Tag: Defense

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”


Crimea’s defense plants considerably increase output, senior official says

Lev Fedoseev/TASS

The growing production output of defense plants in Crimea and Sevastopol this year compared to the last year exceeds 200%, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

“Total growth of defense industry in Crimea and Sevastopol in 2017 is 430.8% compared to 2015 and 227.6% compared to 2016,” Rogozin said at a meeting on the prospects of industrial organizations’ development in Crimea and Sevastopol that was headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday.

Rogozin noted that there are 16 defense enterprises in Crimea, 10 of which are shipbuilding and three are aircraft plants. A total of 8,300 employees are working in this sphere. All enterprises were inspected in 2014. The Industry and Trade Ministry granted licenses to eight enterprises in Crimea and four enterprises in Sevastopol. Applications from two more Sevastopol’s enterprises are to be considered. At present, according to Rogozin, enterprises have clinched 12 bln rubles ($197.5mln) worth of contracts.

According to the deputy prime minister, a large number of Crimean workers who had earlier moved to other Russian regions had returned to defense industry.

 Rogozin also informed that in 2017 Yevpatoria Aircraft Repair Plant will become part of the United Aircraft Corporation, whereas Sevastopol Aircraft Company will be merged within Russian Helicopters.





US vice president Pence wants Patriot missiles in Estonia to deter Russia

The Patriot Missile and Air Defense System

The US is considering deploying Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Estonia, US Vice President Mike Pence told Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas on Sunday.

The U.S. Patriot defense system is a mobile, ground-based system designed to intercept missiles and warplanes.
Estonian Prime Minister Ratas said the two leaders talked about the upcoming Russian military manoeuvres planned for near the Estonian border, “and how Estonia, the United States, and NATO should monitor them and exchange information.”

Pence, on the first stop of a trip that will also take him to Georgia and Montenegro, said in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, that Washington stands with the Baltic nations and other allies in Eastern Europe that have expressed concerns about Russia’s intentions in their respective regions.

“Our message to the Baltic states — my message when we visit Georgia and Montenegro — will be the same: To our allies here in Eastern Europe, we are with you, we stand with you on behalf of freedoms,” Pence said in an interview with Fox News.

Ratas said in a statement that the US was vital to the security of the region.

“NATO’s collective position of deterrence and defense has strengthened in the Baltic region and the USA is indispensable to ensuring the security of our immediate neighborhood, as well as all of Europe,” Ratas said.

Estonian troops conducting an exercise on NATOs Eastern Flank.

Lithuania said it was eager to have Patriot missiles when the US military displayed the system in the country earlier this month after using them in an exercise there. Anti-aircraft defense is seen as one of NATO’s weaknesses in the Baltic states.

From Estonia, Pence is scheduled to make stops in Georgia and the newest NATO member, Montenegro.
Estonia and Montenegro are members of NATO, while Georgia has expressed hopes of joining the Western alliance.

Asked about Trump’s commitment to NATO’s mutual-defense provision, Pence told reporters in Tallinn that the U.S. administration has “made it clear that the policy of our administration is to stand firmly with our NATO allies and to stand firmly behind our Article 5 commitment that an attack on one is an attack on all.”

In Georgia, officials said Pence will highlight U.S. support for the Caucasus nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on July 27 that Pence’s visit will demonstrate that the United States continues to support Georgia in building a stronger military force.

During Pence’s visit, some 800 Georgian and 1,600 U.S. troops are taking part in the previously planned Noble Partner 2017 exercises. Pence is scheduled to meet with U.S. troops.

Troops from Britain, Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Armenia are also taking part.

“The vice president’s presence here is definitely showing that this is not only about military exercises, but it is also showing unification with our values, with our foreign policy targets, and showing a clear message that we are together,” Margvelashvili said.On the last stop, Pence will welcome NATO’s newest member with his stop in Montenegro, whose accession to the alliance in June has infuriated Russia.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas.

On August 2, he will attend the Adriatic Charter Summit in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, U.S. officials said.

Pence was expected to highlight the U.S. commitment to the Western Balkans and stress the need for good governance, political reforms, and rule of law in the region.

The leaders of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia are also scheduled to attend the summit.


South Korea to Deploy 4 More Anti-missile Units

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, during Flight Test THAAD, July 11, 2017.

