the media only on condition of anonymity.

About 4,000 Japanese troops, eight vessels and 60 aircraft will join Valiant Shield from June 7 to 18, the Japanese spokesman said.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is preparing forces for Valiant Shield 2024, Lt. Cmdr. Marissa Huhmann, a Pacific Fleet spokeswoman, said by email Friday, without confirming the exercise details.

“The U.S. military frequently conducts joint and combined training to refine operational proficiency, improve contingency response abilities, and promote stability and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” she said. “Additional details about the exercise will be shared publicly at a later date.”

China ends war games, Taiwan details warplane, warship surge

Ben Blanchard

China ended two days of war games around Taiwan in which it simulated attacks with bombers and practiced boarding ships, exercises that Taiwan condemned as "blatant provocation" on Saturday, detailing a surge of Chinese warplanes and warships.

Chinese state television's military channel said late on Friday the drills had concluded. A commentary in the official People's Liberation Army Daily said they had lasted for two days from Thursday to Friday, as previously announced.

China's defence ministry did not answer calls seeking comment on Saturday.

China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, launched the "Joint Sword - 2024A" exercises three days after Lai Ching-te became Taiwan's president, a man Beijing calls a "separatist".

Beijing said the exercises were "punishment" for Lai's Monday inauguration speech, in which he said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were "not subordinate to each other", which China viewed as a declaration the two are separate countries.

Why Japan Is Lagging Behind in Cyber Defense Capabilities

Takahashi Kosuke

As previously reported by The Diplomat, Japan is lagging behind other major countries in cyber defense capabilities to deal with cyberattacks. Currently, only passive cyber defense, such as detecting network intrusions, is possible.

The Japanese government decided to introduce active cyber defense in the new National Security Strategy, released in December 2022, in order to catch up on the delay in cyber defense efforts. Japan recognizes the need to counter cyberattacks targeting important infrastructure such as government organizations and nuclear power plants.

But the government’s efforts are still proceeding at a snail’s pace.

“Japan’s cyber defense has been ridiculed by the world because we haven’t done anything,” Kanehara Nobukatsu, a former assistant chief Cabinet secretary and deputy director general of the National Security Secretariat under the second Abe Shinzo administration in the 2010s, said on a BS Fuji television program on May 23.

“Many in North Korea, Russia, and China are hunting for vast amounts of data in Japanese cyberspace. Who will go and catch them? No one has done so in Japan. Japan is the only country that has been slacking on cybersecurity for 20 years,” Kanehara cautioned.

Striking a Balance: China’s AI Ambitions and the Quest for Safety

Nick Corvino and Nico Han

In a pivotal meeting in Geneva on May 14, Chinese and U.S. envoys convened for the first official bilateral dialogue on artificial intelligence, a byproduct of the November 2023 Woodside Summit meeting between China President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden in California. While full details of these closed-door talks remain undisclosed, initial statements suggest Beijing voiced frustration over the Biden administration’s export controls on advanced computer chips and semiconductors, which could hinder China’s ability to progress in AI development. Conversely, the U.S. side reportedly expressed concerns about China’s potential misuse of AI and the need for safety measures, which partly justifies Washington’s export restrictions.

These talks underscore the delicate balance China must strike between advancing its AI capabilities and addressing legitimate safety concerns raised by the international community.

China’s industry development typically follows a top-down model, where the central government plays an active role in overseeing an emerging sector to ensure responsible development. However, policymakers are increasingly recognizing that AI over-regulation could impede the pace of innovation. Striking the right balance between nurturing AI capabilities and ensuring responsible development has thus become a delicate exercise for Chinese authorities.

Of all the major players involved in the AI race, China’s stance on addressing the risks of AI is the least clear.

