US Navy Defies Trump, Proceeds In Effort To Expel SEAL

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 21, 2019 Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher walks into military court in San Diego, California. SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP.

 

The US Navy will proceed in its effort to oust a member of its elite SEAL commando unit, an official said Saturday, defying the wishes of President Donald Trump.

Edward Gallagher had been accused of war crimes in a high-profile case but was found guilty only of a lesser offense. On November 15, Trump reversed the demotion handed down to the 40-year-old under his conviction.

The Navy this week launched a procedure under which a peer review board could strip him and three other members of his unit of their Trident pins — effectively booting them from the SEALs.

READ ALSO: US Vice President Visits Troops In Iraq

A rankled Trump declared on Twitter on Thursday that “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin.”

On Saturday, however, a senior Pentagon official who requested anonymity in order to speak freely said the “peer review board is proceeding.”

Whether Gallagher can remain in the unit or not will be determined by a panel of Navy SEAL officers that is set to convene in December.

The move came as multiple US news outlets reported that Navy Secretary Richard Spencer had threatened to resign over the affair, a claim he sharply denied.

“Contrary to popular belief, I am still here. I did not threaten to resign,” Spencer said, speaking at a forum in Halifax, Canada.

The US Navy chief said he did not consider Trump’s tweet to be a formal order.

“I need a formal order to act,” Spencer told reporters on the sidelines of the forum.

According to the US Constitution, the president is the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.

Gallagher, a 15-year Navy SEAL, had been accused in the stabbing death of a wounded Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017, attempted murder of other civilians and obstruction of justice.

In July, he was acquitted of charges related to those accusations, but was convicted of a lesser charge — posing with the slain fighter’s body in a group picture with other SEALs.

As a result, he was demoted one rank, from chief petty officer to petty officer first class.

Gallagher’s case had been championed by Fox News, which the president follows closely.

Britain’s Top General Warns Of ‘Reckless’ Russia Threat

 

Britain’s top military adviser accused Russia on Sunday of “reckless” behaviour that violated international norms and risked sparking a war.

Chief of Defence Staff General Nick Carter said Moscow was operating in a “grey zone” that weaponised information and used unattributable proxies in conflicts.

He pointed to covert operations by the Wagner Group — a private army the Kremlin denies funding — in Syria and Africa as well as disinformation campaigns as two types of new threats.

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“Russia is much more assertive than it was 10 years ago. It’s got some self-confidence now as it reasserts itself as a global power,” Carter told BBC television.

“Cyber is part of that, what happens in space is part of that, disinformation, subversion, manipulation, assassinations, and of course the use of mercenaries, which are very easily undeclared and non-attributable,” he said.

“Reckless behaviour and the lack of respect for international law relating to these new types of ‘weapons’ risks escalation that could easily lead to inadvertent miscalculation,” Carter separately wrote in The Sunday Telegraph.

Russian President Vladimir Putin flatly denies the Kremlin’s involvement in cyber and ground operations that Western intelligence agencies and analysts pin on Moscow.

But Carter said this “deniability” is a tactic now being perfected by Britain’s main foes.

His media appearances are timed to remind Britons of the challenges they still face on Remembrance Sunday — the day the country honours those who fought and died in World War I and subsequent conflicts.

It also comes with US President Donald Trump wavering on Washington’s commitment to the NATO military alliance and French President Emmanuel Macron promoting the idea of a European army.

Britain wants to preserve NATO as it prepares to leave the European Union after nearly 50 years.

“I have seen absolutely no evidence of any military planning to suggest that we are going to have a European army, and no declaration to that end has been made,” Carter told the BBC.

Military Hands Over 86 Boko Haram Child Fighters To Borno Govt

 

The Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) has handed over 86 Boko Haram child fighters who voluntarily surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole to the Borno State Rehabilitation Centre in Bulumkutu.

The Acting Director of Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this in a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Thursday.

He explained that this was in an effort to ensure that minors and other repentant Boko Haram fighters in the North East were given the necessary support and opportunity to embrace peace through the auspices of OPSC.

“Following the handover, the repentant child fighters would undergo comprehensive Child Care Programme sponsored and organised by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in conjunction with Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development,” he said.

