Monday, December 22, 2008

Hamas Have Created Chaotic Situation For People Inside Gaza

Hamas Have Created Chaotic Situation For People Inside Gaza
(NSI News Source Info) December 23, 2008: Hamas is at war with Israel, but tries to portray itself as a victim of "Israeli aggression" to its Moslem and leftist allies around the world. Inside Gaza, Hamas lets its pro-war propaganda run full bore in Arabic. A more nuanced message is broadcast in non-Arabic media.
Every day, Hamas undertakes military operations. Along the security fence, snipers and bomb planting teams operate. The bombs and snipers are used against Israeli patrols, and are trying to force Israeli forces away from the fence, so that Hamas terrorists can breach it and get into Israel.
Failing that, Hamas hopes to inflict casualties on Israeli forces. In northern Gaza, rockets and mortar shells are still fired into sparsely populated southern Israel. The mortars are also used to fire at Israeli military installations along the security fence.
Along the Egyptian border, Hamas threatens violence if the Egyptian security forces get too aggressive in shutting down the smuggling tunnels that bring weapons and consumer goods in. Many Gazans oppose Hamas, and its warlike stance, there's not much they can do about it. Hamas has set up a police state that would require a bloody revolution to remove. Hamas is also propelled by religious fanaticism (the worldwide Islamic religious dictatorship that al Qaeda and Iran yearn for).
People with guns, who are on a Mission From God, are difficult to negotiate with. Israel has to seriously consider a military operation to remove Hamas. Israel can do this, but it would be very bloody, with thousands of Palestinians, and hundreds of Israeli, dead. There would have to be some large prison camps to hold all the Hamas activists, and problems with finding enough Fatah members to run an Israeli occupied Gaza. That would, however, stop the rockets and mortars. But a military solution to Gaza would temporarily increase the rocket fire. Previously, Hamas has not been able to fire more than 60 rockets a day.
But since the Hamas buildup during the ceasefire, it is believed that Hamas could more than triple that, for a few days, in the midst of an invasion. Then the rockets would decline to hardly any. Hamas has been building a supply of rockets, with a goal of being able to make a mass attack, like the one Hezbollah did in northern Israel in 2006. Over 4,000 rockets fell in Israel during that offensive, and Hamas believes something similar in the south would do something useful for their cause. Hamas planners missed the point that Hezbollah lost much, and gained little, because of their 2006 war.
Actually, some Hamas strategists sense that mass rocket attacks will do little for them, and are trying to figure out how to renew suicide bombing attacks inside Israel. These have been reduced to practically nothing because of Israeli security measures.
In the face of this, Hamas declared, three years ago, that it was halting suicide bombing attacks. Just announcing a renewal of suicide bombings could be embarrassing if nothing happened. But Hamas does have resources, even in the West Bank, to give it a try. One advantage Israel would have in Gaza is the lack of any adjacent sanctuary for the Hamas fighters. Egypt is hostile to Hamas (because of support for Islamic terrorists operating against Egypt.) Israeli military plans basically turn Gaza into one big prison camp. This would be expensive to operate, and cause even more diplomatic problems.
Despite Palestinian terrorism and refusal to make peace, leftists (in government, academia and the media) worldwide have long followed the lead of the defunct Soviet Union, and simply designated Israel as the aggressor. Endemic anti-Semitism (temporarily suppressed by the aftertaste of World War II) in Europe made it easy for non-Jews, but especially leftists, to come down hard on anything Israel did.
Israel does not have many options here. As long as Hamas preaches, and prepares for, all-out war, a military response has to be considered. Hamas isn't using any recognizable (in the West) logic here. They consider themselves commissioned by God to destroy Israel, and no arguments can sway them from those orders. The counter-terrorism campaign continues in the West Bank, where several Palestinian terrorist groups continue to work on carrying out attacks inside Israel. The new Fatah government has been more helpful, so Israeli police continue to detect and arrest Palestinian terrorists before they can accomplish much. December 21, 2008: A Palestinian rocket landed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, a city of about 120,000 on the coast 16 kilometers north of Gaza. There were no casualties, but this was more evidence of the increasing number of longer range rockets Hamas was building or smuggling into, Gaza. Today, 19 rockets and three mortar shells were fired into Israel from Gaza. December 20, 2008: Palestinians in Gaza fired 13 rockets and 20 mortar shells into southern Israel. In response, Israel is going to undertake more aggressive air and artillery attacks on rocket workshops, storage areas and launch sites. Many parts of Gaza are under 24/7 UAV observation, and Israel knows a lot about the Hamas rocket production, storage and launching operation. Most of this activity takes place in residential areas, to insure civilian casualties if Hamas operations are attacked. Meanwhile, in Egypt, a fuel truck caught fire and exploded as it was unloading 12,000 gallons of fuel for smugglers (who took it into Gaza via tunnels). Last month, police seized a truck carrying 40,000 gallons in the same area, also destined for Gaza via the tunnels. December 19, 2008: Hamas refused to renew the six month truce with Israel, which expires today. In practice, the ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, was more of a reduced fire arrangement. In return, Hamas expected more supplies to flow into Gaza. Hamas says it did not renew because it did not get as many supplies as it had expected. This was because Israel still shut down the crossings when more than a few rockets or mortar shells came into Israel from Gaza. Palestinians fired twenty rockets into southern Israel today, wounding three civilians.