The Missing Links in US Chip Policy

Young-sun Park

Semiconductors play a crucial role in advanced technological applications, including transportation, communications, healthcare, artificial intelligence (AI), and of course, military hardware. As my new co-authored book makes clear, the growth of the semiconductor industry in the United States found its catalyst in an unexpected place: the poor rate at which its munitions actually hit their designated targets during the Vietnam War. The subsequent elevation of semiconductor technology to its contemporary status as an essential component of modern warfare and global commerce underscores its profound impact on geopolitics and national security.

After the pullout from Vietnam, American semiconductor development continued to receive a significant boost from the imperative of Cold War geopolitical rivalry. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), originally launched in response to Soviet technological breakthroughs, laid the groundwork for the emergence of Silicon Valley as a hub of innovation. Today, despite persistent efforts to maintain technological dominance, U.S. decision-makers must confront the fact that the global dispersion of the semiconductor supply chain has shifted the political dynamics surrounding this crucial industry. The rise of countries like China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan as major players in the landscape of semiconductor production is contributing to increased competition and geopolitical tension.

Xi Jinping’s Recipe for Total Control: An Army of Eyes and Ears

The wall in the police station was covered in sheets of paper, one for every building in the sprawling Beijing apartment complex. Each sheet was further broken down by unit, with names, phone numbers and other information on the residents.

Perhaps the most important detail, though, was how each unit was color-coded. Green meant trustworthy. Yellow, needing attention. Orange required “strict control.”

A police officer inspected the wall. Then he leaned forward to mark a third-floor apartment in yellow. The residents in that unit changed often, and therefore were “high risk,” his note said. He would follow up on them later.

“I’ve built a system to address hidden dangers in my jurisdiction,” the officer said, in a video by the local government that praised his work as a model of innovative policing.

Remembering Memorial Day: We Must Avoid World War III

Graham Allison

As we wind down for a relaxed Memorial Day weekend, I urge us all to pause, reflect, and give thanks for the fact that most of us have lived their entire lives in a world without great power war. Just last month we entered the 79th year since Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. This longest peace—that is longest period without great power war—has no precedent in history. It is not natural, not permanent, and not to be taken for granted.

Instead, it is the amazing result of great statecraft and sticktuitiveness by those who built the post-World War II order—and by successive Democratic and Republican administrations over the decades since. And the foundation on which that peace has been sustained is the most powerful military force in the world that has made possible “peace through strength.”

So my suggestion for this weekend is that each of us reach out to at least a dozen veterans and currently serving members of the US military to say: thank you.

Are U.S.-China Talks Accomplishing Anything?

Rishi Iyengar

In the space of one week this month, China and the United States held two bilateral meetings of the kind that have been rare in recent years amid their escalating diplomatic conflict.

The first, on May 8 and 9, was a meeting of the two countries’ new climate envoys in Washington, featuring discussions on the energy transition, greenhouse gases, decarbonization, and a commitment to continue “technical and policy exchanges” on those issues. Another high-level meeting between the two sides on these issues is set to take place in Berkeley, California, next week.

The second meeting took place on May 14 in a more neutral venue—Switzerland—and focused on a far more nascent and uncertain arena for U.S.-China cooperation. Delegations from both governments met in Geneva to start a bilateral conversation on artificial intelligence, aimed at mitigating the global risks from advanced AI systems.

Readouts from both meetings cited as their basis the November 2023 summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco, a dialogue seen as a tentative (albeit limited) diplomatic thaw. Despite the animosity that has come to define the U.S.-China relationship for most of the last decade, it represents an effort to keep lines of communication open and find common ground on specific issues. AI and climate, on the face of it, check some important boxes.

Cognitive warfare: The tip of China’s gray zone spear - ANALYSIS


The Chinese embassy’s claim that Filipino officials have agreed on a “new model” in Ayungin shoal is beginning to look like another disinformation master stroke. Amplified by trolls and pro-Beijing commentators, this illustrates Beijing’s constant attempt to seize the initiative by controlling the narrative and diverting public attention. As usual, Filipino officials were in the reactive-defensive mode. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año described it as false, malicious, and ludicrous while Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro alluded to the incident as part of Beijing’s “weapons of mass deception.”

