Thursday, December 08, 2016

Is the United States Really a Pacific Power?

Recognizing the geostrategic significance of Asia for the twenty-first century, President Obama told an Australian Parliament in 2011, “The United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay.” But with U.S. membership in the Trans-Pacific dashed, and the inability of the U.S. Navy to deter a rising China in the South and East China Sea, Washington has failed to demonstrate to Asian partners and rival China that it has the stomach and resources to remain a resident power in Asia.
Recognizing waning U.S. military predominance in the western Pacific, Trump’s Asia advisers Peter Navarro and Alexander Gray recently advocated for strengthened U.S. naval presence there. Their vision of enforcing “peace through strength,” however, is likely to backfire without economic engagement–precisely what the TPP brought to Washington’s Asia strategy. Rather than increased security, more U.S. militarization is likely to add to Beijing’s suspicion of a now-outright containment strategy adopted by American defense and foreign policymakers. As Nicholas Borroz and I argued in the New York Times, this will only lead to increased Chinese aggression and hasten U.S. withdrawal, or worse, major power war.

U.S. military fighter jet crashes into Pacific off western Japan


A U.S. military F/A-18 fighter jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Kochi Prefecture in western Japan on Wednesday afternoon, Japanese Defense Ministry officials said, adding that its pilot has bailed out.
The pilot's condition and affiliation were not immediately clear. Acting on a request from the U.S. military, the Japan Coast Guard sent a patrol vessel to the area to rescue the pilot.

Trump and the Australia-China-US Triangle

The ascendency of Donald Trump to the apogee of American political power on a wave of populist, anti-establishment, and illiberal furor set America, and the world, onto uncharted waters for the next four years – destination unknown. Trump’s arrival to the White House, and the questions it raises for the United States’ geopolitical position in the Asia-Pacific, has potentially vast implications for Australia’s cultural, military, and economic alliances in the Asia-Pacific. Australia is delicately poised between the United States, its military and strategic ally (and a valuable economic one at that), and China, the region’s nascent hegemon, whose economic growth in the preceding decades has laid the bedrock for a robust and prosperous Australian economy.
The degree to which Australia’s alliance framework will be impacted is largely dependent on Trump’s policy toward China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific. The security and economic environment in which Australia functions is largely determined by the United States and China, and thus any conflict between them can have immense implications for Australia’s strategic and economic security. The role of the U.S. as Australia’s military guarantor, and China as its economic one, may come under pressure if an anti-China Trump marries continued U.S. military support with Australia’s acquiescence on an array of putative policies, or berates Australia for cozying up to Washington’s greatest geopolitical threat.

Philippines rearms in wake of heightened tensions in the Pacific

The Philippines is rearming itself and strengthening defence ties with its east Asian neighbours in the midst of a security upheaval triggered by superpower rivalries in a region crucial to world trade.
Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine secretary of national defence, said Manila wanted to reduce its military dependence on the US but would not become a Chinese client state despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s public courting of Beijing.
“We are buying ships from Indonesia, aeroplanes from Korea, ships from Korea. Japan is providing us some ships,” said Mr Lorenzana, who has in his office a large model of a Korean-made FA-50 fighter, an aircraft already being delivered to the Philippines.

US provoking China into nuclear war? RT to air new Pilger documentary

Nuclear war is no longer unthinkable as it may be provoked by a US military build-up in the Pacific, clearly aimed at confronting Beijing, John Pilger says in his new documentary ‘The Coming War on China’, set to be aired on and the RTD channel.
According to the BAFTA-winning journalist and filmmaker, mainstream media reports of Beijing’s ambitious expansion and reclaiming of land in the South China Sea is in fact a response to US military activity around its borders.
US President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia in 2011 has resulted in the construction of 400 American bases, including in Guam, elsewhere in the South China Sea, South Korea and Japan – thereby encircling China.

