30 June 2017

AUS: Marking the end of RAMSI

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) will come to a close on 30 June 2017 after nearly 14 years of assistance provided to the Solomon Islands Government.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, acknowledged the significant Defence contribution to RAMSI.

“The outstanding success of RAMSI reflects the enduring commitment of Australia and its regional partners in working together to assist the people of the Solomon Islands,” Minister Payne said.

“As an Australian-led mission, RAMSI included assistance from 15 nations and supported the rebuilding of peace and stability in the Solomon Islands.

“The Defence contribution to RAMSI under Operation ANODE has been significant with more than 7,000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and Defence civilians deployed to the Solomon Islands with rotations of Defence Force personnel from Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.”

AUS: Talisman Saber 2017 officially opened in Sydney

Australia's largest military exercise, Talisman Saber, was officially opened today aboard the United States Landing Helicopter Dock the USS Bonhomme Richard (BHR) off the Sydney coast.

Minister for Urban Development, the Honourable Paul Fletcher MP, representing the Minister for Defence, and the US Charge d'Affaires, Mr James Carouso, officially announced the start of the combined military exercise taking place from late June through to late July. Field training will occur in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, near Rockhampton and Mount Bundy Training Area, south of Darwin.

The Minister was joined by the US Pacific Forces Commander, Admiral ADM Harry B. Harris, Jr and Officer Conducting the Exercise, Australia's Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston along with other senior Australian Defence Force.

Vice Admiral Johnston said the exercise is important to highlight and certify the interoperability between the forces.

“Talisman Saber is the premier Australia‑United States bilateral exercise,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.

USA: Exercise Talisman Saber 17 Commences in Australia

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr (Image: Wiki Commons)
By Terri Moon Cronk 
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2017 — Talisman Saber is a realistic and challenging exercise that provides opportunities for the United States and Australia to innovatively prepare for regional and global security challenges, Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said today.

Speaking at the opening ceremony aboard the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at sea off the coast of eastern Australia, the admiral said Pacom is partnering in the biennial exercise with Australian allies for high-end warfighting scenarios for the seventh time. About 33,000 American and Australian service members are taking part.

“Exercises like Talisman Saber are precisely where we really learn how to take advantage of cutting-edge technology to outpace our adversaries,” Harris said. “It’s also a perfect place for our forces to operationalize a very important concept.”

The Pacom commander said he has challenged the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to execute multi-domain battle, “to find new ways to enable our joint and multinational combined forces to be faster, more precise, more cost-effective, and most importantly, more lethal.

News Report: Beijing Downplays Possibility of Pakistani Naval Base

Chinese officials have dismissed predictions that the People’s Liberation Army Navy will build a new base in Pakistan as Saudi Arabian and American influence in the region deteriorates.

Discussions about a Chinese base in Pakistan are "pure guesswork," Defense Ministry Spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday.

Sputnik has reported that Pakistan is actively seeking an increased Chinese presence in Pakistan to balance the strength of India. "We need an equalizer against India. Previously it was the US and Saudi Arabia. Now it’s China," a Pakistani diplomat told NBC, according to a June 19 report.

In May, the US Defense Department issued a report stating, "China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan."

News Report: Indian Navy Undocks Guided Missile Frigate After Accident Last Year

The Indian Navy smoothly undocked its guided missile frigate INS Betwa on Tuesday for refitting. The undocking was planned for June 22 but was postponed due to a minor incident. The Betwa was the winner of the Navy’s “Most Spirited Ship” award in 2016.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – The 126.5-meter, 3,850-ton guided missile frigate Betwa was commissioned in 2004. INS Betwa can sail at a speed of 27 knots and is armed with Uran anti-ship missiles, Barak 1 surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes.

“During the flooding of the dry dock, a list of up to 7-8 degrees was observed, which was promptly corrected. However, the ship could not be undocked due to a leakage in the dock-gate of the dry dock and subsequent unfavorable tide. The undocking was, thereafter, undertaken on June 27 when the tide was suitable,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.

