U.S. Policy Update for Wednesday, 09 March 2016


07 March 2016 Continued Detention of Nadiya Savchenko   In the 20 months since [Ukrainian pilot and Rada Deputy Nadiya Savchenko,] was captured in eastern Ukraine and taken to Russia, Ms. Savchenko has reportedly endured interrogations, solitary confinement, and forced “psychiatric evaluation.” Her trial and continuing imprisonment demonstrate disregard for international standards, as well as for Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements.
The United States once again calls on Russia to immediately release Ms. Savchenko and return her to Ukraine.


08 March 2015 DoD’s Austin: Partners Taking More Responsibility in Centcom Region   Despite an especially challenging year for the governments and people in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, progress is being made in several areas, Centcom’s commander told a Senate panel.  Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III (shown below during an address in Kabul) said one positive development is that regional partners are taking more responsibility in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Army General Lloyd Austin standing at a podium
Army General Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, addresses the audience during the change-of-command ceremony for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul, Afghanistan, 02 March 2016 (DoD photo by Myles Cullen)

“We are encouraged by what we are seeing,” Austin said, “and we remain committed to working with our partners in support of our shared goals and objectives.” Centcom is involved in or supporting multiple military operations, Austin said, including the campaign to counter ISIL in Iraq and Syria and U.S. contributions to NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.  … On the fight against ISIL, Austin said the international coalition is defeating the enemy in Iraq and Syria and is pressuring ISIL on more fronts than at any time in the past 18 months.


Korean Peninsula

08 March 2015 Visit of Republic of Korea Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Hong-kyun  U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim will host a bilateral meeting in Washington March 11 with his Republic of Korea counterpart, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Hong-kyun, to exchange views on a wide range of issues related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.


08 March 2016  Pentagon Provides Details on Target of March 4 Syria Airstrike  A March 4 U.S. airstrike near Shaddadi, Syria, targeted senior Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant leader Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, also known as Abu Umar al-Shishani and “Omar the Chechen,”  Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said today.
… Batirashvili is a battle-tested leader with experience who had led ISIL fighters in numerous engagements in Iraq and Syria,” Cook said. “His potential removal from the battlefield would negatively impact ISIL’s ability to recruit foreign fighters – especially those from Chechnya and the Caucusus regions — and degrade ISIL’s ability to coordinate attacks and defense of its strongholds like Raqqah, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq.”

U.S. States – Georgia

09 March 2016 Georgia: All things Southern, CNN and movie sets  Georgia has southern charm and beautiful beaches, but also zombies and a dystopian society where youths fight to the death … at least on film. The state has served as the filming location for more than 1,000 movies and TV shows since 1973, including The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games sequels.  Established in the 1730s, Georgia was the last of the 13 original British Colonies and was named after England’s King George II.

 Jekyll Island, off the coast of Georgia, is popular for its nature, white beaches and golf courses. (Wikimedia Commons)
Jekyll Island, off the coast of Georgia, is popular for its nature, white beaches and golf courses. (Wikimedia Commons)

Atlanta, the capital and the state’s largest city, played an important role in both the U.S. Civil War and the U.S. civil rights movement.  The fall of Atlanta was a turning point in the U.S. Civil War. After burning Atlanta in November 1864, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman blazed a path southeast to Savannah in his “March to the Sea.” The 160-kilometer Antebellum Trail goes through seven historic communities that were spared, providing a glimpse of Southern life then.


White House
07 March 2016 Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 3/7/2016

07 March 2016 Remarks by the President in Meeting with Financial Regulators  “I just has an opportunity to meet with our independent financial regulators to discuss the progress that we’ve made on our economy since the financial crisis.  This is something that I’ve done on a regular basis.  It’s worth remembering that it was eight years ago this month that Bear Stearns collapsed.  And that was a key moment in an economic spiral that eventually cost millions of Americans home values, pensions, jobs, savings.  It was devastating.”

08 March  2016 Readout of Vice President Biden’s Call with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi of Iraq The Vice President spoke today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. The Vice President offered his condolences for Sunday’s brutal attack in al-Hillah, and both leaders reaffirmed their joint commitment to defeat the scourge of ISIL.