Tag Archives: Military

North Korea dismisses postponement of joint drills

 The United States must end its joint exercises with Seoul “once and for all” to facilitate dialogue with Pyongyang, North Korea said on Tuesday (Nov 19), just days after the allies postponed planned drills.

The US and South Korea said on Sunday they would delay annual joint aerial exercises slated for this month in an act of “goodwill” after months of deadlocked nuclear talks.

Pyongyang has long protested the joint drills, which it condemns as preparations for invasion, and Seoul and Washington last year cancelled several training sessions in the wake of the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

But Kim Yong Chol, a senior North Korean official who formerly led talks with the US, said the weekend postponement was irrelevant.

“We demand that the US quit the drill or stop it once and for all,” Kim said in a statement carried by the KCNA news agency.

“The suspension of the drill does not mean ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula and is not helpful to the diplomatic efforts,” he added.

The North had “no intention” to sit down with the “tricky US” and would not return to talks “before the complete and irrevocable withdrawal of its hostile policy”.

“From now on, the DPRK will get due compensation for every administrative achievement the US president has talked too much about for over a year,” Kim added, referring to the North by its official name.

Trump has repeatedly pointed to North Korea’s moratorium on nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches as foreign policy successes for him.

But negotiations have been gridlocked since the Hanoi summit in February broke up in disagreement over sanctions relief, while October’s working-level talks rapidly broke down in Sweden.

Tuesday’s statement was the latest in a series of increasingly assertive comments from the North as its end-of-year deadline for the US to come up with a fresh offer approaches, and it has also carried out multiple weapons tests in recent weeks.

Trump hinted at the prospect of a fourth meeting with Kim in a tweet at the weekend, only to be dismissed by the North, which said it had no interest in summits “that bring nothing to us”.


DPRK: Air and Anti-Aircraft Force conducts military drills

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally guided a round of military drills by sharpshooters from the Air and Anti-Aircraft Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) over the weekend, state media reported Monday.

The military drills, under harsh weather conditions, were conducted at the Kalma airport in Wonsan, according to the Korean Central News Agency (ACNC).

Praising the participants, the DPRK leader was reported to have expressed great satisfaction over the military drill.

Kim Jong-un reaffirmed that ‘victory or defeat in combat does not depend on the specifications of the weapons used, but on the idea and purpose of those who use the weapons and fight.’

The Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, also reported that last weekend, for the second time in less than a month, DPRK President Kim Jong-un toured the so-called Cultural Recreation Zone of Yangdok Resort, to be opened soon.

Bolivian Military Massacres 9 People at Indigenous Pro-Morales March

In Bolivia, at least 23 have died amid escalating violence since President Evo Morales resigned at the demand of the Bolivian military last week, in what he and many others have condemned as a military coup. In Cochabamba, military forces opened fire on indigenous pro-Morales demonstrators Friday, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 100. The violence began soon after thousands of indigenous coca leaf growers and other protesters gathered for a peaceful march in the town of Sacaba. The massacre came one day after self-proclaimed President Jeanine Áñez issued a decree protecting the military from prosecution for violent acts. Protesters are demanding she step down. We’ll have more on the crisis in Bolivia later in the broadcast.


Amidst strong condemnations of US-South Korean air force drills, North Korea recently held anti-aircraft defense drills among the civilian population and in the military, Daily NK has learned. 

Several Daily NK sources in both Ryanggang and South Pyongan provinces reported on Nov. 14 that North Korean authorities had civilians take part in “blackout” training on Nov. 12 and anti-aircraft defense drills on Nov. 13.

The blackout training held on Nov. 12 had North Koreans cover the windows of their homes to prevent any light from seeping through after the sounding of an air raid siren. Local police and Ministry of State Security (MSS) offices conducted joint patrols to ensure the populace complied with the blackout order. 

The anti-aircraft defense drills on Nov. 13 began after the sounding of an air raid alarm twice. Worker-Peasant Red Guards and Young Red Guards wearing regular military uniforms pretended to be the enemy attacking and “occupied” their assigned target areas. The elderly, women and children were sent to assigned evacuation points. 

North Korean officials did not alert the populace about the training through the country’s network of inminban; instead, the country’s “emergency contact network” was used to initiate the training, Daily NK sources reported. 