US Awards General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman $14-Billion Submarine Deal

US Awards General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman $14-Billion Submarine Deal (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - December 23, 2008: The U.S. Navy awarded a $14 billion contract to General Dynamics Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp for eight Virginia-class submarines, the Pentagon announced on Monday. The multiyear contract will mean the production of one submarine in 2009, one in 2010 and two submarines in each of the following three years, the government said. The production schedule and design changes shaved 20 percent off the acquisition costs, and give contractors more stability in their business outlooks, the Navy said. General Dynamics, based in Falls Church, Virginia, is the lead contractor on the nuclear-powered submarines, but construction is shared equally with Northrop, which is based in Los Angeles. "It brings stability to the submarine program, to our work force and to the shipbuilding supplier industrial base for the next decade," Matt Mulherin, general manager of Northrop's shipyard in Newport News, Virginia, said in a statement. General Dynamics does its submarine work at its Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut The vessels are designed for a range of missions such as anti-submarine and surface ship warfare, delivering special operation forces, intelligence and surveillance. "By providing money over a period of several years, it becomes easier for the contractor to plan ahead and cut the cost of each vessel," said Loren Thompson, defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Virginia. He said the multiyear contract would help reassure shipyard workers in New England and Virginia "that their jobs will exist five years from today." Ronald O'Rourke, analyst with the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, said the Navy already had 10 of the new attack submarines in service or under construction, and the new orders would bring the total to 18. Overall, the Navy has said it plans to build 30 of the Virginia-class submarines.

Russia To Get 70 Nuclear Missiles In 3 years

Russia To Get 70 Nuclear Missiles In 3 Years (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - December 23, 2008: The Russian military will commission 70 strategic nuclear missiles over the next three years, a senior government official said Monday, according to Russian news agencies. The statement by Vladislav Putilin, a deputy head of the Cabinet's military-industrial commission in charge of weapons industries, indicates the government's intention to significantly increase the tempo of rearming Russia's Strategic Missile Forces. Since the late 1990s, Russia has commissioned more than 50 new Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles at a pace of several missiles a year. Soviet-built nuclear missiles continue to account for the bulk of Russia's strategic nuclear forces, and the military has repeatedly extended their designated lifetime to maintain the nation's nuclear deterrent. Putilin, who spoke after a government session chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that discussed the weapons purchases, said the Cabinet has decided to spend about 4 trillion rubles, or $141 billion, on new weapons over the next three years, Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies reported. Putilin said that in addition to 70 strategic missiles, the military will also get 30 short-range Iskander missiles, 48 combat jets, 60 military helicopters, more than 300 tanks and 14 navy vessels in the next three years. Putin urged Cabinet officials Monday to quickly transfer the funds allocated for the military-industrial complex and closely control the quality of new weapons and pace of their production. Russia's oil bonanza allowed the Kremlin to continuously boost military budgets during Putin's eight-year presidential tenure, but Soviet-built weapons have remained the core of the nation's armed forces. Experts have warned that the Kremlin's goals of military modernization may now be stymied by the nation's economic crisis.

Russia To Allocate $35.3 Billion For Arms Production In 2009-11

Russia To Allocate $35.3 Billion For Arms Production In 2009-11 (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - December 23, 2008: State capital investments into serial production of armaments and military hardware in 2009-2011 will total about $35.3 billion, a first deputy chairman of Russia's military-industrial commission said Monday. "In practice, over three years these expenditures will total about 1 trillion rubles," Vladislav Putilin said. Putilin also said the government had approved the state defense order for 2009-11 worth a total of 4 trillion rubles ($141 billion). Russia plans to put into service more than 400 new weapons, materiel and other pieces of military equipment, the official added. In the period of 2009-2011, Russian armed forces will receive 70 strategic missiles, 30 Iskander missiles and a number of carrier rockets and spacecraft. In addition, "Russia will buy 38 military aircraft, six drones, over 60 helicopters, 14 ships, almost 300 tanks and over 2,000 vehicles," Putilin said.

