Military Relationships, North Korea Dominate Dunford Pacific Trip

TOKYO, Aug. 19, 2017 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has wrapped up a trip to South Korea, China and Japan that had been planned months ago, but it could not have happened at a better time.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford noted he has global responsibilities with challenges posed by Russia, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Iran and Afghanistan among them. “But I think this is about as important a place as I can be,” he said.

This is because of the recent activity by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The chairman’s trip ensured “our allies have no confusion at all about where we are in our overall policy and in the military dimension of that policy,” he said.

North Korea’s nuclear program and ballistic missile tests were front and center in the chairman’s conversations with regional leaders. He wings back to Washington having reassured South Korean and Japanese allies and having had a substantive conversation with a myriad of Chinese leaders.

The chairman communicated America’s “ironclad” commitment to the security of both South Korea and Japan, while stressing the need for trilateral relationships among the three nations.

He also worked to open up an effective dialogue with Chinese leaders to manage crises and to mitigate the risks of miscalculation. “This is the heart of our military-to-military relationship with China,” Dunford told reporters traveling with him.

Articulating U.S. Policy

The chairman came out to the region with the objective of articulating U.S. policy to make sure there is no ambiguity for any of the players in the region. This was particularly true of the military dimension of U.S. policy in the region.

Chinese Gen. Fang Fenghui, the People’s Liberation Army’s chief of the joint staff, invited Dunford and his party to visit. “What we had hoped to do was come to an agreement on the framework within which we could manage crises, and we were able to do that,” Dunford said.

Dunford and Fang signed the Joint Staff Dialogue Mechanism agreement during an Aug. 16 ceremony in the Ba Yi, the Chinese army’s headquarters in Beijing. The first meeting under the agreement will be in Washington in November “and that will be focused on establishing effective crisis communications,” Dunford said. “Ideally, I’d like to see us connected at the operations level – the National Military Command Center [in the Pentagon] to the equivalent in China – 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he added.

During his trip, Dunford met not only with military leaders of South Korea, China and Japan, but also with those nations’ civilian leaders. In South Korea, he met with President Moon Jae-in. In Japan, he met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and in China he met with President Xi Jinping. With all of the government leaders, he spoke about the challenge of North Korea and the collective efforts to deal with the issue.

With the South Korean and Japanese allies, he spoke further about the deterrent posture of the alliance and the capability development needed to defend the region. An example of that is the Japanese decision to procure and base the Aegis Ashore missile defense system.

“We also spoke about the need for trilateral military-to-military cooperation [and] interoperability,” the chairman said.

Dunford noted that Japan and the United States made progress in anti-submarine warfare, integration of ballistic missile defense, exchanges of officers during exercises, and other matters. “I feel very good about the trajectory of our mil-to-mil relationship with Japan,” he said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

Inherent Resolve Strikes Target ISIS in Syria, Iraq

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Aug. 19, 2017 — U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria yesterday, conducting 29 strikes consisting of 38 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted 24 strikes consisting of 27 engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Shadaddi, a strike destroyed a fighting position and an improvised-explosive-device factory.

— Near Dayr Az Zawr, four strikes destroyed seven ISIS oil stills, seven pieces of oil equipment and five oil barrels and damaged three bridges.

— Near Raqqa, 19 strikes engaged 17 ISIS tactical units and destroyed 20 fighting positions, an anti-air artillery system and a command-and-control node.

Strikes in Iraq

In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted five strikes consisting of 11 engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Qaim, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle-borne-IED factory.

— Near Tal Afar, three strikes destroyed 24 vehicles, two tunnels, two weapons caches, two front-end loaders, a command-and-control node, a staging area, an explosives factory, an explosives cache and a fighting position and damaged three bridges and two supply routes.

Earlier Strikes

Additionally, officials reported details on 28 earlier strikes consisting of 34 engagements conducted in Syria and Iraq on Aug. 16 and 17 for which the information was not yet available at the time of yesterday’s report:

— Five Aug. 16 strikes near Raqqa engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed two command-and-control nodes and a mortar system.

— Nineteen Aug. 17 strikes near Raqqa engaged 14 ISIS tactical units and destroyed 13 fighting positions, four command-and-control nodes, two IEDs and a heavy machine gun.

— Two Aug. 17 strikes near Kisik, Iraq, engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroyed a mortar system, damaged 17 supply routes and suppressed two mortar teams.

— Two Aug. 17 strikes near Tal Afar suppressed an ISIS tactical unit and damaged a tunnel.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said. 

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

Press Releases: ICC Arrest Warrant for Major Mahmoud al-Werfalli in Libya: Joint Statement by the Governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America

The following is the text of a joint statement by the governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Begin Text:

The governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States welcome the announcement on August 17 by the Libya National Army (LNA) that it will investigate reports of unlawful killings in Benghazi. We note that the LNA has recognized the arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court prosecutor for a member of the LNA, Major al-Werfalli, and are encouraged by the LNA’s decision to suspend Major al-Werfalli pending an investigation. We call on the LNA to ensure that the investigation is carried out fully and fairly; and those responsible for the unlawful killings are held to account.

We are monitoring ongoing acts of conflict in Libya closely. Those suspected of committing, ordering, or failing to prevent unlawful killings and torture on all sides must be fully investigated and held accountable, as appropriate. We will continue our efforts at the international level to pursue appropriate action against those who are complicit in violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law, whatever their affiliation. We consider that it is in Libya’s interest to be able to rely on unified security forces responsible for the country’s security and acting within the framework of Libya’s laws and respecting international law.

The governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States also reaffirm their support for the Government of National Accord. We underscore the importance of the United Nations’ central role in facilitating Libyan-led political dialogue, welcome the appointment of the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ghassan Salamé, and look forward to supporting his efforts to facilitate a political solution in Libya.

End Text.

20170818 PR CORRECTION: City Allocates $26 Million in Funds for Additional Drainage Improvements

Plan funds to fix thousands of catch basins, add early warning system for underpass flooding, deliver after-action analysis on July 22 and August 5 flood events

NEW ORLEANS – Yesterday, the City of New Orleans presented an approximately $26 million plan from Mayor Landrieu to clean and fix thousands of catch basins, provide an early warning system for underpass flooding and conduct a comprehensive analysis of the problems that led up to the July 22 and August 5 floods. Mayor Landrieu previously announced the City would work to clean and fix more catch basins and drain lines, especially in areas most prone to flooding.

The money coming from the City’s fund balance will include $7.8 million to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for catch basin and drainage point repairs, $3 million to Homeland Security for disaster preparedness, $650,000 to Homeland Security for underpass flood early warning system, and $500,000 to Chief Administrative Office for Root Cause Analysis. Additionally, bond funds that were committed to other road projects will provide $14.2 million for catch basin and drainage point repairs making the total $22 million.

DPW is working to clean catch basins and drain lines. DPW now has four trucks operating as of today, each staffed with a two-person crew. The Department’s other vacuum truck is undergoing necessary maintenance to repair engine power issues. Crews are still working to return these truck to service. DPW cleans an average of 5 to 6 catch basins per day per vacuum truck crew for an average of 4,263 catch basins per year. DPW flushes approximately 48 miles or 255,780 linear feet of drain line per year.

Turbine Repairs and Generators on Line

The turbine damaged on the evening of August 9, Turbine #1, has been repaired and is operational. To provide additional capacity and redundancy, 26 generators were ordered and 22 of 26 are operating.

This redundancy will remain throughout Hurricane Season. The City will update residents on generator installations, and pump and turbine repairs as information becomes available.

Drainage Pumps

According to the S&WB, there are currently 104 of the 120 pumps available to be operational in the event of heavy rainfall. The 16 pumps that are out of service are being assessed for emergency repairs, and the pumps that are operational are being assessed to determine their capacity. At this time, five different contractors are beginning work around the clock to fix the pumps that are out of service. 

S&WB has posted a status update of the pumps on its website. In response to recent rain events on July 22 and August 5, S&WB has provided to the public Drainage Pumping Station Logs and the Central Control Log Book. Those items are available at www.swbno.org.

Diesel Leak at 17th St. Canal

On Tuesday night, the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) and Jefferson Parish Fire Department received calls reporting the odor of diesel near Sewerage and Water Board Pumping Station #6 (345 Orpheum Ave.) The responding crews blocked and absorbed the flow of diesel.

As of today, the operations for the diesel leak continue in both mitigation and investigation modes. While the investigation is still ongoing, NOFD remains confident that the area of the retainment berm around diesel storage tank at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board (SWB) Carrollton Plant is the source of the reported diesel leak into the drainage canals and sewer system. Teams continue working to determine what caused the leak to occur, get an estimate of how much diesel may have escaped and conclude how the diesel traveled from the containment area into the drainage and sewer systems.

The majority of the spilled diesel has been cleaned and no additional fuel has appeared, however; environmental teams from these agencies are continuing the mitigation and clean-up effort by laying soft boom to absorb the remaining diesel and cleaning diesel deposits from the sides of the canals. All proper notifications have been made and the City of New Orleans and SWB remain in contact with the Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the United States Coast Guard.

Fixing Broken SWB Infrastructure

Under emergency procurement, S&WB is finalizing a contract with engineering firm CH2M to serve as the project manager for fixing turbines and pumps that are broken. CH2M is also supporting efforts to stabilize the power generation and drainage pumping systems. Four pump operators from CH2M arrived yesterday and received introductory training.

S&WB also has a team of power generation experts from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assisting.

Assessment of What Is “Operational”

Additionally, S&WB is finalizing an emergency contract with Veolia to immediately assess what equipment is currently working but may not be at optimal capacity so S&WB can make fixes and truly know the pumping capacity at this time.

Third Party Operational Support

S&WB has brought in third-party technical assistance to establish a plan and process for how to return the three downed turbines to service; how to acquire additional equipment for backup power sources such as generators, transformers, feeders and other equipment; how to fix the broken pumps as soon as possible; and, to determine the true capacity of the working pumps. The City is also in the process of reallocating funds to increase its capacity to clean and repair more catch basins and drain lines.

Independent, Third-Party Analysis

On Monday, the City of New Orleans released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an independent third-party firm to conduct an analysis of the flood events of July 22, August 5, August 8, along with other past events, and the turbine failure at the S&WB Carrollton Power Plant on August 9, 2017. The City is seeking a firm to deliver a report that details in narrative, diagrams and data the causes of the flood events and turbine failure. It should be completed with input and analysis from subject matter experts and interviews with staff and contractors in order to determine the underlying causes. In addition, the analysis will provide clear and accurate information to the public from an independent source regarding the system’s capacity and vulnerabilities that can be communicated to the public.

Respondents must possess subject matter expertise and extensive experience in both root-cause analysis and the technical subject matter involved. Proposals are due by August 21, 2017. To view the RFP, click here.

Sandbags Available for Pick-Up

In anticipation of rainfall, sandbags are available at two locations, the intersection of Elysian Fields Avenue and I-610, and S. Broad Avenue and Poydras Street. Sandbags are no longer being offered at Perdido Street and S. Lopez Street.

