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March 26, 2014

News Briefs March 26, 2014

U.S. military: Budget cuts hurt readiness in Asia

Top U.S. military officers in the Asia-Pacific region say budget cuts could hurt the ability of American forces to respond to a security crisis, including on the Korean peninsula.

Pacific commander Adm. Samuel Locklear says U.S. allies are starting to question U.S. ìstaying powerî as a guarantor of security.

Locklear and Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti who commands U.S. forces in South Korea were testifying Tuesday before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on the defense budget for 2015.

Scaparotti said U.S. forces in Korea are ìfully resourcedî but he voiced concern about the readiness of ìfollow-onî forces that would be needed if a security crisis broke out on the divided peninsula.

Scaparotti said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is less predictable than his predecessor and poses a greater threat. AP

Obama: Russia’s military now controls Crimea

President Barack Obama says there’s no expectation that Russian forces will be dislodged from Crimea by force.

Obama says Russian’s annexation of Crimea isn’t a done deal because the international community isn’t recognizing it. But he says the fact is Russia’s military is in control there.

He says it would be dishonest to say there’s a simple resolution to what’s taken place.

Obama says what world leaders can do is use legal, diplomatic and political arguments to pressure Russia.

Obama also says that the build-up of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border appears to be an attempt to intimidate Ukraine. But he says the troops are on Russian soil and it is Moscow’s right to have troops there.

Obama spoke at a news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. AP

Norway suspends military cooperation with Russia

NATO member Norway has suspended all joint activities with the Russian military through May because of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

The Defense Ministry March 25 scrapped a series of plans, including visits to Norway by Russia’s navy chief and defense minister, Russian warships coming to Oslo for the Norwegian navy’s bicentenary celebrations, and Russian participation in a Norwegian military festival.

Norway had already cancelled a naval exercise with Russia and the U.S. set for May.

Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said Norway will re-evaluate its military cooperation with Russia at the end of May ìin light of the development of the situation in Ukraine, and discuss the issue with NATO allies.

Norway and Russia share land and sea borders in the Arctic. AP

Company hoping to carry NASA astronauts at Michoud

Lockheed Martin is working in New Orleans on parts for a mini-shuttle designed to take NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

It also has two other projects underway at the Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans, where thousands of people built space shuttle fuel tanks until NASA retired the shuttles.

Lockheed Martin vice president Jim Crocker said Tuesday it’s good to see the lights on again.

The company is working for Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nev. – one of three aerospace companies picked in 2012 to build small rocketships to take astronauts to the space station.

Sierra Nevada official Mark Sirangelo says the Dream Chaser vehicles could help with satellite repairs and serve as space laboratories as well as astronaut shuttles. AP




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