South Korea said Saturday it will proceed with the deployment of four additional units of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense system after North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The deployment of the additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defenae (THAAD) units had been delayed after the initial two units, after South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered an environmental assessment.

China has been notified of the move to speed up the deployment, the South’s presidential Blue House said.

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern Saturday about South Korea decision to proceed with the deployment of the additional units.

The deployment will not resolve South Korea’s security concerns and will only make things more complex, the ministry said, reiterating a Chinese call for the system to be withdrawn.

North Korea said earlier Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that proved its ability to strike all of America’s mainland.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase by intercepting with a hit-to-kill approach. THAAD was developed after the experience of Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991. The THAAD interceptor carries no warhead, but relies on its kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit.

Originally a United States Army program, THAAD has come under the umbrella of the Missile Defense Agency. The Navy has a similar program, the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which now has a land component as well (“Aegis ashore”). THAAD was originally scheduled for deployment in 2012, but initial deployment took place in May 2008. THAAD has been deployed in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and South Korea.

The THAAD system is being designed, built, and integrated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems acting as prime contractor. Key subcontractors include Raytheon, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, MiltonCAT and the Oliver Capital Consortium.

On 6 March 2017, two THAAD launcher trucks arrived by air transport at Osan Air Base South Korea, for a deployment. Earlier that day, North Korea had launched 4 missiles. A Reuters article stated that with the THAAD defense system, a North Korean missile barrage would still pose a threat to South Korea, while an article in the International Journal of Space Politics & Policy said that South Korean forces already possess Patriot systems for point defense and Aegis destroyers capable of stopping ballistic missiles that may come from the north, in a three-layer antimissile defense for South Korea. On 16 March 2017, a THAAD radar arrived in South Korea. The THAAD system is kept at Osan Air Base until the site where the system is due to be deployed is prepared, with an expected ready date of June 2017. Osan Air Base has blast-hardened command posts with 3 levels of blast doors.

By 25 April 2017, six trailers carrying the THAAD radar, interceptor launchers, communications, and support equipment entered the Seongju site. On 30 April 2017, it was reported that South Korea would bear the cost of the land and facilities for THAAD, while the US will pay for operating it. On 2 May 2017, Moon Sang-gyun, with the South Korean Defense Ministry and Col. Robert Manning III, a spokesman for the U.S. military announced that the THAAD system in Seongju is operational and “has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend South Korea.” It was reported that the system will not reach its full operational potential until later this year when additional elements of the system are onsite. In June 2017 South Korea decided to halt further deployment. The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States) has integrated THAAD into its layered defense on the Korean Peninsula.

Even in the face of a North Korean ICBM test on 4 July 2017, which newly threatens Alaska, a Kodiak, Alaska-based THAAD interceptor test (FTT-18) against a simulated attack by an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile had long been planned. FTT-18 was successfully completed by Battery A-2 THAAD (Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States) on 11 July 2017. The soldiers used the procedures of an actual combat scenario and were not aware of the IRBM’s launch time.

Also in 2017 another Kodiak launch of a THAAD interceptor is scheduled between 7:30PM and 1:30AM on Saturday 29 July, Sunday 30 July, or Monday 31 July, at alternative times. North Korea is apparently positioning launch equipment in Kusong in preparation for a 27 July holiday. Lee Jong-kul, of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s Minjoo Party states “The nuclear and missile capabilities of North Korea…have been upgraded to pose serious threats; the international cooperation system to keep the North in check has been nullified..”, citing tensions over the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in South Korea.

Source: Voice of America News.

U.S. general: North Korea ICBM threat advancing faster than expected

U.S. Army General Mark Milley testifies at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to become the Army’s chief of staff, on Capitol Hill in Washington July 21, 2015.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. General Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, said on Thursday that North Korea’s July 4 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile showed its capabilities were advancing significantly and faster than many had expected.

Milley, in remarks to the National Press Club in Washington, said there was still time for a non-military solution to the crisis caused by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, but cautioned that “time is running out.”

“North Korea is extremely dangerous and more dangerous as the weeks go by,” he said.

U.S. media reported this week that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon spy agency, had assessed that North Korea would be able to field a nuclear-capable ICBM by next year, earlier than previously thought.