Preparing for High Water

NOPD has staged barricades in the following areas prone to flooding, including under overpasses around the city. At this time, the City also has high water vehicles and other response vehicles on hand in the event that flooding occurs.

  • Paris Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard
  • St. Bernard Avenue at I-610
  • Franklin Avenue at I-610
  • Gentilly Boulevard and Peoples Avenue
  • Press Drive and Leon C. Simon Drive
  • Broad Street and A.P. Tureaud Street
  • City Park Pumping Station
  • Canal Boulevard and Navarre Street
  • Tulane Avenue and S. Carrollton Avenue
  • Metairie Road at I-10

Viewing Real-Time Traffic Accidents Online

The City also unveiled Streetwise, a website for viewing real-time reports of flooding and accidents from 911 calls. To see where reported traffic accidents and street flooding are occurring, visit streetwise.nola.gov.

Response to Flooding

New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness conducted damage assessments along with State officials. Due to the highly-localized flooding and the differences block-by-block in flooding impacts, the City is conducting individual outreach door-to-door. The Office of Economic Development is conducting outreach to businesses. The City encourages anyone with questions on debris collection, flood assessment or flood clean-up to call 311 as this helps the City get more information about specific impact of flooding.

According to FEMA, over 800 insurance claims have been filed in New Orleans through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The City has also requested assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Flood Recovery Resource Center 

This week, the City of New Orleans announced it would host a flood recovery resource center to provide flood-affected residents and businesses additional access to information and resources. A National Flood Insurance Program specialist and several community organizations will be present to inform the public of available services.

The final flood recovery resource center will be hosted at the Corpus Christi Epiphany Community Resource Center at 2022 St. Bernard Ave, (entrance at the corner of N. Galvez Street and Onzaga Street) tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information on flood recovery resources, residents and business owners should visit https://nola.gov/ready/augustflood/ or call 311.

Turbine Power Loss on Wed., August 9

On Wednesday, August 9, S&WB lost service to one of its power turbines, leaving only one turbine and Entergy power as the remaining power source. As a result, the system’s capacity to drain stormwater from the streets is diminished for the East Bank of New Orleans, west of the Industrial Canal. Pumping stations in Algiers, New Orleans East and Lower Ninth Ward have diesel generators and therefore are not impacted in this event.

S&WB crews worked 24-hour shifts to repair the turbine and to secure backup power to restore power to drainage pumping stations to the impacted portion of the city.

Mayor Signs Declaration of Emergency

On August 10, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed a declaration of emergency for the City of New Orleans and Governor John Bel Edwards signed an emergency declaration the State of Louisiana as well. The local disaster declaration allows for more flexible strategy and purchasing of assets needed in emergencies.

Under the Mayor’s declaration, contractors are working around-the-clock to repair pumps currently out of service at G. J. Sullivan Drainage Pumping Station #6 (345 Orpheum Drive.)  As a result of this emergency work, the drainage pumping stations’ ventilation system and exhaust fans must run 24 hours a day. Residents are advised to be patient and should expect to hear the fans operating until further notice. Residents with questions should call the Sewerage and Water Board at 52-WATER (529-2837).

City Modifying Plans In Case of Tropical Weather Development

In anticipation of tropical weather during Hurricane Season, the City is actively monitoring tropical weather and reassessing its plans for a variety of scenarios in partnership with Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (GOHSEP), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), US Army Corps of Engineers, National Guard, and other agencies. We are committed to ensuring the city and our residents are prepared and fully informed in the event of a tropical system affecting New Orleans. The planning effort continued this week and the City hosted a tabletop exercise on Friday, August 18 to review plans.

City Advises Residents to Take Precautions 

If all of the power from Entergy continues, the City will be able to handle typical rainfall. However, the city remains at risk in the event of a major rain storm until additional turbines are brought back online. Out of an abundance of caution, the City is urging residents in the affected area to move their vehicles to higher ground, take necessary actions to protect personal property, and stay off of roadways during rainstorms unless an emergency makes it absolutely necessary to do so. 

Residents should call 911 to report street flooding and life-threatening emergencies. Residents are advised to remain indoors during heavy rainfall. Residents should call 311 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. to 5 p. m. for non-emergency services and general information. The City’s Emergency Operations Center will remain open and staffed until further notice.

At this time, drinking water and sewerage services for all of the city are unaffected by this outage. The generators being secured will provide additional redundancy for those systems as well.

The City will keep residents updated through email alerts and Twitter @NOLAReady.

# # #

Next Step Announced for HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) announced it is accepting public comments on the criteria for the HIRE Vets Medallion Program. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register today.

The Medallion will recognize employers who recruit, employ, and retain veterans. The Department is establishing the program under the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act, or HIRE Vets Act. President Donald J. Trump signed the act into law on May 5, 2017.

“Veterans have a proven ability to lead under pressure and deliver results,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “The veteran unemployment rate in July was a low 3.5 percent; yet 356,000 veterans are still looking for work. The HIRE Vets Medallion will recognize employers who hire our nation’s heroes, and encourage others to follow suit.”

The proposed rule would establish the criteria and the process to enable VETS to receive award applications from employers, to verify the information, and then issue HIRE Vets Medallion awards to recognize employers that meet the criteria. The proposed rule also establishes gold and platinum award levels in categories to recognize small, medium, and large employers.

The Secretary will present chosen recipients with a HIRE Vets Medallion Award and a virtual HIRE Vets Medallion which they can use to show their support for veterans’ employment. The proposed rule will also establish an application fee to cover the program’s costs.

Those interested may submit public comments on this NPRM online using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or in writing by mail, hand delivery, or courier to Randall Smith, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-1325, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210.