According to Nwachukwu, the handover ceremony was witnessed by the Borno State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Zuwaira Gambo, and a UNICEF official, Mr Clement Adams, among others.

Gambo and Adams congratulated the repentant children for laying down their arms and urged them to take advantage of the Deradicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) programme to turn a new leaf and abandon the senseless struggle.

 

The spokesman for the Defence Headquarters noted that the minors were considered suitable for the six months DRR programme after thorough profiling and screening.

He also revealed that arrangement was ongoing to transfer another set of 500 repentant insurgents to OPSC for the programme.

OPSC is a military-led non-kinetic multi-national and multi-agency humanitarian operation conducted in tandem with extant international humanitarian laws to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram terrorists in the North East to shun violent extremism.

It is designed to also deradicalise, rehabilitate and reintegrate repentant Boko Haram combatants who willingly surrender to troops.

The operation, according to Nwachukwu, is a global model that enjoys collaboration and support from local and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), as well as multi-national organisations such as UNICEF, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), and North East Regional Initiative (NERI).

He conveyed the call by the military to willing Boko Haram insurgents to abandon the “futile struggle” and surrender to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.

The DHQ spokesman gave assurance that those who voluntarily surrender to troops would be guaranteed safety and benefit from the DRR programme.

He said the military remains committed to strict adherence to the rules of engagement and other extant laws, especially as it relates to minors in conflict situations.

Kaduna Abductions: Govt To Establish Military Formation In Igabi

A file photo of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai. Photo: Twitter

 

 

The Kaduna State government has vowed to facilitate the establishment of a military formation in Igabi Local Government Area of the state.

This followed the rising cases of kidnappings, rural banditry and other related crimes at Rigasa and Nariya communities in Igabi.

In a bid to tackle such prevailing security challenges, Governor Nasir El-Rufai announced plans by the state government to engage in activities that would lead to the establishment of a military formation in the area.

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The governor made the promise when he visited the communities to commiserate with them over the recent abduction of several residents by suspected kidnappers who operate from a nearby forest.

He gave assurance that his administration would continue to empower security agencies in order to make the entire state safer for the citizens.

Governor El-Rufai, who visited the communities in company with some government officials, urged the residents to live in peace with one another.

He insisted that the government would step up efforts to improve security in the area, while the Chairman of Igabi LGA called on the residents to expose all criminal activities in their domains.

Nariya, a border community between Kaduna and Niger States, has been notorious over the years for various crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, rural banditry, and cattle rustling among others.

While Rigasa has witnessed the same incidents, over 30 people were said to have been kidnapped from their homes by bandits who camp in a nearby forest.

One of the residents, Aliyu Yushau, also said the bandits occasionally kidnap travellers along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway and hold them hostage inside their camp.

According to him, many residents have also fled from their homes to neighbouring villages while the majority of the roads in the community are inaccessible, making rescue efforts difficult during emergencies.

Bandit Attacks: Victims Demand Military Formation In Kaduna LG

Bandits Kill Two Air Force Personnel In Kaduna

 

Victims of recent bandit attacks in 17 communities of Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State have appealed to the Federal Government to establish a military formation in the area.

They also requested that troops be deployed in forests around the area to forestall such attacks that have forced over 2,000 people from their homes.

The Chairman of Igabi LGA, Khamis Rigasa, and representatives of the affected communities made the appeal when officials of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons visited the camp of the displaced persons in Birnin Yero community.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Governors Forum Meets In Abuja

The officials led by the Federal Commissioner, Senator Basheer Mohammed, were at the camp to present relief materials worth millions of naira to the victims as part of the government’s efforts to cushion their suffering.

Some of the items donated included mattresses, bags of rice, grains, cartons of noodles, kegs of oil, and blankets among others.

The residents call for the deployment of personnel of the Nigerian Air Force and other forces inside the bush where the bandits camp to strategise before attacking communities.

According to them, the attacks have disrupted socio-economic activities in the affected communities, and they are not sure when they will return to their homes.

Over the years, many communities and travellers have come under heavy attacks by bandits and gunmen suspected to be kidnappers in some parts of Kaduna, leading to the loss of several lives and property with millions of naira.

At least 17 villages in Igabi LAG were attacked by bandits on Sunday last week, displacing hundreds of people including children and women.

