(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO - February 4, 2009: Japan will dispatch two destroyers to waters off Somalia for a mission protecting its commercial vessels against pirates, joining a growing number of countries patrolling those waters, an official said Wednesday. The government will also send a fact-finding mission to the region ahead of the deployment of the 4,650-ton Sazanami and the 4,550-ton Samidare, a spokeswoman for the Defense Ministry said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy. Each ship has a helicopter aboard. Destroyers and combat support ships of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force were dispatched to the Indian Ocean from 2001 to 2008 to participate in OEF-MIO (Operation Enduring Freedom-Maritime Interdiction Operation). Their mission is to prevent the marine transportation of illegal weapons and ammunition, and the drugs which fund terrorist activity. Since 2004, the JMSDF has provided ships of foreign forces with fuel for their ships and ship-based helicopters, as well as fresh water. This was the third time Japanese military vessels had been dispatched overseas since World War II, following the deployments of a mine-sweeping units during the Korean War and the Gulf War. The law enabling the mission expired on November 2 2007, and the operation was temporarily cancelled due to a veto of a new bill authorising the mission by the opposition-controlled upper chamber of the Japanese Diet. A new law was subsequently passed when the lower chamber overruled the veto, and the mission was resumed. Japan previously has said it will join the fight against piracy, but the details confirmed by the ministry official Wednesday were the first mention of how many ships would be sent. Somalia is located along the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways, where pirates made more 100 attacks on ships last year and took away millions of dollars in ransom. Somali waters are now patrolled by more than a dozen warships from countries including Britain, France, Germany, Iran, the United States and China. South Korea has also ordered warships sent to the region to protect its vessels and crews from pirates. Tokyo has said its ships will be sent only to protect Japanese commercial vessels - though the government says none have thus far been hijacked. Pirates have fired at three Japanese vessels. No one was injured. Japan has yet to say when its ships will depart, but media reports say the dispatch could come as early as March. Opposition lawmakers have criticized the plans, saying it could draw the country into military operations prohibited by its pacifist constitution. Japan's post-World War II charter limits its military to conducting defensive operations. However, its navy has been increasingly operating far away from the country's shores. It began a refueling mission in the Indian Ocean since 2001 to support U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. The government has argued that the battle against piracy is more a crime-fighting operation than a military one. The defense ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday that Japanese coast guard officials vested with rights to arrest and investigate suspected pirates will be on board. Somalia, a nation of about 8 million people, has not had a functioning government since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991 and then turned on each other. Its lawless coastline is a haven for pirates. The U.N. Security Council has authorized countries to enter Somalia's territorial waters, with advance notice, and use "all necessary means" to stop piracy and armed robbery at sea.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Pentagon Urges Obama To Target Terrorists In Pakistan
(NSI News Source Info) Washington - February 4, 2009: A classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift US military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasising democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries inside Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces. Defence Secretary Robert Gates has seen the report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it has not yet been presented to the White House, officials said on Tuesday. The recommendations are one element of a broad policy reassessment under way along with recommendations to be considered by the White House from the commander of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, and other military leaders. A senior defence official said on Tuesday that it will likely take several weeks before the Obama administration rolls out its long-term strategy for Afghanistan. The Joint Chiefs' plan reflects growing worries that the US military was taking on more than it could handle in Afghanistan by pursuing the Bush administration's broad goal of nurturing a thriving democratic government. Instead, the plan calls for a more narrowly focused effort to root out militant strongholds along the Pakistani border and inside the neighbouring country, according to officials who confirmed the essence of the report. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the plan publicly. The recommendations are broadly cast and provide limited detail, meant to help develop the overarching strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region rather than propose a detailed military action plan. During a press conference on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs noted ongoing reviews of Afghan policy, but did not say when they would be made public. Obama intends, he said, to "evaluate the current direction of our policy and make some corrections as he goes forward." Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would not comment on Tuesday on the details of the Joint Chiefs' report, but acknowledged that the US relationship with Pakistan is a critical component for success in Afghanistan. "When you talk about Afghanistan, you can't help but also recognise the fact that the border region with Pakistan is obviously a contributing factor to the stability and security of Afghanistan, and the work that Pakistan is doing to try to reduce and eliminate those safe havens, and the ability for people to move across that border that are engaged in hostile intentions," Whitman said.