“[The authorities] aimed to impress upon the people need to be attentive [toward the possibility of an invasion] while making it seem like a real war had broken out,” a Ryanggang Province-based source explained. “The drills were likely aimed to check how ideologically ready the people are [for the outbreak of war].”

North Korean officials also announced the holding of a compulsory evacuation training from 9 AM on Nov. 14. North Koreans were forced to head to assigned shelters along with backpacks with food for lunch and emergency food, and authorities emphasized that they carefully package and transport portraits of the Kim family in their homes as well. 

“During the drills, the authorities told people how to act during a time of war and conducted ideological education,” the source said. “North Korean officials jammed signals in Hyesan and other areas near the Sino-North Korean border to prevent people from using Chinese cell phones and prevent any information from seeping out.” 

North Korea’s military also held anti-aircraft defense drills, sources told Daily NK. 

“We headed to bed at 9:40 PM on Nov. 13 after our nightly check at 9:30 AM, but at 9:50 AM an order came down suddenly to line up,” a Daily NK military source based in North Pyongan Province said. “The military authorities decided to suddenly conduct a review of the military’s wartime mobilization posture.” 

The source reported that while the soldiers had expected to be involved in a military exercise, they weren’t sure what time it would occur.

“All soldiers on the base are tense because it’s clear the higher ups plan to conduct a review of the fully-equipped troops in an underground facility,” he added. 


US military announces killing 11 gunmen in Libya by air strike

US forces killed 11 gunmen suspected to be Daesh members during a second airstrike near the southern Libyan city of Murzuq in less than a week, the US military announced on Wednesday.

The US military’s attack on Tuesday came after another attack on 19 September, which Washington said it killed eight other suspected gunmen.

The Director of Operations in the US African Command (AFRICOM), Major General William Gailer, said in a statement that “the raid was carried out to eliminate Daesh terrorists and prevent them from launching attacks against the Libyan people.”

Some Daesh fighters withdrew to the south towards the Libyan Desert, where the group lost its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte at the end of 2016.

The United States said it would not allow extremists to take advantage of the conflict between eastern and western factions around the capital Tripoli to protect themselves.

Troops stationed in the east, led by Khalifa Haftar, launched an offensive to take control over Tripoli in April, hindering UN-led mediation plans to reach a political settlement in Libya.


Israeli fighter jets join military exercises over northeastern England

Israeli fighter jets have taken part in a training exercise in British air space for the first time, as the Israeli Air Force seeks new opportunities for military co-operation, and European air forces seek to learn more about combating air defence systems.

Seven Israeli F15s and a refuelling tanker took part in the British Royal Air Force-hosted exercise, known as Cobra Warrior, alongside around 40 other aircraft from Germany, Italy, the US and the UK.

Together, they practised aerial combat and refuelling over the sea off the north east of England, and simulated attacks on targets on the ground.

“We can learn [from] their drills and the way they are flying,” said Brigadier General Amnon Ein Dar, head of training for the Israeli air force.

“It’s a huge lesson learned.” He added that he hoped there would be further joint exercises with European air forces.

Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador to London, also appeared briefly at the exercise, which he hailed as strengthening the democracies of both Britain and Israel.

RAF officers said they were not prepared to discuss what they described as “the bigger picture” behind the decision to invite the Israeli air force to participate.

Group Captain Rob Barrett, who directed the three-week long series that concluded last week, said: “We welcome the opportunity to train alongside all of the participating nations’ forces on this challenging exercise.”

A defence minister in the UK government told the country’s parliament that Britain was working closely with the Israeli military “in order to counter the destabilising regional activity of Iran and Hezbollah”, and to conduct operations against Islamic State.

European air forces and the US would also have been seeking to benefit more broadly from Israel’s recent military experience, according to Justin Bronk, a research fellow studying air power and technology at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based defence and security think tank.

New stealth fighter

Israel has conducted a number of air strikes against Iran-backed forces in Syria in recent years.

In May 2018, an Israeli Air Force commander confirmed the first operational use in Syria of the new F35 stealth fighter, which is also flown by the US Air Force and the Royal Air Force.

F35s are also reported to have been flown in missions targeting Hamas in Gaza, where the Israeli Air Force regularly conducts air strikes.

“There are two clear operational reasons for the RAF, Italy and the US Air Force in particular to welcome Israeli participation in exercises,” Bronk said.

