18 December 2020 Military News
- Mortar shells hit US-occupied military base in eastern Syria, no casualties: Report Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says several mortar shells have hit a military base occupied by US forces in Syria's eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.
- Bomb Kills 15 Civilians in Eastern Afghanistan VOA 18 Dec 2020 -- Officials in Afghanistan say a bomb explosion Friday killed at least 15 civilians, most of them children, in eastern Ghazni province.
- After Talks With Taliban, Pakistani Leader Calls For Reduction of Violence RFE/RL Gandhara 18 Dec 2020 -- Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has said after meeting Taliban representatives in Islamabad that he is concerned about "the high level of violence in Afghanistan."
- At Least 15 Children Killed As Bomb Blows Up At Religious Gathering RFE/RL Gandhara 18 Dec 2020 -- Afghan officials say at least 15 children were killed and 20 other people wounded when a bomb explosion hit a religious gathering in central Afghanistan.
- Blast in eastern Afghanistan kills 11, injures 20 Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- At least 11 people have been killed and dozens of others injured as a motorbike loaded with explosives blew up at a religious ceremony in Afghanistan's eastern province of Ghazni.
- Afghanistan's Ghani conditions Taliban prisoner release on violence end Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has rejected a US-Taliban proposal for the government in Kabul to free more prisoners of the militant group as part of a peace agreement in February, saying his country's people will not allow a further release of Taliban inmates as the group has failed to fulfill a pledge to reduce its nationwide bloodshed and violence.
- Massive 'Sea Base' Ship Joins Effort to Withdraw US Troops From Somalia VOA 18 Dec 2020 -- The U.S. continues to remove troops from Somalia following President Donald Trump's directive earlier this month.
Defense Policy / Programs
- Government Officials Announce U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict, Promote Stability DoD News 18 Dec 2020 -- Leaders with the Defense, State and Treasury Departments, along with other agency officials, held a virtual meeting today to announce the release of the "U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability" document.
- Release of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability US Dept. of State 18 Dec 2020 -- America's prosperity and security depend on peaceful, self-reliant, U.S. economic and security partners. By breaking the costly cycle of conflict and instability, the United States advances its own security. Today, the Department of State released the U.S Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability.
- Briefing with State Department Director of Foreign Assistance James L. Richardson, Assistant Secretary for Conflict and Stabilization Operations Dr. Denise Natali, and USAID Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Stabilization Deputy Assistant Administrator Robert Jenkins on the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability US Dept. of State 18 Dec 2020
- HHS and DOD Statements on FDA Authorization of Moderna Vaccine DoD 18 Dec 2020 -- On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it had issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, the second COVID-19 vaccine to receive an EUA. Operation Warp Speed has allocated more than 5.9 million doses of the vaccine for jurisdictions to receive in the coming week. Below are statements from HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.
- This Week in Operation Warp Speed - Dec. 18, 2020 DoD 18 Dec 2020
- Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Space Force's 1st Birthday Celebration The White House 18 Dec 2020
- Space Force Leader to Become 8th Member of Joint Chiefs DoD News 18 Dec 2020 -- The Joint Chiefs of Staff will grow by one member when Space Force Gen. John "Jay" Raymond joins the highest-ranking military, deliberative body in the Defense Department on Dec. 20.
- Diversity and Inclusion Final Board Report DoD 18 Dec 2020 -- Today, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller announces the release of the Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion Report, "Recommendations to Improve Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. Military", and its resulting implementation plan.
- Statement on New Appointments to the Defense Science Board DoD 18 Dec 2020 -- Today, the Department of Defense announced that Acting Secretary Chris Miller intends to appoint former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Manpower & Reserve Affairs) Tidal McCoy and former NASA CFO Jeff DeWit to the Defense Science Board (DSB).
- Statement on Transition Activities by Acting Secretary of Defense Miller DoD 18 Dec 2020 -- The Department of Defense will continue to provide all required support to the Agency Review Team (ART) to keep our nation and her citizens safe. As of today, we have supported 139 interviews sessions more than 200 DoD personnel, 161 requests for information, and disclosed thousands of pages of non-public and classified documents, exceeding prior transitions. At no time has the Department cancelled or declined any interview.
