(NSI News Source Info) May 7, 2009: A man wearing a surgical mask walks past a restaurant which was reopened, with temporary requirements for additional space between customers, in Mexico city May 6, 2009. The Mexican capital began to stir back to life on Wednesday with the streets again clogged with traffic and taco vendors working the sidewalks after authorities lifted a five-day shutdown to try to contain the deadly H1N1 flu.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
US President Barack Obama Hails Unity Over al-Qaeda
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - May 7, 2009: US President Barack Obama has said after meeting his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts that they are united in the goal of defeating al-Qaeda. Speaking in Washington, Mr Obama said the goal was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda" and its allies. U.S. President Barack Obama talks to reporters as he stands with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington May 6, 2009. Obama brought the Afghan and Pakistani presidents to the White House on Wednesday to promote cooperation against the Taliban but Afghan civilian deaths cast a shadow on the talks. He also pledged greater resources to help civilians in both countries and try to avoid civilian casualties. Dozens of civilians are thought to have died in US air strikes on Taleban targets in Afghanistan on Tuesday. Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she "deeply, deeply" regretted the deaths, adding that the US would work hard to avoid such "loss of innocent life". Meanwhile, Pakistan's army was engaged in bloody operations to reverse a Taleban advance in its northern provinces on Wednesday. The bottom line at the summit was more American troops for Afghanistan and more aid for Pakistan, with the Obama administration deepening its involvement in the search for stability, the BBC's Kevin Connolly reports from Washington. 'Solid support' Mr Obama said his counterparts fully appreciated the gravity of the security threats posed by militants. Thousands have fled their homes in Pakistan in fear of violence. America, he said, was on the side of people in Pakistan and Afghanistan and had a comprehensive strategy for the region, with civilian and military components. He said he expected more setbacks and violence to come, but there was a lasting commitment to defeat al-Qaeda. The US would, he added, offer unwavering support to the governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. "We have learned time and again that our security is shared," Mr Obama added. "It is a lesson that we learned most painfully on 9/11, and it is a lesson that we will not forget." It's too late now, the incompetent politicians of this blighted land have made the things go beyond the point of no return Senior US officials have expressed uncertainty over the commitment of the military in Pakistan, a nuclear power, to defeating militants based in its border region. Speaking earlier after talks with Mrs Clinton, President Asif Ali Zardari said Pakistan would help Afghanistan and the US to fight the threat posed by the Taleban and al-Qaeda. "For no matter how long it takes and what it takes, democracies will deliver, my democracy will deliver," he told reporters. "People of Pakistan stand with the people of the United States and the people of Afghanistan."
DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY May 6, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) May 6, 2009: U.S. Marines unpack 120mm mortars to fire on Taliban positions in Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan. U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment fired mortars and staged a ground assault on a section of the Taliban front line as part of the major strike. American air power dropped more than ten tons of explosives on dug-in Taliban fighting positions, according to the military.
The U.S. operation involved Air Force, Marine, Navy and Army aviation and was coordinated as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The military says the civilian population of Now Zad fled in 2007, leaving the city a battleground between U.S. forces and entrenched Taliban fighters.
U.S. Sea Supremacy Permits Naval Budget Shifts, Lynn Says
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - May 6, 2009: The United States’ maritime supremacy allows the Defense Department to slow production of sea-based defense systems, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said today at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Oxon Hill, Md.The US Navy will defer decisions on future amphibious ships and the CG-X cruiser to focus on the Littoral Combat Ship, of which it wants to order up to 55. (US Navy photo)
Lynn addressed the group days before the department is slated to submit its budget proposal to Congress. Echoing remarks Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made last month when announcing his budget recommendations, Lynn said the new fiscal breakdown reflects the need to balance traditional and unconventional capabilities.
“The United States stands alone unsurpassed on, above and below the seas,” Lynn said. “One consideration as we rebalance the department’s priorities is that the military dominance that we enjoy is greater in some areas than in others. We look for ways to strengthen irregular warfare capabilities while maintaining the overwhelming edge we enjoy in conventional capabilities.”
In terms of tonnage, the U.S. battle fleet is far larger than any potential combination of adversaries, and no other fleet can match the reach or combat power of a single American carrier battle group, he said.
The defense budget that is slated to reach Congress this week recommends shifting the Navy aircraft carrier program to a five-year build cycle to place it on a more “fiscally sustainable” path. This will result in 10 carriers after 2040, defense officials said. The department also proposes delaying the Navy “CG-X” next-generation cruiser program to revisit its requirements and acquisition strategy.
To allow more time to assess costs and analyze its necessity, Gates also proposed delaying the amphibious ship and sea-basing programs known as the 11th Landing Platform Dock ship and the Mobile Landing Platform ship until fiscal 2011.
Meanwhile, the department plans to use the budget to place greater emphasis on the Navy’s ability to conduct nontraditional missions. “The Navy must be ready for counterinsurgency and other irregular operations, which means dealing with nonstate actors at sea or near shore or with a swarm of speed boats sent by military groups from hostile countries,” Lynn said.
Accordingly, Gates proposed improving the Navy’s intertheater lift capacity by increasing the charter of joint high-speed vessel ships from two to four until the department’s production program begins deliveries in 2011.
The defense secretary recommended buying more littoral combat ships – a key capability for presence, stability and counterinsurgency operations in coastal regions – from two to three ships in fiscal 2010, with the long-term goal of eventually acquiring 55 such ships. “The requirement is predominance, for speed, it’s the ability maneuver in shallow waters,” Lynn said.
“The ship that best fills this bill is the LCS, which, despite its past development problems, is a versatile ship that can be turned on a dime, go places that are either too shallow or too dangerous. “And as we’ve seen off the coast of Somalia, it does not take a big ship to carry out anti-piracy missions,” he said, referring to the U.S. Navy-led rescue of an American ship captain kidnapped by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa.
“American people our more aware today of our maritime forces than they have been in a long time,” he said. “Piracy off the Horn of Africa and the dedicated actions of our skilled and brave Navy SEALs have reminded us of why we have sea services.” Lynn underscored the role U.S. maritime forces have played in operations since Sept. 11, 2001.
“The first thing is to acknowledge how grateful we are to the men and women of the Marines, the Navy and the Coast Guard since Sept. 11, 2001,” he said. “They have been engaged in operations around the world to defeat terrorist groups and to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The progress we’ve made owes so much to their skill, their dedication and too often, to their sacrifices,” he said.
U.S. Warship To Visit Russia For Victory Day Celebrations
(NSI News Source Info) VLADIVOSTOK - May 6, 2009: The U.S. missile cruiser Cowpens will start a four-day visit to Russia's Far East port of Vladivostok on May 7 to take part in Victory Day celebrations, a spokesman for Russia's Pacific Fleet said Wednesday. Victory Day, May 9, marks the final surrender by Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front of WWII, referred to as the Great Patriotic War in Russia and other former Soviet republics. "During the war, our countries were allies, and the crew of Cowpens will commemorate both Russian and U.S. sacrifices during WWII," the official said. During the visit, the U.S. delegation will meet with senior staff from the Pacific Fleet and take part in a number of cultural and sports events. USS Cowpens (CG-63) is a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser. In 2003, it became the first U.S. Navy ship to launch missiles in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, firing the first 37 Tomahawk cruise missiles.