All comments should include Regulatory Identification Number 1293-AA21. Comments will close 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

DESIGN PUBLIC HEARING TO BE HELD ON PROPOSED PLANS FOR THIRD SEGMENT OF I-64 WIDENING PROJECT – Public invited to learn more about plans to provide congestion relief on I-64 in York County

DESIGN PUBLIC HEARING TO BE HELD ON PROPOSED PLANS FOR THIRD SEGMENT OF I-64 WIDENING PROJECT
Public invited to learn more about plans to provide congestion relief on I-64 in York County

SUFFOLK — The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will hold a design public hearing on Thursday, May 18, to present the proposed plans for the third segment of widening improvements on Interstate 64 in York County.

Design Public Hearing
Thursday, May 18, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Bruton High School
185 E. Rochambeau Drive
Williamsburg, VA  23188

The purpose of the meeting is to give citizens an opportunity to review the project exhibits on display, meet with VDOT representatives and provide input. This will be an open-house format meeting with no formal presentation. Media are invited to attend.

Citizens may provide oral and written comments at the hearing or submit them by May 28, 2017, to Janet Hedrick, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 1992 South Military Highway, Chesapeake, Virginia 23320 or via email to Janet.Hedrick@VDOT.Virginia.gov. Please reference “I-64 Segment III Capacity Improvements Comment” in the subject line.

For more information on this project, please visit: http://www.i64widening.org/learn_more/segment_3.asp

 (END)

Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Speech by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel on the occasion of the G20 Dialogue Forum for the Science and Research Community (S20) in Halle (Saale) on 22 March 2017

begin 2017.03.22

Professor Hacker – I am also including all of your colleagues from the G20 nations or their representatives,
Minister-President, my dear Reiner Haseloff,
Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank you for the work that you have done. Science depends on curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and the joy of discovery. In science, one person builds on the insights of another. It is precisely this that makes it different from politics. In politics, one can feel comfortable saying the same thing two or three times because the audience is always different. In science, however, there is the expectation that you won’t repeat what a predecessor has already said. In politics, one is sometimes pleased when two people in a party say the same thing. Reiner Haseloff knows what I am talking about.

In science, interaction and cooperation are very important. Openness and interconnectedness are virtually taken for granted as part of life. This is also why science presents itself as a driver of globalisation on the one hand, and benefits from globalisation on the other. The fact that globalisation exists also makes scientific activity simpler and more normal.

Three hundred and sixty five years ago, four doctors laid the foundation for the Leopoldina in order to promote the exchange of ideas in the medical and natural sciences. Back in the era of stagecoaches, it was still somewhat more complex to communicate with each other than it is today in the digital age. But the urge for knowledge and understanding, the urge to learn from and with one another, already existed back then. The same rule that applied in those days still does today: Only those who demonstrate an openness to the world, and engage in cooperation beyond professional and physical boundaries, can fully benefit from it.

This is basically true for science, as it is for the economy. In both areas, we increasingly face the same challenges through the growing interconnectedness worldwide. Developments on one side of the globe have more and more impact on the other side of the globe. This applies in a positive sense, just as it does in a negative sense. One of the most concrete examples was surely the international financial and economic crisis at the end of the last decade.

Globalisation is taking place. Whoever tries to evade it, whoever focuses on isolation and protectionism, may perhaps expect to gain some advantages in the short term. However, it is clear to me that this will cause one’s own innovative capabilities and competitiveness to weaken in the medium and long term. After all, we find a great many examples of this in history.

In a closely networked world, we need – more than ever – answers that are consistent and don’t undermine each other in their effects. Therefore, global questions also require global answers. The G20 at the heads of state and government level – I wish to repeat this – was the result of the financial and economic crisis in the years 2007 and 2008. It was then that the heads of state and government met for the first time at G20 level. Previously, this was a forum for finance ministers. We saw back then that our joint action – concerning bank regulation as well as efforts to stimulate the world economy – actually made it more possible to deal with this global crisis.

At the beginning of July, the heads of state and government of the G20 member nations will meet for a summit in Hamburg. On this occasion, too, we will have guests in attendance. They are the representatives of regional organisations as well as representatives of international organisations, such as the United Nations, the IMF, the OECD, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Labour Organisation. For this reason, too, G20 summits are always global meetings, as it were. We have now included the scientific community, as well as other areas of civil society, in the summit process. Civil-society groups will be present from the very start this time – such as representatives of the business community as well as the trade unions. Also because of the good experiences from the G7 or G8 process, we had decided to expand the group of participants this year at the G20 level as well.

Therefore, this is a world premiere today, so to speak: the first meeting of science academies in the G20 format. I thank you for making the journey, which involved very long distances and travel times in some cases. I would also like to express my gratitude to Professor Hacker and his team, as well as all other participants, for deciding to convene here, for preparing the meeting, for thinking about the topics, for making a note of the conclusions, and all of this – I’ll come back to it later – in sensible language that we, as politicians, can understand.

Apart from business and trade-union representatives, the other groups we will meet with include non governmental organisations, think tanks, women and young people. As a result, this G20 process also has an impact on society.

In reference to science, it is clear that responsible policy depends on scientific recommendation. This is self evident for us in national politics. For this reason, we time and again seek the advice of scientists. This is enriching for policymakers, I would say.

Naturally, I am also pleased that Minister-President Reiner Haseloff is here and has said that his daily work routine is also enriched by this. I also thank the state of Saxony-Anhalt for being such a good host state for the German National Academy of Sciences. If the budget is already secured for the next two years, then that is much more than I can predict for our budgetary commitments. So, congratulations.