- Acting Secretary Accepts Inclusion Board's 15 Recommendations DoD News 18 Dec 2020 -- Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller has accepted all 15 recommendations proposed by the Diversity and Inclusion Board chartered by former Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper in July.
- AFRC plans to stand up new wing at Davis-Monthan AFB US Air Force 18 Dec 2020 -- The Department of the Air Force is planning to stand up a new wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, to provide administrative support to 1,300 Reserve personnel working there. These personnel are currently supported by three different command components at Luke AFB, Arizona, Patrick AFB, Florida, and Tucson Airport, Arizona.
- US Navy Threatens to Take 'More Assertive Posture' Against Russian, Chinese Warships Sputnik 18 Dec 2020 -- In early September, a Pentagon report mentioned China as the country with the world's largest navy, enhancing the Chinese military's capability to conduct operations all across the globe.
- In Response To Kremlin, U.S. Reiterates Proposed Extension Of New START Treaty RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- The United States has responded to Russia's call to continue negotiations on the New START arms-control treaty by reiterating a U.S. proposal and saying the Russians have "rejected" attempts to restart the talks.
- Xi's thinking guides Chinese military toward modernization PLA Daily 18 Dec 2020 -- Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has seen China realize its intermediate goal for national defense and military development.
- Qingdao Port rebuilds ro-ro berths for military and civilian dual-use PLA Daily 18 Dec 2020 -- A PLA Navy's landing ship smoothly berthed at a ro-ro dock at the Port of Qingdao in Northeast China on December 15, marking the first military and civilian dual-use dock's official operation .
- President Tsai attends ceremony for new Black Hawk rescue helicopters CNA 18 Dec 2020 -- President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took part in a ceremony in Kaohsiung Friday to mark the National Airborne Service Corps' (NASC) recent receipt of six new UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, which will be put into service next July as rescue aircraft.
- Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh hands over DRDO systems to Armed Forces Chiefs India PIB 18 Dec 2020 -- Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh today handed over three indigenously developed Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) systems to Army, Navy and Air Force at a function held in DRDO Bhawan.
- RAF surveillance fleet to be based in Moray UK MOD 18 Dec 2020 -- The move demonstrates the UK Government's commitment to investing in Scotland
- Contracts For Dec. 18, 2020
- General Motors Launches Factory Expansion to Make Infantry Vehicles for US Army Sputnik 18 Dec 2020 -- The defense subsidiary of General Motors (GM) began construction of a 75,000-square-foot factory to produce the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) for the US military, the company said in a press release.
- 18 December 2020 - Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General United Nations 18 Dec 2020
- Turkish military forces pull out from seven military posts in northwest Syria: Source Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- The Turkish military has evacuated from seven military observation posts in the northwestern part of Syria, withdrawing troops from territory liberated by Syrian government forces to areas held by allied Takfiri militants.
- Nigeria: Boko Haram releases 300+ abducted schoolboys Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- Nigeria's homegrown Takfiri terrorist group of Boko Haram has released more than 300 schoolboys less than a week after kidnapping them in a stark reminder of its 2014 abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls.
- UN chief commends 'swift action' by Nigerian authorities as more than 300 boys are reunited with their families UN News 18 Dec 2020 -- The UN chief on Friday welcomed the release of more than 300 schoolboys forcibly taken from their school in northwest Nigeria a week ago, although others reportedly remain missing.
- Ethiopia Offers $260,000 Bounty for Information About Fugitive Tigray Forces' Leaders Sputnik 18 Dec 2020 -- According to preliminary reports, thousands of Ethiopians died and nearly a million had to leave their homes and flee to neighbouring countries due to a conflict that hit the African country last month.
- Ethiopian Refugees Evacuate Sudan Border Camps VOA 18 Dec 2020 -- Ethiopian refugees are evacuating border camps in Sudan as aid resources are diverted to Um Rakouba, the country's main camp, where many still lack food and shelter.
- Suicide Bomber Kills 10 in Somalia Just Before Scheduled Address by PM VOA 18 Dec 2020 -- At least 10 people were killed Friday and more than 10 others were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a stadium in Galkayo town in the Mudug region of central Somalia, ahead of a planned address by Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble, authorities and witnesses said.
- Fighting displaces over 500,000 in northern Mozambique, reports UN refuge agency UN News 18 Dec 2020 -- Attacks by armed groups in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia and Niassa provinces have displaced more than 530,000 people, many of whom have been forced to move multiple times, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.
