GUEST BLOG: Ben Morgan – Pacific Intelligence Update


A simple explanation of this week’s military and political developments in the Pacific

Kevin Rudd’s warning for the Pacific 

Kevin Rudd, ex-Prime Minister of Australia and now ambassador to the United States sounded a warning about Sino-American competition last week.  Speaking with Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Rudd who speaks Mandarin and has studied China extensively spoke about the risk of the region falling into war by accident. 

He told the interviewer that “The overall state of the United States-China relationship is in bad strategic repair” and that because Australia was an ally of United States and trading partner of China it has a role to play encouraging improvement in the relationship stating Australia needs “… to encourage both Beijing and Washington to move in the direction of a new strategic framework of managed strategic competition.”

Rudd’s comments are important, Australia is a key voice in the Pacific region and must use that position judiciously to help manage the Sino-American relationship because nobody wants a large war in the Pacific; and the only way to prevent escalation towards one is careful diplomacy backed by military preparedness and deterrence. Australia plays a key role in both.

United States plans to increase foreign aid in Micronesia 

The White House recently stated that it plans for the United States to spend an extra $ 7.1 billion in Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands.  Further, that this money is part of a strategy to compete against Chinese influence in the region.  

The proposed increase in support for coincides with outgoing President of the Federated States of Micronesia, David Paneulo publicly criticising China’s activities in the region.  He stated that the Chinese had threatened him personally and were actively working to de-stabilise Micronesia.

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This situation has multiple political layers to ‘unpick’ because although China and the United States are competing for influence in the area; and will invest money to improve relationships there is another political layer that anybody interested in Pacific security needs to consider; that the smaller states in the Pacific have very limited resources and foreign aid is a key income source. This situation financially incentivises scaremongering and playing sides off against each other, and as tensions in the region increase this type of behaviour contributes to the risk of accidental conflict.  

This may not be Panuelo’s game but it is interesting that his statement was made at the same time the White House was negotiating the increase in funding, a point noted by Robert Underwood retired delegate for Guam in the United States House of Representatives.  Underwood is an expert on Micronesia and did not discount Panuelo’s concerns stating that “There is a secessionist movement; there is a Yap independence movement, there is the Pohnpei independence movement and it is rumoured that some of it has been fed by Chinese agents” , however he suggested taking a balanced approach to discussions reminding people that a large United States aid package will change “the tenor of the conversation about China” and suggesting that the situation needs to be managed carefully.  

The key point is that Sino-American competition is real; and must be managed responsibly to avoid the risk of the region slipping accidently into war. This is a reason that encouraging good governance in smaller Pacific states is so important, without good governance there is more corruption and secrecy in government undermining trust and confidence that in turn makes statecraft more difficult. 

Australia buys Tomahawk cruise missiles

Australia plans to purchase 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States.  The $ 895 million deal started in 2021 and has recently been approved by the State Department and now only requires Congressional approval.  

The purchase is linked to the AUKUS submarine deal, Tomahawk being a weapon system used by the Virginia Class submarines that Australia will start to acquire over the next five years. 

Richard Marles, Australian Minister of Defence told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the purchase will let Australia “…reach out beyond our shores further and that’s ultimately how we are able to keep Australia safe”.  

And; the Minister is correct about Australia being able to reach out further beyond it shores because depending on the variant Tomahawk missiles can hit targets up-to 1600 km away, and are extensively tested in combat.

The other important detail is that even before nuclear-powered submarines join the fleet; Australia will be able to deploy the weapons on their Hobart Class destroyers.  When the intention to buy these missiles was announced by then Prime Minister, Scott Morrison in 2021 he stated these weapons would be used on the Hobarts.   The addition of Tomahawk to these already powerful warships will rapidly provide the Royal Australian Navy with a long-range precision strike capability against land-based targets.  Putting this into context, a Hobart Class destroyer or a Virginia Class submarine could fire Tomahawk missiles from Cairns and hit targets across Papua New Guinea; or from Brisbane could hit targets in New Caledonia.  And; the missiles are accurate enough to target an individual house. On a destroyer these weapons are powerful; and on the new Virginia Class submarines; able to move stealthily into far away operational areas their capabilities will be even more dangerous for potential enemies. 

Although this deal has been ‘on the table’ for a long-time the fact that it is being closed at this time will be noted; and a cause for concern in China.  Another American ally in the Pacific developing a long-range strike capability with Tomahawk makes military activity in the region riskier. 

West Papuan independence

The island of Papua New Guinea is divided roughly in half, the eastern half being Papua New Guinea and the western half an Indonesian province called Irian Jaya; or West Papua to those that feel this island in Melanesia should not be part of Indonesia.

