Think Tank Dialogue on the Quadrilateral Grouping: The ‘Quad-Plus Dialogue’- 2019, Sydney, Australia, February 19-21, 2019 (Report)
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(A Track 1.5 dialogue hosted by think tanks from Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S., and Quad-Plus Partner France)

Participants: Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA), The Heritage Foundation, the Vivekenanda International Foundation (VIF) and the French Institute of International Relations (FIIR).

Lt Gen RK Sawhney (Retd), Vice Adm Anil Chopra (Retd) and Amb Anil Wadhwa (Retd) represented the VIF in the Quad Plus Dialogue.

Points of Consensus/General Agreement
  1. The Quad should not try to be like other regional institutions:-
    • No need for formal dialogues and interactions with other institutions.
    • No need to dilute the Quad in endless meetings.
    • Nurture Quad’s relationship with self, not others.
  2. Quad is not an anti-China coalition but China’s one of the key common challenges for all four.
  3. The Quad is a product of the “New Asia,” doesn’t fit templates of the “old Asia.”
  4. Quad countries have been among the four most committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan.
  5. The Quad has already done the job its proponents want it to do: sending a warning to China-- Australian historian James Curran.
  6. Even if it pursues the modest goal of increasing strategic understanding and cooperation among the four democracies it’s worthwhile.
  7. Quad cooperation should not be focused on economics and gaining market advantage. Though mitigating security risks from economic projects is a legitimate agenda item. b
  8. The real strength of the Quad is the matrix of trilateral and bilateral relationships binding the four. All Quad bilateral relationships now feature 2+2 dialogues.
The Quad and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)
  1. While they are each crafting their own strategies for advancing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), the Quad is in surprising agreement about what the pillars of that regional order are and on the need to take more action to defend and promote them.
  2. Each country has articulated the same key principles of the FOIP, including:-
    • Freedom of navigation and overflight,
    • The rule of law,
    • Freedom from coercion,
    • Respect for sovereignty, freedom and independence,
    • Respect for international law,
    • Free Trade, Private enterprise, and open markets,
    • Importance of maintaining ASEAN Centrality,
    • Infrastructure and connectivity that is transparent, responsible, sustainable.
  3. Even where there was some divergence the countries have come closer into alignment. For example, the U.S. has come around to stressing the importance of “ASEAN centrality” in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), a point of emphasis for the other three originally lacking in the U.S. vision.
  4. Critically, the four also agree on what the FOIP is not:-
    • Not a China containment strategy,
    • Not synonymous with the Quad,
    • Not something new—key concepts and pillars all three have supported for decades,
    • Not about forcing those on the fence to choose a side; a sure way to get minimal buy in. China, by contrast, does force choices.)
Key Observations

Statements of principles and interests are important but not sufficient. Strategy needs to be well resourced. Good to say we can fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows. Much better to actually do it—and actually fly, sail, operate where it’s legal to do so.

  1. Japan is interested in moving Quad from a conceptual framework to an institutional framework.
  2. Japan is now using the phrase “Free, Open, and Inclusive Indo-Pacific.”
  3. Quad’s members should employ effective division of labor to promote Indo-Pacific strategy
  4. Pragmatic for the Quad to utilize existing institutional frameworks to advance agenda such as East Asia Summit (EAS), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
  5. May be useful for diplomats from the Quad to host joint meetings with ASEAN leaders on the sideline of EAS or APEC.
  1. Australia has Indian Ocean territories Cocos Islands, Christmas Island.
  2. Labor shadow defense and foreign ministers have endorsed the “valuable complimentary role” of the reborn Quad.
  3. The Quad’s strength is in its “lightness and frankness.” There is a virtue in letting the Quad unfold at its own pace.
  4. The group’s value is in large part symbolic. “We don’t need to find solutions to all the world’s problems.”
  1. India would like Quad support for joining APEC.
  2. India supports a more robust focus on maritime security and maritime domain awareness, including surveillance logistics infrastructure.
  3. The Quad should plan and exercise for contingencies that threaten Freedom of Navigation (FON).
  4. The Quad should set up mechanism for regular political consultations.
  5. India believes the Quad should do more to support ASAEN countries through assistance and security coop.
  6. India still doesn’t see the necessity of bringing Australia into the Malabar Grouping. But in any case, bilateral naval exercises are being conducted, the next one being scheduled for April 2019.
ASEAN and the Quad
  1. ASPI recently conducted a regional poll that found, contrary to popular belief, ASEAN does not view the Quad in a negative light, though they do have some concerns.
  2. ASPI findings are given in succeeding paragraphs.
  3. a. Poll: Support the Quad:-

