NEWS BRIEFS: INTERNATIONAL
19 November 2019 (Reuters)
Australian and American hostages have been released by the Afghan Taliban after more than three years in captivity in return for the release of three Taliban commanders. The development is seen as a step toward direct talks with the Islamist militants.
19 November 2019 (Reuters)
In a rare public sign of discord in a 70-year alliance against North Korean aggression, the U.S. has broken off talks with South Korea over the cost of the huge U.S. military presence on the peninsula. Each side blames the other for a lack of willingness to compromise after President Donald Trump proposed a 400 per cent increase in South Korean funding.
18 November 2019 (Yahoo)
China told the U.S. Nov. 18 to “stop flexing muscles” in the South China Sea and to avoid “new uncertainties” over Taiwan. Defence Minister Wei Fenghe warned U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the sidelines of a ministerial-level meeting in Bangkok a day after Esper had accused China of “increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives” in the region.
18 November 2019 (Reuters)
A week after President Donald Trump said he wants South Korea to increase its financial commitment to maintaining U.S. troops there, it has been disclosed that Japan has been asked to cover more of the cost of relocating U.S. Marine Corps personnel from the Japanese island of Okinawa across the Philippine Sea to the U.S. territory of Guam.
18 November 2019 (Navy Times)
A Chinese aircraft carrier group’s passage near Taiwan Nov. 17 prompted the island state to scramble air force and naval assets. Taiwan’s defence ministry says the Chinese fleet, which also was being shadowed by Japanese and U.S. ships, remained on its side of a dividing line in the Taiwan Strait.
18 November 2019 (Military Times)
Russia has established a helicopter base in northern Syria, according to defence ministry television. The Zvezda network has shown attack and transport helicopters at the base near the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli as the U.S. continues to withdraw troops from the region.
18 November 2019 (BBC)
The International Criminal Court says it will “independently assess” unsubstantiated allegations that British military personnel have committed war crimes. The allegations were made in a BBC program which said there was evidence that British troops had killed civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.
18 November 2019 (U.S. Government Accountability Office)
Ship collisions which resulted in the deaths of 17 U.S. sailors in 2017 and cause significant damage to their ships has prompted the U.S. Navy to triple ship-driving training time for its Surface Warfare Operators by 2021. The upgrade includes added classroom and simulator time but the Government Accountability Office says there is no plan to collect fleet-wide feedback on the quality of the new training or routinely test ship-driving skills.
18 November 2019 (Fifth Domain)
Russia and China are generally considered the most significant threats in the cyber domain, but one expert worries that “minor or middle powers” might be a more immediate concern. Brandon Valeriano, chair of Armed Politics at the Marine Corps University and a member of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, was part of a panel at CyberCon 2019.
18 November 2019 (CNN)
President Donald Trump has ignored the advice of his own Department of Defense by pardoning one Army officer convicted of war crimes and a second still awaiting trial as well as restoring the rank of a U.S. Navy SEAL who had been demoted after being accused of war crimes. Senior military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, had warned Trump that his intervention could damage the integrity of the military judicial system.