Climate change drives security risks around US border

by James Blake

Climate change, in addition to the criminal activity of organised crime gangs (OCGs) and systemic violence in impoverished locations, continues to drive forced migration to the US and elsewhere from the Central American region. Migration from the south has dominated the political agendas of former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden. The issue has driven violent protests and terrorist attacks such as the August 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in which 23 mainly Latino people were killed.

Migration continues to motivate the actions of several far-right organisations, including the Proud Boys and the Patriot Front. The emerging risks associated with ‘climate migration', which include those who are driven or forced to leave by climate disasters or the longer-term impact of climate deterioration through temperature rises, will almost certainly impact US security through protests, border security issues, and potential terrorism risks.

A destroyed house is pictured after the passage of Hurricane Iota in Bilwi, Nicaragua, on 17 November 2020. According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2020 was a record year for ‘named storms'.  (AFP via Getty Images)

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USMC stands up first operational CH-53K unit

by Gareth Jennings

A CH-53K King Stallion (foreground) and a CH-53E Super Stallion (background) are staged during a redesignation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, on 24 January. The squadron received its first CH-53K King Stallion, and the ceremony signified the beginning of the US Marine Corps' modernisation from the legacy CH-53E to the CH-53K in support of the expeditionary warfare vision for future-force employment. (US Marines)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has stood up its first operational unit for the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, the service announced on 15 January.

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, North Carolina, has been formally redesignated as the first fleet CH-53K unit, trading in its CH-53E Super Stallions.

“The CH-53K will allow the quick massing of combat power, agile manoeuvre, resilient logistics, and predictive maintenance, and be used in the Marine Corps' execution of expeditionary advanced base operations, a key component of the commandant of the [US] Marine Corps' force design,” the USMC said.

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NATO bolsters enhanced air policing mission

by Gareth Jennings

Two of the F-16s that Denmark is contributing to NATO's enhanced air policing mission. (NATO Allied Air Command)

NATO has bolstered its enhanced air policing (eAP) mission, with nations providing additional aircraft as concerns over Russian military action in Ukraine grow.

The alliance announced on 26 January that US Air Force (USAF) Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles and Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons were being dispatched to Estonia and Lithuania respectively to supplement the current Baltic Air Policing mission.

“[USAF] F-15s have landed at Amari Air Base, Estonia, [on 26 Janaury] and [RDAF] F-16s will arrive at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, [on 27 January] to bolster the forces already deployed under the long-established NATO Air Policing mission,” NATO Allied Air Command said. “Danish F-16s will arrive in Siauliai to work alongside the Polish F-16s that deployed there on 1 December 2021 to conduct Baltic Air Policing. The US F-15s landed at Amari to integrate with the current detachment of Belgian F-16s; both detachments will execute the enhanced Air Policing mission.”

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North Korea launches more cruise missiles, says MND in Seoul

by Jon Grevatt

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul told Janes on 26 January that North Korea had fired two ground-launched missiles a day earlier. The missile launches are yet to be confirmed by Pyongyang.

An official MND spokesperson said, “We detected the firing of two cruise missiles. It is assumed that North Korea fired the cruise missiles from a land area.” The spokesperson added that the MND is evaluating the launches for more detail.

The missiles reportedly landed in the sea off North Korea's east coast, but the MND did not confirm the exact location. “We cannot confirm at this point where the missiles landed,” the spokesperson said.

No other details were available at the time of publication.

In response to the new missile launches a US State Department spokesperson said the United States was assessing reports with South Korea and Japan.

Unlike rocket-propelled ballistic missiles – several new types of which North Korea has developed in recent years – jet-propelled cruise missiles are not banned under UN Security Council resolutions on the Northeast Asian country.

North Korea has periodically launched cruise missiles in the past, although their risk has been downplayed.

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