Part of the recommended approach is to search for ways to work more intensively and effectively with the Pakistanis to root out extremist elements in the border area, the senior defence official said. The heightened emphasis on Pakistan reflects a realisation that the root of the problem lies in the militant havens inside its border — a concern outlined last week to Congress in grim testimony by Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. But the report does not imply more incursions by US combat forces inside Pakistan or accelerating other forms of US military involvement, the senior defence official emphasised. Pakistani officials have repeatedly raised alarms after a surge of US Hellfire missile strikes from drone predators in recent months, and renewed those complaints after a new strike killed 19 people inside Pakistan days after Obama took office. "The bottom line is we have to look at what the art of the possible is there," said a US military official who has operated in Afghanistan. The official, who has not seen the Joint Chiefs' report, said the challenge is to craft a strategy that achieves US goals of stabilising the region and constraining al-Qaida, but also takes into account the powerful tribes that resist a strong central government and the ties among ethnic Pashtuns on either side of the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Joint Chiefs' report advises a greater emphasis on US military training of Pakistani forces for counter-terror work. Pakistan's government is well aware of growing US interest in collaborating to improve its military's muscle against al-Qaida and Taliban elements in the border areas. The topic has been broached repeatedly by senior US officials, including Mullen. The training efforts also would expand and develop the Afghan army and police force, while at the same time work to improve Afghan governance. The report also stresses that Afghan strategy must be driven by what the Afghans want, and that the US cannot impose its own goals on the Afghanistan government. During discussions about a new Afghanistan strategy, military leaders expressed worries that the US ambitions in Afghanistan — to stabilise the country and begin to build a democracy there — were beyond its ability. And as they tried to balance military demands in both Iraq and Afghanistan, some increasingly questioned why the US continued to maintain a war-fighting force in Iraq, even though the mission there has shifted to a more support role. Those fighting forces, they argued, were needed more urgently in Afghanistan.
Military leaders have been signaling for weeks that the focus of US efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan would change. Gates told armed services committees in Congress last week that the US should keep its sights on one thing: preventing Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists who would harm the US or its allies. He bluntly added that the military could not root out terrorists while also propping up Afghanistan's fledgling democracy. "Afghanistan is the fourth or fifth poorest country in the world, and if we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose," Gates said, a mythology reference to heaven. Senetor John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that he was briefed last week on the military's proposed new Afghan strategy, which he called evolving but headed in the right direction. "There will be no Anbar awakening," McCain, R-Ariz said referring to the tribal uprising against al-Qaida in Iraq's Anbar province that triggered a turnaround in that conflict. "It will be long, hard and difficult." The Join Chiefs report's overall conclusions were first reported Saturday by The Associated Press. Politico reported additional details of the report Tuesday. The US is considering doubling its troop presence in Afghanistan this year to roughly 60,000, in response to growing strength by the Islamic militant Taliban, fed by safe havens they and al-Qaeda have developed in an increasingly unstable Pakistan. Obama is expected to announce soon his decision on a request for additional forces from the US commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David McKiernan. Several officials said they believe the president will approve sending three additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, totaling roughly 14,000 troops.
Pakistan Pays Heavily In International Fight Against Terrorism
(NSI News Source Info) February 4, 2009: Islamabad - February 4, 2009: Pakistan has faced direct and indirect losses to the tune of 34.52 billion dollars in its fight against Islamist militants since 2001 when it joined the international alliance against terrorism, the latest government data revealed. The financial losses, which have impacted all sectors of the economy, were expected to hit 8.46 billion dollars during the current financial year, which ends June 30, according to a document from Pakistan's Finance Ministry obtained by Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. A Pakistani police officer look for evidences after a grenade attack on mosque in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009. Officials say someone threw a grenade inside a mosque in the northwest town of Dera Ismail Khan, killing at least two people and wounding eight.
