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American Resistance To Empire

AIR STRIKES have killed “dozens” of militants in a tribal region along the Afghan border

[SEE:  Kabul Will Use ‘All Means’ To End Pakistani Missile Attacks ]

Pakistan: ‘Dozens’ of jihadists killed in air strikes

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AIR STRIKES have killed “dozens” of militants in a tribal region along the Afghan border, the Pakistan military said yesterday.

 

Pakistan had vowed to fight back after a series of suicide bombings last week killed over 100 people, including 88 worshipers at a famed Sufi shrine.

The attacks were claimed by various jihadist groups, which have long operated in the porous border region.

The war planes targeted militant hideouts in the Wucha Bibi area of North Waziristan.

Pakistan carried out a blistering artillery assault on suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan on Friday and Saturday after giving the Afghan government a list of 76 alleged Pakistani terrorists it said were sheltering there.

In response, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan handed Islamabad a list of 85 suspected terrorist leaders that Kabul says have found refuge in Pakistan as well as the locations of 32 insurgent centres it wants Pakistan to destroy.

Is It Treason To NOT Consider Russia As An “Enemy”?

The word is hurled like a thunderbolt: Treason!

There are few more serious charges than taking up the cause of America’s enemies and colluding to undermine the country from within.

Yet that very accusation has been leveled against President Trump by some of his most fevered critics. They cite, among the particulars, the president’s evident high regard for his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, which helped Trump and badly undermined Democrat Hillary Clinton.

It’s not just left-wing celebrities like film director Michael Moore who are wielding the T-word. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat and Iraq war veteran, used it during a CNN interview.

“If members of the administration are essentially conspiring with Russia … that’s the definition of treason,” Moulton said. “This is a very, very serious affair.”

Trump and his top aides have emphatically denied any knowledge of Russia’s efforts to tilt the election, much less involvement. The president has repeatedly insisted he would have won the White House regardless and suggests the focus on Russian interference is a way of undercutting his administration.

“The whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse,” Trump said at last week’s frenetic news conference. “It’s a ruse.”

Casually tossing out political rhetoric is one thing, provocative as it may be. The laws that define treason are quite specific, however, making it unlikely in the extreme the accusations that Trump and his aides conspired against America will go anywhere beyond the purview of late-night comedians and the president’s hardest-core detractors.

What is treason?

It is the one crime that is spelled out in the Constitution. Article III, Section 3 states: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

It is a distinct crime from others covered by law, such as sedition — inciting revolt against the government — or espionage.

What is the punishment for treason?

That was left up to Congress. Lawmakers decreed the mandatory minimum punishment would be five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In the most egregious cases, the penalty is death.

Presumably the accusations against Trump et al don’t go to waging war against the United States but rather the matter of alleged “aid and comfort.”

Yes.

So what does the law say in that regard?

Offering aid and comfort covers a range of activities. Giving shelter to an enemy soldier or providing material assistance to a hostile government would be two examples. Merely sympathizing with a foreign government does not, in itself, constitute treason. The law requires a specific action to be undertaken.

How difficult is it to obtain a conviction?

Very. A guilty verdict requires either a confession in open court or the testimony of two witnesses “to the same overt act.”

How common are prosecutions for treason?

Rare. In the whole history of the country, there have only been a few dozen cases brought to trial. Less than half resulted in convictions.

Wasn’t Benedict Arnold convicted of treason?

Actually, no. Even though he is perhaps the most famous traitor in U.S. history, his collaboration with the British occurred during the Revolutionary War, before the Constitution was drafted.

Perhaps the most celebrated case of treason involved Aaron Burr, in 1807. In what was then known as the “Trial of the Century,” the former vice president was accused of waging war against his young country by allegedly seeking to entice western territories to break away and form their own nation.

President Jefferson helped direct the prosecution from the White House. Nonetheless, Burr was acquitted after a trial presided over by the Supreme Court’s chief justice, John Marshall.

Wow! Sensational stuff!