The Betwa, a P-16A Class frigate, had tipped over at a Mumbai dockyard last December. On February 23 this year, it was made upright by the unstinted efforts put in by the naval dockyard, Mumbai and the salvage firm Resolve Marine, specially contracted for the operation.

News Report: Defense, Cyber Security Cooperation Key Topics on Modi's Agenda in Israel

Cyber security cooperation will be one of the main points of discussion during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Israel, which will be the first by an Indian prime minister ever since the two countries established diplomatic relations 25 years ago.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – Prime Minister Modi is embarking on a three-day visit to Israel on July 4. India established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992 and since then the relationship has evolved into a multi-dimensional partnership. This year, the two countries are commemorating 25 years of diplomatic relations.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Israel from July 4 to 6 at the invitation of Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel. This is the first ever visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel,” the Ministry of External Affairs statement said.

“During the visit, the Prime Minister will have detailed discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu on all matters of mutual interest and will also call on President Rivlin,” statement said.

News Report: Fifteen NATO Members Ready to Increase Troop Numbers in Afghanistan

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO was not planning to resume combat operations in Afghanistan.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – Fifteen countries participating in NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan have expressed their willingness to increase the amount of troops in the country, while commitments from other nations are pending, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

"Today I can confirm that we will increase our presence in Afghanistan. Fifteen nations have already pledged additional contributions to the Resolute Support mission. And I look forward to further announcements from other nations," Stoltenberg told reporters before a NATO defense ministers' meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels.

On Wednesday, Stoltenberg said that NATO was not planning to resume combat operations in Afghanistan, but was determined to enhance training and assisting Afghan forces.

The Resolute Support mission, focused on training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, was launched on January 1, 2015.

Afghanistan has been experiencing significant political, social and security-related instability for decades, as terrorist organizations, including the Taliban and the Islamic State terrorist group (both outlawed in Russia), continue to stage attacks against civilian and military targets.

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

News Story: US clears arms deal for Taiwan worth up to $1.3B

By: Aaron Mehta

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Thursday cleared a massive arms deal for Taiwan, worth up to $1.3 billion. 

The move comes as at a time when the Trump administration continues to rely on China to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear weapons program.  

The potential package includes seven different items sought by the Taiwanese government: 

  • Early Warning Radar Surveillance Technical Support ($400 million)
  • AGM-154C Joint Stand-off Weapon (JSOW) ($185.5 million)
  • AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation (HARM) Missiles ($147.5 million)
  • MK 48 6AT Heavy Weight Torpedoes ($250 million)
  • MK 46 to MK-54 Torpedo Upgrade ($175 million)
  • SM-2 Missile Components ($125 million)
  • AN/SLQ-32A Electronic Warfare (EW) Shipboard Suite Upgrade ($80 million)

As with all foreign military sales, the agreement must be cleared by Congress and then go through actual negotiations over the equipment and dollar figures. As a result, the sale will likely shift and end up below the $1.3 billion estimate.   

A U.S government official, speaking on background ahead of the announcement, said the weapons offer does not reflect any change in the long-standing “One China” policy. China does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Privatizing arms manufacturing has India's federal workforce seeing red

By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — The Indian government is contemplating major changes in the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board, which administers 42 armament and ammunition factories across the country, but the workforce is opposing the move. 

The government has already opened some noncore areas of weaponry to the private sector, including ammunition production, and now the plan is to identify some factories and tie up these with private-sector defense companies, thus breaking the monopoly of the Ordnance Factory Board, or OFB, a Ministry of Defence official said. 

The move could eventually lead to privatization of the OFB at a later date, say analysts. However, the workforce, numbering 90,000 in these 42 factories, is opposing the move. 

C Srikumar, general secretary of the All India Defence Employees Federation, told Defense New: "The government is trying to create a monopoly through private models. When price cannot be determined, it is better to have public monopoly as per market principles." 