I mentioned earlier that you have developed a policy brief. It is important that the language of science is translated in such a way that it can also be comprehended by non scientists. In this sense, as presidents and representatives of your national academies, you are the builders of bridges into society. Because when it comes to the many problems that we have to solve, we can only benefit from scientific knowledge. This applies to the topic of health just as much as it does to other subjects, such as digitalisation, climate and environmental protection, poverty reduction, the empowerment of women, and the G20 partnership with Africa. All of this is crucial for the shaping of sustainable development.

We have adopted the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda. A topic that plays a central role in the 2030 Agenda is health. The United Nations says in this sustainability charter that every person in the world is entitled to reasonable health care. Of course, serious illnesses are a bitter stroke of fate for those affected and their relatives, first of all. Many diseases also lead to life threatening situations or even to death. But as Professor Hacker already said: There aren’t just individual repercussions; illnesses can also devastate entire regions economically. They can cause social tensions and they can lead to violent conflicts. Therefore, it’s not for nothing that the 2030 Agenda gives a great deal of recognition to the topic of health.

As I have said, we have already had the scientific academies present in the G7 process and focused on health issues. We know – most notably from the Ebola crisis – that health issues can become a global topic very quickly and unexpectedly. People travel today, in times of globalisation, from one place to another – and the pathogens travel with them. The president of the World Bank, himself a physician, repeatedly points out the following: If we were to get another pandemic like the Spanish flu, as we had at the start of the 20th century, then the world – with the intense interconnectedness that we have today – would very quickly find itself in a very, very difficult state.

For this reason, a topic like health belongs on the G20 agenda. Perhaps the related organisational efforts sometimes can be quite burdensome. But I hope that you have also enjoyed getting to know each other. Of course, I also express my gratitude for the communiqué, in which you deal with the issues that particularly concern us.

Professor Hacker, I agree with you: It is essential to have strong health systems on the ground in order to prevent the outbreak of epidemics. Many epidemics could be confined locally if the health systems were sustainable and stable. This is a problem that affects many poorer countries, in particular. If you take one look at the African continent, you will know what a huge amount of work is ahead of us.

Therefore, German development cooperation has been drawing on exactly this point for years now. In Africa alone, we will make available about 600 million euros by 2020 in order to improve health systems. However, I would also add that good government leadership should always go with it – particularly in the cooperation with Africa – so that the funds don’t get stuck somewhere “unsustainably,” as it were, but rather that sustainable structures emerge out of this financial support.

With the World Health Organization, we have also started the “Healthy Systems – Healthy Lives” initiative, which serves to develop a common understanding of how we can strengthen health systems in a sustainable way. The goal is an action framework with specific agreements, with which we support countries in their efforts to provide better medical care. I promote this project among the G20 partners as well.

Within the G7, we spoke on several occasions – including when Germany held the presidency – about strong health systems. In 2015, when we hosted the summit, the G7 countries committed themselves to providing aid for at least 60 nations, in order to truly implement the international health regulations of the WHO. We have clear guidelines from the World Health Organization, but we haven’t introduced them everywhere. At the summit that followed last year in Japan, we broadened this goal. On the list, there are now 76 countries that we want to support in the development of an efficient health system. The G7 nations are doing this. Of course, we also need the governments concerned to have their own initiatives. Naturally, this process always involves evaluating the implementation of measures. I may say that we have completed such an evaluation in 30 countries. This is also planned for 30 more countries.

Strengthening national health systems is one aspect. The other one is to be prepared for emergencies at an international level as well, if diseases were to spread internationally in spite of preventive measures. In this case, the main issue is speed. A rapid response is critical. Medical staff, materials and mobile laboratories must be on the spot quickly in a crisis. Sufficient money must also be available.

I would like to add one more point because it is very sensitive. The World Health Organization is structured in such a way that it has regional offices. These regional offices have a relatively autonomous status. That means there is no chain of command from the head of the World Health Organization and no clear reporting obligation when something happens in a region. Instead, it is largely at the discretion of the regional offices to report on it.

Naturally, there is then something similar to shame: If I identify a looming pandemic in my region, should I report it and thereby trigger an alarm worldwide, so to speak, with all the consequences that this could involve – a collapse of tourism, economic repercussions? Should I have the courage to make myself heard in order to prevent major damage? There has been much discussion about this at the World Health Organization. The voluntary commitments – shall we say – were reinforced. I am relatively optimistic that it will work better in future. But this is, of course, a very important point. Because in order to trigger an alarm and to start a chain of action, I naturally need someone to tell me that something is going on somewhere – and, if possible, at a point in time when the spread of the disease isn’t that far advanced yet.

We must also ensure effective coordination. Therefore, the World Health Organization is of great importance in two respects. It must be the organisation from which we get the information and the assessment. It can employ the help of specialists for this purpose. There must also be the capability of triggering a chain of action for the international community.

The World Bank also plays an important role in this context. In particular, it has established the basis for poorer countries to be able to insure themselves against pandemic risks. This means it’s no longer necessary to just sit there alone with a huge burden in one’s hour of need because such insurance makes it possible to put to use the chain of action that we are still building up. For example, Japan and Germany are participating in this emergency programme. Naturally, there are huge debates, as there always are in science: Can one be insured against pandemics? Who wants to calculate and assess the risk? How long could it take for me to ever get into such a situation? It can take a very long time for the damaging event to occur. But it can then become very expensive once the damage has been done. These are all wonderful topics and they are all being dealt with.

A broad field of research opens up when it involves developing effective means to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases. In relation to potential pandemics in regions that may not have received the full focus of our attention so far, there should also be diagnostic and treatment options. You know how long it took with the Ebola vaccination. If it had involved measles, then perhaps we would have had it a lot sooner. Therefore, it is also important to be fair and to create similar treatment options for the different risks in the world.

