31 January 2017

Think Tank: Sea, air, land and space updates

Zoe Glasson, Sophie Qin, Madeleine Nyst and Patrick Kennedy

Sea State

US Senator John McCain has made waves around DC with his recently released defence budget white paper, ‘Restoring American Power’. In it, McCain argues for a diversified US military, as opposed to just buying ‘more of the same’. Enter, the much-maligned Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). McCain’s plan calls for the LCS program to be truncated this year and succeeded by a replacement frigate by 2022. To make the move quickly, affordably and at scale, McCain advocates for an acquisition ‘bridge’ until 2022 for the two shipyards building LCSs, allowing them to then compete for the follow-on frigate—with the added benefit of lowering costs and increasing productivity.

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioned its fifth Luyang III-class (Type 052D) destroyer, the Xining, on 22 January. While the PLAN has four Type 052D vessels currently assigned to its South Sea Fleet, this one’s the first to be allocated to the North Sea Fleet. Aside from the geographical distinction, the Type 052D distinguishes itself in other ways: its anti-submarine warfare capabilities are superior to previous classes. Read more about the improvements here.

And closer to home, Adelaide’s Flinders University has signed a memorandum of understanding with four top French engineering schools for academic and research cooperation relating to Australia’s Future Submarine Program.

AUS: HMAS Arunta conducts training with the United States Coast Guard

HMAS Arunta (Image: Wiki Commons)
HMAS Arunta visited Bahrain for her first port visit after commencing operations in the Middle East Region (MER).

The visit provided an opportunity for Arunta’s boarding parties to conduct training with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

Working from the purpose-built and life-like training facilities, the NCIS and USCG teams gave in-depth briefings and hands-on training using specialised search equipment.

Leading Seaman Marine Technician Christopher McDougal felt the training provided a realistic experience.

“The training was extremely helpful, especially being able to conduct deeper level searches on an actual Fishing Dhow,” said LSMT McDougal. 

AUS: Air Force deploys to Nevada for Exercise Red Flag 17-1

RAAF E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel have deployed to Nevada for Exercise Red Flag 17-1, where they will train in the world’s most complex air combat environment.

Alongside counterparts from United States and United Kingdom, approximately 200 RAAF personnel will support and participate in missions involving up to 100 aircraft, flying over 31,000 square kilometres of the Nevada desert.

RAAF Contingent Commander and Director of the Exercise Red Flag 17-1 Combined Air and Space Operations Centre, Group Captain Stuart Bellingham said the Red Flag training environment was unmatched in its complexity and realism.

“Since RAAF personnel first participated in Exercise Red Flag in 1980, this exercise has informed both how we train our people and develop our air power,” Group Captain Bellingham said.

India: Visit of Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy

Vice Admiral RC Wijegunaratne, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy is on an official visit to India from 29 January to 02 February 2017. The visit is aimed at consolidating bilateral naval relations between India and Sri Lanka and to explore new avenues for naval cooperation.

Commander, Sri Lankan Navy will hold bilateral discussions with Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff and other senior officials of the Indian Navy on 30 January 2017.  The Admiral is also scheduled to meet the Chief of the Air Staff, Chief of the Army Staff as well as the Director General, Indian Coast Guard. Calls on of the Hon’ble Minister of State for Defence and Defence Secretary have also been scheduled as part of his official meetings in New Delhi.

Naval cooperation between India and Sri Lanka has been traditionally strong, encompassing a wide span which includes operational interactions through bilateral exercises, Training, Port Calls, Hydrographic co-operation, Special Forces interactions, Capability Building and Capacity Augmentation initiatives. Two Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessels (AOPVs) are also being constructed for the Sri Lankan Navy at M/s Goa Shipyard Limited.

In addition to New Delhi, the Admiral is also scheduled to proceed to Goa where he will be visiting Naval War College and Goa Shipyard Limited besides interacting with Flag Officer Commanding Goa Area. The Admiral would further visit the Training Command of the Indian Navy based at Kochi, where he would be briefed on training aspects and would also visit various training facilities/ professional schools. During his visit to Kochi, the Admiral would also interact with Sri Lankan Naval personnel undergoing training in India. The Commander, Sri Lankan Navy’s visit follows closely on the visit of the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba’s visit to Sri Lanka wherein he also participated in the 7th International Maritime Conference, Galle Dialogue 2016.

