27 April 2017

USA: North Korea Threatens Indo-Asia-Pacific Region, Harris Tells Legislators

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2017 — North Korea remains the most immediate threat to the security of the United States and its allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Addressing security challenges in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the commander noted how North Korea threatened Australia in the past week with a nuclear strike.

“[It’s] a powerful reminder to the entire international community that North Korea's missiles point in every direction,” Harris said. “The only nation to have tested nuclear devices in this century, North Korea has vigorously pursued an aggressive weapons test schedule with more than 60 listed missile events in recent years.”

News Report: Militants Kill Three Indian Soldiers in Dawn Attack on Kashmir Army Camp

Unknown gunmen attacked an Indian army camp in the disputed Kashmir region, killing three soldiers, local media reported Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Militants tried to force their way into the facility at around 4 a.m. local time (22:30GMT), the NDVV channel reported.

The camp, which appears to be an artillery base, is located in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district near the Indian-Pakistani separation line.

The military managed to fend off the assault after a four-hour gunfight, the broadcaster said, adding the camp was being searched for more attackers.

India and Pakistan have been both laying claims to Kashmir since India was partitioned in 1947. Three wars have not resolved the dispute. Tensions escalated last year when Indian forces killed Burhan Wani, the leader of a Kashmiri separatist group.

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

News Report: South Korean Protesters Think THAAD System Aimed at Russia, China, Not DPRK

South Korean women protesting the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is aimed not to defend them against North Korea, but as a threat to Russia and China, analysts told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Namhee Lee, a UCLA Associate Professor of Modern Korean History, said, "many South Koreans think that the deployment of THAAD is actually to deter China and not North Korea."

Namhee Lee was a signatory of the Women Cross DMZ group’s letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday calling on him to defuse military tensions and start negotiating for peace to prevent war from erupting on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea’s missiles are short-range SCUDs with a range of 500 km (300 miles), medium-range Rodong 1s with a range of 1,300km (780 miles) whereas THAAD is most effect for long range and high altitude missiles, the professor said.

"THAAD is not effective against the SCUD missile. THAAD is effective against the Rodong 1, but this missile is not developed to aim against South Korea, rather it is aimed against Okinawa," she said.

As to the question why the US military was deploying THAAD in South Korea, Lee said, "Because it is aimed against China and Russia; to collect information, which is why China and Russia are upset about the deployment of THAAD."

News Report: Eight Border Guards Killed by 'Terrorists' in Southeastern Iran

Eight Iranian border guards were killed in the south of the country by a group of "terrorists" that sneaked from Pakistan, police said in a statement.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The border guards were killed Wednesday in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan near the border with Pakistan.

"Unfortunately, eight Iranian border guards were killed by a number of terrorists in the zero border point from inside Pakistan’s soil," the Police Information Dissemination Center said, as quoted by the IRNA news agency.

The incident took place in the Mirjaveh region, over 46 miles from Sistan and Baluchestan’s capital of Zahedan. Police said Pakistan bore responsibility for the ambush. An investigation has been launched into the attack.

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

News Report: Pakistani Minister Wants Russia to Play Major Role in Stabilizing Afghanistan

The Pakistani defense minister said Wednesday he would like Russia to play a greater role in stabilizing the situation in conflict-ridden Afghanistan.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia should spearhead the process of bringing stability to Afghanistan, while Pakistan will support all of Russia's initiatives towards reaching this goal, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said Wednesday at a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on the sidelines of VI Moscow Conference on International Security.

"Russia should take the leading role to establish stability in Afghanistan… I want to assure you that Pakistan will always overwhelmingly support Russia's initiative aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan," Asif said.

The defense minister further noted that he attended the Moscow conference four times over the past six years, and that during this time, the global security situation had improved.

"The fact that you organize conferences and discussions on Afghanistan plays a very important role in bringing peace in this region… and we hope that discussions at the conference will lead to the desired result so that we will be able to achieve great progress in Afghanistan," Asif added.