Russia Denies Supplying S-300 Missile Systems To Iran

Russia Denies Supplying S-300 Missile Systems To Iran (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - December 23, 2008: Russia is not selling S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran, the Russian federal service for military cooperation said in a statement on Monday. "Reports on deliveries of S-300 systems are untrue," the statement said. Iran's official news agency IRNA, quoting a deputy head of Iran's parliamentary foreign policy and security commission, reported on Sunday that Russia had started supplying components for S-300 surface-to-air missile systems. Russia's state-run arms exporter said earlier on Monday that Moscow only sold defensive weapons to Iran, in strict compliance with the international nonproliferation regime. "Only defensive systems are being supplied to Iran, including surface-to-air systems. Previously, Tor-M1 air-defense systems were supplied to Iran," Rosoboronexport said. Iran's Foreign Ministry has neither denied nor confirmed the report. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tel Aviv had received assurances from Russia that it had not started S-300 deliveries to Tehran. A deputy chief of Russia's federal service for military cooperation said last Wednesday that military cooperation between Russia and Iran was designed to ensure regional stability. "Military cooperation between Russia and Iran has a positive impact on stability in the region. We have been developing and will continue to develop this cooperation," Alexander Fomin said. According to unofficial sources, Russia and Iran are currently in talks on a deal to sell Tehran advanced medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.

Russia To Test Launch Bulava ICBM In 2 Days - Defense Source

Russia To Test Launch Bulava ICBM In 2 Days - Defense Source (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - December 23, 2008: Russia is to hold another test launch of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile in two days time, a source in the Russian defense industry said on Monday. "The test launch of the latest intercontinental ballistic missile Bulava, which is due to be held in the next two days from the Dmitry Donskoi [Typhoon-class] strategic nuclear-powered submarine, will not be the final test for the entry into service of the missile," the source said. "Next year we plan three or four more launches, including from [Russia's first Borey-class] strategic nuclear submarine the Yury Dolgoruky," he said. The Bulava will not be put into service without successful test launches from the Yury Dolgoruky, the source added. The fourth-generation Yury Dolgoruky was built at the Sevmash plant in northern Russia and was taken out of dry dock in April 2007. It is due to be equipped with Bulava ballistic missiles upgraded from Topol-M (SS-27) missiles. The submarine is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles. The latest test of the sea-launched Bulava missile took place on November 28. It was launched from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea, effectively engaging its designated target on the Kamchatka Peninsula about 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) east of Moscow. The Bulava (SS-NX-30), developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, is designed for deployment on Borey-class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines.

Turkey To Buy 32 Mi-28 Attack Helicopters From Russia - Report

Turkey To Buy 32 Mi-28 Attack Helicopters From Russia - Report (NSI News Source Info) ANKARA - December 23, 2008: Turkey plans to buy 32 used Mi-28 (Havoc) helicopters from Russia in a deal worth a total of $1 billion, a national Turkish daily reported on Monday. Vatan said the decision to buy helicopters from Russia was made after talks for purchases of Cobra and Super Cobra helicopter gunships failed with the United States. Russian helicopters will tide Turkey over until deliveries of Agusta A-129 Mangusta helicopters, co-produced with Italy's Agusta Westland, are received by the Turkish Armed Forces. The Italian company won a tender for the production of 52 helicopters in 2007. The Turkish Defense Ministry has yet to officially confirm the report by Vatan. The Mi-28 is an all-weather day-night attack helicopter manufactured by the Rostvertol plant in southern Russia.

Saab Wins Countermeasures Orders for India’s Dhruv Helo / Serial Production of IDAS for India

Saab Wins Countermeasures Orders for India’s Dhruv Helo / Serial Production of IDAS for India (NSI News Source Info) December 22, 2008: Saab recently received two serial production orders for the Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) for the Indian Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv.
The combined value of these orders from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is approximately SEK 195 million.
The IDAS will be installed on India’s weapon systems version of Advanced Light Helicopter, also known as Dhruv, to provide these platforms with Electronic Warfare self-protection. The helicopter features a modern glass cockpit with which the IDAS system is fully integrated.
A long-term relationship
“We are proud of being a supplier for this advanced helicopter and look forward to continuing our cooperation and long term relationship with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited,” says Micael Johansson, Managing Director for Saab Avitronics.
These two production orders follow initial orders for development and prototype deliveries as well as the first series production order received earlier this year for the Indian Dhruv helicopter. The development and production will take place at Saab Avitronics in Centurion, South Africa.
IDAS is the world’s most comprehensive integrated Electronic Warfare suite for airborne platforms and has been the choice for the Denel Rooivalk and Oryx, NH Industries NH90, Agusta Westland Super Lynx 300 and A109, Boeing CH47 Chinook, Eurocopter Cougar and Super Puma.
IDAS – A fully integrated system When countering the highly unpredictable threats of the modern battlefield, Saab’s Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) greatly enhances your chances of mission success.
Designed from the outset as a fully integrated modular system, IDAS combines radar, laser, UV missile approach warning and countermeasures dispensing functions in a single system controller. Its modular system architecture allows IDAS to be configured for any one or any combination of the three sensor types.

