Polish PM: Georgia Crisis Bolsters Poland's US Shield Stance
(NSI News Source Info) WARSAW August 12, 2008 - Poland's argument that it needs extra security guarantees to host a controversial U.S. missile shield has been bolstered by the Georgian crisis, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Tuesday.
On the eve of a new round of talks between Warsaw and Washington, Tusk told reporters that negotiations on the planned shield, which is vehemently opposed by Russia, appeared to be "on the right track".
"Our arguments about the need for a permanent presence of U.S. troops and missiles on Polish soil have been taken seriously by the American side," he said.
"The events in the Caucasus show clearly that such security guarantees are indispensable," he added.
"As soon as we are sure that Poland's security has been reinforced to the degree we want, we're not going to wait for hours to sign a deal," he pledged.
U.S. arms control expert John Rood was due in Warsaw Wednesday and Thursday for a new round of negotiations, the first since late July, Poland's foreign ministry said.
The U.S. wants to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland plus a radar facility in the neighbouring Czech Republic by 2011-2013 to ward off potential attacks by what it deems "rogue" states.
The shield would complete a broader U.S. system already in place in the U.S., Greenland and the U.K.
Moscow, however, dubs it a menace to its security aimed at undermining Russia's nuclear deterrent, and has vowed a firm response if the Czechs and Poles go ahead.
Ex Red Flag Begins: IAF's Largest Ever Overseas Deployment Gets Into Action
(NSI News Source Info) August 12, 2008: An Indian Air Force SU-30 Fighter lands at Nellis AFB to take part in a Red Flag exercise for the first time. The tough and prestigious Exercise red flag formally began at Air Force Base Nellis, Nevada USA on 10 Aug 08 with inaugural briefings & mission planning by the participating Air Forces. 09 Aug was the day of lead in preparations. The Red Flag 08 has the participation of IAF with eight Su-30s, two IL-78 tankers an IL-76 aircraft & 247 Air Warriors along with the French Air Force with Rafale, South Korean Air Force with F-15s & US AF with F-15s & F-16s. IAF & other visiting Air Forces along with a large USAF element would be part of the Blue Forces (friendly) which would engage in combat with the Red Forces. The Red Forces are the "Aggressors" with F-15s & F-16s aircraft of 64th & 65th Aggressor squadrons of USAF based at Air Force Base Nellis. Exercise Red Flag provides a realistic war situation in which the Blue Force pilots will have all possible odds ‘thrown’ at them. Availability of a large air to air range with threat replication contributes to the tremendous training value of the exercise. The replication of the air war would see the IAF's Su-30 aircraft participating in suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) air to air & air to ground missions. The IL-78 tankers and USAF AWACS would be in active support role. The IL-76 would undertake tactical transport operations & large force engagements operations. During the exercise a set of Red Flag team forms the ‘white Force’ & use high tech instrumentation and mission debrief tools to evaluate the performance of the participants in a clinical and detached manner. During the exercise the Blue force are made to change their plans often to put them under pressure. The White Force watches the entire exercise in real time on monitor screens on ground. Kill removal (removal of the pilots and aircraft assumed shot by the enemy) makes the exercise more realistic. Addressing the participating Air Warriors, contingent commander Gp Capt D Choudhury said" we have trained long & hard for this day. It is the time to showcase our professionalism. I have total faith & confidence in you. The world is watching us, so gentlemen lets show them what we are made up of." (ends)
India to Join US Air Force Training Exercises for First Time
India's military pilots are expected to participate for the first time in US Air Force training exercises above the Nevada desert, marking another step in improving US relations with the Asian subcontinent nation since the11th September terrorist attacks. South Korean and French pilots also will take part in the combat exercises that begin later on Monday and will put about 65 airplanes in the skies over two weeks, US Air Force officials said. "This particular Air Force exercise is important because India is included among some very important allies," said Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist at the RAND Corp, a non-profit think tank. "This is definitely an extension of an arc that has been mapped out since 2000, and it really signifies that what India and the United States have is a strategic relationship." The Indian and US militaries had little interaction during the Cold War, when India was more closely aligned to the Soviet Union and the United States was seen as an ally of Pakistan. But relations have improved, with increasing political, economic and military ties. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States and the subsequent fight against terrorism brought the two sides even closer. Military ties have expanded rapidly since then, with a series of joint exercises in the air, on land and at sea. The strongest negative reaction to the joint military exercises would most likely come not from China, but from North Korea, said Jing-dong Yuan, a non-proliferation expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. "Pyongyang, through its state-run news agency, the Korean Central News Agency, has consistently and passionately criticised such ventures, accusing the United States of harbouring hostile intentions toward North Korea," Yuan said. "Beijing would likely remain reticent (about) such training since it does not see itself as directly and imminently affected by such activities." The US Air Force exercises are not designed to target any specific country or threat, but to test how the forces would work together during large scale missions, said Capt. Marcus Wilson, team chief for the exercises. "We will learn how our allies operate in response to similar threats," Wilson said in a statement. "It will allow us to build observations to eventually learn those lessons about what it takes to integrate, talk, fly with, employ, deploy and sustain air power with places like India, Korea and France." Wilson said more than 1,000 people would participate in simulations, ranging from bomb-dropping to hostage rescue. A growing military alliance between the US and India would be welcomed by US firms eager to get a share of the arms market in India, where Russia has long been the prime supplier. India has already agreed to buy six of Lockheed's C-130J Hercules airlift aircraft for roughly USD 1 billion. Boeing Corp and Lockheed Martin are among those bidding on a USD 10 billion deal with India to supply 126 fighter aircraft.
