31 March 2017

USA: Bonhomme Richard ESG concludes certification exercise

By MC2 Raymond D. Diza III, Amphibious Squadron 11 Public Affairs

With USS Green Bay (LPD 20) on the horizon, Marines approach USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during recent amphibious integration training leading up to CERTEX. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Jeanette Mullinax) >>

PHILIPPINE SEA - The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG), along with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), completed certification exercise (CERTEX), March 29.

CERTEX is conducted to evaluate the integration of all elements of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), testing their combined ability to plan for and execute mission essential tasks.

“Every Sailor and Marine, no matter what job they hold, plays an important role within our blue-green team,” said Capt. George Doyon, commander, Amphibious Squadron 11. “It is through these trainings that we see how each of our small parts play into the bigger picture and maintain our mission capabilities as a formidable amphibious force.” Ships of the ESG and 31st MEU conducted CERTEX from March 21-28 in the vicinity of Okinawa, Japan where the 31st MEU is forward deployed to.

India: De-Induction Of Indian Navy’s TU142M Aircraft and Induction of Boeing P 8 I Into INAS 312

A Tu-142 of the Indian Navy (Image: Wiki Commons)
After having served the Indian Navy with pride and élan for 29 years, during which it accomplished 30,000 hrs of accident free flying, the TU142M aircraft were given a befitting farewell in a special ceremony organised today (29 Mar 2017) at INS Rajali, India’s premiere Naval Air Station in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu. The ceremony was attended by Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, ADC Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral HCS Bisht, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, serving and retired officers and men, who have served in the INAS 312 and other senior officials from the Navy as well as from civil administration. 

Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Sunil Lanba lauded the stellar role played by TU142M aircraft in the defence of the country as a Maritime Reconnaissance and Airborne ASW aircraft. He recollected the crucial role played by the Squadron in Operation Cactus in Maldives, where fleeing mercenaries were detected and tracked till they were apprehended by Indian warships. The Admiral also mentioned the maiden participation by TU’s as the first Indian Naval Aircraft in the Republic Day flypast at New Delhi on 26 Jan 1999. He also acknowledged the professionalism of the pilots, the maintainers and all those personnel associated with flying and maintaining the aircraft in peak efficiency during their service. The rich legacy of the Squadron would continue as the baton is being passed on to the proud crew of the worthy successors viz. the P-8 I Squadron, said the Admiral. 

News Report: Why US Will Not Receive Regional Support in S China Sea Dispute With China

An article by US Congressman Ted Yoho published by the National Interest website analyzes possible options that the US could undertake in response to the development of Chinese military infrastructure in the South China Sea.

Yoho carefully analyzes the current situation and existing US arsenal and tries to suggest various options for action in response to the Chinese advance in the region.

In an interview with Sputnik China, Russian military expert Vasily Kashin said that the article by Yoho shows just how limited, in essence, the available US options are to respond to the strengthening of China.

In his article Yoho makes an important recognition that the actions taken by the US to contain and punish China can only be one-sided. Organizing collective action is quite impossible because of the success of the Chinese policy in ASEAN.

“The US will not succeed in receiving support from the regional powers. This reduces the reserve of actions available to the US to quite a limit. The remaining proposals made by Yoho shouldn’t be even brought to light as they are so meaningless,” Kashin said.

News Report: Indian Army Chief Visits Nepal in the Footsteps of Chinese Defense Minister

Close on the heels of Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan’s visit to Nepal, India’s Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat embarked on a four-day visit to Nepal to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — On the first day of his visit, Gen Rawat was conferred the Honorary General rank of the Nepal Army by Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari, who handed over an insignia, a sword and a certificate to the visiting Army chief.

India and Nepal have the tradition since 1950 of decorating each other's army chiefs with the honorary general rank.

The Indian Army chief met Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Defense Minister Bal Krishna Khan and Nepali Army chief General Rajendra Chhetri. Gen Rawat handed over seven horses to his Nepalese counterpart.

General Rawat's visit will strengthen defense cooperation between the two countries and foster more frequent high-level military exchanges between the two neighbors.