News Report: S. Korean Defense Minister Says US Counterpart Confirmed Plans to Deploy THAAD

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo said that US Secretary of Defense James Mattis confirmed plans to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system for countering possible North Korea's threats, local media reported Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Han and Mattis agreed in a telephone conversation that the THAAD system would be deployed in 2017 as scheduled, while the parties would maintain full readiness to respond to any threat from North Korea, according to the Yonhap news agency.

In July 2016, Seoul and Washington agreed to deploy the anti-missile system THAAD in South Korea's Seongju County amid growing tensions in the region spurred by North Korea's ballistic and nuclear tests.

In the latest New Year's address to the nation, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country was finalizing preparations for another intercontinental ballistic missile test.

On September 5, 2016, Pyongyang launched three ballistic missiles in the direction of the Sea of Japan. Several days later it conducted a successful test of a nuclear warhead, which is believed to be the fifth and largest blast since Pyongyang began pursuing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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

News Report: Mock-Up Shows Chinese Land-Based Carrier (Aircraft)

Images of what appears to be a full scale model of a navy-based airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft recently surfaced on Chinese social-media platforms. The aircraft is pictured mounted on land-based carrier mock-up, possibly indicating that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) may place the plane on a carrier in the future.

The photos first appeared January 26 on the website Weibo, showing the model in China’s Hubei Province near Wuhan, looking similar to the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft. 

Some suggest that the pictures point to Beijing developing an aircraft-carrier equipped with catapult-assisted takeoff but arrested recovery (CATOBAR), as a catapult would be required for a E-2 Hawkeye-type craft to take off from an aircraft carrier.

As a result the aircraft could not operate from a carrier like China’s Liaoning, a short takeoff but arrested recovery carrier (STOBAR).

Images implying upgrades to Chinese military have proven true at least twice last year. After pictures showing China’s Type 002 carrier undergoing modifications surfaced in August 2016 it was later revealed that the vessel was in fact being outfitted with catapults. 

In mid-September 2016, photos of a Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 in flight cropped up, also showing changes, in this case to the undercarriage, which would help it conduct takeoffs with the assistance of a catapult.

Currently there are multiple AEW&C programs under the People’s Liberation Army, as a craft integrated onto a carrier may help make future vessels more versatile, perhaps bringing them closer to US naval technology.

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

News Report: Senior Taliban Leader Arrested in Northern Afghan Province of Kunduz

A senior leader of the Taliban terror group, who was responsible for recruiting militants, was arrested in the northern Afghanistan’s province of Kunduz, local media reported on Monday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The man identified as Abdullah was arrested on Sunday during an operation conducted by the Public Order Police forces, the Khaama Press media outlet reported, citing the country’s Interior Ministry.

Another senior Taliban leader Abdul Wakil was also arrested during the operation. The Public Order Police forces confiscated an automatic rifle from the detained militants.

The Taliban has not commented on the reports yet.

Afghanistan is in a state of political and social turmoil, with Taliban insurgents and other extremist factions such as Daesh, outlawed in Russia and many other countries, taking advantage of the instability in the country.

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

News Report: Chinese Army Commander - War With US Increasing Reality

Amid heightening tensions surrounding US President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance, the possibility of a trade war and even physical combat between the world’s two largest economies has become a full-fledged "reality."

On the day that Donald Trump was sworn-in as the 45th President of the United States, Liu Guoshon, a Chinese Central Military Commission official, authored an op-ed pointing out that violence between China and America might not be so far into the future. "A war within the president’s term," and "war breaking out tonight," are not merely slogans, "but the reality," Liu said.

Ian Bremmer, a Stanford-trained political scientist and inventor of the global political risk index, commented that, "Chinese officials are preparing for the worst, and they expect to retaliate decisively in response to any US policies they perceive as against their interests." Bremmer added that Beijing's moves to increase DF-21 missile tests and initiate casual aircraft carrier missions near Taiwan is asserting itself as a warning to Trump, rather than as a show of force.