Fiction book describes new Pearl Harbor attack, this time by China

WASHINGTON: A surprise attack on Pearl Harbor has captivated Pentagon brass in recent months.
Not the infamous Japanese assault of 1941, but rather a fictional account that opens “Ghost Fleet,” a novel that envisions a future conflict pitting America against China and Russia.
Several senior US military officials have told their troops to read the novel, published last year and written by August Cole and P.W. Singer.
The higher-ups say they have enjoyed the depiction of near-future warfare, with drones, super-computers, laser guns and even space pirates.
“This novel, about future war, challenges some sacred assumptions about the composition of our armed forces, the strengths of our new systems, and even the way we fight,” said Admiral Harry Harris, who is based in Hawaii and heads the US military’s Pacific Command.

US defense chief: Interests in Asia-Pacific enduring

United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter has described Washington’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region as "enduring" during a visit to Japan ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Kyodo news agency reported that Carter and his Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada reaffirmed Wednesday the strength of their countries’ bilateral alliance.
"We agreed to continue to closely cooperate based on the robust Japan-U.S. alliance," Inada told a joint press conference.
The meeting came ahead of the inauguration next month of Trump, who previously expressed criticism over Japan allegedly not paying enough for U.S. security support.

Demands on troops, families ‘unsustainable’

Financial issues remain the top priority for military members and their families, but high operational tempo, increased time away from home and the impact on families have grown into key concerns — highlighting the changing nature of the U.S. military and the fight it faces, according to a survey released Wednesday.

 The Blue Star Families annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey involved 8,390 active duty servicemembers, family members and veterans. It found that while military pay, benefits and retirement continue to rank as the top stressors, family stability, time away from home and the impact on children have newly emerged as key issues.

 The findings demonstrate far more than a shift of individual concerns, said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO and founder of Blue Star Families. The group is named after the custom of military families hanging a service flag in a window with a blue star for each member who was serving. The findings of the survey reflect an unsustainable demand on servicemembers who are being called to serve in protracted, low level conflicts around the globe and on the modern military families suffering under an outdated military structure that doesn’t account for their needs, she said.

Okinawa Defense chief lodges protest after Osprey flies over residential area

The head of the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau lodged a protest with U.S. forces Tuesday after a U.S. Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey aircraft reportedly flew over residential areas with an object suspended below it, local officials with the bureau said Wednesday.
The tilt-rotor transport aircraft, feared by many in the prefecture to be accident-prone, was confirmed as having flown above houses in the village of Ginoza around 5 p.m. on Tuesday with an unidentified cylindrical object hanging by cables from its belly, the officials said.
Koichiro Nakajima, the director-general of the ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau, is reported to have said such training activities cannot be tolerated.

Spotlight: Political uncertainty, loaded gov't promises add to anti-U.S. sentiment in "occupied" Okinawa

Source: Xinhua   2016-12-07 21:35:20   

TOKYO, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The people of Okinawa will take little comfort from the latest outcome of talks pertaining to the United States' burgeoning military presence in Japan's southernmost prefecture, particularly considering current geopolitical situation and the mainland's propensity to kowtow to Big Brother, observers here said Wednesday.
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter held talks in Tokyo on Wednesday amid uncertain times as Washington is on the cusp of seeing an untested and unpredictable leader at its helm, who has already insinuated a security shift regarding U.S. forces stationed in Okinawa.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

US returning land to Japan it’s controlled since World War II

The US military this month will return to Japan’s government more than 9,800 acres of land it has held since World War II, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Tuesday.
The US had turned most of Okinawa over to Japan in 1972 after controlling it from the end of World War II in 1945.The 9,852 acres of land on the island of Okinawa, part of a territory officially referred to as the Northern Training Area, is in a large US military base complex on the Pacific island more than 960 miles (1,550 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo.
This is the largest return of US-occupied land since then.