Having sacked from their homes by the bandits, the victims are taking refuge at a primary school in Birnin Yero community located along the Kaduna-Zaria Road until normalcy returns to the affected area.

Military Action Alone Won’t Tackle Insurgency, UN Tells Nigerian Govt

 

The United Nations has advised the Nigerian government to step up its fight against insurgency as military action is not enough to address the situation in the North East.

UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, gave the advice in a statement.

The UN humanitarian chief who visited Nigeria recently said he has watched with growing concern the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Borno State.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s First Female Science Graduate, Deborah Jibowu Dies At 95

He was clear that military and security measures against the insurgents were a necessary and legitimate part of the response led by the government.

He appealed that the military should be cautious in its effort at fighting the insurgents and avoid worsening the condition that the devastated victims had already found themselves in.

Lowcock said, “Military action needs to be proportionate and avoid adding to the plight of civilians, huge numbers of whom have suffered terribly as a result of the actions of the terrorists and insurgents. And military action on its own will not solve this problem.

“It is, therefore, extremely important that the Nigerian Government, including through institutions like the North East Development Commission, is also implementing wider measures to address the root causes of the crisis, relieve humanitarian suffering, and promote stabilisation, recovery, and development. I strongly support these measures.”

 

Hungry Victims?

The UN humanitarian chief thanked the government and others who between 2016 and 2018 made successful efforts to regain control of areas previously ravaged by the insurgents, leading to the return of more than two million displaced people.

He was, however, worried that no fewer than seven million people currently need humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states.

Lowcock added that renewed violence, most of it perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents, has sparked an upsurge in forced displacement in Borno, with more than 140,000 people forced to move in 2019 alone.

He said, “Many farmers have missed multiple planting seasons and more than three million people are food insecure.

“I am glad to have had the opportunity during my visit this week to review the situation with senior figures in the Nigerian government, with the military and other authorities in Borno, with international, national and local NGOs, and others.”

The UN humanitarian chief insisted that NGOs – through their rich networks and capacity to reach people, and their expertise and experience in operating at the community level – have a very important role to play in the fight against insurgency.

He pointed out that the UN and humanitarian partners have supported the humanitarian response in the North East since the beginning of the crisis and have so far provided critical and life-saving assistance to more than 3.8 million people in 2019.

 

Groups Resume Operation

Lowcock said they have been operating in the most challenging circumstances such that a total of 38 UN and NGO workers, most of them Nigerian, have been killed since 2011.

He added that 10 aid workers have died as a result of violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and other criminal groups in the past 18 months while six others were still missing.

The UN humanitarian chief stressed that all humanitarian organisations working in Nigeria which receive support from the international community have operated in full compliance with international standards, including counter-terrorism related conditions, national laws, and humanitarian principles.

He explained that operating in such a manner was that not only a matter of principle but was required as a practical condition of funding from the major donors.

“It is important to recognise that all the international NGOs working in the North East are authorised to do so through the government registration process and local approvals from the relevant authorities.

“I have received assurances from the relevant authorities that the suspension of the activities of Mercy Corps and Action Against Hunger announced in September will be lifted in the next few days,” he confirmed.

Lowcock believes this will allow an immediate resumption of life-saving assistance to nearly 400,000 people who have been without food and other essential help for the last month.

He said the government also planned in the next fortnight to bring together all the relevant stakeholders, including the UN and NGOs, to discuss the shared challenges in Borno.

“I greatly welcome all this. Enhanced dialogue between the Government and the international community, including international NGOs, in pursuit of the shared goals of bringing peace, promoting recovery, and assisting and protecting innocent civilians in the north-east who have been the main victims of the conflict is in everyone’s interest.

“The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, and his team based in Nigeria remain at the disposal of the Government and others in support of those goals,” Lowcock added.

Chile President Declares State Of Emergency After Violent Protests

Protesters gesture as the Macul Metro station burns during a mass fare-dodging protest in Santiago, on October 19, 2019. JAVIER TORRES / AFP

 

Chile’s president declared a state of emergency in Santiago Friday night and gave the military responsibility for security after a day of violent protests over an increase in the price of metro tickets.