In Germany – which I want to mention at this point – we have made great efforts to attend to health research, particularly in the past few years. I recently opened a health-research centre for neurodegenerative illnesses in Bonn. We have created a framework programme for health research in order to be well equipped to deal with the most diverse illnesses and to be a good partner in international collaborative arrangements.

However, we see that the incentive to go into certain fields of research also has to be kindled. In this regard, a global view is of great importance to all of us in order to concentrate not just on the diseases that we deal with in industrialised countries, but also to take into consideration other illnesses. At this point, I would like to mention the so called neglected, often tropical, diseases that were already a topic of interest during our G7 presidency. The research commitment for this doesn’t seem to be paying off at all in some cases. But if you consider that up to 1 billion people could be affected by such illnesses, you realise that it is a huge issue.

Therefore, I also expressly welcome an initiative that was launched at the beginning of this year – it was given the go ahead in Davos – and is called the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, abbreviated as CEPI. This will promote the research and development of new vaccines. Various countries, foundations and companies are participating in the initiative. Germany is also joining this public private partnership with a contribution of 10 million euros.

Professor Hacker has already pointed out that the development of new antibiotics and antibiotic resistance are also huge issues. We risk falling behind again in some areas because antibiotics that we had once researched no longer have the desired effect due to antimicrobial resistance. Therefore, the topic is one of the pillars of our health commitment in the G20.

In the G7, we reached agreement that we should rely on the so called One Health approach. That means there is just one health that applies to humans and animals in equal measure. That is to say, we carefully examine the food products that we humans ingest, looking at how the food came about and what types of antibiotics were used on the animals that we consume.

The G20 agriculture ministers have already held a meeting and committed themselves to the goal of allowing the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine exclusively for therapeutic purposes and no longer for the purpose of promoting animal growth. But one must say that the definition of therapeutic purpose is an intriguing matter because the question of how much room hens and chicks have in their coops, for example, plays a part in deciding whether antibiotics must be used in order to prevent diseases, or whether one can forgo antibiotics because there is enough space for the poultry. We should give very good consideration to how high a price we are paying when there is resistance to an antibiotic and we aren’t finding new antibiotics so easily. Achieving success in antibiotic research in the pharmaceutical industry – I am no specialist, of course, but I’ve taken a look at it; indeed, all of you here are experts – is like getting five numbers right, or probably six, in Lotto. You can’t plan this easily. Success doesn’t grow on trees.

This year, not only you from the science academies have met, but we also have a conference of health ministers at the G20 level for the first time in order to once again make a good professional evaluation of what you tell us here. We have also asked the health ministers to carry out the simulation of a pandemic outbreak – a kind of dry run – for the first time and to describe action plans. At a national level, we conduct regular training exercises for anything and everything back in our home country in order to practice how we should act in the event of a catastrophe. But on a global level, we aren’t familiar with such exercises, which led to a situation in which the most efficient helpers in the fight against Ebola were military units because they were able to act with clear chains of command and clear capabilities, while the civilian structures were not prepared for it: Who will do the transporting? Who will procure the medicines? What does the chain of command look like? Who will boost hospital capacity? There were quite different approaches. In this respect, we want to be better prepared for crisis situations.

The state and government heads are supposed to be presented with a short version – so to speak – of the simulation exercise. I’m still not quite sure how theoretical or how clear the thing will be. I always look at my summit Sherpa quite eagerly when something is being presented to me. But it should be the case that we, as state and government heads, are also able to understand what is being presented to us. Because such presentations then lead to action recommendations, which we can prepare in our governments.

I really consider this topic to be extraordinarily important. For this reason, I would like to once again sincerely thank you for facing this joint undertaking. I hope that it was rewarding for you as well. It certainly is for us. Many thanks, Professor Hacker, and to your colleagues as well.

I have forgotten one other thing. We saw how poorly things worked when handling the Ebola crisis. We then considered what lessons were to be learned from Ebola. We thought that was something only the United Nations could carry forward – the World Health Organization indeed belongs to the United Nations system. Then three countries initially – Germany, Ghana and Norway – formulated an appeal to the UN Secretary-General to address the issue. The UN Secretary-General then commissioned three other countries to prepare recommendations for action. That was somewhat strange. I said: I haven’t heard anything more about it because three other countries are now dealing with it. The international community is large, but we were allowed to again bring in our experts in the second panel. The action recommendations were then delivered to the UN Secretary-General. After that, he named a special officer to oversee it further in cooperation with the WHO. It finally found a way, so to speak, into the mechanism of the United Nations. As a result, the issue was formalised and therefore has relevance at the United Nations as well. Now they should just make sure not to lose sight of it.

Ensuring prosperity for all

How can an economically prosperous, ecologically sustainable and socially integrative future be created for the world population? Academics, politicians and business representatives met at the Think20 Dialogue Forum to draw up recommendations for the G20 Summit in July which were then presented to Peter Altmaier.

Head of the Federal Chancellery Peter Altmaier at the Think20 Dialogue ForumPeter Altmaier, Head of the Federal Chancellery, accepted the Think20 recommendations on the Chancellor’s behalf Photo: PwC

The global economy is growing ever more connected and is shaped by rapid technical progress. Nevertheless, economic progress no longer seems to go hand in hand with social progress. One of the goals of the G20 should, ultimately, be to shape the global economy in such a way that people’s most pressing needs can be met. But that also means that the G20 should make efforts to promote not just economic growth but also robust, integrative and sustainable prosperity.

Academics, politicians and business representatives spent two days at the Think20 Dialogue Forum in Berlin discussing solutions to these global challenges. They then presented their recommendations to Peter Altmaier, Head of the Federal Chancellery.

