23 August 2017

News Report: Indian Defense Firms Under Pressure to Develop New Age Technology for UAVs

The Indian Army had submitted a requirement for UAVs that could fly continuously for a minimum of ten hours at the height of up to 20000 feet, covering a range of two hundred kilometers from the control station. The army is in favor of locally developed systems but it would be a big challenge for private defense firms that lack the technology.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India is planning to purchase remotely controlled aerial surveillance platforms which would provide real time inputs in the form of imagery and electronic data to fighting formations during operations. The defense ministry announced that it would be spending approximately $461 million on the purchase of forty four such aerial vehicles.

The system would be capable of carrying different kinds of surveillance payloads such as electro optic and night payload, synthetic aperture radar and electronic support measures.

"UAVs and drones are increasingly assuming importance in warfare and are used by militaries across the world for carrying out a variety of functions mainly in terms of surveillance and target acquisition, communications and now even delivery of stores in remote areas. This will considerably enhance the surveillance and reconnaissance potential of the army in the tactical battle area and beyond," Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst told Sputnik.

News Report: Tillerson Optimistic on North Korea, But Pyongyang's Bluster Continues

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has welcomed North Korea's decision to reduce its belligerent rhetoric in response to new sanctions by the United Nations Security Council.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday at the State Department, Tillerson said: "I am pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we have not seen in the past."

The United States hopes this means North Korea is planning to restrain its "provocative acts" in the future, Tillerson said, adding: "Perhaps we are seeing our pathway to, sometime in the near future, having some dialogue."

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Chinese and Russian companies and individuals involved in business deals with North Korea that are believed to have aided its nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. Treasury Department said the 10 companies and six individuals helped North Korea generate revenue that could be used to pay for weapons programs. The businesses and their executives do business with previously sanctioned companies and people who work with the Roth Korean energy sector.

News Report: Tillerson - US Set to 'Turn the Tide' in Afghan War With New Strategy

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Cindy Saine

STATE DEPARTMENT — President Donald Trump's adjustment of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan will alter the dynamics in the United States' longest war, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday, because American military commanders will be newly empowered to make decisions based on conditions on the ground, rather than on local politics or other factors.

"The fighting will still be borne by the Afghan forces, by their military and their security forces," Tillerson told reporters in a rare appearance at the State Department briefing room. "We believe that we can turn the tide of what has been a losing battle over the last year and a half or so, and at least stabilize the situation and hopefully start seeing some battlefield victories."

In his discussion of Trump's address to the nation on Monday night, Tillerson praised "the Afghan forces who have fought very bravely, but they've been fighting, I think, with less than the full capabilities that we can give them." He said Trump's Afghanistan strategy differs from those of his two predecessors at the White House, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, in that it does not set artificial timelines or announce troop levels in advance.

U.S. actions in Afghanistan will be based on conditions on the ground, Tillerson said: "This entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban, to have the Taliban understand that you will not win a battlefield victory."

News Story: Multinational search for missing US Navy sailors expands in Asia

USS John S. McCain (Image: Wiki Commons)
By: Mike Yeo

MELBOURNE, Australia – The multinational search and rescue for sailors missing from the U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain following a collision with an oil tanker near Singapore has expanded, even as remains of some of the missing have been located inside the flooded compartments of the ship.

Both Singapore and Malaysia have increased the number of assets taking part in the SAR operations for the 10 sailors initially reported missing following the collision, while Indonesia has also started scouring the waters off its islands closest to where the collision occurred. Australia has also offered an aircraft to assist in the search, according to a media statement from Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority on Tuesday.

The new, expanded search area covers more than 1,100 square miles, with Singapore and the U.S. covering the center of the identified search area while Malaysian and Indonesian assets are covering the north and south.

The collision occurred in waters where there is an unresolved maritime boundary dispute between Singapore and Malaysia, and both have said the collision occurred in their respective territorial waters and have laid claim to leading the search operation. That said, the disagreement has not interfered with the search operation so far.

U.S. Navy MH-60S helicopters and Marine Corps MV-22 tiltrotors from the amphibious assault ship USS America are also involved in the search, while the Republic of Singapore Air Force has deployed a C-130 transport and a Fokker 50 maritime patrol aircraft to join two patrol vessels each from the Singapore Navy and police coast guard already on scene. A Singaporean Super Puma helicopter had earlier evacuated four of the five sailors injured in the collision to a hospital on Monday morning.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Amid accidents and sailor deaths, US Navy's top officer questions readiness of Japan-based ships

CNO Adm. John Richardson (Image: Wiki Commons)
By: David B. Larter

The Navy’s top officer is eyeing U.S. 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan, after four accidents in one year have resulted in three collisions, a grounding, seven sailors dead and 10 missing as of Monday afternoon. 

The fleet, which is led by Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, is now under direct scrutiny after Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson directed his four-star fleet boss, Adm. Phil Davidson, to determine if 7th Fleet ships are ready to do the basics of their jobs.

"[The collision is] the last in a series of incidents in the Pacific Fleet in particular, and that gives great cause for concern that there is something out there that we’re not getting at," Richardson told a group of reporters Monday afternoon. "So I’ve conferred with senior leadership in the Navy and in the department. We are taking a much more aggressive stance at this point to get to that level of understanding."