However, two U.S. officials said some other analysts who study North Korea’s missile program did not agree with the assessment, although there was no question that Pyongyang had moved further and faster in its efforts.

U.S. officials said on Tuesday they had seen increased North Korean activity that could be preparations for another missile test within days.

After its July 4 test, North Korea said it had mastered the technology needed to deploy a nuclear warhead via the missile. It also said the test verified the atmospheric re-entry of the warhead, which experts say may be able to reach the U.S. state of Alaska.

North Korea has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States and has ignored international calls to halt its weapons programs.

The vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva, said last week that North Korea did not have the ability to strike the United States with “any degree of accuracy” and that while its missiles had the range, they lacked the necessary guidance capability.

Reporting by Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool.

Source: Reuters.

Architects of ‘80s military buildup talk to senators about Navy expansion

The $13 billion aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)

The architects of the 1980s military buildup came before senators Tuesday to explain how they were able to rebuild and expand the Navy by 75 ships in just seven years under conditions not so different than they are today.

The Navy at the time faced shortfalls due to budget cuts, it was struggling with cost overruns, and shipbuilding programs were stagnating, testified former Navy Secretary John Lehman.

“As a result, we as a nation were losing our ability to deter disturbers of the peace,” he told the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee. “The same situation with very different actors is true today.”

But while members of the subcommittee are unanimous in their support for a similar buildup today from 276 ships to 355, there are differences.
Today’s Congress remains deadlocked over spending, and this huge military expansion lacks the push of a broadly popular president.

Ronald Reagan enjoyed a 58 percent approval rating six months into his presidency; President Donald Trump’s rating this week were under 40 percent.

William Schneider, who served as a former associate director in Reagan’s office of management and budget, said Reagan was able to build “very effective collaboration” in Congress to fund the very substantial increase in defense.

“His success in building a 600-ship Navy was a remarkable story of committed executive and legislative branch leaderships,” he said.
Lehman told the committee that the 1980s effort was successful because it had a cohesive strategy based on the nation’s vital defense interests that enjoyed widespread bipartisan support as well as support from the White House, budget office, the Pentagon and the Navy and Marine Corps.

In addition, there was a deep commitment to discipline in procurement, reigning in the kind of cost overruns that have plagued the building of the design and construction of the first Ford-class aircraft carrier. That means completing and freezing the design before going out to bid and ensuring there is accountability to keeping to the fixed price, he said.

With 22 Defense Department administrators able to sign on for increased spending, the only way to keep that discipline is to hold someone accountable, he said.

“There should be one person where the buck stops and that has got to be the service secretary,” he said.

Everett Pyatt, former Secretary of the Navy for Shipbuilding and Logistics, said another way to avoid runaway costs is to abolish incremental funding for ships. By approving the full amount for a complete ship up front, they were able to control the costs and not get into the kinds of problems today’s military is facing. He said he just learned of $700 million “buried in the post-delivery cost” for the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier.

“For a ship that’s already been delivered – I don’t understand that,” he said.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the subcommittee, praised the witnesses for “thinking outside the box” when they reactivated and modernized ships that had been decommissioned early rather than building all new.

He said the subcommittee along with their counterparts in the House have adopted the 355-ship Navy Ships Act into the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

But Democratic senators on the subcommittee warned that the Navy buildup won’t be possible without commitment by Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act, which caps defense spending with the threat of automatic across-the-board cuts known as sequestration.

“One thing is clear,” said ranking member Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. “If we do not deal with the [Budget Control Act], we will end up cutting the size of the Navy.”

Source: Stars and Stripes.

Chinese Air force Conducts ‘several’ long-range drills near Japan as military tells Tokyo to ‘get used to it’

Chinese Harbin H-6 bomber.

China’s air force said Saturday that its warplanes had conducted long-range drills over the Bashi Channel and the Miyako Strait “several times” over the past week, just a day after the country’s Defense Ministry told Japan that it should “get used to” the military exercises.

“China’s air force over the past week conducted multiple drills far out at sea, with H-6K bombers and many other types of aircraft flying through the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait, testing actual battle capabilities over the sea,” air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted as saying by the state-run CGTN website.

 Shen said the drills were carried out as part of the air force’s yearly training plan, stressing that they complied with international law and were not aimed “at any specific country, region or target.”

