When an unclaimed package was spotted in a busy Paris subway station Monday, police immediately diverted trains, ordered thousands of frustrated travelers into the street and dispatched a bomb squad to test for explosives.
A boarding team from the medium endurance cutter Escanaba got in a shootout with suspected drug smugglers while attempting to board a vessel in international waters near the coast of Nicaragua Sept. 14, the service said in a statement.
A fierce battle is being waged behind the scenes for control of North Korea as Kim Jong-il prepares to anoint his successor, it has emerged. Factional in-fighting has broken out between Chang Song-taek, the rogue state’s second-in-command, and a group of senior reform-minded officials, according to a source who has recently met people at the highest levels of the North Korean government. The battle between the two sides comes as Kim Jong-il, the 68-year-old “Dear Leader”, is in frail health and no concrete succession plan has yet to emerge.
The risk of a trade war between the US and China has increased after a key Congressional committee backed a bill to allow US companies to seek tariffs on Chinese imports. The adoption of the measure by the Ways and Means Committee on Friday means it will now be voted on by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. “China’s exchange-rate policy has a major impact on American businesses, and Americans jobs, which is what this is all about,” said Sander Levin, a Democrat from Michigan and chairman of the committee.
The greatest geopolitical development that has occurred largely beneath the radar of our Middle East-focused media over the past decade has been the rise of Chinese sea power. This is evinced by President Obama’s meeting Friday about the South China Sea, where China has conducted live-fire drills and made territorial claims against various Southeast Asian countries, and the dispute over the Senkaku Islands between Japan and China in the East China Sea, the site of a recent collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese coast guard ships.
A Pentagon official is holding talks in Beijing this week in an effort to revive U.S. military relations with China and reduce tensions in the region, a defense spokesman said Sept. 27.
In this article, [the authors] argue that China and the world will take a third way of continued internalization by China of select global practices and norms, alongside registering its desire and right to be at the table for rewriting some others.
Two shifts in Russian foreign policy attracted much international commentary last week: President Dmitry Medvedev’s decree on curbing military cooperation with Iran, and Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, participating in an Arctic conference in Moscow. Both issues, however, are loaded with controversies that muddle the substance of these priorities.
According to the preamble of New START, the Treaty’s measures “will enhance predictability and stability, and thus the security of both Parties.” The preamble also deems the Treaty part of an effort “to forge a new strategic relationship based on mutual trust, openness, predictability, and cooperation.” But as I’ve described it in my latest column at the Bulletin, the spirit of the U.S. Senate’s resolution of ratification — whose complete and final text is now available at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website — seems closer to the rigorous and mistrustful enforcement of numerical parity.
Plans by the British government to make significant cuts in defense spending have spurred concerns among American military experts about Britain’s ability to carry out its role as the United States’ most dependable ally. A wrenching government spending review has pitted Britain’s army against its navy, spawned a series of leaks to the British media and raised the question of whether the military that emerges from the budget cuts — expected to be 10 percent to 20 percent of current outlays — will be a strategically agile force that can join the United States on major combat operations.
Britain has sought to reassure anxious U.S. officials that plans for major defense cuts will not undermine its status as Washington’s most important military ally, officials said Sept. 24.
Islamists have joined Turkey’s elite in the economic sector and elsewhere, but the country is not becoming a better liberal democracy under their influence.
Chris van Avery is an Asia-Pacific FAO and Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and blogs on a variety of topics at The Yankee Sage .
America’s top military officer heads to Mexico this week to offer help to a government battling powerful drug cartels, amid alarm in Washington over escalating violence across the border.
With the death toll at 5,300 last year and Mexican cartels armed with automatic weapons and billions in cash, the crisis has become a full-blown national security concern for the United States.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was due in Mexico later this week as the United States signalled it was ready to step up military and other assistance to tackle the heavily armed drug rings ravaging the country’s north.
“The cartels are retaliating,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told NBC on Sunday. “It clearly is a serious problem.”
But he said Mexico has dropped its traditional reluctance to cultivate ties with the US military.
“I think we are beginning to be in a position to help the Mexicans more than we have in the past,” Gates said. “Some of the old biases against cooperation between our militaries and so on, I think, are being satisfied.”
The United States started sharing intelligence with Mexico in November and under a new program plans to provide helicopters, maritime surveillance aircraft and other equipment, Pentagon spokesman Commander Jeffrey Gordon said.
China announced a nearly 15 percent rise in military spending on Wednesday — a smaller boost than in previous years — as the national legislature prepared to open its annual session with a focus firmly on overcoming the country’s brewing economic crisis.
The 14.9 percent increase in defense spending is the lowest in three years, a possible reflection of shifting priorities amid plans for a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package and a 850 billion yuan ($124 billion) spending boost to expand and revamp an inadequate health care system.
“There seems to be concern with the slowing economy. … They may want to keep down spending as a percentage of the economic output,” said Christian Le Miere, senior Asia analyst at Jane’s Country Risk in London.
In his third State of the Coast Guard speech Tuesday, Commandant Adm. Thad Allen assured fellow Guardians that the service is strong, but not without challenges.
“The good news is, there has never been a bigger demand for our services. The bad news is, there has never been a bigger demand for our services,” Allen said.