McCain Warns of Loss of US Influence in Asia with TPP Collapse

If President-elect Donald Trump fulfills a campaign pledge to pull US involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the result will be an erosion of American leadership in the Asia-Pacific that benefits China, Senator John McCain asserted in a published commentary.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – According to McCain, it is foolish for US political leaders to try to return the country to isolationist policies at a time of ever-changing globalization. 

Instead, he asserted, the incoming Trump administration should focus on improving trade relations with Asia that would increase American prosperity. 

"Asian countries will gravitate towards China if US influence is perceived as declining," McCain wrote in an opinion article that the Financial Times posted online Tuesday. "Rumours of the next administration’s intention to reduce the US military presence in Asia are shaping that perception, too, to China’s advantage."


 2014, President Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, making it the largest marine preserve in the world at the time. The expansion closed 490,000 square miles of largely undisturbed ocean to commercial fishing and underwater mining. 
The preserve is nowhere near the mainland United States nor is it all in close range to Hawaii. Still, President Obama was able to protect this piece of ocean in the name of the United States.
 To understand how the U.S. has jurisdiction over these waters in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, one has to look back to the 19th Century when, for a brief period, the U.S. scoured the oceans looking for rock islands covered in guano. That is: seabird poop.

"Significant Impact": Guam Tax Commission talks Trump tax plan

Members of the Guam Tax Commission met yesterday to discuss the contents of a report aimed at exploring the potential impacts of President-elect Donald Trump's newest proposed tax plan.
The report was compiled by the office of Sen. Michael San Nicolas, who also serves as the chairman of the legislative committee on finance and taxation. The report focused on proposed changes to the tax code that would affect revenue-generating provisions of the Individual Income Tax, the Corporate Income Tax and the estate and gift taxes.
According to the report, while Trump's latest tax plan somewhat reduces the potential revenue losses that federal agencies were preparing for under his administration, the plan would still result in a marked reduction in overall federal revenue.

Hiring of Foreign Workers on H-2B Denied

House of Representatives passed a defense spending bill that provides budget for military construction projects on Guam, but does not include a provision for local contractors to use foreign labor.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a defense spending bill that provides $170 million for military construction projects on Guam, but it does not include a provision by Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo that would have made it easier for local contractors to use foreign labor.
Bordallo acknowledged that immigration-related legislation doesn't have support from Republican leaders in Congress. “I am deeply disappointed that my language to address the H-2B visa challenges on Guam was not included in the final conference report,” Bordallo said.

Voices for peace from the Asia-Pacific: Lisa Linda Natividad of Guam

Guam calling
Dr Lisa Linda Natividad is an assistant professor at the University of Guam (Univetsedat Guahan) in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, Division of Social Work and an activist in the cause of peace and social justice. She was recently in Australia to speak at the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network’s (IPAN) forum in Alice Springs and then join other activists in protest actions at the US’s Pine Gap communications and spy base. While in Sydney en route to Alice Springs Lisa spoke to Anna Pha from the Guardian
Guardian: Perhaps we could start with you giving readers some background information on Guam?
Lisa: Guam is an Island in the Mariana chain which is located in the Micronesia region of Oceania. Politically we are an unincorporated territory of the United States of America which is equivalent to a modern day colony. We’ve been under the United States’ colonisation since 1898 following Spanish-American war.
Prior to that we were colonised by Spain, with the first contact with the outside world in 1521. So Guam remains a US colony. We are on the UN list of non self-governing territories of which there are only 17 of us left in the world.
I am Chamorro. We are the Indigenous people, the native people of the islands. When I say the islands I am not just talking of Guam but of the Mariana Islands. We are about 37 percent of our population on the island. The island has roughly 160,000 people.

