28 June 2017

USA: USS Green Bay visits Cairns ahead of Talisman Saber exercise

By MC3 Sarah Myers, USS Green Bay Public Affairs

USS Green Bay (LPD 20) operates in the Philippine Sea earlier this month. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Sarah Villegas) >>

CAIRNS, Australia - Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20) arrived in Cairns for a routine port visit, June 28.

The visit to Cairns comes after a month of shipboard joint exercises while operating with Expeditionary Strike Group 7 flagship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

The port visit will be a short break from their high-tempo training, and it will be the first time for many of Green Bay’s Sailors and Marines to see the local sights and sounds of Australia.

USA: USNS Sacagawea arrives in New Caledonia for Koa Moana 2017

By MC3 Madailein Abbott

USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2) sits anchored off shore of Kiribati during the most recent Koa Moana, June 19. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Madailein Abbott) >>

NOUMEA, New Caledonia -Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2) arrived in New Caledonia June 25 in support of Koa Moana 17 (Ocean Warrior).

The Koa Moana exercise series seeks to enhance senior military leader engagements between allied and partner nations with a collective interest in military-to-military relations and to discuss key aspects of military operations, capability development, and interoperability.

From June-September 2017 U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine regiment, 1st Marine Division, stationed in Twentynine Palms, Calif. and Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, from Marine Corps Base Hawaii have embarked aboard the USNS Sacagawea to participate in Koa Moana 17 events in Kiribati, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, and Vanuatu. Working alongside these partner nations, the Marines also work alongside the crew of the USNS Sacagawea, attending shipboard training, drills, and sharing workload duties during their time onboard.

Industry: Australian Navy MATV arrives in home port of Sydney, Australia

MV Sycamore during sea-trial's
26 June 2017: Completing her maiden voyage, the Damen Multi-role Aviation Training Vessel (MATV) MV Sycamore arrived in Sydney harbour early on Monday morning. The 94-metre long vessel is now less than a month away from deployment as a versatile multi-role vessel and helicopter training platform for the Royal Australian Navy.

"It is definitely an impressive sight to see the Sycamore enter Sydney harbour," states Damen Sales Director Asia Pacific Roland Briene. "The MATV project really highlights what can be achieved with this joint team effort. We have accomplished the on-time and on-budget construction of a complex vessel that will provide an efficient, functional and comfortable training platform for the Royal Australian Navy."

News Report: Tokyo Institutes ‘Catch All’ Policy to Slow North Korea’s Nuclear Supplies Trade

Japanese lawmakers agreed on Tuesday to initiate a naval operation to seize contents from any and all ships that might be used for Pyongyang’s missile development program.

The ordinance allows authorities to do more thorough searches of cargo heading for North Korean ports, Yomiuri Shimbun reports, while adding teeth to some of the UN Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea’s nuclear buildup.

Current policy lists about 100 items that are not legally allowed to enter North Korea as they might be used to facilitate missile building, testing or research. Like putting a rock under a waterfall, the regulation changed how the flow occurred but did not alter where the water ended up, and Pyongyang officials and its trading partners adapted quickly to the rule. They began taking apart weapons and other prohibited items and sending them as parts or raw materials to avert confiscation.

The new policy gives inspectors more leeway under a “catch all” provision to ban the transport of any goods that might be used for the missile program.

“We are determined to firmly carry out UN sanctions on human rights issues that include nuclear weapons, missiles and abductions, we’d like to continue to deal with this matter,” a Japanese official told reporters on Tuesday morning.

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

News Report: Japan Enhances Offensive Capabilities, Equips F-35s with Joint Strike Missiles

The Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF) is making moves to enhance its return on investment in F-35 fighters by equipping the aircraft with Joint Strike Missiles designed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence Systems, the South China Morning Post reported.

“Japan has never previously had anything like this,” defense analyst Lance Gatling of Nexial Research Inc. told the news outlet on Tuesday.

The F-35 can maintain its stealth profile while carrying the weapons, which allows pilots to soar “much closer to targets” when they launch the missiles, Gatling added.

As a self-defense outfit, the JSDF has been reluctant to procure offensive weapons capability, but Tokyo’s posture is shifting as potential regional threats loom on the Korean Peninsula and in the South and East China Seas. Upgrading strike capabilities for the F-35 is a natural decision for policymakers in light of such developments, Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, reported on June 27.