News Report: Heavy Shelling by Pakistan Causing Avalanches in Kashmir - Indian Army Chief

Both countries have been engaged in heavy shelling with mortars on the border for the last one year. Both armies have lost dozens of soldiers in close firing at the Line of Control, the de-facto border between India and Pakistan.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – The death toll from avalanches in the Himalayan region of Kashmir has risen to 20 over the last week after five more Indian soldiers succumbed to their injuries on Monday. All these five soldiers were rescued from heavy snow in the Machhil sector on Saturday.

“The five Army soldiers, who had been trapped under the snow in Machhil sector on January 28 and subsequently rescued after grueling daylong mission, were today evacuated to Srinagar, despite persistent poor weather conditions, for specialist medical care. Unfortunately, all five brave hearts have succumbed to their injuries,” reads a release sent by Indian Army’s Northern Command.

News Report: N Korea May Test Fire Mid-Range Missile Instead of ICBM Due to Technological Gap

A source in the South Korean Defense Ministry said Pyongyang might test fire an intermediate-range ballistic missile instead of an intercontinental one due to technological gap.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — North Korea may test fire a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) as the country does not possess appropriate technology for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), South Korean media reported Monday citing local military sources.

"There are no signs of an imminent test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea. But we are closely monitoring any new military activities in the country as it could launch an IRBM at any time if leader Kim Jong-un gives the order," a source in the South Korean Defense Ministry said as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

Earlier this month, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the country was ready to launch a ballistic missile at any time and from any location.

Between April and October last year, all eight Musudan missile test flights performed by North Korea reportedly ended in failure.

The political atmosphere on the Korean peninsula has become more tense over recent months, with the United States boosting its military presence in the region amid North Korea's nuclear and military threats.

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

News Report: In a Bid for Defense Exports, India is Giving Contracts to the Private Sector

The Indian government has started allocating big military orders to private firms in order to boost defense manufacturing. The Indian government seeks greater private sector participation to achieve military exports worth $2 bln by 2019.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – The Indian government has signed a sizable contract with Reliance Defense and Engineering Ltd (RDEL) a company promoted by Reliance Infrastructure, in a major boost for private defense manufacturing. The company claimed that it has signed a contract with India’s Ministry of Defense for the design and construction of fourteen (14) Fast Patrol Vessels (‘FPVs’) for the Indian Coast Guard; the value of the deal is $137.68 million. Reliance Defense and Engineering emerged as the winner through a competitive bidding process undertaken by the Defense Ministry. Almost all the private sector and public sector shipyards: L&T, Cochin Shipyard Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd had participated.

News Report: Afghan Police Eliminate Taliban Senior Commander in Country's Southeast

One of Taliban leaders Mawlavi Hamid was killed in the Afghanistan's province of Zabul, according to local media.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Afghan police eliminated Mawlavi Hamid, a Taliban leader, in the country's southeastern province of Zabul, local media reported Monday, citing police officials.

According to the Khaama Press news agency, Hamid was killed along with two other militants around 12:00 p.m. (07:30 GMT) on Sunday.

Hamid was reportedly commanding over the operations of the militants in the province's Arghandab district.

Taliban is a militant group, which seeks to establish a Sharia law state in Afghanistan. The activities of the group prompted political, security and economic instability in the country. In 2016, the group extended the territory under its control, after the United States started to withdraw troops deployed there since 2002.

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

News Report: Former DoD Officials Laud International Development Programs, Question Their Future In Trump Admin

F-35 Lightning Stealth Fighter
By: John Grady

The Trump administration’s focus on “America first” throws into question whether it would launch any new large-scale international joint development programs such as the F-35, a former under secretary of defense for policy said Monday.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Christine Wormuth said, “having that interoperability is increasingly valuable,” particularly when gained through “working with allies and partners on real-world projects.” Over time the development and operation of these systems strengthen trust and increase the depth of relationships with allies and partners, said Wormuth, now a senior adviser on international security at CSIS. Quoting a Special Forces mantra, she added, “you can’t surge trust.”

But other panelists noted that many challenges – plus the current political climate – could stand in the way of launching another major international joint development program in the near term despite the benefits.

News Report: Marine Aviation, Weapons Upgrades Would Support Advance Base Operations

V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor
By: Megan Eckstein

A future naval campaign against an enemy armed with long-range precision weapons will require the Navy and Marine Corps to disaggregate, creating temporal sea and air control with small units that can move from the sea to the shore and back again to meet an objective and then move on to the next task.

