News Headlines - 30 December 2019

Pentagon Eyes Africa Drawdown as First Step in Global Troop Shift - The New York Times

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is weighing proposals for a major reduction - or even a complete pullout - of American forces from West Africa as the first phase of reviewing global deployments that could reshuffle thousands of troops around the world, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations.
The discussions of a large-scale pullback from West Africa include abandoning a recently built $110 million drone base in Niger and ending assistance to French forces battling militants in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The deliberations stem from a push to reduce post-9/11 missions battling terrorist groups, and instead to refocus Pentagon priorities on confronting so-called Great Powers like Russia and China.

False air raid siren causes brief chaos at US Army camp in South Korea

A US Army camp in South Korea mistakenly blasted out an emergency air raid siren Thursday night instead of the usual playing of taps - sparking alarm after threats from North Korea about a mysterious “Christmas gift” for President Trump, according to a report.
Taps, the bugler’s song played at military funerals, was supposed to be sounded at Camp Casey at 10 p.m., Army Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the 2nd Infantry Division, told Stars and Stripes.

False alarm: NHK reports nonexistent North Korean missile off Hokkaido | The Japan Times

NHK published an erroneous report saying a missile from North Korea appeared to have fallen into the Pacific Ocean east of Hokkaido early Friday but quickly corrected it, saying the message was posted on its website by accident.
Shortly after midnight Thursday, NHK posted an alert on its news website saying that the missile had landed in the Pacific an estimated 2,000 kilometers east of Cape Erimo in southern Hokkaido.
About 20 minutes later, the broadcaster corrected the message. NHK also said on a news program aired shortly after the report that the posted message was designed for training purposes and did not contain accurate information. It also apologized for the false alert.

Russia Frees 24 Japanese Fishermen Seized Near Disputed Islands | Voice of America

Russia has released five Japanese fishing boats and their 24 crewmen after detaining them for a week for allegedly violating fishing agreements near a group of disputed islands.
The five ships and their crews were accused of exceeding their catch quota for octopus when they were detained on December 17. The boats were released after a Russian court ordered the crews to pay a fine of $100,000.

China, Russia and Iran hold joint naval drills in Gulf of Oman - CNN

China, Russia and Iran began a four-day joint military exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman on Friday amid ongoing friction in the economically important region between Tehran and Washington.
The Gulf of Oman has been a focal point of geopolitical tensions in 2019, after two oil tankers were attacked in the narrow strait in June by an unidentified party.







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