News Report: The Powder Keg Peninsula - Chinese Troops on Korean Border Prepare for Combat

Chinese troops stationed along the border with North Korea have been placed on high alert, according to Japanese daily newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

The People's Liberation Army has three stages of alertness, and this is the middle stage. Beijing activates it when a "direct military threat" is detected. Soldiers are prepared for combat and are forbidden from taking leave. 

The order came down in mid-April, and China has moved 150,000 soldiers to guard the border – or to potentially invade the Hermit Kingdom themselves, if they feel the need. Sim Tack, a North Korea expert with geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor, called the Chinese movements an attempt to minimize American involvement on the peninsula.

"The overt presence of Chinese forces would dissuade the US from going into that territory because they would run the risk of inviting that larger conflict themselves," Tack told Business Insider, adding that China could enter North Korea to place themselves "in a position to force a coup or force Kim's hand [in disarming his missiles]."

News Report: Afghanistan Asks India to Help Repair Grounded Planes, Helicopters

Afghan Mi-35 (Image: Wiki Commons)
Following the terror attack on a military base which left 140 people killed, Afghanistan has asked India to step up military assistance including the repair of grounded aircraft and helicopters.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Afghanistan has asked for new parts and repairs to 11 grounded Mi-35 helicopters and seven transport aircraft. A technical team, which visited Afghanistan last year, estimated a cost of $50 million for repair and supply of parts.

The Indian government is considering a proposal where it is ready to pay the cost of repair, spares, and the cost of transporting the aircraft to Russia or the former Soviet states if Russia or other CIS countries agree to provide the spares.

News Report: Russia to State in UNSC US Maneuvers on Korean Peninsula Unacceptable - Gatilov

Deputy Foreign Minister said that Russia plans to condemn US military maneuvers on the Korean Peninsula at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday and state that this is unacceptable.

GENEVA (Sputnik) – Russia plans to condemn US military maneuvers on the Korean Peninsula at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday and state that this is unacceptable, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told journalists.

"Yes, we are, and this is our principled position, we will reiterate our assessment of such unacceptable actions," Gatilov, who will represent Russia at the meeting, said.

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

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PacificSentinel: Where does Russia get off telling any nation, but especially one that is faced with war on a daily basis, that it’s not allowed to train with its closest alliance partner? It’s China and THAAD all over again, South Korea has a RIGHT to protect itself even if YOU don’t like it.

News Report: Pakistan Urges Kabul to Intensify Crackdown on Cross-Border Terrorism

Pakistan expects the Afghan government to do more in countering terrorist groups responsible for carrying out cross-border attacks and impacting Pakistan, the country's Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said at the ongoing VI Moscow Conference on International Security.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The conference is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday. Its agenda includes combating against terrorism as well as security in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

"We expect the Afghan government to take more effective measures against the perpetrators responsible for various terror activities in Pakistan," Asif said.

He underlined that presence of terrorist networks on the Afghan border had been cleared during special operations carried out by Islamabad. Ongoing operations by Pakistan have been "extremely successful," which have been acknowledged by the international community, he added.

News Report: India Unveils Tri-Service Operational Military Doctrine

In the backdrop of the sustained demand for the Chief of Defense Staff for optimum utilization of resources, India has unveiled a revised version of the Joint Doctrine Indian Armed Forces-2017 with the aim of integration in the armed forces.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Experts said this is a stop-gap arrangement and could face implementation hassles but the Indian defense ministry considers the "release of this Doctrine could not have come at a more opportune time."

"The Joint Doctrine Indian Armed Forces will serve as a cornerstone document for application of military power in a synergized manner leading to enhanced efficiency, optimum utilization of resources and financial savings," a Defense Ministry statement read.

News Report: Lavrov - Heavy-Handed Stance on N Korea 'Fraught With Catastrophic Consequences'

The Russian foreign minister warned against heavy-handed approaches to the North Korea issue.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Military options in resolving the North Korean issue are fraught with disaster in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday, reiterating Moscow's concerns with the deployment of the US missile system in South Korea.