News Report: China to Conduct Maiden Flight of World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft in May

CGI of the AVIC AG600 Amphibious Aircraft
China is planning to carry out the maiden flight of AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, in mid-May, local media reported Thursday.

BEIJING (Sputnik) — In February, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said that the test flight of the aircraft would be conducted in the first half of 2017, not specifying the exact date.

According to China Radio International (CRI), the aircraft designed for firefighting and rescue missions will hold the first flight over land in May, while the first water takeoff will be held in the second half of 2017.

China is currently conducting tests necessary to prepare the plane for the flight, the broadcaster added.

AVIC finished manufacturing of the aircraft in July 2016 in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. The plane has four turboprop engines and has a maximum range of some 2,800 miles.

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

News Report: South Korean Military Says Pyongyang on Verge of Sixth Nuclear Test

On Wednesday, South Korean news outlets reported that a sixth nuclear test by North Korea is imminent, and could take place as early as next week.

An unnamed source within the South Korean military told Korea Joongang Daily, "We have intelligence that North Korea may conduct its sixth nuclear test in the first week of April and are in the process of confirming this…We have determined that North Korea is expected to finish all preparations for a nuclear test by March 31." 

Speculation has been swirling about North Korea’s possible plans to conduct another nuclear test as Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to meet US President Donald Trump at the billionaire’s Palm Beach, Florida, resort Mar-A-Lago in early April.

Lending credence to the rumblings were satellite images recently released by North Korean watchdog site 38 North indicating that excavation activities had picked up near North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site. The presence of equipment trailers and possibly communications cables indicate an upcoming test, but the images themselves are not definitive. 

News Report: US Deploys F-35s to South Korea For Joint Drills in Show of Force Against North

Officials at the US Defense Department are sending F-35Bs, the country’s newest strike fighter, to participate in this year’s joint military drills with South Korea. The annual exercises are taking place as tensions with North Korea continue to rise.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters,"This is the first time we have operated the F-35B in the Republic of Korea." 

Pyongyang reportedly conducted a ballistic missile engine test on Friday, and CNN reported that the technology could be used in an intercontinental ballistic missile in the future.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called the engine test "a great event of historic significance," that would signal a "new birth" of Pyongyang’s rocket industry. 

News Story: India, Russia make progress toward Ka-226T helicopter production

Kamov Ka-226T (Image: Wiki Commons)
By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — India and Russia have drawn the road map for the joint production of Kamov Ka-226T light utility helicopters in the South Asian country, kick-starting the $1 billion program. 

"With the road map now in place, the production of Kamov 226T helicopters has formally taken off," said a top executive of the state enterprise Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which was the production agency nominated by the two nations. 

Gopal Sutar, the chief of media communications at HAL, said: "The helicopters are to be produced through a joint venture company as per the intergovernment agreement between the two countries in October 2016, and the road map for the acquisition is finalized." 

The joint production of the helicopters in India now awaits formal approval by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will lead to the new production entity Indo-Russian Helicopters Private Limited. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: China says weapons won't stop unification with Taiwan

By: Ben Blanchard

BEIJING — China's Ministry of National Defense said Thursday it was futile for Taiwan to think it could use arms to prevent unification, as the self-ruled democratic island looks to fresh arms sales by the United States amid what it sees as a growing Chinese threat. 

China has never renounced the use of force to bring under its control what it deems a wayward province, and Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense says China has more than 1,000 missiles directed at the island. 

The Trump administration is crafting a big new arms package for Taiwan that could include advanced rocket systems and anti-ship missiles to defend against China, U.S. officials said earlier this month, a deal sure to anger Beijing. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: 'Bolster our ballistic missile defense,' urges Japan ruling party

By: Kiyoshi Takenaka and Nobuhiro Kubo

TOKYO — Japan's ruling party on Thursday urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government to consider acquiring the capability to hit enemy bases and to beef up missile defense, as North Korea defies U.N. sanctions with its nuclear and missile development. 

"North Korea's provocations have reached a level where our country can by no means overlook them. ... We cannot afford to lose any time to bolster our ballistic missile defense," said a Liberal Democratic Party proposal submitted to Abe. 