Indeed. And something we’re unlikely to see replicated anytime soon.

mark.barabak@latimes.com

@markzbarabak 

What is Jamat ul Ahrar?

A complete history: What is Jamat ul Ahrar?

shafaqna

 

Jamt

Once again Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed the responsibility of the blast. The explosion took place during the Chemist and Pharmaceuticals Association protest. Rescue 1122 has arrived at the site of incident. 18 people have lost their lives and almost 72 are badly injured in a blast took place at Mall Road, Lahore.

It was not first deadliest attack of Jamat ul Ahrar but previous year on the ever of Easter a  suicide attack on Gulshan-e-Iqbal amusement park in Lahore, Pakistan had claimed more than 70 lives.

Pakistan is in a state of shock and dismay as eye witnesses on television screens recalled scattered body parts and pools of blood across the park, and hospital officials tweeted calls for blood donations.

Jamaat-ul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahsanullah Ahsan, the spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, said the group had targeted Christians celebrating Easter, although the police are still investigating the claim. Warning Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that “we have entered Lahore”, the capital of the Punjab province and the political power base of Sharif, the militant group threatened further attacks.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has so far launched several attacks on Pakistani civilians and security forces in recent months in an apparent attempt to boost its profile among Pakistan’s increasingly fractured militants, who since June 2014 have been at the receiving end of a fully-fledged military operation in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). So far, the military has killed and arrested hundreds of suspected militants in the operation.

This has eased militant violence to some extent but certain groups, such as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, retain the ability to launch devastating attacks. In March 2015, the group claimed responsibility for two suicide attacks on Christian churches in Youhanabad, Lahore, that killed at least 15 people. The Easter Sunday bombing is the fifth attack by the group since December 2015.

Omar Khorasani is the head of Jamaat-ul Ahrar and former TTP leader of the Mohmand Agency chapter. He established the splinter group in August-September 2014 after he was ousted by the incumbent TTP chief, Mullah Fazlullah, following internal differences.

Jamaat claims to be fighting for the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan. It is likely to have some support in Mohmand, and the other FATA agencies: Bajaur, Khyber and Aurakzai. Some media outlets recently reported the group’s allegiance to Islamic State (IS) but there is no evidence of any active involvement at present.

The latest attack was the deadliest since the December 2014 massacre of 134 children at the Army Public School in Peshawar by the Pakistan Taliban. This attack prompted Pakistan’s civil-military leadership to resolve to take on the terrorists and their facilitators, not only in the tribal areas but also within Pakistani cities.

Protests in Islamabad

Some in Pakistan are of the opinion that the bombing in Lahore may be seen within a broader context. At a Corps Commanders’ conference on March 21, the army chief, General Raheel Sharif, emphasised the need to consolidate gains of military operations for long-term stability.

For this he stressed the escalated pace of intelligence-based operations across the country to destroy the entire terrorist infrastructure in the country.

The very next day an alliance of more than 30 religious groups that run madrassahs and religious charities – and are generally known to sympathise with the militant’s Islamic agenda – set March 27 as the deadline for the Punjab provincial government to withdraw a recent law protecting women that they oppose as un-Islamic.

At the same time, supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, a police guard executed last month for the 2011 killing of the Punjab governor, Salman Taseer, for publicly advocating reform of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, also launched a protest. On Easter Sunday, as the suicide bomber played havoc in Lahore, several thousand Qadri supporters occupied the high-security zone, known as the Red Zone, outside Pakistan’s parliament in Islamabad.

After the complete failure of the civilian administration to control the situation, the army has been deployed and at the time of writing the situation appears to be under control. Whether or not the two incidents are connected is anybody’s guess at the moment.

Military crackdown

It is ironic that despite democratic governments in Pakistan since 2008, it is the military, under the incumbent army chief Raheel Sharif, that the general public sees as willing to take on the militants. Conversely, the Nawaz Sharif government is increasingly perceived as lacking the political will to take on the militant groups in southern Punjab because of parochial political interests.

