28 February 2017

Think Tank: Sea, air, land and space updates (28-Feb-2017)

Zoe Glasson, Sophie Qin, Madeleine Nyst and Patrick Kennedy

Sea State

Cyber attack combat-readiness, intelligence exploitation, drone intelligence, systems streamlining and integrated infrastructure will all be part of the Royal Navy’s forthcoming Information Warrior 17 exercise. Perhaps the coolest aspect of the exercise is that it’ll explore artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, both as a potential threat and as a combat tool. The exercise will test whether AI can be used as a warship’s “mind”, controlling weapons targeting, issuing commands and improving threat response strategies.

The Royal Australian Navy is also war-gaming this week in the inaugural Exercise Ocean Explorer. Taking place off the West Australian coast, the exercise involves more than 17 ships and aircraft including contributions from Spain, New Zealand and Italy. It aims ‘to train ships to work together in a series of complex and dynamic warfare scenarios’, with the international participants also having the opportunity to grapple with the added challenges around language, customs and technology differences.

Finnish defence firm Patria showcased its Nemo Container mortar system at IDEX in Abu Dhabi on 20 February. Essentially, it’s a shipping container integrated with a 120mm Nemo mortar turret that can be fitted to both land and sea platforms. Check out this quick video explaining its versatility.

Think Tank: Tiptoeing around the nine-dash line - Southeast Asia after ASEAN

Amelia Long and Peter Chalk

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit to Australia marked a significant leap forward for a bilateral relationship characterised by its fluctuations. The reduction of restrictions on some exports between the countries and the full restoration of defence cooperation after January’s bump in the road are indicators of the ‘robust relationship’ between Australia and Indonesia that Jokowi described in Sydney.

For both Indonesia and Australia, maintaining neutrality and navigating that fine line between China and the United States remains a first-order priority. Although reports of potential joint TNI-ADF patrols in the South China Sea surfaced last week, they remained absent from the official joint statement—likely due to Indonesia’s concern over the message that partnering with a US treaty ally would send to China. But such reports, as well as the importance both leaders placed on maintaining peace, security and stability in Southeast Asia, indicate the extent to which strategic competition between the US and China is being felt across the region.

Southeast Asia finds itself at the heart of the US­–­China rivalry, which has placed greater strategic weight and heightened attendant stresses on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ASEAN member states now face a dilemma over collective action that challenges not only perceptions of ASEAN’s efficacy but also Southeast Asia’s overall security. How those states and other interested actors—including the People’s Republic of China, the US, Australia and Japan—choose to act will shape the region for decades to come.

AUS: Air Force’s New Growlers Roar into Avalon

RAAF's 1st E/A-18G Growler at it's unveiling at Boeing (2016)
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, today welcomed the first EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force.

Flying into the Australian International Airshow at Avalon from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in the United States, the Growlers are a potent and technologically advanced new capability for the Australian Defence Force.

Minister Payne said the Growler was a true force-multiplier.

“The Growler can disrupt military electronic systems, such as radars, to protect personnel and improve situational awareness,” Minister Payne said.

“Australia is the only country outside the United States flying the EA-18G Growler and its arrival is a significant leap forward in Australia’s joint electronic warfare capability and introduces a dedicated electronic attack option,” Minister Payne said.

AUS: $14.5 million contract awarded for RAAF future generation fighter simulators

Defence has partnered with CAE to provide comprehensive support and training for the Royal Australian Air force’s (RAAF) Hawk MK127 training system.

Valued at approximately AU$14.5m over a 4.5 year period, the contract with CAE will see 9 new jobs created, 3 at RAAF Base Pearce and 6 at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP today announced the in-service support contract for RAAF’s Full Mission Simulators acquired under Project Air 5348.

‘This contract will see CAE provide classroom and simulator instructors at RAAF Base Williamtown as well as maintenance and support services at both RAAF Base Pearce and Williamtown,’ Minister Pyne said.

‘The Hawk Mk127 Full Mission Simulators all feature a high-fidelity replica of the Hawk Mk127 cockpit and will play a vital role in preparing fast-jet air crews for the RAAF next generation fighter aircraft.’