Japan has so far avoided taking the controversial and costly step of acquiring bombers or weapons such as cruise missiles with enough range to strike other countries, relying instead on its U.S. ally to take the fight to its enemies. 

But the growing threat posed by Pyongyang, including a simultaneous launch of four rockets earlier this month, is adding weight to an argument that aiming for the archer rather than his arrows is a more effective defense. 

"Our assessment is that threat from North Korea has advanced to a new stage, and this assessment is shared by the United States," Abe said at a ceremony where the proposal was submitted. "We intend to grasp today's proposal firmly."

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: DPRK, Malaysia reach agreement on disputes over DPRK national's death in Kuala Lumpur

Kim Jong-Nam (Image: Flickr User - Conecta Abogados)
PYONGYANG, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said late Thursday it has reached an agreement with Malaysia on the dispute over the death of a DPRK national in Kuala Lumpur last month.

In a joint communique issued by the Malaysian and DPRK negotiating parties, Malaysia has agreed to transfer the body of the deceased to his family after the latter produced all the required documentation.

"Both countries also agreed to lift the ban imposed on citizens of the other country and guarantee safety and security within their respective territory," said the communique carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

"This would allow the nine Malaysians presently in Pyongyang to return to Malaysia and DPRK citizens in Kuala Lumpur to depart Malaysia," it said.

The DPRK and Malaysia were plunged into a dispute over the death of a DPRK national in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13 at the city's airport.

Read the full story at Xinhua


PacificSentinel: Note how China is trying to help the DPRK cover up the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, with it's "dispute over the death" and "a DPRK national" instead of naming him and pointing out the FACT he was the older brother of the dear leader removed for being inconvenient.

News Story: Hope, concern co-exist among S.Korean residents opposing THAAD deployment

SEONGJU, SOUTH KOREA, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Hope and concern co-exited among South Korean residents living in a little, peaceful village where the U.S. missile shield, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), is set to be deployed as early as next month.

Five trucks loaded with unidentified equipments attempted Wednesday to pass through the entrance road to the golf course in the Soseong-ri village, in which Seoul and Washington agreed to install one THAAD battery.

The attempt was thwarted by villagers and civic group activists, the number of them reaching about 100, as they sat in the middle of the road to block what the defense ministry said were the trucks carrying machines necessary for an environmental evaluation.

The attempts were made twice early in the morning and at about noon Wednesday, but the trucks returned back in the end, leading the villagers, mostly those in their 70s and 80s, to feel jubilant over their first victory.

"Grandpas and grandmas living here felt happy after the trucks came back," one of advocacy group activists who joined the anti-THAAD protest, told Xinhua on Thursday at the village which has a population of about 160.

The activist said almost 400 police officers surrounded the villagers and anti-THAAD activists, threatening to make them dispersed forcibly for what the police claimed was the violation of law.

Despite the threats, there was no violence or clash between them reported on the day.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Iran urges U.S. naval forces to leave Persian Gulf

TEHRAN, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Iran's defense minister on Thursday called on the U.S. naval forces to leave the Persian Gulf, Tasnim news agency reported.

"What is the business of the Americans in the Persian Gulf? They are better to leave this region and do not cause problems for the regional states," Hossein Dehqan said.

"Is it acceptable to lay the red carpet for an ignorant armed thief who enters one's house," Dehqan said in a reaction to the U.S. naval commanders' claims that the Iranian naval forces harass U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Iran denies interference in regional states' affairs

TEHRAN, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations raised recently by the Arab League that Tehran interferes in its neighbors' internal affairs, Press TV reported on Thursday.

Iran foreign policy has always been based on "good-neighborly relations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistan executes hardcore terrorist - army

ISLAMABAD, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan on Thursday hanged a "hardcore terrorist" who was involved in committing heinous offenses relating to terrorism, the Pakistani military said.

Tahir, an active member of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, was involved in a jail break in the northwestern Bannu district in April in 2012, and attacks on security forces.

Heavily armed Taliban militants had attacked the prison and released over 350 prisoners and mostly of them were militants.

An army statement by its media wing the Inter-Services Public Relation said that Tahir was convicted by a military court and was sent to gallows in District Jail Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

The statement said the militant had admitted his offenses before the magistrate and the trial court.