In the aftermath of the bombing, Raheel Sharif chaired a high-level meeting late Sunday night and ordered concerned commanders and intelligence officials to immediately start operations to detain perpetrators of the attack. According to the latest media reports, an army and paramilitary crackdown is being launched against banned terrorist outfits across Punjab.

The prime minister is due to address the nation on Monday night. It is likely that the government will allow a full-scale paramilitary rangers operation in the Punjab province – something it has been resisting until now. An ongoing operation in the southern city of Karachi already gives powers to the paramilitary rangers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects – a strategy that has brought about some stability in the port city after years of violence and lawlessness.

pk.shafaqna.com

Trump’s New Nat. Sec. Adviser, Maverick, H.R. McMaster

[Trump Chooses H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser]

source

A Russian helicopter flies close to the missile destroyer USS Donald Cook on April 12 in the Baltic Sea.
A Russian helicopter flies close to the missile destroyer USS Donald Cook on April 12 in the Baltic Sea. | Getty

The Secret U.S. Army Study That Targets Moscow

A quarter century after the Cold War, the Pentagon is worried about Russia’s military prowess again.

April 14, 2016

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Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has a shaved head and gung-ho manner that only add to his reputation as the U.S. Army’s leading warrior-intellectual, one who often quotes famed Prussian general and military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz. A decade ago, McMaster fought a pitched battle inside the Pentagon for a new concept of warfare to address the threat from Islamist terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan, Iraq and other trouble spots. Now, his new mission is more focused. Target: Moscow.

POLITICO has learned that, following the stunning success of Russia’s quasi-secret incursion into Ukraine, McMaster is quietly overseeing a high-level government panel intended to figure out how the Army should adapt to this Russian wake-up call. Partly, it is a tacit admission of failure on the part of the Army — and the U.S. government more broadly.

“It is clear that while our Army was engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia studied U.S. capabilities and vulnerabilities and embarked on an ambitious and largely successful modernization effort,” McMaster told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. “In Ukraine, for example, the combination of unmanned aerial systems and offensive cyber and advanced electronic warfare capabilities depict a high degree of technological sophistication.”

In Ukraine, a rapidly mobilized Russian-supplied rebel army with surprisingly lethal tanks, artillery and anti-tank weapons has unleashed swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles and cyberattacks that shut down battlefield communications and even GPS.

The discussions of what has been gleaned so far on visits to Ukraine—and from various other studies conducted by experts in and out of government in the U.S. and Europe—have highlighted a series of early takeaways, according to a copy of a briefing that was delivered in recent weeks to the top leadership in the Pentagon and in allied capitals.

U.S. military and intelligence officials worry that Moscow now has the advantage in key areas. Lighter armored vehicles like those the Army relied on heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan are highly vulnerable to its new weapons. And main battle tanks like Russia’s T-90—thought to be an anachronism in recent conflicts—are still decisive.

McMaster added that “Russia possesses a variety of rocket, missile and cannon artillery systems that outrange and are more lethal than U.S. Army artillery systems and munitions.” Its tanks, meanwhile, are so improved that they are “largely invulnerable to anti-tank missiles,” says retired General Wesley Clark, who served as NATO commander from 1997 to 2000 and has been sounding the alarm about what the Ukraine conflict means for the U.S. military.

Also on display in Ukraine to an alarming degree: Moscow’s widespread political subversion of Ukrainian institutions, part of what experts are now calling “hybrid warfare” that combines military power with covert efforts to undermine an enemy government. Russia has since then also intervened with ground forces and airstrikes in Syria—apparently somewhat successfully—and flexed its muscles in other ways. This week, two Russian fighter jets and a military helicopter repeatedly buzzed a U.S. Navy warship in the Baltic Sea, despite radio warnings.

McMaster’s response is the Russia New Generation Warfare Study, whose government participants have already made several unpublicized trips to the front lines in Ukraine. The high-level but low-profile effort is intended to ignite a wholesale rethinking—and possibly even a redesign—of the Army in the event it has to confront the Russians in Eastern Europe.