    • 51% supportive,
    • 39% open to future support,
    • 10% not supportive,
    • Quad not seeking to replace ASEAN or ASEAN-centered regional architecture.

    b. Will Quad contribute to regional stability:-

    • 55% agree or strongly agree,
    • 31% on the fence,
    • 14% disagree or strongly disagree.

    c. The Quad is:-

    • 39% a welcome initiative,
    • 36% a vague idea,
    • 7% a dangerous irritant for China,
    • 5% an unnecessary distraction.

    d. Other ASEAN points of interest:-

    • Some 68% don’t believe Quad should be expanded,
    • Singapore is most worried that Quad will become “anti-China bulwark”,
    • China is perceived by ASEAN as a more reliable player because they “play the game”—constantly attending regional meetings, hosting ASEAN officials, and making them feel important,
    • Australian delegate: China is just trying to neutralize ASEAN; we’re trying to activate it. They have the much easier task.
France and the Quad
  1. France is a true “Indo-Pacific nation” with the second largest EEZ in the world and the first largest in Indo-Pacific.
  2. France maintains an interest in regional peace and security, multilateralism, freedom of commons, human rights and rule of law.
  3. It seeking to advance those pillars by:-
    • Leveraging regional partnerships. India and Australia most important, then Malaysia and Singapore.
    • Coordinating with EU partners.
    • Joining regional organizations.
    • Empowering overseas territories.
  4. French limitations:-
    • Fear of antagonizing China even as it remains very critical in some areas. Must walk fine line,
    • Many other issues closer to home and higher priority,
    • Fears risks of entrapment and overreach.
Quad on Afghanistan
  1. Australian view:-
    • Stability in Afghanistan forwards Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision,
    • Forwards all Quad members interest in counter-terrorism,
    • Credibility question—if will of international partners cannot be sustained to support gains, how can we be trusted elsewhere when we come under pressure.
  2. Indian view:-
    • Peace deal must be inclusive in nature. Taliban must accept progress and changes. Must accept will of Afghan people, reject violence, respect Afghan constitution.
    • More professional army than any Central Asian state.
    • Sustaining 30 casualties per day, yet fighting. Spirit binds the army.
    • If they try to Talibanize army, chance they could disintegrate into militias.
  3. US view:-
  4. Afghanistan has already become a training/advising/high-end counter-terrorist mission, as we do around the world,
  5. Talks is a process, not a single event,
  6. Two big questions—will Taliban talk to Afghan Government? Can we trust them?,
  7. US doesn’t have to trust Taliban. Afghan Government has to trust. Up to them to decide how much to trust,
  8. If Taliban control only 10.6% of population (Afghan Government 60% of population - SIGAR Report) that’s a failure?. Actually down 1.3% from last quarter report,
  9. Every tactical victory by Taliban isn’t defeat for U.S.,
  10. Proportional voting system is problematic,
  11. Ability of President to appoint provincial governors very problematic.
  12. We might tell Taliban, OK we’ll withdraw 3,000 troops if you talk to the Afghan Government. But we are still going to be in Central Asia, the Gulf, etc., and we’ll coming back if you don’t uphold your end of the deal.
Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and Missile Defense (MD)
  1. End of INF gives freedom to US to act in a way that deems fit, an offensive deterrent.
  2. MD Cooperation—defense development, research, procurement, repair, early warning, integration of sensors, shooters into one system,
  3. Most allies and partners won’t be excited about hosting. U.S. Working with allies to be able to rapidly deploy them to friendly territory - Guam, Diego Garcia. Does not need them permanently deployed to Okinawa. But maybe do regular exercises so that it can rapidly deploy in conflict scenarios.
  4. U.S. working arms control issues with PLA for 10 years in government and out. No interest in recreating arms control framework. Should still continue to try. But no expectation that they will want to engage on this. Never have demonstrated the slightest interest.
  5. Growing capabilities in MD likely to be overwhelmed by sheer pace of proliferation. MD won’t push large extensive attacks off the table and will therefore be of limited utility. Respond by strengthening deterrent capabilities - hub and spokes arrangement in Asia, long range offensive strike capabilities,
  6. Australia’s interest in theater/sea-based missile defense for forward-deployed troops. Might be useful in Darwin. Long range missile in Australia. would need more political buy-in. Public would have to be persuaded.