With a turnover of over $2 billion, the 42 factories under the OFB produce arms, ammunition, artillery guns, tanks, combat vehicles and troop comfort items. Nearly 80 percent of the production goes to the Indian Army, six percent each to the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy and the remaining eight percent for paramilitary forces. 

Besides opening up products to the private sector, the government is also identifying weapon factories of OFB that can be corporatized resulting in a tie up with private sector defense companies, MoD official said.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: SCO member countries vow to strengthen border cooperation

DALIAN, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) pledged here Thursday to strengthen border security cooperation to fight terrorism, secessionism and extremism.

Plans for joint border defense action this year and the work of a team of experts in 2018 were approved by the fifth meeting of the leaders of border administration authorities of SCO member states, held in northeast China's costal city of Dalian.

The meeting, chaired by China, was attended by more than 30 representatives of India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorism Agency.

The meeting decided to include the joint border defense action into a three-year cooperation program of SCO member countries to fight terrorism, secessionism and extremism.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Indian border troops' withdrawal from China "precondition" to solve the incident - FM

Indian border troops' withdrawal from China "precondition" to solve the incident - FM

BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The withdrawal of Indian troops from Chinese territory is the precondition to solve the incident and the basis for any meaningful dialogue between the two sides, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Thursday.

Indian border troops recently crossed the China-India boundary at the Sikkim section and entered the Chinese territory, obstructing the normal activities of Chinese border troops in Doklam, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

China has lodged solemn representations with the Indian side and put off arranging for Indian officially-organized pilgrims' entry into Tibet via the Nathu-la pass out of security concerns.

"The Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet in 1890 stipulates that Doklam is Chinese territory. There is no denying that Indian troops have entered Chinese territory," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a regular news briefing.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China to support Philippines on anti-terrorism - FM

BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday reiterated its support for the Philippines in combatting terrorism, saying that it will give a helping hand without any hesitation.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks at a press conference following a meeting with his Philippine counterpart Alan Peter Cayetano in Beijing.

Wang said China has already sent the first shipment of emergency supplies and equipment to the Philippines, and will continue to provide necessary help and support.

"We are willing to work with regional countries, including the Philippines, to cooperate on information exchange, law enforcement, combat against transnational terrorism and other issues, in order to maintain regional peace and stability," he said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China-U.S. militaries have far more agreements than differences - spokesperson

BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- There are far more agreements than differences in the relations between the Chinese and U.S. militaries, Wu Qian, spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense, said Thursday.

Wu said mutual consensus prevails in the two armies' relations, which are developing in a strategic and long-term direction with overall importance.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: S.Korean president vows continued efforts at DPRK's complete denuclearization

SEOUL, June 29 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed continued efforts at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s complete denuclearization for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Moon's remarks were made in his congratulatory speech, read by his senior secretary for political affairs, to celebrate the third annual symposium on the Korean Peninsula reunification which was co-hosted by the unification ministry and Yonhap news agency on Thursday in Seoul.

The South Korean leader, who took office on May 10, was currently in Washington for his three-day stay to hold his first summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The peaceful reunification with the DPRK, Moon said, was not a matter of choice but an uncompromisable principle to the two Koreas for the purpose of securing sustainable growth and the future generation's peace.

Under the principle of peaceful reunification, South Korea should take the lead in the Korean Peninsula issues, said Moon who stressed the need for a firm South Korea-U.S. alliance, a strong security and a thorough management of security crisis to prevent any DPRK military provocations.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: DPRK slams S. Korean gov't for hostile attitude

PYONGYANG, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Thursday criticized South Korean President Moon Jae-in for yielding to pressure from the United States by adopting a hostile attitude towards the north.

A spokesman for the National Peace Committee of Korea, an official organ of the DPRK dealing with inter-Korean ties, said South Korean military and U.S. forces staged joint drills of bombing the nuclear facilities of the DPRK in both South Korea and the U.S. mainland and a "unification drill in 2017" recently.

