Troops head to Australia in anticipation of conflict with China

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Biden sending THOUSANDS of Marines to Australia in Anticipation of Conflict with China
  • 1,000 Marines have already arrived in the country
  • The Pentagon is to deploy over two thousand troops to Australia by September to join an established rotational force of 200
  • Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton warned Wednesday that Beijing may look to annex Taiwan while the eyes of the world are on the conflict in Ukraine.
  • China has signaled that it could use nuclear weapons in response to the AUKUS security pact between Australia, America and Britain, which sees the former receiving nuclear powered submarines in years to come.
  • China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded but saying “the US … creating and spreading false information”.

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Russia vows consequences after Norway invites more U.S. Marines

U.S. Marines test night optics during Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2018 (ANTX-18) at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, U.S. March 20, 2018. U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Rhita Daniel/Handout via REUTERS

OSLO (Reuters) – Russia vowed on Thursday to retaliate for a plan by Norway to more than double the number of U.S. Marines stationed there.

Oslo announced on Tuesday that it would ask the United States, its NATO ally, to send 700 Marines to train in Norway from 2019, against 330 at present, and said the additional troops would be based closer to the Russian border.

“This makes Norway less predictable and could cause growing tensions, triggering an arms race and destabilizing the situation in northern Europe,” the Russian Embassy said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“We see it as clearly unfriendly, and it will not remain free of consequence.”

Oslo has grown increasingly concerned about Russia since Moscow annexed of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, while adding that it does not regard its much larger neighbor as a direct threat.

The U.S. Marines were scheduled to leave at the end of this year after an initial contingent arrived in January 2017 to train for winter conditions. They are the first foreign troops to be stationed in Norway since World War Two.

The initial decision to welcome the Marines had prompted Moscow to say it would worsen bilateral relations and escalate tensions on NATO’s northern flank.

On Wednesday, Russia’s Northern Fleet launched a large naval exercise in the Arctic Barents Sea. Later this year, Norway will host its biggest NATO maneuver in decades.

(Reporting by Camilla Knudsen and Terje Solsvik; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

South Korea, U.S. launch aerial drills amid North Korean warnings of nuclear war

The South Korean army's K-55 self-propelled artillery vehicles take part in a military exercise near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, November 29, 2017.

By Christine Kim and Philip Wen

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States and South Korea went ahead with large-scale joint aerial drills on Monday, a move North Korea had said would push the Korean peninsula to “the brink of nuclear war”, ignoring calls from Russia and China to call them off.

The drills come a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States as part of a weapons program that it has conducted in defiance of international sanctions and condemnation.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it was “regrettable” that all parties had not “grasped the window of opportunity” presented by two months of relative calm before the North’s most recent test.

China and Russia had proposed that the United States and South Korea stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs. Beijing formally calls the idea the “dual suspension” proposal.

The annual U.S.-South Korean drill, called Vigilant Ace, will run until Friday, with six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to be deployed among the more than 230 aircraft taking part.

North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country called U.S. President Donald Trump “insane” on Sunday and said the drills would “push the already acute situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war”.

F-35 fighters will also join the drills, which will include the largest number of 5th generation fighters ever to have taken part, according to a South Korea-based U.S. Air Force spokesman.

Around 12,000 U.S. service members, including from the Marines and Navy, will join South Korean troops. Aircraft taking part will be flown from eight U.S. and South Korean military installations.

South Korean media reports said B-1B Lancer bombers could join the exercise this week. The U.S. Air Force spokesman could not confirm the reports.

Trump said last week that additional major sanctions would be imposed on North Korea after Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile test.

Earlier last month, Trump put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that allows the United States to impose more sanctions.

Russia has accused the United States of trying to provoke North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into “flying off the handle” over his missile program to hand Washington a pretext to destroy his country.

Speaking at a news briefing in Beijing, Wang said China consistently opposed any behavior that elevated tensions.

“And measures that don’t abide by or are outside the UN Security Council resolutions lack basis in international law and damage the rights of United Nations members,” Wang said when asked about the prospect of further U.S. sanctions against North Korea.

China’s Air Force said on Monday that its surveillance aircraft had in recent days conducted drills in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea to “improve combat-readiness and safeguard the country’s strategic interests”.

The aircraft took a flight path not previously flown to regions they had never previously operated in, and coordinated with fighter jets, alert aircraft and guided missile forces, spokesman Shen Jinke said, according to a post on the Air Force’s official microblog.

The joint exercises between South Korea and United States are designed to enhance readiness and operational capability and to ensure peace and security on the Korean peninsula, the U.S. military had said before the drills began.

The North’s KCNA state news agency, citing a foreign ministry spokesman, said on Saturday the Trump administration was “begging for nuclear war by staging an extremely dangerous nuclear gamble on the Korean peninsula”.