  7. Japan should ask to deploy THAAD with U.S. forces in Japan. Then seamless U.S.-Japan cooperation connecting mid-course to upper and lower tier terminal phases air defense system should be strengthened.
  8. In order to strengthen MD, coordination of not only interceptors but also sensor networks are indispensable. In this sense, strengthening terrestrial forward sensors deployed in South Korea and Japan will contribute not only to the defense of Japan, but also to the defense of Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S. homeland. Japan, U.S. and Australia should also advance technical cooperation in space-based sensor layers, such as the hosted payload of space-based kill assessment satellites and pre-boost phase defense technology such as “left of launch.”
  9. The Trump Administration's 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) proposes two new underwater-based, low-yield nuclear options - tactical trident and new nuclear Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM). These survivable underwater systems will provide effective deterrence and prompt strike power in this region.
  10. Japan needs to thoroughly conduct Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) so that U.S. submarines can concentrate on deterrent missions in the Western Pacific, and to reassure the U.S.
  11. Japanese, U.S. and Australian governments should establish joint R&D programs for offensive and defensive hypersonic technologies.
  12. All should consider defensive measures against hypersonic systems and also consider how to offset them by offensive tactical hypersonic systems. Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) has began research on element technologies of a Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP) from FY 2018. It has a range of 300–500 km, and can glide to its target using small attached wings. The target date for delivery to the Ground Self Defense Forces (GSDF) is 2026.
  13. The Woomera Test Range in Australia, in particular, has a lot of research experience in hypersonic technology with the U.S.’ White Sands Missile Range and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will contribute greatly to technology improvement.
Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)
  1. Three of the four states operate the P-8 Poseidon MPA. While Japan has chosen to build the Kawasaki P-1, its many years of operating the American-built P-3 Orion (which was also in the Australian inventory), mean that there is a shared base of standard operating procedures and experiences.
  2. As important, the recently signed Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) between the United States and India mean that each member of the Quad can share data with any other member through the Link-16 military tactical data link network.
  3. There is neither a single maritime monitoring authority, nor complete, 24/7, all-weather coverage of the world’s waterways and open ocean. Even where regions are under observation, states may not share that data for reasons of national security. improved MDA requires not only more and better coverage of the world’s oceans (and associated activity above and below the surface), but also more analytical capacity. Improvements in MDA will entail combining traditional methods with both space-based systems and UAVs
  4. In September 2018, India and France indicated they were developing a joint program of maritime surveillance satellites. The constellation of between eight and 10 satellites marks India’s most extensive joint space program with any other nation.
  5. Japan-Vietnam space cooperation has been increasing. More needed:-
    • Common MDA strategy for MDA in Quad,
    • Annual Dialogue devoted. Military to military technical working Group. Send recommendations to policy makers.
    • Joint co-development and coproduction of Solar Electric UAVs.
  6. US should be pressing to base 2-4 Coast Guard Cutters in Japan. Facilitate law enforcement operations in Senkakus, and to operate in South China Sea (SCS). Extending cooperation to local law enforcement elements in that part of the world. If resources weren’t an issue, USG would also be sending Coast Guard Cutters to Indian Ocean for joint operations with partner navies, Coast Guard aircraft maybe.
  7. An Indo–Pacific Regional Maritime Monitoring Authority:-
    • A central information clearing house, employing Automatic Identification System (AIS), Long Range Tracking & Identification (LRIT), but also data derived from space-based maritime surveillance systems,
    • A regional training center, for developing a cadre of intelligence analysts,
    • Regional MDA training, to familiarize the various states with each other’s concerns, operations, and training, tactics, and procedures.