This type of maneuver warfare – which relies on expeditionary advance base operations – is supported by some new weapons and platforms coming into the fleet, but other innovations will still be required for the sea services to be successful in this type of operating environment, officials have said.

Director of Expeditionary Warfare Maj. Gen. Christopher Owens (OPNAV N95), while giving a talk with his surface warfare counterpart earlier this month, said Marine Corps aviation advances will help the green forces contribute more to sea and air control.

“We often talk, especially in the aviation world, about BISOG — Blue in support of Green. In amphibious operations what that usually means is the Navy getting the Marines in position to land a landing force,” Owens said during his talk at the Surface Navy Association annual symposium.

News Report: At Funeral of Slain Myanmar Lawyer, Many Fear Threat to Reform

Paul Vrieze

YANGON, MYANMAR — Thousands of mourners gathered at Yayway Cemetery on Yangon's outskirts late Monday to pay tribute to Ko Ni, a prominent Myanmar lawyer and advisor to Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling party, who was assassinated Sunday at Yangon Airport.

Moments of public grief and anguish marked the funeral. Hundreds of Muslim men shouted expressions of faith as they carried his coffin from a mosque to a nearby grave while a huge crowd looked on. Many later lined up to pour a handful of sand on Ko Ni's last resting place.

Nyan Win and several other senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) came to pay their respects.

A party statement said Ko Ni's death was an “irreplaceable loss” for the NLD, while the president's office said his killing was intended to “destabilize” the nation. State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi has not yet reacted to the killing.

Soe Lwin, a NLD member and Muslim resident from Yangon's Hlaing Township who attended the funeral, said, “Everybody was saddened and shocked. We are worried whether there will ever be anyone as competent in law as him.”

News Report: Taliban Assaults District Center in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Heavy clashes have erupted in southern Afghanistan, after Taliban rebels staged a coordinated assault on a district center.

Afghan officials and insurgents have made conflicting claims about Monday’s fighting in the Sangin district of Helmand, the largest of the 34 Afghan provinces.

Provincial government spokesman Omar Zwak told VOA insurgents assaulted multiple security outposts, but Afghan forces repulsed the Taliban. He claimed many assailants were killed and wounded, but would not say whether government forces also suffered casualties.

News Report: Philippines Suspends Bloody Anti-Drug Crackdown

The Philippine police have ended a controversial anti-drug operation in response to the kidnapping and brutal murder of a South Korean businessman by anti-narcotics officers.

National Police Chief Roland Dela Rosa says local anti-narcotics units will go through a period of "internal cleansing" to get rid of rogue officers, whom he described as "scalawags."

Dela Rosa's announcement came just hours after President Rodrigo Duterte openly accused as many as 40 percent of policemen of corruption, as he deals with the fallout over the death of Jee Ick-joo in Manila last October. The suspected officers are accused of kidnapping Jee for ransom.

More than 7,000 people have died since Duterte launched a brutal and deadly crackdown of illicit drugs shortly after taking office last June. Human rights groups say the victims were denied due process of law, but police have claimed self-defense in the killings.

Despite the cloud caused by Jee's death, Duterte is vowing to continue with his anti-drug crackdown across the archipelago until he leaves office in 2022, discarding a promise to end the operations in March of this year.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has issued a statement saying unless Duterte "seeks meaningful accountability" for the bloody crackdown, his order to suspend the operations amounts to nothing more than a public relations stunt.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Experts - US-China Relationship Pivotal in 2017

WASHINGTON — Whether as a candidate or as president, Donald Trump’s remarks and actions, including some of his personnel appointments, make many China observers believe that Sino-U.S. relations will deteriorate sharply, and that the two countries may even head toward a collision.

From harsh criticism on China’s trade practices to breaking longstanding diplomatic protocol to take a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, from questioning the very foundation of U.S.-China relations - the One China policy - to appointing well-known China hawks for important trade positions, President Trump seems to be signaling that he intends to shake up the relationship considered to be the world’s most important and most consequential, especially on the trade front.

Some trade experts believe a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies is inevitable.

Alan Tonelson is the founder of the RealityChek blog, and who served as a research fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council.

