News Briefs – July 1, 2019

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Pentagon releases IDs of 2 soldiers killed in Afghanistan

The Pentagon has announced the identities of two soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan.
Killed on June 26 in Uruzgan province were 32-year-old Army Master Sgt. Michael B. Riley and 24-year-old Army Sgt. James G. Johnston.
Riley was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colo. He was from Heilbronn, Germany.
Johnston was assigned to 79th Ordnance Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group, at Fort Hood, Texas. He was from Trumansburg, N.Y.
The Pentagon said July 27 that both men died of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations. No other details were provided. AP
 

Report: China fighters buzz Canada warship in East China Sea

A report says two Chinese fighter jets buzzed a Canadian warship operating in international waters in the East China Sea at a time of heightened tension between Beijing and Ottawa.
Canadian Global Affairs Institute fellow Matthew Fisher wrote that the Su-30 fighters flew within 980 feet of the bow of the frigate HMCS Regina.
Fisher, who was aboard the ship, said that although the display was more aggressive than previous encounters between the Canadian Navy and Chinese warplanes, it was not considered dangerous.
China was incensed by Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, in December at the request of the U.S. It has arrested two Canadians for alleged spying and last week suspended imports of Canadian meat products. AP
 

Judge bars Trump from using $2.5B to build border wall

A federal judge has prohibited President Donald Trump from using $2.5 billion in military funding to build high-priority sections of his prized border wall in California, Arizona and New Mexico.
The judge in Oakland ruled June 28 in two lawsuits that use of the money is unlawful.
The administration is expected to appeal.
The president declared a national emergency in February so that he could divert military money to building the wall — his signature campaign promise — after a bruising battle with Congress. Pending legal action, construction could have begun as early as Monday.
The judge rejected use of $2.5 billion the Pentagon had earmarked for fighting drugs but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal is expected to weigh in on the same issue next week. AP
 

Additional U.S. fighter planes sent to Gulf amid Iran tensions

Nearly a dozen Air Force F-22 stealth fighters have deployed to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, part of a force buildup requested by U.S. Central Command in May in response to what it called heightened Iranian threats against American forces in the region.
The Air Force arm of U.S. Central Command on June 28 said the F-22 Raptors arrived this week at al-Udeid air base to “defend American forces and interests.” It posted to its website photos of several F-22s arriving there on June 27 and said this is the first time F-22s have deployed to al-Udeid, which is a hub for U.S. air operations in the Middle East.
F-22s, which carry air-to-air missiles and can perform ground-attack missions as well, had previously deployed to al-Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates, where they were used last year in support of U.S. and partner forces in Syria.
Four B-52 strategic bombers were deployed to al-Udeid days after a May 5 White House announcement that the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group also was being rushed to the region in response to “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” and as a “message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
At the request of Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of Central Command, additional Patriot air-and-missile defense systems also were sent to the Gulf region in recent weeks. He also is receiving additional surveillance and intelligence-gathering aircraft to improve the military’s ability to monitor potential Iranian threats against shipping in the Gulf area. AP