The Korean Central News Agency quoted the spokesman as saying, without naming the South Korean president, that the "South Korean chief executive" and his top officials also made anti-DPRK remarks during visits to military bases at the front lines and missile launching sites recently.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Clash leaves 5 Afghan Taliban militants dead in eastern province

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Up to five armed militants have been killed as clash erupted between security forces and the Taliban in Lalpor district of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province on Thursday.

The clash, according to Attaullah Khogiani, the spokesman for the provincial government, flared up after a group of Taliban fighters stormed some police checkpoints in Lalpor district Thursday morning and police returned fire.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Afghan president meets top U.S. military officer, discusses security

KABUL, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met here Wednesday with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of U.S. army General Joseph Dunford and discussed various topics including Afghan security situation, said Afghan Presidential Palace.

The two sides discussed U.S.-Afghan bilateral ties and the U.S. support for the Afghan security forces, the palace said in a statement.

The top U.S. military officer's trip to Afghanistan is a clear indication of the U.S. long-term commitment to Afghanistan, it added.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Downsizing S. Korea-U.S. military exercise is huge leverage for N. Korea - ex-diplomat

SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- The option of scaling down the annual joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States is huge leverage in reining in North Korea's nuclear weapons ambition, a former career diplomat said Thursday in a forum hosted by Yonhap News Agency.

"I think the scale of the South Korea-U.S. joint exercise could be revised down or readjusted" on the condition that North Korea stops its nuclear and missile tests, freezes its production of weapon-grade plutonium and uranium as well as shutting down its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and letting the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the country, Shin Bong-kil, formerly a diplomat of 30 years, said in a forum co-hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the Ministry of Unification.

The annual forum was held to discuss the Moon Jae-in administration's vision for peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula.

Referring to his attendance at a semi-governmental meeting held between North Korea and the South Korea-U.S. side a month earlier in Stockholm, Sweden, the former ambassador to Jordan, said that "From what I have heard there, the thing more painful for North Korea than international sanctions it is now facing was the joint South Korea-U.S. military exercise."

"Given that the recent talk of the possibility of (U.S.) pre-emptive attacks and a (South Korean contingency) operation to decapitate Kim Jong-un put North Korea in a state of sever alertness, it is huge leverage," Shin said, referring to the option of downsizing the joint Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises the allies carry out every spring in South Korea.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Cracks found on Surion military helicopter's airframe - arms agency

A KAI built Surion Helicopter
SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Army has resumed the operation of more than 60 Surion multiple-purpose choppers after grounding them for nearly three weeks for new cracks found on the airframe, a state arms procurement agency said Thursday.

The Army's central joint technology committee made the decision earlier this week to permit the continued service of the indigenous rotorcraft in accordance with its analysis of the cause and flight stability, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

It belatedly revealed that cracks, 1.2-1.5 centimeters long, were discovered on the upper-left side of the fuselage of eight Surions on May 24. Two weeks later, the Army grounded all of its Surions.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: S. Korea to modernize air defense warning system

SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has developed a cutting-edge air defense early warning, command and control system using digital communications technology, the country's arms procurement agency said Thursday.

The Command Control and Alert, or C2A, system will enter service in 2019 at local military units, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

It has teamed up with the state-run Agency for Defense Development for the project that began in 2010, also joined by more than 20 domestic firms.

Currently, South Korean troops rely on radio-based verbal communications for the spread of air threat data and fire control.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Moon says reducing military drills not an option, at least for now

AIR FORCE ONE, June 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday said reducing his country's joint military exercises with the United States was not an option for now, though it may be considered following what he called irreversible and verifiable steps by North Korea to denuclearize.

"First of all, the official position we have now is that North Korea's nuclear freeze and reduction of joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States cannot be linked," Moon said.

"That has been the official position of South Korea and the United States, and that position has not changed," he added, while aboard Air Force One on his way to Washington for a summit with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump.

Moon's remarks came after his special security adviser, Moon Chung-in, claimed Seoul and Washington may consider scaling back their joint military drills staged in South Korea should the North freeze its nuclear activities.

The Yonsei University professor later said he was speaking within his personal capacity and not a special adviser to the president.