“If the Chinese leaders want to suffer major losses that will affect their lives, then go right ahead to have a major trade war with the U.S. because that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” Tonelson told VOA in a telephone interview.

News Story: Former Staffers Alarmed by Trump's National Security Council Shakeup

US President Donald Trump 
By: Aaron Mehta and Joe Gould

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon on Monday downplayed a Trump administration memo directing changes in the structure of the National Security Council, but analysts are still worried the move will lead to politicized decisions on national security. 

On Saturday, President Donald Trump issued guidance for how the NSC would be led going forward, elevating his political adviser, Steve Bannon, to a permanent spot on the committee while adding language permitting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence to attend only "where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed." 

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis defended the language, arguing that there would be no practical consequence because he could think of no situation where the NSC would convene on an issue where Gen. Joe Dunford, the current chairman, would lack the required expertise. 

“From our standpoint we don’t see this as a change. We see this as a continuation of the very critical role the chairman has played in an advisory capacity for both the secretary and chairman over the past 16 years,” Davis said.

Those comments were echoed by White House spokesman Sean Spicer Monday, who insisted that “this idea there has been a change or a downgrade is utter nonsense.” The chairman and intelligence director are both welcome to attend meetings when they wish, he said. 

That may appear to be true, said Loren DeJonge Schulman, a former NSC and DoD official under president Barack Obama. But she raises concerns about the future of the council under Trump. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Trump Immigration Order Shakes US-Iraq Alliance Against ISIS

US President Donald Trump
By: Joe Gould

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration is rocking the relationship with Iraq, America's key ally in the fight against the Islamic State group.

As the US and Iraq prepare to take the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, the Iraqi parliament has passed a measure banning Americans from traveling to the country in response to Trump's ban on travel from Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries, The Associated Press reported. 

“This decision by the U.S. is arbitrary,” Intisar Al-Jabbouri, a Sunni lawmaker from northern Iraq, told Time magazine. “The Iraqi government has the right to reciprocate.”

The Trump administration is facing political heat domestically over its order, which includes a 90-day ban on travel to the US by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, and a 120-day suspension of the US refugee program. 

The order has also reverberated among US allies in the Muslim world, where it should be found “pretty disturbing,” said Ryan Crocker, a former US ambassador to Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon and Afghanistan. That’s because the US signed a bilateral agreement with Iraq that calls for strategic cooperation at every level.

“They know we’re heavily involved in the fight to take Mosul, and they have to be asking themselves, if they’ll do this to the Iraqis, they’ll do it to us,” Crocker said. 

The move raised concerns of both a violent backlash against US advisers and troops, who are in the Middle East for the counter-ISIS fight, and that ISIS could use a perceived Muslim immigration ban as a recruiting tool.

“The Iraqis are of course going nuts, just as they’re about to do the next phase against the Islamic State, and Islamic State social media is celebrating,” Crocker said. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Trump Claims Admin Cuts $600M From F-35; Thank The JPO


WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump, repeating a trick he’s used with the automobile makers, claimed credit today for something he didn’t have much to do with, but that became final during his administration.

Trump told White House reporters, who can’t be expected to know much about the F-35 program, that he had saved taxpayers $600 million in the program through his jawboning. Lockheed he said, would bring the cost down on the next 90 planes.

“We cut approximately $600 million off the F-35 fighter, and that only amounts to 90 planes out of close to 3,000 planes,” Trump said, noting that he got that figure from Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson. The president claimed he stepped in because the negotiations weren’t going anywhere and, boom, the price came down. “They were having a lot of difficulty. There was no movement. And I was able to get $600 million approximately off those planes. So I think that was a great achievement,”

Let’s break this down. The 90-plane reference makes clear that Trump was referring to the next contract for what is known as LRIP 10. The Air Force’s F-35A, the cheapest of the three Joint Strike Fighter models, costs about $102 million per plane in the preceding contract, known as LRIP 9. On Dec. 19, a month before Trump took the oath of office, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan announced that LRIP 10 would bring the cost down by about 6 percent, which works out to $6.1 million per plane. Multiply that by 90 and you’ve got $551 million. That isn’t quite $600 million, but it will do, as my father used to say, for government work. While the F-35B and the F-35C are more expensive, 76 of the 90 aircraft planes are the A model so it’s a reasonable interpretation.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: Afghanistan is open to talks with Taliban, says envoy

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Afghanistan's top envoy to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal said his government is open to unconditional peace negotiations with the Taliban insurgents.

