Indo-Pacific View

P. S. Davidson Admiral, U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Indo-Pacific Defense FORUM’s 2018 fourth-quarter edition on maritime modernization. 

Today, Indo-Pacific nations face many complex maritime challenges that underpin regional security, including invasion threats by aggressive neighbors;  crimes, such as human trafficking, piracy, and illegal fishing; and maritime and territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas. To maintain peace, the United States and its allies and partners are working together to increase their collective maritime military capacity to preserve freedom of the seas, deter conflict and coercion, and promote adherence to international standards, laws, and norms.  

In response to the upswing in assertive posturing and naval power-projection in the region, most notably by China, nations are increasing defense spending to modernize their maritime forces, acquiring submarines, warships, patrol boats, and surveillance aircraft. 

In this edition of FORUM, three guest authors analyze China’s ambitions as a maritime power. First, Dr. Andrew S. Erickson, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, explains the significance of the expansion of China’s three sea forces. China specialist Liza Tobin, who works at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, provides a thoughtful overview of the institutional reforms behind China’s maritime strategy. Retired Republic of Korea Navy Capt. Sukjoon Yoon presents opportunities for nations such as Australia and South Korea to help expand the naval capabilities of Southeast Asian nations.

FORUM rounds out this issue with a staff-written article that emphasizes the critical role international sanctions will continue to play against North Korea until its denuclearization is complete. Despite scattered efforts to skirt the measures, the concerted sanctions proved instrumental in pressuring North Korea to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Ensuring compliance will require not only multinational maritime cooperation among Indo-Pacific nations but also a global recognition of the shared duty to enforce the ongoing sanctions until the desired end state is achieved.

I hope this edition propels the regional conversation on these leading maritime challenges, and I welcome your comments. Please contact the FORUM staff at with your perspectives.

All the best,

P. S. Davidson

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command