28 September 2016

USA: Valiant Shield exercise supports joint integration

From CTF 70 and ESG 7 Public Affairs

USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Green Bay (LPD 20) transit the Philippine Sea in formation during Valiant Shield 2016. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Andrew Schneider) >>

PHILIPPINE SEA - Units from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force completed the biennial exercise Valiant Shield 2016 (VS16), Sept. 23.

The 12-day exercise is a biennial, U.S.-only, field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on joint training among U.S. forces to conduct a range of missions on land, sea, in the air and cyberspace.

The VS16 participants included Commander, Task Force 70/Carrier Strike Group 5 including aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Carrier Air Wing 5, guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), guided-missile destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Stethem (DDG 63), USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Momsen, (DDG 92) and other associated units; Commander, Task Force 76/Expeditionary Strike Group 7 including amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and associated Marine-Air-Ground Task Force units.

News Report: Singapore Accuses Beijing Media of Fabricating Story on South China Sea

Singapore’s ambassador to China has accused the Global Times, a major Chinese news outlet, of publishing an article containing falsehoods. China, however, insists the article is reporting the truth.

On September 18, the 17th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an organization created in 1961 in opposition to NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, ended. As the organization finalized its Declaration of Margarita Island, a wrap-up document detailing plans for the organization's next three years, the Singaporean delegation reportedly raised the issue of territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The request to include the issue within the document was said to have been denied by Venezuela, the current president of the organization, a move that, according to the Global Times, "infuriated" the Singaporean delegation. The Chinese paper claimed they were citing a "reliable source," who was in attendance at the summit.

This claim that has been firmly denied by the Singaporean ambassador to China, Stanley Loh. 

According to Loh, the Global Times article is an "irresponsible report replete with fabrications and unfounded allegations with no regard for the facts." 

News Report: India 'Unable' to Participate in SAARC Summit in Pakistan

India will not be able to take part in the forthcoming summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that is expected to take place in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — SAARC is an economic and political organization of eight countries, namely India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives and Bangladesh. 

"In response to a question, the Official Spokesperson stated that India has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Member States by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016…" the statement said. 

"In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad."

The Foreign Ministry added that New Delhi remained steadfast in its commitment to cooperation and contacts in the region.

Tensions between India and Pakistan entangled in the decades-long dispute over Jammu and Kashmir region have escalated since July after Indian security forces killed Burhan Wani, a renowned separatist commander. On Sunday, a group of militants reportedly crossed from Pakistan into India-administered northern Kashmir territory and attacked the Indian base in Uri, killing 18 servicemen.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Balancing Act - India to Sign Military Arrangements With Russia and France

India attempts to balance ties with US and China by hinting that it is keen on signing bilateral military logistics agreements with Russia and France.

New Delhi — India could sign military logistic support agreements with countries like Russia and France.

Indian government sources told Sputnik that many countries have expressed their desire to sign such agreements, and it is conducting crucial meetings to ink similar contracts with friendly nations. 

“Such agreements with other nations would not only enhance the operational capacity of the Indian Armed Forces but also do away with some concerns in the minds of our close allies about defense relations with the US,” said one government official. 

India and the United States had signed a so-called Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) on 29 August this year. LEMOA is a facilitating agreement that establishes basic terms, conditions, and procedures for the reciprocal provision of logistic support, supplies, and services between the armed forces of India and the United States. It does not provide for the establishment of any bases or base arrangements. 

“India should not hesitate to sign LEMOA-like logistics support agreements with strategic partners like France and Russia. The signing of similar agreements will not be construed as an anti-China development,” says Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd), a senior fellow at Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Beijing Testing Newfound Approach to Easing Tensions in South China Sea

The arbitration ruling on the South China Sea might have added extra fuel to pre-existing tensions in the disputed waters, but instead of resorting to more belligerent rhetoric, Beijing and other claimants appear to be ready to invest in fostering cooperation and reviving joint development initiatives in the contested region.

"Their gestures include an agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to finalize a framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea before mid-2017 and a host of accommodating trilateral arrangements among China and new leaders in the Philippines and Vietnam," Texas-based think tank Stratfor detailed in its latest analysis.

China and the Philippines, the country that brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), have recently discussed possible regional joint development projects during a meeting between former Philippine President Fidel Ramos and Chinese experts. One specific initiative that was mentioned involved developing fishing farms in the disputed waters.

