Monday, May 31, 2010

DTN News: Deaths As Israeli Forces Storm Gaza Aid Ship

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Deaths As Israeli Forces Storm Gaza Aid Ship
Source: DTN News By Roger Smith complied from BBC News, AP + Press TV
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 31, 2010: More than 10 people have been killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army says.
Armed forces boarded the largest vessel overnight, clashing with some of the 500 people on board.
It happened about 40 miles (64 km) out to sea, in international waters.
Israel says its soldiers were shot at and attacked with bars and knives; the activists say Israeli troops came on board shooting.
The European Union has called for an inquiry to establish what happened. 'Guns and knives'
The six-ship flotilla, carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid, left the coast of Cyprus on Sunday and had been due to arrive in Gaza on Monday.
Israel says its soldiers boarded the lead ship in the early hours but were attacked with knives, bars and gunfire.
We were not going to pose any violent resistanceAudrey Bomse Free Gaza Movement
"Unfortunately this group were dead-set on confrontation," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told the BBC.
"Live fire was used against our forces. They initiated the violence, that's 100% clear," he said.
Organisers of the flotilla said at least 30 people were wounded in the incident. Israel says 10 of its soldiers were injured, one seriously.
A leader of Israel's Islamic Movement, Raed Salah, who was on board, was among those hurt.
Audrey Bomse, a spokesperson for the Free Gaza Movement, which is behind the convoy, told the BBC Israel's actions were disproportionate.
"We were not going to pose any violent resistance. The only resistance that there might be would be passive resistance such as physically blocking the steering room, or blocking the engine room downstairs, so that they couldn't get taken over. But that was just symbolic resistance."
She said there was "absolutely no evidence of live fire".
Israel says it will tow the boats to the port of Ashdod and deport the passengers from there. It says it will deliver the ships' aid to Gaza. Condemnation
Turkish TV pictures taken on board the Turkish ship leading the flotilla appeared to show Israeli soldiers fighting to control passengers.

The footage showed a number of people, apparently injured, lying on the ground. A woman was seen holding a blood-stained stretcher.
Al-Jazeera TV reported from the same ship that Israeli navy forces had opened fire and boarded the vessel, wounding the captain.

The Al-Jazeera broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, saying: "Everybody shut up!"
Israel's deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said his country "regrets any loss of life and did everything to avoid this outcome".
He accused the convoy of a "premeditated and outrageous provocation", describing the flotilla as an "armada of hate".
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel's actions, saying it had committed a massacre.
Most of the people on board the boats were Turkish.
Turkey said it "strongly condemn[ed] these inhumane practices of Israel", AFP news agency reported.
In Turkey, dozens of protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in the Istanbul, while Israeli ambassadors have been summoned to the Turkish, Greek and Spanish foreign ministries to explain what happened. Blockade
Israel had repeatedly said it would stop the boats, calling the campaign a "provocation intended to delegitimise Israel".
Israel and Egypt tightened a blockade of Gaza after the Islamist movement Hamas took power there in 2007.
Israel says it allows about 15,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid into Gaza every week.
But the United Nations says this is less than a quarter of what is needed.
The incident comes a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington after one of the most strained periods in US-Israeli relations in year.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

DTN News: IAF Combat And Heavy-Lift Chopper Trials To Begin By July

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: IAF Combat And Heavy-Lift Chopper Trials To Begin By July
Source: DTN News / IANS Indo-Asian News Service
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 31, 2010: The Indian Air Force (IAF) seems set for trials of new combat and heavy lift helicopters this summer, possibly from June or July, as Boeing gets ready to field its latest versions of AH 64D Apache and Chinook CH-47F helicopters.
So confident is Boeing that its top executives say the company is looking forward to be the first in the trials so as to set benchmarks that others in the competition cannot possibly match.
The US spends so much on Research & Development (R&D) that "our products are unbeatable in hi-tech and precision engagement", Dean Millsap, Regional Director, Asia Pacific for Boeing Rotorcraft Systems told India Strategic ( defence magazine.
The heavy lift Chinook, for instance, is the only helicopter that can land on water in an emergency, and also operate just above the water level to land or evacuate troops or people in a natural disaster situation.
IAF is looking for 22 Attack and 15 Heavy Lift helicopters as replacement for its Soviet vintage Mi 35 Attack and Mi 26 Heavy Lift machines which have served well but are too old now either to carry on or bear the burden of modern technology. The RfP for the two new aircraft was issued last year and besides Boeing, Russia's Rosoboronexport has offered newer versions of Mi 35 and Mi 26.
Italy's Finmeccanica, which owns AgustaWestland now, has offered the Mangusta attack helicopter, currently in service with the Italian Army. AgustaWestland has already won the IAF's order for 12 VIP helicopters.
As in case of the combat jets for the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCAs), trials for which have just been over, field trials for both the new helicopters would be held in hot and humid weather in the deserts of Rajasthan and the heights of the Himalayas, Jaisalmer and Leh included.
The Indian Army and Air Force are already holding trials for the utility helicopters in these regions, which are required in large numbers from imported and indigenous production kits. There is no Transfer of Technology (ToT) clause though for manufacturing the Attack and Heavy Lift helicopters in India.
Notably, IAF's Mi 35s have been upgraded over the last few years with Israeli night-fighting devices, but the airframes are too old for any more technology insertions. IAF had acquired half a dozen Mi 26 choppers for ferrying supplies to the Himalayas but hardly a couple of them are now able to fly, one problem being the lack of spares as its manufacturing facilities have closed down after the disintegration of the Soviet Union 20 years back.
Mi 26 is a huge machine though, equivalent to an An-12 aircraft that the IAF once used to fly.
But Millsap says: "No helicopter can match the stability of the Chinook, whose contra-rotating twin-rotors withstand rough weather in land, mountains and sea."
In Afghanistan, where the US and NATO forces are fighting the Al Qaida and Taliban terrorists, Chinooks maintain a steady supply to the troops while the Apaches give them cover if required in a battlezone.
Adds Vivek Lall, vice president and India country head for Boeing Defense and Space (BDS): "The Apache will be a capable and lethal defender of India's troops and assets, while the Chinook will answer many of the Indian military and humanitarian requirements."
While Millsap briefed a visiting Indian media group, invited by Boeing, on the capabilities of the AH 64D Block III, which is still under development, other company executives, Jack Dougherty and Mark Bellow, highlighted the capabilities of the Chinook with graphic footage from the troubled Afghan mountains.
The first Block III Apache would be delivered to the US Army in 2011 and to the IAF within three years or less of the signing of an agreement, Boeing officials said.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:

DTN News: 'Russia, China Put Iran Ties In Jeopardy'

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: 'Russia, China Put Iran Ties In Jeopardy'
Source: DTN News / Press TV
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - May 31, 2010: An Iranian lawmaker says Tehran must "seriously" downgrade relations with Russia and China if the two fail to veto the US-pursued UN sanctions resolution against Iran.
"If Russia and China vote against Iran in the UN Security Council, Tehran must seriously and broadly downgrade relations with them," Mehr News Agency quoted member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Heshmat Allah Falahat Pishe as saying on Sunday.
"I believed we must work hard on avoiding the imposition of another round of sanctions against us," the lawmaker added.
The call comes amid mixed signals of support from Moscow and Beijing.
Both governments have welcomed Iran's recent tripartite nuclear declaration, but have struck deals with Washington to join its sanctions campaign.
Under the May 17 nuclear declaration issued in Tehran, Iran expressed readiness to swap its low enriched uranium on Turkish soil with fuel for its research reactor -- a proposal originally outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.
Western powers received the declaration with skepticism, vowing to press on with the sanctions campaign as it failed to answer all demands.
The US demands Iran completely halt its uranium enrichment to avoid a fourth round of sanctions, while Washington's European allies do not object to Iran's 3.5% enrichment activities. Iran rejects Western allegations that it is seeking a military nuclear program, arguing that as an IAEA member and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) it has a legal right to a peaceful nuclear program aimed at electricity generation and medical research.
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DTN News: China Pressed To Condemn North Korea

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: China Pressed To Condemn North Korea
*No sign China will punish North Korea for warship sinking
Source: DTN News / Associated Press AP
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - May 31, 2010: China showed no sign Saturday of publicly joining South Korea and Japan in rebuking North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship —- the issue dominating a three-nation weekend summit meeting.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said he hoped the meeting with leaders of South Korea and Japan would help achieve peace.JEJU, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 30: (L-R) Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attend the press conference of the East Asian 3 Nations Summit on May 30, 2010 in Jeju, South Korea. China came under intensified pressure from South Korea and Japan today to join global efforts to punish North Korea over its alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
Officials said Saturday's discussions focused on trade issues, and the ship sinking was on Sunday's agenda for the meeting at the South Korean resort island of Jeju.
As the main ally of North Korea, China has long been reluctant to back harsh measures against the reclusive state that shares its border.
But senior U.S. officials predicted after recent talks in Beijing that China will gradually endorse the view that North Korea should be held accountable. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
North assails 'hideous charade'
An international investigation concluded that a North Korean torpedo sank the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March, killing 46 sailors in the South's worst military loss since the Korean War.
North Korea has repeatedly denied responsibility, and the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday the investigation was "a hideous charade" by Seoul and its "imperialist" allies America, Australia and Britain.
South Korea has laid out a series of punitive measures and pledged to haul Pyongyang before the United Nations Security Council. The South's steps, announced Monday, include slashing trade, resuming propaganda broadcasts across the border and launching large naval exercises off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula.
The North has said the South's moves are pushing the two countries closer to war.
"These anti-North Korean confrontations are an open declaration of war against us and an extraordinarily criminal act that pushes inter-Korean relations into a state of war," North Korean Maj. Gen. Pak Rim Su said Friday, according to broadcaster APTN. He spoke at a rare news conference of the National Defence Commission, which is headed by leader Kim Jong-il.
China wields veto power as a permanent Security Council member, so its support would be key to UN sanction against North Korea.
Chinese leader offers condolences
Before the two-day summit began Saturday, Wen offered condolences to the families of the dead sailors at a meeting with South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, the prime minister's office said.
"China is a responsible nation which insists on justice and is seriously considering the findings of the multinational investigation," Wen said, according to Chung spokesman Kim Chang-young.
"China has maintained consistent views on the stability of peace on the Korean Peninsula and opposes acts that destroy it," he quoted Wen as saying.
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's government on Friday instituted new sanctions against North Korea.
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DTN News: Pakistan TODAY May 31, 2010 ~ 7 Arrested Over Links To Sect Attackers