North Korea regularly uses its state media to threaten the United States and its allies.

North Korea has tested dozens of ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth and largest nuclear bomb test in September, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

It has said its weapons programs are a necessary defense against U.S. plans to invade. The United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, denies any such intention.

 

 

(Reporting by Christine Kim in SEOUL and Philip Wen in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Nick Macfie)

 

Marines’ commander in Australia says U.S. remains committed to Asia pivot

U.S. Marines commander Lieutenant Colonel Brian Middleton (R) shakes hands with Australian Army Brigadier Ken James after arriving for the sixth annual Marines' deployment at Darwin in northern Australia, April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Westbrook

By Tom Westbrook

DARWIN (Reuters) – U.S. Marines deployed to Australia’s northern city of Darwin reflect President Donald Trump’s continued commitment to a security “pivot” to Asia at a time of heightened tensions, the Marines’ commander said on Wednesday.

Some 1,250 Marines began arriving in Darwin by plane on Tuesday for joint training maneuvers under a 25-year program started by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2011 as a part of his “pivot” to Asia policy.

Trump’s early rhetoric demanding Asian allies carry a fair share of the security burden in the region had seen a cloud over the U.S military “pivot”, but he has since committed to defend Asian allies in the face of recent North Korean threats.

“The deployment of a Marine Air Ground Taskforce to Australia certainly continues to communicate a sustained commitment to the region, I believe that’s why we continue to see the growth and the evolution of the (taskforce),” Marines’ commander Lieutenant Colonel Brian Middleton told Reuters in an interview in Darwin.

“I’m well aware of all the tensions, certainly, there’s no lack of activity and things to keep either Australian or American attention in the Pacific area of influence here.”

The strength of this year’s contingent lags well behind the initial plan to reach 2,500 Marines this year, but Middleton said the aim remains to grow the force.

“I think at the right time when our interoperability gets to the point that it needs to, and when both countries agree to it, we’ll continue to proceed and eventually get to the 2,500,” Middleton said.

Australia is a staunch U.S. ally which sent troops to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as alongside Americans in wars in Vietnam and Korea.

The 13 aircraft sent with the Marines is the largest U.S. aircraft detachment sent to Australia in peacetime history, with four tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys, expanding the Marines’ range to 850 nautical miles, which from their base at Australia’s Robertson Barracks includes most of eastern Indonesia.

Middleton has no plans to visit Indonesia and said his mission was mainly training inside Australia to “contribute to stability in the region and make both the Marine Corps, the United States and Australia better postured to be able to respond to crises whether or not they be natural or unnatural.”

During the Marines six-month deployment training exercises with Australian, Japanese and Chinese troops are scheduled.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Michael Perry)

Hundreds of U.S. Marines land in Norway, irking Russia

OSLO (Reuters) – Some 300 U.S. Marines landed in Norway on Monday for a six-month deployment, the first time since World War Two that foreign troops have been allowed to be stationed there, in a deployment which has irked Norway’s Arctic neighbor Russia.

Officials played down any link between the operation and NATO concerns over Russia, but the deployment coincides with the U.S. sending several thousand troops to Poland to beef up its Eastern European allies worried about Moscow’s assertiveness.

Soldiers from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina landed a little after 10 am CET at a snow-covered Vaernes airport near Trondheim, Norway’s third-largest city, where temperatures were reaching -2 degrees Celsius (28 degrees Fahrenheit).

U.S. troops are to stay in Norway for a year, with the current batch of Marines being replaced after their six-month tour is complete.

A spokesman for the Norwegian Home Guards, who will host the Marines at the Vaernes military base, about 1,500 km (900 miles) from the Russian border, said the U.S. troops will learn about winter warfare.

“For the first four weeks they will have basic winter training, learn how to cope with skis and to survive in the Arctic environment,” said Rune Haarstad, a Home Guard spokesman. “It has nothing to do with Russia or the current situation.”

In March the Marines will take part in the Joint Viking exercises, which will also include British troops, he added.

The Russian Embassy in Oslo did not immediately reply to a request for comment by Reuters on Monday. It questioned the need for such a move when it was announced in October.

“Taking into account multiple statements of Norwegian officials about the absence of threat from Russia to Norway we would like to understand for what purposes is Norway so … willing to increase its military potential, in particular through stationing of American forces in Vaernes?” it told Reuters at the time.

A spokeswoman for Norwegian Ministry of Defence also said the arrival of U.S. Marines had nothing to do with concerns about Russia.

However, in a 2014 interview with Reuters, Norway’s Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said Russia’s annexation of Crimea showed that it had the ability and will to use military means to achieve political goals.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Terje Solsvik, Gwladys Fouche and Dominic Evans)

Pentagon Opens All Military Positions to Women

Women will be allowed to hold any job in the United States military — including those in combat units — following a historic announcement by Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday.

