Former US Defense Secretary Warned Wednesday that the United States cannot survive without its allies, days after the G7 summit showed President Donald Trump out of step with America’s key partners.
“An oft-spoken admonition in the Marines is this: When you’re going to a gunfight, bring all your friends with guns,” Mattis wrote in the Wall Street Journal, in his first public comments since quitting in a policy dispute with Trump last December.
“A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed,” Mattis wrote.
“Nations with allies thrive, and those without them wither. Alone, America cannot protect our people and our economy.”
Mattis’s opinion column was published just hours before his successor, Mark Esper, gives his first on-camera press briefing since being confirmed as Pentagon chief last month.
Esper has the responsibility of implementing Trump’s demands for a withdrawal of most US troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the policies Mattis fell out with the president over.
Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, said he had to step down after his “concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated,” with the US leadership.
Mattis also blasted the hyper-partisan political atmosphere in Washington as contributing to the erosion of US leadership in the world, saying he had little taste for “the political fratricide practiced in Washington.”
“What concerns me most as a military man is not our external adversaries; it is our internal divisiveness,” he said.
“Unlike in the past, where we were unified and drew in allies, currently our own commons seems to be breaking apart.”
“To preserve our leadership role, we needed to get our own country’s act together first, especially if we were to help others.”
Tehran began making Bavar — which means “believe” — after the purchase of Russia’s S-300 system was suspended in 2010 due to international sanctions.
President Hassan Rouhani attended the unveiling ceremony for the mobile surface-to-air system and ordered it to be added to Iran’s missile defence network, state news agency IRNA reported.
“The long-range Bavar-373 missile system is suited to Iran’s geography with a range of more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) … and competes with Russian and American systems such as S-300 and Patriot,” IRNA said.
The system is “better than S-300 and close to S-400”, Rouhani said in televised remarks after the ceremony, held on Iran’s “national defence industry day”.
Pictures released by his office showed the system mounted on the back of military trucks in Tehran.
Iran installed the S-300 system in March 2016 following several years of delays, after a nuclear agreement reached with world powers the previous year allowed the lifting of international sanctions.
Thursday’s unveiling takes place against a backdrop of rising tensions with Washington since President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions.
Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone with a surface-to-air missile in June for allegedly violating its airspace, which the United States denies.
“If our satellites are threatened, we intend to blind those of our adversaries,” Florence Parly said. “We reserve the right and the means to be able to respond: that could imply the use of powerful lasers deployed from our satellites or from patrolling nano-satellites.”
President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to boost America’s missile defense systems, including by investing in technology to protect against the threat of sophisticated “hypersonic” weapons.
Speaking at the Pentagon, Trump unveiled the Missile Defense Review, a long-awaited analysis of the defensive network of US interceptors that are designed to shoot down an incoming ballistic missile.
Top among the concerns highlighted in the review is the speed at which rivals, particularly China and Russia, are pushing ahead with hypersonic missiles, which can thwart traditional defense systems.
“The US will now adjust its posture to defend against any missile strikes including cruise and hypersonic missiles,” Trump told the military audience.
“We will terminate any missile launches from hostile powers or even from powers that make a mistake. It won’t happen, regardless of the missile type or geographic origins of the attack.”
Flying at low altitude, many times the speed of sound, and able to change direction, hypersonic weapons don’t follow a ballistic arc so are much harder to track and cannot currently be intercepted.
As a result, the Pentagon is urgently looking at ways to enhance its ability to track hypersonic missiles, primarily by using existing sensors that are deployed in space.
“These new technologies produce new threats, and these threats are harder to see, harder to track and harder to defeat,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said.
“To our competitors: we see what you are doing and we are taking action.”
Trump blasted Iran for developing missile technology but notably, he did not mention North Korea, which has developed a ballistic missile arsenal and has conducted several nuclear tests.
Trump ordered the missile defense review in 2017, amid heightened tensions with Pyongyang over its nuclear program — the first such review of America’s ballistic defenses since 2010.
But Trump has since met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in a bid to end the crisis, and he was expected to welcome a top North Korean official in Washington on Friday.
Still, the review itself stresses that North Korea is “an extraordinary threat and the United States must remain vigilant.”
Missiles in space
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which conducted the review, said it would study the feasibility of creating a space-based interceptor system, in which an orbiting craft of some sort would be equipped with missiles that could destroy an incoming warhead while it was in space.