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Pakistan TODAY May 31, 2010 ~ 7 Arrested Over Links To Sect Attackers
Source: DTN News / By Babar Dogar Associated Press AP
(NSI News Source Info) LAHORE, Pakistan- May 31, 2010: Seven men have been arrested over alleged links to the militants who attacked a minority sect in eastern Pakistan, killing 93 people, police said Sunday.A Pakistani policeman stands guard at an Ahmadi mosque in Lahore on May 30, 2010. Over 80 people died as squads of militants burst into prayer halls May 27 firing guns, throwing grenades and taking hostages in the deadliest attack on the city of eight million, which has been increasingly hit by Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik visited one of the two mosques attacked Friday in Lahore and promised to work with local officials to tackle the growing problem of militancy in Pakistan's heartland of Punjab province.
"The terrorists, who have been hiding in southern Punjab, have now surfaced," said Malik. "Our action will be stronger now because we cannot tolerate these killings."
The government has been criticized for lacking the will to crack down on militants in Punjab, many of whom are part of now-banned militant groups that were started with government support in the 1980s and 1990s to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and pressure archenemy India.
Many of these groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, have formed links with the Pakistani Taliban, which has recruited militants to carry out attacks in parts of Pakistan far from its sanctuary in the northwest near Afghanistan.
Police said the seven men arrested over the past two days in different parts of Punjab belonged to a variety of militant groups but refused to specify which ones. The arrests were fueled by information gleaned from one of the attackers who was captured Friday.
"We have good leads," said senior Lahore police officer Chaudhry Shafiq. "We hope to round up all the handlers and backers of the attackers soon."
Friday's attacks targeted the Ahmadi sect, a minority reviled as heretics by mainstream Muslims.
Seven gunmen attacked two mosques in Lahore with assault rifles, grenades and suicide vests. At least two of the attackers were captured, while some died in the standoff or by detonating their explosives.
Pakistanis have criticized the government for failing to protect them from militant attacks.
A woman visiting one of the wounded from the mosque attacks Sunday refused to accept a bouquet of flowers from Malik, the interior minister, when he visited the hospital and lambasted him for inadequate government security, according to local TV footage.
Police said Saturday that the men who attacked the mosques in Lahore were part of the Pakistani Taliban and trained in the North Waziristan tribal region.
The revelation could help the U.S. persuade Pakistan that rooting out the various extremist groups in North Waziristan is in Islamabad's own interest. Up to now, Pakistan has resisted, in part because it says its army is stretched thin in operations elsewhere, including in the Orakzai tribal area.
Fighter jets pounded militant hide-outs in Orakzai on Sunday, killing 18 suspected fighters, said Jahanzeb Khan, a local administrator. The attacks came after a roadside bomb struck a military vehicle Saturday night in the tribal area, killing two soldiers, he said.
The military launched the operation in Orakzai in mid-March to target militants who fled a major army offensive last year in nearby South Waziristan. Hundreds of suspected fighters have been killed by airstrikes and artillery since then, according to the military.
It is very difficult to independently confirm the number and identities of those killed because foreign journalists are banned from traveling to the tribal areas.
Elsewhere in Pakistan's volatile northwest Sunday, militants opened fire on a passenger vehicle in the Kurram tribal area, killing two women and wounding four other people, said Nasim Shah, a local administrator.
The militants carried out the attack because they were frustrated by their inability to muster support in Tabertan village, where the shooting occurred, said Shah.
Associated Press writers Hussain Afzal in Parachinar and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad contributed to this report.

DTN News: Deutsche Denies Divestment From Israel's Elbit

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Deutsche Denies Divestment From Israel's Elbit
* Deutsche Bank says it did not own shares to sell
* Newspapers quoted Deutsche CEO saying had sold all shares
Source: DTN News / Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - May 31, 2010: Deutsche Bank on Sunday denied Israeli media reports that it had divested a small stake in defence contractor Elbit Systems , saying the bank did not own any shares to sell.
Newspapers quoted Deutsche CEO Josef Ackermann as telling an investors' conference last Thursday in Frankfurt that the bank had sold all its shares in Elbit , Israel's largest publically traded defence firm. The newspapers said the decision stemmed from protests by two pro-Palestinian groups opposed to Israel's security wall in the West Bank.
But Deutsche spokesman Ronald Weichert said the bank did not have a stake in Elbit to divest.
He said when non-government organisations referred to a Nasdaq report in which Deutsche reported 50,000 shares, or 0.1 percent, of Elbit worth some $2.6 million on March 31, "these were trading positions or positions held on behalf of clients".
Elbit's Nasdaq-listed shares closed at $51.95 on Friday, down 27 percent from a year-high reached last August. Its Tel Aviv shares were up 1.6 percent at 200.4 shekels in afternoon trading, outpacing gains of 0.5 percent on the broader bourse.
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Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Australia's Role In Afghanistan