Carter said at a news conference that for the first time ever, women in the U.S. military will be allowed to do jobs from which they were previously barred, given they meet specific standards.

“They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Carter reportedly said, according to a recap posted on the Department of Defense’s official website. “They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

The jobs will formally become available to women next month, according to the Department of Defense posting, though Carter acknowledged that it will take some time for full integration.

Carter said at the news conference that leaders from all branches of the military had spent the past three years studying the assimilation of women into the previously men-only positions, according to the Department of Defense. Leaders from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Special Operations Command didn’t indicate that women should be barred from any job.

While the Marine Corps reportedly asked that certain jobs be kept men-only, like machine gunner and fire support reconnaissance, the Department of Defense quoted Carter as saying “we are a joint force and I have decided to make a decision which applies to the entire force.”

The news wasn’t immediately welcomed by everyone.

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the chairmen of the Armed Services Committees in their respective legislative houses, released a joint statement in which they said Carter’s decision “will have a consequential impact on our servicemembers and our military’s warfighting capabilities.” They said they want time to review the materials that played into Carter’s decision, including a 1,000-page report from the Marine Integrated Task Force.

One of the findings of that report, according to a September 2015 news release, was that all-male units generally outperformed integrated units in tests designed to simulate combat situations.

“We expect the Department to send over its implementation plans as quickly as possible to ensure our Committees have all the information necessary to conduct proper and rigorous oversight,” McCain and Thornberry said in the statement, adding that they also wanted to see the department’s stance on if changes to the Selective Service Act might now be required.

Marines Killed After Shootings At Two Chattanooga Naval Reserve Facilities

A gunman opened fire on two military recruitment centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday, leaving soldiers dead and wounded.

Officials in the Chattanooga area say the gunman has been shot and killed and that they believe he is the only one involved in the attacks.

Fox News reported that four Marines were killed at one of the two centers.  FBI officials confirmed others were injured and are being treated at local hospitals but there was no information on their condition.

The U.S. Prosecutor for the region said at a press conference the investigation is being conducted “as a case of domestic terrorism.”  He added there is a joint federal, state and local investigation which is why much of the information about the shooting is being withheld from the media and public.

The FBI, ATF and the Department of Homeland Security were on the scene within hours and leading the investigation.

Ed Reinhold, special agent in charge of the FBI at the same news conference praised the local police department for the response and for “neutralizing the threat to the community.”

The FBI confirmed the suspect carried “multiple weapons” but would not describe the weapons.  They believe that the gunman was residing in the area before the attack.  Reinhold also said that while it’s being investigated as domestic terrorism, it’s possible the attack was not related to terrorism and just an act of violence.

ISIS Bombers Killed After Breaching Base With U.S. Marines

Eight ISIS bombers are dead after they attempted to breach a base in Iraq that was housing U.S. Marines.

Iraqi Security Forces were able to stop the bombers at the Ain al-Asad air base before they could reach the areas housing the U.S. troops.  Coalition forces were the ones who identified the bombers to the ISF.

“The ISF supported by Coalition surveillance assets defeated the attack, killing all eight attackers,” the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve outlined in a statement. “The ISF have since re-secured their facility.”

“Coalition forces were several kilometers from the attack and at no stage where they under direct threat from this action.”

The Ain al-Asad air base reportedly is being attacked daily by ISIS but U.S. officials have described them as “nuisance attacks” with no real substance.  The base is where at least 300 Marines are training Iraqi security forces.

Marines Performing Gospel Song Goes Viral

In these days where Christians in the Armed Forces are coming under attack, it’s rare that a video with troops praising God is able to gain attention let alone not be stopped by anti-Christian groups.

A video of almost 500 Marines at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton performing the song “Days of Elijah” is flying around the internet obtaining millions of views.

The troops loudly proclaim, “There is no God like Jehovah” and even shout “oorah!” to emphasize some points of the song declaring the one and true God.

“I’m really happy that this video has gone viral, but the thing that I’m hoping for is that I want people to pray for our troops. That’s my intention. I want more people praying for our troops because there is so much bad news in the media that I want people seeing something positive,” Merrie Baldwin, a volunteer who posted the video, told The Christian Post.  “We do prayer request cards with them and the majority of them are very concerned with ISIS right now.”

The worship services and outreach began as an offshoot of a Christmas activity from Arbor Christian Fellowship Church in Lake Forrest, California.  They would provide gifts and baked goods for the soldiers away from their home on the holidays.

“Every second Sunday we go down and the Saturday before I bake thousands of cookies. So I bring cookies with me because most of the guys are homesick and missing their moms or wives,” Baldwin said.  “I give them a bag of cookies and we have the church service, and my husband and I stand at the back and we are just there available if they need counseling or just want to talk to somebody ’cause they are homesick or to pray with them.”