"It is obvious that heavy-handed approaches that are beginning to be mentioned publicly are fraught with catastrophic consequences for the Korean Peninsula and the whole of Northeast Asia," Lavrov said.

Speaking at the VI Moscow Conference on International Security, he expressed concern about the degrading situation in the region with North Korea's continued development of its nuclear missile program.

Lavrov also voiced Moscow's disapproval "with the disproportionate build-up under the pretext of the North Korean threat of the US and its regional allies' military activity."

News Report: Outside Provocations Push Korean Peninsula to 'Brink of War' - Moscow

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said that the Korean Peninsula is teetering on a brink of war because of external pressure.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Countries on the Korean Peninsula provoked from outside are on the brink of war, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said at the VI Moscow Conference on International Security on Wednesday.

"One cannot underestimate the problem of the Korean Peninsula, where the parties provoked from the outside have de-facto ended up on the brink of war," Patrushev said.

On Sunday, Japan and the United States started naval military exercises in the Pacific Ocean with participation of a US naval group led by the USS Carl Vinson, according to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. The group was sent by the United States to the Korean Peninsula amid growing tensions in the region.

North Korean state Rodong Sinmun newspaper reportedly said that Pyongyang was ready to show its military power in response to the US move to send its naval group, while the country's revolutionary forces could sink the USS Carl Vinson with a single strike.

The situation on the Korean peninsula aggravated since North Korea carried out a number of missile launches and nuclear tests, with one of the latest constituting a launch of a ballistic missile from Sinpo, South Hamgyong province, in the direction of the Sea of Japan on April 5 and a missile test on April 16, claimed unsuccessful by the South Korean defense officials. The launches are considered to be in violation with the UN Security Council resolution.

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

News Report: 'Stable’ Indonesia Bets on ‘Soft’ Approach to Beating Terrorism

Indonesian authorities bet on "soft" approach when it comes to the anti-terror fight, Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan told a forum.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The government of Indonesia is following a "soft" approach to combating terrorism and preventing it gaining widespread support in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Pandjaitan stated.

"Indonesia very stable and very secure… Most of the terrorists have low education and work [in] low sector… That is why we emphasize the soft approach," Pandjaitan told the forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Tuesday.

Indonesia continued to enjoy great success in preventing terrorist organizations carrying out major attacks and in preventing them from winning popular support, Pandjaitan, a retired senior general and former chief of staff to President Joko Widodo stated.

"The biggest problem today is the lone wolf. [He is] very hard to [prevent]… We don't want to use the hard approach. The military approach is the last option for us," he explained.

The Indonesian government preferred to work with mainstream Muslim religious authorities to prevent and discourage terrorism and to educate the public against extremism, Pandjaitan added.

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

News Report: US Strike on North Korea Could Put Seoul in Jeopardy

Brian Padden

SEOUL — Thousands of North Korean artillery shells raining down on Seoul. Hundreds of tons of high explosives detonating in the densely populated South Korean capital. Missile strikes as far away as Japan and the U.S. territory of Guam.

These are just some of the possible consequences U.S. and South Korean military planners must take into account as they consider a pre-emptive strike to halt Pyongyang's steady advances toward developing an offensive nuclear capability.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has repeatedly said it is finished with its predecessor's policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea, suggesting the possibility of military action to prevent the North from developing a nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach the U.S. mainland.

Adding military muscle to the rhetoric, a U.S. submarine designed to carry 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles entered a South Korean port on Tuesday. The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group is also heading to the region and conducting naval exercises with Japan and South Korea. And the United States this week began to move part of the THAAD missile defense system to its deployment site 250 kilometers south of Seoul.