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Australia's Role In Afghanistan
Source: DTN News / Military World
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 30, 2010: Australia has approximately 1,090 defence personnel working in Afghanistan, as part of Operation SLIPPER.
In April, 2009, the Australian Government announced an additional 450 troops would be sent to Afghanistan. When they arrive, Australia's contribution will be approximately 1,550.
Primarily, Operation SLIPPER contributes to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
There are also about 800 personnel deployed in other parts of the Middle East, providing support for Operation SLIPPER.
**(Uruzgan Province) Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force 1 - About 440 Australian personnel. MRTF1 is engaged in construction works in Uruzgan Province and is also helping to train the Afghan National Army. It is mainly comprised of engineers and mechanised infantry and cavalry.
**(Uruzgan Province) Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) - Up to 330 Australian personnel. The SOTG provides security and protection to members of Mentoring and Reconstruction Force 1. It consists of commandos, members of the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) and support personnel.
**(Kandahar) Air Force Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) - Up to 75 Australian personnel. The CRC is based at Kandahar Airfield and controls southern Afghan operational airspace.
**(Kandahar) Force Level Logistic Asset - About 60 Australian personnel. This unit provides logistical support to ADF operations throughout Afghanistan, from a national logistics asset in Kandahar.
**(Across Afghanistan) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Detachment. 30 Australian personnel. This unit operates the SCANEAGLE UAV, a remote-controlled aircraft used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.
**(Kandahar) Rotary Wing Group (RWG)- About 65 Australian personnel. The RWG operates two CH47D medium lift helicopters for Kandahar Airfield. The helicopters provide combat support, quick response force and medical evacuation missions.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: U.S. Releases Uruzgan Investigation Findings ~ Afghanistan

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: U.S. Releases Uruzgan Investigation Findings ~ Afghanistan
Source: DTN News / Military World
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 30, 2010: US Forces-Afghanistan released its findings today from the investigation into the Feb. 21 civilian casualty incident that killed up to 23 Afghans and injured 12 others in Uruzgan Province.
The extensive investigation report submitted to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Commander NATO ISAF/U.S. Forces-Afghanistan cites several shortcomings in training, communication and decision-making, and offered numerous recommendations.
Gen. McChrystal has directed that certain actions be pursued immediately. "Our most important mission here is to protect the Afghan people; inadvertently killing or injuring civilians is heartbreaking and undermines their trust and confidence in our mission. We will do all we can to regain that trust," he said.
The investigation, led by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Timothy McHale, Deputy Commander for Support, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, reviewed the actions of a U.S. Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) unit and its higher headquarters, coalition aircraft, and support provided by U.S. Air Force Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) personnel. The report concluded that three vehicles carrying more than 30 civilians were mistaken for an insurgent convoy and engaged by coalition aircraft. The ODA ground force commander believed the vehicles contained a group of insurgents attempting to execute a flanking maneuver to reinforce insurgents in his area.
Gen. McChrystal, who offered a personal apology to the Afghan people and met with President Hamid Karzai immediately following the Feb. 21 incident, briefed President Karzai on the findings of the investigation earlier this week.
"This was a deeply regrettable incident and I share the sadness felt by the people of Afghanistan over this loss of innocent life," said President Karzai. "General McChrystal pledged to me that the most exhaustive investigation would be conducted to determine what happened and why, and I believe this has been done. I am also confident that appropriate actions are being taken with regard to those involved in the incident, and most importantly, to ensure measures are taken to prevent such accidents from happening again."
Investigation recommendations approved by Gen. McChrystal entail actions to be taken in pre-deployment training, as well as the conduct of operations in Afghanistan.
* U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), which is responsible for pre-deployment training at individuals' and units' home stations, will review and implement several changes in training. These include a rigorous series of challenging Counterinsurgency (COIN) training scenarios, use of case studies and vignettes to better educate and train for leading COIN operations, and standardization of terminology for use in the highly-stressed operational environment, which will be reinforced in pre-deployment training.
* ISAF Joint Command (IJC) and the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan J7 Training Directorate will develop a Mobile Training Team to evaluate and train unit command posts in the field on COIN operations, and develop an ongoing program to better educate and train for leading COIN operations. This will include intensive training on the process of identifying and engaging combatants in accordance with Rules of Engagement and Tactical Directives that govern operational conduct. * All units identified in the report are also directed to incorporate or retrain on the appropriate procedures for Civilian Casualty reporting.
"As partners with the Afghan people in our mission, we must always be honest with ourselves about what we do well and what we can do better," said Gen. McChrystal. "When we make a mistake, we must be forthright and we must do everything in our power to correct that mistake. I know our actions following this thorough investigation will help us to prevent mishaps that result in harm to the people we are sworn to protect."
The recommendations of the investigation report are responsive to findings of deficiencies that contributed to the accident. These included:
Although the ground force commander displayed tactical patience in letting the situation develop for several hours before the engagement, the UAV crew provided inaccurate reporting and in-country command posts failed to properly analyze the situation.
The ground force commander lacked a clear understanding of who was in the vehicles, the location, direction of travel and likely course of action of those vehicles.
Poorly functioning higher headquarters command posts failed to provide the ground force commander with the evidence and analysis that the vehicles were not a hostile threat.
Information that the convoy was anything other than an attacking force was ignored or downplayed by UAV personnel.
Following a review of Maj. Gen. McHale's investigation, Gen. McChrystal issued General Officer Memoranda of Reprimand (GOMOR) to four officers, including senior leaders at the Battalion and Brigade level. The GOMORs, while administrative in nature, may be placed in the official record of each of these officers once they have had a chance to respond. Gen. McChrystal also issued Memoranda of Admonishment to two junior officers involved, which will remain in their local file.
Also included among recommendations adopted by Gen. McChrystal is a request to Headquarters, U.S. Air Force to develop command level guidance on tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) regarding employment of Remote Pilot Vehicles. He also requested an Air Force investigation of the assessments made and actions taken by the specific UAV crew involved.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:

DTN News: Our Soldiers Have Shed Enough Blood: It Is Time To Come Home From Helmand

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Our Soldiers Have Shed Enough Blood: It Is Time To Come Home From Helmand
*The strategy of sending patrols out to be shot at by the Taliban is needlessly costing the lives of British troops
Source: Denis MacShane MP The Observer, Sunday 30 May 2010
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, U.K. - May 30, 2010: It is time to stop the blood sacrifice of our young soldiers in Afghanistan. In June 2003, Tony Blair initiated the grim ritual of reading out the names of the fallen at the start of each prime minister's questions. David Cameron's first words as PM at the Dispatch Box after the Queen's Speech were an incantation to the new victims of a war that is as unwinnable as it is unwanted by the people of both Britain and Afghanistan.
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev described Afghanistan as a "bleeding wound". Last week, US general Stanley McChrystal called it a "bleeding ulcer". Britain has no general, no "master of strategy" as the inscription on Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke's statue outside the Ministry of Defence puts it, with the 21st-century vision to stop the blood-letting as officers and men are sent as IED fodder. War is too important to be left to generals. Unfortunately ministers past and present have flinched from thinking strategically. If the object is to stop Afghanistan from again becoming a base for al-Qaida to launch attacks, there are alternatives to sending out men on foot patrols to be blown up by hidden bombs or shot by snipers who fade back into the hills.
The new defence secretary is now known as "13th-Century Fox" after his colonial, quasi-racist rant about Afghanistan as a 13th-century nation. President Karzai is an obsessive reader of British and American papers. Liam Fox's patronising contempt has done serious damage to Britain's influence in Kabul. Instead of apologising gracefully, Fox blustered and tried to explain away his gaffe. But he did hint at a truth when he suggested that Britain should look to reducing its military profile in Afghanistan. Unfortunately this outbreak of wisdom was slapped down by the foreign secretary, William Hague.
In Canada, the Conservative government has confirmed its troops will leave next year. There is new thinking in the Netherlands, one of Britain's key Nato allies, where the government collapsed over Afghanistan. Nato has new duties to guard its Baltic flanks and ensure that the melting Arctic becomes a sea of trade and peace. It no longer needs to define its existence by occupying Afghanistan.
There is fresh thinking among Tory MPs. In the Commons last week, Patrick Mercer MP, a former commanding officer of an infantry regiment, made the point that Britain's terrorists were bred and trained in Yorkshire, not Afghanistan. Another Tory MP, the former shadow defence minister Julian Lewis, said Britain should create sovereign strategic bases in Afghanistan to support the government and ensure al-Qaida does not return, but stop the pointless patrols that are target practice for the Taliban.
Every six months, a new commander is sent from London to head the fighting soldiers in Afghanistan. These brigadiers rotate, so that, instead of fighting one six-year war, we have fought 12 six-month wars, so that future red tabs can punch their tickets. The can-do, will-do power-point style of the British army impresses politicians, and every visiting minister and journalist is in awe of these tough, sun-burnt, dedicated professionals. It is hard to say that they and their generals are wrong, but the time has come to put parliament and elected ministers in charge. The pro-war tabloids say they are backing our boys. They are not: they are backing the generals. Officers and men ready to criticise the campaign have no voice.
Diplomats and development aid should be redirected to Pakistan and India, as well as to China and Iran, to remove the widespread feeling among Muslim communities that this is Kipling's west again seeking to control the lives of people whose customs and needs they do not understand. The burning issue of Kashmir, where 70,000 Muslims have been killed since the Indian army took over full control of the disputed region 20 years ago, needs to be put on the international agenda. The White House is clearly looking for an exit strategy. Britain also needs to begin PMQs without a roll-call of the dead and maimed. We have done our duty. It is time to come home.
*Denis MacShane is Labour MP for Rotherham and a former FCO minister
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Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY May 30, 2010 ~ Prospect Of Peace Talks Heightens Rifts Among Taliban Ranks

