News Briefs – August 12, 2019

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Pentagon chief visits Mongolia to strengthen military bonds

The head of the U.S. Defense Department visited Mongolia to strengthen the military bonds between the U.S. and the landlocked democracy sandwiched between Russia and China.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s 24-hour stop in Mongolia on Aug. 8 comes as Esper spends a week traveling across the Asia Pacific. For the U.S., countering China’s aggressive and destabilizing activities in the region is a top administration priority.
Esper says he has no specific goals for the visit involving how the Pentagon can expand its military cooperation with Mongolia. Instead, he says he wants to build stronger relationships at senior defense levels.
His hosts presented a traditional gift — a sturdy Mongolian horse, a 7-year-old buckskin. Esper named it Marshall, after George Marshall, a U.S. defense secretary and secretary of state. AP
 

Five dead in Russian missile test explosion

Russia’s nuclear agency says five of its employees were killed when a rocket engine exploded during a test at a far-northern military base.
Soon after the Aug. 8 explosion, the Russian Defense Ministry said two people died and four were injured, including servicemen and civilian engineers. It was not immediately clear if the five fatalities cited in a Aug. 10 statement by Rosatom were all in addition to the previously reported deaths.
The explosion occurred at a military shooting range in Nyonoksa in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region. Nyonoksa hosts a navy facility that serves as a base for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles intended for nuclear submarines. AP