- UN Appeals for $254 Million to Assist Victims of Violence in Mozambique VOA 18 Dec 2020 -- The United Nations is appealing for $254 million to provide life-saving assistance for 1.1 million people caught in a devastating cycle of violence and abuse in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province.
- Conflict, floods and COVID-19 push South Sudanese into extreme hunger UN News 18 Dec 2020 -- Driven by insecurity, the effects of COVID-19, an on-going economic crisis, and the impact of flooding on livelihoods, three UN agencies called on Friday for immediate humanitarian access to eastern South Sudan's Pibor county, where people are facing catastrophic levels of hunger.
- Pakistan Charges India Is Planning Cross-border Military Attack VOA 18 Dec 2020 -- Pakistan charged Friday that its archrival India was plotting to stage a cross-border military assault against the Islamic nation, warning such an attempt would destabilize the region with "catastrophic consequences."
- US Lawmaker Calls For an Independent Tibet Radio Free Asia 18 Dec 2020 -- Tibet, a formerly self-ruling Himalayan nation, is illegally occupied by China, a U.S. congressman said in a letter addressed this week to President Donald Trump, calling on the U.S. president to recognize Tibet as an independent country.
- Backer Of Kosovar War Veterans Declines To Enter Plea At Hague Hearing RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- The deputy leader of an association of Kosovar war veterans declined to enter a plea before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague on December 18 in a hearing related to witness endangerment and other charges in connection with investigations of possible war crimes.
- Congress To Be Briefed On Massive Cyberattack Suspected To Be Work Of Russian Hackers RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- The FBI and other agencies investigating an extensive cyberattack on U.S. government computer networks will brief members of Congress on December 18 about the intrusion, which officials suspect was carried out by Russian hackers.
- Growing Calls for US to Retaliate for Massive Cyber Hack VOA 18 Dec 2020 -- U.S. lawmakers briefed on the massive cybersecurity breach that has impacted government agencies and the private sector are calling for the country to act, warning that so far, all evidence is pointing to Russia as the culprit.
- Hackers target the US agency tasked with securing the nuclear weapons Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- The US nuclear weapons agency is reportedly targeted by hackers as part of a massive cyber security breach against federal agencies and critical infrastructure.
- International Trio Indicted in Austin for Illegal Exports to Russia US Dept. of Justice 18 Dec 2020 -- A four–count federal grand jury indictment returned in Austin and unsealed today charges three foreign nationals – a Russian citizen and two Bulgarian citizens – with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), and a money laundering statute in a scheme to procure sensitive radiation-hardened circuits from the U.S. and ship those components to Russia through Bulgaria without required licenses.
- The Week In Russia: Something Old, Something New, Something Not So Fluffy RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- As he does, Russian President Vladimir Putin turned to a Soviet-era pop culture reference to get his message across at one point in his 4 1/2-hour annual press conference on December 17, when responding to the only reporter from a Western country that is not Iceland who got to ask a question.
- Tomsk Lawmakers Demand Investigation Into Navalny's Poisoning RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Seven local lawmakers of the Siberian city of Tomsk have called on Russia's Investigative Committee to launch a probe into the nerve-agent poisoning in August of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.
- Swedish Prosecutors Seek Long Prison Terms For Russians Accused Of Attacking Chechen Blogger RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Prosecutors in Sweden are said to be seeking lengthy prison terms for two Russians on trial for allegedly trying to kill an exiled Chechen blogger with a hammer as he slept.
- One And Only Satellite Launch This Year From Russia's Far Eastern Cosmodrome RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Russia has hailed what it says was the first and only commercial launch this year from a space center in the country's Far East that has been plagued by cost overruns and delays.
- Notorious 'Thieves-In-Law' Crime Boss Escapes From Russian Court Building RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Notorious organized crime boss Levan Abuladze - known in the criminal underworld by the nickname Levan Sukhumsky - has reportedly escaped from a Russian court building where he had been brought for a pretrial hearing.
- Russia vows response to Bulgaria's expulsion of diplomat Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- Russia has pledged to respond to Bulgaria's expulsion of a Russian military attaché after Bulgarian prosecutors accused the diplomat of spying.