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY May 30, 2010 ~ Prospect Of Peace Talks Heightens Rifts Among Taliban Ranks
Source: By Sherin Jabarkhil For 2010-05-19
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - May 30, 2010: Some officials in the Afghan capital are saying that offers of jobs, security, financial incentives and exile have heightened existing tensions in the Afghan Taliban’s ranks.
The peace and reconciliation plan will offer those incentives to militants willing to denounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution, said an official who has been part of the National Advisory Peace Jirga, scheduled for the end of this month.
"Many insurgent commanders and foot soldiers are tired of insurgency and are waiting to join the government. The Hamid Karzai government already has gained the consent of the international forces in this regard", the official told Central Asia Online.
Tempting offers from the government are magnifying tensions among upper- and lower-level Taliban leaders, the official added.
Even the supreme Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, favours a peace deal, said a senior member of the Afghan National Council. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the council member told Central Asia Online that Mullah Omar was facing problems in his leadership and a lack of resources, making him willing to strike a deal.
Mullah Omar has been quoted several times as saying he is willing to talk with the Afghan government only after international forces leave the country. Other Taliban members reportedly are willing to negotiate before coalition forces leave, which may be one source of tension among Taliban factions.
Mullah Omar and his erstwhile military right-hand man, Mullah Baradar, might have differed on reconciliation. The Pakistani arrest of Mullah Baradar in February made the point moot, but some counterinsurgency analysts theorised that Mullah Omar wanted a role for Pakistan in any reconciliation with Afghanistan. On the other hand, analysts said, Mullah Baradar had reached out to the UN and the Afghan government, bypassing Pakistan.
After police arrested Mullah Baradar, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who served as civil aviation minister during Taliban regime, expected to be named Mullah Omar’s deputy. But a formal decree from the Quetta Shura promoted Mullah Qayum Zakir to that post and that of Taliban defence minister.
The promotion of Zakir did not sit well with Mullah Mansoor, according to sources close to the Taliban. Pakistani intelligence reportedly arrested Mansoor but released him after he accepted Zakir’s authority.
However, tensions in the south still exist between the two mullahs, observers on the scene have said. They often compete for power by increasing forces from their own tribes, a tribal elder in Helmand said.
Many counterinsurgency analysts say those two commanders are among the diehard Taliban leaders unlikely to give up, since they have ties to al-Qaeda. They also are closely allied to the Haqqani and Hafiz Gul Bahadur networks in North Waziristan, but are despised by some other groups within the Taliban and by some of the non-Taliban insurgent groups, such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami.
The tension has not yet sparked intra-Taliban fighting, informed sources told Central Asia Online. But the sources reported combat between Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami fighters in many places, the most important of which was a battle in northern Baghlan province in March that took about 100 lives from both sides.
Battles within the Taliban for control of a zone or province are a serious matter, counterinsurgency experts say, because control of a province enables the victor to profit from the drug trade, kidnappings and donations from terrorist networks in foreign countries.
Whatever the reason for the rifts between militants, they serve the reconciliation plan, the anonymous official in Kabul said, because they spur more insurgents to contact the government about laying down their arms.
Disclaimer statement
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News.

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Russia To Test New Model Of Kalashnikov Assault Rifle In 2011

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Russia To Test New Model Of Kalashnikov Assault Rifle In 2011
Source: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - May 30, 2010: State tests of the new model of Kalashnikov automatic rifles will be held in Russia next year, Izhmash Director General Vladimir Grodetsky said on Tuesday.
The new model of the legendary assault rifle, the AK-200, is based on the AK-74M and differs in weight (3.8 kilograms/8.4 lbs vs. 3.3 kilograms/7.3 lbs) and the magazine capacity (30, 50, 60 rounds vs. 30).
The AK-74, a developed version of the Kalashnikov rifle's first model, the AK-47, was introduced in 1974 and used by the Soviet forces during the Afghanistan conflict.
The AK-47 was originally created by Mikhail Kalashnikov, who as a WWII soldier was inspired to design the weapon after being wounded in 1941. While his first attempts were unsuccessful, he was given a position in weapons development, and by 1947 he had perfected his masterpiece.
Since then, the AK-47 has become the most widespread and famous assault rifle. Used by some 50 armies around the world, as well as countless urban guerrilla movements, it is also featured on the flag of Mozambique.
Kalashnikov received Russia's highest honorary title on his 90th birthday last November. Accepting the award, Kalashnikov voiced regret that his creation, the world's most widely used rifle, has been often misused.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described the AK-47 at the ceremony as "an excellent model of Russian weaponry" and "a national brand that makes each citizen proud."