The in-service support contract was awarded under a contract change proposal to the existing Australian Defence Force Simulator Through Life Support In-Service Support contract with CAE.

There will be a phase-in period for CAE while the full mission simulators become operational during the first half of 2017.

News Report: North Korean Government Reported to Be Behind Kim Jong Nam's Murder

Kim Jong-Nam (Image: Flickr User - Conecta Abogados)
The North Korean authorities could stand behind the murder of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of the country's leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean media reported, citing an intelligence agency.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) revealed that four of the eight suspects involved into the murder worked for North Korea’s Ministry of State Security and Foreign Ministry, the Yonhap news agency reported.

The intelligence agency added that, although Pyongyang remains silent over the death, more and more high-ranking and foreign officials were becoming aware of the news.

Kim Jong Nam was killed on February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting for his flight. The highly toxic gas was sprayed in his face as he was about to board a flight to Macau.

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

News Report: US Assault Ship Bonhomme Richard Returns to Patrol in Pacific Fleet Area

USS Bonhomme Richard (Image: Wiki Commons)
The US amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard left Japan for routine patrol in the Asia-Pacific region, the US Pacific Fleet said in a press release on Monday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Bonhomme Richard is scheduled to conduct joint force operations with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Units and prepare for readiness exercises.

"Forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) departed Sasebo, Japan for a regularly-scheduled patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility," the release stated.

In October, the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group conducted training drills in the disputed South China Sea.

Despite objections from Beijing, the US Navy routinely patrols the South China and conducts what it calls freedom of navigation exercises to ensure free movement in maritime shipping routes.

Bonhomme Richard is forward-deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations, which covers 48 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, from the International Date Line to the India-Pakistan border, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.

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

News Report: Indian Military to Aim Pellet Guns at the Feet of Protesting Kashmiris

Indian Policeman firing a pellet gun (Image: Flickr User - Two Circles)
Chief of Central Reserve Police Force said that the injuries could be minimized but cannot be brought to a zero level. Chances are high that Protesting Kashmiris in Indian administered Kashmir may face pellet guns at their feet; for now.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India's Central Reserve Police Force, responsible for handling protests in Kashmir, has said that a softer version of weapon would be used against protesters in Indian administered Kashmir.

"The pellet guns are one of the many options that we will use when we operate to control protesters in the coming days. PAVA (packed with chilli) shells have a long shelf life and they are good in certain situations… But we have made it clear that the CRPF man on ground will use whatever the situation demands. However, we have asked our men to fire at the feet now," K Durga Prasad, Director General of CRPF, told Media.

News Report: Question Paper Leak Scam Puts Indian Army's Recruitment on Hold

The Indian Army is currently conducting an internal inquiry into the possible involvement of its officials in the racket involving alleged leak of question papers ahead of the nationwide examinations held for recruitment to various posts on Sunday.

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — The racket was unearthed after the police conducted mid-night raids at various hotels across the states of Maharashtra and Goa wherein a large number of aspirants were found in possession of the leaked question papers. They were either mugging up the answers or writing them down, according to police sources. More than 350 aspirants were rounded up for questioning by the police.

News Report: N Korean Ex-Minister Allegedly Detained After Dismissal Over Abuse of Power

North Korea's former Minister of State Security Kim Won Hong has been arrested, following his dismissal in late January over the abuse of power, South Korean media reported Monday.

TOKYO (Sputnik) — Five other senior officials may have been executed recently, Yonhap news agency claimed, citing South Korea's spy agency.

According to the outlet, the representative of the South Korean intelligence agency also alleged that Pyongyang was responsible for the death of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother. Kim was known to disapprove of North Korea's supreme leader's policies.

Kim Jong Nam was killed on February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting for his flight.

A highly toxic gas was sprayed in his face as he was about to board a flight to Macau.

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

News Report: S Korea Deploys Toxin Detecting Devices to Prevent Possible Chemical Attacks

The South Korean National Institute of Chemical Safety deployed the modern chemical detector devices at seven regional branches of the Environment Ministry and six chemical disaster prevention centers across the country as part of the measures against possible chemical attacks, media reported Monday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to Yonhap news agency, the new equipment comprised 13 chemical agent detectors, 13 drones, six infrared spectrometers for analyzing liquids and solids, as well as six vehicles for emergency spot inspections.

