U.S. Denies Closure Of Its Military Base In Kyrgyzstan / US had No Plans To Close Its Military Airbase In Kyrgyzstan / U.S. Says Not Closing Its Military Base In Kyrgyzstan
(NSI News Source Info) DUSHANBE - January 18, 2009: The United States has no plans to close or change the status of its military base in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, a senior U.S. military official said on Saturday.
Earlier in the week, media reports said Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was planning to sign a decree ordering the closure within six months of the Gansi base, which the United States has used since the 2001 war to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan. US troops guard the main access checkpoint to the airforce base, 30 kms outside of Bishkek, in Manas on December 18, 2008. Kyrgyzstan is moving to close the key US military airbase in Manas used to support operations in Afghanistan, according to government sources.
"We look forward to discussing the future of the base there and we certainly have no plans to change anything frankly," General David Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command chief, said ahead of an upcoming visit to Kyrgyzstan.
The base, which is located at Manas airport some 30 kilometers (17 miles) east of the country's capital, Bishkek, hosts over 1,000 U.S. military personnel and nine military transport and refueling planes.
Similar media speculation on the closure of the Gansi base was denied last month by both Kyrgyz and U.S. authorities.
U.S. military officials said at the time that the base was worth some $80 million a year to Kyrgyzstan, including $17.4 million in rent and $2.64 million in wages for local employees.
India Faces More Terror Attacks: US Study / India will Continue Serious Jihadist Threat From Pakistan-Based Terrorist Groups - Report
(NSI News Source Info) New York - January 18, 2009: The Mumbai attack suggests the possibility of an escalating terrorist campaign in South Asia and India can expect more attacks with high body counts and symbolic targets, says a grim study released on Friday by the RAND Corporation, a leading US think-tank.
The RAND study, part-funded by the Pentagon, identifies the tactical features of the military-style Mumbai attack plotted way back in 2007, talks about weaknesses in India's counter-terrorism structure and weighs in on the implications for India, Pakistan and the US.
"India will continue to face a serious jihadist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups, and neither Indian nor US policy is likely to reduce that threat in the near future," said Angel Rabasa, lead author of the study and political scientist with RAND.
"Other extremist groups in Pakistan likely will find inspiration in the Mumbai attack, and we can expect more attacks with high body counts and symbolic targets."
According to researchers, the selection of multiple targets (Americans, Britons and Jews, as well as Indians) suggests that the terrorists intended the attack to serve "multiple objectives" that extended beyond their previous linear focus on Kashmir.
"The goal was not only to slaughter as many people as they could, but to target specific groups of people and facilities with political, cultural and emotional value. This indicates a level of strategic thought -- a strategic culture -- that poses a difficult challenge: not whether we can outgun the terrorists, but can we outthink them?" said Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior advisor at RAND.
Former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and five other South Asia experts have contributed to the study.
India holds Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba responsible for the attacks and is looking for a way to punish Pakistan to deter future attacks. The report acknowledges that both countries have nuclear weapons, making any military action "a dangerous course," but warns that if India does not respond, that "would signal a lack of Indian resolve or capability."
"Without an appropriate response, Pakistan, or at least those elements of its military and intelligence leadership that are supportive of the activities of groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, are likely to conclude that these operations, in some measure, yield benefits that exceed the cost," said RAND while releasing the study titled "The Lessons of Mumbai."
For these and other reasons, US researchers say, India is likely to remain a target of Pakistan-based and indigenous Islamist terrorism. The US think-tank also says the focus on Pakistan should not obscure the fact that the terrorists likely had help from inside India. "Local radicalization is a major goal of the terrorists, and will be a major political and social challenge for India," it warned.
US Military Aid For SADC / US President George W. Bush Says SADC Could Receive US Military Aid / US President George W Bush Decreed SADC Regional Bloc Could Receive US Military Aid
(NSI News Source Info) Washington - January 18, 2009: US President George W Bush decreed on Friday that the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc could receive US military aid for peacekeeping efforts in Africa.
Bush's decision came in a memorandum for US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which was released by the White House just four days before president-elect Barack Obama takes office.
The move makes it possible for the bloc "to receive defence articles and defence services from the United States", a US administration official said on condition of anonymity.
"Our provision of defence equipment and services to the SADC will allow the SADC to engage more comprehensively in African peacekeeping efforts," the official said.
The SADC groups Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Its mission is to safeguard peace and security and promote economic development while battling poverty and deadly diseases like HIV/Aids and forging common regional approaches to global issues.
China Continues to Arm Pakistan Against India; Hands Over Advanced Jet Trainers To Islamabad / China Hands Over Jet Trainers To Pakistan Islamabad
(NSI News Source Info) January 18, 2009: China today handed over to Pakistan eight advanced jet trainers that will be used to train pilots for transition to fourth generation combat aircraft.
The eight Karakoram K-8P jets were handed over at a ceremony at a PAF base that was attended by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations) and a Chinese delegation, said an official statement.
The JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft and K-8P trainer jets have been jointly developed by Pakistan and China, which have close defence ties. The K-8P is an advanced trainer that is already being used at the PAF Academy in Risalpur to train fighter pilots.
The statement said the K-8P jets had enhanced the basic training of PAF pilots and provided a "potent platform for their smooth transition to more challenging fourth generation fighter aircraft".
Nato Forces And Taliban Are Almost On Equal War Footing In Southern Afghanistan - Report / Taliban United To Keep Afghan and Foreign troops Out Of Southern Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) January 17, 2009: The Taliban are shifting strategy in response to heavy losses fighting foreign troops. The Taliban has not been able to come up with a counterstrategy for the smart bomb and UAVs, which give foreign troops an unassailable advantage in battles.
The word has gotten around, and Afghans are demanding more money to take up arms and join a bunch of Taliban. The Taliban still need these large groups of armed men.
Just threatening Afghans about their girls schools, video and music stores, and not having a beard, does not work unless you can show up once in a while with a large bunch of armed friends, and punish those who defy you.
But over 5,000 Taliban fighters were killed last year, and about as many badly wounded or arrested. Some of these were actually working for drug gangs, who employ a lot of the groups of armed men prowling the countryside.
But both the drug gangs and Taliban are united in their desire to keep Afghan and foreign troops out of southern Afghanistan, and often collaborate in that effort. They share information, and the wealthier drug lords often subsidize the Taliban payroll (Holy War or not, the Taliban have to live and that takes cash). Pakistani children stand on the rubble of a damaged portion of a government school wrecked by Islamic militants with explosives in Saidu Sharif, an area of Pakistan's Swat Valley, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009. In a northern valley where Taliban guerrillas have been waging a bloody war against security forces for more than a year, hard-liners have blown up or burned down some 170 schools, most of them for girls.U.S. troops have been operating in Afghanistan for eight years now, and have established special training courses back in the United States to prepare troops for the unique combat situations they will encounter. Over 100,000 U.S. soldiers and marines have served in Afghanistan, and these are usually the instructors for these preparation courses.
Most of these troops have also served in Iraq, and they know they must warn Iraq veterans to forget about some skills and tactics that worked in Iraq, but won't in Afghanistan. There are also special courses for commanders, who must be prepared to deal with tribal politics in Afghanistan, which is somewhat different than it is in Iraq.
The U.S. Army has collected so much information on troops dealing with Afghans that it has created an online simulation (it looks like a video game) where players can realistically interact with Afghans in a wide variety of situations. This helps to eliminate a lot of opportunities for misunderstandings because of cultural differences.
At the same time, the troops in Afghanistan now are trying out new tactics for taking down the Taliban and drug gangs. The U.S. is expanding its intelligence operations in Afghanistan, bringing in a lot of the equipment, and specialists, who were so useful in Iraq. The U.S. Army has developed intelligence tactics that provide "information dominance" that makes it difficult for the enemy to carry out attacks (without the U.S. knowing about it), and more vulnerable to American raids and sweeps.
The information based tactics concentrate on capturing or killing the enemy leadership and specialists (mostly technical, but religious leaders and media experts are often valuable targets as well).
The Australian commandos have specialized in this approach, and made themselves much feared by the Taliban (who will make an extra effort to avoid dealing with the Australians). The U.S. and NATO commanders know that the Taliban leadership is in trouble, with a new generation of leaders only recently shoving the older guys (veterans of the 1980s war with Russia) out of the way, and introducing more vicious tactics (more terrorism against reluctant civilians).
This is backfiring, as it did in Iraq, and the Taliban leadership is not having an easy time trying to come up with a new strategy.
One strategy that is working is making a big deal whenever foreign troops kill Afghan civilians (about 80 percent of civilian deaths are caused by the Taliban, but that has successfully been played down, a real spin victory for the Islamic radicals). This has caused NATO commanders to issue increasingly restrictive rules of engagement to their troops, which the Taliban eagerly exploit to save their butts in combat.
The U.S. cultural training for troops concentrates on the Pushtun minority, which has created the Taliban (mostly from a few tribes around Kandahar) and most of the violence (over 80 percent of the Afghan heroin and opium is produced by Pushtun tribes, and lot of "Taliban" violence is actually drug related).
The Pushtun account for about 40 percent of the Afghan population (12 out of 30 million), and have 25 million more Pushtun just across the border in Pakistan. There are also some Pushtun in eastern Iran, but the Iranians are trying for force all these refugees from the 1980s war with Russia, to move back to Afghanistan.
The Pushtun have long (we're talking thousands of years) dominated the region. Not as rulers, the Pushtuns are constantly fighting each other, but as a force that will unite if anyone else tries to dominate them.
Modern Afghanistan (only a few centuries old) came about when non-Pushtun tribes to the north (Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik) agreed to become allies with the Pushtuns in order to keep foreigners (Russians, Iranians, British) out of their little piece of the world. Although the Pushtuns were the minority, they were the largest minority, and it was understood that the Pushtuns would take the lead. So the king of Afghanistan, has almost always been a Pushtun. So is the current president of Afghanistan.
