Thursday, January 14, 2016

More than 1,800 Arriving in Guam for Military Drill

Published by Pacific Daily News on January 13, 2016

Written by Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno


Guam will host more than 1,800 military personnel from the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Korea for the annual massive military exercise Cope North.

Andersen Air Force Base is hosting Cope North on Feb. 10 through 26, the U.S. Air Force announced.

In a separate announcement, the Air Force’s Pacific Command confirmed that 12 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets and about 200 airmen are arriving for a temporary deployment in Guam this month as part of a rotational movement of U.S. forces.

The 200 airmen who are being deployed to Guam are from the 112th Fighter Squadron from Toledo Air National Guard Base in Ohio.

The Ohio airmen and their Expeditionary Fighter Squadron will move to Guam temporarily to assume a mission that the 125th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, whose base is Tulsa, Oklahoma, is currently serving out of Kadena Air Base, Japan.

The airmen from Oklahoma are scheduled to return to the Tulsa Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma, but 12 of their F-16 Fighting Falcons will move to Andersen for the airmen from Ohio to operate.

Open House

Andersen Air Force Base will open its doors to the general public to attend an open house featuring static displays and flyovers during Cope North, according to the Air Force Pacific Command.

The open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 20.

Aircraft static displays, such as the U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress and F-16 Fighting Falcon, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-2 Viper Zero and Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet will be featured.

The open house also will feature entertainment, vendors and concessions, according to the Air Force.
Updates will be posted on the event's Facebook page. the Air Force said.

Multinational exercise

More than 100 aircraft from the U.S. military and its allies also are expected to arrive for the exercise, which Andersen is hosting for the 16th year.

This year’s Cope North will include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training and air-to-ground practice airstrikes.

The 206-acre island of Farallon de Medinilla, in the Northern Marianas, which the U.S. military has leased for a bombing range, will be the target for the airstrikes.

The annual exercise comes in the wake of North Korea’s most recent and fourth underground nuclear bomb tests, and amid unresolved multi-country territorial disputes following China’s expansions in the South China Sea.

On Saturday, a U.S. B-52 bomber aircraft from Andersen was joined by South Korean F-15 and U.S. F-16 fighter jets in a low flyover over South Korea, near the North Korean border.

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. military’s Pacific Command, said in a press release the flyover “was a demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland.”

Cope North began in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Cope North was moved to Andersen in 1999, according to the Air Force.

“Today, the annual exercise serves as a keystone event to promote stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills critical to maintaining regional stability,” according to the Air Force.

More than 930 U.S. airmen and sailors will train alongside approximately 490 Japanese, 375 Australian, five Filipino, 20 South Korean and 35 New Zealand service members, according to the Air Force.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Leonardo DiCaprio Pays Tribute To Indigenous People In Golden Globe Speech

Posted: 01/11/2016 12:24 am by The Huffington Post Canada

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio got political in his Golden Globe acceptance speech on Sunday night.

DiCaprio, who won the Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama award for his role in "The Revenant," thanked indigenous peoples around the world and asked for them to receive more respect.

leo dicaprio quote

"I want to share this award with all the First Nations people represented in this film and all the 
indigenous communities around the world," the actor said at the award ceremony held in Los Angeles.

"It is time that we recognized your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them," added DiCaprio. "It is time that we heard your voice and protected them for future generations."

DiCaprio has been politically active around environmental causes. He made a heavily-publicized visit to Alberta's oilsands in 2014.

"The Revenant," which was shot in Alberta, cast hundreds of First Nations people from across that province as extras and in small roles.

Monday, January 04, 2016

If Top General Gets His Way, America's "Longest War" Will Become Even Longer

General John Campbell Says He Wants to Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan for as long as possible—and is considering asking for even more

Published on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 by Common Dreams

Written by Sarah Lazare

General John F. Campbell pictured in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 23, 2015. (Photo: Allauddin Khan/AP)
General John F. Campbell pictured in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 23, 2015. (Photo: Allauddin Khan/AP)

If the highest ranking U.S. and NATO military commander in Afghanistan gets his way, America's longest official war could become even more protracted.

Army General John Campbell said in a USA Today article published on Tuesday that he wants to keep the 9,800 American troops currently in Afghanistan there for as long as possible—and is considering asking for even more boots on the ground.

"My intent would be to keep as much as I could for as long as I could," Campbell told the paper from Kabul.

The general's comments follow President Barack Obama's October announcement that he plans to reverse his prior pledge to remove all but 1,000 U.S. troops from the country by the conclusion of 2016. Instead, Obama proclaimed that the 9,800 troops will be maintained through most of 2016 and then cut to 5,500 by the beginning of 2017.

Even then, Obama's statement came despite the official declaration a year ago that the war was "over."

But now Campbell plans to ask the president to put off troop withdrawals even further by delaying the reduction to 5,500 troops.

"If I don't believe that we can accomplish the train, advise and assist... the (counter-terrorism) missions, then I owe it to the senior leadership to come back and say, 'Here's what I need,'" Campbell said. "If that's more people, it's more people."

The general expressed confidence that he will get his way. "My job as commander on the ground is to continually make assessments," Campbell said. "Every time I've gone to the president and said, 'I need X,' I've been very, very fortunate that he’s provided that. So he’s been very flexible."