Saab Wins 900M SEK for SK-105 Trainer Aircraft / Full Responsibility for Jet Trainer Aircraft

Saab Wins 900M SEK for SK-105 Trainer Aircraft / Full Responsibility for Jet Trainer Aircraft (NSI News Source Info)December 22, 2008: Saab today signed a long-term contract with the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) regarding an overall commitment to the SK60 (105) air power system. The basic contract is worth approximately SEK 900 million. The contract means that as the main supplier, Saab is responsible for operating, supporting and maintaining all of the Swedish Armed Forces SK60 aircraft. Saab will thus ensure that the system is airworthy and available to the Swedish aircraft squadrons when the Armed Forces require it. The basic agreement is valued at approximately SEK 900 million and runs until the middle of 2017 but with a number of options, including an extended commitment and additional flying hours. A long and close partnership "This lays the foundation for a long and close partnership with the Armed Forces regarding their pilot training, and our already good relationship will strengthen and develop further through this agreement”, says Åke Svensson, Saab CEO. “Increased public-private partnerships are good for both parties and lead to greater efficiency and flexibility for the Armed Forces as well as for Saab." The work of ensuring the availability of aircraft in the approximately 80-strong SK60 fleet will be mainly carried out by Saab in Linköping, Ljungbyhed and Nyköping. The aircraft will be operated by the Armed Forces at F7, F17 and F21 squadrons, and primarily at the Malmen flight training school. Saab will also undertake maintenance at each of these locations. Engine maintenance will be carried out by Williams in USA, however.

Mowag Wins $217M Swiss Order for Armored Vehicles / General Dynamics Awarded $217 Million Vehicle Order by Swiss Army

Mowag Wins $217M Swiss Order for Armored Vehicles / General Dynamics Awarded $217 Million Vehicle Order by Swiss Army (NSI News Source Info) FALLS CHURCH, Va. - December 22, 2008: MOWAG GmbH, a unit of General Dynamics European Land Systems, has been awarded an order valued at $217 million for 244 DURO and PIRHANA vehicles, to be produced in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland.
The vehicles will be delivered between 2010 and 2012. The order, awarded by armasuisse, the Swiss defense department's procurement organization, is for 220 DURO IIIP 6x6 wheeled armored personnel vehicles; 12 DURO IIIP 6x6 wheeled vehicles that will be equipped as Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) verification vehicles; and 12 PIRHANA IIIC 8x8 wheeled vehicles that will be equipped as NBC reconnaissance vehicles, with real-time NBC detection capabilities.
MOWAG GmbH of Kreuzlingen employs more than 800 workers in developing, designing and manufacturing technologically advanced special vehicles for military use. General Dynamics European Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics is based in Vienna, Austria, and has production facilities in Spain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
With a staff of more than 3,250, General Dynamics European Land Systems develops and manufactures wheeled, tracked and amphibious vehicles, as well as weapon systems and ammunition, for customers all over the world.
General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 91,200 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies.