Another focus for the MDA will be developing ways to knock out a ballistic missile immediately after it has launched.
Currently, ground-based anti-missile technologies focus on intercepting warheads while they are in the “midcourse” phase, flying through space.
By attacking the missiles while they are still in their “boost phase” soon after launch, the MDA could add a layer of defense for America and its allies.
One way of doing this would be by adding a new type of missile to F-35 stealth fighters patrolling near a suspected launch site, such as in a hypothetical conflict with North Korea, the MDA said.
“Intercepting offensive missiles in their boost phase would increase the likelihood of successfully countering missile threats, complicate an aggressor’s attack calculus… and reduce the number of midcourse or terminal active defense interceptors needed to destroy the adversary’s remaining offensive missiles,” the MDA said.
The MDA is also looking at ways of boosting its “directed energy” — or laser — capabilities to take out ballistic missiles.
The review was due to be released last year, but its publication saw repeated delays.
The Defence Headquarters has denied owing troops participating in the Operation Sharan Daji in Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto and Birni Kwari areas.
According to a statement on Saturday by the Acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, the allowances of the troops have been paid up to date.
“There is no other special allowance approved from Defence Headquarters than what is being paid to the troops in Operation Sharan Daji, and the troops’ allowances are paid up to date,” he said on Saturday.
Agim also revealed that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has made arrangement for their August allowances to be paid next week.
He urged the troops to remain committed to flushing out criminal elements from the North-Western states.
“I, therefore, urge our gallant troops to remain focused and not distracted as the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olanisakin who is always concerned about the welfare of troops, has approved all your allowances.
“In fact, even the troops’ August allowances have been paid to the Force Commander and arrangements have been completed to pay their August allowances by next week,” he added.
The military authorities also called on the general public to disregard message on the social media suggesting that the allowances of the soldiers are not being paid.
Russia’s military spending fell sharply in 2017 for the first time since 1998 as a slew of Western economic sanctions hit government coffers hard, a closely followed review said Wednesday.
Despite soaring tensions between Moscow and the West, Russia’s military expense last year came in at $66.3 billion (54.9 billion euros), 20 percent lower than in 2016, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.
The last time Moscow was forced to cut spending was in 1998 at the height of a massive economic crisis.
“Military modernisation remains a priority in Russia, but the military budget has been restricted by economic problems that the country has experienced since 2014,” senior SIPRI researcher Siemon Wezeman said, referring to Western sanctions imposed against Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
Russia’s frosty relations with NATO, which have plummeted to their lowest levels since the Cold War, are also driven by sharp divisions over the Syrian conflict and the recent poisoning of an ex-spy in the UK.
Britain and its Western allies have blamed Moscow for the poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England on March 4. Moscow has vehemently denied any involvement.
Russia has largely protected its defence budget up to now, imposing cuts in areas such as infrastructure and education, but 2017 was the first time it had no option but to spread the pain, according to Wezeman.
“It’s no longer possible to keep the defence at a high level or keep it growing,” he said.
“For Russia, it means they may have to swallow their pride.”
‘Cause of serious concern’
All 29 NATO allies, meanwhile, spent $900 billion on the military in 2017, which accounts for 52 percent of total world spending, SIPRI said.
Military spending in both Central and Western Europe rose by 12 and 1.7 percent, respectively, in 2017, triggered “in part by the perception of a growing threat from Russia”.
The United States, which remains the world’s biggest military spender at $610 billion, spent more on its military than the seven next highest-spending nations — China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, France, the UK and Japan — combined, SIPRI said.
The independent institute said world military expenditure reached the highest level since the end of the Cold War at $1.739 trillion in 2017.
“Continuing high world military expenditure is a cause of serious concern,” SIPRI chair Jan Eliasson said in a statement.
“It undermines the search for peaceful solutions to conflicts around the world.”
Following the various attacks in some villages of Plateau state which resulted in the loss of lives and properties, the Defence Headquarters on Sunday visited the state.
This move, it was learnt, is to find a lasting solution, sequel to a fact-finding delegation to investigate the incessant attacks.
The team, led by the Chief of Training and Operation, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Mohammed, had a closed door meeting with heads of security agencies in the state, ethnic groups, religious and community leaders where issues on security and peaceful coexistence were discussed.
It is expected that the meeting will give birth to an accelerated peace in the region, as the state government is set to prosecute anyone caught breaching the peace of the state.