Richardson, who ordered a vague ”operational pause” earlier in the day, said he was directing Fleet Forces Command head Davidson to look at training of sailors in 7th Fleet  while they are forward deployed.

“There’s the longer-term review that I’ve asked Adm. Davidson, down in fleet forces command, to undertake,” Richardson said.

“This will be a broader effort, looking at a number of things. One being, what is the situation out in Japan with our forward deployed naval forces out there, how are they executing their business? I just want to understand that more deeply in terms of training, generating that readiness that we’ve asked them to achieve, and then certifying that readiness.”

The scrutiny comes on the heels of the second major at-sea disaster since June, which has crippled two of the Navy’s ballistic missile defense ships at a time when the threat from the Nuclear-armed Kim regime in North Korea is rapidly increasing.

John S. McCain collided with the Liberian-flagged merchant vessel Alnic MC just east of the Singapore Strait entering the Strait of Malacca at 5:24 a.m. local time. The Alnic, which is three times the size of McCain, is an oil and chemical tanker.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Afghanistan - It’s Trump’s War Now

By JAMES KITFIELD

When he stepped before the cameras last night to deliver his first prime time address to the nation, Donald Trump became the third president to reluctantly take ownership of the war in Afghanistan. After campaigning on ending costly entanglements for a war-weary country, the president admitted he was hemmed in by some hard realities.

“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before 9/11,” Trump said. “Today, 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan — the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world.” 

Though Trump declined to provide specific numbers, the new Afghan strategy he unveiled last night includes roughly 4,000 additional U.S. reinforcements to the 8,400 presently deployed. U.S. officials say the new strategy will involve: helping improve the Afghan government’s ability to support and regenerate Afghan Security Forces who suffered 6,700 casualties just in the past year; relaxing the rules of engagement for U.S. airpower; rejecting deadlines for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, instead using “conditions on the ground” as the primary metric of success; persuading NATO allies to increase their own troop levels in Afghanistan; and putting significant new pressure on Islamabad to target the Taliban and allied extremist groups operating in Pakistan.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

Trump becomes the third U.S. president to try and pressure Pakistan to take a harder line on the Afghan Taliban and allied extremist groups operating on its territory, some of which its intelligence services support as proxies. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has already withheld $50 million in funding from Pakistan because he can’t certify that Islamabad “has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network,” a particularly lethal branch of the Afghan Taliban. To help prod Pakistan to action, Trump touted America’s close relations with India, saying America would “further develop its strategic partnership with India,” saying “we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.”

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: DPRK says alleged regional threat comes from Japan

PYONGYANG, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The official media of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Tuesday that Japan is responsible for undermining the region's security due to its re-militarization and active participation in U.S.-led military maneuvers against Pyongyang.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a commentary that in its 2017 defense white paper published on Aug. 8, Japan Defense Ministry described the DPRK's nuclear and missile development as a "serious threat to Japan."

"The reckless action of Japan as a shock brigade of the U.S. pushing the situation of the Korean Peninsula to the worst crisis clearly reveals its sinister militarist scheme," it said, citing recent joint drills between Japan and the United States in waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Top U.S. commanding generals hold press conference in S. Korea on DPRK issues

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Top commanding generals of the United States on Tuesday held a rare press conference in South Korea to reaffirm U.S. commitment to the defense of its ally, South Korea, against nuclear and missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Adm. Harry Harris, chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, held the press conference at the Osan Air Base outside Seoul along with visiting commander of U.S. Strategic Command Gen. John Hyten and Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

The top-level U.S. military leaders arrived in South Korea ahead of the annual South Korea-U.S. joint military drills, codenamed Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), that kicked off Monday. The computerized command post exercise will last until next Thursday.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Airstrike kills 6 IS militants in eastern Afghanistan

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Some six militants of the Islamic State (IS) were killed in an air-raid attack in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar, a local official said Tuesday.

"The strike happened in the restive Achin district on Monday, where six IS militants were killed and their arms and ammunition were destroyed," Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal, provincial government police spokesman, told Xinhua.

No troop or civilian sustained life or property losses in the incident, the source added.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Trump unveils new Afghanistan plan, warning against rapid exit

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his new Afghanistan strategy Monday night in a national address, calling a rapid exit of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan "unacceptable" and pledging a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.

QUICK EXIT UNACCEPTABLE

Trump delivered a prime-time nationally televised address at 9 p.m. local time on Monday (0100 GMT, Tuesday) from Fort Myer in Virginia.

In this over 30-minute speech, Trump ruled out a quick exit of the U.S. troops, saying that a "nasty withdrawal" would have unacceptable consequences and "create a vacuum" that terrorists including the Islamic State and al-Qaida would instantly fill.

He said that the Untied States have been facing "immense" security threats in Afghanistan and the broader region, which made him stop following his "original instinct" to "pull out" the troops.

As a long-time critic of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, Trump ordered a review of the strategy soon after taking office in January.

During his speech, Trump also made it clear that he would not "talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities."

Read the full story at Xinhua


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