Throughout Friday, protestors clashed with riot police in several parts of the capital and the subway system was shut after attacks on stations in some of the worst violence the city has seen in years.

At least 16 buses were torched and a dozen metro stations totally destroyed.

Around midnight President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency and appointed Major General Javier Iturriaga del Campo as head of national defense.

“The objective of this state of emergency is very simple but very profound: to ensure public order and peace for the inhabitants of Santiago,” Pinera said in a statement.

The state of emergency is initially for 15 days and restricts freedom of movement and assembly. Due to the emergency, the National Football Association has suspended matches this weekend.

General Iturriaga said the military would patrol major trouble spots in the city of seven million but would not impose a curfew at present.

“We are not going to restrict any personal freedom for now,” he said.

Violent clashes escalated as night fell and the headquarters of the ENEL Chile power company and a Banco Chile branch, both in the city center, were set on fire and several metro stations hit with Molotov cocktails. The ENEL tower blaze was put out with no one injured, firefighters said.

Barricades were erected in several parts of the city and masked protestors armed with sticks and stones clashed with riot police, who repelled them with water cannon and tear gas.

Residents in many districts of Santiago banged their pots in a show of support for the protestors.

 

Attacks on Metro Stations

The unrest started as a fare-dodging protest mainly by students against the hike in metro ticket prices, which increased from 800 to 830 peso ($1.13 to $1.17) for peak-hour travel, following a 20 peso rise in January.

The fare hike was blamed on rising oil prices and a weaker peso.

There had been several fare-dodging actions in recent days, organized on social media, but the protests escalated Friday, tapping into general discontent among many Chileans amid an economic slowdown and calls for reforms to labor and tax laws and the pension system.

Attacks on metro stations forced the closure of the entire subway system — the key form of public transport in the congested and polluted city, carrying three million passengers a day.

“The entire network is closed due to riots and destruction that prevent the minimum security conditions for passengers and workers,” the metro operator said on Twitter, after attacks against nearly all the 164 stations where many gates and turnstiles were destroyed.

The Santiago Metro, at 140 kilometers (90 miles) the largest and most modern in South America, is expected to remain closed this weekend and could reopen gradually next week.

Closure of the metro forced many Santiago residents to walk home, sometimes long distances, resulting in scenes of chaos.

Pinera slammed the protestors as criminals.

“This desire to break everything is not a protest, it’s criminal,” he said in a radio interview.

On Thursday, 133 people had been arrested for causing damage to metro stations, estimated at up to 500 million peso ($700,000).

Two Killed As Spanish Military Plane Crashes

 

A light Spanish air force aircraft crashed Wednesday into the sea off the southeastern coast, killing its pilot and his student, the air force said.

The propeller plane was on a training flight when it crashed into the Mediterranean near the coastal town of San Javier in the region of Murcia, it said in a tweet. The plane belonged to military training academy.

San Javier city hall ordered area beaches to be closed until further notice in the wake of the accident.

Last month a military flight instructor died after his small jet crashed at sea in the same area.

He was able to eject before the plane hit the water but his remains were later found.

AFP

Security Threats: US Pledges More Support For Nigerian Air Force

 

 

The United States of America (USA) Government has again assured the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) of its continued support in combating emerging security threats in the Country.

This assurance was given on Wednesday by the Adjutant General California National Guard, Major General David Baldwin, when he paid a courtesy call on the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at Headquarters NAF Abuja.

The Adjutant General reiterated the commitment of the US Military towards strengthening the existing Military-to-Military partnership as well as in ensuring the efficient execution of the contract between the Governments of Nigeria and the USA for the delivery of 12 Super Tucano aircraft to the NAF.

He added that the US Military would also be willing to further collaborate with the NAF in the areas of Air-Ground Integration, intelligence gathering, sharing and pilot training as well as capacity development for cyber warfare, amongst others.

READ ALSO: Three Killed As Troops Rid Borno Village Of Terrorists

He also noted that the story of the successes recorded in the counter insurgency (COIN) operations in the Northeast of Nigeria would not be complete without due mention of the support and contributions of the US Military and Government to Nigeria.

In his view, he said it was in the interest of the International Community to have a secure and stable Nigeria, given the devastating effects a destabilized Nigeria would have on West Africa and Africa as a whole.

