News Briefs – May 17, 2019

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Trump says U.S. not ramping up for military conflict with Iran

President Donald Trump is dismissing a report that the U.S. is planning for a military conflict with Iran.
Trump was responding to a May 14 report in The New York Times that the White House is reviewing military plans against Iran that could result in sending 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks American forces or steps up work on nuclear weapons.
Trump says it’s “fake news.” He says he would “absolutely” be willing to send troops, but that he’s not planned for that and hopefully won’t have to plan for that.
He says if the U.S. was going to get into a military conflict with Iran, “we’d send a hell of a lot more” troops.
Trump spoke to reporters May 14 at the White House before traveling to Louisiana. AP
 

Female vets to form House caucus for women who serve

Female military veterans serving in the House say they’re setting up a caucus that advocates for women service members and veterans. That’s because the population of women who serve or have served is climbing, and they have different health issues than male veterans.
And many women with military service don’t know what services the Veterans Administration offers them after they leave. Heading up the bipartisan effort is Pennsylvania Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran and newcomer to Congress.
The new caucus reflects the growing clout military veterans have in national politics after the nearly two decades that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the next 25 years, female former service members are expected account for nearly one in five living veterans. AP
 

Admiral: U.S. hasn’t stepped up sea patrols to confront China

A top U.S. admiral says the Navy has not stepped up maritime patrols to challenge China’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea but is maintaining a “consistent” presence in the disputed waters.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson sought May 15 to reassure regional partners, some of whom have opposing claims in the waters but benefit from good relations with China on other fronts.
Richardson says, “I’ve done the analysis so that I can state with confidence that our level of operations, our presence there, has been consistent over the decades. There’s nothing that has spiked recently.”
He was addressing a maritime security conference in Singapore attended by representatives from 33 navies, including 16 navy chiefs. AP
 

Turkish, Iraqi leaders discuss military cooperation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey and Iraq have discussed a possible deal to increase military and security cooperation between the neighboring countries.
Erdogan spoke to reporters after meetings with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on May 15.
Erdogan also said a pipeline running from Iraqi oil fields to Turkey, which was damaged during the Islamic State group’s presence in Iraq, should rapidly be repaired and become operational.
Turkey is likely to look to Iraq for its oil supplies after the U.S. announced an end to waivers that have allowed Turkey to import from Iran despite sanctions.
The two leaders also discussed the construction of dams following floods in Iraq and as well as the reconstruction of areas devastated by the IS, Erdogan added. AP