Sense of duty draws US veterans to Dakota pipeline protest

In the back reaches of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp, U.S. military veterans, armed with saws, hammers and other tools, are quietly building barracks, an infirmary and a mess hall.
Despite the bitter cold and an evacuation order from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the veterans hope to erect enough space to house at least several hundred peers making their way into the Oceti Sakowin Camp here in Cannon Ball.
Veterans interviewed by Reuters gave a plethora of motives for traveling here. Some felt it was their patriotic duty to defend protesters, especially since Native Americans have historically had an active presence in the U.S. military. Native Americans serve at a high rate in the armed forces, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

U.S. to return part of Okinawa military base to Japan

TOKYO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on Tuesday said the United States will return some land on the Okinawa military base to Japan.
Carter made the announcement during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who on Monday said he would visit Pearl Harbor in late December -- making him the first Japanese leader to pay tribute to victims of Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack.  
A senior defense official told ABC News part of the Northern Training Area in Okinawa will be returned by the end of the year. The Japanese government said it would build six helicopter pads and access roads for future U.S. training and operations.

US military to return some land in Okinawa

The United States military plans to return some land in Okinawa to the Japanese government by the end of the year, the largest transfer since 1972, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter says.
Resentment over the US military presence surged this year after an American civilian working at a US base, Kenneth Franklin, was arrested over the murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman, Rina Shimabukuro.
Carter made the announcement during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the capital, Tokyo.
A senior US defense official said the United States plans to return nearly 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of land in northern Okinawa, with a formal ceremony for the return set for December 21 and 22.

Okinawa, host to many US military bases, braces for a Trump presidency

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with US President-elect Donald Trump in New York last week. Abe was the first foreign leader to meet Trump since the US presidential election, and he conveyed to reporters afterward that he hopes to maintain strong ties with the new administration.
It's unclear whether the US-Japan security alliance came up at their meeting, but, during his campaign, Trump repeatedly said that Japan should pay more for hosting US forces. 
Under a treaty that dates back to the end of World War II, Japan does not use its own Self-Defense Forces to wage war, and relies on US forces to act as a buffer against rival nations.
Right now, the Japanese government is paying Washington $1.8 billion annually for this added security. Okinawa is central to the relationship, since the vast majority of US military bases in Japan are located on the small island. 

John Pilger Interview on His New Film "The Coming War on China"

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

House OKs $170M in military construction, but no special hiring of foreign workers on H-2B

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a defense spending bill that provides $170 million for military construction projects on Guam, but it does not include a provision by Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo that would have made it easier for local contractors to use foreign labor.
Bordallo acknowledged that immigration-related legislation doesn’t have support from Republican leaders in Congress. “I am deeply disappointed that my language to address the H-2B visa challenges on Guam was not included in the final conference report,” Bordallo said.
At the request of Guam’s construction industry, Bordallo tried to change the defense spending bill to address a nearly 100-percent rejection rate for workers on H-2B visas. Hundreds of foreign workers have been sent home this year after their Guam employers couldn't get their H-2B visas renewed or approved.

Congress nixes H-2B relief

Worker numbers continue to fall

"I am deeply disappointed that my language to address the H-2B visa challenges on Guam was not included in the final conference report."– Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo

While the number of H-2B workers on Guam continues to dwindle, Congress has dropped a provision in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have provided some relief to contractors working on military projects.
According to a November House of Representatives conference report, the House receded in negotiations to bring the amendment into the final draft of the NDAA. The amendment would have granted the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services flexibility to approve H-2B application renewals for contractors involved in military construction projects as well as renewals for temporary workers in Guam's medical industry.

China likely to conduct regular military flights near Okinawa: deputy minister

China is likely to conduct more flights over the Miyako Strait between Japan’s Miyako Islands on a regular basis following a flyover of the strategic waterway last month, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.
Six Chinese military aircraft flew over the strait as part of a long-distance training exercise on Nov. 25, which was also China’s first military flight around Taiwan, Deputy Minister of National Defense Admiral Lee Hsi-ming (李喜明) told a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taipei.
The flight, which prompted the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to scramble fighter jets to conduct surveillance, might become a routine training exercise, Lee said.