Combined with the recent deep fake video of President Marcos Jr., these events have added a new dimension to the already precarious situation in our maritime zones. Moreover, it reveals a broader malign influence agenda that is aimed at undermining the Philippine position by weakening its institutions, discrediting its officials, and misleading its citizens. We believe that this is an attempt by Beijing to use cognitive warfare to complement its gray zone tactics of disinformation and offensive cyber operations.

Traditionally, cognitive warfare (CW) is a warfighting concept that attacks the enemy’s cognitive abilities to impair its decision-making capabilities and weaken its ability to resist. During peacetime, the aim of CW is to reshape a target population’s opinion and behavior. It is a favored tool for gray zone operations because of its strategic use of psychological/information warfare and digital technologies to create alternate narratives, weaken an adversary’s resolve, and fostering societal division without resorting to armed conflict.

Why are Arab armed forces so ineffective?

When arab air-defence crews helped fend off Iran’s missile attack on Israel in April, they drew much praise. And yet Arab states are not usually lauded for their martial prowess; many have lousy military reputations. They have been repeatedly humiliated in wars with Israel. They proved ineffective during the 1991 Gulf war; Egypt deployed two armoured divisions but America quickly sidelined them when they struggled to overcome even limited Iraqi resistance. Other Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, provided only a handful of troops. More recently, despite considerable American military support, the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen descended into a quagmire.

A Revision Of ‘As Long As It Takes’ Concept In Context Of Ukraine War And The World Order – OpEd

Alexander Kostyuk

Recently, Kurt Volker, a former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations rised public concern about the well-known statement of President Biden that US will support Ukraine “as long as it takes”. It seems that having went to the third year, the war in Ukraine makes this statement a bit questionable.

“That’s the question. That’s exactly the question. What do you mean when you say “as long as it takes?” As long as what takes? What are you trying to accomplish? And you never get an answer to that. We need to change that. We need to say: “We are here for Ukraine’s victory and the defeat of Russian forces in Ukraine.” We’re not talking about defeating Russia. No one’s invading Russia. No one’s trying to take Russian territory. But Russia has to be defeated in Ukraine”, said Kurt Volker.

President Biden’s statement “as long as it takes” toward the 2022 Russia invasion of Ukraine is not accidental as it is echoed from Senator Biden’s statement with reference to the 1979 Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan.

The Risks Of Russia’s Nuclear Posturing – Analysis

Harsh V. Pant and Ankit K

The war between Russia and Ukraine has entered its second year and there is no end in sight. Earlier this month, in a concerning escalation, Russia announced that it plans to hold drills simulating the use of tactical nuclear weapons along the border with Ukraine. Earlier in March, Russia had said that it would station nuclear weapons in Belarus. Such nuclear posturing in the middle of a war is worrying.

Russia cited statements by leaders from countries which are aiding Ukraine in the war as the reason for upping the nuclear ante. It was referring to French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement that he would potentially deploy troops to Ukraine and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron’s remark that Ukraine will be allowed to use British long-range weapons to strike targets inside Russia.

Shift in understanding

However, Russia’s plans appear to be attempts at brinkmanship and coercion rather than responses to actual existential threat. Russia’s claims that Mr. Macron and Mr. Cameron’s comments constitute an existential threat requiring nuclear preparedness are a stretch at best. Neither France nor the U.K. has made moves that genuinely threaten Russia’s survival which would then call for Moscow’s justification for its action.

Are Russia and North Korea planning an ‘October surprise’ that aids Trump?

Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee

The Biden administration is increasingly concerned that the intensifying military alliance between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could vastly expand Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities and increase tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, six senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

U.S. officials are also bracing for North Korea to potentially take its most provocative military actions in a decade close to the U.S. presidential election, possibly at Putin’s urging, the officials said.

