Saturday, September 27, 2008
NIGERIA ARMY: Clean, Lean, Mean And On The Offensive (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: Despite rebel protests (and their unilateral ceasefire), the military continues to seek out and attack rebels in the Niger Delta. Over 200 suspected rebels have been arrested, and several dozen killed or wounded. The new commanders of the army are under orders to shut down the rebel activities, and clean up the corruption and inefficiency in the military. September 21, 2008: Faced with a growing counteroffensive by the army, Niger Delta rebel group MEND has declared a unilateral ceasefire. The military said they would ignore the ceasefire. September 20, 2008: Rebels in the Niger Delta bombed another oil pipeline. The attacks in the last week have reduced oil shipments by 280,000, and only about 1.8 million barrels a day (from a potential max of 2.6 million barrels) are being shipped. The army has counterattacked, and at least ten rebels were killed today by these operations, along with three speedboats sunk. September 19, 2008: The new commander of the army has sent investigators to the Niger Delta, there being suspicions that some soldiers have been corrupted (paid off) by rebels (who have made a lot of money stealing oil.) September 18, 2008: A week of attacks by tribal rebels in the Niger Delta has halted shipment of 150,000 barrels of oil a day. The army has responded by sending five battalions of infantry into the delta, seeking out and attacking rebel bases and wanted individuals.
ATTRITION: Afghanistan Explained (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: So far this year, about 4,200 people have died in Afghanistan. Sounds awful, doesn't it? That's an annual rate of about 6,000 dead. Or, about 24 dead per 100,000 population, as such things are measured by crime statisticians. The murder rate in the Western hemisphere (about 8 per 100,000 people a year) is much higher than in Europe, where it is about 3-4. Middle Eastern nations have rates of between 5-10. The United States rate is about six per 100,000. There are other parts of the world that are more violent. Iraq has a murder rate of 26. That's not a lot higher than it was under Saddam (10-20 a year), but less than a third of what it was a year ago. In Africa, especially Congo, Sudan and South Africa, you find similar murder rates. Only South Africa has a sufficiently effective government to actually keep accurate track of the murder rate, mostly from crime, but it's over 50 per 100,000. It's worse in places like Congo and Sudan, but the numbers there are only estimates by peacekeepers and relief workers. In southern Thailand, a terror campaign by Islamic radicals has caused a death rate of over 80 per 100,000. In Afghanistan, the death rate for civilians, mostly from Taliban violence, has been 6-7 dead per 100,000 people, in the last two years. Most of the dead in Afghanistan are among Afghan soldiers and police (about 1,500 a year for the last two years), foreign troops (200-300 a year) and the Taliban (over 4,000 a year). That brings the rate up to 24 per 100,000. But what is not counted is the deaths from banditry and tribal feuds throughout the country. Afghanistan is a violent place, and always has been. The problem is that the continual violence makes it difficult to put the current fighting against the Taliban into context. The country has long been awash in weapons, and men eager to use them. Afghans has been known as good recruiting grounds for local conquerors for thousands of years. The several major invasions of India over the last thousand years saw lots of Afghans in the ranks of the conquering armies. In some cases, there were so many Afghans, that Indian records simply record the invaders as "Afghans." When not invading neighbors, Afghans practice on each other. Not a lot of accurate record keeping out there in the bush, but public health stats indicate an average life span in the 40s. There's a lot of disease, accidents, and not much modern medicine. But there's also much talk of murder. There are tribal feuds, lots of banditry, and even within families, there are murders and executions. The problem with tribal cultures is the difficulty controlling this kind of violence. In much of Afghanistan, it isn't being controlled and, as always, the resulting deaths are not being reported either. Thus the civilian murder rate, excluding the Taliban, is probably over 10 per 100,000 year. Many of the Taliban related deaths would have occurred anyway, because the Taliban are basically a tribal rebellion by some of the Pushtun tribes that want to run the country (in the name of God, of course, as it has long been good PR to commit your atrocities while invoking a higher power.) The Taliban, according to their public announcements, feel that they could quickly overcome the other tribes and take control, were it not for the 70,000 foreign troops in the country. That's in recognition that most of the Taliban losses are at the hands of foreign troops. But it also implies that the Taliban feel they have access to plenty of people who know how to kill and, if not interfered with, can butcher enough Afghans to gain control of a nation of 25 million people.