Still, his remarks sparked concerns that Seoul's new liberal government under the new president may be considering making such an offer to Pyongyang despite the North's continued nuclear and missile provocations.

"I do believe the notion that we must not reward bad behavior is a principle we must uphold," the new South Korean president told reporters.

North Korea has staged five missile tests since Moon came into office on May 10.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Australia accused of spying on China - Chinese media

A Chinese state-run newspaper accused Australia of spying on China and stealing its technology on Thursday, weeks after Beijing rejected allegations of interference in Australian politics.

An employee of China's national security department told the Global Times that Australian intelligence agents "in disguise" collect information from Chinese people overseas or "even encourage them to subvert China".

Agents also closely monitor Chinese people and the embassy in Australia to foil "Chinese spy threats", according to the article published on the newspaper's front page.

"In global covert struggles, Australia had never played the role of victim," the unidentified staffer was quoted as saying.

"However, they are wantonly working on intelligence about China and groundlessly accusing China of spying on them. The logic is ridiculous."

The Australian government did not immediately respond to the allegations.

The article follows an Australian media report this month that Australia's intelligence agencies had major concerns China was interfering in Australian institutions and using political donations to gain access.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Duterte tells troops not to fear civilian deaths

President Rodrigo Duterte
By Jim Gomez

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte assured troops on Wednesday that he would protect them from any legal action if they accidently kill civilians while battling militants who have besieged Marawi City.

Duterte ordered the army to destroy the militants aligned with the Islamic State group who attacked Marawi on May 23, sparking fighting that has left more than 400 combatants and civilians dead. On Wednesday, retrieval teams recovered 17 more bodies believed to be those of villagers killed by the militants in an area of Marawi that has returned to government control.

Duterte said in a televised speech that troops don't intend to kill civilians, but they should "not hesitate to engage just because there are civilians. It is the duty of the civilians to flee or seek cover."

He assured the troops that he would fight to keep them out of prison for accidental deaths.

"We will face charges, sometimes massacre, you know a bullet hits through and through, one squeeze of the Armalite (rifle), it bursts out about three, four. Keep on pressing it," Duterte said.

Duterte declared martial law in the southern Philippines to deal with the Marawi crisis, in which hundreds of militants stormed into the predominantly Muslim city, occupied buildings, took a Roman Catholic priest and others hostage and hoisted Islamic State group-style black flags.

He warned Wednesday that if militants gather elsewhere, he would consider taking more emergency steps, including empowering law enforcers to make warrantless arrests.

"And my orders to you, if he carries a gun, he is not a soldier, he is not a policeman, just kill him. That is my order, because they will kill us," Duterte told the troops.

Such remarks have alarmed human rights groups, which have already expressed concern over the killings of thousands of suspected drug dealers and users under a crackdown on illegal drugs that Duterte launched after taking office last June.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Decapitated bodies found (in Marawi City)

By Jaime Laude

Military sees sharp rise in number of slain civilians

MANILA, Philippines -  The decapitated bodies of five civilians have been found in Marawi City in an area previously occupied by the Maute group, the military said yesterday, warning the number of residents killed by extremist “atrocities” could rise sharply as troops retake more ground.

The discovery of the five victims among 17 bodies retrieved would be the first evidence that civilians trapped in besieged Marawi City were decapitated during the five-week stand by militants loyal to the Islamic State (IS) group, as some who escaped the city had previously reported.

Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia of the Western Mindanao Command said the troops found the five decapitated among 17 civilians in Barangay Gadungan previously under control of the terrorists.

“Government troops, together with policemen, elements of the Bureau of Fire Protection and civilian volunteers recovered at around 11:40 a.m. yesterday 17 cadavers while conducting retrieval operations in Barangay Gadungan,” Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla reported.

Troops also retrieved the bodies of two foreign looking militants somewhere in the battle zone.

“They resemble Middle Easterners,” Padilla said.

Padilla could not say, however, how many foreign fighters are actually involved in the Marawi conflict.