"We are in contact with the Qatar office and also a number of influential individual Taliban leaders and commanders but there are no formal negotiations," the Afghan ambassador told Xinhua in Islamabad on Monday.

The remarks came after foreign and Afghan media reported senior Afghan officials had met the Taliban political representatives in Qatar.

The Afghan government and the Taliban had not officially commented the reports.

"Taliban could bring any proposal to the negotiating table but we have ruled out preconditions for talks," Zakhilwal said when asked about the Taliban's certain conditions ahead of the talks.

Taliban negotiators have publicly called for reopening of their political office in Qatar, lifting of UN sanctions on their senior leaders and release of prisoners.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: IS group attempts to consolidate foothold in Afghan eastern region

KABUL, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The hardliner Islamic State (IS) group has been attempting to expand and consolidate its gripe in the eastern region of the war-battered Afghanistan, locals said.

A branch of the Iraq-Syria based extremist group, the militants loyal to IS who surfaced in Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province along the border with Pakistan's tribal areas nearly two years ago, have gained grounds in parts of Kot, Pachiragam, Dehbala, Haskamina and Ghani khil districts.

IS militants which are notorious for their brutality, attacked security checkpoints in Ghani Khil district last week but fled away after suffering casualties and leaving three dead bodies behind.

"Attack on security checkpoint in Ghani Khil district demonstrate that Daesh (IS) attempt to expand activities in the eastern region," a local analyst Tahir Zaland told local media recently.

He also warned that negligence by government would enable the "terrorist group" to enlarge its clutch and create more law and order problems in the area.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Myanmar's president to visit Cambodia later this week

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's president U Htin Kyaw will pay a state visit to Cambodia from Feb. 3 to 6 at the invitation of Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, according to a Cambodian Foreign Ministry statement on Monday.

During the visit, the Myanmar leader will be received in a royal audience at the Royal Palace by Sihamoni before he has bilateral talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Peace Palace.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Gunman who shoots dead legal advisor is not Mandalay resident - Myanmar police

YANGON, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's Mandalay regional police said on Monday that the gunman who shot dead a legal advisor of the ruling party is not a native resident in Mandalay, although he was initially identified as living in the city.

U Ko Ni, legal advisor of Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, was gunned down at the Yangon international Airport on Sunday afternoon upon his arrival back from Indonesia.

The gunman U Kyi Lin was originally identified as a Mandalay resident.

But Mandalay region police chief Han Tun told the press that the authorities traced the address shown in the ID card which the gunman left when he was arrested, but found he was not actually residing at the address.

Meanwhile, Mandalay Region Security and Border Affairs Minister Colonel Myo Min Aung told reporters at the parliament Monday that the gunman is further identified as an ex-prisoner from Mandalay prison who was sentenced to 27 years' jail term for stealing Buddha statue, but was once released in 2014 under amnesty order after serving for 11 years' term.

The prominent legal adviser of the NLD, who is also parliamentary lawyer, was gunned down at the airport Sunday 5:00 p.m. local time, upon his arrival back from a senior leadership program in Jakarta.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Duterte tells U.S. not to build military depots in Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte
MANILA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accused the United States of building "depots" in the Philippines to store live ammunition, warning that he would abrogate a bilateral treaty if Washington is indeed building permanent structures on Philippine soil.

"Here is my worry. They (The Americans) are making depots, they are unloading arms in the Philippines now, in Palawan, Cagayan de Oro and Pampanga," he told a news conference in the presidential palace after midnight Sunday.

"I am serving notice to the Armed Forces of the U.S.: Do not do it. I will not allow it," Duterte said, citing a provision in the Visiting Forces Agreement signed by both countries that no permanent facilities should be built on the Philippine territory.

He said "a depot by any other name is a depot ... It is prohibited under the law. It's not allowed by the treaty," he said.

Duterte said building a depot and stoking them with live ammunition is dangerous to the Philippines and its people, describing it as a magnet for attack.