This is the third execution this month in terrorism-related cases.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 7 killed in Bangladesh police raid on militants' hideout

DHAKA, March 30 (Xinhua) -- At least seven suspected militants were killed on Thursday after Bangladeshi police stormed a house where members of the Neo-JMB were holed up, police said.

Bangladesh's Couner-Terrorism Police Unit Chief Monirul Islam declared the "Operation Hit Back" was over.

"Seven to eight bodies were found scattered at the militant den in Moulvibazar's Nasirnagar," he told reporters.

The senior police officer said the militants were most likely killed in "suicide explosions."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Attempts to forcefully resist reunification doomed to fail - spokesperson

BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Attempts to use force to resist reunification of the motherland will lead nowhere, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday while commenting on Taiwan's military drills.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Malaysia says to release body of Kim Jong Nam to DPRK

Kim Jong-Nam (Image: Flickr User - Conecta Abogados)
KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia will release the body of Kim Jong Nam to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and allow its nationals to leave, after the nine stranded Malaysian citizens in DPRK were freed, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement on Thursday.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: DPRK accuses S. Korean officials of teaming up with U.S. over nuclear issue

From the: YES! We Only JUST Figured
That Out
PYONGYANG, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Thursday accused some South Korean officials of trying to make inter-Korean relations "irreversible" by seeking "strengthened cooperation over the nuclear issue" with the United States against the DPRK.

The official daily Rodong Sinmun (Labor Daily) said the chief of the South Korean presidential security office and U.S. White House security advisers recently met in Washington "to stage the anti-DPRK confab."

The chairmen of joint chiefs of staff of the two countries also recently discussed "counteraction" against the DPRK over the phone. Besides, South Korea is launching a diplomatic offensive in some Asian countries to seek support over the DPRK nuclear issue, the newspaper said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: DPRK says to hold U.S. responsible for likely outbreak of war on Korean Peninsula

PYONGYANG, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Thursday it will hold the United States responsible if a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, in the latest development of an exchange of accusations between Pyongyang and Washington.

Speaking at a meeting gathering foreign diplomats and journalists based here, DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Sin Hong Chol said the Korean Peninsula is on the brink of war, as the ongoing U.S.-South Korea joint military games involve a special drill designed to ultimately behead the DPRK leadership and destroy the country's nuclear and missile bases.

The DPRK military warned last week it would "launch preemptive strike at a time of its own choice and its own style" as the DPRK has been openly threatened with "special operations" by U.S. troops to behead its leadership and destroy the country's nuclear facilities.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department on Monday described the warning by the DPRK military as provocative and inflammatory.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: DPRK slams U.S. for orchestrating efforts to tighten financial sanctions against Pyongyang

PYONGYANG, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has slammed the United States for orchestrating efforts to tighten financial sanctions against Pyongyang.

At a plenary meeting of the International Financial Supervisory Body held in Paris in February, the U.S.-led hostile forces "again staged a farce of re-listing the DPRK as a target of 'countermeasure' for blocking its financial transactions with other countries," the Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry as saying on Thursday.

"They pressurized the Society for World Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) headquartered in Belgium into terminating its financial communication services to the banks of the DPRK," said the spokesman.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 5 civilians killed in northern Afghan shelling - police

TALUQAN, Afghanistan, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Five civilians were killed and three others wounded overnight as a result of Taliban militants' shelling in the northern province of Takhar, police said Thursday.

"The insurgents fired several rounds of mortar shell on security checkpoints in Lalah Guzar locality, Khwaja Bahawuddin district last night," Mahfozullah Akbari, police spokesman of the 808 Spin Zaar Police Zone based in the region, told Xinhua.

"But the shelling struck the nearby houses and as a result, five innocent civilians were martyred and three others wounded," he said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Russia Urges Direct Peace Talks With Taliban

By Samim Faramarz

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed deep concerns over the continuing deterioration in security in Afghanistan, suggesting that the Afghan government and the Taliban must engage in direct peace talks to end the ongoing turmoil.

In a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday, Putin said that Moscow warmly welcomes Iran’s involvement in promoting direct peace and reconciliation talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgents.