The Miyako Strait lies between the islands of Miyako and Okinawa while the Bashi Channel separates Taiwan and the Philippines. Both are key entryways into the western Pacific Ocean.

Saturday’s announcement came after a Defense Ministry spokesman defended what he called “routine exercises” Thursday that saw six Chinese H-6 bombers fly through the Miyako Strait.

Japan scrambled fighters in response. There was no violation of Japanese airspace.

Mitsubishi F-2 Super Kai

“It is legitimate for Chinese military planes to fly through the strait, and more similar training will be conducted on the high seas as needed,” spokesman Ren Guoqiang Guoqiang said.

“The parties concerned don’t need to overact and make a great fuss about it,” he added. “They will feel better after getting used to such drills.”

Ahead of last week’s exercises, the Chinese military last sent ships and planes through the international but politically sensitive waters and airspace in April as part of its continuing push to hone its ability to operate further from its shores.

Exercises through the Miyako Strait have become more and more commonplace as China seeks to project its military clout farther into the Pacific.

In early March, Japan scrambled fighter jets after a total of 13 Chinese naval aircraft were spotted flying through the strait. That large-scale drill featured fighters, bombers and early warning aircraft.

Beijing has blasted Tokyo for hyping the exercises, calling them part of “regular” drills, while Japan has said it will keep a vigilant eye on the “expanding and increasing” actions of the Chinese military in the area.

According to data released by Japan’s Defense Ministry on Friday, the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese aircraft 101 times from April to June, down from 199 last year.

The plunge came after the ASDF scrambled fighters against Chinese planes a record-high 1,168 times in fiscal 2016, which ended in March.

Source: The Japan Times.

Getica Saber 17 exercise participants enhance collective defense in Europe

U.S. Army Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, maneuver tanks during Getica Saber 17 on July 10, 2017 in Cincu, Romania. Getica Saber 17 is a U.S.-led fire support coordination exercise and combined arms live fire exercise that incorporates six Allied and partner nations with more than 4,000 Soldiers. Getica Saber 17 runs concurrent with Saber Guardian 17, a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational exercise that spans across Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania with over 25,000 service members from 22 Allied and partner nations. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Antonio Lewis)

CINCU, Romania — Booming mortar blasts broke the mountain valley’s silence as Romanian and U.S. artillery fired opening rounds at the July 10 commencement of the annual joint combined training exercise Getica Saber 2017.

The exercise, which runs until July 15, is one of 18 “Black Sea Region Exercises” that U.S. European Command conducts annually with partner nations in Central and Eastern Europe to bolster collective defense.

Paladin mobile artillery launchers and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems launched coordinated rounds of fire, practicing joint fire-cover that would protect infantry or armor units in a combat situation.


“What we’re really working on is integrating and synchronizing the delivery of joint fires and combined fires in support of a brigade combat team,” said Army Col. Kelly Webster, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery Brigade. “As the brigade combat teams carry out their maneuvers, they will rely on the artillery to provide backup support and defend them from enemy ground attacks.”

While the American military has focused heavily on fighting terrorist and insurgent groups over the last 16 years, EUCOM, NATO allies and partner nations are preparing in case a conventional conflict occurs in Europe.

Threats of regional aggression have weighed heavily on regional military leaders’ minds since the 2014 Ukraine crisis, so leaders look to exercises like Getica Saber to boost their collective defensive capacity.

“For the last 16 years, we’ve been working in an environment where we controlled the airspace, without any ‘near-peer’ threats that challenged that control. We have to be prepared to encounter near-peer threats in the future, and we need to be able to deflect any air-based threats,” said Army Capt. John Strickland, a public affairs officer with the 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

“It’s about preparing to fight an enemy that has similar capabilities to what we bring to the table,” he added.

Getica Saber’s planners anticipate a future enemy with extensive ground-based firepower, Strickland said. The U.S. and its allies, he added, would employ combined fires in this scenario to take out not only enemy artillery and armor, but also anti-aircraft launchers that threaten friendly aircraft.

“If we’re facing an enemy that has surface-to-air capability, we need to defeat that capability to get our infantry into the area,” he said. “We need to protect the aircraft that are out there transporting or supporting the ground troops.”