Although West Papuan independence is a cause that is little known outside of Melanesia, there is a war being fought on the island. It is one of the region’s secret wars, Indonesia is not keen to publicise it and the mineral wealth of the area means that it is good business for other countries to ‘look the other way’ as long as Indonesian security forces can keep the mines open.  This situation has historical parallels with both Bougainville and East Timor, countries in which ordinary people suffered through long wars of independence, while in the opinion of many experts mining and resource companies made money because regional powers were unwilling to support independence discussions. In both areas, peace-keeping and rebuilding these communities began only after extreme suffering and both Indonesia and Papua New Guinea were exhausted.  

In Melanesia though, people know about the war and aren’t ‘looking the other way’ and in a recent column we noted Sitiveni Rabuka’s call for West Papuan representation on the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a sub-committee of the Pacific Island Forum. Then last week Free West Papua called for Pacific nations support in raising international concern about heavy-handed Indonesian security forces activity.  Reuters recently reporting that Indonesian security forces fired into a rioting crowd killing ten people and injuring more than twenty others. An incident that Free West Papua has requested other states protest to Indonesia about.

While details of the incident are not confirmed and there will inevitably be two sides to the situation. The key point to note is that during the 1980s and 1990s when wars for Bougainvillian and East Timorese independence were being fought; the region’s geo-political and military balance was different.  Although, Soviet-American competition existed in the 1980s, the Soviet Union’s ability to influence or project power into the Pacific was minimal. 

Today in an age of Sino-American competition things are different, unlike the Soviets, China has the ability to project both military power and political influence into the region.  Therefore, conflicts like the question of West Papuan independence need to managed more carefully, transparently and with a collective security focus because secret wars all to often become proxy wars; and proxy wars can become real wars.  


Ben Morgan is a bored Gen Xer and TDBs military blogger 


  1. …and the Unintended Supreme Irony Award for this week goes to Ukraine expert Ben…

    “proxy wars can become real wars”–no shit!

    West Papua ranks up there with Palestine in the worlds shamefully ignored political struggles.

  2. “GUEST BLOG: Ben Morgan – Pacific Intelligence Update”
    And did you find any? Isn’t that where “Chieeena” is as ‘China’ is pronounced by a weird, orange painted, narcissistic sociopath who’s likely about to go to prison because his stupendousness got in the way of his awesomeness. And here’s the kicker. He might also just be the sanest of them all. Think about that.
    If the Mafia criminal elite AKA NATO and its alliances and allegiance’s were to instead drop large sacks of LSD, Ecstasy pills, puppies, kittens, stuffed toys for the Vegans and bottled water on the warring factions there’d be immediate peace. But there’s no money in peace though is there.
    The Guardian.
    “EU seals deal to supply Ukraine with a million rounds of shells”
    It’s worth noting that the air to air missiles used to shoot down those balloons cost the U$A tax payer $400,000 U$ each. $400K would buy a lot of E and LSD man and you don’t need to pop anyone’s balloon in the process.
    This absurd, greed motivated ‘war’ is a deviation from sanity. It’s a lunatic alternate reality that I don’t fucking want intruding into my beautiful life nor yours either. The insane, reality-defying madness that’s two countries warring in this day and age is entirely about small cocks. If drugs aren’t your thing then how about instead of spending billions on killing machines how about instead spending that money developing successful lab-grown, big-cock-transplant procedures? One could be left to wheel barrow that bad boy around all day long and never need to fire a shot ever again. One could just spend their time taking pictures of one’s cock rolled out along the kitchen table. The images of which might bring back Twitters lost souls. Gigantic vaginas for the war-girl nuts. Think of thatcher? Lab cook up a vagina the size of a paddling pool then slap it on? The Argentinians would still be partying up on the Falklands. helen clark? Big jen shipely? judith collins? paula bennet? Imagine ruth richardson? Big Dong brash? Jonk ‘The Boner King’ key? Said while tugging someone’s hair “Suck my sav now would would ya? Yeah I’ll let ya and I won’t bill ya neither. ” Someone asks “Where’s Luxon? ” Someone else replies “Aw, he’s gonna be late. He fell over his cock trying to get what he calls his Big Smooth Anaconda into the taxi.” Big Jizz brownlee. That’s his cock he carries around allllll roooolllled uuuuup in studs and leathers where we might think his fat guts is.
    Since safety was of the utmost concern, after all, that’s why war. “The drivers were un drugged- and the troops had lost their air of urgency-while others began to giggle. “
    “Video documentary of the ‘Moneybags’ Trial, when volunteer subjects from 41 Royal Marine Commando engaged in a field exercise after imbibing the hallucinogen LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) at Porton, 27 November – 4 December 1964.”
    I rest my case.

  3. Emperor Xi has big plans for the South Pacific. A grand holiday paradise for the CCP elite. Cruises and holiday resorts for the Xi and his friends. Welcome to Club Dead. Brought to you by the PLA Navy.


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