Air Marshal Abubakar, who further solicited for the support of the US Military to achieve the establishment of an Air-Ground Integration School in Kaduna, also lauded the magnanimity of the US Military for training several NAF pilots, including the first Nigerian female fighter pilot, Flying Officer Kafayat Sanni, who, he said, would be winged sometime in the month of October.

The CAS also solicited assistance for the provision of spares and technical support in maintenance of C-130 Hercules aircraft, noting that the NAF had conducted in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) on 2 aircraft and would soon commence work on the third one.

He also stated that the US could still support with additional capability to enhance the process and CAS equally intimated the Adjutant General on the NAF’s preparedness to receive the Super Tucano aircraft.

However, as partners, Nigeria and the California National Guard have had over 100 Military-to-Military bilateral engagements including: Military Intelligence, Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Training, Combat Medic, Military Aviation as well as Military Law and Disaster Response/Emergency Management.

US Military Probes Reported Downing Of Drone In Yemen

 

The US military said Wednesday it is investigating reports that one of its drones was destroyed by Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen, amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The US Central Command said in a statement the drone was operating “in authorized airspace over Yemen,” but did not confirm that it had been shot down.

“We have been clear that Iran’s provocative actions and support to militants and proxies, like the Iranian-backed Huthis, pose a serious threat to stability in the region and our partners,” it said.

The Huthis on Tuesday circulated images on Twitter showing a ball of fire in the night, which they said was a US drone shot down over Damar, a community southeast of Sanaa.

They said they destroyed the drone with a rebel-made missile. They also posted images of pieces of an aircraft with English lettering on it.

AFP

‘Don’t Spare Bandits’, President Buhari Orders Military

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the military not to spare bandits in their efforts to restore peace and security in the country.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu, the president said this while addressing 15 officers and 160 soldiers of the 17th Army Brigade and Nigerian Air Force 213 Operational Base in Katsina, under the “Operation Hadarin Daji’’, at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Airport.

“This group was formed by the military to secure the geo-political zone from the activities of bandits. Fundamentally, it is your responsibility to secure the country.

“As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I believe you are capable of doing it. I don’t think you should spare any bandit. Identify and eliminate them. Pursue them anywhere you can find them and eliminate them,’’ he said.

“Nigeria deserves peace. The rainy season is good and we are already achieving food security, but we need peace. The money saved from food importation will be used to purchase arms for operations”.

Read Also: Buhari Returns To Abuja From Daura

Flanked by Governor Aminu Bello Masari, the president assured the troops that the Federal Government will provide all the necessary support for the restoration of peace in the country.

 

“We will give you all the right equipment so that you can deal with them with despatch. I appreciate all your efforts but you can do more. I don’t want any bandit spared,” he said.

He, however, urged them to remain diligent in the discharge of their duties.

According to him, all those in office are being sustained by the ordinary people, and the security agencies owe the people a duty to protect their lives and property.

Two Dead In Explosion At Russian Military Base

A picture taken on November 9, 2011 shows buildings at a military base in the small town of Nyonoska in Arkhangelsk region. Photo: AFP

 

Two people were killed Thursday in an explosion at a military base used for missile tests in the far north of Russia, the defence ministry said in a statement to news agencies.

Authorities in the nearby city of Severodvinsk said radiation levels briefly rose after the blast, but the defence ministry said levels were “normal”.

“During the test of a liquid propellant jet engine, an explosion occurred and the equipment caught fire,” the ministry said of the incident in the small town of Nyonoska.

“As a result of the accident, six defence ministry employees and a developer were injured. Two specialists died of their wounds,” it said.

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“There’s no radioactive contamination,” a spokeswoman for the Arkhangelsk region where the base is located told AFP.

Severodvinsk authorities said on their website that automatic radiation detection sensors in the city “recorded a brief rise in radiation levels. Currently the levels have normalised” at 11:50 am (0850 GMT) .

The accident is the second to hit the Russian military in less than a week, after a fire broke out in an ammunition depot in Siberia on Monday, causing huge explosions.

At least one person was killed and eight injured while thousands were evacuated from their homes following the blaze at the depot in the Krasnoyarsk region.