News Report: Defense Ministry to Residents - Seoul Will Honor ‘Alliance Decision’ on THAAD

A South Korean defense official said Tuesday that his country’s government will honor an "alliance decision" to deploy a controversial US missile defense system, as Seoul attempts to make domestic political matters more transparent.

US Forces Korea’s (USFK) Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) is in partial operation in the county of Seongju, where Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk met with residents Tuesday, pointing out that the deployment of THAAD was agreed upon by Washington and Seoul to counter aggression from North Korea.

Suh "clearly delivered the government's position that it honors the decision and requested active cooperation from local residents," the ministry said, according to Yonhap News Agency. Part of this was promising that his ministry will establish clearer line of communication with residents.

He also advised against protest acts like blockading roads, saying such demonstrations are unwarranted.

News Report: India, US to Jointly Ensure Stability in South China Sea, Indo-Pacific Region

India and the US have vowed to promote stability and ensure the freedom of navigation across the Indo-Pacific region

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Experts said the development is significant as it reinforces American commitment in ensuring the balance of power in the region where China has emerged as a dominant power.

A joint statement issued after the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump’s maiden meeting on Monday in the White House said the two sides will forge close ties to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“As responsible stewards in the Indo-Pacific region, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi agreed that a close partnership between the United States and India is central to peace and stability in the region,” the joint statement read.

In their discussion, Modi and Trump reiterated their commitment to the “tenets outlined in the UN Charter, they committed to a set of common principles for the region (Indo-Pacific), according to which sovereignty and international law are respected and every country can prosper.”

News Report: India Leans Towards US in 'Standoff Against China in Asia'

There is a relation between the China-India border conflict and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States, experts told Sputnik. Delhi wants to win Washington’s support against China, especially in South Asia.

On June 27, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused Indian border guards of crossing into its territory from the state of Sikkim on India’s northeastern border with Tibet.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said Indian guards "obstructed normal activities" by Chinese forces on the border, and called on India to withdraw immediately.

He urged India to respect China’s territorial integrity, adding that such incidents pose a "serious threat" to peace and stability in border areas.

Commentators noted that this was the first incident of the kind since Chinese President Xi Jinping and Modi exchanged visits in 2014 and 2015. After three years of stability, currently there is a new surge in bilateral tensions.

News Report: Questions Arise as US-India F-16 Deal Seeks to Get Airborne

CGI of Lockheed Martin's F-16 for India (File Photo)
A lucrative aviation deal between US-India firms to manufacture F-16 fighter jets in the south Asian nation has attracted criticism that old technology is being "dumped."

US defense contractor Lockheed Martin has taken further steps to secure a deal which would relocate the manufacture of F-16 fighter jets to India. News of the multi-billion dollar agreement with Indian industry giant Tata Group came as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with US President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday, June 26.

A press release issued by both firms stated that India will be able to "produce, operate and export the multi(-role) fighter F-16 Block 70 aircraft."

News Report: India Stops China’s Road Construction, Braces for Lengthy Face-off

The month-long tussle at the India-China border is expected to continue until winter with India pulling the brakes on China’s road construction at the trijunction of Tibet, Bhutan and India. China planned a road from Tibet to Bhutan via territory claimed by both countries.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Troops of both the countries have been engaged in a major stand-off for a month at Doka La as China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) brought in construction equipment and set up labor camps in the area for road construction. India sent reinforcements and deployed more troops in the region.

The Chinese Defense Ministry has accused Indian troops of crossing the Line of Actual Control "in an attempt to prevent a road construction by the Chinese side".

"Indian troops' provocation has violated the consensus and relevant agreements on border issues between the Chinese and Indian governments, seriously endangering the peace of the border areas," Ren Guoqiang, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson, said on Monday. The road construction was carried out on China's territory and India had no right to interfere, Ren said.

News Report: US Navy Officer Court-Martialed as Part of Massive Corruption Probe

A US Navy officer has been charged by a military tribunal with crimes related to the enormous “Fat Leonard” corruption case, where numerous high-level Navy officials have been accused of providing classified information to Singapore-based maritime supplier Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) in exchange for bribes and prostitutes.