News Report: Ex-Pakistan Taliban Spokesman Claims India, Afghanistan Targeting Pakistan

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD — A central leader and ex-spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Ehsanullah Ehsan, has alleged Afghan security forces and their intelligence agency, NDS, together with the Indian spy agency are supporting cross-border terrorist attacks against Pakistan.

The militant leader in a video confessional statement released by the Pakistan Army, said he was also participating in anti-state activities from sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border and surrendered himself "voluntarily" to Pakistan army.

There was no immediate reaction from the Afghan government and Indian officials to the allegation leveled by Ehsan against them, though both Kabul and New Delhi have previously denied Islamabad's allegations of funding terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil.

When Pakistani security forces unleashed counter-militancy operations in the border region of North Waziristan (in June, 2014), Ehsan said militants fled to neighboring Afghanistan where they established contacts with the Afghan intelligence agency, NDS (National Directorate of Security), and through them with operatives of the Indian spy agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing).

“They supported them (Pakistani Taliban), funded them, and even assigned possible targets [for attacks in Pakistan],” Eshan asserted, adding that anti-Pakistan militants have established their “special committees” in Afghanistan for maintaining contacts with the NDS.

News Report: China Launches Second Aircraft Carrier

William Ide

BEIJING — China has launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, marking an important military milestone. The vessel will become the second carrier in the country’s expanding naval fleet.

Analysts say the launch highlights the strides China has made in advancing its carrier program, as well as its ambitions to project power further into the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, presided over a ceremony for the launch of the Shandong on Wednesday in the northeastern port of Dalian. A champagne bottle was cracked over the bow during the event and state television showed tugboats, pushing the vessel away from its berth.

News Story: Japan’s Apaches to get improved vision

JGSDF AH-64D (Image: Wiki Commons)
By: Jen Judson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Japan’s fleet of AH-64DJP Apache attack helicopters will soon have improved vision, having finalized a deal with Lockheed Martin to upgrade the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision (MTADS/PNVS) sensors known as “the eyes” of the aircraft.

Lockheed will provide 14 Modernized Day Sensor Assembly (M-DSA) kits through 2020 to upgrade Japan’s M-TADS systems, the company said Wednesday. The M-DSA  “improves laser reliability and the Apache’s ability to designate targets and establish accurate target range,” a company statement reads.

The contract also includes Performance Based Logistics support for three years. Lockheed will also upgrade JGSDF test equipment and train pilots in country.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: PACOM commander - No dice on calling off Korea military drills

Adm. Harry Harris (Image: Wiki Commons)
By: David B. Larter

WASHINGTON — The head of all U.S. forces in the Pacific told lawmakers continuing exercises between the South Korean and U.S. forces are vital to the alliance amid China’s call to curtail them. 

The Carl Vinson carrier strike group, which recently had its deployment extended, is conducting exercises with the Republic of Korea while Exercise Max Thunder, a massive air exercise involving U.S. and South Korean troops on the peninsula, continues through the week. 

China believes the exercises destabilize the situation with North Korea and that if the U.S. curtailed them the Kim Jong-Un regime might agree to deescalate. But Harris said the exercises should continue so the U.S. can fulfill its treaty obligations. 

“We are obliged to defend South Korea by a treaty,” Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told lawmakers. 

"They have a very strong and capable military, as we do. But if we're going to defend them or if we're going to fight with them on the peninsula then we have to be able to integrate with their military, we have to be able to work with their military, we have to understand their military and vice versa." 

Harris said the exercises should not be seen as aggressive but as a message of resolve between the allies. 

Read the full story at NavyTimes

News Story: PACOM’s Harris Urges More Subs, PGMs, Ships At HASC

Adm. Harry Harris (Image: Wiki Commons)
By SANDRA ERWIN

While North Korea threatens to shoot and sink American aircraft carriers and launch nuclear weapons, Pacific Command is running short of precision-guided munitions. And Pacific Command does not have enough surface ships, submarines and antimissile radars to keep up with current and emerging threats, its commander Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee today.

