Thursday, August 21, 2008

Afghanistan: Eight troops dead in 24 hours, according to military

Afghanistan: Eight troops dead in 24 hours, according to military (NSI News Source Info) KABUL August 21, 2008: Eight international troops including three Poles and three Canadians have been killed in Afghanistan over the last 24 hours, a military source said on Thursday. News of the latest casualties came as French President Nicolas Sarkozy conducted a tribute ceremony in Paris for 10 French troops killed in an ambush near Kabul three days before.The three Canadians were killed in a roadside blast, while doing reconnaissance on Wednesday, its military said in a televised briefing Thursday.The soldiers were combat engineers on patrol in the Zhari district of southern Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle at 10:30 am (0630 GMT) Wednesday, said Brigadier-General Denis Thompson."They were a combat engineer reconnaissance team and they were at that point in time conducting a routine reconnaissance," Thompson said."They were on their way to the site where they were going to do the reconnaissance of a route that's going to be used for a future operation."Another wounded soldier is in serious but stable condition in hospital, Thompson added.Also Wednesday, three Polish troops also attached to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed in similar circumstances in the central province of Ghazni.One coalition soldier under US command, whose nationality has not been identified, was killed by gunfire in western Afghanistan, also on Wednesday.The eighth died "outwith combat operations" in the east of the country, the military said.The deaths bring to 40 the number to have perished during August, with around 184 having died in operations since the start of the year, according to an AFP tally based on military statements.

Russia temporarily suspends military cooperation with NATO

Russia temporarily suspends military cooperation with NATO (NSI News Source Info) BRUSSELS August 21, 2008: Russia's Defense Ministry has temporarily suspended military cooperation with NATO ahead of a political decision being made, the Russian envoy to the alliance said on Thursday. "Cooperation with NATO is a complex issue, and until Russia's political leaders have made a decision on what is involved, the Defense Ministry has suspended military cooperation with the alliance," Dmitry Rogozin said. Rogozin will return to Moscow on Friday for discussions with the country's leadership on cooperation with the military alliance. "I think all major decisions on our cooperation with NATO will be made during the consultations," the envoy said. NATO foreign ministers said after talks Tuesday that the alliance was freezing contacts with Russia until it pulled its troops out of Georgia, but stopped short of stronger measures. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier on Thursday that the country's future ties with NATO would depend on how the Western military alliance chose to act. On Tuesday, he accused NATO of taking Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili under its protection.

NATO official vows help for Georgian military

NATO official vows help for Georgian military (NSI News Source Info) TBILISI August 21, 2008: NATO is to help Georgia rebuild its defensive capability, the military alliance's regional representative said Thursday. "NATO will help Georgia in seven ways," said Robert Simmons, NATO's special envoy for Central Asia and the South Caucasus. "First of all this means air defense and the restoration of defensive infrastructure." He said that the main task now was for Russia to pull back its forces in accordance with the international ceasefire plan. Simmons said NATO backed the territorial integrity of Georgia and would do whatever it could to keep the country unified, adding that the alliance remained one of Georgia's main partners. Relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic alliance have sunk to new lows after the Russian military intervention in Georgia that followed Tbilisi's assault on its separatist region of South Ossetia two weeks ago. The alliance announced Tuesday the creation of a NATO-Georgia commission and the freezing of contacts with Moscow while Russian troops remained in Georgia. Russia pulled out of a joint exercise in the Baltic Sea and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the alliance of taking Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili under its protection.

Russia says ready to supply Syria with defensive weapons

Russia says ready to supply Syria with defensive weapons (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW August 21, 2008: Russia is ready to supply Syria with defensive weapons, the Russian foreign minister said on Thursday following a meeting between the two countries leaders in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Russia Wednesday on a two-day visit to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments, in particular the situation in the Middle East and Iraq. "We are ready, and Dmitry Medvedev has confirmed this, to review a Syrian request to purchase new types of weapons," Sergei Lavrov said following the meeting between Medvedev and Assad. "We will supply Syria primarily with weapons of a defensive nature that will not disturb the strategic balance in the region," he added. In an interview with Russian business daily Kommersant Assad said before his trip: "Our position is we are ready to cooperate with Russia in any project that can strengthen its security... I think Russia really has to think of the response it will make when it finds itself closed in a circle." Israeli media reported on Monday that Russia was planning to deploy Iskander surface missiles in Syria and its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, in response to a proposed U.S. missile shield in Central Europe and arm sales by the U.S. and Israeli to Georgia. When asked if Syria, a major importer of Russian weapons, would agree to consider the Russian air defense offer, Assad said: "In principle, yes. We have not yet thought about it." The issue of installing Iskander missile-defense systems had been raised by Syria several years ago he added.