A Pact of PAT! (Pakistan, Afghanistan & Taliban) keeping the world engrossed for a long time.August 12, 2008 NSI News Source Info Pakistani army troops keep guard at a post in Spinkai, a village in Pakistan's tribal area South Waziristan.
U.S. Marines, from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, hold their positions as Taliban fighters open fire near Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Supporters of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud sit during his address to reporters in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region.
Afghan soldiers stand guard near weapons surrendered by Taliban fighters at Deh Iak village in Ghazni province south west of Kabul.
Troops, Rubble and Grief in GeorgiaAugust 12, 2008 NSI News Source Info Russian troops arrived in the Khurcha settlement in the breakaway region of Abkhazia in western Georgia.
The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, was pushed to the ground by bodyguards when a jet flew overhead during his tour of the Georgian city of Gori. Mr. Saakashvili said Georgian and Russian troops had fought fierce battles overnight as Russian tanks advanced toward Gori before being driven back, with heavy casualties on both sides.
A South Ossetian woman wept as she embraced a Russian soldier in Tskhinvali. Russia's ambassador to NATO asked Monday to meet the alliance's top officials over the crisis in Georgia and rejected any criticism of his country's actions, drawing parallels with NATO's bombing raids in Serbia in 1999.
Georgian soldiers prayed with an Orthodox priest. Air attacks by Russian forces caused numerous casualties among the civilian population in Gori.
Guidance Capabilities For 105mm Artillery
(NSI News Source Info) Minneapolis MN Aug 12, 2008: Alliant Techsystems has announced that it has successfully demonstrated the capability to divert a 105mm artillery round using its existing 155mm Precision Guidance Kit (PGK) with minimal modification to the current design.
ATK recently conducted tests of the PGK on M927 rounds at Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, Ariz. The tests verified that the ATK-designed PGK provides more than twice the control authority necessary to meet 105mm performance requirements.
The tests were funded internally by the company to demonstrate the robust design capability of the PGK.
Already proven on the 155mm Howitzer, the 105mm PGK incorporates 99 percent of the existing 155mm PGK design. The only difference is a single mechanical part. This approach maximizes the Army's investment in this technology.
The high degree of commonality provides a low-risk approach that significantly reduces development and qualification costs, as well as the schedule to field a 105mm PGK.
This commonality allows for a near-term affordable transformation of existing 105mm artillery rounds into precision weapons that improve combat effectiveness while reducing the potential for collateral damage.
ATK competed for and won the system design and development (SDD) contract for the 155mm PGK in May 2007. The PGK is a low-cost, fuze-sized guidance kit intended to replace NATO standard height of burst, and point detonation fuzes.
The kit improves projectile accuracy by coupling global positioning system (GPS) technology with ATK's fixed canard guidance system. The GPS technology provides location and time during flight and ATK's unique guidance, navigation, and control approach determines trajectory and makes in-flight corrections to the target.
Russia-Georgia border awash with troops, militiamen, refugees
(NSI News Source Info) Russia Aug 12, 2008: Riding in a dusty convoy of tanks and mobile missile launchers snaking through the mountains, Russian troops kept streaming into Georgia's rebel province of South Ossetia on Monday.
A howitzer flying a Russian flag rumbled past, followed by dusty T-62 and T-72 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, missiles and mobile pontoon bridges on the mountain pass leading to the Roki Tunnel, which connects Russia to South Ossetia.
"I don't know what to expect. Some say there's still shooting going on. Others say there isn't. I just don't know," said the 23-year-old commander of a T-72 tank from the Russian city of Samara, who declined to give his name.
An AFP reporter saw hundreds of Russian soldiers entering South Ossetia, joining the thousands who have poured in to quash an offensive by Georgian troops on the separatist province.