But the Pushtuns believe that president Karzai is too generous to the "lesser (non-Pushtun) tribes" who backed Karzai in the elections (and political bargaining) in becoming president. The Pushtun resent the presence of foreign troops because these heavily armed outlanders threaten Pushtun domination of the northern tribes. In many ways, the current war in Afghanistan is a struggle between the northern (non-Pushtun) tribes and the Pushtun.
Many of the Afghan soldiers and police are from the north, and very few of the foreign troops are of Pushtun ancestry. The Taliban is further weakened by the fact that most Pushtun tribes do not back the Taliban (on most days, such attitudes seem to change with the weather in Afghanistan.)
Fighters with Afghanistan's Taliban militia stand on a hillside at Maydan Shahr in Wardak province, west of Kabul. After years allowing Taliban militants to operate in the rugged tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan is now torn over how to respond to US calls for decisive action against extremists.
The northern tribes remember that, when September 11, 2001 happened, they were still fighting the Taliban government that had not yet gained control over all of Afghanistan (the "Northern Alliance" of non-Pushtun tribes was still holding out). The United States sent in a few hundred Special Forces and CIA operators, a hundred million dollars in cash and a few thousand smart bombs to help the Northern Alliance out, and the Taliban were broken and fleeing the country within two months.
The northern tribes don't mind Pushtuns getting the top jobs in the government, but are no longer willing to meekly follow the Pushtun lead blindly. The Pushtun see it differently, claiming (with some truth) that they did most of the fighting against the Russians in the 1980s, and that many of the northern tribes cut deals with the Russians (as did some Pushtun tribes, something the Pushtuns don't like to talk about). That had more to do with Afghan politics, (the northern and southern tribes disagreed on how to deal with Russia and modernization) than with anything else. Then came the Taliban (a cynical invention of the Pakistanis, created from Pushtun refugees convinced that a Holy War would bring peace to Afghanistan). Meanwhile, the heroin trade (growing poppies and using a chemical process to turn the sap from these plants into opium and heroin) moved from Pakistan (where the government saw it as a curse) to Afghanistan. Many of the same tribes that produced the refugees who became the Taliban, also produced the most successful drug lords. The Pushtun are many things, including well organized and ambitious.
Now both the Taliban and the drug gangs are under attack, and the Pushtun blame the northern tribes and their foreign allies. Outsiders don't see it this way, but most Afghans do. To the Pushtuns, anyone who is not Pushtun is "them." Same deal with the northern tribes, who are weakened by their lack of ethnic and tribal unity (the Uzbeks are Turks, the Hazara are Mongols and the Tajiks are, like the Pushtuns, cousins to the Iranians and Indians). Thus no matter how successful the Taliban might be in the south, among their fellow Pushtun (many of them anti-Taliban), they still have to face the northern tribes, who now have powerful foreign allies that proved invincible in 2001, and can do so again if called on.
The Taliban are trying to adopt the Iraq "bombs not bullets" strategy against the unbeatable foreign troops. The use of roadside and suicide bombings are up. But these tactics don't kill enough foreign troops to make a difference, unless the foreign media can be manipulated into declaring the bombing losses as proof that the war in Afghanistan is hopeless. The Taliban are having some success from that, but victory is elusive. That's because the foreign troops themselves know that the Taliban are playing a weak hand and this story keeps getting out to confuse a public accustomed to all the gloom and doom reporting about Afghanistan.
The British and Dutch have recently conducted successful "anti-leadership" campaigns, which disrupted Taliban operations by capturing or killing leaders and destroying bases (caches of weapons, food and equipment) and destroying buildings used by the Taliban (if it was determined that the owners had willingly rented space to the terrorists).
When it is known that the Taliban are forcing the locals to provide aid, the troops just go after the Taliban, and win points with the locals for chasing out these nasty "outsiders."
Pakistan's Former President Pervez Musharraf Analyzes Terrorism In Stanford Lecture / Sounds Strange Pervez Musharraf Debating On Terrorism....It Is Common Knowledge 1) Engineered Kargil Episode 2) Used Islamic Militants For Proxy Wars Against Afghanistan & India 3) Milk the American for $10 Billion & Escalating War In Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) PALO ALTO - January 17, 2009: Pakistan's former president says anyone involved in November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai must be punished, AP reports.
Former President Pervez Musharraf offered his thoughts on combating terrorism and Islamic extremism during a talk Friday at Stanford University. In this photo provided by the Stanford News, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gives a keynote address at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. - AP Photo
While calling for punishment for those involved in the attacks, Musharraf also warned that ‘hysteria’ over the deadly siege in India's financial capital threatens stability on the Indian subcontinent.
The Pakistani government has arrested scores of suspects after an investigation linked the attacks to a Pakistan-based militant group. But many Indian officials say not enough is being done to bring the perpetrators to justice.