“We don’t have any documents as basis for the existence of all these foreigners except information that have been coming in from various sources,” he said.

Padilla said the military got hold of footage showing the terrorists carrying out executions.

However, the death toll arising from these killings was not yet included in the official figure on civilians killed, which currently stands at 27, he said.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: China exploring joint military drills with Philippines vs terrorism

By Audrey Morallo

MANILA, Philippines — China is exploring joint military exercises with the Philippines, Beijing’s ambassador to Manila said on Wednesday, as he also announced several measures aimed at helping the Philippines fight terrorism.

Speaking at the ceremony for the turnover of Chinese military hardware to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, the Chinese ambassador, said Beijing would like to explore the possibility of holding joint military exercises and intelligence training with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a sign of how far the relations between the two nations have improved since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency last year.

Aside from the possibility of cooperation between the two nations’ security forces, Zhao also announced that another batch of military hardware was already on its way, and the Philippines could expect it in a few months.

Zhao was speaking at the ceremony for the turnover of military assistance that included TY-85 7.62mm sniper rifles, CS/LR4A high-precision rifles, and CQ-A5 5.56 automatic rifles. The shipment also came with 6 million rounds of ammunition, according to reports.

The Chinese ambassador said that terrorism is a common enemy of Manila and Beijing. This should make them face this problem together, Zhao said, as he introduced the idea of joint military training.

Read the full story at PhilStar

29 June 2017

AUS: Minister for Defence visit to Brussels to attend the Resolute Support Meeting

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, will attend the Resolute Support session of the NATO Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Brussels on 29 June 2017.

Minister Payne will discuss the progress of the NATO-led mission and affirm Australia’s continued commitment to Afghanistan.

The Australian Government announced recently an increase in its contribution to the Resolute Support training mission, in order to help Afghan forces secure their country and fight global terrorism.

“The Australian Government agreed to enhance our contribution to the Resolute Support mission by increasing the number of Australian Defence Force personnel deployed in Afghanistan from around 270 to around 300,” Minister Payne said.  

“Afghanistan is facing a challenging security environment and this extra support will assist in efforts to deny terrorists the safe havens that threaten the international community,” Minister Payne said.

Minister Payne will also meet with NATO counterparts to discuss key issues of mutual strategic interest, including Australia’s commitment to the global fight against terrorism. 

USA: Exercise Talisman Saber 2017 highlights enduring US, Australia alliance

From U.S. Army Pacific Public Affairs

In this file photo, Royal Australian Navy and U.S. Navy ships steam together during Talisman Saber in 2015. (Royal Australian Navy photo) >>

FORT Shafter, Hawaii - More than 33,000 U.S. and Australian personnel will participate in the biennial military training exercise Talisman Saber 2017 in Australia, June 23 to July 25, 2017.

Talisman Saber, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defence Force Headquarters Joint Operations Command, will incorporate U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force and the Australian Defence Force as well as other government agencies from each country.

Featuring 21 ships, to include the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, and more than 200 joint aircraft, this seventh iteration of the exercise will focus on training a Combined Task Force of U.S. and Australian forces in a mid-intensity, high-end warfighting scenario, incorporating interagency participation, along with a command post exercise involving a transition between a 3 and 4-star Headquarters. U.S. Pacific Command units and Australian forces will conduct live and virtual training exercises in multi domains on sea, land, air, cyber and throughout multiple training areas in and around Australia.

USA: U.S.-Australia Alliance Has Boundless Future, Pacom Commander Says

Adm. Harry Harris Jr (Image: Wiki Commons)
By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2017 — The critical nature of the U.S.-Australia alliance is defined by its storied past and is invigorated by its boundless future, U.S. Pacific Command commander Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. said at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Brisbane, Australia, today.

The admiral said the partnership between the two nations enables them to overcome future challenges together.

Harris’ remarks echoed those of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said the United States does not take its alliance with Australia for granted when he spoke at the 27th Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultation at the Government House on Sydney Harbor, June 5.