Soldiers estimated Russia's military had about 30,000 men on Georgian territory, although there was no official confirmation.
Ambulances and lorries carrying assault rifles and ammunition also rolled past, kicking up clouds of dust.
The convoy drove past the remains of ancient watchtowers that have surveyed the forested mountain passes for centuries.
Lining the road were monuments to Soviet military endeavours in World War II, as well as statues of national heroes and saints.
More prosaically, empty bottles of vodka lay on the tables of makeshift cafes.
Some of the soldiers bathed in the Ardon River that runs through the gorge. Others repaired broken trucks.
"I've never seen anything like this since I served in the army," said Vladimir Grigoryan, a local taxi driver who once served in the Soviet army in the former East Germany.
Meanwhile other ambulances and buses laden with hundreds of refugees drove in the other direction out of South Ossetia, heading to an assembly point some 80 kilometres (50 miles) inside the Russian border, where they were then assigned temporary accommodation.
Bearded volunteer militiamen in grimy cars peppered with bullet holes and shrapnel damage also drove back. Their cars had white ribbons streaming from the wing mirrors, a sign for Russian troops not to shoot at them.
Some of the refugees stopped at the first food stands on the Russian side of the border -- doing a brisk business.
Many refugees had not eaten for days after the start of combat operations on Thursday blew out water, gas and electricity and cut food supplies in South Ossetia.
Among all the cars some had the windows smashed out, while many of their occupants were bleary-eyed.
A white Lada stood parked by the side of the road, its driver sprawled on the grass. The windshield had one word written on it in the dirt: "VICTORY."
related reportRussia takes Georgian city as conflict worsensAdvancing Russian forces on Monday took a key Georgian city and the country's armed forces retrenched to defend the capital, a top Georgian official said.
Russian troops occupied Gori, close to the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Georgia's National Security Council secretary Alexander Lomaia told AFP amid growing international calls for a halt to the fighting which has left hundreds reported dead and forced tens of thousands out of their homes.
"Georgian armed forces received an order to leave Gori and to fortify positions near Mtskheta to defend the capital," said Lomaia. "This is a total onslaught." Mtskheta is 24 kilometres (15 miles) from Tbilisi.
The UN refugee agency said earlier that 80 percent of the 50,000 population of Gori had fled the city because of Russian attacks. Georgian officials said that Russian jets had earlier bombed the city.
Russian forces also carried out military operations around the western city of Senaki to prevent Georgian troops from regrouping and heading back into South Ossetia -- the cause of the worsening Russia-Georgia conflict, news agencies reported quoting the Russian defence ministry. A Russian military spokesman said 9,000 troops and more than 350 armoured vehicles would be deployed to bolster forces inside the second Georgian separatist region of Abhkazia.
Russia and Georgia traded accusations that each was launching attacks, while aid agencies warned of a mounting humanitarian crisis, heightening urgency to international efforts to secure a halt to the fighting.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Finland's Alexander Stubb were to put a peace plan to Russian leaders on Tuesday having persuaded Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili to sign up for the European Union plan, a senior Georgian official told AFP.
But diplomatic tensions between Russia and the United States held up efforts to pass a UN Security Council call for an end to the fighting over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
The Georgian foreign ministry said more than 50 Russian warplanes had flown over Georgian territory. "Tbilisi was bombed. Bombs hit the village of Kojori and Makhata mountain," it said.
The South Ossetian separatist government said Georgia had resumed an artillery bombardment of its capital, Tskhinvali, where residents have reported many deaths.
As fighting intensified, US President George W. Bush, Georgia's biggest western ally, said he told Russia's prime minister that Russia's bombing of Georgia was "unacceptable."
"I expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemn bombing outside of South Ossetia," the US president told NBC television from Beijing.
Putin responded by accusing the United States of trying to disrupt the Russian military operation by transporting Georgian troops from Iraq into the "conflict zone."
"It seems that this will not change anything, but will move us away from resolving the situation," said Putin.
Putin compared the actions of Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili to war crimes perpetrated by deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Russia's military acknowledged it had lost 18 soldiers and four planes in the conflict but gave no details of its latest operations.
Saakashvili told foreign reporters several hundred Russian servicemen had been killed and 18 or 19 Russian aircraft shot down.
The EU plan he signed up to calls for a ceasefire, medical help for victims, controlled withdrawals of troops on both sides and eventual political talks.
On Tuesday, Kouchner and Stubb will meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said Stubb, current chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
French President Nicolas Sarkozy will go to Georgia on Tuesday, Saakashvili told journalists. Sarkozy is also due in Moscow to try to hammer out a ceasefire, Kouchner said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov Monday dismissed the EU efforts.
