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North Korea Says Its Rockets Could Hit Continental US

North Korea is warning that its rockets are capable of striking the continental United States, two days after Seoul said it signed a deal with Washington to allow South Korea to extend the range of its ballistic missiles.

A spokesperson for the North's National Defense Commission said in state media Tuesday Pyongyang has "strategic rocket forces" that can hit not only the mainland U.S., but also American military bases in South Korea, Japan and Guam.

Asian Nations Meet on Island Disputes

Delegates with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a handful of East Asian countries and other Western powers skirted controversy over the heated issue of conflicting claims in Asia-Pacific waters during a meeting this week in the Philippines.

Diplomats joined security experts, maritime officials and others to discuss regional cooperation, the protection of marine resources and trade routes at a time when there has been growing tension over territorial disputes throughout the region.

Pakistan, Russia Intensify Contacts to Improve Ties

Pakistan and Russia have held high-level discussions focusing on how to expand their political, economic and military relationship. But analysts believe Afghanistan is at the center of the intensified diplomacy as both countries are positioning themselves in anticipation of expected withdrawal of most U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani traveled to Moscow this week while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Islamabad.

Turkey OKs Possible Further Action Against Syria

The Turkish parliament has voted to authorize further military operations outside its borders after it struck Syrian targets on Thursday in response to a deadly cross-border mortar attack that killed five civilians.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the one-year measure is not a declaration of war, but is intended as a deterrent against aggressive action by Syria.

The Turkish official said his government is acting in coordination with international institutions in its response to the artillery shelling by Syria that struck the southeast border town of Akcakale.

US Expands Military Operations in Africa

The United States is expanding its military presence in Africa to counter the growing influence of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other militant groups throughout North and West Africa.

U.S. concerns have been growing as militants have seized control of large parts of Mali and made their presence known across the region, through a campaign of bombings and other attacks from Nigeria to Libya.

Hitting closest to home for the United States was the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

NATO Extends Rasmussen’s Term as Secretary General

The North Atlantic Council has extended Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s four-year term as NATO secretary general for another year, until July 31, 2014, the council announced.

“Allies will support Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in his dedicated work to carry forward NATO’s tasks, missions and objectives, based on consensual allied decisions,” a written statement from the council read.

In a short briefing from NATO headquarters in Brussels this morning, Rasmussen said he is honored by the trust and support of allied governments.

Venezuelan Voters to Decide Whether to Continue Chavez Rule

On Sunday, Venezuelans will go to the polls to either extend President Hugo Chavez's almost 14-year rule for another six years or choose his younger challenger Henrique Capriles to lead the nation. While the Venezuelan leader's ongoing battle with cancer has been a prominent issue in the presidential race, that for many voters this election will be a referendum on the results of Chavez's socialist policies.

Chinese Ships Re-Enter Disputed Waters

Four Chinese surveillance ships have entered waters near disputed Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea, further intensifying a bitter territorial dispute.

Japan's Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said Tuesday authorities have called on the ships to leave the Japanese waters, and that a complaint has been lodged with China's government.

MAP: Senkaku/Diaoyu region

AN AMERICAN GOLIATH IN AFGHANISTAN

The following is largely based on an interview with Contractor, MSG (Retired) Michael (Train) Beltran

The Best Assignment of a Warrior’s Life
MSG Michael (Train) Beltran enlisted in the Army out of California in 1975 at the age of 19, completed jump school and went straight into the 2nd BN. (Ranger) 75th Inf. Ft. Lewis WA.