The admiral got a receptive ear from HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, who told reporters after the hearing that he would like to see Congress step up with more resources for PACOM. But Thornberry admitted that budget brinkmanship in Washington will make that unlikely.

Some of PACOM’s equipment and technology gaps are actually unrelated to the North Korea crisis but are a direct result of the battle against the Islamic State. Harris has loaned Central Command large stockpiles of small diameter bombs and air-to-air Sidewinder missiles. “We need more,” he told the committee. PACOM’s supplies of Mark 48 torpedoes also are dwindling.

Pacific Command may not spend munitions as fast as CENTCOM, but what it does use more than any other U.S. war command is submarines. PACOM today only has 50 percent of what it estimates it needs to keep tabs on North Korea, Chinese and Russian undersea activity.

“The numbers are low and getting smaller,” said Harris. The Navy’s entire attack submarine fleet of 52 is projected to shrink to 42 in a few years unless the Navy gets a big influx of new money. Should Trump’s proposed naval buildup happen, the submarine fleet would expand to 66.

Why does PACOM need more weapons and new ones, especially transformative systems? It’s simple, Harris said: If you think it is hard to deter North Korea today, wait till we have to deter China and Russia as they roll out their shiny new weapon systems in the coming decades.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: Allies Can Help US Lower Weapons Costs, Build New Force

RAAF E-7A Wedgetail refueled by A RAAF KC-30A MRTT
By ROBBIN LAIRD

Shifting from a primary focus on counterinsurgency land wars to building a high intensity combat force able to prevail against peer competitors is a significant challenge for the United States and its closest allies after 15 years of COIN.

A key dynamic within this effort is the crucial opportunity the US and its closest allies have to learn from each other thanks to the number of core weapon systems being bought at the same time.

The F-35, P-8, Triton and Growler are all being bought by the United States and by some of our closest allies, notably Australia.

And when we see American F-35As going to RAF Lakenheath this month, what can be missed is that at RAF Marham — located less than 30 miles from RAF Lakenheath — the first British squadron of F-35s will be stood up BEFORE the US does so at RAF Lakenheath. One hopes the US plans to ensure it gets as much synergy as possible between the bases where F-35s will be based in the UK.

Norway is also drawing upon this interactive modernization process to stand up its own 21st century combat force.

At the same time, Australia’s Wedgetail command and control aircraft and its KC-30A airborne tanker have been deployed for some time and are cutting edge systems NOT found in the US inventory.

Additionally, the British RAF is modernizing its Typhoons with long-range strike systems that are complementary to the F-35Bs, and they are doing it before the US has made similar adjustments to its legacy aircraft.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: 5 Indian paramilitary troopers injured in helicopter crash-landing

NEW DELHI, April 26 (Xinhua) -- At least five paramilitary troopers were injured Wednesday after a helicopter carrying them crash-landed in central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, local media reports said.

The helicopter carrying paramilitary troopers crash-landed near Chintagufa in Sukma district, about 398 km south of Raipur, the capital city of Chhattisgarh.

"This evening a helicopter carrying Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commandos crash-landed near a CRPF camp in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, resulting in minor injuries to five occupants," local media quoted CRPF official as saying.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: U.S. aims to pressure DPRK by sanctions, diplomacy - officials

US President Donald Trump
WASHINGTON, April 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump aims to use economic sanctions and diplomatic measures to pressure Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) into dismantling its nuclear and missile programs, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

"We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on the DPRK in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue," senior U.S. officials said in a statement.

The statement, jointly issued by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, came after they briefed members of Congress on Washington's policy towards the DPRK on Wednesday.

The senior officials said the U.S. seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, calling DPRK's pursuit of nuclear weapons "an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority."

"We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our Allies," said the statement.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: U.S. Air Force tests ICBM from Vandenberg to demonstrate deterrence capability

Minuteman III in silo - 1989
(Image: Wiki Commons)
LOS ANGELES, April 26 (Xinhua) -- An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test from an air base in California just after midnight on Wednesday morning amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a single test re-entry vehicle was launched at 12:03 am PDT (8:03 am GMT) by a combined team of U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen. By all accounts the launch was a success.