"I won't allow that. You place us all in danger," he said, vowing to stop the construction.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Papua New Guinea PM invites Trump to APEC 2018

SYDNEY, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The leader of Papua New Guinea on Monday, invited new United States President Donald Trump to the APEC summit to be held in the islands capital of Port Moresby next year.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill sent a letter to Trump, to welcome him to join the leaders from 20 other nations at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference to be held in November 2018.

Read the full story at Xinhua

PacificSentinel: 23000th post

News Story: At Least 5 Dead In Shooting At Quebec City Mosque - Media

At least five people were killed and several people wounded after gunmen opened fire at a mosque in Quebec City, media reported.

A Quebec police spokesman confirmed that there were people killed, but did not say how many.

Two suspects in the shooting were arrested, he said.

Police did not rule out the possibility of a third suspect who had fled the scene.
The motive of the attack was not immediately clear. Police set up a perimeter around the mosque.

A few dozen people were inside the Islamic Cultural Center when the shooting began just after 8:00 pm, CBC reported, citing its French-language service Radio-Canada.

According to CBC, Quebec City Police Constable Etienne Doyon said at the time of the attack mostly men were gathered at the mosque for evening prayers.

The center's director said at least five people were killed, but that information had not been confirmed by police, CBC said.

According to witnesses cited by Radio-Canada, two men entered the center and opened fire on the people inside.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Heavy Clashes Ongoing Following Helmand Attack

Dozens of Taliban insurgents stormed Sangin district in southern Helmand province early Monday morning after a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a local army compound, local officials said.

According to Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor, “the attack started after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at an army base.”

The suicide bomber targeted an army compound at about 6am Monday. Dozens of insurgents then stormed the area.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Officials Call For War On Corruption At All Levels

By Mirabed Joyenda

The commander of the Combined Security Transition Command (CSTC-A) Robert Kaiser on Sunday said that  corruption inflicts millions of dollars in financial loses to the Afghan government, and called on officials to take firm steps to stop the scourge.

Corruption also leads to the defection of soldiers from check posts, he said.

Kaiser had been speaking in Kabul on Sunday during the inauguration ceremony of the new Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center’s (ACJC) building funded by the UK government.

The center was established a few months ago to tackle major corruption cases of government officials.

“Corruption is the enemy of Afghanistan and it kills from the inside out, corruption is why police walk away from their checkpoints ” said Robert Kaiser.

In addition to this, the British ambassador to Kabul Dominic Jermey said that the Afghan government should do more to end the trend and to fight corruption effectively.

Jermey said: “Today is a landmark moment – the inauguration of the UK-funded permanent facility for the ACJC; an institution that is really demonstrating that no longer will high-level corruption in Afghanistan be tolerated.  

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Scores of Nangarhar Residents in Daesh ‘Custody’

By Ziar Yaad

A number of residents in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Sunday said dozens of residents from Achin and Pachiragam districts are being held in Daesh custody and that no significant efforts have been made by government to secure their release.

They said that Daesh has taken dozens of residents hostage over the past year.

“Government has done nothing, the tribal elders have also held talks with Daesh militants and there are hopes that these hostages are released. However none of them have so far been released by Daesh,” said a member of Nangarhar provincial council Zabiullah Ezmarai.

“Mothers lost their children in Pachiragam, they do not have information about whether they are still alive or dead and government is doing nothing in this respect,” said a resident of Khogyani district, Farhad.

“They also took hostages in Achin, all people must be mobilized against Daesh,” another resident, Khan Mohammad, said.

Meanwhile, some tribal elders in Nangarhar have accused government of neglecting the safe release of these hostages from Daesh custody.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Govt Keeping Mum On Kandahar Explosion Findings

By Sharif Amiri

Kandahar provincial council members claimed on Sunday government is not revealing its findings following a probe into the recent bomb blast at the Kandahar governor’s guesthouse which claimed the lives of 12 people, including five United Arab Emirates diplomats. 

“No information has been given to people and no satisfactory evidence has been shown to them,” Sayed Ahmad Silab, a member of the council, said.

The incident is being investigated by a commission appointed by the Afghan government; in addition to the task team, the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) and NATO are also investigating the incident. 

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) however said investigations into the explosion are still being conducted and that it is a complicated case. 

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Pakistan Arrests 79 Afghan Nationals Trying To Enter Iran

Pakistan media reported on Monday that 79 Afghan nationals who were trying to cross into Iran illegally were arrested by Pakistan border police.