"The war on terror negatively affected Pakistani exports, prevented the inflows of foreign investment, affected the pace of a privatization programme, slowed overall economic activities, reduced import demand and tax collection, and caused expenditure overruns," the report said. Thousands of jobs have been lost, both civilian and military infrastructure has been damaged in the conflict and Pakistan's domestic tourism industry has suffered, it added. "Pakistan continued to pay a heavy price in terms of both economic and security concerns," Ashfaque Hassan Khan, special secretary to the Finance Ministry, told dpa. "A large portion of its resources, both men and material, have been consumed by this war for the last several years." He said the economy initially suffered losses of 2.67 billion dollars in the financial year 2001-02, an amount that rose to 6.26 billion dollars in the past financial year and were projected to amount to 8.46 billion dollars this year. Pakistan has seen a constant rise in its Islamist militancy and terrorist attacks since 2001 when thousands of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters sought refuge in its ungoverned tribal region after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. Initially, they used their safe havens in Pakistan's tribal belt to launch cross-border attacks on international troops in neighboring Afghanistan, but then also started to strike Pakistani security forces when Islamabad launched operations against them in mid-2007, mainly because of US pressure to do so. The sudden rise in the Islamist insurgency in late 2007 combined with political instability the following year under former president Pervez Musharraf, caused a meltdown in Pakistan's economy, which flourished in the first five years of the country's anti-terrorism coalition with the United States and other Western countries. Pakistan's rupee lost 27 per cent of its value and the country's stocks fell nearly 50 per cent last year, mainly because foreign investors fled the country on security concerns. The country then sought help from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a looming default on its foreign debts. The country's losses in terms of human lives have also been high over the past eight years. According to some estimates, Pakistan has lost more than 1,200 soldiers, around 10,000 other security personnel and civilians while around half a million people have been displaced internally because of operations against militants in Pakistan's tribal areas and the adjacent North-West Frontier Province. In return, Pakistan has complained that it has received little aid from its Western allies, including the United States, which continue to press the poor Islamic country to do more against the insurgents. According to Musharraf, who decided to join the US-led fight against terrorism in 2001, Islamabad has received 11 billion dollars in military and non-military aid from the Americans in the past eight years, compared with the 143 billion dollars the United States spent in Afghanistan during the same period. "It is very strange that, on one side, the US keeps asking us to step up our fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban and, on the other, it does nothing to economically stabilize the country," said a Foreign Ministry official. "It is a wrong approach since an economically weak Pakistan would be more vulnerable to the forces [of the Taliban and al-Qaeda] that the US wants to defeat," he said. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said President Barack Obama's administration plans to triple non-military aid to Pakistan, which has been far lower than the 6 billion dollars in military assistance sent to it under former president George W Bush.
Taliban Kidnap 30 Soldiers And Policemen In Pakistan
(NSI News Source Info) February 4, 2009: Pakistani Taliban kidnapped 30 paramilitary soldiers and policemen today, police said, as the militants intensified their campaign against government forces. Security has deteriorated sharply in northwestern areas along the Afghan border as well as the Swat valley, where troops are struggling to stem spreading Taliban influence. In the latest violence, militants attacked a police station in Shamzoi village in Swat and captured it after a siege of more than 24 hours, said senior police intelligence official Mohabat Khan. "They apparently ran out of ammunition after a day-long siege," Mr Khan said of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers and policemen defending the station. "The militants have taken 29 people including 23 FC troops and six policemen," he said, adding that the militants blew up the police station before they withdrew. The Swat valley, only 130km northwest of the capital, Islamabad, was for years a main tourist destination. Militants infiltrated the valley from al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds on the Afghan border and began battling security forces in 2007 while trying to impose strict Islamist rule. Residents say the militants have gained control of virtually the entire valley, making it a test of the government's determination to tackle the spread of the Taliban. Military officials said troops had been sent to Shamzoi yesterday to try and help those besieged at the police station, but the rescuers came under attack and four soldiers were killed. A Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, said his men had abducted 30 police and troops in the attack and Taliban leaders would decide their fate. Fighting in the valley has intensified since army chief General Ashfaq Kayani visited last week, vowing to reimpose government control. The military says dozens of militants have been killed in recent days and residents say about 40 civilians have also died, many in shelling and air attacks by government forces aimed at the militants. Caught between the military and the Taliban, tens of thousands of residents have fled from the valley.