The measures were taken amid the ongoing investigation of the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, who was killed by a toxic chemical, called the VX nerve agent.

The equipment is planned to be used during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and other major sports events.

Kim, traveling under the name of Kim Chol, was killed on February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting for his flight. The highly toxic gas was sprayed in his face as he was about to board a flight to Macau. The local police arrested a number of suspects, including an Indonesian woman, who said she had been given about $90 to smear Kim's face with "baby oil" as part of a television prank.

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

News Report: 'Rounding Off Sharp Edges' - China and India Launch Strategic Dialogue

China and India have held the latest round of what they refer to as a strategic dialogue which is meant to help both countries "round off sharp edges" in the bilateral relationship overshadowed by unresolved disputes, differences over security issues and mutual mistrust, experts told Sputnik China.

Tatyana Shaumyan, an expert at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, pointed out that both sides will reap benefits if the new mechanism works as intended.

"Both countries remain extremely wary of each other despite the fact that they have increased the bilateral trade turnover and established closer political contacts on all levels. Historical experience is still a cause for concern," she explained. "The strategic dialogue reflects a wish to turn this historical page. Any mechanism that will allow both sides to understand each other, round off sharp edges and find compromise is useful."

Ren Yuanzhe, a ‎researcher at the China Foreign Affairs University, said that in recent years China and India have invested into several bilateral mechanisms, including high-level talks, think tanks and humanitarian contacts.

News Report: Washington, Tokyo, Seoul Explore Ways to Restrict Pyongyang's Weapons Funding

Nike Ching

STATE DEPARTMENT — President Donald Trump's administration is ramping up pressure against North Korea's nuclear ambition, while building ties with regional allies and partners to counter the rising danger of a nuclear-armed North Korea.

In a statement Monday, the State Department said North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs directly threaten the security of the South Korea, Japan and the United States.

The statement came after talks in which officials from Washington, Tokyo and Seoul examined ways to restrict Pyongyang's weapons funding and "explored a joint way forward toward the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea."

State Department Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun hosted the trilateral meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to address Pyongyang's nuclear threat, following a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Bonn, Germany.

News Report: Indonesian Police Kill Suspected Bomber on West Java Island

A suspected terrorist has been shot and killed by police in Indonesia after an improvised bomb exploded near a government building in the city of Bandung.

West Java police chief Anton Charliyan says no one was injured when a pressure cooker-rigged device exploded Monday in a nearby vacant lot.

Charliyan says the suspect ran into the building after the explosion and started a fire inside before he was eventually shot and killed during a gunbattle with police.

Indonesia has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks by Islamic militants for years, including the 2002 bombing attack on a Bali island nightclub that left 202 people dead.

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

News Report: Trump Looks to Boost Pentagon Spending, Cut State Dept. Budget

US Marines come ashore during an Amphibious Exercise
U.S. President Donald Trump is kicking off the long federal budget process with proposals to increase defense spending, while making cuts to budgets for the State Department and other agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Administration officials say the White House is detailing its vision for federal spending in a memo to agencies on Monday. The Office of Management and Budget says a more complete budget outline is expected to be released in mid-March.

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly promised to boost the military, and in a speech Friday he pledged "one of the greatest military buildups in American history."

He has also said he would not seek cuts in programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Whatever the president proposes to agencies Monday will surely not be the final budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins in October.

Each agency will respond with arguments for what it thinks should be its budget, and ultimately it is up to Congress to vote on federal spending.

Trump is meeting Monday at the White House with House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A day later, he addresses a joint session of Congress in a major speech six weeks into his presidency.

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

News Story: Russia’s fifth-gen fighter blitz

MiG-29 (Image: Wiki Commons)
By: Matthew Bodner

MOSCOW — Russia is moving aggressively on another traditional patron of U.S. arms exports: the United Arab Emirates. Rather than cheap small arms and land-based platforms, Russian companies appear to have identified a market opportunity: relatively cost-effective alternatives to Western fifth-generation fighters.  

