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Friday, 6 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 06 Nov 2015

Pentagon chief visits US carrier in SCS
Carter says Beijing to blame for South China Sea tension | Visit to USS Theodore Roosevelt infuriates China
board The USS Theodore Roosevelt, November 5

US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter flew to a US aircraft carrier transiting the disputed South China Sea on Thursday and blamed China for rising tension in the region on a visit sure to infuriate Beijing.

Carter's visit to the USS Theodore Roosevelt with Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein came just over a week after the USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, challenged territorial limits around one of China's man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago with a so-called freedom-of-navigation patrol.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims. "Being here on the Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea is a symbol and signifies the stabilising presence that the United States has had in this part of the world for decades," Carter told reporters as the carrier sailed about 150 to 200 nautical miles from the southern tip of the Spratlys and about 70 nautical miles north of Malaysia.

Asked about the significance of his visit at such a time, he said: "If it's being noted today in a special way, it's because of the tension in this part of the world, mostly arising from disputes over land features in the South China Sea, and most of the activity over the last year being perpetrated by China."

The warship was "conducting routine operations while transiting the South China Sea", Carter said on Wednesday after a meeting of defense ministers from Southeast Asia in Malaysia, a forum marred by the US-China disagreements over the sea lane.

Beijing has rebuked Washington over the patrol while China's navy commander has warned that a minor incident could spark war in the South China Sea if the United States did not stop its "provocative acts". "China has consistently respected and safeguarded all countries' freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed under international law," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday when asked about the Carter carrier visit before it took place.

"...What we oppose is waving the banner of freedom of navigation to push forward the militarisation of the South China Sea and even provoke and endanger other countries' sovereignty and security interests. In this aspect, we hope the relevant actions and intentions of the US can be made open and above board."

The US Navy plans to conduct patrols within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea about twice a quarter to remind China and other countries about US rights under international law, a US defence official said on Monday.

US defense officials have said Carter would not be on any warship carrying out such patrols. "Teddy Roosevelt's presence there and our visit is a symbol of our commitment to our rebalance (to Asia) and the importance of the Asia-Pacific to the United States," Carter said on Wednesday.

In July, Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, was on board a Boeing P-8 surveillance plane as it carried out a seven-hour flight over the South China Sea.

Swift said his flight was routine, but it drew a rebuke from China. In May, Beijing called a US P-8 surveillance flight carrying a CNN team over the South China Sea "irresponsible and dangerous". — Reuters

India can play constructive, positive role: China       

China on Thursday asked India to play a "constructive and positive" role in safeguarding peace and stability in the disputed South China Sea, in a guarded reaction to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's call for ensuring freedom of navigation in the strategic waters amid escalated Sino-US tensions.
Navy Officers Arrested as 'Terror Suspects' in a Mock-Drill Gone Wrong
Daman:  Armed with AK-47s, a group of men in uniform were tracked and arrested by the local police in Daman today on suspicion of being terrorists. In an antithesis of a suspected terror plot, the men turned out to be naval officers whose mock-military drill was thwarted by the vigilance of the locals.

After the police was alerted by residents of the Nani Daman town of suspicious activities of men in uniform, the investigation led the police to an unattended boat at the Kadaiya coast.

"We launched a manhunt. We also found a CCTV footage showing these uniformed men," said Superintendent of Daman Police Eish Singhal.

Further investigation led the police to a mini-truck near the Coast Guard Air Station.

"We then found five persons, who were not in uniform, standing by a mini-truck. They told us that they had come here to take the delivery of some material which weighs 200 kg," said Mr Singhal.

Raising more suspicion, the police intensified their search. Finally at 1.45 am, six men in uniform were tracked and placed under arrest. "They were in full uniform and carrying AK-47 rifles," Mr Singhal said.

They were only released later after the Navy confirmed their identities to the police.

After detailed questioning, we found that all of them were Navy officers who had come here by their boat 'Gemini'. They had been sent here by the Navy for a mock-drill called 'DGX' -- Defence of Gujarat Exercise."

The mini-truck was logistic support which had come to pick up the '200 kg' boat 'Gemini' in which the officers had arrived. The mock-mission led by Lieutenant commander Rahul Mishra was not successful. However, the police say it was miscommunication on part of the Navy who had not intimated them of the drill.
India-Russia Joint Army Exercise 'Indra' to Begin This Week
New Delhi:  India and Russia will begin their joint army exercise 'Indra' focusing on counter-terrorism operations this week.

A 250-member strong Russian army contingent would arrive in Bikaner for the joint exercise to be held with the Indian Army from November 7 to November 20.

Exercise Indra-2015 is the seventh edition in a series of bilateral exercises under this banner. The joint exercise this year would focus on 'Counter Terrorism Operations in Desert Terrain under a United Nations Mandate', an army statement said.

To achieve inter-operability in joint operations in the future, troops from an Independent Russian Motorised Brigade and Indian Army's Infantry Battalion would initially acquaint themselves with the approach to such operations, Command and Control systems as well as arms and equipment of each other.

The joint training would also focus on ensuring a high degree of physical fitness, tactical drills, techniques and procedures.

A comprehensive training programme for a period of four weeks has been worked out for the same.

During the exercise, participants will engage in a variety of missions including joint planning, cordon and search operations, search and rescue, joint tactical drills and special arms skills.

The exercise would be conducted in two phases, namely 'Combat Conditioning & Tactical Training' and 'Validation' phases.

The exercise would be witnessed by senior Indian as well as Russian Generals.

"The broadened and unprecedented scope of the exercise stands as a testimony to the deep and mature, people to people as well as military to military ties between Russia and India, the statement said.

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