Commander David Alex Morales, 49, a former pilot of a US Navy F/A-18 Hornet, has been accused of bribery, graft, prostitution and adultery. Gifts included travel, stays at luxury hotels, tickets to see Spanish musician Julio Iglesias, and "four suckling pigs". Morales has also been accused of lying to his commanders and failing to report at least one foreign contract.

Between 2012 and 2013, Morales has been accused of conspiring with Leonard Francis to influence ship schedules to give GDMA a competitive advantage in contracts with US Navy vessels. Francis, the "Fat Leonard" who gives the scandal its name (due to his reported 350 pound frame,) is the president of GDMA and has pled guilty to orchestrating the massive conspiracy that the Washington Post called "perhaps the worst national-security breach of its kind to hit the Navy since the end of the Cold War."

News Report: US Sends Fresh Troops to Afghanistan as Policy Debate Continues

The Army is deploying about 1,500 soldiers to Afghanistan this week, but U.S. officials say the troop movement is not part of any increase in forces in the war zone.

Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division began leaving Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Tuesday. A U.S. military official told VOA the troops will be assigned to duty in Kabul, Kandahar and Helmand provinces, in addition to areas in the east and north of Afghanistan.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been in Afghanistan this week for meetings with Afghan and American officials as well as coalition leaders and troops. The Marine general is said to be working on the final elements of a military strategy that will include expanding the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan by nearly 4,000 soldiers.

Joe Buccino, an Army spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, said the troops leaving Fort Bragg this week are replacing a unit of the 101st Airborne Division, a regular movement to keep fresh units in the field.

President Donald Trump's administration has been considering how many additional troops to send to Afghanistan.

News Report: High-level North Korean Official Defected After Watching Executions & Sanctions Pinching North Korea Regime, High-level Defector Tells VOA

High-level North Korean Official Defected After Watching Executions

Baik Sungwon

When Ri Jong Ho recalls the brutal purges, executions and arbitrary incarcerations that cut down his colleagues and friends, he relives the fear of what could have happened to him and his family at any minute. It was that gut-twisting terror that drove him to defect from North Korea.

“My family and I were in disbelief after seeing [in person] senior officials I knew being killed with anti-aircraft guns and my kids’ friends being locked up in prison camps,” Ri told VOA’s Korean Service in his first public interview since his escape in October 2014. “Of course, there had been executions and purges from time to time, but there were none like the ones that took place between late 2013 and early 2014. I never thought such atrocities and brutality could happen in the socialist system.”

Before becoming one of his country's highest-level defectors, Ri was a faithful North Korean civil servant for more than three decades.

Working his way up the ranks, he had a leading role in strengthening the country's economy and bringing in much-needed hard currency. At one point, he oversaw the North’s mineral and fishing trade with countries like China, Russia and Japan. It was Ri who orchestrated the funding for the regime’s oil exploration on the country’s west coast.

News Report: Pakistan Criticizes US Move to List Kashmiri Rebel Leader as Terrorist

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Pakistan has criticized the United States for declaring an anti-India Kashmiri rebel leader as a global terrorist and defended militants fighting New Delhi’s rule in Kashmir as a “legitimate" struggle for freedom.

The State Department on Monday imposed sanctions on Syed Salahuddin, the Pakistan-based chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, the main rebel group fighting Indian rule in the divided Kashmir region.

It said that the 71-year-old militant commander committed, or poses "a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States."

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday criticized the move.

News Report: THAAD Remains Contentious Issue for US-South Korea Summit

Brian Padden

SEOUL — South Korean officials are voicing support for the controversial U.S. Terminal High Altitude Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in advance of President Moon Jae-in’s summit this week with U.S. President Donald Trump, but it remains a contentious issue as lawmakers in Washington voice concerns over deployment delays.

THAAD is an advanced anti-missile battery that uses high-resolution radar, infrared seeking technology and interceptor missiles to basically shoot down incoming ballistic missiles.

In 2016 Washington and Seoul agreed to deploy THAAD to help defend South Korea against North Korea’s increasing ballistic missile and nuclear capabilities.

Protecting U.S. troops

THAAD would also be used to protect the 28,000 American military personnel in South Korea.

Republican Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey recently sent a letter to President Trump urging him to prioritize the THAAD deployment in his talks this week with President Moon.