"We discussed the situation in Afghanistan, stressing the importance of national reconciliation in that country," Putin said.

"Russia believes that Iran made a fruitful contribution at multilateral talks in Moscow in February by joining the international efforts aimed at the launch of a constructive dialogue between the Afghan government and Taliban militants," Putin added.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government has said that it is waiting to see if Moscow adopts serious measures against countries sponsoring terrorism.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Islamabad’s Envoy To U.S Says Peace Critical To Pakistan

By Kathy Whitehead

Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Pakistan newly appointed ambassador to the United States, said this week at the U.S institute of Peace in Washington that after clearing vast tracts of land of terrorists, his government is now focused on rooting them out in urban areas.

He said his country has come a long way in the fight against terrorism and are “clearing up vast territories bordering Afghanistan, which became home to many terrorists."

“Today the entire federally administrated areas have been cleared up.”

Chaudhry said the topic of Afghanistan was extremely important to Pakistan.

"There is full consensus in Pakistan that peace in Afghanistan is absolutely imperative to Pakistan."

He said instability in Afghanistan spills over into his country and that the security situation in Afghanistan "is not encouraging. It is not good."

He said Islamabad was concerned about a number of issues pertaining to Afghanistan, one of which is that only “60 percent of territory (in the country) is under government control.”

Chaudhry went on to say Islamabad was also worried that members of terrorist groups had rebranded themselves as Daesh in Afghanistan - which is a "source of huge concern for us particularly because the Daesh concentration is in the provinces bordering Pakistan, particularly in Nangarhar."

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Malaysia, China plan to set up high-level defence committee

Kuala Lumpur (VNA) – Malaysia and China are planning to establish a high-level committee with the participation of their defence ministers to discuss all aspects in bilateral defence cooperation.

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said after a meeting with Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China Xu Qiliang on March 29 that the committee would be co-chaired by himself and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan. 

It will touch on all aspects in bilateral defence relations, he said, expressing his hope that the agreement on the establishment of the committee will be inked soon.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Vietnam protests Taiwan’s live-fire drill in Vietnam’s waters

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam resolutely protests against Taiwan (China)’s live-fire drill in waters around Ba Binh in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago and demands that Taiwan not to repeat such activity, stated Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Le Hai Binh on March 30.

Responding to reporters’ queries on Vietnam’s reaction to Taiwan’s live-fire exercise in Ba Binh waters, Binh declared that the move “seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over Truong Sa archipelago.”

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: PH Air Force has now 8 supersonic jets, eyeing procurement of 36 more FA-50s

Philippine Air Force FA-50PH (File Photo)
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has now eight jets in its inventory while the delivery of the rest of the jets will be completed this year.

The fourth batch of FA-50PH jets with tail number 007 and 008 arrived on March 29 at the Haribon Hangar, Air Force City, Clark Air Base in Pampanga with the Vice Commander of PAF, Major General Conrado V. Parra Jr. AFP, as Guest of Honor.

Last year, IHS Jane’s reported the PAF confirmed it would look to secure government approval for 36 additional FA-50s after the delivery of the initial 12 aircraft.

Read the full story at Tankler

News Story: DFA chief - Duterte misquoted on Benham Rise issue

By Patricia Lourdes Viray

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte was again taken out of context when he said that Chinese ships are allowed to survey Benham Rise, the Philippines' top diplomat said Thursday.

Duterte earlier said that he does not see the reported presence of Chinese ships in the 13-million-hectare area off the coast of Aurora as an "incursion" into the country's territorial waters.

Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said that what Duterte meant was that the Chinese are welcome to conduct a friendly visit to the Philippines.

"He wasn't referring to Benham Rise. He was referring to, for example Russia sent a ship here, you're welcome to visit as long as it's friendly or in accordance with Philippine law. It wasn't in connection with the Benham Rise issue," Manalo said in an interview with ANC's Hot Copy on Headstart.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Philippines, China to hold direct talks on South China Sea

By Pia Lee-Brago

MANILA, Philippines -  The Philippines and China will hold direct talks on their maritime dispute in May, Filipino officials said yesterday, as President Duterte seeks stronger economic ties with Beijing.

