27 March 2017

USA: USS Louisville completes Western Pacific deployment

By MC2 Michael H. Lee, Submarine Force Pacific Public Affairs

USS Louisville (SSN 724) approaches the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, March 23. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Michael H. Lee) >>

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The crew of Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724) was welcomed home by friends and family awaiting their return on the historic submarine piers of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, March 23.

Louisville successful completed a six-month Western Pacific deployment while conducting operations in support of national security.

"I am exceptionally proud of the crew's efforts to prepare for, sustain and successfully execute every phase of this deployment - from our initial training more than a year ago, to the final transit home," said Cmdr. David S. Cox, Louisville's commanding officer and native of Dallas, Texas. "As commanding officer, it has been my privilege to lead such a fine group of professional young men in carrying out our nation's most important taskings, and I could not be prouder of their accomplishments."

While on deployment, 28 submariners earned the right to wear the submarine warfare insignia, also known as "dolphins."

USA: U.S. Strike Kills High-Profile Terrorist Leader

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2017 — A U.S. counterterrorism airstrike conducted March 19 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, resulted in the death of Qari Yasin, a well-known al-Qaida leader, the Defense Department confirmed in a news release yesterday.

"The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in the release.

Yasin, a senior terrorist figure from Balochistan, Pakistan, had plotted multiple al-Qaida attacks, including the Sept. 20, 2008, bombing on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that killed dozens of innocent people -- among them U.S. Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew J. O’Bryant.

Yasin, who had ties to Tehrik-e Taliban, was also responsible for the 2009 attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan, the release said. In that attack, six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed, and six members of the team were injured.

News Report: North Korea Warns of Attack ‘Without Warning’ as Western War Games Continue

In the midst of ongoing joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has stated that it may attack without warning against what it claims are preparations for an enemy invasion by the West.

As the militaries of both Seoul and Washington cooperate in the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve drills, Pyongyang has stridently voiced its opposition to the maneuvers by threatening an attack.

North Korean news agency KCNA, citing the general staff of the Korean People's Army, stated on Sunday that, "They should be mindful that the [North Korean Army] will deal deadly blows without prior warning any time as long as troops of the US and South Korean puppet forces involved in the ‘special operation' and ‘preemptive attack' targeting the DPRK remain deployed in and around South Korea."

The DPRK, which regularly claims that it is under incipient attack from the West and its regional allies, has conducted ongoing ballistic missile and underground nuclear weapons testing, in violation of several international treaties sponsored by Moscow and Washington, including the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The latest threats from Pyongyang occur as ongoing large-scale military drills take place within sight of the increasingly insulated northern state, resulting in rising tensions on the peninsula that could, according to critics, result in hair-trigger military moves.

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

News Report: China-Pakistan Parade - Is Beijing Sealing Role of Top Player in Asia-Pacific?

Chinese troops took part in the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad for the first time earlier this week, in what some experts said was a sign of closer bilateral ties, while others pointed to Beijing's growing regional clout.

In an unprecedented event on Thursday, 90 Chinese army servicemen took part in the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad, during which Pakistan showed off its long-range missiles, tanks and warplanes.

In an interview with Sputnik, Chinese military expert Song Xiaojun described similar military parades as "a barometer of the state of bilateral relations."

"These are normal exchanges between the armies of China and Pakistan. In practice, Beijing and Islamabad are strategic partners, and we can even say that they have excellent relations of strategic partnership. At the same time, both states are not military allies and they develop normal military contacts, including joint drills," Xiaojun said.

News Report: Dalai Lama of Discord: China-India Ties Put to the Test by Buddhist Head's Visit

Tenzin Guyaso: The 14th Dalai Lama
(Image: Wiki Commons)
It seems that the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, is poised to play a more active role in public policy, which may tarnish ties between China and its immediate neighbors, Russian expert on China Andrey Karneyev told Sputnik.

In an interview with Sputnik, Russian expert on China Andrey Karneyev specifically pointed to the exiled Tibetan leader's growing public activity which he said may finally lead to a chill in China's relations with neighboring countries.

The interview came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying lashed out at India's decision to invite the Dalai Lama to an international conference on Buddhism, which was endorsed by the Indian Culture Ministry.

According to Hua Chunying, India ignored China's "serious statements" and insisted on the Dalai Lama's participation in the international conference on Buddhism organized by the Indian government.

"The issue of the Dalai Lama's [activities] has recently become a factor that could worsen the relations between Beijing and New Delhi," Andrey Karneyev said.