The 1st Cavalry Division Artillery Brigade is overseeing Getica Saber’s live-fire exercise Joining the unit is the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, which will head up a combined-arms live-fire exercise consisting of tanks and artillery later in the exercise.


Romanian artillery units are participating in both exercises, Webster noted. He added that the Romanian army’s Second Infantry Division is overseeing Getica Saber and day-to-day administrative management. The Romanian military leadership is working with U.S. leaders in shared office space inside the Combat Training Center here.

Romanian soldiers conduct a live-fire exercise in Subiu, Romania, July 10, 2017. Getica Saber 2017 is a U.S-led fire coordination exercise and combined arms live-fire exercise that incorporates six Allied and partner nations with more than 4,000 soldiers. Getica Saber 17 runs concurrent with Saber Guardian 17, a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational exercise that spans across Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania with over 25,000 service members from 22 Allied and partner nations. (Photo Credit: Romanian Army photo by Nicusor Comanescu )

Merging office space with the Romanian command for the exercises fosters interoperability, Webster said. Differences exist between U.S. and Romanian hardware and computer network systems, but working in proximity makes it easier to quickly resolve any technical difficulties, he noted.

“Having combined our headquarters and theirs into one headquarters, we can both operate our computerized systems in a very timely manner,” he said. “It’s a very efficient workaround that we’ve found since we’ve started the exercise.”

The exercise involves less digital technology and fewer network-connected systems than other U.S.-based exercises frequently have, which is beneficial, said Timothy Lemley, lead planner for Saber Guardian 2017, another Black Sea-area exercise that runs concurrently with Getica Saber.

Lemley pointed out that if a wartime adversary uses cyberattacks to sabotage weapons systems, U.S. and allied troops will need to be prepared to fight in “analog” mode.

“If we look towards sort of the future warfare aspect of things, we’re looking at all kinds of area-of-denial, computer denial and denial-of-service attacks, where we might have to operate in an analog environment,” he said. “So, working with these countries that work primarily in an analog environment gives us the opportunity to experience that.”

Source: US Army Europe.

Romania says any Patriot missile system buy meant to boost defence


Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

Romanian military purchases are not intended to put strain on relations with nearby Russia but to strengthen the country’s defences, President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department said it has approved the possible sale of seven Patriot missile defence systems worth $3.9 billion to Romania.

A NATO member since 2004 and European Union member since 2007, Romania has committed to boost its defence spending to two percent of gross domestic product this year.

Asked whether talk of acquiring Patriot missiles and recent military drills were straining relations with Russia, Iohannis told reporters: “Firstly, we must look at what these acquisitions are for.”

“We are not getting ready to attack anyone. We are preparing … for our army to benefit from modern, efficient features. They are meant to defend us, to guarantee the security of Romanians.”

Asked whether recent regional military exercises could deter Russia, Iohannis said “Of course they could, and I think they do so.”

Russia, whose annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 prompted concern among NATO’s eastern members such as Poland and the Baltic states, has said NATO was threatening stability in Eastern Europe by building up its military presence there and staging war games.

A final decision by Romania to buy the missile defences systems, whose prime contractors would be Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, has yet to be announced by the country’s defence ministry.

Source: Reuters.

The future of European defense: NATO or an EU army?

Since the beginning of the post-Cold War era, the EU has been working to develop its own security and defense policy and establish its own military independent of the U.S. The Union agreed on a common policy that took into consideration good relations with Russia, and asked the U.S. to reduce its military assets in Europe and withdraw tactical nuclear weapons located in five states, including Turkey. The Union felt it was ready to decouple from the U.S. and NATO to some extent, and become a global player on its own.

However, the conflict in Ukraine demonstrated that despite the ambitions of some members and the concrete steps that were taken, the EU has not succeeded in developing effective security and defense policies with global impact. The major cause of this failure has been the inherent difficulty in reaching consensus among the 27 member states, who often pursue different agendas. Specifically, the significant variance in members’ positions on foreign and security policies hinders reaching consensus in the Union.

Despite significant pressure from the U.S. and NATO’s worried Eastern European members, countries enjoying good relations with Russia – notably France, Germany, and Italy – refrained from challenging Russia, trying instead to mitigate the crisis via diplomacy at the onset. Further Russian activities, and especially its annexation of Crimea, soon closed the rift in the Alliance, and NATO once again assumed its traditional role as a preeminent military organization in countering Russian military activities and threats.