The head of Russia’s largest defense conglomerate Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, told reporters at the IDEX show in Abu Dabi this week that Rostec would partner with the UAE Defense Ministry to develop a light fifth-generation fighter jet based on the MiG-29. Development is slated to begin in 2018, and production should launch seven to eight years after that. 

“It takes quite a long period of time to develop,” Chemezov told Defense News in an exclusive interview. “We anticipate local production here in [UAE], for the needs of [UAE].” 

The announcement comes as Russia is engaging in a region-wide diplomatic and economic press to rebuild old alliances and forge new ones. And after 18 months of aerial operations in Syria, countries that have strong appetites for fighter jets are taking closer looks at what Russia has to offer.  

The deal with UAE likely took some in the industry by surprise, says Dr. Theodore Karasik, senior advisor at the Washington-based Gulf State Analytics. Several Western firms have seen high-profile fourth-gen fighter deals with UAE fall through in recent years, but efforts to hash out an agreement have continued. 

Under the agreement, Russia is set to provide UAE with fifth-generation fighter technology, produced locally in partnership with UAE defense firms. “This in itself is completely different than any previous aerospace deals between UAE and the West,” Karasik says. “Whether it will work is another question.”  

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: India seeks homemade electronic warfare suites for Russian helos

By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — The Indian Air Force is turning to domestic companies to build electronic warfare suites for its fleet of Russian Mi-17V-5 helicopters.

"We will submit a new proposal in the next three months to Ministry of Defence to seek project approval to source around 200 EW suites [that] cost around $100 million from domestic companies" a senior Air Force official said.

"Supply of complete set of EW suites appears to be beyond the capability of any single [Indian] company," said retired Air Force air marshal and defense analyst Daljit Singh.

However, the domestic companies will need to tie up with overseas original equipment manufacturers to build EW suites, said a senior MoD official, adding that the "MoD is hopeful that the domestic companies will be able to supply the suites for the [Russian] helicopters." 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Vietnam seeks closer defense trade ties with Israel

By: Barbara Opall-Rome

TEL AVIV – In a rare public acknowledgement of growing defense trade with Israel, Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang said Israel “has become a big partner of Vietnam” and should work to deepen bilateral ties in research, development and technology transfer. 

Quang’s remarks came at a reception held in Hanoi for Yitzhak Aharonovitch, chairman of Israel’s state-owned IMI Systems, where the Vietnamese leader cited “consistently growing” cooperation, “especially in the areas of security and defense.” 

According to an IMI statement released Monday, Aharonovitch, a former minister for public security, said the Israeli company he now chairs has been investing in Vietnam since 1999 and hoped that “mutual collaboration and high technology knowledge transfer” with Vietnam would continue to grow. 

“Aharonovitch stressed that the advanced weapon systems developed and manufactured by IMI Systems correspond to the advanced technology used by the Vietnamese Army,” the statement read. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: McCain, Thornberry Decry Trump Pentagon Budget Boost

US President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump is pledging “an historic increase in defense spending” of $54 billion to $603 billion for the fiscal 2018 budget, but neither Congressional Republicans nor defense budgets experts were very impressed at first glance.

“Such a budget request would represent an increase of $18.5 billion above the level proposed by President Obama for fiscal year 2018. In other words, President Trump intends to submit a defense budget that is a mere three percent above President Obama’s defense budget, which has left our military underfunded, undersized, and unready to confront threats to our national security,” Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says in a statement.

McCain said he and the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry, believe we should substantially spend more. They “agree,” McCain says, “a defense budget of $640 billion is required in fiscal year 2018 as a first step toward restoring military readiness, rebuilding our military, and reshaping our forces for the realities of 21st century warfare. With a world on fire, America cannot secure peace through strength with just three percent more than President Obama’s budget. We can and must do better.”

Read the full story at BreakingDefense

News Story: Russia and Tajikistan to strengthen cooperation in security

Russian President Vladimir Putin (File Photo)
ASTANA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin, while visiting Dushanbe on Monday, declared readiness to cooperate with Tajikistan in the field of security and stability.