- Bulgaria Expels Another Russian Diplomat For Spying On U.S. Troops RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Bulgarian authorities have given a Russian diplomat 72 hours to leave Bulgaria, alleging involvement in espionage in the EU and NATO member state.
- Russian Diplomat Expelled From Bulgaria Over Espionage Allegations Sputnik 18 Dec 2020 -- Previously, Sofia expelled two staffers at the Russian trade mission. Moscow criticised the move, stating that Bulgaria had provided no proof that the staffers were engaged in any improper activities.
- Turkey denounces detention of consular official in Greece Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- Police in Greece have detained a Turkish consular official on suspicion of spying, with Ankara saying that the individual's rights have been violated.
- Switzerland Confirms Handing Out Schengen Visas to Chinese Security Agents Radio Free Asia 18 Dec 2020 -- Switzerland has admitted to handing out Schengen visas to agents of the Chinese state, after a report revealed it has scant oversight over what law enforcement officers sent by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) do during their trips to Europe.
- Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on December 18, 2020 PRC MofA 18 Dec 2020
- U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on People's Republic of China Actors Linked to Malign Activities US Dept. of State 18 Dec 2020 -- The Chinese Communist Party's malign activity at home and abroad harms U.S. interests and undermines the sovereignty of our allies and partners. The United States will use all countermeasures available, including actions to prevent People's Republic of China (PRC) companies and institutions from exploiting U.S. goods and technologies for malign purposes. Today's actions mark yet another sign of our resolve.
- Statement from Secretary Ross on The Department's 77 Additions to the Entity List for Human Rights Abuses, Militarization of the South China Sea and U.S. Trade Secret Theft US Dept. of Commerce 18 Dec 2020 -- Today, the Commerce Department added 77 entities to the Entity List for actions deemed contrary to the national security or foreign policy interest of the United States. These include entities in China that enable human rights abuses, entities that supported the militarization and unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea, entities that acquired U.S.-origin items in support of the People's Liberation Army's programs, and entities and persons that engaged in the theft of U.S. trade secrets.
- Commerce Adds China's SMIC to the Entity List, Restricting Access to Key Enabling U.S. Technology US Dept. of Commerce 18 Dec 2020 -- The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the Department of Commerce (Commerce) added Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) of China to the Entity List. BIS is taking this action to protect U.S. national security. This action stems from China's military-civil fusion (MCF) doctrine and evidence of activities between SMIC and entities of concern in the Chinese military industrial complex.
- China's Rift with Australia Raises Regional Risks Radio Free Asia 18 Dec 2020 -- China's growing concern over energy security may complicate plans to punish Australia for its investment restrictions and political policies toward Beijing.
- China-Based Executive at U.S. Telecommunications Company Charged with Disrupting Video Meetings Commemorating Tiananmen Square Massacre US Dept. of Justice 18 Dec 2020 -- Defendant Coordinated with the People's Republic of China to Target Dissidents and Disrupt Meetings
- China urges US to stop 'oppression' of foreign companies Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- China has urged the United States to stop its "unjustified" crackdown on Chinese companies, following reports that Washington plans to add dozens of Chinese companies to a trade blacklist.
- US angers China by warning pacific nations of 'threats' of undersea cable Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- China says the United States is smearing Chinese companies by accusing Beijing of threatening Pacific island nations' security over a bid to build an undersea internet cable, capable of transferring far greater data than satellites.
- Overseas Activists Plan 'Shadow Parliament' to Represent Hongkongers Overseas Radio Free Asia 18 Dec 2020 -- Hong Kong democracy activists in exile have revealed plans to set up an overseas "shadow parliament" in a bid to reflect the city's seven million permanent residents internationally amid an ever-widening crackdown on dissent under a national security law imposed by Beijing since July 1.
- European Parliament Adopts Resolution on Uyghurs Clearing Path For China Sanctions Radio Free Asia 18 Dec 2020 -- The European Parliament has voted in favor of a resolution that could allow the EU to target Chinese officials repressing Uyghurs in northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) under newly adopted laws that allow international sanctions for human rights abuses.
- China Turns Up Heat on Country's Tech Giants VOA 18 Dec 2020 -- In recent weeks, Chinese regulators have cracked down on some of the country's biggest and most powerful technology companies, illustrating the immense market power of these companies, which has drawn concern from the government.
