US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Jan 2015 to May 2015
: Annual US-Philippine Balikatan Exercise is held adjacent to the South China Sea. One of the largest in the series, it deploys 6,500 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos.
: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scot Marciel visits the Philippines, discussing South China Sea tensions and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
: US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus meets top Vietnamese Army officials. Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty lauds growing defense ties between the two countries, particularly in maritime safety and security.
: In a speech at Arizona State University, Defense Secretary Ash Carter asks the Philippines for eight locations as possible sites for US troops to rotate for joint exercises under the Comprehensive Enhanced Defense Agreement.
: Vietnamese and US navies engage in their annual exercise off Danang, central Vietnam. Maritime security and search and rescue activities are emphasized.
: Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attend the funeral of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew, who died at age 91.
March 21, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama, visiting Cambodia, urges high school girls to finish their education. Prime Minister Hen Sen objects to the cost of such a request, insisting that the US should foot the bill for such continued education.
: Commander of the US Seventh Fleet at a military exposition in Malaysia calls on Southeast Asian navies to form a combined naval patrol force for the South China Sea.
: US State Department states it is deeply concerned about the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter, Naral Azzah Anwar for sedition. She made remarks in Parliament protesting the conviction of her father.
: US voices concerns to Vietnam about Hanoi’s permission for Russia to use Cam Ranh Bay to refuel nuclear-capable bomber flights.
: Responding to a petition asking the US to make the release of Anwar Ibrahim a top priority for US-Malaysian relations, the White House expresses disappointment in Anwar’s jailing but states the US is committed to developing a comprehensive partnership with Malaysia.
: Gen. Vincent Books, commander, US Army Pacific, states that Russia conducted provocative flights adjacent to Guam. The Russian planes were refueled by tanker aircraft flying from Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.
: US, Thailand, and Singapore hold the annual Cope Thunder joint air exercise in Thailand with 400 American personnel, 1,000 from Singapore and Thailand, and 84 aircraft.
: US Pacific Command Commander-designate Adm. Harry Harris states that the India-US partnership is a “key component” of the US rebalance to Asia and that the US supports India’s increased presence in the South China Sea.
: US Joint Special Operations Command in Mindanao ends its 13-year operations, though some US Special Forces remain to provide advice at a higher echelon of command.
: Philippine government announces the US Navy paid $52 million in reparations for the damage a minesweeper caused to a protected reef two years ago. Additionally, the US government will assist in the upgrade of a Philippine Coast Guard station on the reef.
: US flies its most advanced surveillance plane, the P-8A Poseidon, over the South China Sea with Philippine soldiers on board for familiarization.
: In Washington, Singapore and the US agree to increase anti-terror cooperation at the third US-Singapore Strategic Partner Dialogue.
: Cobra Gold 2015 is held in Thailand. The US sends a contingent of 3,000, smaller than last year because of political tensions over the May 2014 Thai military coup.
: US and Laos co-host a meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative, including the five lower Mekong countries and major donors from both the public and private sectors.
: Reuters reports that US Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Robert Thomas stated the US would welcome the extension of Japanese air patrols into the South China Sea.
: Secretary Russel delivers an address on the Obama administration’s rebalance policy to the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. He criticizes Phnom Penh’s failure to push through reforms necessary to promote foreign investment.
: Secretary Russel in Bangkok at Chulalongkorn University calls on the military government to end martial law, restore civil rights, and hasten Thailand’s return to democracy.
: US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius states that defense cooperation between the two countries will focus on coast guards.
: In a press briefing in Kuala Lumpur, Assistant Secretary Russel emphasizes Malaysia’s important role as this year’s ASEAN chair in addressing South China Sea issues.
: US and Philippines hold their fifth annual bilateral strategic dialogue in Manila, focusing on the South China Sea disputes.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel visits Manila, Kula Lumpur, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski leads a delegation to Nay Pyi Taw for a dialogue on democratic reform, media freedom, and labor rights; he requests access to conflict areas for humanitarian assistance.
: US Embassy in Manila announces the sale of two C-130s to the Philippine Air Force to enhance its maritime domain awareness, especially for humanitarian purposes and disaster relief.
: US Embassy in Laos donates $6.5 million for people with disabilities through the US Agency for International Development.
: Indonesian and US defense officials sign an agreement for Washington to assist the Indonesian Ministry of Defense in developing strategies to enhance the latter’s performance through institutional reforms.
: US Embassy in Jakarta issues a security alert urging visitors to be vigilant. Without specifying the cause, Indonesian and US authorities have expressed concern about radicalized Indonesians returning from Iraq and Syria.
: US Navy vessel using acoustic technology recovers several bodies from the ill-fated Air Asia Flight 8501 that crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28.