China: Update. The Chinese announced that they monitored the flight of US B-52 bombers, but chose not to react based on their threat assessment. Some Chinese media called the People's Liberation Army a "paper tiger."
India: Update. The aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya departed Severodvinsk, Russia, on 26 November. The carrier will have a few days' stop to clear customs and fill its bunkers at Murmansk, some 215 nautical miles away, where it will be joined by the frigate INS Trikhand and fleet tanker INS Deepak to begin the voyage to India by 30 November.
When the ships enter the Mediterranean Sea, they will rendezvous with two more Indian escort s - a destroyer and a frigate. The task group will proceed, via the Suez Canal. One Indian naval defense news report stated that when Vikramaditya enters the Indian Ocean it will rendezvous with the other Indian aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, and other ships and submarines to form a battle group.
The group will proceed across the Indian Ocean to a new naval base, INS Kadamba, outside Karwar, a city just south of Goa in Karnataka state. This will be the largest naval base in the Indian Ocean region. Vikramaditya and its escorts are expected in Karwar by the third week of January 2014.
Vikramaditya is traveling without its complement of MiG-29K fighters. Pilots from Black Panther Squadron are finishing certification training in Moscow. The shore-based test facility for Vikramaditya is INS Hansa, at Goa which is still under construction. The ship and its crew are scheduled to be fully operational by mid-2014.
Pakistan: New Chief of the Army Staff. On 27 November the government approved Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's appointment of Lieutenant Raheel Sharif as the new Chief of Army Staff. The transfer of command ceremony from General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to Lieutenant General Sharif will take place on 29 November.
Prime Minister Sharif also appointed Lieutenant General Rashad Mahmood, the most senior three-star general in the Pakistan Army, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), which is a prestigious but most ceremonial position. The most powerful military position in Pakistan is the Chief of Army Staff, which actually functions as a Chief of General Staff, i.e., a full command, not a staff, position.
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