Russia to complete troop withdrawal from Georgia in 10 days

Russia to complete troop withdrawal from Georgia in 10 days (NSI News Source Info) VLADIKAVKAZ August 21, 2008: The withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia is going according to schedule, with the process due to be completed within the next 10 days, the Russian Ground Forces commander said on Thursday. "They will require around 10 days to move out of their current positions and the convoys will enter Russia through South Ossetia according to schedule," Gen. Vladimir Boldyrev said, adding that 500 Russian peacekeepers will resume operations on Friday. Russia began pulling back troops from Georgia on Monday under a six-point plan drawn up by the Russian and French presidents. Moscow has criticized Georgian troops for not following instructions to leave the South Ossetia conflict zone. Earlier on Thursday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "Russia is honoring in full the six principles of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan which was approved by the OSCE on Tuesday... Work to equip peacekeeping outposts in the security zone will be completed tomorrow [on Friday] - eight outposts are to be equipped." Georgia launched a major ground and air offensive to seize control of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia on August 8, prompting Russia to send tanks and thousands of troops to the region. Russia concluded its operation "to force Georgia to accept peace" on August 12.

Georgia....Today's in Pictures

Georgia....Today's in Pictures August 21, 2008 NSI News Source Info A Russian tank moved through the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, passing a billboard with a portrait of Russia's prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin. Russians dug foxholes and built a sentry post in an area of central Georgia far outside the security zone they are authorized to remain in. A car carried a coffin past Russian soldiers at a checkpoint on the Gori-Tbilisi road near the village of Khurvaleti. On Wednesday Russia countered a French push at the United Nations Security Council for Russian troops' immediate withdrawal by circulating a competing resolution.

General Dynamics Awarded Contract for Stryker Mobile Gun Systems

General Dynamics Awarded Contract for Stryker Mobile Gun Systems (NSI News Source Info) STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. August 21, 2008: The U.S. Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, a contract for the production of 62 Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS) variant vehicles. The contract has a total potential value of $326.5 million including initial funding of $145 million. Work will be performed in Anniston, Ala.; Sterling Heights, Mich.; Lima, Ohio; Scranton, Pa.; Tallahassee, Fla., and London, Ontario, Canada, and is expected to be completed by February 2010. The Stryker MGS variant is a direct-fire infantry assault platform with a 105mm cannon mounted in a low-profile, fully stabilized, "shoot-on-the-move" turret and integrated into the Stryker chassis. It carries 18 rounds of NATO-standard 105mm main gun ammunition; 400 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition; and 3,400 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. It destroys vehicles, equipment and hardened positions with its bunker and wall-breaching capability. Stryker is a family of eight-wheel-drive combat vehicles that can travel at speeds up to 62 mph on highways, with a range of 312 miles. It operates with the latest C4ISR equipment as well as detectors for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. In addition to the MGS, Stryker vehicle configurations include: the nuclear, biological and chemical detection vehicle; anti-tank guided missile and medical evacuation vehicles; and carriers for mortars, engineer squads, command groups, and fire-support teams. The MGS has more than 70 percent common components with the rest of the 310 Strykers that comprise a brigade combat team, which eases the unit's training and logistics burden. Since being deployed to combat in 2007, the MGS vehicles have logged 79,000 miles, fired 600 main gun rounds, thousands of coax rounds and survived numerous insurgent attacks and improvised explosive device (IED) detonations. The Army has seven Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. Stryker is the Army's highest-priority production combat vehicle program and the centerpiece of the ongoing Army Transformation. Significantly lighter and more transportable than existing tanks and armored vehicles, Stryker fulfills an immediate requirement to equip a strategically deployable (C-17/C-5) and operationally deployable (C-130) brigade capable of rapid movement anywhere on the globe in a combat-ready configuration. Stryker Brigade Combat Teams have operated with "historically high" mission availability rates in Iraq since October 2003, demonstrating the value of a force that can move rapidly as a cohesive and networked combined-arms combat team. General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 84,600 people worldwide and anticipates 2008 revenues of approximately $29.5 billion. 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.

Boeing Delivers EgyptAir 737-800 in Star Alliance Livery

Boeing Delivers EgyptAir 737-800 in Star Alliance Livery (NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, August 21, 2008: Boeing [NYSE: BA] on Monday delivered EgyptAir's third Next-Generation 737-800. The airplane, shown here during flight tests at Boeing Field, is the airline's first 737 to be painted in Star Alliance livery. On July 11, EgyptAir celebrated its induction as the 21st member of Star Alliance, officially expanding its network to 1,624 weekly flights to 69 destinations around the world. The Cairo Airport Authority is scheduled to open a dedicated Star Alliance terminal later this year, capable of serving 11 million passengers annually.

