October 19, 2018

News Briefs – October 19, 2018

Koreas, U.S.-led UN Command discuss disarming border area

North and South Korea and the U.S.-led United Nations Command are meeting to discuss efforts to disarm a military zone the rivals control within their shared border under a peace agreement between the Koreas.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said that the Oct. 16 talks at the Panmunjom border village mark the first meeting between the Koreas and the U.N. Command to discuss ways to demilitarize the village’s Joint Security Area.
The Korean militaries in past weeks have been clearing mines from the area following a broad agreement meant to reduce military tensions that was forged between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in their summit last month.
The Koreas also agreed to withdraw guard posts and firearms once the demining is complete. AP

Air Force contractor pays $1 million to settle bill-padding claims

A U.S. Air Force subcontractor has agreed to pay $1 million to settle government allegations that it padded its bills.
The U.S. attorney’s office announced the settlement Oct. 15 with Alpha Research & Technology, Inc.
The government alleged that between 2006 and 2011, the Sacramento-area company submitted inflated subcontracting proposals to Boeing, Raytheon and other firms for Department of Defense work.
The government alleged that the proposals included millions of dollars in personal expenses for the company’s owners, Donne and DeAnn Smith, including the costs of a lavish home and luxury cars.
In making the settlement, Alpha doesn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing. AP

U.S. Navy research vessel docks in Taiwan amid China tensions

A U.S. Navy research vessel has docked in Taiwan amid tensions with China over trade and arms sales.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency says the Thomas G. Thompson arrived in the southern port of Kaohsiung Oct. 15 to refuel and make crew changes, but quoted Defense Minister Yen De-fa as saying its visit is “unrelated to military activity.”
China objects to all governmental and military contact between the U.S. and Taiwan, which it claims as part of its territory to be conquered by force if necessary.
China has demanded the U.S. cancel a $330 million sale of parts and support for Taiwan’s U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets and other military aircraft.
Washington has no official relations with Taiwan but is legally obligated to ensure it has the means to defend itself. AP

Slovakia to send soldiers to Iraq to train security forces

Slovakia’s defense ministry says the country will keep its military presence in Iraq after the government approved a plan to deploy up to 42 soldiers there next year to help train Iraqi security forces as part of a NATO mission.
The ministry says the soldiers and military police officers will cooperate with allied forces from Italy and the United States. The plan still needs to be approved by Slovakia’s Parliament, where the coalition government has a majority.
The defense ministry said Oct. 17 that the Slovak soldiers won’t be engaged in combat but will advise Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State militants.
Slovakia sent 25 service members to Iraq in the NATO mission this year. AP

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