Saturday, December 11, 2010

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Afghanistan TODAY December 11, 2010 - Dozens Killed In Series Of Afghanistan Attacks

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Afghanistan TODAY December 11, 2010 - Dozens Killed In Series Of Afghanistan Attacks
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources The Telegraph
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - December 11, 2010: Violence in north, south and east Afghanistan killed more than a dozen civilians and wounded several more as US President Barack Obama prepares to unveil a review of his strategy for the near decade-long war.
The latest string of attacks comes near the end of the deadliest year since the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban, with the escalating insurgency costing the lives of a record number of both ordinary Afghans and foreign troops.

In Helmand, southern Afghanistan, a roadside bomb killed 15 civilians, while in the northern Kunduz province a suicide bomber drove a police vehicle and targeted an Afghan National Army convoy, wounding five soldiers and four civilians.

In the east, seven men died in a disputed air strike that sent hundreds pouring onto the streets of Gardez city in violent protest.

Local officials said the air strike, by the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), killed seven road construction company employees.

ISAF said they were attacked by armed men, and fired back.

"The security force ... is currently assessing who the individuals were, why they were armed and why they were in that area at that time of the morning," said ISAF in a statement.

In Gardez, near the air strike, police and protesters fired at each other and burning tyre barricades filled the streets with smoke.

Six civilians and two policemen were wounded, said Nader Noori, doctor at the Gardez hospital.

Despite the presence of about 150,000 foreign troops, casualties have risen rapidly this year.

According to UN figures, 1,271 civilians were killed in the first six months of this year, up by a fifth on the same period in 2009.

Mr Obama is expected to unveil a review of his Afghanistan war strategy next week, although officials have said they do not expect it to result in any major policy shifts.

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  • DTN News - ECONOMY NEWS: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan Sign Agreement On Trans-Afghan Gas Pipeline

    DTN News - ECONOMY NEWS: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan Sign Agreement On Trans-Afghan Gas Pipeline
    Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Dawn News (Pakistan)
    (NSI News Source Info) ASHGABAT - December 11, 2010: The leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan on Saturday agreed to move forward with a complicated and risky plan to build a natural gas pipeline across rugged territory plagued by war and terrorism.

    The pipeline, which would terminate in India, would bring huge amounts of gas to underdeveloped regions and could earn impoverished Afghanistan hundreds of millions of dollars in transit fees.

    The route for the 1,700-kilometer TAPI pipeline from gas-rich Turkmenistan would cross Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province, where the Taliban and international forces are locked in battle, as well as some of Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas.

    Concerns about security for the pipeline itself and for the workers who construct it have cast doubt on the project’s near-term feasibility, but proponents say it would calm the chaotic region.

    ”Along with commercial and economic benefits, this project will also yield a stabilizing influence on the region and beyond” Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov said after the leaders signed a document supporting the project.

    ”Afghanistan will live up to its obligations in ensuring the pipeline’s construction and safety,” said Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose undertrained army struggles against the resurgent Taliban.

    The project has also won vocal support from the United States, which is strongly opposed to India and Pakistan drawing supplies from Iran through another proposed gas pipeline.

    Contents of the document signed by Karzai, Berdymukhamedov, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian petroleum minister Murli Deora were not immediately made public.

    But the apparent next step will be to secure financial backing and firm bids from energy companies, which could prove an uphill struggle for a project so fraught with potential risks.

    ”This will not be an easy project to complete it is mandatory that we guarantee the security of the pipeline and the quality of construction work,” Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda told reporters in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat.

    Kuroda said his bank would offer its backing to the pipeline, but gave no specific details on how it would do so.

    Turkmenistan, which is believed to hold the world’s fourth-largest gas reserves, is eager to find new markets for its potentially gargantuan energy exports amid flagging interest from Russia, its traditional client.

    Plans to build a pipeline transporting the former Soviet nation’s gas to Western Europe to date remain hazy ambitions.

    Berdymukhamedov said the pipeline would deliver up to 33 billion cubic meters of gas annually, welcome relief for energy-parched nations along the route.

    According to a preliminary breakdown, India and Pakistan would each get about 42 per cent of the gas and Afghanistan the remainder.

    Attempts to build a pipeline through Afghanistan date back to the mid-1990s, when the US-led consortium Unocal was locked in fierce competition with Argentina’s Bridas to win a deal to construct and run the route.

    But as the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan, those ambitions were shelved and remained so during the next decade’s war.

    Turkmen officials estimate that construction of the pipeline could generate around 12,000 jobs in Afghanistan and earn it several hundred millions dollars annually in transit fees.

    Turkmenistan has sought to broaden its client base after Russia sharply cut back its imports from the Central Asian nation. A 1,800-kilometer pipeline to China began pumping natural gas late last year.

    The scale of those commitments have elicited doubt among some energy experts that Turkmenistan will be able to fill the TAPI pipeline.

    Berdymukhamedov insisted Saturday that recent surveys by Turkmen specialists at the vast South Yolotan field, from which much of the gas is expected to be drawn, appear to suggest reserves may be even larger than previously believed.

    An independent British auditing company reported in 2008 that the field may hold up to 14 trillion cubic meters of gas, but Berdymukhamedov said the figure may be closer to 22 trillion cubic meters.

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    • DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: General Dynamics Awarded $317 Million For RG-31 MRAP Survivability And Mobility Upgrades

      DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: General Dynamics Awarded $317 Million For RG-31 MRAP Survivability And Mobility Upgrades
      Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources General Dynamics
      (NSI News Source Info) LONDON, Ontario, Canada - December 11, 2010: The U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command awarded General Dynamics Land Systems–Canada a USD$317.4 million delivery-order modification for upgrade kits for RG-31 Mk5E vehicles previously delivered under the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program. General Dynamics Land Systems, the Canadian company’s parent corporation, is a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD).

      The upgrade kits will enhance the survivability and mobility of the RG-31 vehicles to the latest production configuration. Upgrades include the addition of spall liners, an independent suspension axle system and an improved power pack. Delivery of the kits is expected to be completed by November 2011.

      Along with a $21.2 million delivery-order modification that was announced on November 30, the value of orders awarded to General Dynamics for the RG-31 upgrade kits now totals $338.6 million. The RG-31 MRAP vehicles have provided outstanding service for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. They have consistently delivered superior levels of protection from mines, improvised explosive devices and other threats while providing the mobility to negotiate an extremely hostile and difficult terrain. “We appreciate the confidence that the U.S. military has in the RG-31 vehicle, as they conduct their missions in a dangerous and uncertain environment,” said Dr. Sridhar Sridharan, senior vice-president of General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada. “With these improvements, we are able to further strengthen the performance of the RG-31 in theater and continue to protect the lives of U.S. soldiers.” In total, General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada has delivered over 1,600 RG-31 vehicles under the MRAP program. An additional 566 RG-31s have been delivered to U.S. forces under separate contracts. The contract was signed through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government. For information about General Dynamics Land Systems–Canada, please visit www.gdlscanada.com. More information about General Dynamics is available on the Internet at www.generaldynamics.com.

      Contact: Ken Yamashita Tel: (519) 964 5813 Email: yamashik@gdls.com

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