News Briefs – March 6, 2019

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Marine jets collide, land safely at Southern California base

WENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.–A U.S. military official says two Marine fighter jets collided in midair, but both pilots managed to land safely at a Southern California training base last month.
First Lt. Frederick D. Walker said March 5 that no injuries were reported in the collision of F/A-18 Hornets on Feb. 28 over Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.
The jets involved are from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
A military safety brief obtained by the Marine Corps Times notes the accident occurred while the aircraft were conducting close-air support training. Officials provided few details, and the extent of the damage to the two Hornets is unknown.
Walker, a spokesman for the 3rd Aircraft Wing, says the incident is under investigation. AP
 

U.S. deploys advanced anti-missile system in Israel

The American and Israeli militaries say the U.S. has deployed a highly advanced anti-missile defense system in Israel for the first time.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, as a testament to the strength of the two countries’ military ties, saying that it makes Israel “even stronger in order to deal with near and distant threats from throughout the Middle East.”
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli army spokesman, told reporters that THAAD arrived in Israel March 4, and had only been deployed a few times elsewhere.
Israeli officials have repeatedly raised concerns about Iran’s development of long-range missiles as well as the Hezbollah militant group’s vast arsenal of rockets and missiles in Lebanon. AP
 

Trump eases restrictions for vets to be Merchant Marines

President Donald Trump is making it easier for active-duty service members and veterans to find civilian jobs by becoming U.S. Merchant Marines, who transport cargo and personnel in peace and war.
Trump signed an executive order March 4 that allows veterans to apply their experience on military ships toward mariner credentialing requirements and waives licensing fees, typically thousands of dollars.
White House adviser Peter Navarro said the action will fill a shortage in Merchant Marines. He said the number of those who have sailed in the last 18 months is below 12,000 and if the U.S. entered into a large-scale military conflict, it could face shortages in Mariners supplying military personnel.
Navarro called it a good opportunity for troops and veterans to find higher-paying jobs that “benefit themselves and this country.” AP
 

Putin suspends Russian obligations under key nuclear pact

President Vladimir Putin on March 4 suspended Russia’s participation in a key nuclear arms treaty, in response to Washington’s decision to withdraw.
In a decree, Putin suspended Russia’s obligations under the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty and said it will continue to do so “until the U.S. ends its violations of the treaty or until it terminates.”
Putin’s order came as Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian military’s General Staff, met in Vienna with U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for talks on strategic stability. The INF treaty was one of the issues discussed in what the Russia’s Defense Ministry described as “constructive” talks.
The U.S. gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the INF a month ago, setting the stage for it to terminate in six months unless Moscow returns to compliance. Russia has denied any breaches, and accused the U.S. of violating the pact.
The U.S. has accused Russia of developing and deploying a cruise missile that violates provisions of the pact that ban production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 310 to 3,410 miles.
The move also reflected President Donald Trump’s administration’s view that the treaty was an obstacle to efforts needed to counter intermediate-range missiles deployed by China, which isn’t part of the treaty. AP
 

Pakistan’s navy says it spotted, warned Indian submarine

Pakistan’s navy says it spotted and warned an Indian submarine approaching its territorial waters in the Arabian Sea not to attempt an incursion.
The navy said in a statement March 5 that the Indian submarine wasn’t targeted, “keeping in view Pakistan’s policy of peace” under which Islamabad wants to de-escalate tensions with New Delhi.
A navy official says the warning was “communicated” to the submarine during Monday’s encounter. The submarine then moved away. He didn’t elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity to talk to reporters.
Tension escalated after India last week launched an airstrike inside Pakistan, claiming it targeted militants behind a Feb. 14 bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.
Pakistan retaliated by downing two Indian fighter jets and capturing a pilot who was later handed back. AP
 

Belarus leader says he wants closer ties to NATO

The president of Belarus, who was once dubbed Europe’s last dictator, says that he is eager for better ties with NATO in the light of talks about the price Russia charges to sell his country oil.
Alexander Lukashenko, who spent a week with President Vladimir Putin in Russia earlier this year, said at a government session on March 5 that his country should seek “relations with NATO based on mutual respect that would help strengthen our country’s security.”
Lukashenko’s comments came amid ongoing talks with Russia over about $400 million that Belarus risks losing ever year after Russia announced a hike in oil prices for Belarus.
Belarus’ ties with the European Union and NATO have been strained for years over a clampdown on civil rights and persecution of dissenters in the country. AP