News Report: NATO Resolute Support Commander Calls for More Troops in Afghanistan

According to media reports, NATO Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John Nicholson plans to request more troops in Afghanistan to prevent the country from becoming terrorist safe haven.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – NATO Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John Nicholson plans to request more troops in Afghanistan to prevent the country from becoming terrorist safe haven, local media reported Sunday.

"We cannot afford to walk away from Afghanistan. This is where the war against terrorism started on 9/11. Failure here would embolden terrorists globally and there would be more members flocking to their banners. We would also see an increased number of migrants in the region coming into Europe," Nicholson, who leads US and international forces in Afghanistan, told The Sunday Times.

The request for more troops, which will be made at a NATO summit in May, is backed by US Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to the news outlet.

Nicholson said the key aim of 12,000 troops he leads in Afghanistan was to defeat the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group (banned in Russia, the United States and many other countries), adding that the Afghan government was controlling only about 75 percent of the country's territory.

NATO-led Resolute Support mission was launched on January 1, 2015, to train and assist the Afghan security forces. NATO leaders decided to extend the presence of the mission in Afghanistan beyond 2016 at the summit in Warsaw.

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

News Report: Total of Six People Killed, Dozens Injured During Army Operation in Bangladesh

A total of six people reportedly were killed and at least 43 injured as two explosions hit the Bangladeshi city of Sylhet during an army operation.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — A total of six people, including two police officers, were killed and at least 43 injured as two explosions hit the Bangladeshi city of Sylhet (also known as Jalalabad) during an army operation against Islamic militants, local media reported on Thursday.

The police confirmed that the two officers killed in the explosions were members of the police bomb disposal unit, the Bangladesh News24 newspaper wrote.

The Islamic State (Daesh) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the bombing.

On Saturday morning, the Bangladeshi Para-Commando Battalion units began the operation against unidentified militants barricaded in two buildings in Sylhet, with the police evacuating dozens of civilians from the buildings, the media said.

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

News Report: India Notches $1 Million FDI in Defense Sector Since 2013

New Delhi's aggressive efforts to raise foreign direct investment haven't borne fruit, despite the push for Make In India scheme, a pet favorite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Most of the foreign direct investment (FDI) has come from countries like the United Kingdom, France and Israel. The Indian government had revised the FDI policy last year under which FDI up to 49% is allowed through automatic route and beyond 49% under government approval route, wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other beneficial reasons.

"During the last three years and the current financial year, 34 FDI proposals were received for consideration of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), out of which, 17 have been approved. The FDI equity inflow for April 2013-December 2016 in defense sector is $ 1 million," said a statement from the Ministry of Defense.

News Report: Communist Party of Philippines to Declare Unilateral Ceasefire by March 31

New People's Army (NPA) "soldiers"
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) will declare unilateral ceasefire not later than March 31, according to official statement.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Saturday said that it would declare unilateral ceasefire not later than March 31, local media reported citing a CPP statement.

The CNN Philippines broadcaster reported that the New People's Army (NPA), a CPP armed wing, promised to release several hostages in the coming days as part of "confidence-building measures to help boost peace negotiations."

The peace talks between the government and the rebels are expected to resume in April.

In February, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced the end of the government ceasefire with the NPA due to the continued attacks conducted by the rebels and their growing demands.

The Philippines' government is mired in a long-lasting standoff with the leftist rebels, which has led to about 40,000 deaths. At the beginning of 2011, the conflicting sides tried to reach a ceasefire deal, but it broke down in February 2013 after Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino refused to free the jailed guerrillas.

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

News Report: After Almost 30 Years in Service, Indian Navy Tupolevs to Retire

Tupolev Tu-142M (Image: Wiki Commons)
The Indian Navy's three Tupolev Tu-142M aircraft will be decommissioned on March 29. The aircraft will be converted into a museum in collaboration with an Indian state.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The navy had already begun gradually phasing out the Tupolevs, nicknamed Albatross, which were key in anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol roles.

"The workhorse of the Indian Navy, mainstay of maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare for almost 30 years, Tu-142M aircraft to retire in a week," announced the Indian Navy. The 49.5-meter-long craft with a 50-meter wingspan also served in photographic and radio reconnaissance missions.

"Tu-142M is the fastest turboprop aircraft in the world. Many fighters found it difficult to intercept this machine at high altitude. Tupolevs have been the Eye in the Sky of the Indian Navy for the past 30 yrs providing critical real time inputs for maritime operations," said the Indian Navy.