Displaying items by tag: Military
In what has been called Myanmar's ‘Tiananmen moment’, Sister Ann Roza knelt in front of armed security forces to stop them firing on civilians. She was giving treatment at a clinic when groups of protesters passed by; then they were fired on and beaten by the police and military. ‘I was shocked and thought today is the day I will die. I was asking and begging them not to do it and was crying like a mad person, like a mother hen protecting the chicks. I thought it would be better that I die instead of lots of people. I was crying out loud. My throat was in pain. My intention was to help people escape and be free to protest and to stop the security forces. I was begging them. At that time I was not afraid.’
Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan has warned of an attempted military coup, after the country's armed forces said he and his cabinet must resign. The army ‘must obey the people and elected authorities’, he told thousands of supporters in the capital Yerevan. His opponents held a rival rally. The military's top brass was angered by the PM's sacking of a commander. Mr Pashinyan has faced protests after losing last year's bloody conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh - an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians since a 1994 truce. During the six weeks of fighting late in 2020, Azerbaijan not only recaptured areas around the enclave but also took the key town of Shusha inside it. Under the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards, Azerbaijan keeps the areas it has captured.
Slaughtering Nigerian Christians continues unabated. An average of ten Christians are killed daily. A recent episode was at the hands of the government, which executed six Christian soldiers in Abuja on false charges. A Muslim colonel stole weapons from an armoury, but six Christian soldiers on duty got blamed for the theft. Their lawyer claimed they died ‘purely because they were Igbo and Christian. The government of today detests Christianity and detests the Igbo tribe.’ He had petitioned the government to provide a defence, but his attempt was denied and they were executed in secret. Nigeria’s constitution gives the military no authority to execute people, and prisoners should be able to appeal to a higher court. They didn’t get their rights. The military now claims that they were never executed, but they have not been seen by their families or in public.
The armed forces are protecting people in a broader range of areas than ever, including coronavirus testing. The UK military will receive £4bn a year over the next four years to fund space and cyber defence projects such as an artificial intelligence agency. This could create 40,000 new jobs. Defence secretary Ben Wallace said ‘The extra spending is on top of the government's manifesto to increase the budget. When I looked across at the armed forces today I saw them with equipment that was out-of-date, I saw our adversaries across the world having better equipment, the ability to attack us and harm us getting wider and wider from our capabilities. When that happens, you need to modernise your forces. Sometimes you must let go of some older capabilities and that takes money in order to create the headroom to invest.’
US military suicide deaths reflect a national trend. The national suicide rate has increased by 33% since 1999, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 10 to 34 years old. 325 active-duty members died by suicide in 2018, the highest number since collecting data began in 2001. The defence department said suicide rates among the military population are ‘devastating, unacceptable and not going in the desired direction’. Every life lost has a deeply personal story that shatters the lives of families. The defence and veterans affairs departments are working to reduce suicide in the ranks and among veterans, who die at an average rate of twenty a day. Between January and March 2019, ninety active duty service members committed suicide - 30 soldiers, 20 sailors, 26 airmen, and 14 marines.
The United States has agreed to station "about 1,000" more military personnel in Poland as the government of the East European country seeks to counter what it perceives as a growing Russian threat.
However, the joint U.S.-Poland declaration signed by President Donald Trump on June 12 stopped short of calling it a permanent presence, potentially easing Kremlin concerns about a larger U.S. military presence near its western border.
Trump earlier in the day said the increase in U.S. forces in Poland could come at the expense of Germany -- whom he criticized for underspending on NATO defense and overspending on Russian gas.
"We would be taking them out of Germany or we would be moving them from another location. It would be no additional troops to Europe," Trump said shortly before reaching the agreement.
The United States has 52,000 troops based in Germany, Trump said. The Pentagon told RFE/RL that the sourcing of the military personnel and other details of the agreement "are still being worked out."
About 4,500 U.S. troops have been stationed in Poland on a rotational basis for the past few years in response to Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and Moscow's continued military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
NATO separately placed about 1,200 troops in Poland in 2017 as part of its efforts to beef up deterrence against Russia in Eastern Europe and recently agreed to invest $269 million to support U.S. forces in the country.
The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act pledges the alliance to carry out its collective defense without the "additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces." However, the pledge only applied to the "current and foreseeable security environment" at the time.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the June 12 U.S.-Polish agreement was "fully in line with NATO's international commitments."
"When the world changes, we have to adapt to make sure that we can continue to protect all allies," Stoltenberg said in the statement, possibly hinting at Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Poland last year proposed spending as much as $2 billion to host a permanent U.S. armored division, which consists of between 10,000 and 15,000 troops, to strengthen its defense against Russia.
Russia, which occupied part of Poland under the tsars, "is again showing its imperial face" by its actions in Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda said at the joint press conference with Trump.