It is expected to have profound impact on what the U.S. Army will look like in the coming years, the types of equipment it buys and how its units train. Some of the early lessons will be road tested in a major war game planned for June in Poland. Says retired Army Chief of Staff General Gordon Sullivan: “That is all designed to demonstrate that we are in the game.”

Among those who have studied the Russian operation in Ukraine closely is Phillip Karber, president of the Potomac Foundation and former Marine who has made 22 trips to Ukraine since 2014. “Few in the West have paid much attention to Russia’s doctrinal pivot to ‘New Generation War’ until its manifestation in Ukraine,” says Karber. Another surprise, he adds, “is the relative lack of Western attention, particularly given the unexpected scale and duration of the conflict, as well as the unanticipated Russian aggressiveness in sponsoring it.

Karber says the lethality of new Russian munitions has been striking, including the use of scatterable mines, which the U.S. States no longer possesses. And he counts at least 14 different types of drones used in the conflict and reports that one Ukrainian unit he was embedded with witnessed up to eight drone flights in a single day. “How do you attack an adversary’s UAV?” asks Clark. “Can we blind, disrupt or shoot down these systems? The U.S. military hasn’t suffered any significant air attacks since 1943.”

The new Army undertaking is headed by Brigadier General Peter L. Jones, commandant of the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. But it is the brainchild of McMaster, who as head of the Army Capabilities Integration Center at Fort Eustis, Virginia, is responsible for figuring out what the Army should look like in 2025 and beyond.

Clark describes McMaster’s effort as the most dramatic rethinking since the collapse of the Soviet Union. “These are the kind of issues the U.S. Army hasn’t worked since the end of the Cold War 25 years ago.”

The question is why the U.S. government—and the Army in particular—has once again allowed its attention to be diverted for so long that it has been caught by surprise by a major development like Russia’s enhanced capabilities. While Russian President Vladimir Putin undertook an aggressive military buildup, the U.S. Army actually drew up plans to shrink the active-duty force by some 40,000, from about 490,000 to 450,000 over the next several years. That plan is now in question. A bill recently proposed in the House of Representatives would halt the reduction. And last month, the Alaska delegation successfully got the Pentagon to back down on its plans to deactivate an airborne brigade. One of the justifications that were cited: a newly belligerent Russia.

There is also a question about whether McMaster is the general for the job. For most of his career, McMaster has been a controversial figure. In a book he published earlier in his career, Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, he attacked the generals of the Vietnam era for not admitting frankly that the war was unwinnable. Yet later, when McMaster pushed for a complex strategy of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, critics said McMaster and his fellow so-called “COIN-dinistas” misrepresented and oversold their own war-fighting strategy. Counterinsurgency calls not just for fighting insurgents but for a kind of “hearts-and-minds” campaign to win over local populations through reconstruction, policing and economic progress that usually takes at least a decade.

But the U.S. never intended to stay in Afghanistan or Iraq for that long.

Now reality is taking McMaster in precisely the direction that some of his critics said he and the other COIN specialists needed to focus on more in the first place: orienting the Army to what it does best, confronting conventional adversaries. The question is whether the U.S. military is able to adopt a realistic approach to Russian aggression without getting the nation into World War III.

Oddly enough, the model for the new effort is the Army’s detailed study of a war fought 43 years ago, one that most people have forgotten about. As a guide to this new major review, Politico has learned, McMaster is dusting off the Army’s landmark after-action review of the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Moscow’s then-proxies, Egypt and Syria.

In October 1973, as America’s painful odyssey in the jungles of Vietnam was winding down, a war broke out thousands of miles away that would profoundly change the U.S. Army.

Tank losses in the first six days of the Yom Kippur War were greater than the entire U.S. tank inventory stationed in Europe to deter the Soviet Union when Egypt and Syria launched the surprise attack on Israel. In the most recent major armored battles, during World War II three decades earlier, opposing tank armies faced off at an average of 750 yards. In the Yom Kippur War, it was 3,000 yards or more, a far bigger killing field.

In the aftermath, Army Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams dispatched a pair of generals to walk the battlefields of smoldering armor, obtain damaged Russian equipment and find out what the Army “should learn from that war.”