Slovakia Opts for Alenia C-27J Spartan

Slovakia Opts for Alenia C-27J Spartan / The Winner is Alenia Aeronautica with Its C-27J Spartan; Negotiations Being Held on Payment Conditions and Offset Programs
(NSI News Source Info) December 22, 2007: Organizational departments of Slovak Ministry of Defense fulfilling the armament tasks in cooperation with the Army of the Slovak Republic started to solve the need for proper transport capacity based on operation needs of General Staff of Slovak Army from 2005.
The MoD announced the public tender for procurement of tactical transport aircraft for Slovak Armed Forces on August 8th. The purpose of the procurement is not only strengthening of transport capacity of Slovak Armed Forces and their troops in foreign missions, but also gaining permanently available transport tool for all Slovak citizens.
This will enable to react on the need of urgent airlift in case of humanitarian crises, natural disasters or operations of international crisis management, such as salvage operations, fire fighting, monitoring and supplying. By the procurement of new transport aircraft we can secure transport of Slovak citizens, who can not transport themselves to Slovak territory or their evacuation.
Slovakia faced for example evacuation of its citizens from Lebanon in 2006. Also there is a need to transport wounded Slovak citizens from foreign territories and to provide medical assistance to other territories and foreign countries. We underline that the major advantage of own transport aircraft is their permanent availability.
Any other way of securing transport capacity (either from private carriers or participation in international projects for procurement of transport airlifters) does not guarantee availability of transport capacity in urgent cases.
The Ministry of Defense set up a Commission for procurement of transport aircraft to which were nominated representatives of relevant departments of Slovak Ministry of Defense as well as representatives of civil institutions – University of Žilina and Technical University of Košice. With regard to anticipated effect of associated offset programs one of the commission members was the representative of Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic.
The announced public tender was divided into three rounds – prequalification, qualification and evaluation. The winner became Alenia Aeronautica with its C-27J Spartan. Only producers of the aircraft were allowed to participate in the tender.
The data for tender took over: 1. Alenia Aeronautica, Italy 2. Lockheed Martin, USA 3. Boeing, USA 4. EADS Casa, Spain. The winner has committed to implement an offset program in the value of 100 per cent of total sum for procurement of tactical transport aircraft.
The process of procurement will continue by negotiations on agreement for delivery of the aircraft, payment conditions and offset agreement. The Ministry of Defense will not disclose any further information about agreement details or the price of the project until finish of negotiations. The Ministry of Defense has a right not to sign the agreement. Slovak project for procurement of tactical transport aircraft is on the minimum level.
The facts speak clearly: Poland bought 10 CASA C-295s and operates additional transport airlifter C-130 Hercules. Romania signed agreement on delivery of seven C- 27Js Spartan and also operated C-130J Hercules. Bulgaria signed agreement for five C-27Js Spartan with option for another three and Lithuania also signed three C-27J. The Czech Republic signed the memorandum for delivery of C-295 CASA and operates A-319 Airbus. Austria operates small fleet of C-130 Hercules.

Italy Orders Four ATR72 Maritime Patrol Aircraft / Alenia Aeronautica Signs Contract for Four Maritime Patrol ATR72s

Italy Orders Four ATR72 Maritime Patrol Aircraft / Alenia Aeronautica Signs Contract for Four Maritime Patrol ATR72s (NSI News Source Info) December 22, 2008 :Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company, and the Direzione Generale Armamenti Aeronautici (General Management for Aeronautical Armaments) of the Defence Ministry, have reached an agreement for the supply of four ATR72 Maritime Patrol aircraft. The medium-range, twin-engine turbine airplanes will be delivered to the Italian Air Force starting from 2012, to be used for the maritime patrolling with mixed crews with the Italian Navy. The aircraft is a version of the regional turboprop ATR72, developed ad-hoc by Alenia Aeronautica and offers a greater autonomy as compared to the ATR42MPs already in service with the Guardia di Finanza (Customs Police) and the Coast Guard, which have already in service 7 units for maritime patrol roles such as surveillance of national sea, maritime routes and economic exclusive zone patrol and to counter smuggling and clandestine immigration. ItAF’s ATR72MPs will be equipped with the SELEX Galileo, a Finmeccanica company, ATOS mission system, which integrates the Seaspray, electronic-scan surveillance radar and the EOST, electro-optical multi-sensor turret, for the identification of boats and persons in any weather condition. The aircraft will also be equipped with last-generation communication systems and, through a datalink system, will be able to transmit information in real time to the ground command and control centres and other platforms, both in flight and on sea, for the coordination and maximum effectiveness of the operations. Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica Company, is the largest Italian aeronautic player which operates world-wide in the commercial and military aviation, unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostructures. Alenia Aeronautica also coordinates the activities of Alenia Aermacchi and Alenia Aeronavali - wholly owned companies – respectively active in the design and manufacturing of military trainer aircraft and in the overhaul, maintenance and modification of military and civil aircraft. With its joint ventures ATR and SuperJet International, Alenia Aeronautica is the world leader in the regional turboprop market and a top player in the regional jet sector. Over 2007 Alenia Aeronautica reported revenues of 2,306 millions Euro, backlog for 8,248 millions Euro and orders for 3,104. The total workforce is 13.301.