"It's not a ceasefire agreement," Ivanov told CNN television. A "ceasefire agreement is signed by two sides when they meet," he said, adding first "we need a written agreement between Georgia on one side, South Ossetia and Abkhazia .. that they will never use force in the future."
In Washington, foreign ministers from the Group of Seven western industrial powers countries urged Russia to accept an Georgia's ceasefire offer in a telephone conference call, a US State Department official said.
But Moscow had launched its own diplomatic campaign. In Brussels, Russia's Ambassador to NATO called on the alliance to hold an extraordinary Russia-NATO council Tuesday before taking any decision on Georgia.
Medvedev said he would like an OSCE mission deployed in South Ossetia, the Kremlin said.
Russia sent thousands of troops, tanks and air support into South Ossetia on Friday after Georgia launched an offensive to seize control of the province, which broke from Georgia in the early 1990s.
At the UN Security Council, experts discussed efforts to agree a ceasefire call in Georgia after the United States and Russia traded barbs in Cold War-style exchanges.
DRS Receives To Provide IR Systems For Tanks And Combat Vehicles
(NSI News Source Info) NJ Aug 12, 2008: DRS Technologies has announced that it received a $116.6 million contract from the Raytheon's Network Centric Systems business in McKinney, Texas, to provide Horizontal Technology Integration Second Generation Forward Looking Infrared (HTI SGF) sighting systems and components used aboard U.S. Army combat and tactical-wheeled vehicles including the Abrams Main Battle Tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), providing critical common night vision technology.
DRS will manufacture and provide Block 1 B-Kit components for Abrams Thermal Receiver Units (TRU) and circuit-card assembly sets for the Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV). The company will also provide B-Kits for the Bradley Commander's Independent Viewer (CIV), the Improved Bradley Acquisition Systems (IBAS), and the HMMWV Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3).
The work for this contract will be conducted by the company's DRS Sensors and Targeting Systems - Optronics Division in Palm Bay and Melbourne, Florida, and is expected to be completed by July of 2010.
DRS's advanced high-resolution HTI SGF sighting systems help Soldiers in ground vehicles detect, identify and engage tactical enemy targets during the day or at night. The technology also contributes to information dominance by providing soldiers with digital battlefield imagery, promoting interoperability among military platforms.
"In fulfilling this contract, we will be providing tools that are essential to safeguarding American troops," said James M. Baird, president of DRS's Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA) business segment, which operates the Optronics division.
"It's an excellent example of DRS's transformational contributions to modernizing the U.S. Army -- and of our commitment to developing leading-edge technologies to address our customers' continually evolving needs."
Al-Qaeda At 20: How Many Groups Are We Really Fighting
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow Aug 12, 2008: The world first heard about al-Qaeda ten years ago, on August 7, 1998, when two explosions ripped through the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 223.
Al-Qaeda was set up a decade earlier, on August 11, 1988. Unlike much of the later history of the organization we know this for sure, because both CIA and Pakistani intelligence service agents took part in the "founding" meeting and, some say, provided protection for it.
Saudi-born Osama bin Laden and Egyptians Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama's chief lieutenant, and Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, former leader of the Egyptian terrorist group Al Jihad, and known to those in the underground mainly as Dr. Fadl, met in Peshawar to set up the terrorist group.
Al-Sharif, al-Qaeda's chief ideologist, who has been serving a life sentence in Tora Prison in Egypt since 2004, has recently written a book, or manifesto, rejecting al-Qaeda's violence.
"We are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam do that," Fadl wrote in his fax from the prison.
Two months later an enraged al-Zawahiri, who like Osama bin Laden is still at large, asked sarcastically in a video produced on behalf of al-Qaeda: "Do they now have fax machines in Egyptian jail cells? I wonder if they're connected to the same line as the electric shock machines." Numerous attempts to apprehend bin Laden have failed, although he has been declared. "surrounded" and "nearly" done for several times. According to the latest rumor, he may be hiding in the mountainous area between Afghanistan's Kunar and Nuristan provinces and Bajaur in Pakistan. According to some European publications, U.S. special services have recently become especially active there.
The hunt for the world's two most wanted terrorists was launched after the 9/11 tragedy in the United States, gathered momentum when Washington invaded Afghanistan and came to a head by the end of George W. Bush's presidential term.
Many Western experts say bin Laden and al-Zawahiri could have been hunted down long ago, but their imprisonment or death would make them martyrs and symbols for the unification of all jihadists.
Much has been said and written about al-Qaeda, far from all of it true. Part of the information was concocted to turn the terrorist group, which had not dreamed of global fame, or even infamy, at the time of its inception, into a myth.