Campbell's comments come as the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan stretches well into its 15th year—and appears certain to extend into the next presidency. While many argue that the Afghanistan intervention is not, in reality, the longest war in U.S. history, it is widely recognized as the most protracted according to the official record.

What's more, the Bilateral Security Agreement signed in 2014 by the U.S. and Afghanistan locks in another decade of heavy American involvement in the country, including the training, funding, and arming of the Afghan military. The pact also secures immunity for U.S. service members under Afghan law—a highly controversial measure in a country that has suffered civilian massacres by U.S. troops.

The U.S. is planning a military role long into Afghanistan's future despite indications that its long-term intervention and occupation so far has worsened conflict and violence, with the Taliban now showing signs of increased strength.

Meanwhile, Afghan civilians continue to pay the greatest price. In the first half of 2015 alone, United Nations agencies documented 4,921 civilian casualties (1,592 deaths and 3,329 injured).

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Not-So-Comforting Apologies

“Not-So-Comforting Apologies”
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The Guam Daily Post
December 30, 2015

After years of denials, Japan and South Korea appear close to making a deal over apologizing for the comfort women issue from World War II. Money is being promised, although to give a sense of how late this, estimates show that there might have been as many as 200,000 Korean comfort women (although these estimates vary due to records being lost or destroyed.) The Associated Press reports that there are only 46 left alive today.

This potential deal comes after a number of quiet, but embarrassing protests against Japanese denial of their history of sexual slavery. In 2011, a statue of a young Korean woman sitting next to an empty chair was erected across the street from the Japanese consulate in Seoul. Korean women comprised the majority of those used by the Japanese for sexual slavery. The statue was meant to symbolize the untold number of Korean women who wanted for apologies or reparations from Japan over their mistreatment. The Japanese government complained ferociously about how embarrassing this statue was. Earlier this year, prior to a visit to Seoul by Japanese Prime Minister Abe, two more statues appeared in a park, one symbolizing Korean comfort women, the other Chinese. Since the early 1990s, this issue has been prominent and sometimes strained relations between Japan and South Korea. In 1965, the two countries signed a treaty that was meant to put an end to any reparations claims related to World War II. For the past two decades, more and more women have come forward to share their stories of being sexual slaves for the Japanese military, refusing to allow the issue to disappear. The timing of the apology is intriguing, as Abe’s government seems more interested than ever in finding ways to revitalize the faded militaristic past of Japan.

But the issue of comfort women during World War II is far greater than just an issue between these two nations. It is a terrible history that brings together women from a number of countries and islands, the Philippines, Chuuk, Okinawa, Indonesia, Taiwan, Burma, and the Marianas.

Local history textbooks regularly mention the issue of comfort women on Guam during World War II, but scarcely provide any details. The Guam Legislature has approved a number of resolutions calling upon the Japanese government to apologize for their “vicious coercion of young women into sexual slavery and for their cruelty towards the people of Guam during its occupation.” The sexual violence that Chamorro women endured remains one of the most public secrets from that time period. It is something that all take for granted and know happened in various forms, but it remains a taboo subject, something better not spoken of or investigated.

But in the messy mire, what we commonly find is that the issue of comfort women in Guam is largely obscured by misconceptions or the larger specter of sexual violence during the Japanese occupation. The various ways in which women were victimized leads to some ways, which represent far complicated or difficult histories go unspoken and lost.

When I was conducting my research on World War II about 12 years ago, I interviewed more than 100 survivors of “I Tiempon Chapones.” As of today, the majority of those I interviewed have passed on, and I feel grateful to have spent time with so many. sitting at their kitchen tables, their outside kitchens, or meeting them for coffee at Hagatna McDonald’s to hear their stories.

When I would broach the topic of comfort women, it was clearly something that was very difficult to discuss. But even in this difficulty, there were problems of definition. When I asked one woman about her knowledge of comfort women on Guam, she said her mother had been one of them. Noting that this was a rarity, as people tended to speak generally about comfort women, knowing of their existence, but also careful never to be too specific, to name any names, I seized this chance to learn more about the life of Chamorro comfort women. But when she described her mother’s experience, she had been raped by a Japanese soldier at their ranch, I realized she had misunderstood what it meant to be a comfort woman.

Sexual attacks on Chamorro women were all too common during the occupation. Families took care to hide the young women in their family, or alter their appearance in ways to make them less “appetizing” to your average soldier turned rapist. In other instances, women felt compelled to be “friendly” to Japanese soldiers or officers in order to obtain favors or protection for their families. They became girlfriends or mistresses to the Japanese troops, something which made sense in the heat of war, but afterwards became an almost unmentionable act.

This everyday coercion and violence that Chamorro women felt obscures the ways in which Guam was incorporated into the comfort women system. The rapes or the abuse was horrific, but the comfort women represented a more naturalized form of sexual oppression, where women were recruited to be part of a system whereby they would regularly serve the “comfort” of soldiers. The random acts of sexual violence represent one traumatic aspect of war, the comfort women represent an entirely different form of trauma, which can’t be accounted for in random or calculated acts of sexual violence. The comfort women system used by the Japanese military in Asia and the Pacific, was a system of sexual slavery, a massive human trafficking operation. It speaks to something beyond the character of individuals soldiers or commanders, but to the Japanese nation and its treatment of human beings, especially those it deemed as inferior.

It remains to be seen how this apology and this reparation process for South Korea might affect the Chamorro struggle for apologies or restitution for their suffering during World War II.