Meanwhile, the Benue state government has appeal to the Federal government to upgrade the status of the state-owned polytechnic to a federal institution, with a view to promoting technical education.
Governor Samuel Ortom made the appeal during a convocation ceremony of the institution, for over 32,000 graduates in the past 10 years.
Mr Ortom had while admitting infrastructural challenges like power supply and water reticulation system faced by the establishment, however gave the assurances that they were being addressed, to encourage the FG in this regards.
The embattled former National Publicity Secretary to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olisa Metuh has told the court that he cannot afford the sum of N1 billion to give former President Goodluck Jonathan to appear as his defence in court.
It will be recalled that Former President Goodluck Jonathan has earlier asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to compel Metuh, to pay N1billion to cover his travel expenses to appear as a defence witness in Metuh’s trial.
Speaking today at the continuation of his trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja with respect to the prayer seeking for a deposit of N1bilion, Metuh says he does not have N1 billion to give the Former President Goodluck Jonathan.
It is his belief that the figure is punitive and meant to frustrate his effort at obtaining evidence that will assist him in the defence of his case.
He adds that it is his view that from the first day he was arrested that the release of the money for which he is standing trial was authorised by the Former President and released by the former National Security Adviser at his prompting.
However, he says that if the application is to save the nation from the embarrassment of docking a Former President, it would have been aborted if the charge against Metuh was not preferred.
Haven gotten this far it is the defendant’s position that this application should be struck out.
Nigerian military authorities have refuted claims of having the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB; Nnamdi Kanu in detention.
The Director of Defence Information; Major General John Enenche who disclosed this on Friday in Abuja did not only refute the claims but added that the military is not in any position to declare Nnamdi Kanu wanted.
He also gave the assurance of the military towards sustaining the protection of lives and property in the country.
“Democracy has come to stay permanently in Nigeria, that is the assurance that we need to give to the public of Nigeria, the unalloyed loyalty of the armed forces of Nigeria to the commander in Chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, grand commander of the Federal Republic is hereby assured.”
While reaffirming the total subordination of the Nigerian military to constituted civil authorities he gave reacted to questions on the whereabouts of the IPOB leader and said Nnamdi Kanu is not in the custody of the military.
“On the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, Nnamdi Kanu is not in the custody of the military.”
The United States is considering lifting restrictions on sales of arms to Nigeria, officials of the U.S. Congress have said.
A delegation from the U.S. Congress told military authorities in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Monday, that the decision was part of efforts by the U.S. to enhance cooperation between both countries in tackling the Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria’s north-east.
The delegation, which was led by Issah Darrel, who is also part of the Judicial Committee of the U.S. Congress, met with the Chiefs of Army, Naval, Defence and Air Staff in a closed door meeting.
The Leahy Law
The U.S. Congress deligation’s visit is coming almost two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari’s visited the U.S. and had talks with President Barack Obama on the war on terror ongoing in north-eastern Nigeria, economic development and other issues of interest to both countries.
At that meeting, President Buhari said: “Regrettably, the blanket application of the Leahy law by the United States on the grounds of unproven allegations of human rights violations levelled against our forces has denied us access to appropriate strategic weapons to prosecute the war against the insurgents. In the face of abduction of innocent school girls from their hostels, indiscriminate bombings of civilians in markets and places of worship, our forces have remained largely impotent because they do not possess the appropriate weapons and technology which they could have had, had the so called human rights violations not been an obstacle.
“Unwittingly, and I dare say, unintentionally, the application of the Leahy law amendment by the U. S. Government has aided and abated the Boko Haram terrorist group in the prosecution of its extremist ideology and hate, the indiscriminate killings and maiming of civilians, in raping of women and girls, and in their other heinous crimes. I believe this is not the spirit of the Leahy Laws. I know the American people cannot support any group engaged in these crimes.
“I therefore strongly appeal to both the Executive Arm and the U.S. Congress to examine how the U.S. Government can provide us with far more substantial counter-terrorism assistance with minimal strings. The longer we delay, the deadlier the Boko Haram gets. At all events, we have re-written the rules of engagement protecting the rights of combatants and in particular safeguarding civilians in theatres of conflict”.
The restrictions on sales of arms by the U.S. to Nigeria is embedded in the Leahy law which prohibited the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign countries that violate human rights with impunity.