The Americans have claimed more than once to have destroyed its "core." CIA director Michael Hayden recently said al-Qaeda was dead in Afghanistan and Iraq, but no proof of its death has been provided.
Worse still, the group looks very much alive in cyberspace. According to Saudi experts, about 6,000 web sites are operating on behalf of al-Qaeda and the figure grows by 900 every year. Many sites are closed only to reappear under a new domain, so that the total number remains approximately the same.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates wondered out loud at a conference this summer: "How has one man in a cave managed to out-communicate the world's greatest communication society?" Indeed, how? And was it only "one man in a cave"?
Like many other such groups, al-Qaeda quarreled with its "parents" soon after it was encouraged, if not created, by the CIA.
In the 1980s, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri were fighting on the side of the Mujahidin against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
At that time few people in the world could imagine the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, and although the CIA suspected that Moscow would soon start to pull out of Afghanistan (in fact the Soviet withdrawal began on May 15, 1988, and ended on February 15, 1989), it was unsure about what would happen after that. It therefore continued to provide financial and material assistance to all groups fighting Russians.
One of those groups was al-Qaeda, which was set up when a special Afghan division was established at Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Gen. Mohammed Yusaf led the division, under nominal CIA supervision.
That initial support for fighters against "the Evil Empire" came back to haunt the United States with a vengeance.
As one British expert put it, Afghanistan was al-Qaida's training site before the Taliban took over, university after they left, and doctorate when the United States deployed troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is past its prime now.
The British, who have accumulated a wealth of experience fighting terrorists in Northern Ireland, say the time of single command is over for al-Qaeda. It has now become an amorphous accumulation of small and disconnected terrorist groups. Fighting such movements with invasions like those of Afghanistan or Iraq is like using a tank to weed a flowerbed.
It will be easier to understand the U.S. administrations' motives if we look at their actions through the eyes of the British, who have a peculiarly "biased objectivity" regarding their cousins.
According to the British, the Americans, despite their huge material resources and seemingly broad connections in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world, have only a shallow notion of the processes underway there.
This is why Lawrence Freedman, a professor of war studies at King's College in London, said in his book A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East, "They have accomplished miracles in uniting against their country societies that otherwise have nothing in common."
A minor detail demonstrates the point. When Condoleezza Rice was appointed Secretary of State, she was shocked to learn that the department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs did not have an Iran section. This is strange indeed, since Iran has been the United State's main enemy for the last 30 years.
Pakistani clashes kill over 50 Taliban: officials
(NSI News Source Info) Pakistan August 12, 2008: Pakistani warplanes killed at least six civilians in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan on Monday after fierce clashes in which more than 50 Taliban militants were killed, officials said.
Jets pounded suspected Islamist hideouts after rebels attacked two security posts overnight, but some bombs hit civilian houses in the Bajaur tribal zone, a known haunt of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, local security officials said.
The violence comes after a week of some of the heaviest clashes ever seen in Bajaur and as Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued a call for jihad in Pakistan.
"Troops targetted militant hideouts and strongholds in Bajaur and more than 50 militants are killed," the paramilitary Frontier Corps said in a statement.
It gave no details.
A paramilitary official earlier told AFP that the "Taliban launched a big attack on Tor Ghundi fort and Iskandro post (in Bajaur). Security forces responded and 20 militants were killed."
A local security official said fighter jets and gunship helicopters were called in after the battle and carried out airstrikes lasting more than three hours.
"Some of the bombs dropped by jets on suspected militants' hideouts in Tauheedabad and Damadola villages also hit many houses killing six civilians and wounding 12 others," the security official told AFP.
There was no immediate information about casualties to security forces.
Residents said the fighting erupted at 1:00 am on Monday and bodies were scattered across farmland 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Khar, the main town in Bajaur.
Separately in Bajaur, militants kidnapped two men and dumped their headless bodies on Sunday with a note accusing them of "spying on Taliban activities", residents and officials said.
Pakistani military officials said on Sunday that nine soldiers and 100 militants had been killed in four days of fighting in Bajaur, a mountainous and largely forested region hugging the Afghan frontier.
Pakistan launched operations in Bajaur last week after concerns that it had become a haven for militants mounting cross border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.
Zawahiri escaped a major US missile strike in the region in 2006.
Also Sunday, militants shot dead a tribal elder who supported the government in South Waziristan, another restive tribal district, local administration official Muwaz Khan told AFP.
Tribesmen blocked a key road leading out of South Waziristan to protest the killing, residents said.
Islamabad has faced mounting calls from the United States and other allies to get tough on the rebels, especially after the newly elected government launched peace talks with the Taliban earlier this year.