Carter's Asia trip spotlights issues for next Pentagon head

TOKYO - Carter's Asia trip spotlights issues for next Pentagon head  — Ash Carter's final swing across Asia as Pentagon chief shines a spotlight on tough issues to be inherited by his successor, from concern in Tokyo and Seoul about being forced to pay more for U.S. military protection to worry across the region about North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Carter also will hand off to the next defense secretary unfinished diplomatic business, including deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea that North Korea and China consider provocative, and uncertain military relations with a longtime treaty ally, the Philippines.

An increasingly muscular China, too, presents the incoming Trump administration with significant military challenges. Among them are Beijing's moves to establish military footholds on artificial reefs and islets in the South China Sea, which has become a flashpoint.

The US military now sees Russia as its biggest threat

SIMI VALLEY, California — Russia's increasing military activities around the world have unsettled top US military officials, who say they are reshaping their budget plans to better address what they now consider to be the most pressing threat to US security.
"Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States. We have a number of threats that we're dealing with, but Russia could be, because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat to the United States," Deborah James, the secretary of the Air Force, told Reuters in an interview at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum.

The US military expected a Japanese attack in 1941–but not in Hawaii, explains ‘Countdown to Pearl Harbor’

By Bob Drogin / Los Angeles Times
AS Hollywood regularly reminds us, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, was an act of duplicity so monstrous that President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it a “date which will live in infamy”.
Japanese warplanes appeared without warning early that Sunday, sinking or disabling 16 US battleships, cruisers and other warships. The sneak attack killed more than 2,400 Americans and forced the reluctant nation into the caldron of  World War II.
But the iconic images and stirring oratory largely overshadowed disturbing questions of culpability. Why was the Navy’s Pacific Fleet caught at anchor? Why did the Army provide no defense? And was the attack really a surprise?

Monday, December 05, 2016

U.S. reshaping budget to account for Russian military threat

By Andrea Shalal | SIMI VALLEY, CALIF.
Russia's increasing military activities around the world have unsettled top U.S. military officials, who say they are reshaping their budget plans to better address what they now consider to be the most pressing threat to U.S. security.
"Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States. We have a number of threats that we're dealing with, but Russia could be, because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat to the United States," Air Force Secretary Deborah James told Reuters in an interview at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum.

Picking a War with China

As Official Washington obsesses about Russia, the Obama administration is mounting a similar strategy against China, surrounding it and then accusing it of “aggression,” as John Pilger explains.
By John Pilger

When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, unforgettably. When I returned many years later, it was gone: taken away, “disappeared”, a political embarrassment.
A confrontation looms between US and China as both countries engaged in military build up in South East Asia, World War 3 update reveals.
Journalist John Pilgar warns of a possible nuclear war between the two countries in his new documentary The Coming War On China
“The aim of this film is to break a silence: the United States and China may be on the road to war, and nuclear war is no longer unthinkable,” a Daily Star article quotes Pilgar. 
The journalist disclosed that US military commanders have deployed forces at bases in the Pacific islands and South Korea.

Opinion: ASEAN cannot ignore rising Asia-Pacific tensions

A series of developments over the past weeks has definitely increased the diplomatic and military tensions in Asia-Pacific, which the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) cannot ignore because these could, by some miscalculation by trigger-happy military commanders of North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan or the US, ignite a real deadly nuclear war in the region.
The worst scenario: it could even spark a third world war.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

US warns crackdown in Myanmar could radicalize Rohingya

WASHINGTON — It's a scene straight out of Myanmar's dark past: a military offensive waged beyond world view that forces ethnic minority villagers from the smoldering ruins of their homes.
The U.S. government, a key sponsor of Myanmar's democratic transition, says a security crackdown that has displaced tens of thousands Rohingya Muslims and left an unknown number dead risks radicalizing a downtrodden people and stoking religious tensions in Southeast Asia.
The military moved in after armed attacks by unknown assailants on police posts along the border with Bangladesh in October. The attacks in Rakhine State were a possible sign that a small number of Rohingya were starting to fight back against persecution by majority Buddhists who view them as illegal immigrants although many have lived in Myanmar for generations.

