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January 14, 2013

News Briefs – January 14, 2013

U.S. mission in Afghanistan to shift to support role

President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai say the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan is expected to shift to a support role later this spring – a few months earlier than expected.

Obama and Karzai were speaking at a news conference Jan. 11 after meeting at the White House on the future of the U.S. role in Afghanistan and the 66,000 American troops serving there.

The leaders say in a joint statement that the military mission will shift from combat to support in the spring. That was originally expected to take place in the summer.

Most unilateral U.S. combat operations should end at that point, with U.S. forces pulling back their patrols from Afghan villages. AP

U.S. to search for World War II missing in Myanmar

The U.S. military is preparing its first search in eight years for remains of American soldiers lost in Myanmar during World War II.
The resumption of the search is a product of the revived U.S. ties with Myanmar after it initiated democratic reforms.

The Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command said Jan. 11 that a coordination team will head to Myanmar Jan. 21 to prepare for a visit by investigators a month later.

About 730 Americans are missing, mostly U.S. air crews that went down in the rugged northern mountains while flying supplies from India to China.

Spokeswoman Michelle Thomas said investigators will spend three weeks in Yangon Division and Mandalay Division, pursuing leads. Another mission is planned for the summer, hopefully to gather enough information to send in recovery teams later. AP

Obama won’t support building ‘Death Star’

A Death Star won’t be a part of the U.S. military’s arsenal any time soon.

More than 34,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the Obama administration to build the ìStar Warsî inspired super-weapon to spur job growth and bolster national defense.

But in a posting Jan. 11 on the White House website, Paul Shawcross, an administration adviser on science and space, says a Death Star would cost too much to build – an estimated $850 quadrillion – at a time the White House is working to reduce the federal budget.

Besides, Shawcross says, the Obama administration ìdoes not support blowing up planets.

The U.S., Shawcross points out, is already involved in several out-of-this-world projects, including the International Space Station, which is currently orbiting Earth with a half-dozen astronauts. AP

Japan holds military drill aimed at island defense

Japan has conducted a military drill apparently aimed at bolstering defense of islands at the center of a territorial dispute with China.
The Defense Ministry says it was the first time the annual drill, held Jan. 13 near Tokyo, was aimed at island defense.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Japan must improve its military tactics in light of the dispute with China. He said Chinese aircraft and sea vessels have infringed upon Japanese territory in waters and airspace around the disputed East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan.

China also claims the islands, calling them Diaoyu. The Japanese government’s purchase of the islands in September triggered violent anti-Japan protests across China.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his government will increase defense spending to strengthen defense of the islands. AP




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