India's BDL To Build Milan 2T Missiles
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - February 4, 2009: Under a January agreement, MBDA of France will transfer technology to India's state-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL) to build advanced Milan 2T anti-tank guided missiles under license at Indian facilities. The Indian Army has ordered more than 4,000 Milan 2T missiles, which will be inducted within three years at a cost of about $14,000 per missile. BDL has produced Milan ATGMs since 1983. The 2T version adds a tandem warhead for use against tanks protected with explosive reactive armor, a senior Army official said. The Milan 2Ts will be used for both infantry and anti-tank purposes, said the Indian official. The Milan 2T also can be carried by troops while the older Nag anti-tank missile has to be mounted on a chassis, the official said. Indian Army - Milan-2T ATGMs: Around 30,000 built under license by Bharat Dynamics. Indian Army has recently placed an order of approx USD 120 million for 4,100 Milan-2T ATGMs. The Army is seeking about 7,000 more anti-tank missiles, a gap that will be filled by producing Milan ER and buying foreign-made missiles, the Army official said. The Indian Air Force has also asked to buy an undisclosed number of anti-tank missiles to arm its helicopters. Meanwhile, talks continue between MBDA and BDL on the Milan Extended Range (ER) missile. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in 2005 to produce Milan ERs at Indian facilities for domestic and foreign purchase. Defence Ministry sources said the joint venture would produce a variety of missiles. India's current anti-tank missiles include the Milan-2 and Konkurs manufactured by BDL under license from France and Russia. The Army has also bought a few Russian Kornets and Israeli Spikes to test on its armor. Last year, the Army ordered 4,000 Konkurs-M missiles plus 443 homegrown Nag anti-tank missiles and 13 tracked Namica missiles carriers for induction in the next three years. BDL will make the Nag, which was conceived by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in 1983 and is already 10 years behind schedule. The a third-generation fire-and-forget missile can hit the top of targets up to four kilometers away using infrared guidance.
Italy Taps Turkish Firm For Maritime Aircraft Work
(NSI News Source Info) ROME - February 4, 2009: In an unusual outsourcing decision, Italian firm Alenia Aeronautica plans to employ a Turkish company to undertake structural work on an aircraft it is supplying the Italian Air Force. Alenia is "90 percent certain" it will outsource to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) work on four ATR 72 maritime patrol aircraft it is selling to the Italian Air Force, a company official said. "This has been agreed with the Italian Air Force, and we are now discussing details with TAI," said the official at Alenia, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica. An ATR72 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant of the -500 (itself a version of the maritime patrol variant of the ATR 42-500) is also in production and has been selected by Turkish Navy and Italian Navy for ASW and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) duties. Ten aircraft will be delivered to the Turkish Navy beginning in 2010. Italy's order of four aircraft will begin deliveries in 2012. For ASW and ASuW missions, the aircraft will be armed with a pod-mounted machine gun, light-weight torpedoes, anti-surface missiles, and depth charges. They will also be equipped with the AMASCOS (Airborne Maritime Situation and Control System) maritime surveillance system of Thales, as well as electronic warfare and reconnaissance systems, and will also be used for maritime search and rescue operations. It's the kind of work Alenia might do itself. But the logic in the deal stems from the fact Alenia has already contracted TAI to convert 10 ATR 72 civilian aircraft - which are built by Alenia and EADS - to anti-submarine warfare (ASW) configuration for delivery to the Turkish Navy. "We see the deal as saving money and benefiting from Turkish know-how," said the official, who acknowledged that the reduction of similar aircraft conversion activity within the Finmeccanica group had influenced the decision. That activity was undertaken by Finmeccanica unit Aeronavali, although the unit has been restructured following a diminished demand for passenger to cargo aircraft conversions. Work by Aeronavali converting Boeing 767 aircraft to tanker format for Italy has also been taken over by main contractor Boeing. "The restructuring of Aeronavali is a contribution" to the decision to outsource to TAI, the Alenia official said. Italy has picked for its maritime patrol aircraft the ATR 72/600, a new version of the ATR 72 boasting a glass cockpit, which will be certified next year and which has also been selected by Turkey for its ASW aircraft. The first of Italy's four aircraft will delivered to TAI in Ankara from the Alenia-EADS production line in Tolouse in 2010. TAI is expected to undertake structural work to ready the aircraft for mission systems, sensors and protection systems. "The first one should take 13 months, which takes us to 2011, at which time the aircraft will be flown to Alenia's Turin facility for flight tests," the official said. The first delivery to the Italian Air Force is expected in 2012, with subsequent deliveries to follow at six-month intervals. While Italy is ordering maritime patrol aircraft, it is set to request that the ATRs are ready to be upgraded to undertake ASW missions in the future, meaning a rear boom will be installed ready to take a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD), which Turkey's aircraft will have immediately. The aircraft will also be fit for sonar buoys and reinforcements will be made to support armaments. An Italian industry source said that an initial contract Italy had signed with Alenia in December was worth about 255 million euros ($332 million) and covered the supply of the four ATR 72 aircraft in maritime patrol configuration with relevant mission and protection systems, meaning a unit price of just under 64 million euros. A second contract to be signed by June will then cover the structural work needed to render the aircraft fit for an eventual ASW upgrade, as well as five years of logistics support. An Italian defense source said the total outlay would be 350 million euros - rather than the 400 million touted in recent parliamentary documents - meaning the second contract will be worth around 95 million euros. Even if it decides to upgrade its ATR 72s to ASW configuration, Italian defense officials have said they still plan to acquire a fully fledged multimission aircraft like the new Boeing P-8 in the future.
