News Briefs – January 6, 2016

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U.S. Pacific Fleet shrinks even as China grows more aggressive

When the U.S. wanted to show the world it didn’t recognize what it called China’s “excessive” territorial claims in disputed waters of the South China Sea this fall, it sent a warship near one of Beijing’s newly built artificial reefs.
The move came amid a debate about whether the U.S. has enough ships to meet challenges posed by a fast-growing, increasingly assertive Chinese navy that is unsettling some of its neighbors.
On New Year’s Eve, China announced a long-rumored plan to build its second aircraft carrier, this one with entirely domestic technology.
U.S. Navy officials say vastly improved technology on newer vessels outweighs any disadvantage from a drop in numbers.
Adm. Scott Swift says questions about whether the Pacific Fleet has enough resources are more of a reflection of regional anxieties than its actual capability. AP
 

Arkansas National Guard plans to close 3 armories

The Arkansas National Guard is proposing the closure of three armories in southern Arkansas as part of nationwide cost-cutting efforts.
The armories are in Prescott, Magnolia and Monticello. Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Joel Lynch said officials met with mayors and other leaders in the communities last week to talk about the proposed closures.
The Guard is proposing that the closed armory buildings be turned over to local control, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Arkansas currently has 55 armories, which are used primarily as training centers for guardsmen. Seven armories were closed during the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, after the Guard’s maintenance budget was cut to $8 million from $10.2 million a year earlier.
The final decision on closing the three armories will be made by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The Guard has submitted its proposal to the governor and is gathering community feedback to give to Hutchinson before he makes his decision.
The armories in Prescott, Magnolia and Monticello cost $130,572 to operate in 2015. They were all built in the 1970s and are within 50 miles of newer facilities. AP