U.S. Navy special warfare combatant-craft

U.S. Navy special warfare combatant-craft August 21, 2008 NSI News Source Info U.S. Navy special warfare combatant-craft crewmen from Special Boat Team 22 conduct live-fire immediate action drills at the riverine training range at Fort Knox, Ky., on Aug. 11, 2008. Sailors with the unit operate Special Operations Craft-Riverine watercraft and are the only members of U.S. Special Operations Command dedicated to operating in a riverine environment.

Indian Navy Ships May Be Built in S. Korea

Indian Navy Ships May Be Built in S. Korea (NSI News Source Info) 21 August, 2008 - NEW DELHI: With Indian shipyards too busy to meet demand for new military vessels, the Indian Navy is negotiating with South Korea to build warships there. To begin with, a frigate and an escort vessel for the Indian Navy could be built in South Korea, Indian Defence Ministry sources said. Adm. Sureesh Mehta, chief of the Indian Navy, will discuss the matter with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee and other officials during an Aug. 19-24 tour that takes him to Japan and South Korea, Navy sources said. The Indian Navy plans to buy more warships to replace the large number of obsolescent ones due to be scrapped in the next five years. But India's shipbuilding capacity is saturated. Mehta will visit South Korean submarines and the naval academy. In Japan, he will meet Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and Vice Defense Minister Kohei Masud. Mehta will also visit the Yokohama shipyard and the front-line ships of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Abkhazia sends request to Russia for recognition

Abkhazia sends request to Russia for recognition (NSI News Source Info) SUKHUMI - August 21, 2008: Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia has sent an appeal to Russia to recognize its independence, the republic's president said Thursday. Sergei Bagapsh said he expected South Ossetia, another secessionist republic in Georgia, to send a similar request in the coming days. In Abkhazia's capital, Sukhumi, more than 47,000 people gathered Thursday on the central square to show support for the appeal. "It has become clear that Abkhazia will not live in the same state with Georgia," parliament speaker Nugzar Ashuba told the rally. The appeal urges Russia to recognize Abkhazia "as a sovereign and independent state, and sign a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance." "Considering that the threat of Georgian aggression is still very serious... we believe that it is necessary to include into this treaty a provision on the further presence of Russian troops in Abkhaz territory," the appeal said. On Wednesday the proclamation was backed by all 26 MPs attending an extraordinary session of Abkhazia's parliament. The MPs also adopted an appeal to the parliaments and governments of other countries. The recognition request was prepared shortly after Georgia launched an offensive on South Ossetia on August 8.

Black Sea Fleet: a factor of stability or instability?

Black Sea Fleet: a factor of stability or instability? (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - August 21, 2008: Tensions over Sevastopol in the Crimea have flared time and again since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The latest occasion has been provided by the recent conflict in South Ossetia. The Ukrainian president aligned himself with his Georgian counterpart during the confrontation, and now wants to control Russia's Black Sea Fleet, which could render it useless as a military force. The rule is that a host country exerts ultimate control over foreign military bases on its territory. Such is global practice. In 2003, Turkey banned the United States from using Incirlik Air Base in the invasion of Iraq. Accordingly, if Ukraine does not allow Russia to use Sevastopol, Russia will not be able to use it. The Black Sea Fleet's only aim in the foreseeable future could be to protect the short Russian coastline in the North Caucasus and Russia's Black Sea economic zone. More ambitious tasks look out of place. The fleet's Soviet-built ships are only getting older, and, as more vessels are being retired than come into service, its strength is slowly waning. From a military point of view, Sevastopol is becoming unnecessary and even a burden. In the future, the fleet could consist of three to five diesel submarines and two or three dozen patrol ships and minesweepers to protect the economic zone in peacetime and fight the enemy in wartime. And it must be based in Russia. In 1997, when the Sevastopol lease agreement was signed, Russia could not give up Sevastopol because its own Black Sea port at Novorossiisk was unable to receive all the fleet's ships and men. Now that problem is going away by itself, with ship numbers dwindling and missions curtailed. But although Novorossiisk currently hosts most of the fleet's light forces, it is not well suited to be a naval base, if only because of the strong northerly winds blowing in wintertime. Perhaps a new base should be built. It would be an expensive undertaking, of course, but no more so than leasing Sevastopol, which actually fuels Kiev's anti-Russian ambitions (which were already apparent before Yushchenko came into office). So militarily the issue of Sevastopol is largely an illusory one for Russia; it does not match with present-day realities. But there are also strong emotional factors involved. Sevastopol is called "a city of Russian military glory" and is known for its defenders' heroism during the Crimean and Great Patriotic wars. These emotions are backed with politics. Before 1954, the Crimea was part of the Russian Federation, and its handover to Ukraine was legally dubious even by the standards of Soviet law. Most of the Slav population of the Crimea and Sevastopol have a Russian (even a Soviet) identity, rather than a Ukrainian one, while the Crimea's Tatars look mostly to Turkey. In general, the Soviet-era borders of Ukraine do not meet the historical, ethnic and political realities of today. The Ukrainian state is largely an artificial product. Since 1992, it has been denying any fraternal feelings for Russia and a political, especially a military, union with Russia is out of the question for the foreseeable future. By hanging on to the Sevastopol base, Moscow has made itself hostage to Kiev. On the other hand, the presence of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol is a strong political and emotional irritant to the Ukrainian authorities and a bolster to the Russian-Soviet identity of most of the Crimea's population. Moscow also believes its fleet in Sevastopol is preventing Ukraine from joining NATO (a strategy that seems to be a Russian reincarnation of the Anglo-Saxon doctrine of a "fleet in being"). A host of factors will determine the future of the fleet, Sevastopol and the Crimea. It is unlikely that the fleet will stay in Sevastopol after the lease expires in 2017. Logic suggests that either it will move base to Russia (before the final date) or the Crimea and Ukraine will see major political changes. Owing to its artificial origins, Ukraine is at constant risk of splitting up into western-central and south-eastern parts. Any swing by Ukraine's central authorities toward either Russia or the West only makes this risk more likely. Kiev's stirrings about the Black Sea Fleet could deal no less devastating a blow to its domestic stability than to Russia's defense capabilities in the south. Alexander Khramchikhin is head of the analytical department at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Sri Lanka: 11 die in violence, according to military