Report: China Doubled Attack Sub Patrols In 2008
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - February 4, 2009: China nearly doubled the number of patrols by its fleet of attack submarines last year, surpassing Russia but still far behind the United States, the Federation of American Scientists reported Feb. 3. The report, based on declassified information provided by U.S. naval intelligence, said Chinese attack submarines conducted 12 patrols in 2008, compared to seven in 2007, two in 2006 and none in 2005. "While the increase in submarine patrols is important, it has to be seen in comparison with the size of the Chinese submarine fleet," said Hans Kristensen, director of the organization's nuclear information project. "With approximately 54 submarines, the patrol rate means that each submarine on average goes on patrol once every four and a half years," he said. The patrols may have been carried out by just the most modern and capable types of submarines in the Chinese fleet, the report said, noting that a new class of nuclear-powered Shang-class attack submarines is replacing the aging Han-class.The Type 094 is a new class of ballistic missile submarine developed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy. The first-of-class was constructed at Huludao Shipyard in Huludao, Liaoning Province and launched in July 2004. At least two are confirmed to have been launched. In late 2006, a commercial satellite photographed what is believed to be the new Jin-class submarine moored in Xiaopingdao Submarine Base. In comparison with the older Type 092-class submarine, it has been elongated from 122m to 133m in order to house the missile tubes and part of the reactor. The Type 094 submarine is capable of carrying 12 of the more modern JL-2s with a range of approximately 8,000 km, and is capable of targeting much of the Western Hemisphere, some of it from close to the Chinese coast. In an interview, Kristensen said the information, although sketchy, was a window into how Chinese naval operations are changing as it builds up its forces. "We don't know where they went or for how long. But it certainly seems to be a new mission. They have been very modest in their patrols in the past," he said. "The fact that from one year to another they have doubled their patrols seems that they have something new to do," he said. "It could be, as we've heard for the last four years or so, an attempt to expand their naval defense barrier further eastward into the Pacific," he said. In comparison with other major navies, a dozen patrols a year "are not much," the report said. "The patrol rate of the U.S. attack submarine fleet, which is focused on long-range patrols and probably operate regularly near the Chinese coast, is much higher with each submarine conducting at least one extended patrol per year," it said. "But the Chinese patrol rate is higher than that of the Russian navy, which in 2008 conducted only seven attack submarine patrols, the same as in 2007," it said. China has yet to conduct a single patrol by a ballistic missile submarine, according to the report. "The old Xia, China's first SSBN, completed a multi-year overhaul in late-2007 but did not sail on patrol in 2008," it said. "Neither the Xia-class (Type-092) ballistic missile submarine nor the new Jin-class (Type-094) have ever conducted a deterrent patrol," it said.
Iran Satellite Would Mean Boosted Missile Range
(NSI News Source Info) BRUSSELS - February 4, 2009: Iran's announcement that it has launched its first satellite would, if true, confirm that the Islamic republic has missiles capable of striking Israel and southeast Europe, a NATO officer said Feb. 3. The officer said, on condition of anonymity, that it could take up to a week to verify whether Tehran's claim that it had sent an Omid (Hope) satellite into space carried by the home-built Safir-2 space rocket was true. "It will take several days for all our countries to examine the information," the high-ranking officer said. "First we will verify whether it is really a satellite and at what altitude it is traveling at." He noted the apparent "light weight of the satellite - from 25 to 40 kilograms (55-88 pounds) - and the quite low altitude, from 250 to 500 kilometers (155-310 miles), at which it would be flying." "If this is confirmed, it would mean that their rockets are capable of firing 2,000-3,000 kilometers, and would therefore have the range to hit part of Europe and Israel," he said. "It would be confirmation of their potential." The officer said that NATO had developed an "Active Layer Theatre Missile Defense" (ALTMD) system to protect allies like Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey from such an eventuality. He said that the ALTMD was a "mobile system that can cover these territories, and their populations, for a range of 2,000 kilometers." The United States has moved to expand its anti-missile shield into Europe, with 10 interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, to counter any threat from "rogue nations" like Iran. But the shield would not cover southeast Europe, and NATO had been mulling whether to "bolt on" its ALTMD to the U.S. system. U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to make public his position on the shield, developed under predecessor George W. Bush, but a senior U.S. official has said he could announce a review into its costs and progress made.