Tackling global problems

Peter Altmaier said that innovation was driven by global problems which needed to be solved and by technical developments, not by politics. That was why it was necessary, he said, to create governmental structures so that problems could be discussed globally in a networked world. “We now understand that technical progress will only be possible and the risks associated with climate change, migration, poverty and terrorism can only be tackled in our closely networked world if we act together,” the Head of the Federal Chancellery said.

Migration and flight are huge challenges, Altmaier said. Events in the autumn of 2015 had showed that there was no fully functional international framework in place for dealing with such problems. Many countries in Europe, as well as in Africa, were helping to prevent a humanitarian disaster. The G20, Altmaier said, should focus on more than just economic and financial issues. The G20 countries needed to act together to address social and ecological risks. The problems faced in Africa, in particular, needed to be tackled collaboratively, said Altmaier.

Finding solutions to new challenges

It was of course important to increase military spending; foreign and security policy was on the agenda, but in a different way than in the past. It was not so much rockets and weapons which were important today, Altmaier said, but above all education, vocational training and integrating women into the world of work and the political debate. That could best be achieved in the context of democratic structures and global initiatives.

The experts recommended that the G20 countries develop a joint vision. That vision would need to enable the global population to shape an economically prosperous, ecologically sustainable and socially integrative future which was capable of withstanding any unforeseen shocks. The G20 countries as well as all the other nations of the world needed to each go their own way and at the same time find a common vision for tackling problems which affected them all, they explained.

Three simple ideas

Such a common vision should be based on three simple ideas: Firstly, the future of humanity is dependent on the stabilisation and cultivation of global public goods, including the global economy and the biosphere. These global public goods are the precondition for peace, security and human well-being going forward.

Secondly, cultivating these global public goods requires an overall culture of global cooperation as well as a system of global collective action. Thirdly, top-down global good governance will not work unless globalisation is focused on people.

As regards climate action, the Agenda 2030, which governments adopted in September 2015, already reflects the cornerstones of such an urgently required global vision. Consequently, the main emphasis of the G20 agenda, which is continually evolving, should be ensuring that people’s well-being across the globe is based on prosperity, their ability to actively participate and social integration.

Think20 (T20), a network of international think tanks from the G20 countries, supports the solving of these challenges by delivering recommendations and new perspectives to the G20 heads of state and government which can serve as guides when it comes to shaping policy.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Speech by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel at the “G20 Africa Partnership – investing in a common future” conference on 12 June 2017 in Berlin

begin 2017.06.12

Messrs Presidents,
Prime Minister Gentiloni, my friend Paolo,
Distinguished representatives of international organisations, G20 nations and partner countries,
My honoured fellow Cabinet members Wolfgang Schäuble and Gerd Müller,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Some of you have travelled a very long way to be here today. So let me wish you all a very warm welcome to this partnership conference entitled “investing in a common future”. We hope that this conference will help ensure that these are not just nice words on paper. We really want to work during this conference to put cooperation into practice.

Our economic relations form an ever closer-knit web around the globe. Thanks to the Internet, we now know more about each other than ever before. Distance has lost its import when it comes to making new contacts and maintaining them. Developments like these of course bring tremendous opportunities. However, they also mean that we have to work towards sustainable and inclusive economic development for the entire world. A single country acting alone cannot make much headway on such a project. Yet globalisation is not a destiny to which we must yield without demur. On the contrary, it is something we must forge in partnership with others.

The Agenda 2030 is a great achievement, because all the countries on our planet have agreed on a common pathway for development. In contrast to the Millennium Development Goals, which defined targets for the developing countries, this time all countries – developed and developing nations alike – are part of this Agenda 2030.

It is on this basis that we have adopted the motto, “shaping an interconnected world”, for our G20 Presidency. The G20 Summit will take place in Hamburg. We have chosen a maritime image – a reef knot – as the symbol of our Presidency. The harder you pull on it, the better it holds. It symbolises the ties between our countries.

We know that pan-global development can only succeed if all continents share in such development. This also means, first and foremost, that the African continent has to make progress on its development pathway over the next few years. Even today, the economies of some African countries are remarkably dynamic. Some are even growing faster than the industrialised and newly industrialised economies of the G20. Success stories like those should inspire others. They reveal the potential that lies in African countries – for example in the field of renewable energy and digital development. There are many good examples of decentralised energy supply and much more besides. But much still remains to be done.

We in the industrialised countries have to consider whether we have always taken the right path in providing our traditional development aid. I don’t think we have. We have to focus more strongly on each specific country’s own economic development. That’s what gave rise to the idea – proposed first and foremost by our Finance Minister and our Development Minister – of saying we need an initiative through which we don’t speak about Africa, but speak with Africa. The result was the G20 Compact with Africa Initiative. The countries of Africa have also set their own targets in their Agenda 2063 and have clearly stated what they believe development should bring. That’s why it’s called the Compact with Africa, not the Compact for Africa. The idea is for each country to say what development steps it considers necessary and how it thinks we can help and how, together, we can make available suitable instruments, so that the relevant development projects do succeed. You will talk about this in more detail today and tomorrow.

We want to lend support for regional market integration, not least in order to enhance the transfer of technology and know-how. We also want to ensure that trade flows between Europe and African countries really benefit everyone. We still have a lot to do in this regard.

The next European Union-African Union summit will take place in November. Today’s meeting, which we are hosting as part of our G20 Presidency, will also serve to prepare the ground for that summit. We are aware that our achievements of the past years are not yet enough. In many countries, development lags behind what is needed given the speed of population growth. Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050.

