“El Chapo” arrest sparks homicide surge in Mexico

Last year’s capture of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán led to a surge in homicides in Mexico as cartel leaders fought to fill the vacuum created by his arrest.

The apprehension of Guzmán in January 2016 was hailed by Mexican and U.S. officials as a watershed moment in the war on drugs. But Mexico’s homicide rate for the year spiked to 21.3 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, a steep rise from 17.5 in 2015 that rivals record numbers earlier in the decade, according to a report released Friday by the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego.

Mexico had just started emerging from its bloody battle with drug cartels, with murder rates dropping for four consecutive years from 2011 to 2014. After the removal of Guzmán, violence is back on the rise. The drug lord was extradited to the United States in January to face criminal charges for his leadership of the trafficking syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel.

“It’s kind of two steps forward, one step back,” said David Shirk, director of the Justice in Mexico Project and co-author of the report. “We took out a very powerful and important drug trafficker. But as a result, we have destabilized the ecosystem of organized crime in a way that has led to internal struggles within the Sinaloa Cartel, and encroachment from other organizations that would like to take over their business.”

The spike in violence also helps explain why the United States is seeing a resurgence in heroin use. The problem has become so widespread that President Trump created a national opioid addiction commission. On Wednesday he hosted a White House “listening session” with addicts, including one recovering heroin addict.

Shirk said the battles between Mexican drug cartels have upset the “traditional” drug routes — including cocaine — that originate in South America and funnel through Mexico to the U.S. That has made it more difficult for American users to find cocaine, opening the door for heroin and other opioids, which can be produced in Mexico and smuggled more easily into the U.S.

Heroin profits are smaller, Shirk said, but they provide those cartels with quick and easy cash as they focus on fighting for control of territories left vacant by Guzmán’s arrest.

“When you fragment drug trafficking organizations, they’re going to look for readily available products,” Shirk said.

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Mexico experienced its worst period of violence starting in 2007, when then-President Felipe Calderón announced an aggressive campaign to fight against the country’s drug cartels. That led to Mexico’s homicide rate increasing from a record low of 8.1 per 100,000 in 2007 to a record high of 24 just four years later.

The Mexican government was able to quell that violence through a combination of anti-corruption measures and big increases in military and police spending. Mexico received help from the U.S. government, which sends $320 million a year to improve the southern neighbor’s security, justice, economy and education systems.

That could change under President Trump, who has proposed slashing State Department and foreign aid budgets by 37%. Trump has also infuriated Mexico by saying it will pay for expanding a wall along the border between the two countries.

“There’s a need for both countries to resolve this problem. And in many ways, we’re at a high water mark in U.S.-Mexico security cooperation,” Shirk said. “The only question now is how (Trump) will continue to work with Mexico to address this shared responsibility.”

The group’s report is based on a collection of data from the Mexican government, private companies and media organizations that track homicides in Mexico.

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Army Tests Grenade Launcher, Ammo Built on 3-D Printer

The Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance, or RAMBO, was built by Army researchers using a 3-D printer.Photo: Army.

U.S. Army researchers test fired RAMBO, a 40mm grenade launcher and 40mm grenades that were built using a 3-D printer.

The printed grenade launcher, named RAMBO, which stands for Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance, was the culmination of six months of collaborative effort by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, the U.S. Army Manufacturing Technology Program and America Makes, the national accelerator for additive manufacturing and 3-D printing.

Additive manufacturing, or AM, is an enabling technology that builds successive layers of materials to create a three-dimensional object.

“This demonstration shows that additive manufacturing (commonly known as 3-D printing) has a potential future in weapon prototype development, which could allow engineers to provide munitions to soldiers more quickly,” according to a March 1 Army press release.

“RAMBO is a tangible testament to the utility and maturation of additive manufacturing. It epitomizes a new era of rapidly developed, testable prototypes that will accelerate the rate at which researchers’ advancements are incorporated into fieldable weapons that further enable our warfighters.”

Every component in the M203A1 grenade launcher, except springs and fasteners, was produced using AM techniques and processes.

The barrel and receiver were fabricated in aluminum using a direct metal laser sintering process. This process uses high-powered precision lasers to heat the particles of powder below their melting point, essentially welding the fine metal powder layer by layer until a finished object is formed. Other components, like the trigger and firing pin, were printed in 4340 alloy steel, which matches the material of the traditional production parts.