U.S.-Afghan Supply Line Out Of Business Again
By HABIBULLAH KHAN and NICK SCHIFRIN
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - February 4, 2009: The main supply route to U.S. troops in Afghanistan was cut for the third time in six months today when militants blew up a small but crucial bridge in Pakistan's Khyber Agency.
The bridge, originally built when the British ruled the area, allowed some 300 trucks carrying NATO and U.S. equipment to cross a dry riverbed every day. While Pakistani officials said the supply line would reopen tomorrow, the attack underscores why U.S. officials have been pushing to find alternative means to bring supplies into landlocked Afghanistan. A truck lies down on a bridge destroyed by alleged Islamic militants Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009 in Pakistani tribal area of Khyber near Peshawar. Islamist militants blew up the bridge in northwest Pakistan, cutting a major supply line for Western troops in Afghanistan, a government official and a NATO spokesman said. The attack was the latest in a series on the Khyber Pass by insurgents seeking to hamper the U.S.-led mission against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. "We are putting up a temporary bridge in the next 48 hours," the top political official in the Khyber Agency, Tariq Hayat, told ABC News. He said an alternative, temporary road was being created so trucks could continue crossing the border. Today's attack is the latest high profile targeting of the supply route, which ferries more than three-quarters of the material used in Afghanistan. But it is the first time militants have attacked a bridge.
Since the fall, militants in Khyber Agency and on the edge of Peshawar, the largest city in Pakistan's northwest, have burned or destroyed hundreds of supply trucks. Most of those trucks have been carrying building materials such as cement to prepare for additional troops -- as many as 35,000 -- the United States is sending to Afghanistan this year. "This chain cannot be interrupted for any significant amount of time," Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, the spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan, told ABC News. But he, like all U.S. officials, argued that the attacks on the supply line have not affected the war effort. The supply line "is something that is just too big for them to make too big a dent into," he said. Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. forces from the border of Libya to the border of India, recently told reporters in Islamabad that the United States had made deals with countries on Afghanistan's northern border. He did not elaborate. Those countries include Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and any deal to allow supplies into and out of those countries would also involve Russia.
"We want to have more reliance on other routes," Blanchette said, not only for the war but also for Afghanistan's future. "This will make a difference for the country when we pack up and go." The Pakistani military recently conducted a major operation in the Khyber Agency trying to clear the area of militants. Last year, the city of Peshawar and its suburbs suffered from intense security problems, including a 90 percent increase in the number of kidnappings for ransom. Hayat said the operation had worked and that the bridge explosion was evidence of the militants' desperation.
"We flushed them out," he said. "Now they are resort[ing] to hit-and-run tactics." Asked who was responsible for the attack, he responded: "Who else but TTP?" using the acronym for the Pakistani Taliban. Peace in the Khyber Agency had historically been ensured by local tribes, who worked with political agents installed by the British. Though that system was severely eroded under President Pervez Musharraf, the political agent remains the top government official in the district. But in recent months, bands of criminals had been inviting Taliban militants into Khyber from the more volatile tribal areas of South and North Waziristan. Crime was peaking in Khyber and in Peshawar, and groups were looking to supplement their ability to operate. In Washington, the Defense Department today is expected to release the specific orders for which units will be deploying to Afghanistan. A Marine expeditionary brigade, a Stryker brigade, an Army brigade and a brigade of trainers are expected to be on the list. Already, the 10th Mountain division is arriving in Logar and Wardack provinces, on the edges of Kabul, to try and contain a security situation that deteriorated significantly in the past year. In total, the Untied States could announce plans to more than double its current presence of 32,000 troops there. "The Taliban has regrouped after its fall from power and has coalesced into a resilient and evolving insurgency," according to a U.S. government report about Afghanistan released Monday. "Building a fully competent and independent Afghan government will be a lengthy process that will last, at minimum, decades."