India-US military ties closest ever: US defence secretary

WASHINGTON: Days ahead of his visit to India, US defence secretary Ashton Carter on Sunday said that the defence relationship between the world's two largest democracies has never been as close it is now.

"The US-India defence relationship is the closest it's ever been. Through our strategic handshake — with America reaching west in the rebalance, and India reaching east in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls his Act East policy — our two nations are exercising together by air, land, and sea like never before," Carter said.

Carter, who would be in India next week, said this in his address to the Regan National Defence Forum in Simi Valley, California.
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The outgoing US defence secretary's last overseas trip includes Japan, India, Israel,Bahrain, Italy and the UK.

Fanohge with Standing Rock

Guam residents are getting ready to ‘Fanohge with Standing Rock’ through three upcoming events planned this month, including a wave and chen’ chule drive on December 9 and a prayer ceremony led by a member of the Pawnee Nation at the Guam National Wildlife Refuge in Ritidian on December 10. 
The events are aimed at showing support for Native American protesters in North Dakota, who hope to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline from running through their ancestral burial grounds. The $3.8 billion project would construct a pipeline that stretches across four states and 1,172 miles, and would serve to carry Bakken oil patch crude from North Dakota to a hub in Patoka, Illinois.
The proceeds of the two fundraisers will go towards the Water Protectors’ Legal Fund, which serves to benefit Standing Rock protesters and help cover the costs of injuries or legal fees sustained during protests and arrests. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

20 years after SACO agreement, Okinawa base plans languishing

Friday marked 20 years since the Japanese and U.S. governments announced the final report by the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) for realigning, consolidating and reducing U.S. military facilities and areas in Okinawa Prefecture, including the return of 11 U.S. military facilities and other issues.
Both governments hope to relieve the prefecture’s burden of hosting U.S. bases by implementing a partial return of the Northern Training Area, the largest U.S. military facility in the prefecture, covering land in the villages of Kunigami and Higashi, on Dec. 22. However, the return of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station land in Ginowan in the prefecture, which was the main feature of the SACO final report, has not been translated into reality.

Naha symposium addresses dangers facing Yambaru from U.S. military in Takae, Henoko, Ie-jima

November 27, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On the evening of November 26, at a youth assembly hall (Okinawa-ken Seinenkaikan Horu) in Naha City, an Okinawan group opposing military base relocation within Okinawa held an urgent symposium on protecting the whole of Yambaru from becoming a danger zone in the Ie-jime, Takae, and Henoko triangle. Two hundred and fifty people attended the symposium. During the panel discussion problems such as helipad construction, Henoko base construction, and Ie-jima landing strip extension were examined from various angles, including construction illegality and environmental destruction.
In regards to helipad construction in Takae, biologist Masako Yafuso explained that there is no established method to restore the subtropical nature that has been destroyed. She said that the important thing now is to halt construction, even if only for a minute.

Governor suggests reluctant acceptance of helipad construction, remains opposed to Osprey

November 29, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On November 28, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga held an interview with multiple news outlets in advance of the two-year anniversary of his inauguration as governor on December 10. Regarding the plan to return slightly more than half of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area in Higashi Village and Kunigami Village, the return being conditioned on construction of new U.S. military helipads, Onaga said, “This is the ultimate painful decision. It is difficult to object to the return of roughly four thousand hectares of land,” essentially expressing acceptance of the helipad construction.
Onaga then said, “When thinking about the steady implementation of the SACO (Special Action Committee on Okinawa) report and the relationship of trust with the two villages [of Higashi and Kunigami], I think everything converges on the removal of the Osprey.” When announcing his campaign pledges in October 2014 prior to being elected, Onaga explicitly stated that he opposed the helipads in connection with his call for the Osprey to be removed from Okinawa, and his recent comment thus constitutes a practical revocation of his campaign pledge. He reaffirmed his stance of continuing to oppose the new base construction in Henoko.