Kabul Welcomes Extra US Troops, Taliban Warns Of Cruel Defeat

Kabul Welcomes Extra US troops, Taliban Warns Of Cruel Defeat
(NSI News Source Info) December 22, 2008: Afghanistan on Sunday welcomed a US pledge to send up to 30,000 extra troops by mid-2009, but the Taliban warned Washington its forces would be "cruelly defeated" as the Soviets were in the 1980s. The statements came one day after the top US military officer said that tens of thousands of new troops could be sent to Afghanistan by next summer to help Kabul combat a Taliban-led insurgency that has gained pace in recent years. Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, put the total deployment at between 20,000 and 30,000 troops. If the Pentagon opts for the high end of the range, the number of US troops here would nearly double. Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen said Kabul hoped the additional US forces would be sent to the volatile south and areas along the eastern border with Pakistan, where Taliban fighters are the most active. "We welcome the increase in US troops in Afghanistan. We have, however, two main demands," Baheen told AFP. "The first is that these forces should be deployed in places where they are needed -- particularly in (southern) Helmand (province) and along our eastern borders, from where terrorists infiltrate into our country," he said. "Secondly, this increase should help intensify the training and equipping of Afghan national security forces so they are able to better contribute to the fight against terror and defend the country." Remnants of the Taliban, who were ousted from government in a US-led invasion in late 2001, have stepped up attacks in recent years, with 2008 the bloodiest year yet of the seven-year-long insurgency. Afghan officials say the fighters have set up safe havens in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt on the border, and accuse Islamabad of not doing enough to put a stop to cross-border operations against Afghan and foreign forces here. A spokesman for the Taliban dismissed the US troop pledge, saying it would be as useless as a similar "surge" by the Soviets in the 1980s, and would only provide the insurgents with more targets. "They now want to send more troops to Afghanistan.... The Russians also sent that many troops but were badly defeated," said the spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, referring to Moscow's doomed decade-long occupation of Afghanistan. "When the US increases its troop levels to that of the Russians, they will also be cruelly defeated," warned Ahmadi, who claims to speak on behalf of fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. "More troops -- that means there will be more targets for the Taliban," he said by telephone from an unknown location. US president-elect Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw forces from Iraq and redeploy them to Afghanistan as part of his plan to tackle militancy and instability in south and central Asia. General David McKiernan, the US commander in Afghanistan, had asked for more than 20,000 extra US soldiers to counter the rise in insurgent violence, seven years after US forces invaded the country to force the Taliban from power. In 2008, almost 290 international soldiers and 1,000 Afghan security forces have been killed in insurgent violence. Eleven foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan in the past 10 days -- four British marines, three Canadians, three Danes and one Dutch national. Gates orders new aviation brigade to AfghanistanUS Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered the deployment of a combat aviation brigade with some 2,800 troops to Afghanistan next year, a US military official said Friday. Gates signed the order on Thursday in response to a request for more forces by General David McKiernan, the US commander in Afghanistan, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This is the beginning of the sourcing of the increased requirement that he (McKiernan) has asked for," the official said. The aviation brigade, which is composed of a mix of attack and transport helicopters, numbers around 2,800 troops, he said. It will deploy to Afghanistan after January from the United States, he said. McKiernan has asked for more than 20,000 additional US troops to counter a rise in insurgent violence, including four combat brigades, the aviation brigade and other support forces. Gates had previously redirected a combat brigade from Iraq to Afghanistan, which is supposed to arrive in January, and promised to deliver at least two more combat brigades after that. The buildup would nearly double the US military presence in Afghanistan, raising it from 31,000 troops to over 50,000. But in an interview aired Wednesday on PBS television, Gates indicated that there will be limits to the US military buildup because of fears that the larger the presence the greater the risk Afghans will turn against it as an occupation force. "I think that we can meet the requirements of the commander in Afghanistan, our commander, General McKiernan, for the additional four brigade combat teams and a combat aviation team, without tipping the balance," he said. "But ... after those forces are provided, I think we should think long and hard before we make any further significant troop contributions in Afghanistan," he said. Meanwhile, US commanders in Iraq have warned that security gains there are reversible and that a large force is needed to ensure stability during a year in which three elections will take place. General Raymond Odierno, the US commander in Iraq, is reported to have proposed withdrawing only two US combat brigades from Iraq in the first half of 2009. There are currently 143,000 troops in Iraq, which has placed restraints on the availability for troops for Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka: An Unending War With Too Much Suffering

Sri Lanka: An Unending War With Too Much Suffering (NSI News Source Info) December 22, 2008: Weeks of fighting around the LTTE capital of Kilinochchi has led to several thousand casualties. Troops are attacking LTTE bunkers five kilometers outside the town. As expected, the LTTE have some of their best remaining fighters operating here. But the LTTE is fighting under many disadvantages. The air force controls the air, and the pilots are now experienced at hitting ground targets. The army has far more artillery than the LTTE, and much more ammunition. Meanwhile, the 59th division keeps moving up the east coast, giving the LTTE less and less coastline for their smuggling boats. More portions of the A-9 highway (which runs up the center of the island) is being captured by troops. The LTTE is being pressed on over a dozen fronts. While clearly on its last legs, the LTTE appears determined to go down fighting. Given how thinly stretched the LTTE forces are, a complete collapse could come at any time. The army is still wary of a last-ditch counter-offensive, even though several deadly LTTE local counter-attacks have been repulsed recently. Having been beaten up by the LTTE several times over the last two decades, the generals remain cautious. The army knows it will win, and wants to do so with as few casualties as possible. Tamils fleeing LTTE held territory report increasing efforts to conscript and train fighters. Many of those drafted end up spending all their time digging and building fortifications. Air force bombers and army artillery make these trenches and bunkers essential. Moreover, as the army advances, and captures an LTTE line of bunkers, the surviving rebel fighters fall back to another line. The LTTE bunker builders are often bombed or shelled. The LTTE will often try to claim that these unarmed fighters were actually innocent civilians slaughtered by racist government forces. LTTE efforts to carry out terror attacks against civilian targets have been frustrated by the police and army roadblocks. The LTTE does not have as much access to the test of the island as they used to. December 12, 2008: The army captured a village eight kilometers from the rebel headquarters town of Kilinochchi.