The decision was made in a joint statement following Putin's meeting with Tajik President Emomalii Rahmon, local reports said.

The two presidents discussed current situation in Afghanistan and highlighted the importance of ensuring its stability and development.

Putin and Rahmon also discussed necessity to work on law enforcement and coordination of the states' security agencies, as well as in the military and military-technical fields.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Indian court sentences 11 terrorists to life in jail for sedition

NEW DELHI, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- A special court in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh Monday sentenced to life in jail 11 members of the banned home-grown terror outfit, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), for sedition and possession of arms and explosives.

"It appears from the activities of the convicts that they don't have faith in the lawfully and constitutionally established Government of India... Their acts are against national unity and integrity of the country. They are involved in illegal activities by fomenting religious hatred with an aim to create serious danger for the entire humanity," the court said.

Among the 11 convicts who were handed down life imprisonment by the special court were top SIMI leader Safdar Nagori, who was said to be the face of the terror outfit.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Germany condemns Abu Sayyaf on beheading its citizen

BERLIN, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The German government on Monday condemned the heinous act by the Philippine terror group Abu Sayyaf, which brutally killed a German citizen.

The Islamist extremists published a video showing the beheading process of the 70-year old man, Juergen Gustav Kantner.

Kantner was abducted in early November when he encountered a raid traveling with his partner Sabine Merz off Sabah in Malaysia. Merz was killed by the Islamist militants on the scene.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Trump meets with senior Chinese official, pledging to enhance high-level exchanges, cooperation

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday met with visiting Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the White House, pledging to enhance bilateral high-level exchanges and cooperation in all areas.

During the meeting, Yang first conveyed greetings to Trump from Chinese President Xi Jinping, while the U.S. president asked Yang to relay his greetings to President Xi.

Yang noted that President Xi not long ago held an important phone conversation with President Trump, which offered clear guidance on the direction of the development of the China-U.S. relations in the next stage.

By following through on the spirit of the phone conversation and upholding the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, China is willing to enhance exchanges with the U.S. at all levels from top down, and expand coordination and cooperation with U.S. on bilateral, regional and global issues, respect each others' core interests and major concerns, Yang said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China voices resolute opposition to THAAD deployment in ROK

BEIJING, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- China on Monday warned against the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in the Republic of Korea (ROK), saying China's security interests should not be undermined.

There were media reports that the Lotte Group board of directors met on Monday to approve a land swap deal between the military and Lotte -- a move to facilitate the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).

The THAAD deployment initiated by the United States and the ROK seriously undermines regional strategic balance and the strategic security interests of regional countries including China, and is not favorable to safeguarding peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a regular news briefing.

Read the full story at Xinhua

NOTE: The “PacificSentinel” Link in the above was added by PacificSentinel for clarity & context.

News Story: S.Korea's Lotte decides to offer golf course for THAAD deployment & S.Korea to speed up THAAD deployment process after land swap deal with Lotte

S.Korea's Lotte decides to offer golf course for THAAD deployment

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Lotte Group, South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate, decided Monday to offer its golf course to be used as a site for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).

A South Korean defense ministry official told Xinhua that the ministry was informed by the golf course of Lotte's decision to approve the land swap contract between the military and Lotte through a board of directors meeting.

The ministry official said the signing ceremony would happen as early as Tuesday, adding that more details would be announced separately after the signing.

Lotte International, a Lotte Group unit possessing the golf course, held the board meeting to decide on whether give a green light to the deal to exchange military land for the golf course in southeast South Korea.

Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to deploy one THAAD battery to the golf course in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province by the end of this year.

The land swap deal was initially scheduled to be inked in January, but it was delayed amid strong oppositions at home and abroad. On Feb. 3, Lotte held a board meeting, in which it failed to approve the contract.

Read the full story at Xinhua


S.Korea to speed up THAAD deployment process after land swap deal with Lotte

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- South Korea is expected to speed up the process of deploying the U.S. missile shield in its soil after Lotte Group, the country's fifth-largest conglomerate, decided to give a green light to the land swap contract with the defense ministry.

A South Korean defense ministry official told Xinhua that he was informed of Lotte's decision to approve the deal to exchange its golf course in southeast South Korea for military land in Gyeonggi province near the capital Seoul.

