26 September 2017

USA: USS Bonhomme Richard returns to Sasebo after 4-month patrol

By MC2 Diana Quinlan, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) passes Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Kirisame (DD 104) upon its return to Sasebo, Sept. 25. (U.S. Navy/MC1 David R. Krigbaum) >>

SASEBO, Japan - The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) returned to Sasebo, Japan, after completing a four-month deployment in the 7th Fleet area of operations, Sept. 25.

While deployed to the South Pacific, Bonhomme Richard, with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), participated in the bilateral, biennial U.S.-Australia exercise Talisman Saber 2017, completed amphibious integration training (AIT), successfully certified during the 31st MEU's certification exercise (CERTEX) and completed an amphibious maritime warfare (AMW) evaluation.

Additionally, Bonhomme Richard conducted port visits to Australia's cities of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, during which many Sailors and Marines participated in community service projects, including visits to children's hospitals and care centers for underprivileged and disabled members of the local communities. Alongside the multiple COMREL events, the crew also hosted several ship tours to allow Australian allies a look into life aboard a U.S. naval amphibious vessel.

News Report: New Korean Conflict Would Kill At Least 20,000 South Koreans Daily - US General

Hours after it was revealed South Korean President Moon Jae-in sanctioned supersonic US B-1B Lancers to fly north of the demilitarized zone off the North Korean coast, a former US general said the Pentagon estimates 20,000 people would be killed per day in South Korea should war break out on the peninsula, CNBC reports.

US President Donald Trump vowed the US would “totally destroy” North Korea in an armed conflict, but the profile of that conflict created by analysts within his own DoD finds it wouldn’t be like the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the combat operation to remove Muammar Gaddafi from leadership in Libya, where armed opposition to US forces was meek.

"It wouldn’t remotely resemble" those conflicts, retired US Air Force Brig. Gen. Rob Givens told the Los Angeles Times Monday. According to Givens, internal Pentagon forecasts put the death toll at 20,000 per day in South Korea; the figure that does not include casualties inflicted upon North Korea’s population of 27 to 28 million people.

News Report: Mattis Arrives in India to Discuss Troubled Arms Deals, Role in Afghanistan

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has arrived in New Delhi to discuss arms sales and India’s involvement in Afghanistan in his first visit since Donald Trump became president of the United States.

Mattis arrived in India late Monday to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who assumed office earlier in September.

"India from our perspective is clearly a pillar of regional stability and security: we share a common vision for a peaceful and prosperous future in the Indo-Pacific region," Mattis said in an interview during his flight, according to the Gulf Times.

According to various media reports, there are two major topics on Mattis's agenda: arms sales and Afghanistan.

In general, India is in need of a sizable and diverse fleet of planes, drones and helicopters. The issue is complicated by Modi's "Make in India" policy, under which India seeks to replace off-the-shelf purchases of military tech with the establishment of joint production on Indian soil. Some experts argue New Delhi actually seeks to acquire the technology itself, something the US is reluctant to provide.

News Report: North Korea Claims US Has Declared War

Margaret Besheer

UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Monday the United States has declared war on his country and Pyongyang would take counter-actions if threatened, including shooting down American war planes in the region.

Ri directly linked U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments Saturday night on social media platform Twitter to the threat.

In a tweet late Saturday responding to Ri’s United Nations General Assembly speech earlier in the day, Trump wrote: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!”

On Monday, North Korea's foreign minister responded:

“Given the fact that this comes from someone who is currently holding the seat of United States presidency, this is clearly a declaration of war," Ri told reporters outside his New York hotel. "All the member states participating in the United Nations and the whole world should clearly remember that it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country."

The North Korean foreign minister added, "we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers, even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country,” he warned.

News Report: Pakistan, Russia Begin 'Friendship 2017' Joint Anti-terror Drill

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani and Russian military commandos have launched joint counterterrorism drills in the mountains and forests of Russia's North Caucasus republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia.

The two-week-long exercise dubbed as "Friendship 2017" involves more than 200 mostly special forces from both countries who will conduct joint "hostage rescue" and "cordon-and-search" operations, according to the Pakistani military.

"The joint exercise will enhance and further strengthen military ties between the countries and share Pakistan army's experience in war against terrorism," it added.

Meanwhile, a nearly three-week-long joint air force exercises China is hosting with Pakistan are due to conclude this week. A spokesman for the Chinese air force described them as "routine" exercises.

Pakistan's deepening political, economic and defense ties with traditional ally China and its emerging new alliance with Russia come amid Islamabad's increasingly uneasy and strained relations with the United States.