“The first is that the Israeli Air Force has a great deal of recent experience in operating around and indeed sometimes directly against the Syrian air defence network and some of the Russian air defences which are increasingly integrated with it.

“This is very valuable for Nato air forces looking to be prepared to defend against any aggression in Eastern Europe where many of those same systems would be a threat, and to conduct operations in future against smaller states which buy their air defence systems from Russia.

“The second reason is that Israel has been using its new F35s in the region, as have the US Air Force, US Marine Corps and RAF.

“This gives them plenty to discuss in terms of developing novel tactics to make the best use of the F35, and what it may or may not be able to tell about Syrian and Russian activities whilst in flight.”

Joint exercises

Earlier this year, the RAF, the Israeli Air Force and the US Air Force co-operated in a joint F35 training exercise over the eastern Mediterranean which was intended to help the Americans and British learn from the greater experience that the Israelis have acquired while flying the aircraft.

The US jets involved in that exercise flew from the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

For its part, the Israeli military is said to be increasingly eager to engage in joint exercises that would give it an opportunity to train in different terrains and to draw upon the experience gained by the US and British military during their long years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Amos Harel, military correspondent for Haaretz newspaper, says the IDF no longer takes the view that it has little to learn from the armed forces of other nations.

It is also eager to train outside Israel because training areas within the country are few in number and variety, so officers and troops soon become overly familiar with the terrain.

A recent training exercise in Germany, Harel wrote, “is good preparation for combat in locales in which the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] might find itself some day, notably Lebanon, though that’s not spelled out explicitly to the hosts, to avoid embarrassing them”.


Japan military costs rise on purchases from US

TOKYO: Japan’s defense spending is expected to set a new record next year as the country deepens its military alliance with the US and spends more on expensive American stealth fighters and other equipment amid threats from China and North Korea.

The Defense Ministry on Friday released its 5.32 trillion yen ($50.3 billion) budget request for fiscal 2020, an increase of 1.2 percent from the current year. It could swell further if Japan agrees to pay more of the cost of stationing American troops in the country or for US-led monitoring of tensions in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran before the budget is finalized later this year and approved by parliament.

Japan’s military spending has risen for seven consecutive years by a total of 13 percent, starting a year after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012. In 2018 it ranked 8th or 9th in the world in total defense spending, depending on calculation method.

Abe has pushed for Japan’s Self Defense Forces to expand its international role and capability by stepping up cooperation and weapons compatibility with the US, as Japan increasingly works alongside American troops. Abe in 2015 reinterpreted Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow the use of force in defending itself and its allies.

Among the biggest planned purchases are six F-35B stealth fighter jets capable of short takeoff and vertical landing that cost 14 billion yen ($132 million) each, for deployment in 2024. They are the first of 42 F-35Bs that Japan is to acquire in coming years, along with 105 F-35As, for a total F-35 fleet of 147 — the largest number of any country outside the US, and, critics say, more than is needed for a country committed to self-defense. To accommodate the F-35Bs, the Defense Ministry will reconfigure the Izumo, one of two destroyers currently serving as helicopter carriers, beginning later this year with a heat-resistant flight deck and guiding lights at a cost of 3.1 billion yen ($290 million).

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said earlier this month that F-35Bs belonging to the US Marines will also operate on the Izumo, primarily during joint exercises for the defense of Japan and not for independent US missions, addressing concerns that higher levels of integration between the two militaries could increase the risk of Japan becoming embroiled in a US-led conflict.

The arrangement underscores Japan’s expanding role in its alliance with the US as Trump pressures the country to do more. It also is a major shift for Japan’s navy, which has lacked aircraft carriers because of a concern that they would remind Asian neighbors of Japanese World War II aggression.

China’s growing military presence and capability as it strengthens its claims across the South China Sea have unnerved many in the region.

Japan, under its new defense guidelines for the next decade, will set up a military unit specializing in space and beef up measures against cyber and electromagnetic attacks. 

Japan and the US agreed this year to cooperate in defense in space, as China and Russia seek to expand their military capability into space.

The Defense Ministry is seeking 52.4 billion yen ($490 million) to launch a 20-member unit as part of the Air Self-Defense Force to monitor the impact of space debris and potential electromagnetic interference on Japanese satellites. Another aim is to acquire a tracking system using a highly sensitive radar and optical telescope.