Philippines: Militants Active In Spite Of Cease-Fire

Philippines: Militants Active In Spite Of Cease-Fire
(NSI News Source Info) December 22, 2008: In the south, military commanders believe that the MILF is hiding Abu Sayyaf terrorists in MILF camps and safe houses. As troops try to inspect the MILF facilities, this increasingly leads to fighting, despite the ceasefire between the government and the MILF.
Meanwhile, Abu Sayyaf has been devoting more of its efforts to crime than terrorism. Kidnapping for ransom, rather than political goals, is usually a way to raise cash for terrorist operations. But now, Abu Sayyaf is apparently doing it mainly to meet the payroll, and pay local MILF commanders for protection. The MILF also indulges in criminal activities (especially extorting local businesses) to stay in business. While the MILF and Abu Sayyaf preach about helping to free the people from the rule of corrupt government officials (who tend to be both Moslem and Christian in this part of the country), the rebels tend to be just as corrupt and oppressive. This explains the declining popularity, and power, of the MILF. Abu Sayyaf has been kidnapping Moslems, as well as Christians. The Moslems are often taken to pressure clans to support, or at least not attack, the Islamic terrorists. When seizing Christians, Abu Sayyaf usually seeks out wealthy individuals. Abu Sayyaf and the MILF have other sources of income, particularly drugs (growing marijuana has long been an MILF staple, along with assisting in the smuggling and distribution of heroin, cocaine and so on.) Even the communist NPA has run drugs, for the money, and is increasingly prone to doing so. Both the MILF/Abu Sayyaf and NPA are officially against drugs, but both justify it on the basis of "desperate times call for desperate measures". In the large southern island of Mindanao, police recently captured Guiamalodin Edsrafil, an MILF bomb builder, who admitted that he was getting cash, and other aid, from Abu Sayyaf. The Islamic terrorists encouraged, and financed rogue MILF operators to carry out terrorist attacks. In an attempt counter some of the bad press it has been receiving lately, the MILF has agreed to cooperate with UN efforts to eliminate the use of child (usually 14-17 year olds) soldiers. MILF has agreed to stop recruiting the kids, and to discharge those it now has in its ranks. Some kids will be demobilized for show, but the MILF will likely keep most of its teenage troopers. While the government finds the corruption and clan feuds in the south a major reason for the unrest and Moslem anger, there is also the problem of corruption throughout the nation.
This has led to several anti-corruption organizations. This includes one, composed of Protestant Christians (who have been rapidly gaining adherents in the traditionally Roman Catholic country), who have been calling the Roman Catholic clergy to task for participating in the corruption, and not doing enough in the past four centuries to eliminate the curse.
The Protestant critics point out that the Philippines is the most corrupt nation in east Asia, and the only Roman Catholic one. The collapse of the peace talks with the MILF, and anti-Christian violence by several rogue MILF commanders, has led to a return of the Christian militias.
These were disbanded by the government decades ago, with the assurance that the military and police would eliminate Moslem violence against Christians. That protection is much frayed of late, and now the Christian self-defense forces and vigilantes are back. This is bad news for Moslems, since they are outnumbered by Christians by more than twenty to one. December 18, 2008: In a Christian part of the largely Moslem island of Mindanao, two bombs went off among Christmas shoppers, killing two and wounding over 50. No one immediately took responsibility, but Islamic terrorists are suspected. It could also be non-denominational gangsters following through on an extortion threat. Over the next few days, two more unexploded bombs were found in the area (Iligan City). December 16, 2008: No three week Christmas truce with the MILF and communist NPA rebels this year. Only a five day truce with the NPA, to cover Christmas and New Years. December 9, 2008: Abu Sayyaf released seven construction workers they had kidnapped ten days ago. Local officials negotiated the release, convincing the terrorists that the men were too poor for anyone to pay a ransom, and that killing them would just make Abu Sayyaf more unpopular among the largely Moslem population of the south.
Additional Info: Related Topic
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Vowed To Provide Funds For Army
(NSI News Source Info) MANILA - December 22, 2008: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo vowed to provide the necessary funds to train and equip soldiers to end a 40-year Maoist-led insurgency before she steps down from power in 2010. 'We will make Philippine defence reform work to stop the insurgency by 2010,' Arroyo, also the commander-in-chief of the 120,000-member armed forces, told soldiers at an annual anniversary parade at the main army base in Manila. "
The upgrading of our defence capabilities includes new helicopters, squad automatic weapons, inflatable boats, and other facilities and equipment. Upgrading will continue, particularly in training.'