According to U.S. Air Force, the ICBM's re-entry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, traveled to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, approximately 4,200 miles away from the launch site.

The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States' ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.

The Minuteman III is one of three legs of the U.S. nuclear triad, which is also comprised of strategic bombers such as the B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit, as well as submarine launched ballistic missions, provided by Navy submarines.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Australian PM to visit U.S. president in New York

CANBERRA, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will travel to New York next week to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in what will be the first meeting between the pair in official capacities.

The meeting comes just three months after the pair's phone call, during which Trump reportedly hung up on the Australian prime minister, who was discussing a refugee deal previously struck between the two nations.

In a statement released early on Wednesday, Turnbull said he was "delighted" to confirm the visit, which would coincide with the 75th anniversary of Battle of the Coral Sea, during which Australian and U.S. forces battled the Imperial Japanese Navy for wartime supremacy in the Pacific.

The prime minister said the series of meetings would provide a good opportunity for Australia and the United States to "reaffirm our alliance and the United States' engagement with the Asia-Pacific".

"Australia and the United States share the values of democracy, the rule of law and a commitment to peace, prosperity and security," Turnbull said.

"Our forces continue to serve together in defence of those values in the Middle East where I have visited our troops and discussed the future of the region with U.S. commanders and Defence Secretary James Mattis."

The visit was officially announced by White House spokesperson Sean Spicer in the United States' capital on Tuesday (the U.S. time).

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Violent push to deploy THAAD condemned by S. Korean residents, presidential candidates

SEOUL, April 26 (Xinhua) -- South Korean residents and major presidential candidates condemned the violent push to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in their territory as about two weeks are left before the launch of a new government.

About 20 trucks and trailers carried the THAAD elements, including a radar and mobile launchers, early Wednesday to a golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, South Gyeongsang province.

The golf course in southeastern South Korea, which Lotte Group had owned, was exchanged for military land in late February. On March 6, two mobile launchers were transported to a U.S. military base in South Korea.

About 10 days earlier, the Seoul defense ministry said it would be physically hard to install one THAAD battery in the site before the May 9 presidential election due to the remaining procedures such as the foundation work and the environmental assessment.

Earlier in the day, tens of trucks of the U.S. forces entered the golf course despite attempts to block the entrance by local residents and peace activists who were violently dispersed by thousands of South Korean policemen.

One resident was conducted away, with some 10 others being wounded. Among them, six were taken to a nearby hospital.

Last Thursday, some of residents in the Soseong-ri, a tiny, peaceful village where about 160 people mostly in their 70s or 80s are living, were injured during the tussle as they sought to block construction equipments toward the THAAD site.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: DPRK slams U.S. for seeking new UN sanctions

PYONGYANG, April 26 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday slammed the United States for seeking a new UN Security Council resolution to clamp harsher sanctions against Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs.

"Irony is that the U.S., which is wholly to blame for pushing the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war ... is orchestrating the farce of hyping up 'threat' from someone," the official KCNA news agency quoted a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

The unnamed spokesman said the United States is not morally entitled to force the council members to carry out its ill-intended resolution against the DPRK and the UN member states have no moral obligation to abide by such a resolution.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China voices grave concern over THAAD deployment

BEIJING, April 26 (Xinhua) -- China voiced its grave concern to Washington and Seoul Wednesday after parts of the THAAD anti-missile defence system were moved into the Republic of Korea (ROK) for deployment.

China urged the United States and the ROK to withdraw the equipment and stop the deployment, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at the daily press briefing.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Japanese fighter jets to join U.S. carrier-based jets in joint exercise & Joint exercise between Japan, U.S. fighter jets canceled - ASDF

US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet Fighter
Japanese fighter jets to join U.S. carrier-based jets in joint exercise

TOKYO, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Japanese fighter jets will conduct a joint drill with planes based on the United States aircraft carrier Carl Vinson on Wednesday afternoon, Kyodo News quoted Japan's Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) as saying.