The M203A1 and M781 grenades were selected as candidate systems for the project. The technology demonstrator did not aim to illustrate whether the grenade launcher and munition could be made cheaper, lighter or better than traditional mass-production methods. Instead, researchers sought to determine whether AM technologies were mature enough to build an entire weapon system and the materials’ properties robust enough to create a properly functioning armament, according to the release.

“To be able to additively manufacture a one-off working testable prototype of something as complex as an armament system would radically accelerate the speed and efficiency with which modifications and fixes are delivered to the warfighter,” the release states.

AM doesn’t require expensive and time-intensive tooling. Researchers would be able to manufacture multiple variations of a design during a single printing build in a matter of hours or days.

The barrel was printed vertically with the rifling. After it was removed from the build plate, two tangs were broken off and the barrel was tumbled in an abrasive rock bath to polish the surface. The receiver required more post-process machining to meet the tighter dimensional requirements. Once post-processing was complete, the barrel and receiver underwent Type III hard-coat anodizing, a coating process that’s also used for conventionally manufactured components of the M203A1. Anodizing creates an extremely hard, abrasion-resistant outer layer on the exposed surface of the aluminum.

The barrel and receiver took about 70 hours to print and required around five hours of post-process machining. The cost for powdered metals varies but is in the realm of $100 a pound. This may sound like a lot of time and expensive material costs, but given that the machine prints unmanned and there is no scrap material, the time and cost savings that can be gained through AM are staggering, according to the release.

The tooling and set-up needed to make such intricate parts through conventional methods would take months and tens of thousands of dollars, and would require a machinist who has the esoteric machining expertise to manufacture things like the rifling on the barrel.

Two RDECOM research and development centers, the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory helped build the 40mm grenades for the project.

An integrated product team selected the M781 40 mm training round because it is simple and does not involve any energetics—explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics are still awaiting approval for use in 3-D printing.

The M781 consists of four main parts: the windshield, the projectile body, the cartridge case and a .38-caliber cartridge case.

The windshield and cartridge case are traditionally made by injection molding glass-filled nylon. Using multiple AM systems at multiple locations helped emphasize manufacturing readiness and the Army’s capability to design, fabricate, integrate and test components while meeting tolerances, requirements and design rules. ARL and ECBC used selective laser sintering and other AM processes to print glass-filled nylon cartridge cases and windshields for the rounds.

The .38-caliber cartridge case was the only component of the M781 that was not printed. The .38-caliber cartridge case was purchased and pressed into the additively manufactured cartridge case. Research and development is underway at ARDEC to print energetics and propellants.

ARDEC researchers used modeling and simulation throughout the project to verify whether the printed materials would have sufficient structural integrity to function properly.

Army researchers conducted live-fire testing the printed grenade launcher and printed training rounds on Oct. 12, 2016, at the Armament Technology Facility at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

The 40 mm AM-produced grenade launcher and components were a highlighted project at the 2016 Defense Manufacturing Conference.

“Although there are still many challenges to be addressed before Army-wide adoption of AM, demonstrations like this one show the technology’s advances,” the release states.

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Energy Drinks Can Pack Too Much Caffeine, Official Reminds Troops

A soldier sips an energy drink in preparation for a dismounted patrol through the Hussaniyah town of the Istaqlal Qada in Iraq, Dec. 29, 2008. A Pentagon health official is reminding troops to cut back their instake of energy drinks, which can pose health risks. (U.S. Army photo/JB Jaso)

Energy drinks can provide a midday boost, but troops should be careful about their caffeine intake, according to the Pentagon.

“The amount of caffeine varies” among brands, Patricia Deuster said in a post for the Defense Health Agency, and nutrition labeling can be misleading.

Other ingredients in energy drinks, such as guarana (Brazilian cocoa), can also contain caffeine and make the actual caffeine content higher than that listed, said Deuster, director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

“People don’t realize that drinking a couple of energy drinks in a fairly short amount of time, like in one hour, can potentially harm them,” Deuster said.

Chugging down high doses of caffeine and sugar in a short amount of time can overstimulate the central nervous system with short-term effects such as nervousness, shakiness, rapid heartbeat, irritability, or sleep issues, she said.

Maj. Sean Spanbauer, a performance dietitian for U.S. Army Special Operations Command, recommends limiting energy drink consumption to one or two per day, and no more than one in a four-hour period.