China has invited officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for a visit to start discussions on a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The DFA yesterday confirmed China is proposing to hold and host the bilateral consultation meeting with the Philippines in May.

“This is a new proposal, a bilateral consultation mechanism specifically on the South China Sea,” foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Philippines and China agreed during the 20th round of Sino-Philippine diplomatic consultation last January to establish a bilateral mechanism on the South China Sea issue.

The two foreign ministries will act as coordinators to discuss issues of mutual concern and promote maritime cooperation and security. 

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Duterte to US - Why didn't you send armada vs China islands?

By Jim Gomez

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he has asked the U.S. ambassador why America did not deploy an armada of warships to pressure China to stop constructing man-made islands that are now at the heart of regional concerns in the disputed South China Sea.

Duterte said in a speech that U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim was unable to reply to the question when they met Monday in southern Davao City, where the president had a separate meeting with the Chinese ambassador. While criticizing the U.S., Duterte did not berate China's behavior in his speech.

Duterte said he told Kim that he was surprised by what he described as U.S. inaction when newspapers were publishing pictures of China's construction of runways and other structures on the newly built islands in the disputed waters.

"Had America really wanted to avoid trouble, early on ... why did you not send the armada of the 7th Fleet which is stationed there in the Pacific, you just make a U-turn and go there and tell them right on their face, stop it?" Duterte said he asked Kim, referring to the U.S. naval fleet based in Japan.

Kim, who arrived in Manila last year as American ambassador, replied that he was assigned elsewhere at the time and could not give an answer, Duterte said.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Indonesia, Malaysia can enter Phl to pursue Sayyaf

By Roel Pareño

ZAMBOANGA CITY , Philippines  – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will allow its counterparts from Indonesia and Malaysia to enter Philippine waters to track down Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command said allowing the presence of Indonesian and Malaysian military forces in maritime areas of common concern is provided under the trilateral agreement.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia entered into an agreement last year allowing the three countries to conduct patrols in the waters off Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

“Based on the agreement, we can allow the hot pursuit to neutralize the threat provided there is prior coordination with the concerned countries,” Galvez said.

 Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are also planning to designate an area for the deployment of navy and air force multi-forces on rotational basis.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: US official airs concern on Phl’s drug war

By Emmanuel Tupas

MANILA, Philippines -  While the United States recognizes the Philippine government’s commitment in the fight against illegal drugs, it is concerned about the way the campaign is being implemented under the Duterte administration, with rising reports of rampant killings and human rights abuses.

“The United States does recognize the Philippines’ commitment to fight drugs but… the Philippine government approach raises some significant concerns relating to human rights and due process,” Luis Arreaga, principal deputy assistant secretary of the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said in a teleconference from Washington Tuesday evening.

“We are deeply concerned about reports of extrajudicial killings by or at the behest of government authorities in the Philippines,” Arreaga said.

On Monday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported 6,011 deaths labeled as homicide cases since Duterte took office in July last year.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Japan ruling party urges strike ability amid N. Korea threat

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's ruling party urged the government Thursday to consider arming itself with more advanced and offensive capability, such as striking enemy targets with cruise missiles, further loosening the self-defense-only military posture the country has had since the end of World War II.

The Liberal Democratic Party's council on defense policy urged the government to immediately start studying ways to bolster Japan's capability to intercept missiles with a system such as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD system, that the U.S. and Seoul have agreed to install in South Korea.

The panel cited a "new level of threat" from North Korea, which fired four missiles this month, three of them landing inside Japan-claimed exclusive economic waters.

"North Korea's provocative acts have reached a level that Japan absolutely cannot overlook," the party's security panel said in the proposal given to Abe. "We should not waste any time to strengthen our ballistic missile defense."

Read the full story at The Mainichi

News Story: Netherlands rep speaks for NATO members in opposing nuke ban treaty

NEW YORK -- A Dutch official participating in a United Nations conference here to negotiate a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons remarked that a pact without wide support from nuclear powers would not be viable.

