Tiny Moldova to get big boost from U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry departs Monday night for a trip to Belgium, Moldova, Israel and Ramallah
December 2nd, 2013
08:01 PM ET

Tiny Moldova to get big boost from U.S.

By Jill Dougherty

It’s a short stop – just four hours – on a trip that will take Secretary of State John Kerry to a NATO meeting in Belgium, to Israel and to Ramallah in the West Bank. But his visit to Chisinau, capital of Moldova, is significant.

The Eastern European nation, bordered on the east by Ukraine, stuck to its diplomatic guns late last month and, along with Georgia, signed a key economic and political agreement with the European Union.

That agreement, called the “Eastern Partnership,” is designed to forge closer E.U. ties with Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

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December 2nd, 2013
03:09 PM ET

Resurgent al Qaeda: new concern about U.S. homeland

By Paul Cruickshank

Intelligence committee leaders in Congress warn that al Qaeda's network has strengthened over the past two years, creating new concern over the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the United States was no safer today than in 2011, despite the death of Osama bin Laden and the removal of senior al Qaeda operatives in drone strikes.

Their warning reflects growing concern among Western intelligence agencies about al Qaeda's growing strength in the Arab world.

While al Qaeda and groups that link to it have suffered setbacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, Somalia, Mali and other "Jihadist fronts," al Qaeda has taken advantage of the political turmoil caused by the Arab Spring to build its operations across North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
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U.S. Navy deploys new reconnaissance planes to Japan
A P-8A Poseidon aircraft takes off from Naval Air Station Jacksonville on November 29.
December 2nd, 2013
12:52 PM ET

U.S. Navy deploys new reconnaissance planes to Japan

By Jamie Crawford

The U.S. Navy has deployed two of its next-generation reconnaissance aircraft to Japan, a long-planned move that comes amid controversy over Chinese air defenses.

Designed to enhance the Navy's long-range maritime patrol capability, the P-8A Poseidon's specialty is submarine detection, the Navy said. The planes flew from Norfolk, Virginia, to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, in recent days.

The P-8A Poseidon also is part of the Navy's effort to phase out the P-3C Orion. It is more technologically advanced than its predecessor and can fly higher with a crew of up to nine. It also can carry torpedoes, cruise missiles, bombs and mines.

While the Navy rebalances resources in the Pacific, the arrival of the aircraft comes at a time of heightened tension in the region with China's imposition of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.
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Filed under: Asia • China • Japan • Navy
Massive naval power remains at heart of America's look eastwards
The USS George Washington, a 90,000-ton Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is now patrolling waters off the island of Okinawa as part a huge naval exercise -- AnnualEx 2013 -- involving dozens of warships, submarines and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's 7th fleet and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
December 2nd, 2013
08:24 AM ET

Massive naval power remains at heart of America's look eastwards

By Paul Armstrong

By his own admission, one of the U.S Navy's top commanders says his Pacific fleet "gets all the best stuff" when it comes to state-of-the-art weaponry - an undeniable reflection of President Barack Obama's so-called pivot towards Asia.

The flagship of its 7th fleet, the Nimitz-class USS George Washington aircraft carrier boasts a formidable arsenal; from the latest FA-18 fighter jets, to anti-submarine helicopters and early-warning surveillance aircraft. Add to this the fleet's numerous missile destroyers, cruisers and submarines and the statement of intent is clear to see - Washington is serious about its role in the region.

"It's a long-term effort for us here," Fleet commander Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, told CNN aboard the giant vessel amid the muffled roar of jet engines from the flight deck directly above. "From a policy perspective it's a shift in balance of not only our resources but our thinking across diplomatic, information, economic and military lines to the Pacific.

"But I would offer that the 7th Fleet never left - we've been a strong presence here for the past 70 years. We're slowly shifting from a 50/50 mix in the United States Navy to a 40% Atlantic, 60% Pacific mix," he added, referring to the gradual swing away from traditional areas of operation in the West.

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Filed under: Asia • Navy