- Congress members urge U.S. to allow name change for Taiwan office CNA 18 Dec 2020 -- Members of the United States Congress on Thursday sent a joint letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the U.S. government to allow Taiwan to change the name of its office in Washington to the "Taiwan Representative Office."
- China to deny entry if Taiwan COVID-19 report mentions 'Wuhan virus' CNA 18 Dec 2020 -- Travelers arriving in China from Taiwan will be denied entry if they provide a nucleic acid report misnamed "Wuhan virus" instead of the name officially designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "coronavirus disease 2019," or COVID-19 in abbreviated form.
- Taiwan airlines to ban travelers' use of 'Wuhan pneumonia' in nucleic acid testing certificates Global Times 18 Dec 2020 -- Two Taiwan-based airline companies have confirmed that all Taiwan passengers to the Chinese mainland should use the right name for the pandemic in the nucleic acid testing certificate - COVID-19 rather than "Wuhan pneumonia," a hostile expression that is used by some pro-secession media outlets in Taiwan.
- Border Residents Wary as North Korea Sends Security College Students to Monitor Them Radio Free Asia 18 Dec 2020 -- North Korea has dispatched about 2,000 students from its National Security College to areas of the country near the Sino-Korean border to interview struggling residents, a listening mission that instills fear in local people, sources in the country told RFA.
- This Week in Iran Policy US Dept. of State 18 Dec 2020
- Iran rejects renegotiation of JCPOA under new US administration Press TV 18 Dec 2020 -- Iran's permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations says there is no necessity for a separate document to revive the 2015 nuclear deal under the new US administration after the Unite Nations atomic watchdog chief called for a new agreement with Tehran.
- Satellite Photos Reportedly Show New Construction At Iran Nuclear Facility RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Satellite imagery obtained by the Associated Press on December 18 shows construction work has begun at a controversial underground Iranian nuclear facility at Fordow, the news agency said.
- U.K. Citizen Sentenced For Attempting To Smuggle Industrial Equipment To Iran RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- A U.K. citizen has been sentenced in Florida to two years and six months in federal prison for attempting to smuggle industrial equipment to Iran.
- Russian, Belarusian Officials Agree On New Level Of Cross-Border Security Cooperation RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Russian and Belarusian authorities last month signed a new cooperation agreement that allows for police and security operations in Belarus by troops from the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia), which is controlled directly by the Kremlin, according to a copy of the deal just made public.
- Chinese Investors File Arbitration Case Against Ukraine Over Motor Sich Investment RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Chinese investors have brought a $3.5 billion arbitration case against Ukraine for blocking the sale of a strategic aircraft engine maker whose fate Washington is closely following.
- CIS Virtual Summit Focuses On COVID, Nagorno-Karabakh, Cooperation RFE/RL 18 Dec 2020 -- Leaders of former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have met online for a virtual summit to discuss issues ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the situation the South Caucasus region following the war over Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
- U.S.-Australia-India-Japan Consultations ("The Quad") Senior Officials Meeting US Dept. of State 18 Dec 2020 -- Senior officials from the United States, Australia, India, and Japan met virtually today as part of regular Quad consultations to advance a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. Today's meeting followed the productive discussions held in Tokyo during the second Quad Foreign Ministers' Meeting on October 6, 2020.
- The United States Takes Actions Against Supporters of the Illegitimate Maduro Regime's Fraudulent Elections US Dept. of State 18 Dec 2020 -- The United States has sanctioned Ex-Cle Soluciones Biométricas C.A. (Ex-Cle C.A.) for their support of the illegitimate Maduro regime's fraudulent December 6 legislative elections.
- Treasury Continues Pressure on Maduro Regime for Role in Fraudulent Elections US Treasury 18 Dec 2020 -- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Ex-Cle Soluciones Biometricas C.A. (Ex-Cle C.A.) for materially supporting the illegitimate President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro Moros, including by providing goods and services that the Maduro regime used to carry out the fraudulent December 6, 2020 parliamentary elections.
- Thailand: UN rights office deeply troubled by treason charges for protestors UN News 18 Dec 2020 -- Thailand's decision to charge protestors with treason is deeply troubling, the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, said on Friday following the arrest of at least 35 activists, including a teenager, in recent weeks.
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