The timing, they said, could be designed to create turmoil in yet another part of the world as Americans decide whether to send President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump back to the White House.

“We have no doubt that North Korea will be provocative this year. It’s just a matter of how escalatory it is,” a U.S. intelligence official said.

Crimea ATACMS Strike Hits Space Radar Station: Report

Isabel van Brugen

A Ukrainian attack on annexed Crimea using U.S.-supplied missiles is reported to have struck a space radar station used by occupying Russian forces.

The local Crimean Wind Telegram channel reported on Friday that Kyiv's forces attacked military installations in Crimea on Thursday evening.

At least six ATACMS ballistic missiles hit a communications center used by the Russian army that houses "a radio antenna of a space observation station," it said.

Attacks on Crimea have ramped up throughout Russian President Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022, as Kyiv attempts to reclaim the Black Sea Peninsula. The region was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

US Navy LCS programme reaches end of road with USS Pierre

Richard Thomas

The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) programme looks as though it will mark 2024 as being the end of the road for the twin-variant warship class, with the now officially named USS Pierre (LCS 38) joining the USS Cleveland as being the final iterations of their respective designs.

Taking place at manufacturer Austal’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, on 18 May, the USS Pierre is the 19th and last of the Independence-class LCS vessels, which when conceived in the mid-2000s along with the Freedom-class variant, were intended to offer the US Navy a new multirole warship and fill the gap of the departed Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates (FFG).

However, the vessels have been plagued by issues, to an extent that the US Navy has sought to decommissioned hulls decades ahead of schedule and develop the Constellation-class FFG to add much-needed combat capability to the service’s battleline.

Intended to provide forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence functions, the LCS are thought by the US Navy to be unable to operate in a contested environment such as could be seen in any conflict with China. Delays have also hit the mission modules designed to slot into the LCS warships to enable them to fulfill additional roles, such as mine countermeasure operations, further limiting their usefulness for the US Navy.

This Could Be the Moment Putin Wins the War in Ukraine

Anna Conkling

Russia’s sudden ground invasion of the Kharkiv region came as a shock to the country that has been plagued by the two-year-long conflict. For well over a year, Ukraine had managed to keep the Kremlin’s military from crossing its northern border between Kharkiv and Russia after it launched its 2022 summer counteroffensive, which saw Kyiv reclaim masses of land in a short period of time.

Since Russian forces retreated, residents of the Kharkiv region had found some sense of normal amidst the constant air raid sirens and frequent attacks in Ukraine’s second biggest city. On May 10, that all came crumbling down, and now Kharkiv’s residents, some of whom already felt that Ukraine’s defeat of Russia was unlikely, are once more living in a frontline town. Ukraine has reached a turning point and it’s unclear if a Russian victory can still be thwarted.

A Steadfast Patriotism

First, the good news. Over the last two years, Ukraine has remained strong in the face of its adversaries. Early predictions from journalists and scholars claimed that Kyiv would fall in a matter of days and that Russia would swiftly take control of all of Ukraine.

In the beginning, the future of Ukraine seemed bleak as Russia occupied cities like Kherson and Mariupol, and the streets of major cities like Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kramatorsk were filled with battles.

How Iran Plans to Destroy Israel

Nicholas Carl & Brian Carter

The Israel-Hamas War is a prelude to future Iranian aggression in the Middle East. Iranian military leaders are explicitly drawing lessons from the war to develop concepts for fighting and destroying Israel. Senior Iranian officials are arguing that the war has revealed critical Israeli vulnerabilities that they can exploit. They are specifically examining ways to use proxy forces and terror to destabilize the Israeli state and Israeli society. Iran is sharpening these concepts because it is increasingly confident that its “Axis of Resistance”—the collection of Iranian-backed partners and proxies, including Hamas, across the region—is winning the current war against Israel and could fight and win a larger war too. Iran will not be able to fight a war at this scale for the foreseeable future, to be sure. But this Iranian thinking reflects Tehran’s regional aspirations and the current tenor of regime discourse. This thinking also underscores the importance of seeing the Israel-Hamas war within the context of the broader Iranian effort to dominate the Middle East. Narrowly focusing on the situation in the Gaza Strip ignores the war’s long-term implications and risks for the United States and its partners.