“We ask you to reiterate to President Moon that the decision to deploy THAAD was an alliance decision and protects both U.S. troops and millions of South Korean citizens, while not posing any threat to South Korea’s neighbors,” said the letter to the president.

News Report: US, India Leaders Pledge to Boost Security, Trade Ties

Steve Herman

WHITE HOUSE — U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are pledging to work together to boost security and trade ties.

The two countries “look forward to working together on advanced defense equipment and technology at a level commensurate with that of the closest allies and partners of the United States,” according to a White House statement issued Monday evening.

Declaring his talks with the president “very successful and very fruitful,” the visiting Indian prime minister gave his host a trademark bear hug in the White House Rose Garden when the two finished reading their respective statement. They did not take questions from the dozens of White House correspondents and the visiting Indian reporters.

Modi also announced increased cooperation on fighting terrorism, including enhanced sharing of intelligence.

“The top priority for both President Trump and I is to protect our societies from global challenges like terrorism, and our aim is to strengthen India and the United States, the two great democracies of the world,” Modi said alongside Trump.

News Story: 22 drones and a summit - The state of India-US defense ties

By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — The White House symbolically confirmed its policy to treat India as a major defense partner, following its decision to move ahead with the sale to India of 22 Guardian maritime drones worth about $2 billion prior to a June 26 meeting in Washington between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump, say analysts. 

"The fact that the Trump administration made the effort to expeditiously close on the Indian request (for Guardian drones) signals its interest in preserving close relations with India," said Ashley J. Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 

India requested to buy the 22 drones in late 2016 under the Obama administration, but the former president left the decision to the new administration. India's request also included the purchase of an unknown numbers of armed drones.

India's wish list still includes that import of armed drones from the U.S., but that sale would require "a major policy change," according to Tellis. 

"The United States has a standing prohibition against export of advanced unmanned aerial vehicles. The only exceptions we've made are to allies involved in combined operations. India's need for armed UAVs is great, but it will take a major policy change for the administration to authorize the sale of armed UAVs to India," Tellis said. 

An Indian Ministry of Defence official said the country will now look to Israel for its acquisition of armed drones, rather than wait for a decision from the U.S. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: ‘Indispensable’ Palau Deal At Risk - Will China Get Access

Click Image to Enlarge

“Palau is indispensable to our national security and funding the compact is key to our strategic presence in the region.”

That’s what the Defense Department’s 2018 budget request says.

Why is Palau indispensable? Look at the map. That will help. It commands approaches to the Philippines and to Indonesia, as well as Papua New Guinea. And, of course, they flank the Marshall Islands, as well as a wide range of Pacific islands flanking our ally Australia. Also, one source notes that the importance of Palau airfields have taken on “increased importance for PACOM/PACAF given Duterte and his rhetoric in the Philippines.” It provides “a more guaranteed form of access to airfields in the second island chain,” this source says.

And you can read what the head of Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 27:

I strongly urge Congress to pass legislation to approve and implement the 2010 Palau Compact Review Agreement at the earliest opportunity. The passage of this legislation will have a significant impact on our defense relationship with Palau, and will provide a measurable advantage in our strategic posture in the Western Pacific.

The problem is that the House Armed Services Committee doesn’t seem to think Palau is important to warrant taking money from the Defense Department budget and sending it to the Interior Department, which is what the budget request would do. So, they’ve peeled the money out of their version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, according to two sources familiar with the issue.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: DPRK slams South Korean gov't call for stronger alliance with U.S.

PYONGYANG, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Tuesday slammed the South Korean government for calling for stronger U.S.-South Korea alliance.

"The South Korea-U.S. alliance is the noose of domination, subjugation and subordination," said the official daily Rodong Sinmun in an article.

Saying that the new government in Seoul was "professing democratic reform", the article said voices of a "stronger alliance" with the United States were still heard from the new government.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will pay a visit to the United States this week, the first foreign trip he will take since being elected president, during which he will meet U.S. President Donald Trump.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China to support improvement of ties on Korean Peninsula

BEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) -- China will give necessary support for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to improve their relations, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Tuesday.

Lu's comment came as the ROK has approved a request by an aid group to send tuberculosis medication to the DPRK, and other material to build hospital wards there.