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: US Considers Options For Strike In Pakistan: Report

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: US Considers Options For Strike In Pakistan: Report
Source: DTN News / DTN Defense News
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - May 30, 2010: US military planners are looking at options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan, for use if a successful attack on US soil is traced to Pakistani tribal areas, The Washington Post reported late Friday.

US retaliation would be contemplated only under extreme circumstances, unnamed senior military officials said.

These circumstances might include a catastrophic attack that convinced President Barack Obama that the ongoing campaign of CIA drone strikes was insufficient.

"Planning has been reinvigorated in the wake of Times Square," one official told the newspaper.

The report comes in the wake of the failed May 1 attack on New York's crowded Times Square, which is in the city's busy theatre district.

Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-born naturalised US citizen, was arrested apparently trying to flee the country on a flight to Dubai 53 hours after street vendors alerted police to smoke coming out of a vehicle there.

The van was found to contain a bomb consisting of timers, wires, fireworks, gasoline, propane tanks and fertilizer.

Shahzad is due for a federal court hearing in New York on June 1.

US officials say Shahzad is connected to Pakistani Taliban insurgents and Obama has sent two senior national security aides to Islamabad to join the investigation into the May 1 car bombing attempt.

According to The Post, the US administration is trying to deepen ties to Pakistan's intelligence officials in a bid to head off any attack by militant groups.

The two countries recently established a joint military intelligence center on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, and were in talks to set up another one near Quetta, the paper said.

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: The Guards, An Elite Combatant With Smashing

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: The Guards, An Elite Combatant With Smashing Stalwart Bush Basher - The Light Strike Vehicle LSV From Singapore Armed Forces
Source: DTN News By Roger Smith
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 30, 2010: In the Singapore Armed Forces, the Guards are an elite infantry formation specializing in rapid deployment. Guards are known as elite heliborne troopers. They are well trained in heliborne operations and specialist combat skills that give them an added combat edge. They are proficient in heli-rappelling, heli-landing, and other specialised skills that allow them to carry out heliborne operations in various terrain, day and night. They are specially trained thus earning them the respect and status in the Singapore Armed Forces. The formation traces its roots back to the 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade and has been actively involved in several National and Army Day events since the establishment of the modern Guards unit.
As an elite formation, the brigade is called to fight in certain areas, such as urban locations with FIBUA (Fighting in Built Up Areas) and FOFO (Fighting On Fortified Objectives) tactics. Trained in amphibious warfare, Guards units may also be tasked to seize important objectives such as airfields, beach heads, depots as well as enemy strongholds, thereby establishing a foothold for the rest of the army.
In the continually evolving 3rd Generation SAF, the spectrum of Operations that the Guards formation are involved in has been extended to include non-war related operations (OOTW - Operations Other Than War) such as HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response) Operations as well as PSOs (Peace Support Operations). As evident in the recent disasters such as the Asian Tsunami Disaster of 2004, the Guards formation has been at the forefront of providing a quick response platform to humanitarian operations. This is entrenched and complementary to the Guards Formation's role as a quick reactionary force. However it must be noted that the Guards Formation's role is integral and complimentary to the role of the other formations in such peace-time theatres of operations.
The Guards formation is also called upon to react to counter-terrorism operations such as the recent Mas Salamat escape in which the active Guards Battalion was activated to cordon and assist in the search for the fugitive suspect.
The Guards utilize all small arms known to be in use with the Singaporean army, such as the SAR-21 assault rifle family, the Ultimax 100 Mark 3 LMG, FN MAG, M203, and the Matador anti-tank rocket launcher.
Apart from the helicopters, the Guards also utilize The Light Strike Vehicle (LSV), a lightweight vehicle that is extremely mobile and agile procured by the Army to replace the jeeps which formerly carried their 106 mm recoilless guns. Manufactured in Australia based on an American design, the vehicle is able to access difficult terrain, and provide greater mobility and added firepower to the Guardsmen and Infantry soldiers. Weighing 1,500 kg, the LSV can be rapidly deployed by slinging it underneath a helicopter and inserting it into enemy territory.

The LSV, which functions with an automatic gear, can go to more places than normal wheeled vehicles; for example, cross-country, going into closed terrain, capable of pushing down small brush and trees. Even in muddy areas the LSV is able to negotiate the conditions better than other vehicles like Jeeps and Land Rovers.
In 2008, the Guards formation began to utilize the PLUV (Protected Light Utility Vehicle) which is an armoured version of the Ford Everest, the Ford Everest is also a replacement vehicle for the aging Land Rovers.
The LSV actually allows for different weapon configurations. It can be mounted with other weapon systems such as the 40 mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) or the advanced Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). The latest addition to the LSV armament is the Israeli SPIKE ATGM, giving the Guards the capability to destroy tanks at a 4 km range. Fitting the LSV with an Infra-Red adaptor gives it night vision capabilities as well.
The LSV, which can move at a maximum speed of 110 km/h, significantly enhances the mobility of the foot soldiers. The soldiers can now bring heavier and better firepower systems into operations. With the help of the Light Strike Vehicle, the Guardsmen are able to move faster than ever before, and with more potent firepower.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