Two F-15s based in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, will participate in the drill with two carrier-based U.S. Navy F/A-18s over waters east of Okinawa, the ASDF said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

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ASDF F-15DJ Eagle Fighter (Image: Wiki Commons)
Joint exercise between Japan, U.S. fighter jets canceled: ASDF

TOKYO, April 26 (Xinhua) -- A joint exercise scheduled to be carried out between Japanese fighter jets and planes based on U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on Wednesday was canceled due to bad weather, Japan's Air Self-Defense Force said.

The Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) said it may consider rescheduling the exercise.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Philippines deploys 40,000 soldiers, police for ASEAN summit

MANILA, April 26 (Xinhua) -- More than 40,000 soldiers, policemen and uniformed personnel have been deployed in Manila as the city hosts a summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday.

Preparatory meetings, involving ASEAN ministers and senior officials kicked off on Wednesday.

Philippine Ambassador to ASEAN Elizabeth Buensuceso chaired the meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to ASEAN, starting a series of official meetings that will culminate with the 30th ASEAN summit.

A government statement said the CPR discussed their work plan for 2017, reports and recommendations to the ASEAN senior officials and ASEAN ministers, commemorative activities on the 50th anniversary of ASEAN this year, ASEAN's relations with its dialogue partners and other external parties, and preparations for the 50th ASEAN foreign ministers meeting (AMM) and related ministerial meetings in August in Manila.

"The meeting also exchanged views on possible outcome documents and various initiatives for the 50th AMM and other ministerial meetings and the 31st ASEAN summit in November," the statement read.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Outcome of political dialogue to be submitted to upcoming peace conference in Myanmar

YANGON, April 26 (Xinhua) -- The three-day political dialogue at national level has ended in Taunggyi, Myanmar's southern Shan state, and the outcome of the region-wise dialogue will be submitted to the upcoming Second Meeting of the country's 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, scheduled for May 24, official report said Wednesday.

A total of 57 papers, submitted by representatives of signatory armed groups to the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA) and political parties, were discussed at the three-day dialogue meeting which concluded on Tuesday and various points of view were compiled for further presentation to the Panglong peace conference.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 28 IS militants killed in fresh Afghan operation: gov't

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, April 26 (Xinhua) -- At least 28 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed during a ground offensive and ensuing airstrikes in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar since early Tuesday, the provincial government said on Wednesday.

"The cleanup operation was conducted in Asad Khel and Ragha localities of Achin district and a huge number of weapons and ammunition were also destroyed," it said in a statement.

The operation was part of the nationwide major military operation codenamed "Hamza" and the raid will continue until the area is cleared of IS militants.

No security force member of civilian was hurt during the raid, the statement noted.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Karzai Meets With Russian Foreign Minister In Moscow

By Faridullah Hussainkhail

Former President Hamid Karzai met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday.

Karzai is in Russia for the Moscow International Security Conference which is aimed at tackling terrorism.  

Karzai’s office said on Wednesday that the former president and Lavrov discussed Afghanistan and regional security. Karzai also thanked Russia for its cooperation and for hosting the recent conference in Moscow on Afghanistan.

Karzai said he hoped Russia’s efforts in helping to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan will continue and that these will eventually lead to direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Karzai said that Afghanistan needs to become a center of cooperation as in the past among countries and not a country where nations confront each other.

Karzai called on Russia to increase and continue its cooperation in terms of helping to strengthen the Afghan government, the statement added.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Govt ‘Covering Up’ Actual Death Toll in Army Base Attack

Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) President Ashraf Ghani
[left] and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah [right] (File Photo)
By Tamim Hamid

While Afghans continue to reel from the Taliban’s deadly attack on 209 Shaheen Corps in the northern province of Balkh, the Afghan government has been accused of hiding the truth about Friday’s bloodbath.  