Lotte International, a Lotte Group unit possessing the golf course where the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery is set to be sited, held a board of directors meeting earlier in the day to approve the deal.

Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to deploy one THAAD battery by the end of this year. The site was changed in November into the golf course amid strong oppositions from residents.

The ministry official said the signing ceremony would happen as early as Tuesday, adding that more details would be announced separately after the signing.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Slain legal advisor, taxi driver inspire Myanmar to keep striving towards goals - state counselor

YANGON, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has honored slain legal advisor of the ruling party U Ko Ni and taxi driver U Nay Win, encouraging citizens to be brave by keeping in mind that they have martyr-like heroes and good citizens among the governing party.

At a memorial service in Yangon Sunday for U Ko Ni, the slain legal advisor of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and high court lawyer, and U Nay Win, the taxi driver who gave his life while trying to apprehend the assassin, Aung San Suu Kyi said the respected attorney's intellect and high ideals would be missed and the taxi driver's bravery would not be forgotten.

Suu Kyi said the two men represented the highest ideals of Myanmar society, describing U Ko Ni as belonging to the supportive group for legal affairs in the NLD to help for rule of law with firm belief and energy.

"Only if our country abounds with such persons like him will the practice of what we want to do within the framework of law be strengthened in our country," she added.

She also described U Nay Win as a hero who upheld the ideals of a decent society, saying that he acted bravely with the belief that heroism and selfless acts should not be neglected in a society where rule of law must be exercised.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Indonesia to deploy 10,000 personnel to secure visit of Saudi Arabia's King Salman

JAKARTA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- A senior Indonesian police officer said on Monday that 10,000 joint forces personnel would be deployed to secure the upcoming visit of Saudi Arabian King Salman bin AbdulAziz Al Saud in Indonesia.

The joint personnel would come from the military and police, to be stationed in places planned to be attended by the Saudi royal family during their visit in the country, Indonesian Police Chief Deputy Syafruddin said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Afghan security forces repel Taliban attack in N. province, killing 14

SHIBERGHAN, Afghanistan, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Afghan security forces repelled a Taliban attack in the country's northern province of Jawzjan, killing 14 militants, the provincial police chief said on Monday.

"Taliban militants attacked security checkpoints in Darzab district Sunday night. The security forces fought back the attackers. As a result 14 militants were killed and nine others wounded," Gen. Rahmatullah Turkistani told Xinhua.

Sporadic clashes have been continuing in the remote district as of Monday morning, police official said, adding among the injured was a foreign militant from neighboring Uzbekistan.

No security force member was hurt during the clashes, he said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Afghan Taliban confirms death of key commander in northern Kunduz province

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Afghan Taliban fighters have confirmed the death of the outfit's key commander Mullah Abdul Salam and shadow governor of the northern Kunduz province.

A statement released by the armed outfit and sent to media outlets on Monday, the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Majahid confirmed that "Mullah Abdul Salam, the governor of Kunduz province was martyred by U.S. drone attack in Dasht-e-Archi district on Sunday."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: IS commander among 4 militants killed in N. Afghanistan

SHIBERGHAN, Afghanistan, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Four militants loyal to the Islamic State (IS) group including notorious commander Qari Qudrat were killed in the northern Jawzjan province of Afghanistan on Monday, provincial police chief Rahmatullah Turkistani said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Two Arrested Over Missing Police Weapons In Balkh

An Afghan Police Officer
By Sayed Aref Musavi

Balkh police on Monday confirmed the arrest of an officer and financial official of the Police Special Unit in connection with weapons missing from unit’s arsenal.

Balkh police spokesman Sherjan Durani said at least 50 weapons are missing from the unit.
Durani said the police weapons cache is assessed at the end of every year as a matter of procedure.

He said documents relating to the weapons and other evidence connected to the case, have been sent to judicial bodies for further investigation.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Afghanistan Is Not A Threat to Any Country - Ghani

“Afghanistan is not a threat to any country, Afghanistan is an independent country and will remain so for hundreds of years to come,” President Ashraf Ghani said on Monday.