The green light is the first of its kind since ROK President Moon Jae-in took office in May and the shipment will be made to the DPRK's western port city of Nampo via China in July, according to Yonhap.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China, Japan to hold talks on maritime affairs

BEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) -- China and Japan will hold the seventh round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs this week in Japan, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

The meeting will be held in Fukuoka from Thursday to Friday, spokesman Lu Kang told a routine news briefing.

Officials representing foreign ministries, defense ministries, marine law enforcement and management departments of both sides will attend the talks, according to the spokesman.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China adopts intelligence law

BEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislature on Tuesday adopted a law on intelligence to safeguard national security and interests.

The National Intelligence Law was approved at the end of a bi-monthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee which concluded on Tuesday afternoon.

The 32 articles cover the general provisions, organization and duty of the intelligence authorities, and punishments for misconduct.

The law requires intelligence agencies and their staff to safeguard human rights and to protect the legal rights and interests of individuals and organizations.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Myanmar plans to modernize police force

YANGON, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar has planned to equip the country's police force with modern weapons and firearms for use in suppressing riots, said Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Major General Aung Soe, Myanmar News Agency reported Tuesday.

Aung Soe told the House of Representatives on Monday that the outdated weapons, currently used in the police force, are being replaced in three steps with modern weapons, communication equipment, vehicles, oil, uniforms and other set-up needs under annual budget request raised to the parliament.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Trump hails U.S.-India relationship after meetings with Modi

WASHINGTON, June 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that the U.S.-India relationship "has never been stronger" after holding talks here with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

"India and the United States will always be tied together in friendship and respect," Trump said in a televised remark with Modi in the White House Rose Garden.

Trump welcomed the Indian prime minister for the in-person meeting at the White House and also lauded Modi for leading India toward economic prosperity.

Modi described his talks with Trump as "extremely important," hailing a bilateral relationship that is based on mutual trust and shared values.

"My visit and our talks today will mark a very important page in the history of the collaboration and cooperation between our two nations," Modi said.

"I am sure that under your leadership a mutually beneficial strategic partnership will gain new strength, new positivity, and will reach new heights," Modi told Trump.
This is the first time the two leaders have met face-to-face.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Philippine gov't upholds "no negotiation" policy with IS militants

MANILA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government sticks to its policy of no negotiating with extemists allied with the Islamic State (IS) that overran Marawi City in the southern Philippines in May, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Ernesto Abella said the talks initiated by Muslim religious leaders last Sunday to negotiate for the release of about 150 hostages in the besieged city in the spirit of Islamic holiday Eid-al-Fitr were not sanctioned by the government, the military and the political leaders.

"The government policy is not to negotiate with terrorists. Any demands made inside, therefore, hold no basis," Abella told a news conference at the Malacanang presidential palace.

He stressed the need to punish the extremists who have wreaked havoc to the Philippines' only Islamic City and forced more than 200,000 residents to flee to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: S.Korean vice defense chief apologizes to residents for unilateral THAAD deployment

SEOUL, June 27 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's vice defense chief who was appointed under the new government made his sincere apology to residents on Tuesday for the previous government's unilateral push for the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interception system in their hometown.

The residents urged the visiting vice minister to thoroughly investigate any procedural illegitimacy in the process of the unilateral installation in a bid to go toward the retreat of the U.S. weapons system.

Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk and three other defense ministry officials held talks with about 40 residents at the village hall of Soseong-ri in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province, according to a statement from an organization composed of Seongju and Gimcheon city residents and anti-THAAD peace activists.

During the one-and-a-half-hour meeting, Suh vowed to continuously communicate with residents to reflect opinion of residents in countermeasures while sufficiently consulting with them to proceed with any procedures.

The vice defense minister apologized to residents for the previous government's unilateral push for the deployment of the U.S. missile shield, according to the statement. The meeting was held behind closed doors.

Read the full story at Xinhua


PacificSentinel: Lets make a few thing's clear:
  • 1st - This story is written from a Chinese perspective ignoring what was also said in the above "Related Story" from South Korea's YonhapNews
  • 2nd - No-one but the US Military & Lockheed Martin really knows what THAAD can do, the stated numbers for range, altitude & so-on are just the public numbers, we simply don't know what the system can do.
  • 3rd - If South Korea tells the US to take it away it could negatively impact on the alliance, which would hurt South Korea in a major way
The chance of THAAD leaving the Korean Peninsula is slim at best, so China and the protesters had better get use to it.

