The Malaysia Airlines flight that mysteriously disappeared 35,000 feet over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8 has prompted a massive maritime search involving dozens of aircraft and ships from 10 countries, including both the United States and China. But it has also underscored the lingering technological shortcomings and fragile communications networks bedeviling many of the nations in a region where territorial and political disputes continue to simmer, analysts said.
The U.S. Navy announced Thursday that a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Truxtun, has left Souda Bay in Greece and will steam toward the Black Sea -- and the crisis in Ukraine.
Senior Pentagon officials, top military commanders, and powerful lawmakers from both parties have long wrestled with a single question: is China, home to one of the world's largest and fastest growing militaries, a direct threat to the peace and security of the United States? Beijing's surprise announcement of a massive increase in its defense spending Wednesday is adding new fuel to the debate and emerging as a major obstacle to the Obama administration's hopes of trimming the Pentagon's bloated wartime budget.
The Army is cutting thousands of soldiers from its force while fielding new vehicles to replace the Humvee and upgrading tanks and helicopters. The Air Force is shedding thousands more airmen as it buys new, stealthy F-35 fighter jets and plans for its next-generation long-range bomber. And the Marine Corps is shrinking by thousands of personnel as it prepares to buy not only more F-35s, but a next-generation heavy lift helicopter and an amphibious vehicle that will swim from Navy ships to shore carrying combat troops.
The Ukrainian government called for the mobilization of 130,000 troops on Monday, threatening to take on the Russian military if tensions on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula boil over into a full-scale armed conflict between the two nations. There's a major problem for leaders in Kiev, however: While Ukraine's military is stronger than the one Russia devastated when it conquered parts of Georgia in 2008, it is still under-funded, undermanned and poorly equipped to take on a vastly superior foe, experts said.