But in a sign that the militants are also cranking up the pressure, Zawahiri, the deputy to Osama bin Laden, released his first English-language video call for jihad in Pakistan.
In the video aired on Pakistan's ARY television network Zawahiri accused Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf of being "thirsty for money and a bribe-seeker," arguing that he is working to support US and Western interests.
The television channel said that parts of the tape, which was first aired on Sunday, were withheld "due to sensitivities and personal attacks."
Musharraf is facing the threat of impeachment by the ruling coalition government, causing further concern in Washington, which has counted him as a key ally in the "war on terror" since 2001.
ITT Wins Contracts for Land Mine Jammers
(NSI News Source Info) 12-Aug-2008: On April 2/07, BB&T Capital Markets upgraded EDO Corporation to “buy,” in part because they thought EDO was well positioned to win a part of the $200-$500 million Counter- Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device (RCIED) Electronic Warfare (CREW) contracts going forward. CREW systems are vehicle mounted electronic jammers designed to prevent the remote detonation of land mines. These are often triggered by off-the-shelf technology like cell phones, in order to avoid visible wires. EDO makes the Warlock jammer, a derivative of its earlier “Shortstop” product.
Those contracts appear to have come through, with awards for the system EDO now calls the CVRJ (CREW Vehicle Receiver/Jammer). The Pentagon refers to Spiral 2.1 Vehicle Mounted CREW systems, which are one element of the DoD’s Joint Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare program. As the USA buys and fields more mine-resistant MRAP vehicles, IED jammers like the CVRJ and “Lockheed’s” Symphony are a natural accompaniment. A fact that should make EDO’s new owner ITT very happy – and has, thanks to a new contract worth up to $1 billion.
FULL FLIGHT DECKAugust 12, 2008 NSI News Source Info FULL FLIGHT DECK
(NSI News Source Info) August 12, 2008: An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 102 launches from the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk for the last time in Pacific Ocean, Aug 6, 2008. Carrier Air Wing 5 aircraft flew off Kitty Hawk to join the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington in San Diego. In September, George Washington will replace Kitty Hawk as the Navy's only carrier operating from Japan.
FCS Technologies Put to the Test by U.S. Army
(NSI News Source Info) 12 August, 2008: Two-foot long vertical takeoff UAVs, 30-pound tactical robots equipped with infrared cameras, and groups of small, static ground sensors all sent battlefield images in real time through a high-bandwidth network from a mock-combat village set up near Fort Bliss, Texas, to U.S. Army Future Combat Systems (FCS)-networked Humvees several hundred yards away.
A recent live exercise near Fort Bliss, Texas, was the first time FCS technologies were tested with infantry brigade combat teams in tactical, combat-like scenarios. (Army)
It was a significant step for the FCS network, which used software-programmable Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS), high-bandwidth Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) and next-generation FCS computer technology to move images and information with greater effect than previously demonstrated, said Brig. Gen. James Terry, Director Future Force Integration Directorate, Fort Bliss.
The July 27-31 live exercise, called a Preliminary Limited User Test, was the first time FCS technologies were put to the test with infantry brigade combat teams in tactical, combat-like scenarios.
"Battlefield commanders [in the test] were able to use this equipment in live, evolving scenarios," said Paul Mehney, an FCS spokesman.
Prior to this test, FCS was able to demonstrate moving images with SRW between FCS-networked vehicles and Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS) placed in static positions on the battlefield to beam back images of enemy activity. However, in recent months the FCS program has been able to add the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) UAV and the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) robot to the high bandwidth Soldier Radio Waveform network, enable them to send real-time images as well.
The aim of the July test was to examine the emerging FCS network's ability to detect and destroy enemy snipers, paramilitary threats, and vehicle-borne IEDs along with other fast-moving insurgent targets, in part by sharing information across a networked force. At the same time, the networked sensors were also tested to identify areas of civilian activity on the battlefield and thereby reduce collateral damage in an urban environment where insurgents are known to deliberately blend in with the local population.
"They had a platoon-level force coordinate search operations of a village. They sent the SUGV into a building, first in a fairly densely populated civilian area. They were able to then use that sensor data to advise a platoon as to which buildings to work through. They did find resistance in one of the buildings," Mehney said.
"All sensors platforms using SRW were able to send image information to JTRS GMR [Ground Mobile Radio] in the B-bits, so scouts in the Humvees were able to better direct tactical operations," he said.
The FCS spinout technologies, which include the Micro Air Vehicle UAV, Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle tactical robot, Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors, Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS), FCS-networked vehicles (B-kits) and the first increment of the FCS network, are slated to field with Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) by 2011. The test was the first major FCS exercise since the Army's June decision to field FCS technologies with IBCTs instead of the previously planned Heavy Brigade Combat Teams.