An African Arms Bazaar (NSI News Source Info) Moscow - September 28, 2008: From Sept. 17 to 21 the largest regional aerospace, defense and security exhibition, Africa Aerospace and Defense-2008, was held at Ysterplaat Air Base near Cape Town in South Africa. The biennial event involving weapons manufacturers from all over the world attaches priority to aerospace and defense systems, as well as military and dual-purpose equipment. This year a massive Russian delegation attended the exhibition for the fifth time. The Russian pavilion, set up by Rosoboronexport, the main national state-owned arms exporter, and the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service, featured more than 250 displays in the form of mock-ups, models, posters, video footage and advertising pamphlets. The Russians also displayed their Sukhoi Su-27 and Sukhoi Su-30MK Flanker fighter-interceptors and the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29SKM Fulcrum air-superiority fighter. The Dzerzhinsky Ural Railroad Car Works -- Uralvagonzavod -- based in Nizhny Tagil, Russia's Ural region, which has developed most of the country's postwar battle tanks, displayed its T-90S Main Battle Tank that Russia has successfully sold in large numbers to India. The Arzamas Engineering Plant and the Tula Instrument Design Bureau brought their BTR-80A armored personnel carrier, Metis-M and Konkurs-M guided anti-tank missiles and surface-to-air-missile systems. The Tula-based Splav -- Alloy -- State Research and Production Association contributed its Grad and Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems. The Popov Radio Plant, based in Omsk, West Siberia, displayed a new-generation mobile telecommunications system carried by the Vepr off-road vehicle. The Russians also brought the Hashim RPG-32 rocket launcher system, developed by the Jordan Russian Electronic Systems Co. Ltd. and Basalt Co., near Moscow. The Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos displayed its BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile that can be launched from warships or aircraft. It takes 14 hours to fly from Russia to Cape Town, with stopovers in Amsterdam and Dubai, while the exhibition lasts only a few days. So, was it worth it? Sergei Demensky, official representative of the Omsk-based Popov Radio Plant, said many African countries were Russia's traditional partners, and that his company offered unique engineering solutions, making it possible to set up emergency and reserve telecommunications networks in conditions of high temperatures, earthquakes and sandstorms. Alexander Fomin, first deputy director of the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service, said Russian involvement could become an important stage in expanded cooperation with regional countries and other foreign states, and that all technology shown in Cape Town would be used to uphold regional peace. Other experts said, off the record, that current Russian efforts to enter the African market were motivated by the fact that Moscow has overlooked the region for many years since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Russia may sell S-300s to Iran (NSI News Source Info) Washington - September 28, 2008: Russia is likely to sell even more of its most modern anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems to Iran, according to the head of the nation's main arms export corporation. The move looks certain to even further strain relations between Moscow and Washington that are already now as fraught as at any time since the darkest days of the Cold War. "Contacts between our countries (on delivery of air defense systems) are continuing, and we do not see any reason to suspend them," Rosoboronexport General Director Anatoly Isaikin told a news conference at the Africa Aerospace & Defence-2008 exhibition near Cape Town, South Africa, on Sept. 18, RIA Novosti reported. Isaikin was speaking not long after Russia sent to Iran Tor-M1 air defense missile systems worth $700 million that Tehran had ordered in late 2005, as previously reported in these columns. RIA Novosti also confirmed that Russian advisers had prepared "Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders," to operate the new systems. The Tor-M1 will certainly upgrade Iran's air defenses against any future Israeli or U.S. pre-emptive air strikes to knock out Iran nuclear facilities. Isaikin's comments indicated that Russia may go even further and also sell to Tehran its advanced S-300 missile system, the S-300PMU1 -- NATO designation SA-20 Gargoyle. RIA Novosti described this system as having a range of more than 100 miles with the capability of destroying ballistic missiles and operating at both low and high altitudes. Some analysts have even claimed that the S-300 could have an 80 percent interception rate capability against America's old, slow and in many respects obsolete subsonic Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Russian report also noted that Iran had already carried out several air defense maneuvers this year, culminating in what it described as "a three-day series of Air Force and missile defense exercises on Sept. 15 to 18."
