Oceania Military Guide

  • Australia
  • France - L'Outre-mer
  • New Zealand
  • United States
  • Melanesia
  • Fiji
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Solomon Islands
  • Vanuatu
  • Bougainville
  • New Caledonia
  • Polynesia
  • Samoa [Western]
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • American Samoa
  • Baker Island
  • Cook Islands
  • French Polynesia
  • Hawaii, Kingdom
  • Howland Island
  • Jarvis Island
  • Johnston Atoll
  • Kingman Reef
  • Midway Atoll
  • Minerva Reefs
  • Niue
  • Palmyra Atoll
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • Rapanui [Easter Island]
  • Swains Island
  • Tokelau
  • Wallis and Futuna
  • Micronesia
  • Kiribati
  • Micronesia [FSM]
  • Nauru
  • Palau, Republic
  • Bonin Is. / Ogasawara
  • Guam
  • Mariana Islands (CNMI)
  • Marshall Islands (RMI)
  • Wake Island

  • Other
  • Clipperton
  • Coral Sea
  • Galapagos

  • In George Orwell's 1984 Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. The wars of Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania never existed.

    Oceania is a vast area of the Central and Western Pacific Ocean that includes the state of Hawaii, a number of U.S. territories, and the many small island nations that make up Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, an area of roughly 15 million square miles. THE SHEER SIZE of Oceania is impressive, as is the scope of the region's contrasts. The Pacffic is the biggest and deepest of the world's oceans and is the earth's largest single geographic feature. It occupies more than one-third of the globe's surface, an area greater than all of the world's landmasses lumped together.

    Within the Pacific region there are about 25,000 islands, more than one-half of the world's total. The discrepancy between land and sea, however, is great. Collectively, the islands comprise somewhat more than 1.6 million square kilometers, but those islands are set in a sea area of more than 88 million square kilometers. The Pacffic stretches approximately 16,000 kilometers along the equator, and the north-to-south expanse from the Bering Strait to the Antarctic Circle is about 15,000 kilometers.

    The political entities of the Pacific islands are characterized by large exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and, in the main, very small land areas. The total area of the region’s EEZs is estimated to be 30 569 000 km2, equivalent to about 28 percent of the world’s EEZ area. The land area is 552 789 km2, of which 461 690 km2 (84 percent) is in Papua New Guinea.

    In general, the islands increase in size from east to west. Most islands rise steeply from the deep ocean floor and have very little underwater shelf area. Coral reefs characteristically surround the islands, either close to the shore (fringing reef) or further offshore (barrier reef), in which case a coastal lagoon is enclosed. The area includes many atolls, which are the remnant barrier reefs of islands that have subsided. Some of the more recent islands in the area lack coral reefs.

    Pacific Island Countries (PICs) provide little deterrence to illegal activity in their EEZs. None of the Micronesian Countries (MICs) have a military and their police have very limited capabilities. Improved coordination of enforcement operations is a key priority to enhance maritime security in the region, as well as the urgent need for a comprehensive capability needs assessment, improvements in governance, deeper community engagement in maritime security initiatives, and the need to leverage key regional and international meetings to raise awareness of Pacific Ocean security concerns.

    Fiji's coup in 2006 was its fourth in 20 years. It has led to a worrying decline in standards of governance in Fiji and is also impacting upon the nation's economic health as the country's economy responds to political turmoil. Since 2003, Australia has provided both security and governance support to the Government of the Solomon Islands, following on from a period when ethnic tensions boiled over and made the proper operation of government untenable. Elsewhere, the riots in Vanuatu in 2007 and Tonga in 2006 highlight the sometimes fragile security situation in otherwise peaceful countries.

    Micronesian economies are not diverse and are reliant on fishing. The islands of Micronesia are small and have little arable land (less than 10%) so that agriculture is mostly subsistence farming, although there is some copra production. Mineral wealth is limited to high-grade phosphate on some islands, and Palau has a small amount of gold. Palau also has a small tourism industry. There is limited infrastructure in Micronesia. Populations of MICs are small; the FSM has the largest population at 107,862. The FSM has the highest GDP at $277 million (including grants). Per capita GDP in Micronesia is less than $3,000, except on Palau where it is $7,600.

    Melanesia is that part of the Southwest Pacific, northeast of Australia around Borneo. Melanesia, meaning the "black islands," derives from the word melanin, which is the chemical in the skin that accounts for dark pigmentation—a characteristic shared by Melanesians. The islands that are clearly Melanesian are, from west to east: the entire island of New Guinea and its outliers to the east; the Solomon Islands; New Caledonia; and the islands that make up Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides). Fiji is usually included as part of Melanesia.

    Polynesia ("many islands") is geographically the largest of the Pacific's cultural areas, and distances between island groups are by far the greatest. Polynesia is defined as a triangle drawn from Hawaii in the north, Easter Island in the southeast, and New Zealand in the southwest. However, the western leg of the triangle between New Zealand and Hawaii cannot be a straight line. Using a bit of license, the cartographer must make the line bulge to the west to include Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands) with the rest of Polynesia.

    Oceania is one of the last remaining profitable tuna fisheries in the world. The United Nations (UN) reports that sixty four percent of the total world catch of the principal market tuna species were taken from the Pacific in 2003 and that 11 million tons of fish weretaken from the Western Central Pacific in 2004. But, Pacific fishery managers are concerned that their waters will be targeted by increasing numbers of illegal fishers using moresophisticated methods.

    Pacific countries are mindful of not offending China given Beijing’s significant economic clout. China’s concessional loans and grants in the Pacific amounted to $1.5bn between 2006 and 2017, compared with Taiwan’s $271m. In addition to Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

    Australia, New Zealand, France and the U.S. meet regularly at Quadrilateral Defense Coordination Talks to discuss maritime security assistance issues and efforts in Oceania. There are no specific engagement or security assistance activities described for Oceaniain the PACOM Theater Security Cooperation Plan (TSCP). After the UNCLOS established the authority for coastal states to extend exclusiveeconomic rights from 12nm out to 200nm in 1982, Australia and New Zealand assessed themaritime patrol needs of PICs and determined that PICs had unsuitable or no patrol assets toprotect these expanded rights, or EEZs. In response, Australia created a Defence Cooperation Project (DCP) that delivered patrol boats, associated infrastructure and crew training to PICs. The program is run by the Pacific Patrol Boat (PPB) Systems Project Office of the Royal Australian Navy.

    The US and its allies are increasing development aid to the island nations of the Pacific to counter China’s growing economic clout in the region, while a newly formed bipartisan caucus in the US Congress has introduced a draft law seeking to boost Washington’s presence in the region. If passed, the Blue Pacific Act will allocate $1bn in funding for each of the next five years with the aims of increasing maritime security cooperation as well as supporting regional economic and social development.

    They may be small in population and landmass, but they are large ocean nations. As a result, they are increasingly on the region’s radar and carry outsized weight in global affairs. Each Pacific Island country has both unique and shared challenges. And each country develops its own solutions to some problems, and seeks shared solutions for others.

    Ecuador has, over the past three decades or so, aggressively promoted organized tourism in the Galapagos, with tourist ships becoming so frequent as to almost inundate and overwhelm the delicate ecology of the central islands.

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