The Wales Summit served as a turning point for the solidarity and cohesion of the Alliance, as the Allies agreed upon measures to counter the Russian threat. The main outcome of the summit was an emphasis on deterrence, the assurance of Europe, and an agreement on new measures – namely the Readiness Action Plan, whose purpose was to ensure a swift and robust NATO military force.

The Readiness Action Plan consisted of assurance and adaptation measures. Assurance measures included continuous air, land, and maritime presence and activities in Eastern Europe, specifically in the Baltic countries and Poland, on a rotational basis designed to reassure members of NATO’s solidarity and commitment against Russian aggression. Adaptation measures envisaged major structural and functional changes in NATO’s military system. The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force of around 5,000 troops was established for rapid reaction, and the capabilities of the NATO Response Force tripled to around 30,000 troops.

The EU is at a crossroads in deciding which deterrence platform to adopt against the threat of Russian hybrid warfare: a European military under The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), or NATO, which already fulfills the security task of deterring and dissuading Russia against incursions in Europe. The European military option seems problematic in the short-term, as the Ukrainian crisis revealed the limits and ineffectiveness of the CSDP in providing security for its own continent due to the EU’s inability to provide a common, sound, and solid policy against Russia. Recent calls from EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for a common policy and a European military did not garner support, but rather opposition, from Eastern Europeans, who feel under imminent Russian threat and rely on the presence of NATO in their territories – especially on U.S. troops.

The possibility of a nuclear confrontation between Russia and NATO only bolstered Eastern Europe’s adherence to the Alliance and the U.S., despite the efforts of major players in the EU to reduce the presence of NATO and U.S. influence especially to a minimum.

Britain’s impending exit from the EU is also expected to result in considerable diminution of the Union’s defense and security capabilities, since Britain numbers among the strongest military powers in the Union. For these reasons, the EU should turn the Ukrainian crisis into an opportunity and should cooperate with NATO rather than competing against it. In particular, the EU should take responsibility for civilian missions in operations, a sphere in which they are regarded as highly successful and competent.

*Dr. Şafak Oğuz is a Security Expert at the International Strategic and Security Research Center (Uluslararası Strateji Ve Güvenlik Araştırmalar Merkezi – USGAM) in Ankara. This is an abridged version of the original article published in Turkish Policy Quarterly’s (TPQ) Spring 2017 issue.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey.

Canada Navy pursues closer ties with Japan

Canadian sailors salute at the opening of a reception on HMCS Ottawa at Harumi Wharf in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday evening.

Canada’s Navy and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force should strengthen cooperation in light of the countries’ shared values, Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Rear Adm. Gilles Couturier said Thursday.

Couturier was speaking at a reception on a Canadian Navy vessel in a Tokyo port to mark the visit of two Canadian Navy frigates.

At dusk, Canadian sailors and MSDF personnel packed the deck of the HMCS Ottawa, which served as the reception venue. That ship and the HMCS Winnipeg had been deployed in the Indo-Asia Pacific region since March, and both vessels are currently calling at Harumi Wharf in Chuo Ward, Tokyo.

In a welcome speech, Canadian Ambassador to Japan Ian Burney emphasized both nations’ respect for democracy, human rights, free trade and other liberal values. “Against the backdrop of an increasingly troubled global environment, I think it has never been more important for the two countries to come together,” Burney said.

Couturier expressed similar thoughts. “Canada and Japan share the same values,” the deputy commander said. Addressing participants from the MSDF, he said, “We are very much looking forward to doing more with you.”

In his speech, MSDF Chief of Staff Adm. Yutaka Murakawa recalled participating in a joint exercise with a Canadian Navy vessel 35 years ago. He said the partnership between the MSDF and the Canadian Navy “has grown tremendously.”

For their current deployment, the two Canadian vessels have sailed around the Indo-Asia Pacific region, including Guam, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, China and South Korea. The ships also participated in joint exercises with MSDF vessels.

“We hail the Royal Canadian Navy for its increasing engagement in the [Indo-Asia Pacific] region to ensure maritime security,” Murakawa added.

The two frigates’ current visit to Japan is the 31st by Canadian Navy vessels, according to the MSDF.

Source: The Japan News.