The B-kits include early versions of FCS software, computers and battle command technologies outfitted on current force vehicles such as Humvees, Bradleys and Abrams tanks; the gear, used on Humvees in the test, includes the FCS computer called Integrated Computer System (ICS), a middle-ware operating system called System of Systems Common Operating Environment (SOSCOE), JTRS Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) and Force Battle Command Brigade-and-Below (FBCB2)/Blue-Force Tracking display screens.
During the exercise, FCS computers in B-kit Humvees were able look at live images from nearby MAVs designed to hover and stare above potential enemy locations.
"The B-kits, ICS and gateways associated with the sensors allow data to flow into the FBCB2 displays. If you are looking at the controller for the MAV, you will see exactly what the MAV sees. That allows you to send frames and populate the FBCB2 screen with some pretty good granularity," said Terry.
Future FCS capabilities
As more lines of software code for the FCS network are finished and SOSCOE further evolves, B-kit and FCS vehicles will be able to display much larger amounts of information such as full-motion, real-time video from nearby UAVs.
"The SOSCOE we are using is one that has been made for the spinouts but will have a larger capability in the future. The battle command applications are tailored to spinout one, but they are a subset of what is being built for the larger program," he said.
FCS also plans to field improved radios as they become available, such as JTRS Handheld Manpack Small Form Fit (HMS) radios for the UGS, SUGV and dismounted soldier.
"We always want material developed faster. We are using pre-EDM [engineering design model] radios. We will move to prototype before we get to the fielding of the first IBCT," said Army Lt. Col. Ed House, Commander of the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Army Evaluation Task Force.
Along these lines, The Army is planning to integrate a communications apparatus for the dismounted soldier, Ground Soldier Ensemble (GSE), with the FCS network.
GSE is slated to deploy alongside the FCS spinouts in 2011.
"Ground Soldier Ensemble includes looking at an individual soldier radio probably with video and voice as a minimum and maybe some minor data capability. The whole thought is to have a low cost radio. It will draw lessons learned from Land Warrior. I don't know if it will be a direct next generation Land Warrior. We've made some adjustments to Land Warrior, and our acquisition strategy for GSE will build on lessons learned from Land Warrior," said Army Lt. Gen. Ross Thompson, military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.
"Spinning out technologies to IBCTs also includes making GSE to be fielded to the same IBCTs on the same schedule as you field the FCS technologies. It is a package deal. The strategy is not just FCS but also Ground Soldier Ensemble because you got to enable the soldier because that is the most important piece of the overall operation," he said.
Army more confident of funding
Demonstrating FCS technologies in actual scenarios with soldiers is resonating with Pentagon leaders and lawmakers responsible for the program's budget, which has sustained numerous cuts in recent years.
However, the FCS program's $3.6 billion budget request for 2009 has been receiving recent support in Congressional mark-ups; the House Appropriations Committee-Defense (HAC-D) fully supported the FCS budget request in recent budget mark-ups. In fact, the HAC-D added $33 million in funding for FCS to support the fielding of the spin-out technologies.
"Over the last three years there have been marks against the FCS program, but so far not in 2009, which to me is an indication that the members Congress and the staffers are seeing the benefits of the program reflected by their support in the budget," said Thompson.
"One of the reasons why there is a lot more support for FCS now because you are seeing it demonstrated in operational scenarios and you are seeing now that these systems are put in the hands of soldiers. Once you start doing that, soldiers are the best spokespeople for the capability and it is resonating with members of Congress who are seeing the benefits," he said.
Bringing roughly 1,000 soldiers to Fort Bliss to stand up the Army Evaluation Task Force [AETF] has been key to the program's recent progress, Army officials said.
"This whole thing with the AETF at Fort Bliss having today over 1,000 soldiers who are there to evaluate tactics, techniques and procedures and there to provide material feedback on the equipment - that is a huge investment on the part of the Army," said Thompson. "It is a smart move. I'd rather know as early as possible 'hey make this change to this system' as early as possible because it will be better for me in the field."
Alongside the planned 2011 FCS spinout deployment timeline, the Army is taking steps to allow for the possibility that additional accelerations of FCS technology in years to come. In particular, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. met with Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey earlier this year and indicated the possibility of Congressional support for adding as much as $20 billion to the overall lifetime budget of FCS.