The representative from the Netherlands made the remarks at a March 28 session of the first round of talks on the Nuclear Weapons Convention at U.N. Headquarters, as if to represent the voices of NATO member states. The meeting has been boycotted by the United States and other nuclear powers as well as most NATO members, which rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Addressing the predominantly pro-treaty audience, the Dutch official opined that any nuclear weapons ban treaty must be consistent with obligations imposed upon NATO members.

Read the full story at The Mainichi

30 March 2017

USA: Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group to deploy to Western Pacific

From U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs

File photo of USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Dewey (DDG 105). (U.S. Navy/MC2 Declan Barnes) >>

SAN DIEGO - Ships and units from the Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group (Sterett-Dewey SAG) will depart San Diego for a regularly-scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific, March 31.

The command staff of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31 and the guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Dewey (DDG 105) will deploy with the embarked helicopter detachments from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 49 and HSM 78.

The Sterett-Dewey SAG will operate with regional navies to conduct routine patrols, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation activities to enhance regional security and stability.

USA: Carrier Strike Group 1, JMSDF conduct bilateral operations

From Carrier Strike Group 1 Public Affairs

Ships of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and JMSDF steam in formation, March 29. (JMSDF photo) >>

EAST CHINA SEA - Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) concluded an at-sea bilateral exercise in the East China Sea, March 29.

The U.S. Navy and JMSDF operated together March 26-29 to increase proficiency in basic maritime skills and improve response capabilities.

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) were accompanied by JMSDF destroyers JS Hamagiri (DD-155), JS Samidare (DD-106), JS Sazanami (DD-113), JS Umigiri (DD-158) and JS Yudachi (DD-103).

USA: Air Force Official Details ‘National Aircrew Crisis’

By Karen Parrish
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2017 — A confluence of circumstances in the Air Force has “birthed a national aircrew crisis,” the service’s manpower chief warned the House Armed Service Committee’s military personnel subcommittee today.

Several factors contribute to the crisis, Lt. Gen. Gina M. Grosso, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel services told the House panel.

Those factors include 26 years of high operational tempo, commercial industry’s demand for pilots and “cultural issues that affect the quality of life and service for our airmen,” she said. 

Grosso testified about aviation shortfalls alongside Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Lt. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert P. Burke and director of Army Aviation Maj. Gen. Erik C. Peterson.

Industry: Pakistan strengthens helicopter fleet renewal with additional AW139s order

An AW139 (File Photo)
  • Further AW139s for utility, SAR and EMS with deliveries starting in early 2018
  • The AW139 proves the preferred choice for a number of military and government customers around the world
  • Bestseller helicopter with over 1000 units sold to more than 250 customers in over 70 nations and nearly 900 units in service to date

Leonardo announced today that the Government of Pakistan has signed a new order for an undisclosed number of additional AgustaWestland AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopters. The aircraft will be used to perform utility, SAR (Search and Rescue) and EMS (Emergency Medical Service) operations across the nation. Deliveries are expected to start in early 2018.

The contract is a further step towards the completion of fleet renewal programmes spread over several batches plus logistic support and training. This event is a major achievement for Leonardo expanding the already successful presence of the AW139 model in the country. A fast growing fleet of AW139s is already in service in Pakistan, with several units operated by the Pakistan Government for relief and transport duties. The AW139 is the perfect fit to Pakistan’s operational environment, delivering outstanding capabilities and hot & high performance unmatched by any other existing helicopter type in the same class.

News Report: 'THAAD is a Nail That the US-Japan Alliance is Hammering Into Korea'

In the expert community of South Korea there is a growing conviction that the rapid deployment of the US THAAD system demonstrates the United States’ unwillingness to solve the North Korean nuclear problem in cooperation with China.

Realizing that the DPRK will not abandon the development of its nuclear program, the US has made a “strategic turn” from the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula to the deployment of THAAD, thereby dragging South Korea into a deep abyss by trying to win the competition with China.

In the National Assembly [Parliament] of the Republic of Korea, a seminar was held on the feasibility of deploying American THAAD missile defense complexes.

In an interview with Sputnik, South Korean security experts commented on the effectiveness and feasibility of THAAD in terms of defense and strategic interests of South Korea.

Kim Dongyeop, professor of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, said that, “THAAD is a nail that the US-Japan alliance is hammering into Korea.”