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News Briefs – December 9, 2015

Senators demand transparency in U.S. military justice system

Three U.S. senators say the military justice system’s “cloak of secrecy” needs to be lifted and records from sex crimes cases involving service members should be made readily accessible.
In a letter sent Dec. 8 to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Democrats Barbara Boxer of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii cited an Associated Press investigation that found more inmates are in military prisons for sex crimes against children than for any other offense. Yet the public knows little about these cases.
The senators say the lack of transparency in military legal proceedings “calls into question the integrity of the institution and hides the system’s shortcomings.”
They urged Carter to make military trial records accessible through the same online filing system employed by civilian courts. AP
 

China criticizes closer U.S. defense ties with Singapore

China Dec. 8 criticized enhanced U.S. defense ties with Singapore that include the deployment of U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to the Southeast Asian city state.
A stronger U.S. military presence does “not conform to the common and long-term interests among the regional countries,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying told reporters at a daily briefing.
“So we hope the relevant side does more to enhance mutual trust among regional countries, and thus benefit the regional peace and development,” Hua said.
Her comments followed the signing of an enhanced defense cooperation agreement Dec. 7 between U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen.
Singapore has long provided logistical support for U.S. military ships and aircraft, and the new agreement will take cooperation to a higher level, including in battling nonconventional threats such as piracy, transnational terrorism and cyberdefense, according to a Defense Department statement.
The two officials also welcomed the inaugural deployment of a Poseidon aircraft from Dec. 7 to 14, saying it would help with “maritime security efforts,” among other areas. AP
 

Russia says it’s concerned about bombing of Syrian army camp

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has voiced concern about the reported bombing of a Syrian army camp, without addressing a U.S. claim that Russia was responsible for the incident.
The Syrian government blamed aircraft from a U.S.-led coalition for targeting the army camp in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour Dec. 6, killing three Syrian soldiers and wounding 13. The U.S. denied the claim, and a senior U.S. official military speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly said Monday Washington was “certain” it was a Russian airstrike that hit the camp.
Without commenting on the U.S. claim, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Dec. 8 said it has a “serious concern” about reports of the coalition strike in Deir el-Zour. It said the incident was rooted in the U.S.-led coalition’s reluctance to coordinate with Damascus on its campaign against the Islamic State group. AP

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