News Briefs – August 14, 2019

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U.S. military says Marine from Colorado has died in Iraq

U.S. military officials have identified a Marine who died Aug. 10 in Iraq as 35-year-old Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer of Mancos, Colorado.
In a statement Aug. 11, the Pentagon says Koppenhafer died after being engaged by enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations. In an earlier statement, the U.S. military said a service member had died during an Iraqi Security Force mission in Ninewah province, Iraq, while advising and accompanying the ISF during a planned operation.
Koppenhafer was assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, N.C. AP
 

General orders ethics review of U.S. special operations forces

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command is launching an ethics review of his commando forces because of recent incidents of bad behavior and criminal allegations against troops.
Army Gen. Richard Clarke says he is ordering an overall assessment of the culture and ethics within the special operations force, including how they are recruited and trained.
Clarke’s announcement comes in the wake of several high-profile cases of alleged misconduct by Navy SEALs. Late last month, a SEAL platoon in Iraq was ordered home amid charges of drinking and an alleged sexual assault.
Also last month, a military jury acquitted a Navy SEAL of murder charges involving the death of a wounded prisoner in Iraq in 2017. He was found guilty of posing for a picture with the corpse. AP
 

Charges pending against 12 Marines in migrant smuggling case

Marine Corps officials say charges are pending against 12 Marines at a California base accused of being involved in smuggling, including driving migrants through a heavily secured US border zone near San Diego once they enter the country illegally.
The Marine Corps said Aug. 12 that six other Marines and one sailor detained last month have been released and returned to their command at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. All serve in the same unit.
Those being held include two Marine riflemen who were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents on July 3 driving from the US-Mexico border with three Mexicans in the back of a BMW.
That led to the additional arrests. The two Marines pleaded not guilty in federal court.
Officials gave no further details about the others. AP
 

U.S., 4 Western states urge restart of Serbia-Kosovo talks

The United States and four Western countries said they will help Serbia and Kosovo to restart European Union-sponsored talks aimed at normalizing ties between the former wartime foes.
In a statement released Aug. 13, Britain France, Germany, Italy and the U.S. said they “stand united in our aim to see the full normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia via a comprehensive, politically sustainable, and legally binding agreement that contributes to regional stability.”
A former Serbian province, Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move that Belgrade does not recognize. Talks between the two stalled last year over Kosovo’s decision to impose a 100 percent tax on goods from Serbia.
The statement said the current status quo is “simply not sustainable.” AP
 

U.S. says it’s consulting on Asian missile deployment

A senior U.S. diplomat says Washington is consulting with its allies as it proceeds with plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Asia, a move China says it will respond to with countermeasures.
Washington has said it plans to place such weapons in the Asia-Pacific following the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The U.S. accused the other treaty signatory, Russia, of cheating by developing weapons systems banned under the treaty. However, many analysts say Washington has long sought to deploy intermediate-range missiles to counter China’s growing arsenal.
In a conference call Aug. 13, State Department Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Andrea Thompson said governments would decide whether or not to host such missiles.
“That’s a sovereign decision to be made by the leaders of those governments,” Thompson said. “Any decision made in the region will be done in consultation with our allies — this is not a U.S. unilateral decision.”
U.S. mutual defense treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Australia are considered the prime missile base candidates, although Beijing has warned that any nation that accepts such an arrangement will face retribution, likely in the form of an economic boycott or similar sanctions. AP