According to the agreement, the U.S. military will expand its "enduring presence" in Poland by about 1,000 personnel "in the near-term." Poland will finance that expanded presence as well as additional military infrastructure, including a U.S. divisional headquarters.
Russia could seek to build up its military presence in the exclave of Kaliningrad in response, former U.S. Army Europe commander Lieutenant General Ben Hodges told RFE/RL. He said the Kremlin could also put more pressure on Belarus to allow its troops into that country. Both Kaliningrad and Belarus border Poland.
Though the U.S. agreement fell far short of Poland's initial request, it is something that "could be scaled" up in the future should developments in Eastern Europe demand it, Eugene Chausovsky, a Eurasia analyst at Stratfor, told RFE/RL.
"This is something that the Polish government can claim as a victory of sorts," he said of the deal.
Poland helped win over Trump's support for the increased military presence by agreeing to purchase U.S. fighter jets as well as liquefied natural gas, Chausovsky said.
Trump confirmed during the joint press conference that Poland will buy nearly three dozen F-35 fighter jets -- worth in excess of $2.5 billion -- as well as an additional $8 billion of liquefied natural gas.
Poland is seeking to wean itself off Russian energy, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of its gas imports. Duda will travel to Houston with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to meet executives of U.S. energy companies during his six-day visit to the United States.
Washington and Warsaw are seeking to halt Russia's plans to build an $11 billion gas pipeline to Germany. The pipeline would make Germany a "hostage of Russia" while also supporting the Russian economy, Trump said.
"We are protecting Germany from Russia, and Russia is getting billions and billions of dollars of money from Germany," Trump said ahead of his meeting with Duda.
He highlighted that Germany was only spending about 1 percent of gross domestic product on defense, below the 2 percent threshold set by NATO members in 2014.
Hodges said moving troops from Germany to Poland would be taken as a sign that the United States was punishing Berlin for its failure to meet defense spending limits.
However, he said, maligning Berlin was not in Washington's interest.
"We have to make sure that we treat Germany as our most important ally. Spending is such a small component of the relationship. You can't put a price tag on" all that Germany does for the United States, said Hodges, who is now with the Center for European Policy Analysis.
Article by Todd Prince
The 2018 annual Munich Security Report cited growing pressure on nuclear disarmament treaties and ongoing security concerns in eastern and central Europe as a cause for concern, and most worryingly the erosion of arms control agreements. ‘Deployment of additional weapons and tensions over military exercises has increased the risk of an inadvertent armed clash’, the report warns. ‘In this dire state of affairs, miscalculations and misunderstandings could lead to unintended military clashes. The Ukraine conflict was a stumbling block to de-escalation of tensions between Russia and the West.’ America’s decision to provide lethal arms to Ukraine would cement the current stalemate as countries in eastern Europe struggle in an environment of contested security, with the EU and NATO on one side and Russia on the other, at a time when the EU's Eastern partnership policy has ‘lost its steam’.
The North Korean missile crisis must be turned into a rallying cry for prayer for persecuted Christians in that country, says Release International, which supports Christians under pressure around the world. North Korea brought forward its annual display of military might to 8 February ahead of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The muscle-flexing has been described as grandstanding in a crisis that could threaten nuclear war - but many believe the crisis should be turned into a rallying cry for prayer for the persecuted. North Korea is probably the harshest persecutor of Christians on the face of the earth.
A power struggle in the Maldives is taking centre stage in a battle for regional influence between India and China. Maldives President Yameen declared a state of emergency after the supreme court ordered him to free political prisoners and opposition politicians he jailed. Security forces then stormed the court and arrested two judges and a former leader. The remaining judges annulled a previous ruling. It is being called an assault on democracy. The political drama sparked concern in India, which issued a strong statement saying it is imperative for the government to adhere to a free trade agreement it made with the Maldives. India views China as a geopolitical foe in Asia and is pushing to maintain geo-strategic supremacy in the Indian Ocean, with backing from the US and Japan. Meanwhile, it has expanded its influence by building ports in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Djibouti (now home to its first overseas military base). See also
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s nuclear programme chief, said on 29 October that Iran can begin producing weapons-grade nuclear material quickly if the nuclear deal with foreign powers fails, and insisted that international inspectors would not be given access to Iranian military sites. In early October President Trump told the world, ‘Iran is not in compliance with the deal, and it needs to be renegotiated even though our allies, and even our enemies, do not agree.’ Mr Trump said that the agreement had not curbed Iran’s missile programme and destabilising activities in the Middle East. Mr Salehi said that, although Tehran prefers to keep the agreement intact, they could quickly ramp up uranium enrichment to produce 20% enriched uranium in four days. He made these comments after meeting the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano. Mr Amano also met President Rouhani and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. See