29 March 2017

USA: USS Warrior helps strengthen ROK, US mine countermeasures capability

By MC2 Jermaine M. Ralliford, Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs

Mineman 1st Class Sean McDermott prepares to launch a mine-neutralization vehicle aboard USS Warrior (MCM 10) during exercise Foal Eagle. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jermaine M. Ralliford) >>

WATERS SOUTH OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA - USS Warrior (MCM 10) successfully concluded a mine countermeasures exercise with the Republic of Korea Navy, March 29.

The exercise, designed to enhance the MCM warfare capabilities of both navies, was held March 19-29 off the coast of the southern city of Chinhae.

“It’s important to have a strong surface capability in order to hunt and neutralize those threats if called upon,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Carroll, Warrior's commanding officer, “and that is what we are doing with our ROK partners.”

Carroll stated that the Warrior, and other MCM class ships, give navies the ability to detect mines with sonar, disable them with neutralization vehicles, and sweep [search] for mines mechanically, acoustically and magnetically.

USA: VFA-115 completes Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program

By Lt. Chris Pagenkopf, VFA-115 Public Affairs

VFA-115 aircrew and maintenance personnel stand by at an F/A-18E Super Hornet before an air-to-air training mission in the Fallon Range Training Complex, March 10. (U.S. Navy/Lt. Chris Pagenkopf) >>

FALLON, Nevada - The "Eagles" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 completed the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program (SFARP) training syllabus at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nevada, March 23.

SFARP is a unit-level training program intended to maximize the tactical proficiency of strike fighter aircrews across the full spectrum of F/A-18 mission sets by using academic lectures, simulator events, and tactical training sorties.

"Completing SFARP has been a tremendously valuable experience for our pilots," stated Lt. David Ash, assistant detachment officer in charge for the Eagles. "The syllabus required everyone to rise to the challenge and achieve very high levels of tactical knowledge and performance in missions that ranged from urban close air support to offensive counter air."

News Report: Senior Taliban Leader Killed in Eastern Afgan Province of Laghman

One of the Taliban terror group (banned in Russia) senior leaders, Nasir Ahmad, has been killed in a special operation in eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan, local media reported citing provincial governor’s spokesman.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Khaama news agency reported that Ahmad was involved in major roadside bombings and other terrorist related activities. This was the second attempt to kill or arrest Taliban senior in two months.

Earlier in March, another Taliban key leader Abdul Wali was eliminated during a fighting between the Afghan security forces and the terrorists in the same province.

Afghanistan is experiencing political, social and security instability, in particular, due to the activity of the Taliban that has been controlling a number of regions and settlements across the country. The radical group is taking steps to establish a strict Sharia law on the controlled territories.

The crisis in the country prompted the emergence of local cells of other extremist organizations such as Daesh, which is banned in many countries, including Russia.

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

News Report: US Sees 'Conflicting Accounts' on Security Situation in Afghanistan's Sangin

The United States has received conflicting reports on developments in a key district in southern Afghanistan but there is zero doubt the security situation remains challenging, White House Deputy Assistant for Strategic Communications on the National Security Council, Michael Anton, told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Andrew Feinberg — Taliban fighters drove Afghan troops out of Sangin last week forcing the government and its NATO allies to move the district center some two kilometers south, media reported citing local officials. US Department of Defense spokesperson Adam Stump, however, told Sputnik that the move had been planned for some time.

"We continue to closely monitor developments in Sangin District and Helmand province," Anton stated on Tuesday. "We have seen conflicting accounts, but there is no doubt the security situation in the province remains challenging."

News Report: Thousands of Pyongyang Propaganda Leaflets Found Near Seoul

The divide between South and North Korea may be more porous than originally thought, as thousands of printed sheets of pro-Pyongyang propaganda have been seized in the western port city of Incheon in South Korea.

Some 6,000 leaflets, carefully printed with lettering that glorifies the person and policies of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, were confiscated on Tuesday, according to Yonhap News.

In a similar discovery, about 150 leaflets decrying the recently ended Key Resolve joint military drills between South Korea and the United States were found in the same region. No other details about the seizure were made available.

Seoul-based military experts were given the materials by local police for further examination.

The annual Key Resolve drills, in cooperation with the concurrent and ongoing Foal Eagle military exercises, have been lambasted by Pyongyang as preparations for invading North Korea and incipient acts of war.

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

News Report: S Korean Lawmakers File Resolution Demanding National Assembly Vote on THAAD

Lawmakers from South Korea's Democratic Party have submitted a resolution which calls for upfront parliamentary ratification of the US Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) deployment in the country, to the National Assembly on Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to the resolution, drafted by 29 Democratic Party lawmakers, the country's constitution states that the National Assembly has "the right to consent to treaties pertaining to any restriction in sovereignty or treaties which will burden the state or people with an important financial obligation."

