News Briefs – March 20, 2017

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Afghan soldier killed after shooting, wounding 3 U.S. troops

An Afghan soldier opened fire March 19 inside a base in the southern Helmand province, wounding three U.S. soldiers before being shot dead.
Navy Cpt. Bill Salvin, a U.S. military spokesman, said coalition forces had killed the soldier “to end the attack,” but Col. Mohammad Rasoul Zazai, an Afghan army spokesman, said the soldier had made a “mistake” and had not fired deliberately.
Several U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan in recent years in so-called insider attacks carried out by Afghan police or soldiers. In October, an Afghan man in a military uniform shot dead a U.S. soldier and an American civilian contractor inside a military base in Kabul before being killed.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents attacked a district headquarters in the Kandahar province using a suicide car bomb, said Samim Khpolwak, a spokesman for the governor. He declined to say how many people were killed or wounded.
A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information, said six police were killed and five others were wounded in the assault, which was claimed by the Taliban.
In the southern Zabul province, an army operation killed 13 Taliban and wounded 11 others, said Gen. Sadiqullah Saberi. He said two Afghan soldiers were killed and three others were wounded by a roadside bomb during the operation.
Two Taliban commanders were killed in an apparent U.S. drone strike in the Barmal district of the eastern Paktika province, said Mohammad Rahman Ayaz, spokesman for the provincial governor. Another 10 insurgents were killed in a separate drone strike in the Dand-e Patan district of neighboring Paktia province, said Gov. Zelmai Wessa. AP
 

NATO top boss: No threat against the Baltics

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance sees “no imminent danger” of a conventional military assault in the Baltic Sea region.
Stoltenberg says “we are worried” about Russia’s actions and possible intentions, but at the same time “it is important that we do not dramatize the situation.”
In recent months, NATO military forces have been deployed into countries bordering Russia after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea prompted fears that other ex-Soviet republics — including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — could be next.
Stoltenberg said March 17 the 28-member alliance sees “almost all the time” fear of terror and cyber-attacks but nothing indicating “a conventional military assault against a NATO country, and not even the Baltic countries.”
He was in Copenhagen to meet with Danish government. AP
 

White House picks Boeing executive as Pentagon’s No. 2

President Donald Trump intends to nominate a Boeing executive to serve as deputy secretary of defense.
The Trump administration has struggled to fill top Pentagon positions, with two of its four previous selections having withdrawn.
A White House announcement March 16 says Trump plans to nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be the No. 2 official at the Pentagon. If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Robert Work, an Obama administration holdover.
The White House also announced plans to nominate a budget chief, deputy budget chief, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, a deputy to the Pentagon’s policy chief, and director of an office charged with providing independent analysis of military programs. AP