Kyrgyzstan Closing US Base Key To Afghan Conflict / Kyrgyzstan Says Will Close U.S. Base, Secures Russian Loan, Aid
Kyrgyzstan Closing US Base Key To Afghan Conflict / Kyrgyzstan Says Will Close U.S. Base, Secures Russian Loan, Aid
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - February 4, 2009: Kyrgyzstan will demand the closure of a U.S. military base on its territory, used to support antiterrorism operations in neighboring Afghanistan, the Central Asian state's president said on Tuesday. Kurmanbek Bakiyev is on a two-day visit in Moscow, where he also secured deals to write off Kyrgyzstan's $180 million debt and to receive a $2 billion discounted loan and $150 million in financial aid from Russia. U.S. Air Force KC 135 tanker planes, left, seen parked next to Kyrgyz Tu-134 passenger planes at the airfield of Ganci U.S. air base in Manas international airport 30 km (19 miles) from the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan's president said that his country is ending U.S. use of a key airbase that supports military operations in Afghanistan, Russian news agencies quoted him as saying Tuesday. "The Kyrgyz government has taken a decision to terminate the rent of the base," Bakiyev told a news conference after talks with Russia's Dmitry Medvedev, citing Washington's refusal to discuss a higher rent and reluctance to address the 2006 killing by a U.S. officer of a Kyrgyz man in an incident at the base. "If we fail to ensure our citizens' security, unresolved problems will cause legitimate public discontent," Bakiyev said. New U.S. President Barack Obama has announced plans to considerably increase troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. airbase was set up in 2001 as a transit point for NATO supplies to the international coalition in Afghanistan and now houses more than 1,000 military personnel. Russia backed the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan, but its relations with NATO have deteriorated since over the bloc's ongoing eastward expansion and most recently an armed conflict with Georgia. Russia also has a base in Kyrgyzstan under a post-Soviet security pact. The deal to write off part of the Central Asian state's debt and settle the other part by selling some real estate and enterprises to Russia was signed in the presidents' presence. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said in Bishkek last week that the Russian government was entitled to a former defense sector plant in Kyrgyzstan and a building in the capital to accommodate a Russian cultural center. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, President Medvedev said: "Russia will give Kyrgyzstan a $2 billion loan and non-refundable $150-million grant ... to stabilize the budget and finance key infrastructure projects, including the construction of a hydroelectric power plant." Medvedev said a separate agreement had been signed to build the 1,900 MW Kambaratinsk hydro power plant. Earlier reports said $1.7 billion would be invested in the project. The money is vital for the impoverished state, which is plagued by instability. This year, Kyrgyzstan will have to pay $240 per 1,000 cu m for Uzbek natural gas, up from last year's $145.
Czech Diplomat Hopes For Missile Shield Cooperation From Russia
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - February 4, 2009: The Czech ambassador to Russia said on Tuesday that he believed Moscow would eventually cooperate with Washington and its European allies on a missile shield in Europe. Moscow has strongly opposed U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013 as a threat to its security and nuclear deterrence. Washington says the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from "rogue states" such as Iran. "We will see whether or not the new American administration continues with this program," Miroslav Kostelka said. "However, I believe this project would not be so bad for the U.S., Europe or Russia. I think we can expect excellent cooperation between the U.S., the Czech Republic, Poland, as well as the whole of Europe and Russia because this [missile defense] network does not pose any threat," the diplomat added. The missile shield issue is likely to be on the agenda of any meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama on April 2 in London, on the sidelines of a G20 summit. Moscow recently expressed hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration would "take a break on the issue of missile defense ... and evaluate its effectiveness and cost efficiency."
Finnish Military Is Considering Replacing Its Russian-Made Surface-To-Air Missile System
(NSI News Source Info) - February 4, 2009: The Finnish military is considering replacing its Russian-made surface-to-air missile system, national daily Helsingin Sanomat reported Friday. The paper added the 400-million-euro replacement system would be Nato compliant. The Buk missile system is a family of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems developed by the former Soviet Union and Russian Federation and designed to engage cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. The Buk missile system is the successor to the NIIP/Vympel 2K12 Kub (NATO reporting name SA-6 "Gainful"). The first version of Buk adopted into service carried the GRAU designation 9K37 and was identified in the west with the NATO reporting name SA-11 "Gadfly". Since its initial introduction into service the Buk missile system has been continually upgraded and refined with the latest incarnation carrying the designation 9K37M2 "Buk-M2". The Finnish defence ministry did not confirm the report and Jyri Häkämies (cons), the defence minister, declined to comment. The Finnish Defence Forces took delivery of three batteries of the 9K37M system as repayment of Soviet-era debt in 1996 and 1997.
Finnish weekly Suomen Kuvalehti had reported in March last year that the current system, meant to protect the capital region, was vulnerable to scrambling.