Sources however have told TOLOnews that the number of casualties was much higher than the figure announced by government.

Based on information gathered from different sources, so far the identity of 256 soldiers from ten provinces have been confirmed.

According to credible sources in Kabul and other provinces so far it is known that 68 soldiers from Badakhshan were killed, 50 soldiers from Nangarhar, 40 soldiers from Baghlan, 33 from Takhar, 24 from Uruzgan, 18 from Helmand, 13 from Kunduz, five from Samangan, three from Kabul and two soldiers from Parwan.

Sources have said that many more died – including soldiers from Laghman, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Shaheen Military Base A Scene Of Total Carnage

By Sharif Amiry

TOLOnews reporter Sharif Amiry was finally allowed access to the scene of Friday’s carnage at the Afghan National Army 209 Shaheen Military Corps in Balkh province.

What he found there was a scene of total destruction and carnage.

An estimated 250-plus soldiers died in the bloodbath after Taliban stormed the base during Friday prayers.

Shaheen Military Corps is a key military base in the country. Now, however, it is a scene of carnage with the smell of blood still hanging in the air.

On Friday, at least 10 insurgents, including three suicide bombers, made their way on to the army base.

One suicide bomber reportedly detonated his explosives outside the mosque on the base, a second detonated his explosives close to bathrooms while the third detonated explosives at the canteen.

All ten were dressed in full army gear and managed to gain access on to the base in two army vehicles. They were armed with rocket launchers, and PK and M249 machine guns, according to officials.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: U.S To Review Afghanistan Strategy Following Army Base Attack

By Mirabed Joyenda

U.S Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that the U.S will review its strategy on Afghanistan, days after Taliban insurgents stormed the 209 Shaheen Army Corps base in northern Balkh province.

He said that one of the reasons of his visit to Afghanistan was to assess the situation and report back to U.S President Donald Trump about the situation in the country.

He said that 2017 will be another tough year for Afghan security forces; however he reiterated that the U.S will continue its support to the Afghan forces.

"We are under no illusions about the challenges associated with this mission," he said, adding that "2017 is going to be another tough year for the valiant Afghan security forces and the international troops who have stood and who will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan against terrorism."

He said that the purpose of his visit was to help make recommendations on America's strategy in Afghanistan moving forward, but he declined to share what those recommendations might be.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Philippine military kills almost 40 militants loyal to IS

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Soldiers
Hanoi (VNA) - The Philippine military said on April 25 that it had killed almost 40 militants loyal to the Islamic State (IS) group, including three Indonesians and a Malaysian, in a major land and air assault in the south.

General Eduardo Ano, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the foreigners were among more than 160 fighters of the Maute group of militants who wanted to join the IS group.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: China launches 1st domestically-made aircraft carrier

By Christopher Bodeen

BEIJING — China has launched its first aircraft carrier built entirely on its own, in a demonstration of the growing technical sophistication of its defense industries and determination to safeguard its maritime territorial claims and crucial trade routes.

The 50,000-ton carrier was towed from its dockyard just after 9 a.m. Wednesday following a ceremony in the northern port city of Dalian, where its predecessor, the Soviet-built Liaoning, also underwent extensive refurbishing before being commissioned in 2012, the Ministry of National Defense said.

Development of the new carrier began in 2013 and construction in late 2015. It's expected to be formally commissioned sometime before 2020, after sea trials and the arrival of its full air complement.

Vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission and Communist Party Central Committee member Fan Changlong presided over the launch, which came just three days after the anniversary of the People's Liberation Army Navy's symbolic founding in 1949.

Also attending was navy commander Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, a former commander of the South Sea Fleet responsible for defending China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.

Reports of the launch said a bottle of champagne was broken across the ship's bow and other craft in the port sounded their horns in celebration.

Read the full story at PhilStar