News Briefs – March 11, 2016

France, facing terrorist threat, boosting military reserve

France’s defense minister is trying to recruit thousands more people to join the military reserve to boost anti-terrorism and other defense capacities.

Jean-Yves Le Drian says the military is aiming to increase the number of reservists from 28,000 today to 40,000 by 2018. The idea would be to have 1,000 reservists available on any given day able to deploy around the country.

“More than ever, we need reservists to confront the terrorist threat, unprecedented in scale and shape, weighing on national territory,” he said in a speech March 10.

The move is part of expanded defense spending announced since Islamic extremist attacks last year around Paris that killed more than 100 people. France remains under a state of emergency since the most recent attacks in November. AP

Saudi Arabia concludes 20-nation anti-terror military drill

Heads of state from across the Muslim world are gathered in Saudi Arabia for the conclusion of a three-week-long counter-terrorism military exercise that included 20 participating countries.

The military drills, dubbed “Northern Thunder,” took place in an area near Saudi Arabia’s northern border with Iraq and concluded March 10. The training focused on how to coordinate combat operations and guerrilla warfare tactics among the Muslim-majority countries that are members of a larger counter-terrorism alliance announced by the kingdom in December.

Saudi state television carried images of King Salman seated alongside the heads of state of Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Senegal, Chad and Mauritania, among others.

Troops from Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sudan and Oman also took part in the Northern Thunder exercise. AP

U.S. sending B-2 bombers to Asia amid NKorea tension

The U.S. says it has dispatched three B-2 stealth bombers on a training mission to the Asia-Pacific region amid growing tensions with North Korea.
The deployment was announced Wednesday by U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for U.S. nuclear forces. B-2 bombers are capable of launching nuclear as well as conventional weapons. They are based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

Strategic Command said the bombers will conduct training with the Australian military during the deployment, which amounts to a show of force at a time of mounting tensions with North Korea. North Korea threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes after the United States and South Korea began large-scale war games this month.

Strategic Command declined to say where the bombers will be operating from, or for how long. AP

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