We also know that development is only possible if security is given. However, in many parts of Africa security is not yet sufficiently guaranteed – be it due to fragile sovereignty, conflicts, terrorism or humanitarian crises. Numerous human tragedies are being played out as we speak. For this reason, boosting the economy does not top the agenda in some African countries. They need to deal with day-to-day survival first.

As a result, the G20 Africa Partnership is concerned on the one hand with economic development, but on the other with fostering peace, stability and security – i.e. in creating the basic conditions for economic activity. There, too, we have to learn to think anew. For many years development policy-makers did not pay sufficient attention to security issues. For many years, we felt virtuous when we were not dealing with military equipment. But some of you have said to me that you are expected to combat terrorism, but are not given any support to do so.

I thus think we have to be more honest and admit that only where security is given can development take root. I consider it very courageous of some countries to take responsibility upon themselves in the fight against terrorism in Mali and its neighbourhood. France now wants a Security Council mandate in this connection. I can only say that Germany will support this.

Special attention will have to be devoted to the youth of Africa – as highlighted in the Agenda 2063. More than half of all Africans are under 25 years old. As I keep saying in Germany, the average age here in Germany is 43 years. The average age in Niger, Mali and other countries is less than 15 years. This just goes to show the very different situations we have to deal with. If we don’t give young people prospects for the future, if we don’t invest in education and skills, if we don’t strengthen the position of girls and young women, the development agenda will not succeed.

In other words, as part of our work in the G20 we will do everything we can, through the compacts with African countries and through special initiatives for women’s education and female entrepreneurship, to improve the prerequisites that should enable Africa to develop and grow as we need it to.

If hopelessness is too widespread in Africa, young people are also more likely to seek a better life elsewhere in the world. Thus, by working together with you for your countries, we are also enhancing our own security and will be able to put a stop to the activities of criminals who are toying with refugees and migrants’ fates and extracting large sums of money from them. Many refugees have terrible tales to tell of human smuggling and trafficking in human beings. States thus have to work together. We have to create legal options for movement and must not permit people to make money from the suffering of others.

Ladies and gentlemen, this conference also serves to draw attention to the differences between your countries, to the diversity of challenges faced in Africa. For this reason, too, let me thank you for coming. Many people in Germany are not yet as well informed about either the good or the difficult aspects of life in your countries as we would wish. Getting to know each other better, learning more about each other, and assuming responsibility together are all also aspects of shaping an interconnected world. I hope that this conference will make a contribution to this end. And so let me ask all of you here today not to mince your words, to talk “tacheles”, as we say in Germany. Simply saying nice things doesn’t achieve anything. We have to learn from one another. And we need results. That’s what we’re here for.

A very warm welcome to you all.

DoD Initiates Process to Elevate U.S. Cyber Command to Unified Combatant Command

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2017 — At the direction of the president, the Defense Department today initiated the process to elevate U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command.

“This new unified combatant command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our nation’s defense,” President Donald J. Trump said in a written statement.

The elevation of the command demonstrates the increased U.S. resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure allies and partners and deter adversaries, the statement said.  The elevation also will help to streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of those operations and will ensure that critical cyberspace operations are adequately funded, the statement said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is examining the possibility of separating U.S. Cyber Command from the National Security Agency, and is to announce his recommendations at a later date.

Growing Mission

The decision to elevate U.S. Cyber Command is consistent with Mattis’ recommendation and the requirements of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Kenneth P. Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, told reporters at the Pentagon today.

“The decision is a welcome and necessary one that ensures that the nation is best positioned to address the increasing threats in cyberspace,” he added.

Cybercom’s elevation from its previous subunified command status demonstrates the growing centrality of cyberspace to U.S. national security, Rapuano said, adding that the move signals the U.S. resolve to “embrace the changing nature of warfare and maintain U.S. military superiority across all domains and phases of conflict.”

Cybercom was established in 2009 in response to a clear need to match and exceed enemies seeking to use the cyber realm to attack the United States and its allies. The command is based at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, with the National Security Agency. Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers is the commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency director. The president has directed Mattis to recommend a commander for U.S. Cyber Command, and Rogers for now remains in the dual-hatted role, Rapuano said.

More Strategic Role

Since its establishment, Cybercom has grown significantly, consistent with DoD’s cyber strategy and reflective of major increases in investments in capabilities and infrastructure, Rapuano said. The command reached full operational capability Oct. 31, 2010, but it is still growing and evolving. The command is concentrating on building its Cyber Mission Force, which should be complete by the end of fiscal year 2018, he said.

The force is expected to consist of almost 6,200 personnel organized into 133 teams. All of the teams have already reached initial operational capability, and many are actively conducting operations. The force incorporates reserve component personnel and leverages key cyber talent from the civilian sector.

“This decision means that Cyber Command will play an even more strategic role in synchronizing cyber forces and training,  conducting and coordinating military cyberspace operations, and advocating for and prioritizing cyber investments within the department,”  Rapuano said.

Cybercom already has been performing many responsibilities of a unified combatant command. The elevation also raises the stature of the commander of Cyber Command to a peer level with the other unified combatant command commanders, allowing the Cybercom commander to report directly to the secretary of defense, Rapuano pointed out.

The new command will be the central point of contact for resources for the department’s operations in the cyber domain and will serve to synchronize cyber forces under a single manager. The commander will also ensure U.S. forces will be interoperable.

“This decision is a significant step in the department’s continued efforts to build its cyber capabilities, enabling Cyber Command to provide real, meaningful capabilities as a command on par with the other geographic and functional combat commands,” Rapuano said.

(Follow Jim Garamone and Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews and @FerdinandoDoD)