Senior Iranian military officials are developing concepts for destroying Israel without having to defeat the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Iran recognizes the technological superiority of the IDF and the risk that an overt war could draw in the United States, which Iranian leaders desire to avoid. Iranian strategists are thus exploring how to use proxy forces and terror to disrupt the Israeli political and social order without triggering a full-scale war between Iran and Israel. Their thinking proceeds from the theory that destabilizing Israel would cause Jewish citizens to flee Israel and end the long-term viability of a Jewish state in Israel. Senior Iranian officials have begun discussing these ideas with greater specificity than ever before, even though they are proceeding from flawed assumptions. That Iran is seriously considering concepts that it is unlikely to be able to execute for years it at all is unsurprising; Iran has a decades-old strategic culture of exploring and pursuing ambitious and ideological objectives that are not immediately feasible.

How Battlefield Motorcycles and ‘Turtle Tanks’ Expose the Weaknesses of Russia’s Army - OPINION

Serhii Kuzan

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Russia has suffered heavy losses in both personnel and military materiel. The high rate of losses is forcing Moscow to send units into battle with improvised equipment, saving its limited resources until everything else has failed. It is a sign of weakness in the invading forces which can be overlooked by headlines about Russian advances on multiple fronts.

According to confirmed data from the Oryx project, as of May 1, 2024, Russia has lost 2,006 armored personnel carriers (APC) and armored fighting vehicles (AFV) destroyed, abandoned, or captured. As well as modern Russian armored personnel carriers like the BTR 80, this number includes many Soviet-era vehicles.

The situation with losses among infantry fighting vehicles is even worse. Since the beginning of the war in Russia, the Ukrainian Defence Forces have taken 3,967 units of equipment out of action, of which 2,879 were destroyed completely.

How an ICC arrest of Netanyahu could play out - Opinion

Dan Perry

The signs are mounting that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is weighing an indictment against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials over Israel’s conduct of its war against Hamas in Gaza. This would be an earthquake and could be seen as a case of selective justice that ends up helping the beleaguered prime minister politically.

The ICC, which was established in 2002, is more of a club of about 125 countries that tries to make the rules than a true manifestation of consensual “international law” — and it occupies a rather fuzzy position vis-à-vis non-member states like the United States and Israel.

With a rather modest prosecutor’s budget (about $185 million, of which only about half goes to the prosecutor’s office), it boasts only a handful of convictions, and it has never indicted the leader of a democratic country. It has gone after Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and some other miscreants from dictatorships, like former Libyan leader Moammar Ghadhafi’s son Saif. Netanyahu is already a criminal defendant at home on corruption charges and a tremendously unsympathetic figure to many, but he is not in that despotic league.

The war-crimes case against the leaders of Israel and Hamas is flawed

The gaza war is a diplomatic disaster for Israel, a military quagmire and a human tragedy. In has stepped Karim Khan, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (icc), who has accused Israeli and Hamas leaders of war crimes. He believes he is creating moral clarity, asserting the primacy of international law and thereby delivering justice. On all three counts he is likely to be disappointed.

On May 20th Mr Khan asked icc judges to issue five arrest warrants. Two target the brains behind Hamas’s atrocities: Muhammad Deif and Yahya Sinwar, holed up in Gaza; a third is for Ismail Haniyeh, its political chief, who is in Qatar. Mr Khan also asked for warrants for Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, and the defence minister, Yoav Gallant, whom he accuses of inflicting starvation, murder and extermination.

Hawks in Ukraine, Doves in Gaza: Joe Biden’s Strategic Confusion

Russell A. Berman

Ukraine and Israel are both embroiled in wars to defend their national sovereignties. Each has its own distinct set of historical, political, and military strategic challenges and unique national interests. Yet, each is simultaneously an important concern for American foreign policy because both countries depend on American support, and, most importantly, they each face an American adversary. Fighting to regain its territorial integrity, Ukraine confronts America’s rival Russia, while Israel is battling the proxy forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, where anti-Americanism is in the DNA of the regime.

From the standpoint of U.S. national interest, Ukraine and Gaza are two fronts of a single war in which the loose coalition of Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea hopes to degrade American power. Yet, in recent weeks, an asymmetry has crept into American policy regarding these two fronts. Until now, the Biden administration has tried to prevent Ukraine from taking escalatory steps that might provoke Russia, thereby willingly accepting Moscow’s red lines. However, a shift emerged when, on Secretary Bliniken’s recent visit to Kyiv, he suggested that Ukraine should be permitted to use American weapons to strike inside Russia in order to undercut supply lines to the front.

Wargames director Jackie Schneider on why cyber is one of 'the most interesting scholarly puzzles'

JACQUELYN SCHNEIDER: Those games still exist, and there's a whole community that deals with miniatures and wargames. But a lot of what I do is look at decision making and how individuals make decisions in uncertain conditions. So it’s more like a National Security Council sitting around a table and having those difficult conversations about what to do in a crisis.

CH: How is the gaming scenario set up?

JS: Generally, I organize people in groups of four to six, and I tell them to take a role. They're relatively small groups, so you get that really rich discussion about the crisis and the uncertainty.

Often I'll have a Head of State, a Minister of Finance, a Minister of War, or other similar roles. If we're doing a U.S.-specific war game, we’ll assign a Deputy Secretary of Defense, a Deputy Secretary of State, or a National Security Council advisor. Then, I’ll have them play those roles in the context of the game.

CH: When you look at the players’ decision making process, what kind of information are you drawing from these conversations?

JS: We actually don't get a lot of the good data about the conversations that they're having at the table. We rely on a few different data mechanisms. We give them response plans to fill out. The prompts are along the lines of: What are you doing? Why are you doing it? What are the means that you want to take? What are the risks about the plan that you're coming up with? That represents a kind of a group consensus.

New rocket rounds give Marines ways to stay hidden while firing

Todd South

Marines will soon carry an upgraded shoulder-fired rocket that they can launch from inside buildings or bunkers, giving them more options for devastating firepower.

Marine Corps Systems Command announced in May the acquisition of the M72 light assault weapon fire from Enclosure Munition.

The new munitions are the M72A8 anti-armor and M72A10 multipurpose, anti-structure munition.

The anti-armor option has a high-explosive charge warhead that improves armor penetration and the multipurpose round packs more punch to take out enemy structures.

The two rounds will replace the existing M72A7 light assault weapon anti-armor round. The five-year contract award amount has a ceiling of $498 million.

General Purpose Frigates: Avoiding Failure by Fixing a Troubled Start

Michael Shoebridge

In February, the Albanese government’s Deputy Prime Minister (and Defence Minister) Richard Marles announced that Defence would be taking delivery of the first of 11 new ‘general purpose frigates’ this decade, with three of the ships to be delivered to the Navy by 2034 after spending $11 billion.

He announced that Defence had ‘down selected’ four ship designs from four builders – the Spanish Navantia company’s ALFA3000, Germany’s Meko A-200 frigate built by TKMS, South Korea’s Daegu class FFX Batch II and III built by Hanwha and Japan’s Mogami 30FFM frigate built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. (That was actually 5 ships – two Korean ones made by two shipbuilders – a confusion in the surface combatant review that was the input to the minister’s announcement.)

And that’s when the trouble started. Mr Marles handed this framework over to Defence to turn a beer coaster sketch into a multi-billion dollar government project, delivering ships on a timeline that Defence struggles to achieve when buying office furniture, let alone 11 missile-equipped warships.