Middle East Silent Cyber War

Middle East Silent Cyber War
(NSI News Source Info) December 22, 2008: The war that worries most people in the Middle East is the one going on between Shia Iran and Arab Sunnis. This conflict ultimately takes over every other conflict. For example, Iran has been trying to get a Cyber War going against Israel. Prizes were offered for the most daring attacks on Israeli web sites by Moslem hackers. But the effort went sideways last year when some of the Shia hackers began attacking Sunni websites, in retaliation for some Sunni attacks on Shia sites. For the Shia, this was also payback for the increasingly anti-Shia tone of Sunni mass media. This, in turn, was in response to Iran's nuclear weapons program, and increasingly belligerent Iranian claims that it should be the leader of the Islamic world. For the last three months, Shia and Sunni radicals have escalated their attacks on each other's web sites. What really got things going was a Shia attack on the two main web sites for Sunni radical religious propaganda (including al Qaeda) on September 11, 2008. Sunni hackers retaliated shortly thereafter by defacing 300 web sites belonging to Shia clergy and religious organizations. Shia hackers then came back with more attacks on Sunni clergy, media and religious sites. The two main Sunni radical propaganda sites, and, have been down most of the time since September 11. Since some 80 percent of Moslems are Sunni (versus about ten percent Shia), the Shia soon began taking more damage than they were dishing out, by a margin of more than two to one. At first Arab media and religious leaders pleaded for the hackers to stop. Some chastised the hackers for fighting fellow Moslems, rather than going after infidels (particularly Israel.) But Moslem hackers don't like tangling with the Israelis, who have a much deeper bench in the hacking department. Escalation was assured when sheikh Yousef al Qaradhawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, recently called in the Arab media, and denounced Shia in general, and Iran in particular, for being heretics and beyond redemption. These statements got wide coverage in the Egyptian and Saudi press, and were soon picked up by Islamic media worldwide. The leaders of most Sunni nations are content to play down the theological differences between Sunni and Shia. This includes Saudi Arabia, the guardian of Islam's most sacred shrines. But now this Internet based war threatens to spill over into the real world. This particular Cyber War seems to have attracted Arab and Iranian hackers who do not normally get involved in Islamic radicalism. The animosity between the Shia and Sunni sects goes back nearly a thousand years, and has led to much bloodshed in that time. While Sunni and Shia leaders try to play down this feud (over who should have inherited the leadership of Islam over a thousand years ago), grass roots hatred is tolerated. Thus lower ranking religious leaders in Iran and the Arab world spew hatred for each other's religious beliefs. This has little to do with the current plague of Sunni terrorism (al Qaeda and so on), but is more of a deep seated cultural dispute. Meanwhile, Iran has been trying to get Moslem hackers united against Israel. For two years now, the Hamas office in the capital of Iran, has sponsored a hacking contest. Whoever makes the most spectacular attack on the most important Israeli web sites (belonging to a government agency or one of the major political parties), wins a prize of $2,000. Not that a lot of Moslem hackers need much encouragement for this sort of thing. But the Islamic radical groups have noticed that they are not getting the best hacking talent, and the Israelis typically respond much more forcefully. It has been found, however, that a prize, and a formal competition, tends to bring in the more skilled, if less religiously radical, Moslem hackers. There are a growing number of programmers and Internet specialists in the Moslem world, but most of them have legitimate jobs in software firms, or maintaining software and Internet services for companies. Some are involved with Internet crime, and a very few spend some time trying to get some Internet based terrorism going. It was hoped that this contest would defuse the Internet based war between Sunni and Shia Moslems. Although most Hamas members are Sunni, Shia Iran is a major backer of Hamas. So it makes sense for Hamas to come up with something to stop the Internet war between Shia and Sunni Moslems, and unite everyone against Israel. It hasn't worked, and Israeli and Western counter-intelligence agencies appear to have joined in, making attacks on Shia and Sunni sites, and letting paranoia take its course.