News Story: N. Korea is clearly advancing H-bomb development - Hecker

SEOUL, June 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea clearly has the ability to produce tritium internally, a basic element for making hydrogen bombs, although the country has yet to weaponize it, an American nuclear expert said Tuesday.

"The evidence is quite clear that North Korea is able to produce tritium, which is necessary for a hydrogen bomb to create fusion. So you need tritium when you are going to have hydrogen bombs," Siegfried Hecker, a professor at Standford University, told a group of journalists here.

During his 2010 trip to North Korea, he was allowed to take a look into the country's uranium-enrichment facility in Yongbyon.

North Korea claimed it used a hydrogen bomb when it conducted its fourth nuclear test in January last year, although it has not been proven.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: S. Korean gov't 'honors' THAAD decision - vice minister

SEOUL, June 27 (Yonhap) -- The Moon Jae-in administration of South Korea honors an "alliance decision" to deploy a high-profile U.S. missile defense system here as it strives to enhance the transparency of relevant domestic procedures, a top defense official said Tuesday.

Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk visited Seongju, where the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK)'s THAAD battery is in partial operation.

Meeting with residents there, he pointed out that the THAAD deployment is an alliance decision aimed at countering North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threats, according to his ministry.

"He clearly delivered the government's position that it honors the decision and requested active cooperation from local residents," the ministry said.

Suh was also quoted as telling them that such illicit acts as the blockade of roads can never be justified.

Seongju, a traditionally tranquil town situated some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul and known for melon farming, has become a venue for daily protest rallies since a private golf course there was picked as the site for the USFK's THAAD base in July last year.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: S. Korea begins prototype production of light armed chopper

Korean LAH developmental mock-up (File Photo)
SEOUL, June 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Tuesday it has started to assemble the first prototype of a light armed helicopter (LAH) with the goal of conducting a test flight in 2019.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the country's arms procurement agency, launched the development project in June 2015 to replace the aging 500MD and AH-1S choppers in partnership with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

A preliminary design was completed in August last year and the production of prototype components began in November, according to DAPA.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: India, U.S Agree To Strengthen Ties For Peace In Afghanistan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S President Donald Trump on Monday agreed to continue strengthening coordination for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan as they expressed concern over rising instability in the war-torn country.

According to India Today, Trump thanked the Indian people for their "contributions to the effort in Afghanistan, and for joining us (the U.S) in applying new sanctions against the North Korean regime."

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Pakistan deploys 15,000-strong force for Chinese security

Pakistan has deployed a 15,000-strong military force to protect Chinese nationals working on energy and infrastructure projects in the country, the president said Sunday, after the abduction of a Chinese couple raised safety concerns.

President Mamnoon Hussain told visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Islamabad that the protection of Chinese citizens working in Pakistan was the "top priority" of the government, according to a statement issued by the presidency.

Beijing is investing around $50 billion in its South Asian neighbour as part of a plan unveiled in 2015 to link its far-western Xinjiang region to Gwadar port in Balochistan with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades.

But fears over safety arose last month when two Chinese workers were abducted in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern Balochistan province, which is at the heart of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project but racked by separatist and Islamist insurgencies.

Read the full story at SpaceWar

News Story: Indonesia police discover IS propaganda leaflets targeting children

Hanoi (VNA) - Indonesian police have found hundreds of books containing Islamic State (IS) propaganda targeting children at the home of a suspect arrested in connection with the stabbing death of an officer, a police spokeswoman said on June 26.

The books aimed at children found at the home of the arrested man were written in Indonesian and included pictures and messages supportive of dying in jihad, or holy war, said police spokeswoman Rina Sari Ginting.

A day earlier, a police officer was stabbed to death at a police station in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province. Another suspected militant was shot and killed by police during the attack.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Southeast Asia anti-terror efforts must start in Marawi

By Patricia Lourdes Viray

MANILA, Philippines — The Southeast Asia region must deepen counter-terror efforts as ISIS-inspired local terror groups lay siege in Mindanao, particularly in Marawi City, an analyst said.

Elliot Brennan, a research fellow at the Institute for Security and Development Policy's Asia Program in Sweden, said the siege in Marawi City must serve as a lesson for the whole region.

On May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao following a clash between government forces and the Maute group.