DTN News: BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman Submit Bid For Ground Combat Vehicle Competition

Defense War News Updates DTN News: BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman Submit Bid For Ground Combat Vehicle Competition
Source: DTN News / BAE Systems, 21 May 2010 Ref. 102/2010
(NSI News Source Info) ARLINGTON, Virginia - May 23, 2010: The BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman team pursuing the U.S. Army's Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) submitted its proposal to the Army today.
"As a top supplier to the U.S. military we must continue to evolve and provide enhanced protective capabilities to our soldiers as they operate in increasingly dangerous environments," said Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of Ground Combat Vehicle at BAE Systems.
"We have provided our customers with a proposal that meets their requirements, mitigates risk, will deliver on schedule and is affordable." The BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman GCV offering will be the first combat vehicle designed from the ground-up to meet the current IED-threat environment.
The team offering brings more survivability, mobility and versatility to the Army and is scalable to the level of protection required for a variety of operations. The team's GCV survivability will exceed that of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle and the enhanced mobility capabilities will allow it to effectively operate in urban and cross country environments.
"As proven by our proposal, both Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems will exploit decades of hard won, hands-on experience to provide the warfighter with the most potent, fully integrated combat platform capable of prevailing on any battlefield, anywhere in the world," said Joe G. Taylor, Jr., Northrop Grumman Information Systems' vice president for Ground Combat Systems.
The teams' vehicle will also have an integrated electronic network capability and embedded intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to connect warfighters.
The design concept is based on mature technology and provides a low risk approach to a highly compliant solution. The advanced electronic network will also be adaptable to future network upgrades.
BAE Systems is the top producer of combat vehicles in the world and earlier in the year announced a teaming agreement with Northrop Grumman Corporation. Northrop Grumman will serve as the C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) lead for GCV. The GCV program is a development effort headed by the U.S. Army to develop the first combat vehicle designed from the ground-up to operate in an IED-threat environment.
About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a global defense, security and aerospace company with approximately 107,000 employees worldwide. The Company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. In 2009 BAE Systems reported sales of £22.4 billion (US$ 36.2 billion).
About Northrop Grumman Corporation
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
For further information, please contact
Kelly Golden, BAE Systems
Tel: +1 703 894 3569 Mobile: +1 717 818 7400
Janis Lamar, Northrop Grumman
Tel: +1 703 345 7046

DTN News: U.S. Congress Gives Obama Okay To Fund Israel Rocket Defense

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: U.S. Congress Gives Obama Okay To Fund Israel Rocket Defense
*Lawmakers voted to give Israel $205 million for its production of the short-range rocket defense system, Iron Dome defense, by 410-4 margin.
Source: DTN News / Haaretz By Natasha Mozgovaya
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - May 23, 2010: The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted in favor of President Barack Obama's plans to help Israel fund the deployment of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. Lawmakers, by a 410-4 margin, backed Obama's plan to give Israel 205 million dollars for its production of a short-range rocket defense system.
The Iron Dome missile defense system aced a test run in January, and event that convinced senior defense officials that the defense system was on its way to becoming operational and that it will be able to effectively protect against short-range missiles, such as Katyushas and Qassams, which often hit Israeli towns.
The project's first phase, which included development, test runs and the manufacture of two batteries, required a budget of NIS 800 million. The Israel Air Force has also trained a special new unit to operate the defense system.
However, the plan was not allotted an adequate budget. The Israel Defense Forces ducked away from funding the project with its budget, explaining that offensive readiness was a higher priority, and the Defense Ministry has been looking for other budgetary avenues.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman said following the vore that "with nearly every square inch of Israel at risk from rocket and missile attacks, we must ensure that our most important ally in the region has the tools to defend itself.""The looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the persistent threat posed by Iran's allies Hamas and Hezbollah, only serve to reinforce our longstanding commitment to Israel's security," Berman added.Israel completed tests in January on its Iron Dome system, designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired at Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah.Florida congressman Ted Deutch commended the "Obama Administration forsupporting the critical Iron Dome system, which could help save the lives of innocent Israelis who every day live in fear of rocket attacks on their homes, schools, and marketplaces."
"Partnering with Israel on short-range missile defense technology demonstrates America's unyielding commitment to Israel's security," Deutch added, saying that "Israel must be able to keep its citizens safe, and we must demand Palestinians end incitement and Hamas reject the use of terror."
The Obama Administration must always work to address the threats posed to Israel not only by short-range missiles, but by the looming possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.”
The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC released a statement following the Congress vote, saying that the decision, that "will reduce the threat from Hamas and Hezbollah rocket attacks, is a tribute to America's commitment to Israel's defense and underscores our fundamental security cooperation with Israel, an island of democracy surrounded by a sea of hostile terrorist and totalitarian threats."
"America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel in their quest for peace and the right to live lives free of terrorism," the statement read.