“The Yom Kippur War had a shock effect on the U.S. Army,” recalls Karber, who participated in what came to be known as the Starry-Baer panel, named for the officers who oversaw it. “It challenged decades of accumulated assumptions.”

What the Army learned from the Yom Kippur War was that “powerful new antitank weapons, swift-moving formations cutting across the battlefield, and interaction between ground formations and the air arm showed how much the world around our Army had changed as we focused on Vietnam,” as one summary of the Starry-Baer report put it. General Donn Starry’s own description of the circumstances four decades ago could easily describe what the Army is confronting today, if the word Vietnam were replaced with Iraq or Afghanistan, and the Soviet Union with Russia.

“Military attention turned back to the nation’s commitment to NATO Europe,” Starry wrote back then. “We discovered the Soviets had been very busy while we were preoccupied with Vietnam. They had revised operational concepts at the tactical and operational levels, increased their fielded force structure and introduced new equipment featuring one or more generations of new technology.”

Fast forward to 2016. After a decade and a half of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond—longer than even in Vietnam—decades of assumptions about warfare are once again being re-evaluated. McMaster and other top generals have concluded that while the United States was bogged down in the Middle East, Moscow focused its energies on rebuilding its own forces to potentially counter America’s tactics.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin Dies Suddenly…Cause of Death Still Unknown

 

 

Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin leaves the General assembly hall after a vote supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, March 27, 2014

© AP Photo/ Seth Wenig

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin died at the age of 64, just a day before his 65th birthday, in New York on Monday.

“A prominent Russian diplomat has passed away while at work. We’d like to express our sincere condolences to Vitaly Churkin’s family,” Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement available on its official website.

Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative Petr Iliichev said about Churkin that he kept working “till the very end.”

“The loss that Russia has suffered is irreplaceable. Ambassador Churkin kept working till the very last moment. He dedicated all his life to protecting Russia’s interests abroad. He was [always] at the front line, taking the most challenging appointments,” Iliichev said.

The representative of the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq said that the UN was shocked by the news, extending their condolences to Moscow:  “We mourn ambassador Churkin, he’s been such a regular presence here that I’m actually quite stunned and our thoughts go to his family and his government.”

Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, took to Facebook to express her grief: “A great diplomat. An extraordinary personality. A brilliant man. We’ve lost a person very dear to us.”

Putin expressed his condolences to the family of late diplomat, as well as to his colleagues in the Foreign Ministry.

“It is with deep sorrow that Russian President Vladimir Putin learned about the death of Vitaly Churkin,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday. He added that Putin held Churkin’s professionalism and diplomatic talent in high regard.

Following the news of the ambassador’s death, the UN began its scheduled meeting with a moment of silence to honor Churkin’s memory.

The late ambassador’s colleagues took to Twitter to express their condolences as well.

No further details concerning the circumstances of Churkin’s death are available at the moment.

Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin was born in Moscow in 1952. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1974, beginning his decades-long career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shortly.

Ambassador Churkin served as Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations since 2006. Prior to this appointment, he was Ambassador at Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (2003-2006), Ambassador to Canada (1998-2003), Ambassador to Belgium and Liaison Ambassador to NATO and WEU (1994-1998), Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation to the talks on Former Yugoslavia (1992-1994), Director of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR/Russian Federation (1990-1992).

Vitaly Churkin was awarded the Order For Merit to the Fatherland of IV degree in 2012.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Florida Court OKs Doctors Probing Into Patients’ Gun Ownership

Florida doctors can ask patients about guns, court rules

foxnews

 

 

A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that Florida doctors can talk to patients about gun safety, declaring a law aimed at restricting such discussions a violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law does not trespass on patients’ Second Amendment rights to own guns and noted a patient who doesn’t want to be questioned about that can easily find another doctor.

“The Second Amendment right to own and possess firearms does not preclude questions about, commentary on, or criticism for the exercise of that right,” wrote Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan in one of two majority opinions covering 90 pages. “There is no actual conflict between the First Amendment rights of doctors and medical professionals and the Second Amendment rights of patients.”