“Our opportunities here in the Indo-Asia-Pacific are abundant,” Harris said, “but the path is burdened by several considerable challenges, including North Korea, China, and [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria].”

News Report: North Korea Vows to Pursue Nuclear Program Despite Western Pressure

North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Kim In Ryong said that North Korea is not going to succumb to pressure of the United States and its allies and will persist in building its nuclear program.

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — North Korea is not going to succumb to pressure of the United States and its allies and will persist in building its nuclear program, North Korean Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Kim In Ryong told the UN Security Council.

"What the Korean people came to conclusion… is that the only way out for defending their vital rights and sovereignty is to react to the nukes in kind," Ryong said on Wednesday. "No matter what others say, whatever sanctions, pressure and military attack may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces which was chosen to defend the sovereignty of the country and the rights to national existence."

News Report: US Embassy in Seoul Lodges Protest Over ‘Problematic’ Anti-THAAD Rally

In response to a rally held last week calling for the withdrawal of the US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, the US Embassy in Seoul lodged a protest Wednesday with the South Korean government.

More than 2,000 protesters representing 90 civic groups formed a human chain around the embassy building for about 19 minutes during the Saturday demonstration against the anti-missile system installed in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province. The demonstration was a tactic the embassy called “problematic” in a letter sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The deployment of THAAD, which is unnecessary for the defense of the Korean Peninsula, should be pulled back," Yonhap News Agency quoted one speaker at the rally saying. "The South Korea-US summit to come next week should be a venue where the review of the THAAD deployment should be assured."

Demonstrators held signs that read "Yes to peace talks" and "Koreans hate THAAD."

News Report: Modi Under Fire as US Calls Jammu and Kashmir State India-Administered Territory

India’s opposition party, the Indian National Congress (INC), has termed the Narendra Modi government a “complicit sell-out” for the awkward silence on US’ reference to Jammu and Kashmir as “Indian-administered territory”.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — In an order designating the chief of militant group Hizbul Mujahideen as a global terrorist, the United States chose to refer to the state of Jammu and Kashmir as "Indian-administered" territory. Though India has expressed strong disapproval of what it calls "aberration" of terminology, it has put Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tight spot with the main opposition party, the INC, condemning his government for not objecting to such description of Jammu and Kashmir."

News Report: Army Airstrike Kills Six Militants, Injures Four in Southern Afghanistan

The Afghan National Army launched an airstrike in the Musa Qala District in the province of Helmand, which killed at least six militants, according to local media.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Afghan National Army carried out an air raid in the southern part of the country, killing at least six militants and injuring four more, local media reported Wednesday, citing Afghanistan's Defense Ministry.

The Khaama Press news agency reported that the airstrike was launched in the Musa Qala District in the province of Helmand. According to the Afghan Defense Ministry, a local leader of militants was among the terrorists who were killed in the attack.

The raid comes less than a week after 34 people died and 58 more were injured after a car bomb exploded in the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand. The Taliban terrorist organization, banned in Russia, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Afghanistan has been experiencing significant political, social and security-related instability for decades, as terrorist organizations, including the Taliban as well as the Islamic State terrorist group (also outlawed in Russia), continue to stage attacks against civilian and military targets.

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

News Report: Chinese AFC Liaoning Departs for Drills With a Possible Port Call in Hong Kong

Chinese navy aircraft carrier Liaoning underway (File Photo)
China is sending its only aircraft carrier on a training mission to mark the 20th anniversary of Beijing’s takeover of Hong Kong.

The Liaoning, China's sole aircraft carrier, has departed from its homeport of Qingdao for a training deployment that is projected to include a stop in Hong Kong, to observe the 20th anniversary of the handover of the former British territory to Beijing, according to a report from The Diplomat.

The Liaoning, constructed on a hull built in the former Soviet Union, is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong next week, possibly coinciding with a June 29-July 1 state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to commemorate the anniversary.