While acquiring costly American weapons helps reduce the US trade deficit and enhances military cooperation and compatibility, it is a setback for Japan’s fledgling defense industry. Amid calls for Japan to produce its own replacement for its aging F-2 fighter jets, the ministry will start developing a successor, possibly as a joint international project.

Growing defense costs are also a burden for a fast-aging nation with a declining population.

Japan’s five-year Medium Term Defense Program requires defense spending of 27 trillion yen ($255 billion) through 2024.


Space Defender: Trump launches Space Command to safeguard final frontier

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced the formal establishment of a Space Command to ensure US military supremacy in outer space.

“It’s a big deal. As the newest combat command, Space Command will defend America’s vital interest in space, the next war-fighting domain. I think that is pretty obvious to everybody. It is all about space,” the president said during during an event in the Rose Garden.

“It’s a big deal. As the newest combat command, Space Command will defend America’s vital interest in space, the next war-fighting domain. I think that is pretty obvious to everybody. It is all about space,” the president said during during an event in the Rose Garden.

“The dangers to our country constantly evolve, and so must we. Now, those who wish to harm the United States to seek to challenge us, in the ultimate high ground of space. It is going to be a whole different ballgame,” he continued.

The renewed focus on space as a military domain reflects concern about the vulnerability of US satellites, both military and commercial, that are critical to American interests and are potentially susceptible to disruption by Chinese and Russian anti-satellite weapons.

The role of the new Space Command is to conduct space operations such as enabling satellite-based navigation and communications for troops and commanders in the field and providing warning of missile launches abroad.

The move is separate from the president’s goal of launching a “Space Force” as an independent branch of the military, but could be a step in that direction. Congress has inched toward approving the creation of a Space Force despite skepticism from some lawmakers of both parties. The House and Senate bills differ on some points, and an effort to reconcile the two will begin after Congress returns from its August recess.

Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond will serve as the first commander of US Space Command.


Esper ‘not using the withdraw word’ for Afghanistan

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says it is “premature” to talk about  US withdrawal from Afghanistan just yet.

He made the comments at a news conference at the Pentagon alongside US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford on Wednesday.

“I think it’s premature. I’m not using the withdraw word right now,” said the Pentagon chief. “I’m using, we’re gonna make sure that Afghanistan is not a sanctuary, and we’re gonna try to have an effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.”

This is while President Donald Trump had promised to end the US longest war just like his predecessor, Barack Obama.

“We have enduring security interests in the region, diplomatic interests in the region, and economic interests in the region. And the form of our presence, to advance our interests in those areas is going to change over time. And so any discussion about capability is going to be benchmarked against the threat,” General Dunford stated.

“But as importantly against the capacity of our partners in Afghanistan to deal with that threat. So could we talk conceptually about a time in a future when the Afghan security forces can deal with security in their country by themselves? You can. But we’re not prepared to have a specific conversation about when that may be or what capability would be associated with what operating environment. “

The US has been in talks with the Taliban almost 18 years after the US invaded Afghanistan to overthrow a ruling Taliban regime.

The exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan has been a condition set by the Taliban to extend the talks.


Second batch of S-400 missile system arrives Turkey

Turkey has received the second batch of the Russian S-400 missile defence system on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reported, quoting Turkeys’ National Defence Ministry.

“The second batch of equipment of S-400 missile defence system has arrived at Murted Air Base near Ankara,” the ministry said on Twitter.

“The delivery process will continue around one month,” the ministry said.

Ankara received its first supply of S-400 missiles in July. The delivery of the first battery was completed on July 25.

Sensing that its protracted efforts to purchase an air defence missile system from the ally United States (US) was not heading towards success, Turkey in April 2017, signed a contract with Russia to acquire the S-400 anti-missile shield.

Opposing deployment of the Russian system, US officials argued that would be incompatible with the NATO systems and expose its fifth generation, the state-of-art, F-35 jet, to possible Russian subterfuge.

Turkey, however, emphasised that the S-400 would not be integrated into the NATO systems, thus had no chance to pose any threat to the alliance or its armaments.

Turkey even asked for setting up of a commission to clarify any technical issues. But US has, so far, not respond to this proposal.

The S-400 system is seen as one of the most advanced missile systems in the world, capable of tracking several targets simultaneously.