Circuit Judge William Pryor, who was a finalist in President Donald Trump’s search for a Supreme Court nominee, said in a separate concurring opinion that the First Amendment must protect all points of view.

“The promise of free speech is that even when one holds an unpopular point of view, the state cannot stifle it,” he wrote. “The price Americans pay for this freedom is that the rule remains unchanged regardless of who is in the majority.”

The law was passed in 2011 and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott with strong support from the National Rifle Association. It was the only one of its kind in the nation, although similar laws have been considered in other states.

Supporters in the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature insisted it was necessary because doctors were overstepping their bounds and pushing an anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment agenda.

The law was challenged almost immediately by thousands of physicians, medical organizations and other groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union as a violation of free speech in what became known as the “Docs v. Glocks” case. A legal battle has raged in the courts since then, with several conflicting opinions issued.

“We are thrilled that the court has finally put to bed the nonsensical and dangerous idea that a doctor speaking with a patient about gun safety somehow threatens the right to own a gun,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

The 11th Circuit noted that Florida lawmakers appeared to base the law on “six anecdotes” about physicians’ discussions of guns in their examination rooms and little other concrete evidence that there is an actual problem. And doctors who violated the law could face professional discipline, a fine or possibly loss of their medical licenses.

“There was no evidence whatsoever before the Florida Legislature that any doctors or medical professionals have taken away patients’ firearms or otherwise infringed on patients’ Second Amendment rights,” Jordan wrote for the court.

The NRA and Florida attorneys had argued that under the law doctors could ask about firearms if the questions were relevant to a patient’s health or safety, or someone else’s safety, and that the law was aimed at eliminating harassment of gun owners. But the 11th Circuit said there was no evidence of harassment or improper disclosure of gun ownership in health records, as law supporters also claimed.

“There is nothing in the record suggesting that patients who are bothered or offended by such questions are psychologically unable to choose another medical provider, just as they are permitted to do if their doctor asks too many questions about private matters like sexual activity, alcohol consumption, or drug use,” the court ruled.

The ruling did determine that some parts of the law could remain on the books, such as provisions allowing patients to decline to answer questions about guns and prohibiting health insurance companies from denying coverage or increasing premiums for people who lawfully own guns.

The case will return to U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami for a ruling that follows the 11th Circuit’s direction. The case could, however, also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pentagon Stages Major Provocation, Sending Aircraft Carrier, Warplanes and Destroyer To Begin ‘Routine Operations’ in South China Sea

aircraft-carrier-uss-carl-vinson-participating-in-a-vertical-replenishment-at-seaThis US Navy photo shows the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson participating in a vertical replenishment-at-sea with the Black Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4 and the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew in the Pacific Ocean on Feb. 3. MC2 SEAN M. CASTELLANO / AFP – Getty Images

US Aircraft Carrier, Warplanes and Destroyer Begin ‘Routine Operations’ in South China Sea

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The United States deployed the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, warplanes and a destroyer to the disputed waters of the South China Sea on Saturday, according to a US Navy statement.

The carrier strike group includes the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer and aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 2.

The vessels began what was described as ‘routine operations’ on Feb. 18.

The deployment comes amid a series of tensions between China and the new American administration of President Donald Trump — over trade, Taiwan and disputed territorial rights in the South China Sea.

China has disputes with a number of countries over maritime areas and islands in the South China Sea. In addition, the South China Sea, one of the busiest sea lanes in the world, is crucial to global trade.

Trump recently backed off his early refusal to accept the U.S.’ longstanding One-China policy, which recognizes China’s claim to Taiwan as a renegade province. The change in position came after a telephone call with China’s President Xi Jinping.

But relations between the two countries remain fraught, with each eyeing the other warily. The Chinese press, which often reflects the government viewpoint, has been particularly harsh toward Trump, calling him “reckless,” “unfit to lead a superpower,” and “as ignorant as a child” regarding foreign policy.

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