The Liaoning's training mission will also see the deployment of additional escort vessels from the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN), including the destroyers Jinan and Yinchuan, as well as the frigate Yantai, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

News Report: H-Bomb Could Be Next Addition to North Korean Nuke Arsenal

Pyongyang has demonstrated its ability to produce hydrogen-3, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen also known as tritium that’s “necessary for a hydrogen bomb to create fusion,” a Stanford University professor said Tuesday.

“The evidence is quite clear,” professor Siegfried Hecker told Yonhap News Agency on June 27, “that North Korea is able to produce tritium,” based on their experience making lithium-6, a central component for creating hydrogen-3. Since the North Korean military can create tritium, they have the “basic element” needed for thermonuclear weapons like the H-Bomb, Hecker said. 

However, “it takes much more than that to weaponize hydrogen bombs,” the nuclear scientist said. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has long made clear, however, his intention to develop a nuclear weapon regardless of pressures or sanctions from the international community.

Fusion combines hydrogen isotopes in a reaction that produces more energy, which causes other hydrogen atoms to merge; the process escalates by orders of magnitude. The earth’s sun is a natural fusion reactor, for example. 

News Story: China launches its most advanced homegrown class of guided-missile destroyers

By: Mike Yeo

MELBOURNE, Australia — China has launched the first of a new class of guided missile destroyer, the largest and most advanced of its type to be designed and built in the country. 

In a news release, China’s Ministry of National Defense, or MND, said the ship, which it did not identify, although widely known as the Type 055, was launched at a ceremony held at Shanghai's Jiangnan-Changxing shipyard on Wednesday morning. 

In addition, General Zhang Youxia, a member of China's Central Military Commission and head of its Equipment Development Department, attended the ceremony. He was joined by leaders of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, as well as those from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense at the ceremony.

The MND release listed the ship’s displacement at 10,000 tons but did not provide further details, although satellite imagery of the ship being built suggests that it will be between 175 and 180 meters long with a beam of approximately 20 meters. 

Photos of the ceremony released by the MND and Chinese state media also suggest the Type 055 will be fitted with a bow-mounted sonar and a 64-cell vertical launch system, or VLS, for surface to air, anti-ship and cruise missiles in the forward section of the ship behind the 130mm dual-purpose gun. This ship will also include a set of VLS aft that will likely bring the total number of VLS cells carried by the ship to between 112 and 128 cells. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Chinese Missiles Can Wipe Out US Bases In Japan - Aegis, THAAD Can Stop Em

A Chinese Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM)

WASHINGTON: A Chinese surprise attack tomorrow could annihilate US forces and bases in Japan, two Navy officers found. But deploying more missile defenses — Army THAAD and Navy Aegis — would protect most targets north of Okinawa, Commanders Thomas Shugart and Javier Gonzalez found in simulations. Such a stronger defense, in turn, would reduce the temptation for Beijing to strike first in a crisis.

This scenario isn’t implausible. Chinese history and doctrine since 1949 show a marked preference for surprise attack. They struck Korea in 1950, India in 1962, Vietnam in 1974 and ’79. The Chinese usually justify their attacks as a defensive response to actions that threaten their sovereignty or vital interests. But those vital interests are defined very broadly — e.g. Beijing’s claim to the entire South China Sea — and armed force is seen as a legitimate response to purely political, non-violent provocations.

The temptation to preempt would be particularly great in a crisis with the United States. If the Americans have fair warning, they can get their planes in the air and their ships out to sea, with their defensive systems turned on. However, a massive surprise attack by land-based ballistic missiles followed up by cruise missiles and airstrikes could cripple aircraft on the ground and ships in harbor, where they’re sitting ducks. Such a massive conventional strike is the primary purpose of China’s Rocket Force, formerly the Second Artillery, which was made an independent armed service in 2016. Commercial satellite imagery of Chinese missile test ranges near the Gobi Desert show they’ve fired test shots at mock-ups of airfields and life-sized outlines of ships, positioned in the same configuration as the US Navy piers in Yokosuka, Shugart and Gonzalez told the Center for a New American Security conference today.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense