MINI-THREAD: Yesterday (15/5) at Zhoushan, the PLA Eastern Theater Command Navy dispatched the 38th Escort Task Force for counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. Notably, destroyer Nanjing debuts for such mission. My updated table below.…
My first observation is that from 2019, the composition of a typical ETF has stabilized to 1 destroyer, 1 frigate and 1 replenishment oiler. Prior to that, shortfalls in destroyers would mean either 2 frigates were deployed, or that there'll be LPDs filling the slot sometimes. 1/
Second observation is the PLA Navy's increased fleet capacity accords the luxury of dispatching different ships each time, unlike in the past (up until the end of 2017) when the same ship would be deployed again. 2/
From 2019 onward, the Xi'an was the last Type-052C destroyer deployed for the mission (32ETF). From 33ETF onward till this latest mission, it has been the Type-052D being deployed, which appears to hint at the PLA Navy's satisfaction with and confidence in D variant. 3/
From 2014 onward, it appears that the 3 PLA Navy fleets no longer have to intermingle assets to cobble up the ETF. Each ETF is composed of assets from the same fleet. And successive ETF deployments are rotated between the 3 fleets. 4/
Clearly, the PLA Navy's growing fleet capacity paid off handsomely. Besides helping to sustain Beijing's naval presence in the Indian Ocean, this also allows the opportunity for ships to undergo scheduled downtime while other available assets can take their place. 5/
Operationally and tactically, the rotation of assets (and presumably, crews) allows each fleet, each ship and its crew the opportunity to expose themselves to long-distance voyages and out-of-area missions. This goes a long way in building bluewater combat capabilities. 6/
For a navy that has not seen real combat since 1988, such out-of-area missions provide valuable opportunity to build crew's proficiency and confidence in operating faraway from home bases, and these lessons and experiences contribute to other forms of combat training. 7/
These ETF deployments therefore very plausibly serve as precursor training for the PLA Navy's training cruises in the Western Pacific, especially beyond the First Island Chain and short of the Second Island Chain, which is the envisaged future naval campaign theater. 8/
At the same time, these ETF deployments help project Beijing's presence more visibly in the Indian Ocean, besides the benefit of promoting PRC's role as a global security player through such defense diplomacy activities. The benefits derived from ETFs are multifaceted. END

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More from @CollinSLKoh

9 Apr
THREAD: following reports of PLA Navy Type-022 Houbei catamaran missile fast attack craft harassing a motorboat chartered by ABS-CBN journalists in the Spratlys, Beijing's pretense about just using "white hulls" to promote SCS peace and stability is well over. Context is impt.
In recent years, especially after the disparate PRC maritime law enforcement agencies were unified under a single China Coast Guard, there has been internal debate within the agency about the challenges they face when carrying out maritime sovereignty and rights protection. 1/
One of the complaints within CCG is that, while PRC has been trying to "foster stability" by using "white hulls" to spearhead maritime sovereignty and rights protection duties, they often encounter navies of the SCS rivals, putting them at disadvantage, or so they claimed. 2/
Read 24 tweets
16 Feb
That's a load of crap, if you bother to dig out the list of transgressions which took place since late 2016. Crying victim and blame-push in order to justify asking Americans to pay to keep VFA? Want to have your cake and eat it, I suppose.…
Exhibit 1: “It is not enough that China now gives the impression that it is giving ‘permission’ to our fisherfolk to fish in the waters around the shoal… giving permission is an act of ownership, it should not stop our claim of ownership over the shoal.”…
Exhibit 2: "He told us we should not be overly celebrating, because we might offend China," Lorenzana.…
Read 8 tweets
24 Jan
@fravel Thank you Professor Taylor. Under Ch3, clause 20, the CCG is authorized to order foreign organizations or individuals to cease such unlawful activities or to dismantle/remove the structures, floating or fixed, within waters and on islands and reefs under national jurisdiction...
@fravel And the subsequent mention is that if the foreign organizations or individuals fail to heed those orders, CCG is authorized to stop those activities (i.e. construction of those structures) or forcibly dismantle/remove them...
@fravel This clause gives "stability-inducing cover" to CCG, because it first mandates CCG to order the other party to desist from constructing/emplacing those structures, and failing which, escalate the action to stop such activities or forcibly dismantling/removing those structures...
Read 11 tweets
22 Jan
THREAD: The 25th Standing Committee session of PRC's 13th National People's Congress passed the Coast Guard Law, which has been under deliberation and opened to "public consultation" for the past few months since last year. Some key takes below.…
1. There has been much reported in the press focusing on the authorization of CCG to open fire at foreign vessels. The first that came to my mind is that beyond how it could impact regional maritime flashpoints e.g. SCS disputes, it's a common practice worldwide anyway. 1/
2. Authorizing MLE agencies to open fire in the course of their law enforcement and sovereignty assertion duties is nothing new, since coastal states have had domestic laws governing such provisions. In 2018, Vietnam passed its new coast guard law that outlines the same. 2/
Read 32 tweets
14 Jan
THREAD: Since there's no background context provided here, I shall chip in to dispel the notion that the SCS arbitration brought forth by then Aquino Administration against Beijing in 2013 is "destabilizing" as claimed here.
Scarborough Shoal falls within Philippine EEZ. Due to its capacity shortfalls in enforcing fishery protection, Manila's enforcement in the shoal against foreign fishermen operating there had at best been intermittent throughout the decades. 1/
If one bothers to catalogue the instances of maritime activities in Scarborough Shoal, it's possible to uncover instances where PH maritime forces managed to apprehend PRC fishermen in the shoal. Beijing would protest but nothing more than that. 2/
Read 19 tweets
12 Jan
It's certainly more than 50% efficacy as reported last month. Though barely more so, by 0.4%.… ImageImage
Meanwhile, you can count on GT to strike a very upbeat tone that most likely won't help ameliorate public concerns about transparency over Beijing's vaccine data, nor will it help ameliorate negative public acceptance in several countries e.g. Philippines.…
“I’m not rejecting vaccines, I’m rejecting Sinovac’s,” said Yusdeny Lanasakti, an East Java doctor who is worried about the vaccine’s efficacy.…
Read 4 tweets

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