  8. Two major ways ahead—technology sharing, develop common operating procedures. Need one country taking the lead. Primarily a peacetime activity, not as much about using in conflict with China. Chinese grey zone coercion is a peacetime challenge. Civilian cooperation, enhance ASEAN capabilities, coordination already effective in the region on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR). Infrastructure could be used to add on MDA pieces. Australia setting up data fusion center in regional country this year. Could be opportunity.
  1. Improve engagement with ASEAN and Plus partners, keep ASEAN centrality. Keep them in the loop. Hold Quad meetings on sidelines of ASEAN meetings, but limits to how much needed to engage or win them over.
  2. Quad vs Bilateral/Trilateral – Quad not just for security, but a basic force for good among like-minded democracies.
  3. Geographic definition of Indo-Pacific - all other Quad members frame Indo-Pacific to West Coast of Africa. U.S. stops at West Coast of India. Dictating strategy by Combat Commands (COCOM) problematic, especially if Indo-Pacific not a purely military concept.
  4. Hard to exclude Pakistan and Western Indian Ocean, where China’s activities and footprint growing. Ignore India’s concerns in Pacific. All Pacific Ocean, only half of Indian Ocean? About where China’s hegemony extending.
  5. Elevate Quad to ministerial level.
  6. Define and clarify Quad- FOIP relationship:-
    • Quad is not Indo-Pacific,
    • All do not need same FOIP strategies,
    • Each country shares vision for free and open Indo-Pacific,
    • Each country can pursue different strategies to promote/defend it.
  7. Get official Quad joint statement on FOIP core tenets:-
    • Freedom of navigation and overflight,
    • The rule of law, respect for international law,
    • Freedom from coercion,
    • Respect for sovereignty, freedom and independence,
    • Free Trade, Private enterprise, and open markets.
  8. Importance of maintaining ASEAN Centrality.
  9. Infrastructure and connectivity that is transparent, responsible, sustainable. Infrastructure cooperation - come up with statement of anti-bribery principles, get others to sign up for new standards.
  10. Joint Statements on specific issues. More regular consultations at lower levels.
  11. Quad leaders’ summit.
  12. Annual Quad space dialogue:-
    • Civil/science/space law/arms control.
    • Australia just set up space program. Already have space dialogues with others.
    • Common policy documents. Academic exchange.
  13. Pool resources for maritime security assistance, HA/DR. force. Take military edge off.
  14. Training and capacity building assistance. Andamans great location for info-sharing center.
  15. Strategy for MDA in Quad:-
    • Annual Dialogue devoted. Military to military technical working Group. Send recommendations to policy makers.
    • Joint co-development and coproduction. Solar electric UAVs.
    • ASW difficult, most extreme technology. Hurdles. Should focus on cooperation in law enforcement. A lot easier. Less heartburn.
    • Civilian coop. Enhance ASEAN capabilities. Much coordination already in region on HA/DR relief. Infrastructure could be used to add on MDA pieces.
    • Australia setting up data fusion center in regional country this year. Could be opportunity.
    • US should be pressing to base 2-4 Coast Guard Cutters in Japan. Facilitate law enforcement operations in Senkaku Islands, allows operations in SCS. Extending cooperation to local law enforcement elements in that part of the world. If resources weren’t an issue, USG would also be sending Coast Guard Cutters to Indian Ocean for joint operations with partner navies. Tougher sell/haul for Indian Ocean but Coast Guard aircraft maybe.
  16. INF, Missiles:-
    • Info-sharing, acquisitions, operational cooperation.
    • Guam, Diego Garcia. Working with allies to be able to rapidly deploy them to friendly territory. Don’t need them permanently deployed to Okinawa. But maybe we do regular exercises. Familiarity. So that we can rapidly deploy in conflict scenarios.
    • Most allies and partners won’t be excited about hosting. Not a deal breaker.
Next Meeting
  • Infrastructure as next topic?
  • Quad plus—further engagement with others?
  • Cyber experts? cyber cooperation as discussion?
  • Legal expeditionary corps, voluntary NGOs, advisors, non-governmental body of people to bring expertise to bear?
  • What form will quad take:-

o Not pathetically dependent on anyone, independent actors, seeking harmony and diversity?
o Rather than trying to mold a new Asia, new Indo-Pacific to 20th century, embarking on an adventurous journey. creating something not attempted earlier.
o Dialogue on digital platforms/infrastructure?
o Follow-on panel on missile defense cooperation?
o External security issues—Iran, Taiwan?
o Democracy/human rights promotion?
o Not just “security”, but a broader, basic force for good among like-minded democracies?

Event Date 
February 20, 2019

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