DTN News: Boeing Successfully Completes Flights Of 2 Wedgetail AEW&C Aircraft Modified In Australia
*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, USA - February 3, 2009: The Boeing Company has conducted successful functional check flights of two 737-700 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft modified in Australia for Project Wedgetail. During each of the 2.5-hour flights on Jan. 21 and 28 from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base Amberley, pilot Doug Benjamin and first officer Ed Wilson performed a series of functional tests that verified the airworthiness of the aircraft's systems and structures. The Boeing 737 AEW&C is an Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft. It was designed in response to Australia's RFP for an aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Project Wedgetail. The 737 AEW&C has also been selected by the Turkish Air Force and the Republic of Korea Air Force, and has been proposed to Italy and the UAE. The flight followed major aircraft modifications performed by Boeing Defence Australia at Amberley, including the installation and checkout of an advanced Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) antenna, ventral fins and mission system equipment. "These successful functional check flights demonstrate the significant capability we have here in Amberley to execute the complex modification work required to transform a 737 airplane into an AEW&C platform," said Wayne Needs, vice president and general manager for Boeing Global Services & Support, Australia. The two aircraft will be painted with RAAF markings over the next few weeks. Boeing will finish installing mission system equipment on both aircraft and conduct a series of ground checkouts later this year. The Wedgetail program includes six 737-700 AEW&C aircraft plus ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance. Three aircraft are currently in modification at Amberley while the other three are being flight-tested at Boeing's facility in Seattle. The 737-700 features 21st century avionics, navigation equipment and flight deck features. Because of its advanced technology, the aircraft requires minimal downtime for maintenance. The 737 series has a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment. The modified AEW&C aircraft features Northrop Grumman's MESA antenna with integrated identification friend-or-foe capabilities; a flexible, open architecture for cost-effective future upgrades; an extensive communications suite; and aerial refueling capability.
Aero India 2009 Show Will Be Biggest Ever, India Says (NSI News Source Info) - February 3, 2009: The 7th Edition of Aero India, Asia’s premier Air Show, will be held in Bengaluru from February 11 to 15, 2009. In size and number, this is going to be the biggest air show, hosted by India, so far. Organised by the Ministry of Defence and managed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Air Show will be inaugurated by the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony on February 11 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bengaluru. Aero India has already carved a niche for itself globally as a premier aerospace exhibition, with six successful editions organized between 1996 and 2007. The show aims at bringing under one roof, exhibitors from all around the globe to showcase the best in aviation. Aero India includes both flight and static displays of a wide range of civil and military aircrafts from leading manufacturers, vendors and suppliers. India’s opening up of the defence sector to foreign direct investment, the ongoing modernization plan of its Armed Forces and enormous new opportunities in the civil aviation sector have opened innumerable new avenues for investment. Aero India 2009 will provide an ideal window of opportunity for companies to not only network with the Indian Industry but also to benefit from the sharing of expertise in the fields of R & D production and product support with other global players. Aero India 2009 will showcase the latest in the field of Military and Civil aircrafts, vital components for aircraft engines, avionics systems & sub systems, airfield radars and new age technologies used in the defence sector. 592 exhibitors from 25 countries will participate at the show. Of them 303 are from overseas and 289 from home. The participating countries include UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and Ukraine. China will be participating at this year’s Air Show for the first time. A number of aircraft including F-16, F-18, MiG-35D, Eurofighter, IJT, Dhruv, Hawk, C-17, Embraer 135 business jet Legacy 600, C-130J, Citation XLS,G 550, AN-12 Cargo and A-310 MRTT will be on display. Flight displays will be between 1000-1200 hrs and 1430-1630 hrs. Defence Ministers from as many as eight countries will converge on Bengaluru for the show. The countries are France, Peru, Bolivia, Surinam, Mongolia, Oman and Maldives. Besides high level delegations from 40 countries will witness the Show. There would be some new dimensions to the Aero India 2009. These include business to business meetings and human resource focused activities, apart from a space pavilion. There will be structured business to business meetings to offer maximum business opportunities to participants. To expose Indian human resource potential in Aero Space Sector, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras and also various other engineering colleges will display student based project in Aero Space Sector. Information will be shared, which will focus on giving exposure to students from Class 3 to Class 12 on various aspects of aviation in the form of dummy display and video clippings. About 200 students from Municipal to Corporate schools in Bangalore will be given exposure everyday during the entire duration of the show. 550 sq meter space pavilion is being set up by ISRO, which would be located along with the Human Resource Pavilion in exhibition area. There will be 40,000 Sq Meter of indoor display and another 4,000 Sq Meter outdoor display. To facilitate easy purchase of tickets, 24 locations at SBI outlets and Café Coffee Day have been selected in Bangalore.
Afghanistan: U.S. Army Soldiers Prepare For A Mission