News Briefs – July 3, 2017


U.S., Philippine navies patrol troubled waters in Philippines

U.S. and Philippine navy ships have patrolled waters in the southern Philippines, where kidnappings by ransom-seeking Abu Sayyaf militants have sparked a regional security alarm.
U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Arlo Abrahamson says a Navy combat ship, the USS Coronado, and the Philippine navy frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz completed the four-day patrol in the Sulu Sea July 1, adding that the operation was carried out at the request of the Philippines.
Abrahamson says the coordinated patrol was aimed at detecting and deterring threats in the Sulu Sea.
U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson said “our at-sea operations with the Philippine navy demonstrate our commitment to the alliance and deter piracy and illegal activities.”
Abu Sayyaf gunmen have kidnapped crewmen from passing tugboats and cargo ships in the region in recent years. AP

Pentagon OKs 6-month delay in transgender enlistments

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is giving the military chiefs another six months before they begin allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says Mattis made the decision June 30.
A Mattis memo obtained by The Associated Press says he wanted to give the services time to insure the change won’t affect the readiness and lethality of the force.
His decision endorses an agreement hammered out last week by the military service leaders. That plan rejected Army and Air Force requests for a two-year wait and reflected the broader worry that a longer delay would trigger criticism on Capitol Hill.
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, but not allowed to enlist as new recruits. AP

Finland, Sweden join British-led rapid action military force

Sweden and Finland have joined a British-led military rapid reaction force that can either operate alone or jointly with the United Nations, NATO or the European Union.
The two non-NATO members joined the Joint Expeditionary Force June 30 when Sweden’s Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and his Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinisto signed a deal in Stockholm in the presence of British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who called it “a force of friends.”
The unit can consist of up to 10,000 troops from Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It can be used in combat, deterrence or humanitarian support.
In recent years, Finns and Swedes have strengthened their military cooperation with NATO and bilaterally with London and Washington, mainly due to neighboring Russia’s behavior in the Baltic region. AP

Recovered SpaceX booster arrive in LA harbor

The recovered first stage of a SpaceX rocket that launched satellites from California last weekend has been brought to the Port of Los Angeles.
The Daily Breeze newspaper reports the booster arrived June 28 aboard the drone ship on which it landed in the Pacific Ocean.
Southern California-based SpaceX is recovering first stages of its Falcon 9 rockets in an effort to bring down launch costs by reusing hardware.
The latest recovered booster was launched June 25 from Vandenberg Air Force Base with a payload of 10 new satellites for Iridium Communications. AP