“A general rule of thumb is not consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day,” said Spanbauer, or 200 milligrams every three to four hours. Most popular energy drinks contain about 80-120 milligrams of caffeine per eight-ounce serving, he said.

“In a deployed environment, if somebody is sleep deprived and mission critical, there are benefits to caffeine, so I would start with 200 milligrams but do not exceed 600 milligrams in one day,” Spanbauer said.

A 2010 study by Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that almost 45 percent of deployed service members drank at least one energy drink per day, and nearly 14 percent drank three or more a day. The long-term effects of consuming energy drinks regularly aren’t known, but in the short term, sleep quality can be impacted.

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UK terror attack underscores need for review in South Asia

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The March 22 terror attack near the British Parliament has reminded  authorities in South Asia, especially Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, of the need for vigilance against increasing terrorist attacks by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or Daesh.

On December 13, 2001, an attack on the Indian Parliament was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

On September 18, 2016, India witnessed a suicide attack on the Uri military base in Jammu & Kashmir. Four terrorists penetrated the base and killed 18 army personnel before being shot dead. India had not learned lessons from the past.

On September 29 last year, India crossed the border into Pakistan and attacked terrorist training camps, though the identity and the place of origin of the Uri attackers were not known.

Pakistan denied the Indian “surgical strikes” and said only ceasefire violations had taken place. One Indian was captured. A wider military conflict was averted.

Terrorism as a global phenomenon has been ably analyzed by Pankaj Mishra in his recent book Age of Anger: History of the Present. The world is at a loss to devise appropriate counterterrorism measures.

Major Western powers such as the UK, the US, Germany and France have faced terror attacks just as major South Asian powers have.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation will need to do more to deal with terrorism and evolve a regional strategy.

Although India has been describing Pakistan as the terror hub of South Asia, the Delhi-based South Asia Terrorism Portal (www.satp.org) has published data showing that Pakistan has suffered more from terrorist attacks than India.

We may now analyze India’s terror scenario in some detail.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, Volume VIII (2008) found that the definition used in the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act of 1985 had been widely misused. It examined the definitions used in Western countries, the shorter legal definition proposed by the United Nations Crime Branch (1992) as well as the UN’s longer “academic consensus” definition that the act of terrorism is the peacetime equivalent of war crime.

After tracing the history of terrorism in India, the commission outlined the types of existing terrorism: ethno-nationalist terrorism, religious terrorism, ideological terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism and narco-terrorism.

The Indian Penal Code of 1860, though frequently amended, does not mention “terrorism” as a legal offense. The first special law that attempted a definition was the revised Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act of 1987. This was followed by the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 2002 (POTA), which was replaced by the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) of 2004, which is still in force.

The conventional means of terrorist attacks on persons or property are identified as weapons, bombs, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), grenades, landmines, hostage-taking, hijacking, and forcible takeover of buildings, especially government and public buildings.

Other means include suicide attacks and kidnapping, use of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical or biological), cyberterrorism and environmental terrorism.

Cases of suicide terrorism include the assassination of Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 21, 1991, the attack on the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly in October 2001, the attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001, the storming of the Akshardham Temple in Gujarat in 2002, and an abortive attempt on the Ayodhya Temple in July 2005.

LTTE-led suicide attacks in India ceased after the decimation of its cadres and leadership by the Sri Lankan armed forces in 2009.

While differences of opinion persist over what constitutes terrorism, there can be no disagreement over what constitutes a terrorist act (B Raman, Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, 2008). Such acts as the hijacking of an aircraft or other means of public transport to  achieve a political objective through intimidation; blowing up a civilian aircraft midair; the use of IEDs against civilians; throwing hand grenades or firing mortars into a civilian crowd or establishment; and so on constitute “acts of terrorism”. Organizations indulging in such activities, irrespective of motives, are to be regarded as terrorist.

Louise Richardson (What Terrorists Want, 2006) in a scholarly discussion defines terrorism simply as the deliberate and violent targeting of civilians for political purposes. She identifies its seven crucial characteristics, including its political inspiration; its use of violence; its aim of sending a message; its symbolic significance; and its sub-state character. The most important characteristic of terrorism is the deliberate targeting of civilians. Terrorists are different from guerrillas and freedom fighters.

Two key features of terrorist groups are the nature of the goals they seek and their relationship to the community they claim to represent. A cocktail of a disaffected individual, an enabling group and a legitimizing ideology is required.

