Monday, September 25, 2017

Mattis Travels to India to Emphasize 'Enduring U.S. Commitment'

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is traveling to India to underscore the enduring U.S. commitment to its strategic partner, Defense Department officials said.

The four-day trip marks the first time a cabinet member from the current administration has visited India, where Mattis will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and newly appointed Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The secretary also will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the India Gate to recognize the valor and the heroism of 82,000 Indian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II in the fight against militarism.

En route to India, Mattis told reporters traveling with him that the United States and India are two great democracies with shared common goals that make them natural partners.

Shared Partnership

"We have a historic opportunity to set a refreshed partnership between our nations, and it's a partnership built on respect, trust, and the shared values of democracy, freedom of expression and human dignity," he said. "And our vision aims to support an open, just and rules-based global order."

The secretary said he would discuss with Modi’s government joint efforts to advance common goals through a broader strategic exchange of views, "basically putting meat on the structure, … not only in terms of U.S.-India partnership, but how the United States and India can work together to build partnerships across the region."

India, from the U.S. perspective, is "clearly a pillar of regional stability and security," Mattis said. "We share a common vision for a peaceful and prosperous vision in the Indo-Pacific region, one that's based on that strong, rules-based international order, and the peaceful resolution of disputes and territorial integrity," he added.

Expanding Cooperation

The U.S.-India defense cooperation has steadily expanded in recent years, underpinned by common objectives and goals in the region, the secretary said, adding that such cooperation will benefit both economies while reducing any legacy or trust issues between the two democracies.

DoD's designation of India as a major defense partner reflects the progress made in strengthening joint security cooperation, Mattis noted.

"My goal on this trip is to promote pragmatic progress between us and our defense partnership, delivering defense interoperability, aligned with Prime Minister Modi and President [Donald J.] Trump's direction," Mattis said, adding that in the wide-ranging new relationship, security is one of the key strategic pillars.

"This is a historic opportunity for our two democracies, a time of strategic convergence," he said. "We will be working on this trip and in the future to bring our bureaucracies up to speed by underlining our commonalities in our approaches and our objectives."

DoD: U.S. Seeks Only Peaceful Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2017 — Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam and Air Force F-16C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace over the waters east of North Korea, Sept. 23, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning said today.

In a show of force, Manning told Pentagon reporters, the aircraft flew north of the Demilitarized Zone, the farthest north any U.S. fighter or bomber has flown off North Korea's coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness of North Korea’s “reckless behavior.”

He added, “The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions or provocations by North Korea. The Kim regime's actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours, and would lose any arms race or conflict that it initiates.”

Commitment to Defense

This flight was in response to North Korea's escalatory launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles on July 3 and July 28, intermediate range ballistic missile launches over Japan on Aug. 28 and Sept. 14, and a nuclear test on Sept. 2, Manning said, all of which violate many U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its nuclear weapons program, the colonel added.

“As always, our commitment is to the defense of our allies and our partners and remains ironclad,” he said.

“We are prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from an attack,” Manning said, “and are prepared to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the threat from North Korea.”

Missouri Guardsmen to Support Virgin Islands Relief Effort

By Air Force 1st Lt. Phil Fountain Missouri National Guard

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., Sept. 25, 2017 — The Missouri Army National Guard has sent helicopters and crews to the Virgin Islands to assist with hurricane response efforts.
Members of the Missouri Army National Guard board a C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft before departing for the Virgin Islands in support of hurricane relief efforts.

Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order mobilizing National Guard forces to the islands, in accordance with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

The Missouri Army National Guard sent four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and crews, consisting of about 30 soldiers. The supporting units are Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment, based at Fort Leonard Wood, and the 1st Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, based at Whiteman Air Force Base.

While mobilized, the units are prepared for a wide range of missions, including search and rescue, aerial reconnaissance and equipment and personnel transportation.

The mission is expected to last 30 days.

In addition to this Army National Guard activation, the Missouri Air National Guard's 139th Airlift Wing, based at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St. Joseph, has been providing C-130 Hercules tactical airlift for several weeks in support of hurricane response efforts in the Virgin Islands, and at locations in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.