US Pacific commander visits Sri Lanka, praising new regime

By K. Ratnayake 
3 December 2016
US Pacific Command (PACOM) chief Admiral Harry B. Harris visited Sri Lanka late last month to stress the island’s importance for the US military buildup in the Indo-Pacific region against China.
Harris, the first four-star US officer to visit Sri Lanka in almost a decade, told the Galle Dialogue International Maritime Conference that he was pleased to be deepening the “military-to-military relationship” between the two countries. He was the key speaker at the annual security meeting, which was attended by senior naval officials from 42 countries, including the US, India, Pakistan, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands. The official theme of this year’s event was, “Fostering Strategic Maritime Partnerships.”

Philippine Typhoon Survivors Protest over US Military Presence

MANILA - A group of protesters gathered Friday near the US Embassy in Manila to rally against the United States' military presence in the Southeast Asian country, as they called for upcoming war games in the city of Ormoc to be cancelled.

Some 20 protesters - including survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013 leaving a trail of destruction - burned a mock US flag and waved banners bearing slogans such as "No to war games", an epa journalist reports.

In a statement, nationalist group Bayan Eastern Visayas said the protest was organized to condemn the alleged use of disaster aid as justification for the US' ongoing military presence in the Philippines.

Lots of military brass on Trump's cabinet shortlist

President-elect Donald Trump has put several U.S. military luminaries on his cabinet shortlist — including what could mark a public-service rebirth for retired Army Gen. David Petraeus.

 Trump met with Petraeus on Monday in New York to interview him for secretary of state. Afterward, the former Army general told reporters it was a “very good conversation, and we’ll see where it goes from here.”

 Petraeus is the one-time U.S. Central Command leader and CIA director whose meteoric career trajectory was halted in 2012 by a scandal over an affair and mishandling classified material. Petraeus had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and gave her improper access to information. When exposed, Petraeus had to resign as CIA director. He later pleaded guilty in a misdemeanor deal that avoided jail time.

Suicide should be ruled misconduct more often, lawyer says

The Air Force is investigating whether Col. Eugene Caughey, 46, formerly the vice commander of the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, died in the line of duty.  Caughery shot himself three weeks before his court-martial on rape, sexual assault and adultery charges was scheduled to start in October.

 The Army is investigating the same thing in the suicide of Master Sgt. Timothy Shelton. Shelton, 46, was convicted of sexual abuse of a child at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky on July 15, 2015. He shot himself with a gun retrived from his parked truck after a lunch break before he was to be sentenced.

Andersen commander updates Rotarians on plans

The Rotary Club of Guam met yesterday for their weekly meeting at the Pacific Star Resort and Spa, where Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox was the guest speaker at the luncheon meeting. A 1989 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Cox serves as the commander of the Pacific Air Forces 36th Wing, stationed at Andersen Air Force Base.
Rotarians were briefed on a broad overview of exercises and plans happening at the northern air base.

The US's military edge over Russia and China has come down to one plane

Since World War II, the US has dominated the skies in any region in which it wishes to project power — but recent competition from countries like Russia and China threaten to erode that edge, and only a small group of elite pilots maintain the US's edge in air superiority.
Russia has deployed powerful missile-defense batteries to Syria and its European enclave of Kaliningrad. The US Air Force can't operate in those domains without severe risk. US President Barack Obama himself has acknowledged that these missile deployments greatly complicate and limit the US's options to project power in Syria.