Many different groups in different countries use terrorism to pursue different objectives. Its causes may be individual, organizational, or state-specific.

At the level of society, socio-economic factors may be the cause. At the transnational level, the causes may be religious. Leaders tend to be different from followers. Some leaders, such as Osama bin Laden of al-Qaeda and Velupillai Prabhakaran of the LTTE, enjoyed godlike status.

The US has advanced the idea of state sponsorship of terrorism. Perceived as an instrument of foreign policy, it provides many advantages to governments. Relatively weak states often support terrorists to strike against their more powerful enemies. The Mumbai terrorist attack by Pakistan-based terrorists in November 2008 was a classic example.

There has been significant growth in the number of terrorist groups with religious orientation over the past few decades. In 2004, of the 77 terrorist groups listed by the US State Department, 40 appeared to have mixed religious and political motives.

Often, religious and political motives are inseparably linked. For many, religion plays a role similar to a political ideology. This is true of some South Asian countries.

India in the recent period has witnessed various types of terrorism, including religious and state terrorism. Three main regions are affected: Jammu & Kashmir, the Northeast, and the Central Tribal Belt.

In J&K, the troubled relationship between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir question started with India’s independence in 1947. Major insurgency in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley started in 1989, after the controversial elections held in 1987. There was an increase in cross-border infiltration from Pakistan into Kashmir and the deployment of Indian security forces in the state. Terrorist violence shot up and has continued.

It is often difficulty to separate the terrorists from the civilians. A large number of women and children have been affected by the death or disappearance of their husbands or fathers.

The rise of al-Qaeda, ISIS or Daesh and Islamic fundamentalism has aggravated the terrorist situation in Kashmir. The threat to India until  recently has not been directly from al-Qaeda and the Taliban but from Laskar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and JeM focused on Kashmir.

LeT, based in Pakistan, is known to have developed cells in about 18 other countries including India, the US, the UK, France, Singapore and Australia. JeM, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, has been responsible for terrorist attacks in Kashmir.

Masood Azhar of the Harkat-ul-Ansar, who was handed over by India to Pakistani authorities in exchange for the release of the hostages of a hijacked plane, formed JeM with the objective of uniting Kashmir with Pakistan. JeM cadres are suspected to have been involved in several suicide attacks in J&K including the attack on the State Assembly in October 2001 and the Indian Parliament in December that year, besides a few other terrorist attacks later.

The nature of the terrorist attacks in J&K has changed over the years. Suicide terrorism has made its presence felt.

Since 2006, soft targets such as minority groups, tourists and migrant laborers, all innocent civilians, have been attacked by terrorists in Kashmir. Grenade attacks went up by 49% from 2006 to 2008. An aggravating factor has been the formation of the United Jihad Council, an umbrella organization of 14 militant groups led by Hizbul Mujaheddin, which along with LeT and JeM is equipped with the most modern weaponry and enjoys the support of international terrorist groups.

The Indian governments of Atal Behari Vajpayee (1999-2004) and Manmohan Singh (2004-2014) preferred diplomacy to solve terrorism. The present government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to prefer a military solution.

The increasingly large numbers of unemployed youth in India are restless and resorting to violence. The separatist Hurriyat Conference has been sidelined by youths who are dictating terms to the politicians.

The government of India blames Pakistan for inciting the upheaval in Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear-armed.

Both the US and China together with Pakistan are busy finding a peaceful solution to the persisting terror and violence in Afghanistan and are not supportive of India’s attempt to isolate Pakistan diplomatically.

In the seven states of northeast India, ethno-nationalism of a serious kind has been a prominent feature of terrorism. Assam is the biggest state in the region (population: 31 million).

Strong ethno-nationalist sentiment led to state terrorism in the Naga Hills in the 1950s and after. An incipient insurgency, which could have been handled wisely, was aggravated by the induction of the Indian Army. A sense of cultural aggression by an advanced culture over a less advanced Naga culture led to resistance against state terror by India.

Insurgency and terrorism in the other states were fueled by a perception of injustice toward the local people by the government of India.

Conflicts in the Northeast range from terrorist attacks to insurgency demanding autonomy, sponsored terrorism, ethnic clashes and conflicts generated from a continuous inflow of migrants from across the Bangladeshi border as well as intra-state migration within the region.

Moreover, criminal enterprises aimed at expanding and consolidating control over critical economic resources have of late acquired the characteristics of a distinct species of conflict and terrorism in the region.