In addition, Beijing has indicated that it wants to expand cooperation with Hanoi, using in a plan that will be modeled after the existing joint development and delimitation agreement the countries have applied in package in the Gulf of Tonkin as the basis. 

News Report: Indian Gov’t Mulls Rewarding Soldiers for Capturing, Killing Terrorists

Any Indian armed personnel who manage to nab or kill terrorists will be eligible to receive incentives like out of turn promotions.

New Delhi — India is planning to have a uniform reward policy for its more than one-million strong armed forces following an internal investigation that revealed some complacency on the part of security forces in highly guarded Uri camp terrorist attack. 

India’s Defense and Home Affairs Ministry is expected to complete the consultation before announcing a comprehensive reward policy. The policy will be for all ranks from junior to middle and senior level officers.

News Report: The Art of Compromise: Will Japan Risk US Ire by Building Up Ties With Russia?

When opening an emergency session of the lower house of parliament earlier this week Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hoped that President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tokyo in December would help kick start talks over the territorial dispute between Russia and Japan over the disputed Kuril Islands.

In his keynote speech in parliament Shinzo Abe also underscored the importance of Japan’s close partnership with the US in a clear nod to Washington, which has repeatedly signaled its dissatisfaction about the current rapprochement between Tokyo and Moscow.

In an interview with Sputnik Japanese-affairs expert Dmitry Streltsov spoke about the dilemma faced by Japan, which wants to build up ties with its neighbors, including Russia and China, while at the same time avoid antagonizing its key ally in the region – the US.

“The art of a political compromise is a traditional Japanese forte. Hard as it tries to stand up for its national interests, Tokyo is always careful not to go to extremes,” Streltsov said, adding that in the long run Shinzo Abe would stay the course of maintaining a normal dialogue with Russia. 

News Report: New Zealand Navy Chief: U.S. Nuclear Ship Issue ‘Behind Us’, Hopes for Regular USN Port Visits

By: Sam LaGrone

NEWPORT, R.I. – After more than 30 years, an American warship will pull into a New Zealand port in November and could mark the start of regular port visits for the U.S. Navy, New Zealand’s Chief of Navy told USNI News.

Rear Adm. John Martin said the visit in November of a U.S. warship for a naval review to mark the 75th anniversary of his service could be the start of more regular operations with the U.S. Navy.

“It’s a step in a very close relationship that we have with the United States and the United States Navy and I’m hoping it will become more of a regular activity,” Martin told USNI News in an interview last week during the International Seapower Symposium.

“We’ve had army-to-army and air force-to-air force relationships in a very normal manner.”

U.S. Navy ships stopped visiting New Zealand following the adoption of anti-nuclear legislation in 1984 that banned ships armed with nuclear weapons or powered by nuclear reactors to visit the country.

News Report: Amid Nuclear Tensions, North Korea Struggles to Secure Flood Aid

Lee Yeon Cheol

WASHINGTON — With North Korea’s latest nuclear test drawing global condemnation, the reclusive regime will likely face challenges in securing aid for victims of floods that hit the nation earlier this month.

Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, said in Washington Monday that the government has no plan to send humanitarian aid to North Korea at the moment.

“At this point, North Korea has not requested assistance from the U.S.,” King said. He declined to answer whether the U.S. will provide aid if the communist country formally requests assistance.

Recently, the North made a rare public appeal for international aid after deadly floods devastated the country. The appeal came a few days after its largest and fifth nuclear test.

News Report: US Presidential Candidates Sharply Divided on Military Alliances

Brian Padden

SEOUL — U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reiterated sharply opposing views on the issue of military support for American allies around the world, and for Japan and South Korea in particular, during their first televised debate on Monday.

Clinton, the Democratic candidate, criticized past statements made by Republican nominee Trump that indicated he might withdraw troops from Asia unless allies more fairly compensate the U.S. for protection.

“He has said repeatedly that he does not care if other nations got nuclear weapons, Japan, South Korea even Saudi Arabia,” said Clinton.

Trump countered that his opponent was misrepresenting his position, which he indicated was about negotiating a better compensation deal for U.S. support.

“All I said was they may have to defend themselves or they have to help us out. We are a country that owes $20 trillion, they have to help us out,” he said.