News Briefs – July 12, 2017

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NATO military drills in Eastern Europe begin in Bulgaria

Major NATO exercises in Eastern Europe began in Bulgaria July 11 involving 25,000 military personnel from more than 20 allied and partner countries as the U.S. seeks to reassure NATO’s European allies.
The Saber Guardian 17 exercises are being led by U.S. Army Europe and run until July 20. The training will also take place in Hungary and Romania, including at the country’s Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base near the Black Sea. The opening ceremony was held at the Novo Selo military camp in southern Bulgaria.
The drills aim to increase the interoperability of participating countries and demonstrate resolve and readiness to act in support of security and stability in the Black Sea region. There will be a total of 18 specialized exercises.
A U.S. European Command statement said the drills are designed as a deterrent. The U.S. has beefed up its presence in Eastern Europe since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula to reassure NATO’s East European members, which were formerly in Moscow’s sphere of influence.
The exercises will feature an air defense artillery live fire exercise, field training and live fire exercises, multiple river crossings and a mass casualty exercise.
The statement said that smaller U.S. and European-national exercises will be held in the Black Sea region this summer to support Saber Guardian’s objectives of “supporting security and stability in the Black Sea region.”
The Saber Guardian exercises have been held annually since 2013 in the Black Sea region. AP
 

China sends personnel to its first overseas military base

China on July 11 dispatched members of its People’s Liberation Army to the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti to man the rising Asian giant’s first overseas military base, a key part of a wide-ranging expansion of the role of China’s armed forces.
The defense ministry said on its website that a ceremony was held at a naval peer in the southern Chinese port of Zhanjiang presided over by navy commander Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong.
It said the personnel would travel by navy ship but gave no details on numbers or units. Photos on the website showed naval officers and marines in battle dress lining the rails of the support ships Jingangshan and Donghaidao.
China says the logistics center will support anti-piracy, U.N. peacekeeping and humanitarian relief missions in Africa and western Asia. It says it will also facilitate military cooperation and joint exercises as the PLA navy and other services seek to expand their global reach in step with China’s growing economic and political footprint.
Djibouti is already home to the center of American operations in Africa, Camp Lemonnier, while France, Britain, Japan and other nations also maintain a military presence in the small but strategically located nation.
Multinational anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden that China joined in 2008 have also given its navy ready access to the Mediterranean, and, in 2011, it took the unprecedented step of sending one of its most sophisticated warships together with military transport aircraft to help in the evacuation of about 35,000 Chinese citizens from Libya.
In 2015, China detached three navy ships from the anti-piracy patrols to rescue Chinese citizens and other foreign nationals from fighting in Yemen. The same year, it took part in its first Mediterranean joint naval exercises with Russia. AP