US Soldier Accused of Raping a Korean Woman in Busan

Considering that the suspect is an ethnic Korean it will be interesting to see if the Korean media tries to keep a low key approach to this case or not:

An American soldier of Korean ethnicity has been charged with raping a Korean woman at a Busan guesthouse.

Busan Jungbu police have charged the man, 21, with raping the woman, 24.

The soldier, from a U.S. Forces Korea camp in Gyeonggi Province, made the woman’s acquaintance through an online dating app.

On Feb. 18, he met her in person in Busan while on a brief vacation. At about 4:30 a.m., after they had been drinking, the soldier took her to a guesthouse, where he allegedly raped her.

Police said the man had denied the charge.

The police plan to refer the case to U.S. military police, who will deal with it according to the Status of Forces Agreement between Seoul and Washington.  [Korea Times]

Is US Government Rushing THAAD to South Korea Before New President Takes Office?

That is what some are accusing the US of doing:

Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia Program at the Center for a New American Security, wrote in his column before the defense ministerial talks, “Secretary Mattis and his Korean counterparts are likely to seek to accelerate the deployment date of the THAAD missile battery, so that it happens prior to the next Korean election.”

After the talks, Seoul’s ministry said the two officials agreed to push for the deployment as planned, but declined to comment on whether the system would be in place before the election.

Park Won-gon, an international relations professor at Handong Global University, said it is significant for the United States to finalize the plan at the earliest possible date as the political situation in South Korea has been unstable with some opposition lawmakers even calling for withdrawing the decision to deploy THAAD.

He said Washington probably sees the possibility for an opposition candidate winning the election, so is rushing to deploy the battery out of concerns that the decision could be overturned by the next government.

“Mattis probably visited South Korea to check the ongoing situation here and make sure of the deployment in accordance with the Trump administration’s plan to advance its global missile defense program to protect against missile attacks from North Korea and Iran,” he said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Navy Special Warfare Unit Faces Investigation for Flying Trump Flag on Military Vehicle

I can’t remember an incident like this happening before, but it is a good reminder to troops to not display partisan political advertisements on military vehicles:

Steve Thompson was on his way to pick up some feed for his goat farm Sunday morning when he noticed an impressive-looking military convoy and started filming. When he neared the lead vehicle in the convoy, the 32-year-old Shepherdsville, Ky., man noticed something else: A large blue and white Trump campaign flag.

“I just thought it was just a bunch of military vehicles,” Thompson, who was driving near Louisville at the time, told the Lexington Herald Leader . “I was surprised because I figured you wouldn’t be able to fly anything on a Humvee other than an American flag.”

The Navy has since confirmed that the convoy was from a Virginia Beach-based special warfare unit.

Thompson’s video is one of two that have been circulating on social media this week, drawing both praise and outrage, and prompting the Navy to open an investigation into the flag-flying display. One of the Facebook videos showing the convoy was viewed close to 80,000 times before it was taken down Thursday afternoon – but not before unleashing a flood of comments.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Poll Shows Japanese Citizens Do Not Want to Pay More for US Forces

I am surprised this poll showed 5% of people wanting to pay more to keep US forces in Japan.  It will be interesting to see what this number is whenever a similar poll in Korea is done:

A C-5M Super Galaxy arrives at Yokota Air Base, Japan, last year. A Nikkei poll taken this past weekend found that 57 percent of Japanese favored maintaining spending on U.S. bases at current levels, while 30 percent said Japan is spending too much. YASUO OSAKABE/U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO

Japanese citizens do not want to pay more for hosting U.S. military personnel and are now more likely to predict a downturn in bilateral relations, according to a Nikkei poll released Monday.

The survey taken this past weekend found that 57 percent of Japanese favored maintaining spending on U.S. bases at current levels, while 30 percent said Japan is spending too much. Five percent said Japan should spend more, the poll said.

Japan pays an average of 189.3 billion yen — or between $1.65 billion and $1.95 billion, depending on currency exchange rates — per year to support U.S. bases in the country as part of a five-year deal signed in 2015.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Why the US Military Will Likely Not Shoot Down A North Korean Missile

It seems like this same question has to be answered every time North Korea threatens to fire a long range missile.  According to the article the US military will not shoot down the missile unless it threatens an area protected by US missile defenses.  North Korea has historically fired their long range missiles on test trajectories out into the ocean.  These tests allow intelligence agencies to collect information on the Kim regime’s progress in developing their missiles:

South Korean Defense Ministry retrieved an object believed to be a part of North Korean rocket, which was launched on February 7, 2016.

While the US said this week it would shoot down any North Korean missile that posed a threat, don’t expect to see Pyongyang’s next launch blasted out of the sky.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday that if launches do not pose a risk to the US or an ally, “it may be more to our advantage… to gather intelligence from the flight.”
The US and other observers “can learn a lot” from any missile test, said Tal Inbar, a North Korea expert at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.
“We can analyze the trajectory and conclude some insight about the power of the engines and the amount of fuel, and estimate the potential range of the missile.”
If it is possible to retrieve the missile or rocket from the sea, as South Korea did in February last year, Inbar said there “is a wealth of intelligence in such debris.”
He added that it was generally unwise to shoot down any missile that does not pose a threat as not only would you lose the ability to examine the missile and its flight, “if you try and shoot it down and miss, that’s a huge PR embarrassment.”  [CNN]
You can read more at the link.

