Five Things to Know, March 4, 2024
(Republic of Korea Air Force photo)

Five Things to Know, March 4, 2024

1. U.S. and South Korean airmen began a five-day combat drill to sharpen the allied defense against aerial attacks Monday amid a broader exercise that kicked off in South Korea that day. More than 20 U.S. and South Korean fighters flew counter-air drills for Ssangmae Training, or Buddy Squadron, from Osan Air Base, roughly 30 miles south of Seoul, the Ministry of National Defense said in a news release. Aircraft used in Buddy Squadron include F-16 Fighting Falcons from Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing and F-15K Slam Eagles from South Korea’s 11th Fighter Wing, according to the release.
2. Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday is hosting a member of Israel’s wartime Cabinet who is visiting Washington in defiance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Benny Gantz, a centrist political rival of Netanyahu, is sitting down with several senior Biden administration officials this week, including Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser. President Joe Biden is at Camp David, the presidential retreat just outside Washington, until Tuesday.

2.   The death toll rose to 10 on Sunday from a Russian drone strike that destroyed an apartment block in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa the previous day when a local official reported that the body of a third child was pulled from the rubble, along with that of the child's mother. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Western allies to boost Ukraine's air defenses in the wake of the deadly attack.

3.   President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress on March 7, with several military-connected issues expected to be among his talking points. Although policies directly impacting American troops or their families are not expected to be featured in the national speech, Biden is expected to talk about continued U.S. military support for Ukraine in their war against Russia and U.S. assistance to Israel in their ongoing military operations in Gaza.

Soldiers in protective gear breathed steadily through respirators outside a Thai airport hangar, where they prepared on Sunday to screen a group of volunteers for radiation during a simulated evacuation. Despite their imposing appearance, the soldiers patiently processed a group of about 50 role players from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and the United States. The drill was one piece of Cobra Gold, the largest military exercise in mainland Southeast Asia, according to the Army. The annual drills brought 4,500 U.S. service members from the four branches together with troops from Thailand, the host nation, and 30 other countries, including Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. The drill was meant to simulate as close as possible a real-world evacuation and prepare participants for any future disaster.