He was speaking at the ceremony marking the National Day of Security Forces held at the Kabul military airport. In attendance were senior military officials, National Security Advisor, Haneef Atmar and other military officials.

“Those who want to change Afghanistan into a battle field, will take their wishes to the grave with them,” Ghani said.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Trump promises massive buildup of entire US military

President Donald Trump on Friday promised a historic buildup of America's already vast military, but said he hoped he would never need to use it.

We are "putting in a massive budget request for our beloved military and we will be substantially upgrading all of our military," Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just outside Washington,

"Offensive. Defensive. Everything. Bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And hopefully we'll never have to use it," he added.

Trump last month signed an executive order to begin increasing the size of the US armed forces, promising new aircraft, naval ships and more resources for the Pentagon.

The order provided few specifics but Trump made clear during last year's campaign and in recent weeks that he wants to enlarge the ranks of the military and expand its fleets of aircraft and ships.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Iran complying with nuclear deal, says UN watchdog


Iran is complying with the landmark nuclear deal it sealed with major world powers in 2015, according to a report from the UN watchdog seen by AFP on Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency addressed key limits set under the agreement, which is under intense scrutiny after the election of US President Donald Trump.

The report said Iran is not pursuing construction of its existing heavy water research reactor and has not enriched uranium above an agreed 3.67 percent-limit.

And Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium -- which can be used for peaceful purposes, but when further processed for a nuclear weapon -- was 101.7 kilos (225 pounds), well below the agreed level of 300 kilos.

Senior diplomats said that Tehran recently came close to reaching the limit.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: US senator - China's militarization of disputed sea should not be tolerated

By Patricia Lourdes Viray

MANILA, Philippines — An American senator condemned China's activities in the disputed South China Sea following reports that it has nearly completed weapon structures on three of its largest outposts.

Washington-based CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative recently released satellite images showing eight buildings being constructed on  Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), Mischief (Panganiban) and Subi (Zamora) Reefs in the Spratly Islands.

US Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said that China's construction of structures designed to house surface-to-air missiles violates its promises not to militarize the region.

"Despite claims to the contrary, China is continuing to change the facts on the ground in the South China Sea," Sullivan said in a statement.

Sullivan noted that $5.3 trillion of trade - $1.2 trillion of it from the US - passes each year in the South China Sea.

China appears to be restricting access to the region by extending its defense capabilities throughout the so-called nine-dash line in the contested waters.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Satellite images show China's nearly completed weapon structures in Spratlys

China's Artificial Island built on Fiery Cross Reef
By Patricia Lourdes Viray

MANILA, Philippines — Recent satellite images released by a Washington-based think tank appear to show that China has nearly completed its weapon structures on three of its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) confirmed earlier reports that Beijing is near completion of structures that will house surface-to-air missile systems on Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), Mischief (Panganiban) and Subi (Zamora) Reefs in the Spratly Islands.

The deployment of weapon systems to China's three largest outposts in the Spratly Islands, which are also being claimed by the Philippines, would keep with its efforts to extend its defense capabilities throughout the so-called nine-dash line, the AMTI said.

Satellite imagery taken on Nov. 2, 2016 and again on February 7 show eight of the buildings being constructed on each of the three outposts.

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News Story: Philippines should adhere to UNCLOS – Del Rosario

Map charting the Arbitration Tribunals Findings (Click Image to Enlarge)
By Pia Lee-Brago

MANILA, Philippines -  The Philippines must be firm in adhering to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the ruling handed down by an arbitral tribunal, which invalidated China’s claim to the South China Sea, former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said over the weekend.

Del Rosario said the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a unique opportunity to show the country’s resolve and focus on the principle of centrality and the chair’s ability to propose the agenda.

“Our proposed agenda should have included an open discussion on the outcome of the arbitral tribunal, which effectively addresses a lawful approach to ASEAN’s most crucial security concern in the region,” Del Rosario told The STAR. 

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. has said the ASEAN is fast-tracking the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

Del Rosario emphasized that the development of a COC framework, with the Philippines as chair and pushing for its completion, would be “an exercise in futility if the tribunal outcome is not factored in and it is not recognized as being a most important component of the framework.” 

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