Stay of Execution Lifted On US Soldier Convicted of Multiple Rapes and Murders

It looks like the US military may have its first execution in more than half a century:

A Kansas federal judge has lifted a stay of execution for a former soldier sentenced to death for two killings and a series of rapes, inching the man closer to becoming the military’s first death sentence carried out in more than a half century.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten last week sided with the U.S. government in denying a bid by former Fort Bragg, N.C., soldier Ronald A. Gray to block the military from pressing ahead with the execution by lethal injection.

Since a military court sentenced him to die in 1988, Gray has been held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where the military carried out its last execution when it hanged Army Pvt. John Bennett in 1961 for raping and trying to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl.  [The Virginian Pilot]

You can read more at the link.

Was Soldiers’ Use of SHARP Training to Intervene In Bar Incident Justified?

For those that have been through SHARP training the actions of the soldiers involved is a textbook example of what the US Army encourages soldiers to now do:

 Key details of a Fort Drum account of soldiers rescuing a drugged woman at a Watertown bar have been called into question by city police.

The 10th Mountain Division public affairs office, in a news release issued earlier this week, said three soldiers rescued a woman they believed was drugged at the Paddock Club, Public Square, on Oct. 28, and that it led to an arrest.

The trio, Staff Sgt. Anthony Ciccariello Jr., Sgt. James Smith and Spc. Evan Lipp, were presented a commander’s coin by division commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister on Nov. 16 for their efforts that night.

Detective Lt. Joseph R. Donoghue Sr. said the unnamed woman, whom the post claimed was taken to the hospital, was actually seen and cleared by Guilfoyle Ambulance staff, who let her leave with a friend. No one has been charged in connection with the incident.

The incident, which took place about 10:30 p.m. that night, remains under investigation by city police.  [Watertown Daily Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but I am not sure what caused the soldiers to think she was “drugged” other than to say she was a little “off”.  This is what the 10th Mountain Division news release said:

These Soldiers discovered a female at a local bar had taken an unknown drug from a man in the bar and was acting overly impaired. Their training kicked in and the result was a suspect being questioned by police and a potential victim being checked out by paramedics. [DVIDS]

If they saw someone putting something into her drink you would think they would say that in the video.  It appears the real reason this incident reached the point it did was because the woman was being groped by the two men:

“I noticed that the two males had the female on one of the couches and they were molesting her,” Lipp said. “I noticed that she was barely conscious. It didn’t look right.”

Lipp said he didn’t want to overact so he asked Ciccariello and Smith to assess the situation.

“We agreed with Lipp and my immediate reaction was to go and get the bouncers,” Ciccariello said.

Unfortunately, the bouncers said that the woman and her friend came into the bar with the two men and there was nothing that the bar staff could do, Ciccariello said. But that didn’t stop the three soldiers.  [New York Upstate]

If the soldiers in the video did see a drug secretly put into her drink they definitely did the right thing based off of the training they have received.  However, if this woman was just being obnoxious should it be the responsibility of soldiers to determine which women are too drunk to be with other men at a bar?

Protesters In the Philippines Clash With Police In Front of US Embassy

A left wing rally in the Philippines outside the US embassy has turned violent:

A Philippine police van rammed into protesters, leaving several bloodied, as an anti-U.S. rally turned violent Wednesday at the American embassy in Manila.

At least three student activists had to be taken to a hospital after they were run over by the van driven by a police officer, protest leader Renato Reyes said.

AP Television footage showed the van repeatedly ramming the protesters as it drove wildly back and forth after protesters had surrounded and started hitting the van with wooden batons they had seized from the police.

Police later arrested 23 protesters, who broke into a line of riot police and hurled red paint at the policemen and a U.S. government seal at the seaside embassy.

“There was absolutely no justification for it,” Reyes said of the violent police dispersal of about 1,000 protesters. “Even as the president vowed an independent foreign policy, Philippine police forces still act as running dogs of the U.S.”

The violence happened as the protesters gathered to demand an end to the presence of U.S. troops in the country and to support a call by President Rodrigo Duterte for a foreign policy not dependent on the U.S., the country’s longtime treaty ally.

Duterte was on a state visit to China, where he is seeking to repair relations strained under his predecessor over territorial conflicts in the South China Sea. Duterte is also seeking to expand two-way trade and investments and seek financing for badly needed infrastructure projects.  [Associated Press]

According to ABC News this who the protesters were:

The protesters, consisting of students, workers and tribespeople, were demanding an end to the presence of visiting U.S. troops in the Philippines and to support a call by President Rodrigo Duterte for a foreign policy not dependent on the U.S., the country’s longtime treaty ally.

The activists came from the largest left-wing umbrella group called Bayan (Nation), which has organized regular anti-U.S. protests in front of the embassy for decades, most of which are peaceful.  [ABC News]

The left wing protesters also claim that they don’t want to be dictated to by China:

Amid an uneasy relationship with the U.S., Duterte has tried to reach out to China and Russia, bringing uncertainty to his country’s long alliance with America.

But the protesters also opposed the president’s effort to lean toward China. “The Philippines will not be dictated on, whether by the U.S. or China,” they said in a statement.

These people obviously live in a fantasy world.  What has the US supposedly “dictated” to them?  The nearly $200 million in aid dollars or the immediate disaster response relief the US has given the Philippines in the past?

Who is currently dictating to them is the Chinese who are forcibly seizing actual territory from the Philippines.  I find it interesting that this group of left wing protesters could not find the time to go and violently protest the seizing of Filipino territory in front of the Chinese embassy.