"Congressman Murtha gave us a challenge and I think it was good challenge. I think the Army responded to that challenge - which was 'enough of the development stuff, when am I going to see hardware, results and things being put into the hands of soldiers'? The Army, when it submits the FY2010 budget, will put the amount of resources into FCS to execute against the requirements documents that are there now," said Thompson. "It also has the resources that will enable us to get the spinouts to the IBCTs. The demonstrated success of that could require us to add more or it could engender Congressional interest in doing that."
IDF vets who trained Georgia troops say war with Russia is no surprise
(NSI News Source Info) 12 August, 2008: For the past few days, since fighting broke out in the Caucasus, 24-year-old L. from central Israel has been trying to phone the group of Georgian combat soldiers he had been training in Georgia up to a few months ago. L. and a group of young Israel Defense Forces reservists have been watching reports of the fighting in Georgia worriedly, concerned over the fate of the soldiers they had trained for four months. "We have their phone numbers, but we haven't been able to reach them. These are people we know and we are all hoping for their success," L. said.
Meanwhile, the Israeli trainers are trying to glean from reports on the movements of the Georgian army whether their trainees have internalized Israeli military technique and if the special reconnaissance forces have chalked up any successes after the difficult training they underwent last winter. "The military bases where we trained the soldiers are practically gone. The Russians have been bombing them over the past few days," L. said. He quickly added that "the bases where we trained the forces were not in the areas of conflict, but it's not a huge country, and the Russians are bombing bases in central Georgia and in the area of the capital, Tbilisi." L. was hired by Global CST, owned by Maj. Gen. Israel Ziv, and Defense Shield, owned by Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, about a year ago, right after he left the army. He had served as a combat officer in an elite unit, and he got the adventurous offer through his commanding officers. "It looked interesting. Relative to Israel, the money was excellent, too. "There was an atmosphere of war about to break out. We received basic background about tensions between Georgia and Russia, but most of what I learned came from talking to the soldiers. From my point of view, the battles of the past few days were to be expected." The Israelis, who were stationed at bases throughout the country, were to carry out battalion-level infantry and reconnaissance training. "Israel Ziv and Gal Hirsch would come from time to time and watch us in action, but we managed day-to-day operations ourselves," L. said. L., who trained a Georgian reconnaissance unit, says the troops were high quality. "It's not the standard we know in Israel, but when we left them they were at a good level. They took the training very seriously. There is a wider age range than in Israel, from 18 to 35, but they function very well. Over the past few days I've been following the news and I think they grasped a little of how to use strategy, like we taught them. It looks like we did a good job." L. refuses to discuss the weapons they trained the Georgians with, but he says the program was approved by Israel's Defense Ministry and included no classified information. "We taught them counterterror and house-to-house fighting, but that was very basic." The trainers left Georgia in April. "I don't think the Georgians would start fighting as long as the Israeli forces where there," L. said. "Once, when tension was high after Russia shot down a drone, we were evacuated to Tbilisi." L. says they got to know the Georgians off-base as well. "We were at some of the soldiers' homes for dinner. They're very emotional and warm and tried to compare the situation in Israel to their situation. They were very excited that we had come to help them." L. is furious over the Foreign Ministry directive to freeze Israeli weapons sales to Georgia. "When we found ourselves in a similar situation, we expected the world to act differently," he said.
Boeing Opens New Pulse Line for Satellite Assembly
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS, Aug. 12, 2008 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced today that it is ready to use a new "pulse line" process for assembling satellites in El Segundo, Calif. The new process is expected to shorten the time needed to build a space vehicle.
The first satellites to be manufactured on the pulse line will be the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellites Boeing is building for the U.S. Air Force. All Boeing's satellite production lines will adopt the new process over time.
"With this new process, we are reducing the travel distance of a space vehicle from 12,000 feet to 10,000 feet," said John Duddy, director of GPS programs for Boeing. "We are really excited about this new build process for space vehicles and its impressive results, and our Air Force customer is pleased to have the GPS spacecraft used for this new process."
The new process will move parts through 13 pulse positions. New work cells, new tooling, standard work-planning packages and Lean manufacturing processes will reduce the total build time per satellite and increase the number of vehicles moving through the line at one time. The line is intended to eliminate rework, allowing parts to flow continuously and smoothly through the process.
"With 12 satellites on order, the GPS program is ideal for a manufacturing pulse line, because similar satellites can easily adapt to a process that mirrors mass production," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "The value of a pulse line is that it increases efficiency and therefore enables us to reduce costs. As we continue to simplify our satellite designs in order to standardize the items that are inherent in every spacecraft built by Boeing, the implementation of a pulse line will yield tremendous benefits in the areas of efficiency and cost savings."
The Air Force is currently under contract with Boeing to build 12 GPS IIF satellites that will provide the newest GPS technology and capability to civilians and the warfighter.