North Korea piled up enriched uranium: defector (NSI News Source Info) Seoul - Sept 28, 2008: North Korea has amassed a "considerable" amount of enriched uranium, a high profile defector was quoted as saying Thursday. Hwang Jang-Yop told South Korean lawmakers the communist state completed preparations for an underground nuclear test in 1996. "As far as I know it has piled up a considerable amount of enriched uranium," he told a meeting hosted by the minor opposition Liberal Forward Party (LFP), a party spokesperson said. The LFP's Park Sun-Yong also quoted Hwang, 85, as saying the North's recent move to restart its nuclear weapons programme was a bargaining tactic to earn concessions from Washington. Hwang, former secretary of the North's ruling Workers' Party and an ex-tutor of leader Kim Jong-Il, defected during a trip to Beijing in 1997. He remains under police guard at a secret address in South Korea. The South and the United States, along with China, Japan and Russia, have been negotiating nuclear disarmament since 2003 with North Korea, which tested an atomic weapon in October 2006. The United States accuses the North of developing a secret highly enriched uranium weapons programme, a charge it denies. The North has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it would start work to resume plutonium reprocessing at its Yongbyon complex, possibly within a week. It has barred IAEA from the reprocessing plant. Analysts in Seoul say the North is practising brinkmanship in its bitter dispute with Washington over nuclear inspections, but is not necessarily bluffing.
Israel's Peres says Ahmadinejad 'taking world for a fool' (NSI News Source Info) Jerusalem - September 28, 2008: Israeli President Shimon Peres sharpened his attack on Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday, accusing him of "taking the world for a fool" in his statements to the UN General Assembly. "(Ahmadinejad) has committed a fatal error, and is taking the world for a fool. He thinks he is an absolute prophet, proclaiming that there is no more hope for the United States or Israel," Peres told Israeli public radio. "It is shameful to Islam, to all religions, to the United States, and to democracy. His voice does not come from heaven but hell and one day it will pass away like a breeze," he said in the interview conducted in New York. Israel has long considered Iran its greatest threat, both because of Tehran's accelerating nuclear programme and repeated statements by its leaders predicting the demise of the Jewish state. In a blistering speech before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Peres said Iran was "at the centre of violence and fanaticism" and had "built a danger to the entire world." Israel and the United States accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, while Tehran has insisted its programme is entirely peaceful and vowed to proceed despite three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions. Israel is the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear armed state with an estimated arsenal of 200 warheads. Neither the United States nor Israel has ruled out a military response to the Iranian nuclear standoff, and on Thursday Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak said all options remain on the table. "Iran continues to exert every effort in its activities to achieve a nuclear weapons capability," he said in a statement. "For now there is still time for addressing the issue diplomatically, but we believe we must not renounce any option and we do not think anyone else in the world should either," he added. In his own address to the assembly on Tuesday, Ahmadinejad lashed out at what he called international "bullying" and vowed to press ahead with Iran's nuclear drive. As for Israel, he said "the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse and there is no way for it to get out of the cesspool created by itself and its supporters."
Boeing 787 Static Airframe Complete First Test (NSI News Source Info) EVERETT, Wash. - September 28, 2008: The Boeing 787 Dreamliner static test airframe, located at the Boeing [NYSE:BA] factory in Everett, underwent the first in a series of tests required to demonstrate the airframe's durability. During the test, known as "high blow," the airframe reached an internal pressure of 14.9 lbs. per square inch gauge (psig) - 1.5 times the levels expected to be seen during operations. The test lasted about two hours. This test is one of three static tests that must be completed on the airframe prior to first flight.