Violence in the region is also caused by the failure of the government to provide human security. This has led to the emergence of alternative forces of ethnic militia to provide security to the people.

In an ethnically polarized situation, the government fails to provide security, and the actions of the army are seen as partisan.

Conflicts in the region are generally state-specific. Mainly the states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura have been seriously affected by terrorism and ethnic conflict.

A powerful terrorist organization, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), has been neutralized recently. The conflict in Nagaland, dating from 1955, has led to several terrorist actions but the situation seems increasingly calmer. The situation in Manipur is marked by continuing terrorist attacks on government forces by ethnic militias from across the border demanding independence. However, Tripura has witnessed increasing stability with a democratic development process in place.

The unresolved border dispute between India and China in Arunachal Pradesh could take an ugly turn and lead to terrorist incidents if the conflict situation deteriorates. The state has witnessed huge military deployment along the border with China.

The Central Tribal Belt, which spans many states, has witnessed Maoist violence and terrorism as well as counterterrorism by the state. This is a site of strategic maneuvers, resistance and appropriation by the Indian state and violent groups. Many of these contestations are still to be addressed.

Lack of calm consideration and resolution of the underlying causes of violence have led to recrudescence of violence after its initial suppression by brute force (Paul Wallace, A Grassroots Approach to Healing Terrorism, 2007).

The Maoist movement is officially said to have spread to more than 460 police stations in 160 districts in 14 states including several in the Central Tribal Belt. The federal and state police budgets are said to have increased a thousand-fold from 1967 to 2007. But the use of police power alone is not sufficient to contain Maoist terrorism. Other methods are needed, as noted in the Expert Group Report (Development Challenges in Extremist-Affected Areas, Planning Commission, 2008).

Louise Richardson (2006) has spelled out six rules for counteracting terrorism, including a defensible and achievable goal; sticking to principles; knowing the enemy; separating terrorists from civil society; engaging others to counter the terrorists; and a patient approach.

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China bans ‘abnormal’ beards & veils to curb practice of Islam in Muslim region

China bans ‘abnormal’ beards & veils to curb extremism in Muslim region

Chinese authorities have imposed a ban on “abnormal” facial hair and veils in public places in the country’s predominantly Muslim Xinjiang province in an effort to curb extremism and radicalization in the volatile area bordering Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

The initiative has been prompted in part by the deaths of hundreds of people over the past years in Xinjiang where government security forces regularly clashed with Islamist militants and faced unrest among the Muslim Uighur people driven by separatist sentiments.

Critics claim the armed clashes and terrorist attacks was a response to the crackdown on the Muslim population carried out by Beijing. Chinese authorities however reject accusations of oppression, emphasizing that Uighur people and their rights are under protection.

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The new rules are to be enforced from Saturday, local authorities said on their website, and would ban spreading “extremist ideas,” marrying in accordance to religious rites and “using the name of Halal to meddle in the secular life of others.”

“Parents should use good moral conduct to influence their children, educate them to revere science, pursue culture, uphold ethnic unity and refuse and oppose extremism,” the statement says, according to DW.

Certain baby names have also fallen from grace, with authorities banning the “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervor.” Parents will also be prohibited to homeschool their children or marrying them as young as 6 years of age.

It will also be an offense to “refuse or reject” watching state television or radio, although it’s not clear how authorities are planning to enforce this regulation.

The Uighur people – the dominant Muslim minority in Xinjiang –mostly practice a moderate form of Sunni Islam. However, in recent years many have begun taking up practices more commonly followed in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, such as making women wear a full face veil, genital mutilation, and child brides seen by some as a sign of opposition towards the central government.

Some of the separatist Uighur militant group who are striving for an independent East Turkestan in the northwestern China are considered terrorist not only by Beijing. The so-called East Turkestan Islamic Movement, now known as the Turkistan Islamic Party, has been listed as a terrorist group by the UN.

Earlier in March, at the annual meeting of China’s parliament, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Xinjiang needs a “great wall of iron” that would protect the region from “the animals“.

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Amid Tough Talk on North Korea, US Wants More THAAD Interceptors

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from a THAAD battery located on Wake Island during Flight Test Operational (FTO)-02 Event 2a, conducted Nov. 1, 2015. The Pentagon proposed buying 12 more THAAD interceptor missiles the same day the U.S. warned of a possible pre-emptive strike on North Korea. (Defense Department photo/Ben Listerman)

The Pentagon’s request for $30 billion more in the fiscal 2017 defense budget included money for 12 more THAAD hit-to-kill missiles such as those now being installed in South Korea that have been denounced by China, Russia and North Korea.