During his 30-minute speech, Allen referenced the strength of the service five times while discussing its broad responsibilities. He praised service members for accomplishing a record number of drug seizures and the deterrence of “mass migrations.” He talked about the service’s global efforts, specifically mentioning its involvement in anti-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa; the cutter Dallas’ extended deployment to the Black Sea, where it delivered humanitarian supplies to the Republic of Georgia following the South Ossetia conflict; and the cutter Boutwell’s around-the-globe deployment, during which it will work under four Navy combatant commanders and with numerous world navies and coast guards.
General Dynamics Corp., the U.S. Navy’s second-largest shipbuilder, will turn to retired admiral and former U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Jay L. Johnson for leadership as its next chief executive officer.
Johnson, 61, will become vice chairman in September and then on July 1, 2009, will replace Nicholas Chabraja, the longest-serving leader among the five largest U.S. defense companies. Chabraja, 65, will remain chairman through May 2010, Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics said yesterday.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that three weeks before Hizballah seized western Beirut, the Shiite terrorist group took delivery of 35 fast speedboats for use with explosives from Iran. The craft can threaten US Sixth Fleet and Israel Navy shipping close to Lebanese shores, reach Israel’s Haifa and Ashdod Mediterranean ports and raid its coastal oil installations.
The speedboats were tailor-made for Hizballah by Iranian Revolutionary Guards shipyards at Bandar Abbas as the only marine terror fleet operating in Mediterranean waters. Our military sources report the boats are capable of carrying chemical, biological and radiological weapons systems.
They were delivered in mid-April by an Iranian freighter at the Syrian port of Latakia and trucked to Naimah port south of Beirut. There they were hidden in the subterranean hangars belonging to Ahmed Jibril, head of the Palestinian Liberation Front-General Command. Today, the PLF-GC is financed and directed by the Revolutionary Guards. The hangars were constructed in the seventies by East Germany engineers with a protected Mediterranean anchorage and made virtually impenetrable by sea or air.
A US warship, which was deployed off Lebanon in February amid concern over Beirut’s political crisis, crossed Egypt’s Suez Canal on Sunday on its way to the Mediterranean, an official with the canal authority told AFP.
“The USS Cole has crossed the Suez Canal and is headed to the Mediterranean,” the official said, adding he did not know its exact destination.
The United States sent the guided-missile destroyer to waters off the coast of Lebanon on February 28, in what US officials said was “a show of support for regional stability” amid concerns over Lebanon’s protracted political crisis.
India will soon float global tenders to acquire six submarines but would like to see indigenous development of this technology in the future, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said here Friday.
These six submarines would be in addition to the Scorpene submarines, which the Indian navy is expected to acquire soon.
“In accordance with the plan to keep a certain number of submarines in the force, we will be acquiring six of one type (Scorpene) and six of another type,” Mehta was quoted by the Press Trust of India (PTI) as saying at a press conference, marking the end of a two-day-long naval commanders’ conference held here on Friday.
The development of Scorpene submarines had been delayed and it was now time to look for a second type of submarine, he said.
Mehta said: “We need to have indigenous capability for building these submarines and Indian Navy has been a strong proponent of indigenous development. Therefore, we would expect that our shipyards take over the technology from some of these companies and thereafter build it themselves.”
The submarines for which tenders would be floated could also have vertical missile launch capabilities, he added.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Friday that a French navy ship loaded with 1,500 metric tons of humanitarian aid for cyclone victims was en route to Myanmar and should arrive by next Thursday.
The Navy frigate HMNZS Te Mana has arrived in the Southern Arabian Gulf to begin patrolling the region’s waterways against possible terrorism attacks.
The frigate, which sailed from Devonport in Auckland via Singapore, has 173 personnel on board and will operate within a 20,000 square mile area, conducting maritime support and security operations for the Italian-led Coalition Task Force 152.
Defence spokesman Captain Zac Prendergast says the crew of Te Mana will liaise with other vessels in the area and mentor local navies about seacraft. The frigate is expected to return to New Zealand in August.
The first time they found one, authorities dubbed it “Big Foot.” They had heard rumors that such things existed, but nobody had actually seen one.
It was late 2006, and Big Foot was not lurking in a forest, but at sea, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Costa Rica. And it was not an ape-like creature, but a hulking, blue vessel resembling a submarine and carrying several tons of cocaine.
Nor was it a solitary beast.
Authorities say they are detecting more and more seacraft like Big Foot — known as self-propelled semi-submersibles — carrying larger and larger loads of drugs.
Chugging around the southern curve of Central America and up towards the United States, they have formed a kind of illicit fleet and become a major drug trafficking tool.
“It’s significant. We believe they can carry upwards of eight or 10 tons of cocaine,” said Rear Admiral Joseph Nimmich, director of the Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West, Florida, where military and government agencies track drug shipments.
“It’s in fact a logical progression,” he added. “As we get better at interdiction, they move to try to counteract our success.”
Experts estimate 25 to 40 semi-subs left South America last year laden with cocaine, and they expect that figure to double in 2008.
The Sri Lankan military says Tamil Tiger rebels have bombed and sank a navy cargo ship at the eastern port town of Trincomalee. A navy spokesman said no crew members were on board at the time. Earlier, a bomb-blast in a café in the eastern town of Ampara killed at least 11 people and injured 29 others. The government has also blamed that bombing on Tamil Tiger rebels. The two attacks came just hours ahead of local elections in Sri Lanka’s eastern province scheduled. These are the first polls to be held in the region in 20 years. The government wrested control of the country’s east from the rebels last July.