Brennan noted that the failure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to act on the Maute group's attack on Marawi despite intelligence report was negligent.

"Its failings since - such as to apprehend the Malay financier of the Marawi campaign, to stop the escape of Hapilon, or simply to quell the insurgency - show a worrying lack of capacity," Brennan said in an article published by Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy.

The policy analyst noted that the fight in Marawi is not actually about the city since many of the militants and funding are from abroad, taking the conflict to a global narrative.

The key to addressing this issue on the regional level would be a disaggregation, delinking and dismantling of militants from around the world.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: ‘Terrorist leadership in Marawi crumbling’

By Michael Punongbayan and Roel Pareño

Maute infighting reported as air strikes resume surrenderees executed

MANILA, Philippines - The terrorist leadership in Marawi City is reportedly unraveling as government forces resumed air strikes yesterday to flush out the followers of the Maute brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah and the Abu Sayyaf faction of Isnilon Hapilon, the military said.

Leaders and members of the Maute group are reportedly fighting among themselves and those who want to surrender to authorities were executed.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is verifying reports that Hapilon has abandoned his fighters in Marawi, causing leadership in the terrorist organization to collapse.

The report was based on the accounts of rescued civilians, captured Maute members and radio intercepts of the military from the battle zone.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman for Task Force Marawi, said it was not clear yet when Hapilon – said to be the designated emir of the Islamic State (IS) in the Philippines – escaped.

Hapilon’s alleged escape and the reported death of Omarkhayam and terrorist financier Mahmud Ahmad left the Maute group under the command of Abdullah and the remaining ground commanders.

“Their command and control is crumbling,” Herrera said.

Read the full story at PhilStar

27 June 2017

Think Tank: Sea, air, land and space updates (27-Jun-2017)

An unpainted Chinese Y-8Q/GX-6 ASW Aircraft during testing
Zoe Glasson, Sophie Qin, Madeleine Nyst and Patrick Kennedy
Sea State
Just in time for President Modi’s visit to Washington, the Trump administration has agreed to sell 22 Guardian drones to India, in a deal that’s been described as a ‘game changer’ for US–India relations. The drones would be a ‘force multiplier’ for the Indian Navy, improving its maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Though yet to be approved in India, New Delhi reportedly sees the deal as ‘a key test of defence ties’. Defense News speculates that the sale of the unarmed Guardians could be a precursor to the purchase of armed drones—something India has sought previously but which is currently prohibited by US export laws. Finalising the deal is likely to require a fine balance between Trump’s “America First” platform and Modi’s “Make in India” policy.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) successfully test-fired its Long-Range Artillery system (LORA) on 20 June. LORA’s strength is its portability: it launches from a container that can be trucked onto the deck of a cargo ship. According to The Drive, LORA’s relative low-cost and plug-and-play nature means that a range of auxiliary ships ‘could suddenly become impromptu combatants’. IAI says ‘several deals’ for LORA are underway, but it remains to be seen who’s in the market for the platform.
And for the final Sea State reads this week, here are two great pieces: one about how noisy herrings are creating (submarine) confusion; and another about marauding orcas fleecing fisherman.

AUS: Update on HMAS Canberra and Adelaide

HMAS Adelaide and Canberra (© Australian DoD)
HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra are due to complete their maintenance period this week after rectification of emergent issues with their propulsion systems.

HMAS Adelaide is due to leave the dry dock at Navy’s Fleet Base East today. Once undocked, HMAS Adelaide will undergo sea trials and a return to its operational capability program over the next few months.

HMAS Canberra completed initial propulsion sea trials in May, which together with advice from industry partners indicates Canberra is able to return to sea on the 29 Jun 17 and will participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2017.

NZ: Navy frigate to help out after US destroyer collision

HMNZS Te Kaha (Image: Wiki Commons)
The Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha is to extend its current deployment in Asian waters to support the United States Seventh Fleet.

This is in response to the recent collision between a Philippines’ container ship and the destroyer USS Fitzgerald, Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says. Seven US sailors were killed and the Fitzgerald sustained significant damage in the 17 June collision.

Announcing the deployment, Mr Mitchell extended the Government’s condolences on the tragedy.

“Our thoughts are very much with the bereaved families and the crew of the USS Fitzgerald after this terrible event,” he says.