Sri Lanka: 11 die in violence, according to military (NSI News Source Info) COLOMBO August 21, 2008: Fighting in Sri Lanka left dead at least 11 people, including eight Tamil Tiger rebels, the defence ministry said Thursday.One soldier died in clashes with rebels on Wednesday in three areas in the north, the ministry said.The ministry also accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of gunning down two civilians gathering firewood in the tense northeastern district of Trincomalee on Wednesday.The latest battles raised to 5,993 the number of rebels that the government claims have been slain since January. The ministry admits losing 557 soldiers over the same period.

Pakistan: Twin suicide blasts kill 65 in Wah; Taliban claims responsibility

Pakistan: Twin suicide blasts kill 65 in Wah; Taliban claims responsibility (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD August 21, 2008: Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside country's main defence industry complex near Texila on Thursday killing up to 65 peoples and injuring more than 200.Taliban later claimed responsibility for the carnage "It was because of what's happening in Bajaur," Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar said by telephone from an undisclosed location, referring to military operations against militants in NWFP."If it doesn't stop we will continue such attacks," he said."More than 65 people have been killed in two blasts," said police officer Sardar Shahbaz at the scene outside the industrial complex in Wah, 30 km (20 miles) away form Islamabad."I can see several bodies," he said.Wah is home to Pakistan's main defence industry complex where about 25,000 workers produce explosives, ordnance and weapons in about 15 factories.One of the bombers blew himself up outside the complex's main gate while the second detonated his explosives at almost the same time near another gate, Shahbaz said.According to reports one bomber blew himself up among workers coming out of the complex.Soldiers cordoned off the area and kept reporters back as ambulances arrived to take away casualties, a witness said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in Kabul, Afghanistan

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France arrived Wednesday August 20, 2008 at Camp Warehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan. August 21, 2008 NSI News Source Info President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, center, arrived Wednesday at Camp Warehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan to visit French soldiers from an elite paratrooper unit who survived a Taliban ambush early in the week. Ten French soldiers were killed and 21 wounded in the ambush east of Kabul, which began on Monday and continued into Tuesday. Despite the loss, Mr. Sarkozy renewed his commitment to helping Afghanistan.

Three Nato soldiers, 30 militants killed in Afghanistan

Three Nato soldiers, 30 militants killed in Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) KABUL August 21, 2008:Three soldiers from the Nato-led force were killed in a roadside bomb blast in eastern Afghanistan, the alliance said on Thursday, the latest foreign casualties in a week of rising violence.The soldiers were in a vehicle when the improvised explosive device went off on Wednesday, the alliance said without identifying the victims. Most of the foreign troops in the eastern region are Americans.The attack came two days after suspected Taliban insurgents killed 10 French troops to the east of capital, the biggest single loss of foreign forces in Afghan combat since Taliban's overthrow in 2001.Separately, Afghan army commandos and US-led coalition soldiers killed more than 30 militants with arms fire and close air support in eastern Laghman province, the US military said in a statement on Thursday.The militants were killed during an operation on Wednesday aimed at disrupting Taliban safe-havens and IED cells in the area, it said.The Taliban could not be reached immediately for comment.Afghanistan has seen a surge in violence this year as the Taliban step up their campaign of guerrilla attacks, backed by suicide and roadside bombs to overthrow the Afghan government and drive out foreign troops.