The Pakistan border police launched an operation in Mashkail area and arrested the Afghan nationals, according to Pakistan media

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: South Korea will continue to develop and strengthen defense collaboration with United States

Ministry of National Defense (MND) of South Korea has selected international defense cooperation as one of its 4 defense priorities and been dedicated to enhancing the ‘World-wide Korean Army’ status. Not only has it solidified the relationship with the U.S., our largest ally, but has also worked on continuous exchanges and cooperation with surrounding nations which have an influence on the situation around the Korean Peninsula.

Korea-U.S. alliance that has been continuously nurtured since the Korean War (Jun 25, 1950) is a precious asset that ensures safety around the Korean Peninsula. Our two nations have developed a comprehensive strategic alliance based on a firm military alliance.

Critically, the two countries have restrained the North Korea’s additional provocations by maintaining a strong combined defense posture. To counter North Korea's two nuclear tests and long-range missile launches, the U.S. deployed strategic bombers 11 times including the B-1B and B-52, sending a clear warning message. In particular, the U.S. core strategic weapon F-22 fighter ( Raptor) called ’the king of air battles’, was deployed in the Korean Peninsula in response to the 4th nuclear test last February, raising the military pressure on the North. Beyond these, the U.S. developed nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers 8 times.

Cooperation in the area of space and cyber security warfare has also been expanded. Considering the rapidly changing space situation, the MND will set up a high level Tabletop Exercise (TTX), and the Korea-U.S. navies have agreed on promoting scientific technology cooperation in the areas of robotics, autonomous technology, and more.

Read the full story at Army Recognition

News Story: Thailand Confirms Budget to Procure First of Three S26T Submarine from China

Chinese Type 039A/041 Yuan class SSK
The Thai government has approved the purchase of a submarine from China for $ 380 million, Thai officials said on Wednesday. Last year, the government did not approve the sale. Upon approval from the cabinet, Thailand will order the submarine under a government-to-government deal. The total cost of the S26T submarine program which calls for three units will be USD $1.02 billion.

Local media The Bangkok Post reported that the S26T “has a submerged displacement of 2,600 tons and is equipped with an air-independent propulsion [AIP] system.”

Read the full story at Navy Recognition

News Story: Duterte tells US not to store weapons in Philippine military camps

Hanoi (VNA) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on January 29 asked the US not to store weapons in military camps in the Philippines under the two countries’ Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed in 2014.

President Duterte said at a press conference that he would consider abrogating the EDCA which allows US troops temporarily station in certain military camps in the Philippines, if the Americans build weapon depots in those camps.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Better defence diplomacy – a target of 2017

Hanoi (VNA) – Promoting proactive and active international integration and the effectiveness of defence diplomacy is one of the focuses of military activities in 2017, said Minister of National Defence Ngo Xuan Lich.

In an interview with Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, Ngo Xuan Lich, who is a Politburo member and Vice Secretary of the Central Military Commission, elaborated that bilateral and multilateral defence cooperation will be enhanced with priorities given to strengthening links with ASEAN and neighbouring countries and traditionally-friendly nations.

Connections with big countries and strategic partners will be fostered while defence relations with potential partners will also be expanded.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Police hunt killer teen in temple grenade attack

News Story: Media lashes out at 'control' moves


NRSA says bill won't hinder press freedom

Thirty media organisations are stepping up moves against a bill they say will pave the way for the regime to control the media.

The National Reform Steering Assembly's (NRSA) media reform steering panel, which is working on the bill, remains adamant the measure is not designed to constrain freedom of the press.

Media groups on Sunday slammed the bill, saying it is not based on principles of free press.

Instead, they say, the document is crafted to allow state interference and control of the media.

The measure is called the "bill on rights protection, ethical promotion and standards of media professionals", a name called Orwellian by some.

A crucial point of concern involves the proposed "national media profession council" which would have government members and is empowered to penalise media outlets who violate codes of conduct.

The council is made of 13 members, four of whom are permanent secretaries of finance, digital economy and society, culture, and the Office of the PM.

The proposed participation of the permanent secretaries has sparked criticism that they are the channel of political power to meddle in the media.

Another involves a requirement that every media professional must be licensed by the government.

Read the full story at BangkokPost