News Report: Why Myanmar’s Government Won’t Negotiate With Rohingya Insurgents

Joe Freeman

YANGON — When the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army offered a month-long cease-fire on September 10 with the stated purpose of facilitating aid through the conflict zone in Rakhine State, Myanmar’s response was swift.

“We have no policy to negotiate with terrorists,” Zaw Htay, spokesman for de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, said on Twitter the same day.

Myanmar branded the group, known in shorthand as ARSA, a terrorist organization after it carried out deadly attacks on police and army posts on August 25, prompting a military crackdown that has caused more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh and resulted in widespread claims of atrocities and ethnic cleansing.

But as observers — and even ARSA members — have pointed out, Myanmar continues to negotiate with several ethnic armed groups fighting for more autonomy in its border regions. Some of them have also been called terrorist outfits, though not by the central government.

So why the apparent double standard?

News Report: Mattis Visits South Asia Amid Afghanistan Shakeup

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
William Gallo

NEW DELHI — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in South Asia for the first time since the White House unveiled its new strategy for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon chief landed Monday in India’s capital, where he will meet with senior leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mattis is hoping to deepen Washington’s quickly growing defense relationship with New Delhi. One area of cooperation could be Afghanistan, where the U.S. is in a deadlock with the Taliban after 16 years.

President Donald Trump has called on New Delhi to do more in Afghanistan – a call that has upset New Delhi’s longtime rival, Pakistan.

On his flight, Mattis praised India’s “invaluable” historic contributions to Afghanistan, and said its expanded involvement there shouldn’t be seen as a threat.

“Pakistan has come out recently again saying they are fighting the terrorists. I think Pakistan will find nothing out of line with India and the United States’ alignment in the same fight,” Mattis said.

Mattis’ trip threatens to be overshadowed by the tensions on the Korean peninsula, where North Korea has threatened to conduct an atmospheric hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean.

“This would be a shocking display of irresponsibility toward global health, toward stability, toward non-proliferation,” Mattis said.

President Trump last week threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea – escalating the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

News Story: White House says U.S. has not declared war on DPRK

NEW YORK, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- The United States has not declared war on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the White House said on Monday, in response to remarks of the DPRK's top diplomat.

"Last weekend, Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn't be around much longer. He declared a war on our country," Ri Yong-ho, the DPRK foreign minister, told reporters earlier in New York.

"The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country," Ri said, referring to Trump's tweet message on Saturday.

In response, the White House denied that the United States had declared war on Pyongyang.

"We have not declared war on North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd," White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders told a regular briefing in Washington.

"Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," she said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

    News Story: DPRK diplomat leaves for Moscow for talks with Russia

    PYONGYANG, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- A senior diplomat of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) left Monday for Moscow to hold talks with Russian officials on unspecified issues, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

    Choe Son Hui, director general of the North American Department of the DPRK Foreign Ministry and her delegation were invited by Oleg Burmistrov, roving ambassador of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said the report.

    "Talks with the roving ambassador are due in Moscow," it said.

    Burmistrov, Russia's deputy nuclear negotiator, visited the DPRK in late July to discuss issues involving the Korean Peninsula, reports said.

    Read the full story at Xinhua

    News Story: Chinese naval fleet returns home after drill with Russia & China, Russia conclude joint naval drills

    Chinese Navy Warships (File Photo)
    Chinese naval fleet returns home after drill with Russia

    SANYA, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese naval flotilla Monday returned to a military port in the city of Sanya in southern China's Hainan Province after a military exercise with the Russian navy in the Baltic Sea.

    The formation, comprising missile destroyer "Hefei," missile frigate "Yuncheng" and supply vessel "Luomahu," was the first Chinese fleet to ever sail in the region for a military exercise.

    The joint drill, held in July, was the first phase of "Joint Sea 2017," which had similar exercises in the Sea of Japan and Okhotsk this year.

    Read the full story at Xinhua

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    China, Russia conclude joint naval drills

    MOSCOW, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- The last batch of scheduled exercises in the second phase of the 2017 China-Russia Joint Sea Drills was completed in the Okhotsk Sea near Russia's Far East Federal District on Monday.

    Starting in the morning, Chinese and Russian commanders simulated joint rescues of ships hijacked by pirates and ships in distress, and later in the afternoon, fleets of the two sides held a farewell ceremony after the completion of both exercises.

    During the entire week-long drills, major Chinese and Russian fleets conducted a string of highly challenging joint operations, including air defense, anti-submarine and anti-fleet actions as well as maritime search and rescue.

    Read the full story at Xinhua