PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called on Wednesday for a halt to island-building by China and other parties in the South China Sea and an end to militarization of the territorial disputes in the region.
Carter said the United States would be the principal security power in the region for decades to come, and that the U.S. military’s airplanes and warships would continue to operate in the region wherever permitted under international law.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two children were likely killed by a U.S. air strike in Syria in November, the U.S. military said on Thursday, the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged civilian casualties since it began an air campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
Two noncombatant adults also received minor injuries in the November air strikes, which targeted an explosives manufacturing facility operated by the al Qaeda-linked Khorasan Group, the U.S. military’s Central Command said after an investigation of the reported casualties.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. assurances that Islamic State rebels were on the defensive even as they drove Iraqi forces from the key city of Ramadi are typical of the often unwarranted optimism that has characterized U.S. public comments on the conflict, analysts said on Tuesday.
In the period before Iraqi troops retreated over the weekend, senior U.S. military officials played down the strategic importance of the city, the capital of the vast western Anbar province, and said advances being trumpeted by Islamic State social media were just short-term gains.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Marine Corps helicopter was declared missing on Tuesday with six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers aboard as it was ferrying rice and tarps to earthquake victims in rugged terrain in Nepal, near a town hard hit by the latest deadly aftershocks.
Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said reports from the field indicated the helicopter’s crew was overheard talking about fuel problems before U.S. military officials lost contact with the light attack helicopter.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China embarked upon extensive land reclamation efforts at five outposts in the disputed Spratly Islands last year, adding huge amounts of terrain to bolster its civil and military presence in an area claimed by rivals, a new Pentagon report said on Friday.
Chinese building and land-filling efforts have accelerated this year, with the total acreage added to the outposts in the South China Sea growing from 500 in December to about 2,000 today, a U.S. defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Calling Republican defense spending plans a “road to nowhere,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter appealed on Wednesday for lawmakers to work with him toward a new bipartisan budget deal to provide stable funding for a U.S. military hurt by years of steep cuts.
Carter told a Senate appropriations panel that Republican efforts to try to meet President Barack Obama’s defense funding request were well-intentioned but would not give the Pentagon the flexibility it needed and ultimately would lock in budget cuts Obama has threatened to veto.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sexual assault in the U.S. military declined over the past two years, and studies found that men and women experience the crime in different circumstances, offering new insight into curbing the problem, the Pentagon said in an annual report on Friday.
Officials said a 27 percent drop in the prevalence of sexual assault, coupled with an increase in the number of people actually reporting the crime was positive news because it showed Pentagon efforts to fight the problem were bearing fruit.
DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iranian patrol boats intercepted a cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday and forced it into Iranian territorial waters by firing shots across its bow, prompting the U.S. Navy to send a destroyer and reconnaissance plane to monitor the situation.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats confronted the MV Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel, as it was traversing one of the world’s most important oil shipping channels and forced it to divert toward Larak Island near Bandar Abbas, where it was boarded by Iranian forces, U.S. officials said.
DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iranian forces boarded a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Gulf on Tuesday after patrol boats fired warning shots across its bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters, the Pentagon said.
U.S. planes and a destroyer were monitoring the situation after the vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, made a distress call in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important oil shipping channels.
MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday that U.S. troops were training Ukrainian forces in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, but the Pentagon flatly denied it, accusing Moscow of a “ridiculous attempt” to obscure its own activity in the region.
Interfax quoted Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov as saying U.S. troops were training Ukrainian forces not only in western Ukraine “as Ukrainian TV channels show, but directly in the combat zone in the area of Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk and Volnovakha.”