The announcement Thursday came on the same day that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that “all options are on the table” to stop North Korea’s nuclear and inter-continental ballistic missile programs, including a possible pre-emptive strike.

At the Pentagon, acting Under Secretary of Defense-Comptroller John P. Roth went through charts on the $30 billion request and said “you’ll see we’re buying 12 THAAD interceptors as well.” The Pentagon request called for $151 million to buy the 12 missiles.

A full Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery made by Lockheed Martin Corp. would cost about $800 million, according to Aerospace & Defense intelligence Report. A THAAD battery consists of at least six launcher vehicles, each equipped with eight missiles, with two mobile tactical operations centers and the AN/TPY-2 ground-based radar.

Earlier this month, two of the launcher vehicles arrived at Osan Air Base in South Korea, and South Korean military officials said that the THAAD system could be operational next month at a former golf course in Seongju south of Seoul.

A THAAD battery is already in place in Guam and two stand-alone AN/TPY-2 radars, made by Raytheon, are positioned in Japan where they are integrated with PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile systems.

On his trip to South Korea last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that THAAD was purely a defensive system that should be of no concern to China and Russia. “There is no other nation that needs to be concerned about THAAD other than North Korea if they’re engaged in something that’s offensive,” Mattis said.

Elements of the THAAD system began arriving at Osan hours after North Korea fired what were believed to be four medium-range missiles that splashed into the Sea of Japan inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The THAAD system in South Korea was intended to be the first layer in a triple-layered defense against North Korea’s short- and medium-range missiles.

The powerful AN/TPY-2 radars, the world’s largest mobile X-band radars, would track the missile launch and attempt to bring it down with a THAAD hit-to kill interceptor.

If that failed, the THAAD tracking data, instantly passed to Navy Arleigh Burke class destroyers offshore, would enable the destroyers to attempt to shoot down with missile with the Aegis Combat System, developed by RCA and now produced by Lockheed.

If that failed, the PAC-3 Patriot batteries, which would have the tracking data from THAAD relayed by the Aegis destroyers, would be the last line of defense.

The Aegis and Patriot missile defense systems are linked to THAAD by the US military’s Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications system, known as C2BMC, according to contractor Lockheed.

The complaints of China and Russia about the THAAD system are not so much at its anti-missile capabilities but rather at the long range of the AN/TPY-2 ground-based radar. China has charged that the X-band radar could monitor its own military operations and Russia has voiced similar complaints about its operations in Russia’s Far East.

Tillerson visited South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone at Panmunjom on Friday and was scheduled for high-level talks in China on Saturday.

Ahead of his visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying again called on South Korea to reverse course and cancel the THAAD deployment, China’s Xinhua news agency reported. “We again urge relevant parties to face up to the essence of the issue as well as China’s legitimate concerns and stop the deployment,” Hua said.

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Trump OKs ramped-up airstrikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia

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President Donald Trump is ramping up airstrikes in Somalia against Al Qaeda’s third largest affiliate, al-Shabaab, the Pentagon announced Thursday.he new authority ends Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes in Somalia.

The top U.S. general for Africa told reporters on Friday that he had requested the authority to conduct more strikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia.

“It’s very important and very helpful for us to have little more flexibility, a little bit more timeliness, in terms of decision-making process and it’ll allow us to give — in fact, counter ISIS or in our case in Somalia, al-Shabaab,” said Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command.

Last year, a Somali airliner was bombed using a laptop computer in an attack claimed by al-Shabaab, one of the reasons the Dept. of Homeland Security earlier this month banned electronics larger than cell phones from flights to the United States from some majority-Muslim nations.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters: “The President has approved a Department of Defense proposal to provide additional precision fires in support of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali security forces operations to defeat al-Shabaab in Somalia. This authority is consistent with our approach of developing capable Somali security forces and supporting regional partners in their efforts to combat al-Shabaab.”

Somali and African Union forces already have achieved some success in recapturing territory from al-Shabaab.

“The additional support provided by this authority will help deny al-Shabaab safe havens from which it could attack U.S. citizens or U.S. interests in the region,” said Davis.

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