NATO closely monitors Russian warships on route to Caribbean (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 28, 2008: A long-range sortie of the Russian naval task group to the Caribbean has drawn close attention from NATO, a Navy spokesman said on Saturday. A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, comprising the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy, the large ASW ship Admiral Chabanenko, and support ships, left a naval base in northern Russia early Monday to conduct training exercises in the Atlantic, including joint naval drills with the Venezuelan navy in November. "Patrol aircraft from the Norwegian Navy have flown four times near the Russian task group in the Norwegian Sea," Capt. 1st rank Igor Dygalo said, adding that the movements of the Russian convoy are also closely monitored by the U.K. HMS Argyll frigate. During the current tour of duty the Russian warships would participate in joint naval exercises with the Venezuelan navy in the Caribbean on November 10-14, in line with the 2008 training program and in order to expand military cooperation with foreign navies. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who recently visited Russia, earlier confirmed that Venezuela would hold joint naval exercises with Russian warships in the Caribbean and said the Russian navy would receive a warm welcome in the Latin American country. Russia announced last year that its Navy had resumed and would build up a constant presence in different regions of the world's oceans. A task force from the Northern Fleet, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class large AWS ships Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, conducted from December 2007 to February 2008 a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic.
Russia refuses to allow NATO inspectors at its missile bases (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 28, 2008: Russia will not allow Czech and Polish inspectors at its missile bases but is ready for further talks on the presence of its observers at U.S. missile shield sites in central Europe, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. Foreign media reported last week that both the Czech Republic and Poland oppose a permanent Russian presence at planned U.S. missile defense facilities on their territories claiming that the permission could be granted only on the basis of reciprocity. "The U.S. missile bases are being deployed near our borders and they demand that we must open access to our strategic sites for U.S. allies - Poland and the Czech Republic. There is no even a trace of logic in such demands," the ministry said in a statement. "All we can see in these demands is the unwillingness to hold a professional dialogue aimed at getting concrete results. It seems that neither Poland nor the Czech Republic is interested in the constructive dialogue at this point," the statement said. However, the Foreign Ministry reiterated that Moscow will seek further talks on the U.S. missile shield in central Europe "whenever our partners are ready to sit at the negotiation table." Russia fiercely opposes the U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its national security. Moscow has warned it would be forced to target its missiles at Poland if the former Soviet-bloc state hosts the interceptor missiles.
Chinese astronaut conducts successful debut spacewalk (NSI News Source Info) BEIJNG - September 28, 2008: A Chinese astronaut has successfully returned to his spacecraft after conducting the first spacewalk in the history of the Chinese space program, state television showed. During the 15-minute spacewalk, which started at 16.45 Beijing time (08.45 GMT), Zhai Zhigang, 42, waved China's national flag and carried out several equipment tests. The astronaut wore a $4.4 million space suit weighing 120-kg (265 lb), which was developed by Chinese specialists with the help of Russian technologies and Russian experts monitored the suits throughout the mission. With this achievement, China becomes the third country in the world after Russia and the United States to carry out successful spacewalks. China's Shenzhou-7 spacecraft lifted off on Thursday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the country's northwestern Gansu Province, bringing three astronauts on a three-day mission at an orbit with a maximum altitude of 343 km (213 miles). China, which previously sent astronauts on space missions in 2003 and 2005, has recently unveiled comprehensive space exploration plans. The country plans to build its own orbital space station and create a space laboratory before 2020.
Ukraine says ship seized by Somali pirates contains 33 tanks (NSI News Source Info) KIEV - September 28, 2008: A Ukrainian ship seized by pirates off the Somali coast on Thursday contained 33 T-72 tanks along with other armaments that were on their way to Kenya under a contract, Ukraine's defense minister said Friday. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry earlier cited the ship owner, Tomax Team Inc., as saying there were three Russian, 17 Ukrainian and one Latvian nationals on board the Faina ship, which was flying the Belize flag. President Viktor Yushchenko has urged his government to do everything possible to ensure the crew's release. Pirates are increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, which has no effective government and no navy to police its coastline. The International Maritime Bureau said more than 30 incidents of piracy were registered in the region in 2007. More than 30 attacks have been committed so far this year off the coast of the East African nation. Russia's Navy has sent a missile frigate to waters off the Somali coast to fight piracy in the region, a Navy spokesman said Friday.