"We express deep regrets over the government unilaterally proceeding with the deployment of THAAD without going through the legitimate process of reaching a public consensus," the resolution reads, as quoted by Yonhap News Agency.

The National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee will now have to decide whether the resolution will be voted on at a plenary session.

On March 8, in line with the July 2016 agreement with the United States, components for the THAAD system began to arrive in South Korea, as Seoul wanted the system to be deployed rapidly in response to North Korea's recent missile tests. The move was criticized by neighboring China and Russia as a security threat in the region.

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

News Report: Russia Awaits US, S Korea, Japan's Participation in Talks on N Korea - Lawmaker

Russia expects the United States, South Korea and Japan to actively engage in negotiation processes on North Korea rather than to respond reciprocally with provocations against Pyongyang, Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian upper house of parliament, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, media reported that North Korea had conducted yet another ballistic missile engine test Friday, the third such test in recent weeks, which could facilitate eventual development of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

"The experience of the Iranian nuclear program has demonstrated that it [negotiations] works, but an important prerequisite is the unity of the international community. Negotiating and simultaneously increasing military threats against the DPRK is useless: this will have the opposite effect and accelerate the development of weapons," Kosachev said.

He added that the building of further missile defense systems would not eliminate the threat posed by the North Korean missile program as Pyongyang was reportedly working on ways to overcome such shields.

"Therefore, we have the right to expect from Washington, Seoul and Tokyo an active inclusion in the negotiation process instead of the reciprocal… provocations against North Korea," Kosachev said.

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

News Report: China Nears Completion of Military Bases on S China Sea Reefs - Think Tank

China's Artificial Island built on Fiery Cross Reef (Sep-2015)
China has almost completed the construction of military facilities on the disputed South China Sea Islands, the US-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) think tank said.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Beijing has almost completed the construction of military and dual-use facilities on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the US-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) think tank said.

"Major construction of military and dual-use infrastructure on the 'Big 3'—Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross Reefs — is wrapping up, with the naval, air, radar, and defensive facilities that AMTI has tracked for nearly two years largely complete. Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time," the AMTI said Monday citing the information from satellite images made earlier in March.

News Report: India Looks for Military Technology Transfer Deal With Israel

Spike missile launcher (Image: Wiki Commons)
India is said to be keen to sign multi-billion dollar defense deals with Israel during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit expected to be in mid-2017. The deals will be for anti-tank missiles, drones and other defense equipment.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The stalled purchase of hundreds of anti-tank guided missile Spike is expected to get a fresh lease of life from the Cabinet Committee on Security under Prime Minister Modi under a $1-billion purchase plan in the next few days.

Sputnik had reported last month that India will go ahead with purchase of Spike missile despite the single bid situation. India’s defense procurement policy does not allow such purchase where only one company is eligible for tender. But the Indian government is keen to sign the contract with Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as it has agreed to transfer technology for the missile under Make in India project whereas contract may be signed for building 1,500 systems and around 30,000 additional missiles in India. In May 2016, India had finalized price negotiations for 275 launchers and 5,500 Spike missiles in completed and kit form.

News Report: Former Pakistan Army Chief Set to Take Command of 'Muslim NATO'

Pakistan’s former army chief, Raheel Sharif
Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s former army chief, Raheel Sharif, is set to become the first commander of a new Saudi-led counterterrorism coalition of mostly Sunni Islamic states, a move frustrating neighboring Shi'ite Iran in addition to prevailing domestic opposition and criticism.

Sharif is likely to travel to Saudi Arabia as early as next month to take charge of what commentators increasingly refer to as the “Muslim NATO”, according to Pakistani officials and close aides.

They said that “putting in place the military structure” of the proposed 39-nation Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), which will be headquartered in Riyadh, is among Sharif’s initial tasks.

The general, who retired last November, is credited for undertaking an effective military crackdown against Pakistani Taliban and other militants in Pakistan during his three-year tenure as the chief of the powerful military. The counterterrorism operations led to a significant decline in militant violence in the country.

An “arrangement" between the two governments has resulted in Sharif’s appointment and granting permission for him to become the first commander-in-chief of the alliance, said Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif while defending the decision.

“After having received a written request from them [Saudi Arabia], we conveyed our consent to them in writing,” Asif told local Geo TV.

But leaders of the minority Shi'ite community, political parties and observers in Pakistan have criticized the government, as well as Sharif for accepting the assignment, fearing it would fuel domestic sectarian rivalries and undermine the credibility as well as national goodwill he earned.