British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: UK envoy

British fighter planes visiting Japan will fly over the South China Sea and Britain will sail aircraft carriers in the Pacific once they are operational in 2020, given concerns about freedom of navigation there, Britain’s ambassador to the United States said on Thursday.
The envoy, Kim Darroch, told a Washington think tank that British Typhoon aircraft currently deployed on a visit to Japan would fly across disputed parts of the South China Sea to assert international overflight rights, but gave no time frame.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Bevacqua: Decolonization is a form of justice

The late French philosopher Jacques Derrida referred to “justice” as a term we use for impossible things. It is a word that we use for things that we can’t ever seem to resolve, about the problems of the past and the present. When a wrong is committed, justice is the word we use for things done in the name of fixing the problems that emerge from that violence, from that harm.
But there is no precise science to justice, no easy way to agree upon what is the appropriate means of making amends for something. Criminal justice systems, restorative justice, reparations, apologies — these are all ways that we try to channel the trauma of the past.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Military awards $9.63 million job to LMS

[GREAT use of money when we don't even have enough for basic social services for our civilian population!  But hey, at least the bases will have almost $10 million of landscaping.]

Landscape Management Systems has been awarded a $9.63 million modification under its contract to provide ground maintenance and tree trimming services Naval Base Guam and Naval Support Activity Andersen, according to an announcement on the military’s contracting website.
The work is to be completed by November 2017.

Retired U.S. Admirals Debate China’s Military Might

American allies and partners in the Pacific don’t Washington or Beijing, “to do anything stupid” that would lead to war after the Trump administration takes office in January, retired Rear Adm. Mike McDevitt, USN, said Tuesday.
The allies and partners “don’t want to have to choose” sides in such a dispute. They want the United States to be “an over-the-horizon force” to counter China militarily. At the same time, they recognize their dependence on China economically, the senior fellow at CAN said during a debate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday.

Right-Wing Viewpoint: A U.S. Army Role in Countering China’s A2/AD Efforts: The Expeditionary Coastal Artillery Brigade

In much of Asia, ground forces continue to exercise substantial political and bureaucratic power. In most Asian militaries, the ground forces are the largest service and control a substantial portion of most nations’ military budgets. This, in turn, means that ground force commanders exercise substantial political power, both within their respective national security establishments, and also in their political environments. Consequently, the U.S. Army potentially plays a vital role through its interactions with local militaries as fellow ground force leaders who speak the same “language.” This political role is further enhanced by the common desire among many of these militaries to work with a premier ground force, arguably the premier ground force in the world. Because of the various wars in which the United States has engaged since 1990, the U.S. Army has combat experience that is unrivaled in the Asia–Pacific region—which means that the U.S. Army represents a key means of engaging significant military and political players throughout the Asia–Pacific region.

US Coast Guard Chief Seeks Expanded Asia-Pacific Role

The top U.S. Coast Guard official is eyeing a unique role for his fleet in maintaining peace and stability in the East and the South China seas under the incoming presidential administration.

 By mirroring the role of China's Coast Guard in parts of the Asia-Pacific, said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, the U.S. Coast Guard could be the face of U.S. military presence in disputed waters without appearing too threatening.

 "When you look at the East and South China seas, look at China's Coast Guard, it is really the first face of China," he told VOA. "So I've proposed to the Department of Defense that if they were to leverage the U.S. Coast Guard, I would look at providing resources to provide the face of the United States behind a Coast Guard ship, and should that be a consideration for our approach to the East and South China seas with the next administration."

Opinion - Trump must salvage the 'Pacific pivot'

It is said in military organizations that "no good idea survives a change-of-command ceremony," and the same may be said of a U.S. presidential inauguration. Despite several years of advocacy -- with surprisingly little actual shift of attention or resources -- the much vaunted "Pacific pivot" of the Obama administration seems unlikely to be a central organizing feature of a Trump presidency, to say the least. Where will Asia policy go under the new administration? And what does it mean for Asia in the security dimension?

China Wants Stable Ties with Trump Administation

China said Wednesday that it hopes to work with the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to promote healthy and stable ties between the two nations’ armed forces.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said efforts by both Beijing and Washington — including high-level visits, institutional consultations, academic exchanges, and joint training — have further developed military ties.
While the two powers have frequently spared over issues such as North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the disputed South China Sea, Yang said both have been trying to improve communication on the military front and reduce the risk of misunderstandings.