Boeing to Acquire Tapestry Solutions to Enhance Its Growing Global Services & Support Business (NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - September 27, 2008: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced an agreement to acquire Tapestry Solutions, a San Diego-based company specializing in services and software systems that improve the tracking and distribution of equipment, spare parts and personnel for the U.S. Department of Defense and other government and non-government agencies. Tapestry Solutions' tools, such as the Joint Distribution Logistics Model and Battle Command Support Sustainment System, are U.S. Army standards that increase asset visibility, optimize distribution and enable dynamic logistics planning. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) President and CEO Jim Albaugh said the acquisition should accelerate the growth of the company's service and support business. "Boeing has a great opportunity to address an expanding market where we can bring together our proven large-scale integration capabilities with Tapestry Solutions' unique logistics management, decision support systems, and cutting-edge modeling and simulation technologies," Albaugh said. "It's all about meeting our customers' enduring needs for heightened readiness and supply-chain situational awareness." Dennis Muilenburg, president of IDS Global Services & Support, added, "Combining Tapestry Solutions' capabilities with Boeing's expertise in supply chain management and integration, we are positioned to help our customer solve real-world problems and drive a transformation in distribution processes. Tapestry Solutions' data fusion, logistics and knowledge management products and services will enhance our global logistics support network. From point of origin, inter-modally into theater, to point of use, we'll be able to offer services with better ability to pinpoint the location of assets wherever they are in the supply chain, improve predictability on arrival times, streamline logistics command and control, and reduce operating costs." Once acquired, Tapestry Solutions will operate within IDS Global Services & Support. Terms of the cash transaction were not disclosed. This transaction, anticipated to close by the end of October following regulatory approvals, does not affect Boeing's financial guidance. "Tapestry Solutions is thrilled to be working with Boeing. Boeing has a vision for the future of logistics command and control that is right in line with our experience supporting customers worldwide," said Galen Aswegan, president and CEO of Tapestry Solutions. "Tapestry Solutions' products and expertise in real-time monitoring, training and support of world-wide distribution channels will benefit from Boeing's large-scale commercial and military operations and product offerings." Tapestry Solutions has approximately 350 employees with the majority located in San Diego where the company has its headquarters. Approximately 150 employees are embedded with customers in Iraq and at other operational locations throughout the world.
NATO Completes C-17 Agreement
(NSI News Source Info) September 27, 2008: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has arranged 12 members to commit to acquiring C-17 airlifters, marking the first major weapon systems purchase for the alliance in 30 years. NATO hopes to take delivery of its first C-17 in March. That aircraft is being provided by the United States as part of its participation in the strategic airlift initiative aimed at fixing chronic shortfalls for cargo hauling for the alliance. NATO, for now, is depending heavily on U.S. lift and chartered Antonov An-124 airlifters to support forces operating in Afghanistan. Two more C-17s will be bought directly by the alliance from Boeing - and likely U.K. maintenance will go through the U.S. contract. Delivery of the two NATO-bought airlifters should follow around three and six months respectively from the first aircraft. NATO will base the aircraft at Papa air base in Hungary. The 12 participants so far are: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United States. The Czech Republic is still debating the issue, but chances are seen as slim they will commit. Italy has asked for an extension to sign-up until December. NATO's last major aircraft purchase were the E-3 Awacs.
The USA’s M4 Carbine Controversy (NSI News Source Info) September 27, 2008: In February 2007, “2006 Carbine Competition: What Happened, Revealed” discussed an Army solicitation for competitive procurement of 5.56mm carbines, which was withdrawn once sole-source incumbent Colt dropped its prices. The DoD’s Inspector General got involvedwith a critical report, but the Army dissented, defending its practices as a sound negotiating approach that saved the taxpayer a lot of money on the contract. As it turns out, there’s a sequel. A major sequel, that’s only getting bigger with time. It seemed like a routine request. Order more M4 carbines for US forces in the FY 2007 supplemental, FY 2008 budget, and FY 2008 supplemental funding bills. It has turned into anything but a routine exercise, however – with serving soldiers, journalists, and Senators casting a very critical eye on the effort and the rifle, and demanding open competition. With requests amounting to $375 million for weapons and $150 million in accessories, they say, the Army’s proposal amounts to an effort to replace the M16 as the USA’s primary battle rifle – using specifications that are around 15 years old, without a competition, and without considering whether better 5.56 mm alternatives might be available off the shelf. Meanwhile, the M4/M16 family is both praised and criticized for its current performance in the field.